Hispanic influence on Filipino culture

The British historian Arnold J. Toynbee once asserted in one of his works that "the Philippines is a Latin American country that was transported to the Orient by a gigantic marine wave". Following over three centuries of Spanish colonization, the Philippines has a strong Hispanic cultural base, including exhibiting Spanish names and surnames, the Catholic religion, festivities, literature, music and cooking. The Spanish language was the original official language of the Philippines and at it's peak was spoken by 60% of the population as a first, second, or even third language in the early period of the 20th century.

Negrito and Austronesian peoples were the principal peoples of the Philippine archipelago. The Negritos and Austronesians migrated to the islands during the last ice age some 30,000 years ago, when land bridges connected the archipelago to mainland Asia. Later migrations were by water and took place over several thousand years.

The Philippines was ruled from Mexico City as a territory of New Spain, from 1565 to 1821 and as a province of Spain until 1898.

In the past few years, the Philippines has began to re-establish closer ties to its former colonial ruler, Spain. The King and Queen of Spain attended the Centennial celebration of Philippine Independence from Spain on June 12, 1998 in recognition of a shared history and cultural ties.

The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, with (83%) of the population baptized with the rites of the Roman Catholic Church. Roman Catholicism was introduced by the Spaniards. Friars and priests were in charge of converting the entire Filipino population from the previously practiced Islam and the many local native spiritual traditions to Christianity.

Many Filipinos at home set up altars in Hispanic Catholic fashion, adorned with icons, flowers, statues, etc. On feast days, various barrios host processions in honor of their patron saint. Many young girls are chosen as the 'queen' of the procession.