The Philippines: Religious Trends

Figure 1.--Here a Filipino boy wears the Barong Tagalog in a formal Catholic wedding.

The indigenous Filipinos were mostly Animists. Trade contacts brought Islsm to the southern Islands and there were some Chinese influences, both Budhism and Taoism. The Spanish first reached the Philippines under Magellan who was killed there (1521). The islands were named Spain's aggressively Catholic monsarch, Phillip II. Spanish rule was over the following century gradually spread over the Philippines and a major aspect of Spanish rule was savibng souls. Spain proceeded to colonize and Christiasnize most of the various islands. Thus both Christianity and Islam were superimposed on the animism of tribal communities. The Spanish political control and military force proved to be the deciding factor in making the Philippines a largely Catholic country. The Muslims inhabitants in the south, especially Mindanao, resisted Christianity. The Spanish faced insurgent efforts throughout the colonial period, but Christianity was widely accepted and is today the principal religion, mostlt Roman Catholics. Many Filipino children do a First Communion. The Philippines is thus the only Christian country in Asia. An estimsated 90 percent of the population are Christians. Other religions include: Muslims (5 percent), Buddhists, Daoists, animism, and other religions. Buddhists and Taoists are mostly part of the Chinese ethnic community, although even the Chinese are mostly Catholic. Although small in number, the Daoists have built a spectacular temple on the outskirts of Cebu. Muslims remain less integrated than other religious minorities into Philippine culture and society, presumably because of the Western and secular nature of the wider Philippines society. Today there is some support for independence among Muslims in the south.


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Created: 11:15 PM 6/10/2007
Last updated: 11:15 PM 6/10/2007