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People/Culture

BOHOL
PHILIPPINES

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General Information

The province of Bohol is a first-class A province composed of 47 municipalities and one city, Tagbilaran, which serves as its capital.  There are 1,109 barangays with a total population of 948,315 (1992) with an average household size of 5.4.

Population
Bohol's population is relatively young with 39% of its household population below 15 years old.  Since 1960 until the census in 1980, there were more females than males.    In the census in 1990, the number of males was higher than females.   Likewise, there were more single males than females.   Every 10 adults (of working/productive age) in supporting seven children and one elderly person.   Almost 95% of the household population (5 years old and over) in Bohol have resided in the same municipality for at least five years.
 
The majority of the people in Bohol live in the rural area.  The province's density is two people to a hectare.  Only 25% live in urban areas.  Bohol's population has almost doubled since the census in 1948 due largely to natural increase.  It will take another 42 years to double Bohol's population at the present growth  rate of 1.6% or 15,544 annually.  Most Boholano women marry at the age of 21.  On average, most couples have four children.

Language/Dialect
The majority speak the native dialect which is distinctively Boholano.  Cebuano, Tagalog and English are also spoken and understood.

Religion
Over 90% of the population are Christian and over 80% are Roman Catholic. The religous practices are heavily influenced by more than 300 years of Spanish colonization. Other religions in Bohol are Protestants, Iglesia ni Kristo, Mormons, Islam and others.

Some Insights of Boholano Culture

          In a country comprising of several thousands of islands like the Philippines where people are isolated in small group of ethnic people thereby causing the development of so many dialects in different intonations and accents, superstitious beliefs and practices, customs and traditions are handed down from parent to children. Bohol is one of the island provinces to have developed a culture of its own.

          The boholanos are known to be thrifty, law-abiding, hospitable, religious, humble people. Surrounded by big body of water, they became expert sea-farers and famous traders. They have always been portrayed in a way that sometimes they abhor. In spite of these portrayals they remain modest and undisturbed. Boholanos are very hospitable which is sometimes overdone just to impress and satisfy for the convenience of the visitor.

          Boholanos are sometimes looked down by non-Boholanos in exaggerating the use of "j" in speaking the local dialect in their own intonation and accent. But to them, the intonation and accent should not be considered a defect; it is a trademark of the twang the native tongue. Every town, province or even every country for that matter has its own intonation and accent in speaking their own language and that the Boholanos are proud that they have their own, a symbol and identification that they are real Boholanos. So they have nothing to fear for being despised. Instead they have to preserve it.

          The month of May is a fiesta fever for Boholanos. No day passes without being celebrated elsewhere in Bohol town or barangay. It is a tradition that has been inculcated in their minds. Wherever they are, be it Manila, Mindanao, Cebu, or even abroad, they do not fail to go home just to attend the fiesta celebration and for family reunion. It becomes a part of Boholano religiosity and hospitality that every family regardless of financial status prepares a fattened pig every year for the entertainment of relatives and friends from nearby towns and even strangers. Once, the provincial government, and even the church tried to edict the lavish preparation of the fiesta celebration requiring only "fiesta de misa", not "fiesta de la mesa". But church injunction failed to overrule the Boholano's flair for fiesta. Even town ordinances attempted to arrest the tide of fiesta goers but unsuccessful. It failed to dampen the Boholanos' love of fiesta. So, one cannot legislate against tradition.

          To a Boholano, the fiesta is the highest form of expressing one's self to the community. It is manifested in the way he and his family receive their guests. He feels honored to be able to serve his visitors the best of what he can offer no matter what his financial status is. And when it is his turn to be somebody's guest, he expresses also the best of himself. This form of community interaction surpasses social barriers and thereby enhances friendship, mutual respect, cooperation and strengthens family relation. That is why the value of this tradition has been kept in the hearts of true Boholanos for so many generations. Bohol has been regarded by some visitors and tourists as the "fiesta capital" of the Philippines --- the real fiesta island.


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