Credit: Karla from NSW

The Philippines has a very rich history of prehistoric migration, Asian influence and Spanish colonisation, followed by around 50 years of American rule.  This has all shaped the Philippines into a very unique culture in Asia and a great destination for exchange.  It is not uncommon for a Filipino to have a Spanish sounding name, with an Asian face that speaks like an American.  There is no language requirement for an exchange to the Philippines, however an interest in learning Tagalog is essential.


Credit: Karla from NSW

Until 2011, the Philippine school system was similar to the USA with 4 years of high school. In 2011, the Philippine government implemented a new educational system, which is the K-12 educational system which includes a new curriculum for all schools. This new system consists of 6 years of high school with the first 4 years Grades 7 to 10 being Junior High school, and the last 2 years (Years 11 and 12 ) being senior high school.  In the senior  high school years  (Grades 11 -12) students may choose particular curriculum strands or pathways based on their interests  or abilities.  There are t3 curriculum strands : Academic, Technical-Vocational and the Arts.  The school year in the Philippines usually begins on the first Monday of June, and usually ends around the last week of March.  Summer school holidays are 2 months long (April and May). The Christmas school holiday usually begins in the 3rd week of December, and ends during the week after New Year’s Day.  A Typical school day begins at 7:30 am  and ends at 5 pm, Monday to Friday.


A typical household in the Philippines is a 1 or 2 parent family with extended family members living in the same house.  Host parents may both be professionals although some households may have only 1 parent working. Fathers generally are the head of the family in terms of being the financial provider and in making major decisions for the entire family. However, mothers exert great influence in discipline and the behaviour of children. Teenagers in the Philippines do not engage parents in open dialogue about decisions concerning themselves. They are not used to making personal choices as their parents make major decisions affecting their children’s future so you will find that you need to discuss all social and other activities with your host family. Traditionally in the Philippines, mothers or elder female extended family members undertake household chores. Many families even those of moderate income have household help. Students are not often tasked to complete many chores around the home, but it is important to offer to help. Filipino teenagers respect their elders and may use honorary titles for older relatives such as Ate (Big Sister), Kuya (Big Brother), Aunt, Uncle, Lola (Grandma), Lolo (Grandpa).  The concept of personal space in Filipino culture is different to Australia or New Zealand. Filipinos feel rejected or distrustful if  the personal space between them is not very close. Filipinos demonstrate acceptance and connection by touch such as hugging, back slapping, and literally rubbing shoulders and elbows often with family and close or trusted friends.

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