The Philippines are a beautiful tropical archipelago in
southeast Asia, with Taiwan to the north and Indonesia to the south. Having
been a Spanish colony for 333 years and a former United States territory,
they are unique in culture and style from their Asian neighbors. While
colonial Spanish culture with strong American and Chinese influence is
obvious on the surface, Filipinos retain deeply their tribal roots at heart.
They are particularly known for their friendly, laid-back attitude, their
unsurpassed hospitality, strong concept of family, hearty food at parties,
prolific singing and dancing, shockingly effective blade-centric
martial arts, and ability to adapt to new cultures and languages. Most
Filipinos are Roman Catholic, although there is a large Islamic population
in Mindanao, and many ancient animistic religions and superstitious practices
continue to this day.
Davao is the largest city in Mindanao, and a center of
trade and commerce. Unlike Manila, Davao primarily
speaks Bisaya (also called Cebuano), as the majority of the central and south Philippines do.
Cagayan de oro, Davao, and General Santos lie at the edge of a sort of
apparent boundary between 'Muslim Mindanao' and the rest of the island.