Filipinos had little sense of national identity until the revolutionary period of the nineteenth century. The word “Filipino” did not refer to native people until the mid-nineteenth century. Before that period, the treatment of the islands was as a single governmental unit by Spain with the conversion of the population to Catholicism. As a desire for independence grew, a national flag was created, national heroes emerged, and a national anthem was written. A national language was designated in 1936 plus national costumes were established.
The people largely come from the Malay race and share cultural similarities to Malaysians and Indonesians but even before the first Europeans came to the Philippines they had a culture different from other Malay people. With over 150 languages scattered throughout more than 7000 islands it is not surprising at each region has cultural elements unique to their area.
The Filipino people’s hospitality and acceptance of others has added to the cultural diversity and created a way of life that blends foreign culture with native customs. The American and Spanish influence is very apparent in their current day culture and language. There are also strong cultural influence resulting from centuries of trade with the Chinese, Indians and Japanese.