The Philippines is located in the Far East in the Pacific Ocean. The archipelago consists of 7,000 islands. Each has mountains, plains, and forests, in addition to the world’s largest coasts, with a large number of lakes, rivers, springs, and streams.
Filipino Muslims are called Moro. It is the name the Spanish gave to the Muslims of the Philippines, as the first people to resist the Spanish were the Muslims of Morocco, so the name stuck. When the Spanish entered southern Philippines, the saw the same resistance from residents there, hence, they were called Moro.
Currently, Muslims in the Philippines constitute 10% of the population.
Muslims there eagerly await Ramadan as an opportunity to emphasise their Islamic identity and maintain it. Given the large number of the Muslims of the Philippines of Arab origin, the traditions of Ramadan in the Philippines are greatly affected by their Arab roots.
Some of these traditions include decorations and lightings in mosques, as well as performing Tarawih prayers.
Muslims there seek to make mosques a place of meeting other Muslims and offering aid to the needy. The rich also host the poor at their tables, seeing everyone as brothers in Islam. The imams of mosques work to collect the Zakat (alms) and distributing it among the poor.
Masjid Dimaukom is one of the most important mosques for the Muslims of the Philippines in Ramadan, as they gather and worship there. Children also sit in Quran sessions to read the Quran together.
As for iftar in the Philippines, it starts with having the favourite beverage which consists of bananas, sugar, and coconut milk, then curry, which is made of meat and spices. Afterwards, they have the “si-yuan-suan” dish, which is made of either fish or meat. Then there are some sweets that look like qatayef and apricot juice.
Filipino food is the aggregate of great seafood and food collected from crops and forests, in addition to the effect of other cuisines coming from China, Spain, Mexico, the US, and other countries.
There are many famous local dishes prepared for iftar in the Philippines, such as a rice dish named “pagas” or “cornig”. One of the most famous fish dishes is made of cooked fish and soup. Another includes fried fish. As for the favourite fish dish, it is known as “tilavia”. The Filipinos also like having a sweet dish named “doodle”, and another named “tiatag” and “tamarkotsi”.
Once iftar is over, Muslims rush to mosques to perform the Isha prayers. Afterwards, recital sessions are held, concluded with Tarawih prayers.
As for children, they go out after iftar wearing colourful clothes and carrying Ramadan lanterns, singing songs, and forming teams. Each team receives worshippers with chants and songs in the nearest mosques.
They then roam near the houses close to mosques and remain that way until suhoor, when they wake people up to have their suhoor.
In most cases, the food you see on iftar tables is the same you see at suhoor tables, with some sweets looking like Egyptian qatayef, known as “ayam”. They also drink lemon juice and apricot juice. Some other famous foods at suhoor include jah, paulo, and custard, which is made of flour, cream, sugar, and eggs.
The Filipinos are known to visit one another during Ramadan. Poorer families spend the entire month moving around from a table to another at the houses of their rich neighbours. Then the rich collect the charity of Ramadan and distribute it among these families.
Then the Sheikh of the mosque distributes these funds whether in a city or a village based on the needs of the recipients.