Everything in the Philippines, from social and economic activities to religion, revolves around the family-which for Filipinos is extensive. A second cousin is considered a close relative, as are godmothers and godfathers (compadres and comadres), who may be friends or wealthy acquaintances. The Filipino family provides great solidarity to its members, as well as financial help when necessary. Relatives often choose to live close to each other, and most children do not leave home until they are married. After marriage, couples often set up house with unmarried siblings, either to be close to them or help ease work and expenses.

Decision-making is usually based on consensus among older family members, who have greater responsibilities and influence. Children are raised to respect the authority and wisdom of all elders, to be grateful to their parents and to care for elders in their old age.

Households are headed by fathers, who are responsible for providing the family's financial security. Mothers organize the household, manage its finances and care for children; in addition, many women work outside the home. After marriage, women retain their property and often have significant economic power as breadwinners for their families. At a young age, children begin learning household chores such as cleaning. In very poor families, girls and boys help their families earn money by selling small items at markets and on city streets.

Most Filipinos live in simple homes or apartments, though the wealthy may have modern, Western-style houses. All Filipinos live in a barangay (commune) which is a small, organized district in the countryside, towns and cities. A barangay leader and councillors are elected by the members to oversee local government. About 70% of the population lives on Luzon and Mindanao, mostly in cities or along the coastal plains.

  Did you know?
The Negritos are the Philippine's oldest ethnic group. Consisting of several distinct subgroups, the Negritos generally live as nomadic hunters and gatherers, though they may also settle and farm. The majority live in the forested mountains on Luzon.

  Did you know?
A popular mode of public transportation in the Philippines is the jeepney, a small truck covered with paintings, flags, flowers and fancy bodywork. Originally created from leftover American jeeps, jeepneys are now made by factories and then colourfully decorated by their owners.