Bourdaine’s episode in No Reservations about the Philippines quite adequately describes the reality of the culture.
Culture is described by, quite simply, “how we do things” (and all the existential iterations of the idea). Philippine culture is highly stratified by its economic classes, regions and the way different cultures (western, Chinese, and Muslim) affects each of these classes.
You can even say we are the Asian equivalent of America, where you have the largest variety of race, ethnic cultural variety living in one nation. We were malays, impregnated by the Spanish, the Sepoys (Rape of Manila by the British), the Dutch (dutch colony what now is in River Side Marikina), the Japanese (19th century colony of San Miguel, and the Japanese Occupation), and America.
The same traits that make Filipinos so easy to get along with foreigners are the very traits that make Filipinos cultural versatile, and this is the lack of a strong dominant culture. Although, you can make that leap that our “Meta-culture” is not having a culture at all.
In my opinion of what constitutes a Culture can be found in origins in History. Culture is formed over time and practice. It is a method of transmitting values and ways of thinking. Seeing the evidence in our cultural versatility- Philippine Culture is about having No strong commitment to any particular Manner of Living.
Unfortunately, the adaptive culture idea doesn’t really count because there is no active and conscious effort to make it a practice and tradition. By tradition, the Philippines is a Western (Spanish/American) Christian Culture derivative. Unfortunately, Spanish culture only affected the Upper Class and the Lower Class was left to develop its own servile culture based on what the Spanish Aristocracy wanted out of them. (to be humble, servile, conscious of saving face and appearance, and with a strong sense of debt to what ever scraps their masters saw fit to give them).
Actively Filipinos try to work within what their parents think their tradition should be (most of the time based on the Spanish’s familial culture) and try to make it work with what Modern thought and practicality. This is where things get very messy, because the line of “cultural evolution” is heavily interrupted by technological innovation. Religious and family traditions that cannot some times adapt to these barrage of alien ideals.
I want Philippine culture to actively play the game General Antonio Luna intended: to Adapt, Pander, Innovate and Push forward (his strategy of playing off all the Empire builders). If Philippine culture were to learn its foundation in its diversity. If we could embrace our Bastard nature, then we will not hold on to tradition merely on merit of sentimentality, instead we will create and innovate traditions based on their merits, effectiveness, ability to communicate and connect all generations.
Such a culture will share the Ideals of the past and adapt them according to the revelation of the future. Creating an unbroken chain of growth and identity for generations to come.