Filipino artisans often use natural materials such as bamboo, rattan, coconut leaves, cotton, pineapple leaf and abaca fibre (an inedible species of banana) for making baskets and cloth. Wood and clay are made into figures or everyday objects such as vases and cooking pots. Brass and bronze objects such as urns, trays and shields are crafted mainly by Muslims. In northern Luzon, the Ifugao tribe is known for its gold and silver jewellery.

Each ethnic group in the Philippines has its own musical tradition. Indigenous musical instruments include types of gongs and bamboo nose flutes, a violin with strings made of human hair (called mangyan git-git) and a two-string lute (tboli hagalong). The kulintang, a xylophone-like instrument, is part of Muslim tradition, played usually by women at festive events like weddings and fiestas. Filipino children often study instruments such as the piano or violin. Rap and rock music have also become popular.

Traditional Filipino dances reflect people's relationship with nature, the cycle of the seasons, the migration of birds and harvest activities. Contemporary folk dance troupes have revived many traditional forms, notably the tinikling, which depicts the movement of a rice-field bird. Filipinos also enjoy classical ballet, jazz and modern dance.

Filipinos have a long literary tradition that includes myths, epic tales, poems and folk stories. The country's greatest novelist and hero is José Rizal (1861-96), whose books Noli me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and El Filibusterismo (The Subversive) played a major role in uniting the Philippines against the Spaniards. The country has produced other novelists, short story writers and poets working in English and Tagalog, including Nick Joaquin and José Garcia Villa.

Filipinos transformed the zarzuela, originally an operetta, into political and social satire directed against Spanish colonizers. Nowadays it is an important element for expression in the national theatre. Another traditional form of theatre is the carillo, a shadow-puppet performance using figures made of papier mâché. Puppet shows and street theatre are also used for education and enjoy great popularity. The Philippines has also a strong domestic film industry.

  Did you know?
The Filipino actress Lea Salonga won the Lawrence Olivier Award (1990) and the Tony Award (1991) for her starring role in Miss Saigon. She was under 20 at the time.

  Did you know?
The T'boli people in Mindanao practise a complex form of tie-dying called t'nalak. Clothing made from t'nalak cloth is believed to have beneficial properties such as helping pregnant women during delivery.