Growing up in the Philippines

Growing up in the

This post takes us to the Philippines with Tina’s family!

Tina’s crew hasn’t always made their home in Philippines – in fact their family has worked as missionaries – but today they are sharing with us why they LOVE calling the Philippines home, and a special reason why their kids enjoy life there.

So read on to learn a few common Tagalog phrases, get a few ideas for an authentic Filipino dinner, and gaze at Tina’s family’s beautiful beach photos!

Growing up around the world: A series

Tell us a little bit about your family.

We are a Filipino family of six: Papa, Mama and four kids ranging in age from almost 10 years to 5 months (as of this writing).

Family photo-2

Tell us a little bit about where you live and how long you’ve lived there.

We currently live in Quezon City, Philippines. We’ve lived here since 2012; previously, we lived in Cainta, Rizal. Prior to that, our family was based in Timor Leste (or East Timor) as Catholic lay missionaries.

What do you think is unique and special about living where you do?

Despite having lived abroad, we know that there is certainly no place like the Philippines. When I asked the older kids if they would be OK with us living in another country, they said “no” because their cousins and our other extended family members are here!

So I guess you could say that’s one of the things that is unique and special about the Philippines: our people’s deeply ingrained love for family.

Another thing that’s unique and special? Filipinos in general like to eat rice! Ha, ha! Rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Generally, we are also considered a “God-fearing” nation, and have been called “a light to Asia” in the past. There are SO many unique and special things actually — we are a resilient, creative, vibrant nation with diverse cultures and traditions!

beach getaway-2

What languages are spoken there? If it’s different from English, can you help us learn a few common phrases?

We Filipinos have many dialects — Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilonggo, Bikol, Waray are just some of them.

Tagalog is commonly taught in schools; English is also widely taught and spoken.

Here are some common Tagalog phrases:

  • Good day! — Magandang araw!
  • Thank you. — Salamat.
  • What is your name? — Anong pangalan mo?
  • How are you? — Kamusta ka?
  • Fine, you? — Mabuti, ikaw?
  • I love you. — Mahal kita.
  • Take care. — Ingat.
  • Paalam. — Goodbye.

What are some traditional foods there?

There are so many I don’t even know where to start!  Each Philippine region has its own traditional foods.

Some of the more “popular” ones known locally and abroad are adobo (chicken and/or pork cooked with vinegar, soy sauce and garlic) and sinigang (a sour soup made with shrimp, fish or pork and vegetables).

sinigang-joeys breakfasts-2
Photo by 80 Breakfasts

Tell us about the climate where you live.

Our climate is tropical — hot mostly with months where there are rains and even typhoons.

What does school look like for the majority of kids where you live?

The majority of Filipino kids go to brick-and-mortar schools — mostly public schools, though more and more families are considering homeschooling. Sadly, there are also many out of school youth here.

What does school look like for your family?


We are a homeschooling family.

According to my nine-year-old: “Our school looks like a house … We don’t just learn at home; we learn everywhere!”

Are there any special festivals or traditions you’d like to tell us about related to where you live?

A few special traditions:

– Pagmamano: When we greet an elder by taking his or her hand — e.g. kids take the hand of a parent — and place it on our foreheads as a sign of respect
– Using the words po and opo when speaking with our elders
– For us Filipino Catholics, the Simbang Gabi or 9-day Novena Masses before Christmas Day


If you ever had to move away from where you live now, what do you think you’d miss most?

If we ever had to move away from where we live now, we would miss these the most: family (!!!!), friends, and fellow homeschoolers.

Do you have a favorite book that takes place in your region/country?

We have more than one favorite local book! To name a few: The MatsFilipino Celebrations (not a story book but still a fun read!), Bahay Kubo (based on a Filipino folk song), Alpabetong Filipino (teaches the letters of the Filipino alphabet by attaching them to objects that depict Filipino culture and history).


Fast Facts about The Philippines

  • The Philippines are located in the western Pacific Ocean and consist of about 7,641 islands.
  • The capital city is Manila.
  • Want to learn more? Check out this video:

Thank you so much to Tina and her family!

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About Tina Santiago-Rodriguez

Tina and her husband, Anthony, used to be fulltime lay missionaries in Timor Leste, where two of their four kids were born. They discovered homeschooling when their eldest was still in utero, and have been teaching their kids at home (and everywhere else!) ever since. Tina hopes to encourage others to discover and grow the "riches" they already have at Truly Rich and Blessed.


  1. What is the law about homeschooling in PI? Curious about the requirements…
    I’ve been to Manila twice, the 2nd time for 6 weeks shooting a movie. My husband is a Kali/Eskrima teacher 🙂
    Glad you are happy to be home & with family!
    Sarah B R’s latest post: Beware of the Munchy Monster

  2. A few years ago, a woman from the Philippines came to speak at a women’s event at our church, I don’t remember where exactly she was from, but I do remember that she said that growing up, there was a huge disparity between the poor and the upper class there. She also surprised me when she said that she was often made fun of for having a darker complexion because that was supposedly a sign of being lower class (having to work in the sun all day). And to think that here in the U.S. people TRY to look that way! Have things gotten better there in that way?
    Shelly’s latest post: New Year Curriculum Choices for Our Relaxed Homeschool

    • Hi Shelly! 🙂 Yes, sadly there is still a huge disparity between the poor and the upper class here. This is something we try to address as a family — to do what we can to reach out to those in need, and to teach our kids to do the same. And yes, the woman who spoke to you is right — there is sometimes discrimination against those with a darker complexion, or those who look different. I think it is the same in other countries too, yes? The tendency to make fun of what is different — which is a sad thing, of course. That’s why Jamie’s book (Give Your Child the World) is so important, like other books that teach about being global-minded! As to your question if things have gotten better here, well, there are improvements but there is still a lot that can be done! 🙂 We Filipinos would appreciate any prayers and/or “good vibes” you could send our way! Please feel free to drop by my blog and Facebook and/or Instagram for more glimpses of life here in the Philippines! Blessings to you and yours! 🙂
      Tina Santiago-Rodriguez’s latest post: 3 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Family’s Finances

  3. My friend who lives just outside Manila bought me The Mats just last year–she works in a different country every 2-3 years and always buys our family a picture book of where she lives (such a great tradition!) and it is such a sad, lovely story. She loves living there, too!
    Sarah M’s latest post: July Titles Read (2016)

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