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Republika ng Pilipinas (Filipino)
Republic of the Philippines (English)
Republic of the Philippines
Flag of the Philippines
Coat of arms of the Philippines
flag coat of arms
Motto :
Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan at Makabansa
( "For God, people, nature and the land")
Official language Filipino ( national and official language ),
English (official language)
capital city Manila
State and form of government presidential republic
Head of state , also head of government President
Rodrigo Duterte
surface 343,000 km²
population 109,035,343 ( 13th ) (2020 census)
Population density 318 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 1.63% (2020 census)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 377 billion ( 34. )
  • $ 1.0 trillion ( 29. )
  • 3,512 USD ( 127. )
  • 9,356 USD ( 120. )
Human Development Index 0.718 ( 107th ) (2019)
currency Philippine Peso (PHP)
independence June 12, 1898 (by Spain )
July 4, 1946 (by the United States )
National anthem Lupang Hinirang ("Chosen Land")
National holiday June 12
Time zone UTC + 8
License Plate RP
ISO 3166 PH , PHL, 608
Internet TLD .ph
Phone code +63
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Great Seal of the Republic of the Philippines

The Philippines ([ filɪˈpiːnən ], officially the Republic of the Philippines , Filipino Republika ng Pilipinas [ ˌpɪlɪˈpinɐs ], English Republic of the Philippines , Spanish República de Filipinas ) is a state and archipelago with 7,641 islands in the western Pacific Ocean and belongs to Southeast Asia . They form the fifth largest island nation in the world (after Indonesia , Madagascar , Papua New Guinea and Japan ). Along with East Timor (Timor-Leste), the Philippines are the only Asian state with a Catholic majority . They got their name from the explorer Ruy López de Villalobos , who named the islands in honor of the Spanish Infante Philipp Las Islas Filipinas .



Pinatubo volcano
Stilt houses in the sea

The South China Sea separates the archipelago in the west from Vietnam , the Sulu Sea in the southwest from Malaysia , and the Celebes Sea in the south from Indonesia . The Philippine Sea extends to the east .

The archipelago extends from latitude 5 to 21 degrees north and longitude 117 to 125 degrees east.

The Philippines consist of a total of 7641 islands , of which 3144 are named and about 880 are inhabited. Of the islands, 13 islands have an area of ​​more than 1000 km², 47 islands have an area of ​​more than 100 km² and 357 islands are larger than 2.5 km². Only eleven of the islands have an area of ​​more than 2500 km²; the largest are Luzon , Mindanao , Samar , Negros , Mindoro , Panay and Palawan . A total of 421 major rivers flow on the islands and there are 79 natural lakes . The coastline of the Philippines is 36,289 kilometers.

The archipelago is generally divided into three major regions:

At their core, the islands are the peaks of submarine mountain ranges rising above sea level, on the border of two continental plates , the Filipino and the Eurasian . Viewed over a large area, the Philippines are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, with earthquakes and volcanism as frequent side effects of this location at the plate boundary. There are currently around 20 active volcanoes , of which the Mayon and the Taal - both located on Luzon - have shown particular activity in recent years. The 1991 Pinatubo eruption was the world's second strongest in the 20th century. The highest point in the Philippines is Mount Apo . The Philippines Trench runs east of the archipelago and is one of the deepest deep-sea trenches on earth with a depth of up to 10,540 m . As a result of seaquakes , huge tidal waves, the tsunamis , can occur on the outer reefs of the Philippines.

Between the islands there is a multitude of inland seas and golf courses , which are connected by sea roads. The main inland seas are Sibuyan Sea , Samar Sea , Visayan Sea , Bohol and Camotes Sea .


Only the islands that are larger than 200 km² are listed here. The table is pre-sorted according to the land area.

Name of the island Area in km² Remarks
Luzon 109,965 sixteenth largest island in the world.
In terms of population, it is in fourth place worldwide.
Mindanao 97,530 nineteenth largest island on earth.
Negros 13,074 Largest island in the Visayas
Samar 12,849
Palawan 12,189 (Island province: island whole to one province)
Panay 12,011
Mindoro 10,572
Leyte 7368
Cebu 4468 (Island province)
Bohol 3821 (Island province)
Masbate 3268
Catanduanes 1523 (Island province)
Basilan 1265 Largest island in the Sulu archipelago
Marinduque 920 (Island province)
Busuanga 890 Largest of the Calamian Islands
Jolo 869
Tablas 844
Dinagat 769 (Island province)
Polillo 629 Largest island in the Polillo archipelago
Tawi-Tawi 581
Guimaras 560 (Island province)
Biliran 536 (Island province)
Sibuyan 465
Burias 417
Siargao 416
Culion 389
Siquijor 334 (Island province)
Ticao 332
Dumaran 322 Dumaran is also the name of a township (in the province of Palawan).
Balabac 319
Camiguin 255 (Island province)
Samal 254 see Island Garden City of Samal
Panaon 216


Climate diagram Manila
Climate diagram Davao

The climate of the Philippines is mainly characterized by its proximity to the sea, because no place is further than 200 km from the coast . The climate of the Philippines can be described as mostly tropical and in the higher regions of the mountains as subtropical. Occasionally snow even falls on Pulag Mountain in the cold seasons . The average annual temperature in the Philippines is given as 26.5 ° C. The effective climate classification of the Philippines is characterized as tropical climates in the system developed by Wladimir Peter Köppen .

Typhoons and tropical storms occur in the Philippines all year round, with a clear dichotomy of the country here. The northern and eastern parts of the archipelago are regularly hit by typhoons, some of which are violent, from July to September, with wind speeds of over 250 km / h ( typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, for example, had a peak of 315 km / h). The rest of the archipelago is afflicted by sometimes violent tropical storms over the year, some of which cause large amounts of rain to fall over the land masses. The annual amounts of precipitation are very different. The lowest rainfall falls in the region around General Santos with 965 mm and highest in the region around Infanta with 4,064 mm and in the central and eastern parts of the island of Luzon. In order to determine the regional climates, the corona classification was introduced in 1921. This includes four different regional climate types:

Climate map of the Philippines

Type I allows a distinction to be made between a rainy and a dry season. The rainy season is set from May to November, with the heaviest rainfall falling from June to September. This includes the Ilocos region, the western part of the Mountain Province, the western part of the Central Luzon and CALABARZON region , Metro Manila , Occidental Mindoro , the southern areas of the Panay and Negros islands and the northwest of the Palawan island .

In type II climate there is no separation of dry and rainy seasons, precipitation falls throughout the year, with the main precipitation period being from December to February and the least precipitation falling from March to May. Climate type II applies to the Cagayan Valley regions , the southwestern part of the CALABARZON region, the Polillo archipelago , the Bicol region , the northeast of the Samar island , the southern Leyte , parts of the Caraga region (northeast Mindanao ) and the northeast of the Zamboanga -Peninsula.

In type III climate, there is no separation of dry and rainy seasons, precipitation falls throughout the year, with no main precipitation period, but low precipitation intensity from December to March or from March to May. This includes the regions of northeast Luzon, parts of the Cagayan Valley region, the Bulacan province , the eastern parts of the CALABARZON region, Oriental Mindoro , Romblon , Marinduque , the north and northeast of Panay Island, Negros Occidental , Siquijor , Zamboanga del Sur , the central and southern parts of Mindanao Island and the Sulu Archipelago .

In type IV climate there is no separation of dry and rainy seasons, precipitation falls throughout the year, with precipitation being evenly distributed over the year.

Climate change

The Philippines are considered to be one of the countries that will be hardest hit by the effects of anthropogenic climate change .

According to the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security, the Philippines ranked third on the risk scale for the likelihood of natural disasters worldwide in 2011. The country ranks tenth for the likelihood of threats to biodiversity and the population from climate change, again worldwide, and it ranks fifth among the countries that will be most affected by sea level rise.

Flora and fauna

175,000 years ago, in the Middle Pleistocene , the sea level was so low that there were one or more continuous land bridges to the surrounding regions of Asia, which were used intensively in particular by animals, but also by Homo erectus and, for around 70,000 years, by modern humans . After the sea level rose again, many living things were isolated from the other species so that the diverse flora and fauna could develop. Biogeographically , however, the Philippines belong to the Malay Archipelago , as the well-known Wallace Line runs south of the archipelago . The previously common name of the Huxley Line , which starts from northern Luzon and connects to the better-known Wallace Line in the south in the area between Borneo and Sulawesi , separated the island of Palawan from the rest of the archipelago, which did not fully explain the distribution of different animal species. Today, a microbiogeographical distinction is made between the Palawan – Busuanga – Mindoro Archipelago and the northern Luzon, Visayas – Mindanao, Halmahera, Moluccas and Sulawesi archipelagos, so that the Philippines are included in the Indo – Malay – Philippines biogeosphere zone.


Filipino wildlife is very similar to Indonesian. In the Philippines there are more than 5000 different animal and numerous insect species as well as 14,000 different plants. These include the tamarau , carabao , parrots, flying squirrels , dolphins, crocodiles, snakes, tarsier , turtles, lizards and others.

In the Philippines, home to a variety of endemic animals, including solely on Palawan, the Palawan pangolin Manis (Paramanis) culionensis , the red-vented cockatoo ( Cacatua haematuropygia ) that house the size of cats Bengal cat ( Prionailurus bengalensis ), the Palawan Peacock-Pheasant , the Palawan-rat and the Palawan -Beard pig . The Philippine duck, a species of the mallard group , is only widespread in the Philippines . Other animals are the Philippines shrews , the red mammoth snail ( Ryssota otaheitanader ), the Philippines eagle and the Philippines black-line pigeon .


In the sea near the coast you can still find many coral reefs with a biodiversity of fish, crustaceans and molluscs that is unique in the world. However, in 2010 many coral reefs were severely affected by coral bleaching . According to the DENR, only 4% of the Philippine coral reefs were not affected by coral bleaching. Cyanide and dynamite fisheries have caused great damage  in the past on the world-famous coral reefs , such as the Tubbataha , Apo Reef and in the Cagayan Archipelago - and also in other places . Most of the coral reefs in the Philippines, however, have not been developed for tourism. The greatest diversity of marine fauna and flora can be found in the Isla Verde Passage , which is considered to be the center of biodiversity in the seas and waterways of the Philippines.

environmental Protection

The Philippines are one of the megadiversity countries on earth, in which, in addition to a very large variety of species and biodiversity , there are many endemic species, genera and families of plants and animals, and there are also diverse ecosystems . Due to the endangerment of this diversity, the entire Philippines on land and water is also a hotspot of biodiversity . But the rapid population growth and the associated settlement pressure lead to the overexploitation of natural resources . The state of the Philippine environment has deteriorated so much that the government responded with tough environmental laws. Of these, Republic Law 7586 , also known as the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS), is the most demanding in terms of enforcement. A total of around 35,000 km² of the area of ​​the Philippines have been designated as nature reserves in accordance with the guidelines of the NIPAS law. Of these, around 21,300 km² are terrestrial and 12,700 km² marine protection zones.

The protection zones include the following classifications:

  • Strict nature reserve (National park)
  • Natural park
  • Natural monument
  • Wildlife sanctuary
  • Protected landscapes and seascapes
  • Resource reserve
  • Natural biotic areas

Further protection zones are:

  • Protected areas
  • Buffer zones
  • Indigenous cultural community areas

The environmental laws of the Philippines are intended to protect the rainforest as well as the sea with its coral reefs , fish stocks, endemic animal species and the areas of the local population that are necessary for self-sufficiency. In recent years, due to population pressure, the classification of 37 national parks has been converted into Protected Landscapes and Natural Parks, so that there are often a large number of names for nature reserves in the literature. Also should i.a. by expanding local public transport, the air in cities will become cleaner. Furthermore, the treatment of wastewater is to be promoted, for which a prize is awarded every year for the cleanest river in the Philippines. When it comes to waste disposal, the Philippines are still faced with enormous problems, as the majority of the population cannot afford regular waste disposal. Despite all the problems, the Philippines is one of the few countries in the world that has been able to significantly reduce its carbon dioxide emissions .

Administrative structure

The lowest level of administration in the Philippines is the barangay . Each city (a total of 138 cities) and each independently administered municipality (a total of 1,496 municipalities) is made up of several barangays (a total of 38,957 barangays), which can therefore be viewed as districts. The next higher level are the 81 provinces (as of 2015) of the country. These, in turn, are grouped into 17 regions to simplify administration. Each province is headed by a governor and a lieutenant governor; whereas each city and municipality is headed by a mayor and a city council.

The barangays can be divided into so-called Puroks (in German "zones"). Such a Purok has a supervisor who, among other things, counts the number of people living in the respective households, gives confirmation that a person actually lives in his Purok and carries out other administrative tasks. The Purok supervisor works on a voluntary basis. However, Puroks have largely disappeared in Metro Manila and are limited to rural areas and smaller cities.

Most government offices in the regions have a regional office to support the individual provinces. With the exception of the ARMM , the regions do not have their own government like the provinces and cities.

The Philippines claim several of the Spratly Islands west of Palawan .


In 2016, 44.3% of the population lived in cities or urban areas. By far the largest city in the Philippines is Manila, which is the unrestricted political, economic and cultural center of the country. With a population of 23 million people, Manila is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world and one of the most densely populated areas on earth. The largest agglomerations are (as of 2017):

  1. Metro Manila : population 23,371,436
  2. Cebu : 2,476,708 inhabitants
  3. Davao City : 1,439,598 inhabitants
  4. Angeles City : 1,332,870 residents
  5. Cagayan de Oro : 716,057 inhabitants


Population pyramid of the Philippines in 2016


Filipino  ( m. ) And Filipina  ( f. ) Is in Tagalog (or the official language, Filipino ), as is the local English and Spanish, the designation for the inhabitants. The colloquial form is Pinoy or Pinay (Tagalog, colloquial language). In German you can also say Filipino / Filipina . The Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany recommends Filipinos.

According to the census in 2020, the total population was 109,035,343. The population exceeded 100 million in 2015. The high population growth in recent decades was mainly caused by the high fertility rate, which only began to decline in recent years and was still 3.1 children per woman in 2015. One explanation for this is that the Catholic Church in the Philippines speaks out against birth control. The population is very young and on average 23.4 years old (as of 2016). Some islands in the Philippines are among the most densely populated areas in the world and the population continues to grow by around 2 million people per year.

The Philippines are a country of emigration. In 2017, the number of people who emigrated was 5.7 million. The most frequent destination countries were the United States (2.1 million), Saudi Arabia (580,000), United Arab Emirates (540,000), Canada (530,000) and Japan (240,000). With only 0.2% of the population, the foreigner quota in the Philippines is one of the lowest in the world.

Population development

Population development in millions of inhabitants
year population year population
1950 18,580,000 1990 61,947,000
1955 22,179,000 1995 69,836,000
1960 26,273,000 2000 77,992,000
1965 30,914,000 2005 86,274,000
1970 35,805,000 2010 93,727,000
1975 41,295,000 2018 106,512,000
1980 47,397,000 2030 125 million
1985 54,324,000 2050 151 million

Source: UN, figures for 2030 and 2050 are forecasts.

Ethnic groups

Ethnic groups in the Philippines according to the 2000 census

The term Filipino refers to citizenship and population in general, not an ethnicity . The majority (95%) of the population is made up of ethnic groups who speak Austronesian languages , who immigrated in successive waves from Taiwan and mixed with later immigrants from southern China . They can be divided into three broad groupings:

  • Christians who were shaped by Spanish colonial rule. They make up more than 90% of the Filipino population.
  • Muslims who were only subjugated at the beginning of the US colonial era. About 5% of the Filipino population belong to it.
  • Tribes hardly influenced by Islam and the Spanish.

Ethnically mixed population groups make up a further 1% of the population and continue to play an important economic role in the Philippines due to the colonial history, although the Chinese have been giving them competition from 1900 onwards. In addition to Malay-Spanish (these mainly live in southern Mindanao and speak a Spanish Creole language, namely Chavacano ), there are also around 300,000 Chinese and around 20,000 Japanese-Malay Filipinos. Officially, only 17,000 Filipinos of Spanish origin still live in the country.

Lowland peoples

The idea of ​​a Filipino identity first arose among the Christian lowland inhabitants, who were under Spanish colonial rule and who, in conflict with this power, developed a national consciousness as Filipinos . Initially, the Muslims and highland residents were not included. Even today there are tensions between the Christian lowland inhabitants, who dominate in all areas, on the one hand, and the predominantly Muslim highland inhabitants, on the other hand, who sometimes discharge themselves in armed conflicts.

Among the Christian lowland dwellers , the Tagalen , who live on the island of Luzon, form the numerically largest group. They make up 28.1% of the population and their language, Tagalog , forms the basis for Filipino , the official language of the Philippines.

Other groups are the Cebuano and Sugboanon (13.1%), the Ilokano (9%), the Bisaya / Binisaya (7.6%), Hiligaynon or Ilonggo (7.5%), the Bikolano (6%), the Waray (3.4%), the Pangasinán, the Kapampangan, the Waraynon, the Masbatenyo, the Ibanag and the Butuanon.

The Maranao , Maguindanao , Samal , Yakan , Badjo , Tausūg and the Jama Mapun are among the Muslim lowland inhabitants who live mainly in the south and west of Mindanao and on the Sulu Archipelago .

Traditional ethnic groups

Ifugao ensemble with several flat gongs ( gangha ) on Luzon

These indigenous communities live in inaccessible highlands, but also in remote lowland areas and on remote islands. They were not or only little influenced by Spaniards or Muslims. The following groupings can be distinguished - there are more than 100 tribes in total :

  • The Apayao, Tingguian, Kalinga, Bontok, Kankanai, Ifugao, Ibaloy and the I-wak, who are also collectively called Igorot , live on Luzon . They live in northern Luzon on the slopes of the 2,022 to 2,702 meter high mountains and built the legendary rice terraces .
  • The Ilongot also live on Luzon.
  • On Mindoro , the Mangyan live in seven tribes, Iraya, Alangan, Batangan, Tadyawan, Buhid, Hanunoo and Ratagnon, mainly in the interior of the island.
  • The tribes of the Palawan peoples live in Palawan : the Kagayans in the municipality of Cagayancillo, the Molbog on Balabak and other islands off Palawan, the Tagbanuwa , the Batak and the Tau't Batu . The term “the Palawan” is used for all of these tribes. Their settlement areas are threatened by road construction and a large number of mine projects.
  • In Mindanao , the Mamanwa, Manobo, Manobo Bilit, live Manobo Tasaday , Mandaya, Mansaka, Kalagan, T'boli and Subanu. They are collectively called Lumad .
  • The Badjao in the Sulu Archipelago , many of whom have migrated to Malaysia in the past 50 years. They are often confused with the Indonesian Badjo, as both groups live as sea ​​nomads .
  • The Tumandok on Panay .

Except for the hill tribes in Luzon, who were Christianized by the Americans, these tribes retained their ethnic religions . Their cultural identity is acutely threatened by the influence of civilization and the majority society.

The Aeta (on Luzon ), Mamanwa (on Leyte and Mindanao in Surigao del Norte ), Ati (on Panay ) and other Negritic natives of the Philippines are genetically related to the inhabitants of the Andaman Islands . There are only about 30,000 of them left. They live in larger communities on different islands, including Luzon, Panay and Negros.


In addition, the population consists of 1.5% Chinese , who have played an economic role in the Philippines since the 9th century. Today around 10–12% of all Filipinos have some form of Chinese ancestry. In contrast to the Chinese in Indonesia and Malaysia, they are more integrated into Filipino society and refer to themselves as Tsinoys.


According to Ethnologue , 171 languages ​​are spoken in the Philippines; practically every region has its own language or dialect. Most of the languages ​​in the Philippines are Malayo-Polynesian languages , which are a branch of the Austronesian languages .

Filipino languages

Filipino (formerly Pilipino), which is based on the Tagalog , is the official language of the Philippines. As part of the Austronesian languages , Tagalog is directly related to the Indonesian and Malay , Fijian , Maori , Hawaiian , Malagasy , Samoan , Tahitian , Chamorro , Tetum, and the Austronesian languages ​​of Taiwan .

Tagalog is mainly spoken on the island of Luzon. About 25% of Filipinos speak it as their first language. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is understood and spoken by around 80%. It is used in common parlance, newspapers, television, and radio; Filipino and English are often mixed or used alternately in official speeches. Sometimes Spanish words are also used; on the role of Spanish see below.

Another eleven languages ​​are spoken by at least one million people in the Philippines: Cebuano , Iloko , Hiligaynon or Ilonggo , Bikol , Waray-Waray , Kapampangan , Pangasinan , Kinaray-a , Maranao , Maguindanao and Tausūg . More than 90% of the country's population speak one of these twelve languages.

Cebuano, the most important regional Filipino language after Tagalog, is spoken by 15% of the population mainly in the south (in central Visaya as well as in the north and west of Mindanao). Together with Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray (with 9% language share) and others, Cebuano is one of the Visayas languages . Another important regional language is Iloko (12%).


Spanish was an official language in the Philippines until 1973 and a compulsory subject in schools until 1987. According to an estimate, between 1890 and 1940, around 10% of the population spoke it as their mother tongue and another 60% as a second or third language. Most of the Spanish speakers were mestizo or came from the upper class. Most universities were taught in Spanish, and most newspapers (such as La Vanguardia, La Opinión, La Estrella de Manila, La Democracia, El Renacimiento, El Pueblo) appeared in this language until around 1930.

Around 1901 the Philippines became an American colony. The Americans introduced English as the first official language. As a result, Spanish lost its importance, and instruction in many schools in the country was soon no longer in Spanish but in English. To maintain and regulate the Spanish language, the Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española (German: Philippine Academy of the Spanish Language) was founded on July 25, 1924 .

Chavacano is a Spanish-based Creole language with approximately 1,200,000 speakers in Zamboanga, Cavite, and Ternate.


English first came to the islands in 1898. Due to American influence, English is now the second official language alongside Filipino and is spoken by around 125,000 people (mostly Americans) as their mother tongue. English is an important second language for more than 50% of Filipinos.

English is the language of instruction and the working language in the business world in schools from the third grade onwards and in universities. As a rule, it is not the native language of the locals.


The Chinese minority in the Philippines dates back to 90% from the province of Fujian and speak Hokkien , and also Mandarin , Taiwanese and Cantonese are spoken. Due to the Filipinization policy of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos , which banned the use of standard Chinese in Chinese schools, the younger generation is already speaking Tagalog among each other.


In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao , Arabic is sometimes used officially. So it finds z. B. Use on ballot papers.



Religious affiliation according to the 2000 census: Catholics 81.04%, Muslims 5.06%, Lutherans 2.82%, Iglesia ni Cristo 2.31%, Independent Philippine Church (Iglesia Filipina Independente / Aglipayan) 1.98%, Seventh Day Adventists 0.80%, United Church of Christ 0.55%, Jehovah's Witnesses 0.50%.

The smaller religions that were no longer specifically mentioned in the census result include Mormons (according to their own data - which are above the census among Mormons - 0.6%). There are also ethnic religions (especially among the indigenous tribes), Buddhists (mostly Chinese , a few Filipinos) and Hindus (Indians).

Unlike Malaysia and western Indonesia , the Philippines were hardly shaped by Buddhism or Hinduism . However, there were trade relations with the great empires of Srivijaya and Majapahit as well as a brisk trade with the empire of China . The old Baybayin script is similar to the Kawi script from Indonesia, which in turn had Indian models.


Roman Catholic Church
Church on Bohol

The majority of Filipinos (81 percent, other estimates 83 percent) are Catholics. The country is the largest Christian country in Southeast Asia and the largest Catholic country in terms of population in Asia. Catholicism arose in the Philippines with the arrival of the Spaniards in 1521 and the conversion of 800 locals to Cebu, where the first mass was celebrated on March 31, 1521 on Philippine soil. By the end of the 16th century, however, only a few Filipinos had converted to Catholicism. In order to weaken the Islam advancing from the south, the Spaniards decided to Christianize the whole country; in addition, from 1590 Spanish and Mexican missionaries of the Jesuit order and other Catholic orders came to the islands. To facilitate the mission, services were usually held in the local language. By the middle of the 17th century, the Philippines, with the exception of the south and some mountain regions, were completely Christianized.

The Catholic Church in the Philippines has a great influence on politics and Filipino society, especially in rural areas. This is one of the reasons why the Philippines is the only country besides the Vatican that has no right of divorce . The protection of the life of the unborn is enshrined in the constitution.

Evangelical Lutheran Church

The Lutheran Church in the Philippines (Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP)) was founded in 1946 by the Philippine Pastor Alvaro Carino founded. The foundation goes back to the missionary work of Lutherans of the Missouri Synod . Soon poor, remote villages in the Cordillera mountain range were the focus of Lutheran missionary work.

Today, of the approximately 27,000 members of the LCP, almost 60% belong to the northern hill tribes of the island of Luzon . The church is divided into four dioceses : Mindanao, Northern Region, North Luzon, South Luzon. There is always a regional president at the top. The current President of the Universal Church is Antonio del Rio Reyes . The seat of the church office is in Manila . The LCP is a full member of the Lutheran World Federation and the National Christian Council of the Philippines.


Mosque on Basilan

The Islam reached the southern Philippines for the first time the end of the 14th century and spread to the whole Philippines until the 16th century. The spread of Islam ended with the arrival of the Spaniards. Today it is only widespread in the west of Mindanao and the islands in the Sulu Sea. About four million Filipinos belong to Islam.

In 1968, just under 20 percent of Filipino Muslims practiced Islam. Since then, however, it has seen an upswing. Many Filipino Muslims, as well as their Malaysian and Indonesian neighbors, became more conservative and took Islamic rules more seriously. Numerous Muslims emigrated to Malaysia because of the conflict between Muslim fighters and government troops that had been going on since the late 1960s.

Native religions

The original religions are still cultivated by many indigenous tribes. Often old beliefs have also merged with Christianity and Islam (→ syncretism ) . Popular belief , animism (“all-soulfulness”) and shamanism are also represented by people such as the Albularyo (also Hilot, Manghihilot or Manggagamot), a healer or medicine man, or the Babaylan (also Mammalian), a religious leader.


Pre-colonial period

The archaeological excavation sites in the Cagayan Valley , located in the north of the island of Luzon, refuted the earlier assumption that the Philippines were a largely isolated island archipelago. The oldest artifacts were dated to 709,000 years ago and come from Homo erectus . The oldest fossils of anatomically modern humans ( Homo sapiens ) have been dated to an age of around 67,000 years. Another important archaeological site is in Central Luzon; she is called Arubo . During the excavations it was possible to recover hand axes, which were dated to the cultural age of the Acheuléen in the Paleolithic .

Since prehistoric times, " Negritos ", like the Aeta and the Ati , have been the original inhabitants of the Philippines. In the period from 3,000 to 2,500 BC Austronesian tribes from Taiwan migrated southwards into the country and from there spread further south. These settlers created the oldest known artistic representations in the Philippines, known as the Petroglyphs of Angono .

From the 7th to the 13th centuries, the thalassocracies of Srivijaya and later Majapahit influenced parts of the Philippines. To this day, Sanskrit words have been preserved in the Filipino languages. In 1917 an Indian-Malay gold statue from the Majapahit period was found in Mindanao. The Laguna copper plate , which dates from the 9th century and was described with a mixture of Sanskrit, Old Javanese, Old Malay and Old Tagalog, is even more important evidence of the cultural connection to the Malay cultural area ; the script used is similar to the Javanese Kawi script. South China traders also had a major influence on the region, as can be seen in numerous porcelain finds from the time of the Chinese Song Dynasty . They founded Tondo as a trading post as early as the 9th century ; the city became the capital of the Luzon Empire from 1279 , which was to exist until 1571. The discovery of a wreck of Chinese design, the Lena Shoal junk , with goods of various origins off the island of Busuanga underpins the current classification of Tondo as an important center for the junks trade of the Middle Ages and as a hub for trade with China. The Filipino merchants used Balangay boats on their trade routes to reach Malacca , Borneo, Ternate and Myanmar / Burma . Far-reaching and long-lasting trade contacts between the Butuan region and various other regions, including Persia as early as the 9th century, are revealed by the archaeological excavation site of Butuan in northern Mindanao.

Chinese traders probably brought Buddhism to the Philippines; here he mingled with local traditions. Arab traders and accompanying Malay immigrants brought Islam to the southern Philippines in the transition from the 13th to the 14th century. In addition to culture, religion and education, they also established a system of political rule there. One of the first documented missionary active immigrants was Raja Baginda , who reached the Sulu Archipelago around 1390 . He came from the Minangkabau nobility . In the 15th century, Serif Kabungsuan from the Johor region proselytized on the island of Mindanao. As a result, various sultanates emerged whose rulers referred to themselves as Rajas . The most important was the Sultanate of Sulu with a capital on the island of Jolo , which arose around 1450 with the coronation of Abu Bakr, who, according to tradition, married the daughter of Raja Baginda. Abu Bakr himself came from Palembang on the island of Sumatra . In the wake of further waves of immigration from the Malay region from the middle of the 15th century, Islam spread to the coastal regions of the island of Luzon. Around 1530 Maynilad (Manila) was founded as a palisade fortress at the mouth of the Pasig River in Manila Bay . The founders of Manila, Malay Rajas from Brunei, chose a previously uninhabited place that grew to 10,000 inhabitants until the Spanish conquest in 1571.

Pre-colonial society

The smallest administrable unit of a settlement was the Barangay , originally a related group that was headed by a Datu . The social structure of the Philippines, however, varied from region to region. The box-like system of the Tagalog knew the aristocratic Maginoo , from which Datus, Rajas and Lakans were recruited. Their followers were the timawa (free landowners) and the warrior caste of the maharlika . This was followed by indebted addicts, the alipin . Belonging to a caste was hereditary, advancement through monetary payment possible. Prisoners of war stood outside the system as non-persons, but could be integrated. In some societies, such as the Kalinga, Ifugao or Bontoc, tribal members traditionally (although currently only rarely) wear ritual tattoos representing their rank within society .

Spanish colonial times



When the Spaniards claimed the Philippines as their colony in 1565 and thus annexed New Spain , Islam was not yet deeply rooted, so it was not difficult for them to convert the Muslim population to Christianity. In addition, the Christianization of the Philippines was carried out largely peacefully, among other things, animistic practices were largely tolerated, some of which have survived to this day. Buddhism, which was probably the predominant religion in the Philippines alongside Islam in the 16th century, was soon practiced only by the Chinese minority.

Given their defeat to the Spanish in 1571, the Rajahs of Manila, Rajah Sulayman , Rajah Lakandula, and Rajah Matanda converted to Catholicism. For this they were allowed to keep some privileges and were integrated into the colonial system of rule. The extensive involvement of the local chiefs in the colonial system of rule resulted in the social class of the principalía , which, as middlemen and beneficiaries of the colonial system, consolidated it over the centuries.

The other major power factor in the Filipino colony were Spanish monks and priests. Because of their role in missionary work and in the later communities, they were often the only Spaniards who could speak a native language. In contrast to the colonial officials who were only temporarily in the country, they lived in the country for several decades. They became indispensable as mediators and therefore very powerful.

In the south of the Philippines, by the time the Spaniards arrived, Islam was already deeply rooted, so that the Muslims there, called Moros by the Spaniards , did not embrace Christianity.

Colonial economy

In the early colonial days, the galleon trade between Manila and Acapulco was the main source of income for the colony. Silver from the mines of the New World was shipped from Acapulco to Manila, where it was used to buy Chinese goods such as silk and china. Since until the 18th century only the Portuguese with Macao had the right to head for the Chinese coast directly, they had to rely on Chinese traders who settled in a separate quarter in front of Manila, today's Binondo, where Manila's Chinatown is still located today is located.

The economic and political situation changed in the early 19th century. Mexico became independent, so that the Philippines no longer belonged to New Spain, but were administered directly from Spain for the first time. The galleon trade to Acapulco was no longer possible and was discontinued in 1815. The Philippines was gradually opened to world trade, so that prosperity was made possible for parts of the indigenous principalía and mestizos of both Spanish and Chinese origins, so that some could finance their children to study, often even in Europe. The layer of ilustrados arose , who were influenced by new, liberal ideas from Europe.

Reforms and revolution

José Rizal, national hero

The first major turning point in Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines was the British invasion in 1762 , which lasted until 1764. As a result, uprisings developed in the Ilocos region and Pangasinan. Diego Silang led an uprising and in 1763 he managed to take the important city of Vigan . He allied himself with the British, but they did not keep their promises, so that he was murdered on May 28, 1763. His wife Gabriela continued the uprising but was arrested and murdered in September in what was portrayed as an execution. In 1762 the Palaris uprising broke out in the province of Pangasinán , which was also initially successful and could not be put down until 1765. As a result of these events, it became clear to many Filipinos that Spanish sovereignty could not last forever.

Of particular importance for the Philippines was the secularization movement within the Catholic Church, which was founded by Pedro Pelaez in the 1850s. The movement called for the Filipinization of the Church and a restriction of the power of the Spanish religious orders. The movement was shaped by liberal ideas that demanded equality between Filipinos and Spaniards.

In 1868 a revolution took place in Spain, so that the liberal governor Carlos Maria dela Torre was sent to the Philippines, who carried out liberal reforms and, among other things, abolished press censorship. In 1871, however, this phase was over. The Spanish monastic orders in the Philippines in particular regained their power. On January 20, 1872, the Cavite Mutiny broke out in Fort San Felipe, but it was quickly put down. As a result of the mutiny, however, the priests Mariano Gómez, José Burgos and Jacinto Zamora were imprisoned. The Spanish colonial authorities used the event to get rid of unpleasant contemporaries who were known for their progressive ideas. Three priests were executed on February 17, 1872, which caused an outcry of horror among the population and led to the movement of the Ilustrados . The three priests are still known as GOMBURZA in the memory of Filipinos.

In the last quarter of the 19th century the calls of the Ilustrados for reforms grew louder. The name Filipino , which was previously only used for Spanish Creoles , has been expanded to include all residents of the country. The propaganda movement , which was operated by Filipino students and exiles from Europe, as well as the short-lived La Liga Filipina , which was immediately banned by the authorities there shortly after its establishment by José Rizal in Manila, initially aimed not at the independence of the Philippines, but rather Equal rights for Filipinos and Filipino seats in the Spanish Cortes . But for some it did not go far enough.

From 1896 to 1898 the Philippine Revolution took place under the leadership of Katipunan , which in its final phase practically went over into the Spanish-American War . In the course of the revolution, the first Provisional Republic, the Republic of Biak-na-Bato , was proclaimed in July 1897 , and the first Provisional Constitution of the Philippines was adopted on November 1, which came into force on November 15. However, the republic was dissolved on December 15, 1897 with the signing of the Treaty of Biak-na-Bato in San Miguel between the Filipino and Spanish parties.

At the beginning of this conflict between Spain and the United States , the Spanish fleet was destroyed by American ships in the battle in the Bay of Manila . However, a large part of the country was already under Philippine control at this time, whereupon the Philippine declaration of independence took place on June 12, 1898, which was neither recognized by the old nor the new colonial power and not even noticed by the rest of the world. In 1899 the constitution of the first Philippine republic followed .

American colonial times

The United States did not recognize the young Philippine Republic and fought it massively in the Philippine-American War from 1899 to 1902. About a million Filipinos (20% of the total population) were killed during this time, and the country became an American colony. The only support for the revolutionaries was the Hong Kong Committee , which established international connections and provided material support for the Filipinos.

On January 20, 1900, the Schurman Commission was appointed by US President William McKinley . It was supposed to work out proposals for a transition to a civil colonial administration, these results were presented in January 1901. In March 1901, the future US President William Howard Taft was appointed chairman of the Taft Commission named after him and sent to the Philippines to establish a civil colonial administration. He built the Supreme Court of the Philippines, of which Cayetano Arellano was appointed first chairman in 1901, and a public education system was established. Preparations have also been made to create a bicameral legislature . The Taft Commission formed the House of Lords and the Philippine Assembly the House of Commons, following the example of the US system . First elections to the latter were held on June 30, 1907 and constituted on October 16 in the Manila Grand Opera House .

In 1904 the Americans founded the Moro Province and controlled it militarily in the south of the Philippines, which had never been completely subjugated by the Spaniards . This led to the Moro-American War , which lasted from 1904 to 1913/16 and was ended by US General John Pershing . Thus the rather formal affiliation of the Muslim territories to the Philippines in Spanish times became a factual one. Large monocultures, such as pineapple plantations, were created by American corporations on the island of Mindanao . There were also government-sponsored settlement programs in the 1920s and 1950s that brought Christians from the north and central Philippines to the south. Today's conflict in the south of the Philippines has its roots in this time.

With the entry into force of the Philippine Autonomy Act 1916, the Filipinos were given more tasks, and the Philippine legislature replaced the previous parliamentary system, so that from this point onwards one can speak of a semi-autonomous status of the Philippines. Only Filipinos were now represented in this two-chamber system .

In 1935, partial autonomy was decided for the Philippines with the aim of independence by 1945. Shortly thereafter, Filipino immigration to the United States was severely restricted. Manuel Quezon became President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines . The parliament was reduced to a unicameral system, the national assembly. In 1940 they agreed again on a bicameral system and the Commonwealth Congress came into being.

Quezon later hired Douglas MacArthur as a military advisor , who helped set up his own Philippine armed forces . In 1941/42 Filipino and American soldiers fought in vain against the invading Japanese army (→ Battle of the Philippines ). On May 8, 1942, the last Filipino and American units surrendered.

From 1942 to 1945 the Philippines were occupied by Japan during World War II . Around one million Filipinos died as a result of the brutal occupation regime of the Japanese army, and many cities were reduced to rubble and ashes.

On July 4, 1946, the Philippines was officially given independence. The United States retained special economic rights and military bases in the Philippines for several decades. They still play an important role in Filipino politics to this day.

Women's suffrage

In 1933 a law was passed in the House of Representatives that provided women with the right to vote from January 1935 . This law was an addition to Section 431 of the Administrative Code. This addition was linked to the Hare Hawes Cutting Independence Act , which failed to find a majority in the vote.

Before women could actually vote, the 1933 decision was overturned by a 1934 Constituent Assembly that drafted a new constitution to reflect the Philippines' changed status as a Commonwealth within the United States. This assembly decided to link the introduction of women's suffrage to a successful referendum on this issue. Only women were eligible to vote in this vote, at least 300,000 votes were required for success. Over half a million women registered to vote and 447,725 women voted on April 30, 1937 to give women the right to vote and stand for election at the same level as men. This happened before independence, still under US administration, through the Plebiscite Law, Commonwealth Act No. 34 . It was confirmed upon independence in 1946.

Philippine Republic

Film recordings of the Declaration of Independence

After independence, the constitution of 1935 continued to apply, in which the Philippines was a presidential republic based on the American model. The influence of the USA remained very great, among other things, on March 14, 1947, the USA guaranteed sovereignty over 23 military bases for a period of 99 years. The Philippines again sent five battalions to the Korean War in 1951 to help the United States.

Against rebellions by communist Hukbalahap , a former resistance movement against the Japanese occupation, there was from the US equipment and US military advisors, including the CIA - Agent Edward Lansdale , who later in Vietnam should play an important role. In order to defuse the uprising, the relocation of poor farmers to the south of the Philippines was increasingly promoted in the 1950s.

In 1963 a conflict arose with Malaysia as the Philippines claimed Sabah as an earlier part of the Sultanate of Sulu . This problem is still open today. For example, the Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo decreed that Sabah is not recognized as part of Malaysia, and in 2013 the Philippine Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a reminder of the ordinance.

Due to conflicts between Christian settlers and Muslim natives, conflicts arose in the south of the Philippines in the 1960s. In 1968, some Muslim army recruits who refused to take part in a secret operation to recapture Sabah were shot dead. In response to this massacre, the first separatist movements formed in the southern Philippines.

In 1965, the popular young politician Ferdinand E. Marcos was elected President. In 1971 Marcos was re-elected as the first president of the Philippines , the election as such being highly controversial. That same year, Marcos called a constituent assembly to replace the outdated 1935 constitution. Marcos's opponents therefore suspected him of attempting to circumvent the two-term restriction. From 1970 Marcos also had to do with the First Quarter Storm , a left student movement which, among other things, scourged his administration and the pro-American course, as well as with a new Maoist communist guerrilla , the New People's Army (NPA) and the Alex Boncayao Brigade (FIG).

Marcos dictatorship

Ferdinand Marcos

In 1972 there were "problems in the Muslim areas" and a series of bombings that are now believed to have been carried out by the military to provide Marcos with an excuse for martial law. On September 21, 1972, Marcos declared a state of emergency, closed opposition newspapers and broadcasters, and arranged for numerous opposition members to be arrested. In 1973 he had a new parliamentary constitution ratified. Martial law was repealed in 1980 and there was even a parliamentary election in 1981, but massive election fraud was suspected.

During the Marcos dictatorship there were massive reprisals against members of the opposition. Some were held in custody for years, including the prominent Marcos rival Benigno Aquino, Jr. In the course of the fight against the NPA there were reprisals against the rural population in some provinces. Quite a few members of the opposition or suspected communists either disappeared without a trace or were found severely mutilated, a practice that the military called "salvaging". Meanwhile, Marcos, his wife Imelda, and friends became wealthy as the Philippines' external debt rose. A lot of money was spent on prestige projects, including a heart clinic and a film palace.

Corazon Aquino (1992)

On August 21, 1983, opposition leader Benigno Aquino was assassinated while attempting to enter the country at Manila airport . Thereupon a broad opposition movement developed against Marcos, who tried to counter this with early elections. After the fake early presidential election of February 1986, more than a million Filipinos demonstrated on EDSA Avenue in Manila demanding Marco's resignation. The Catholic Church supported the demonstrators, after which the demonstrations spread across the country and went down in history as the EDSA revolution . When the military refused to break up the demonstration by force, Marcos was forced to flee to Hawaii, USA, on February 25, 1986. The widow of the murdered Benigno Aquino and opposition leader, Corazon Aquino , was sworn in as the new president on the same day.


Principles, elections, memberships

Locations of the diplomatic missions of the Philippines

A new constitution came into force on February 11, 1987, and the Philippines have been a presidential republic again since 1987 . The President has extensive executive powers. He convenes the cabinet . The Congress consists of a House of Representatives and a Senate . There is de jure compulsory voting .

From January 20, 2001 to June 30, 2010, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (* 1947) was head of state (previously Vice President); she was sworn in again on June 30, 2004, despite various allegations of massive election fraud, which were subsequently confirmed (tape recordings of the fraudulent agreements, later also precise statements by repentant members of the electoral commission). On November 18, 2011, an arrest warrant was issued against her . She was accused of manipulating the results of the 2007 Senate election. Macapagal Arroyo is the successor to Joseph E. Estrada , who left his seat early after losing his power base as a result of allegations of corruption and pressure from demonstrations. However, the interrogations, which were only carried out in 2006, largely relieved him and instead pointed to a close confidante of Arroyos, Chavit Singson, governor of Ilocos Sur, who was already known for his business in the field of illegal gambling . After his conviction, Arroyo granted him an "unconditional pardon".

A sensible policy was therefore hardly possible in the meantime. The government had to constantly fight back against new evidence of its illegitimacy. At the same time, she was busy defending against alleged or actual coup attempts. For example, in order to give a public address to the people in Manila (SONA), the President needed around 13,000 police officers / soldiers in 2006.

On May 10, 2010, elections (including for the presidency) were held in the Philippines. In doing so, computer technology was used to a large extent in order to leave no doubt as to the results of the election. Nevertheless, the announcement of the final official result was overshadowed this time by allegations of election manipulation. Technicians from the company involved have detailed the simple ways to intervene on the voting computers. On June 30, 2010, Benigno Aquino III was born. sworn in as president.

Filipino politics is very person-oriented, so parties don't play that big a role. Many Filipino politicians belong to a political dynasty: For example, Macapagal-Arroyo is the daughter of the former President Diosdado Macapagal or the son of Ferdinand Marcos, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. , also called Bong-Bong , governor of his father's home province, Ilocos Norte , and the son of former President Ramon Magsaysay , Ramon Magsaysay Jr. , is a senator. Popularity and a sense of regional affiliation often count for much more than factual issues. In recent years, many actors, former basketball stars, and similar media personalities have entered politics.

The Philippines is a member of the Security Council of the UN , ASEAN , APEC and the Latin Union . The country has been on the list of major non-NATO ally since 2003 , making it one of the USA's closest diplomatic and strategic partners outside of NATO .

In 2006 the Philippines were admitted to the UN Human Rights Council ( Council on Human Rights ) for one year . Re-election is possible, but also deselection due to massive human rights violations in one's own country. The ASEAN summit planned in Cebu in December 2006 was canceled at short notice due to the weather. However, the opposition also cited fear of mass protests against attempts to amend the constitution without proper procedures. At the beginning of 2007, the UN commissioner Philip Alston found out about the controversial human rights situation. After initial resistance, he received the unpublished preliminary report of the so-called "Melo Commission". Here, for the first time, the involvement of the military, especially General Palparan, in the political murders of leftists is documented officially.

Political indices

Political indices issued by non-governmental organizations
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 81 of 120 54 of 178 Stability of the country: big warning
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 6.56 out of 10 55 of 167 Incomplete democracy
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World Index 59 of 100 - Freedom status: partially free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 45.64 out of 100 138 of 180 Difficult situation for freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 34 of 100 115 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

Democracy situation

Since the end of the Marcos dictatorship there has been repeated political unrest in the Philippines, so that one cannot speak of a stable democracy. In August 1987 and December 1989 there were coup attempts by Colonel Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan . In 2003 there was a mutiny by Marines under Lieutenant Antonio Trillanes, during which a hotel was occupied. However, the soldiers gave up peacefully and were tried by a military tribunal. In 2006 there was an alleged coup attempt that led to the declaration of a state of emergency by President Arroyo and some arrests (see article Coup attempt in the Philippines in 2006 ).

Both Arroyo and Aquino came to power in 2001 and 1986, respectively, due to demonstrations and defections by leading military officials, which formally violated the rule of law. In 2001 there were demonstrations and riots by Estrada supporters, which the new president had the military put down. There were dead and injured. To this day, the political situation has been very polarized. The obviously falsified elections of 2004 and the subsequent numerous politically motivated murders of “leftists”, but also human rights activists and the like, made the situation even more difficult.

Despite massive attempts at intimidation and falsification, the 2007 elections resulted in a landslide victory for the opposition. Trillanes, still imprisoned for the attempted coup, won a Senate seat without campaigning.

On November 29, 2007, those responsible for the 2003 coup attempt succeeded in leaving the Manila courthouse during a hearing and holed up in a hotel after a march through downtown Makati. The group was led by Antonio Trillanes and Brigadier General Danilo Lim. An appeal to soldiers to join them was ineffective and the coup plotters surrendered to the security forces when they threatened to storm the hotel.

On November 23, 2009, there was a massacre of civilians in Maguindanao Province , in which 57 people were murdered. The massacre was in connection with the elections on May 10, 2010. The main suspect from the Ampatuan Plan allegedly had massively falsified or had the elections for the then President Macapagal Arroyo in 2004 (presidential elections) and 2007 (Senate elections, Zubiri) falsified. The opposition got 0 votes each.

The former Ambassador of the Philippines to the USA, Ernesto Maceda, pointed out in an article in the opposition newspaper “The Daily Tribune” on December 11, 2009 that 200 murders and other atrocities had been committed by the Ampatuans in the area, without any previous one to have legal consequences.

In 2006, the Arroyo government was charged with failing to solve over 800 politically motivated murders.

As a result of this political situation, the candidate of the PLP party, Rodrigo Duterte , won a majority in the 2016 presidential elections . He had primarily advertised the draconian prosecution and punishment of drug-related crimes.

Minority conflicts

Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Philippines consisted of barangays (communities) of different peoples and tribes, which were networked with one another in many ways. Spain colonized most of the archipelago and in 300 years a Philippine majority identity emerged. In some areas, such as the Filipino Cordilleras with the Igorot tribes in the north and the Moro and Lumad areas in the south, people were barely affected.

The Spanish colonial era shaped the people under their control: the exploitation they suffered, the feudal economic system, later the semi-feudal hacienda system, the centralized government, Christian and Spanish influences. And it created the minorities: the people who lived on the periphery of economic, cultural and political change and who preserved their indigenous traditions.

Terror and conflict

Especially in the south of Mindanao, there are frequent armed clashes between rebels of the separatist MNLF ( National Liberation Front of the Moros ), the Islamist MILF ( Islamic Liberation Front of the Moros ) and government troops. The MNLF today rules the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (German: Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), while the Islamist MILF further uses for an independent Muslim state which of the islands of Mindanao, Palawan , Basilan and the Sulu archipelago should consist . The Abu Sajaf are in turn a terrorist group that became known through kidnappings and attacks.

In the course of these conflicts, there are also repeated terrorist attacks, such as the bomb attacks on the international airport in Davao City in spring 2003 and on a port terminal in Davao around the same time. Both attacks resulted in several deaths. Furthermore, there are repeated attacks on Christian churches for reasons of religion. Due to this dangerous situation, the German Foreign Office , among others, has issued travel warnings for the Philippines several times in the past and travel to Mindanao has been advised against in particular.

Viewed superficially, it is a pure religious conflict. Another underlying cause is, for example, the United States-enforced land law of 1903, which allowed Christians to own up to 23 hectares, while land ownership for Muslim and non-Christian populations was limited to 10 hectares. This law was only one component of an ongoing systematic expropriation campaign. In the 1950s, the systematic immigration of Christian settlers to Mindanao was promoted by the Philippine central government in Manila. The Muslim inhabitants thus became a minority in their ancestral areas.

These factors ultimately led to one of the largest forgotten wars of our time: According to the World Bank , the civil war on Mindanao claimed at least 120,000 victims from the 1970s to 2002 , the majority of them civilians. Numerous attempts to reach serious peace agreements have so far failed, among other things because of a lack of long-term prospects for the region, which offers a fair balance of interests for all those involved and affected.

On March 27, 2014, the Philippine government and the Islamic Liberation Front of the Moros (MILF) signed the peace agreement to create the politically independent Bangsamoro region in the south of the Philippines.

In late May 2017, President Duterte declared martial law on Mindanao after around 100 Islamist rebels carried out attacks in the city of Marawi . (See also: Battle of Maute 2017 ). This conflict led to a stronger commitment by China, which provided the Duterte government with military aid worth several million dollars in the summer of 2017.

Human rights

Since the late 1960s, an armed conflict has been simmering in the Philippines between Muslim guerrilla groups (especially MILF , MNLF , Abu Sajaf ), left-wing guerrilla groups (especially New People's Army (NPA)), paramilitaries, especially the legal Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and of the regular Philippine Army . All parties involved were and still are guilty of the most serious human rights violations. The majority of the victims come from the civilian population. Environmental activists , journalists , human rights activists , trade union representatives , smallholders , indigenous communities and supposedly left-wing NGOs are particularly at risk . A great many people were forcibly displaced from their places of origin during these conflicts, especially from Mindanao, where around half a million people had to flee their villages during the last major military conflict in 2008/2009.

In 2011, the Philippine government passed an "Internal Peace and Security Plan" (IPSP) or "Neighborhood Operation Plan" (Oplan Bayanihan) to further advance the counterinsurgency. The successes are meager, however, and have rather led to an increased militarization of society.

The human rights situation improved significantly after the end of the Marcos dictatorship. Under President Macapagal-Arroyo (2001 to 2010) the situation worsened considerably and reached the level of the past dictatorship. In particular, the number of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances reached a negative record, plus the usual torture of opponents of the government. During her tenure, the Philippine human rights organization Karapatan documented 1,206 cases of political murder, and 206 other people were the victims of enforced disappearances. This development has been documented and sharply criticized by national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as the UN. The interpretations differ greatly between the assessment of the national Melo Commission and the UN Special Rapporteur.

Under the presidential successor Aquino III (May 2010 to June 2016) the human rights situation improved a little. But the hopes placed in him as the son of the former President Corazon Aquino and the murdered former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. did not materialize. Serious human rights violations continue to occur: Karapatan has counted 238 extrajudicial executions since Aquino III took office Half are representatives of organizations), 26 enforced disappearances and 110 victims of torture. Another characteristic of the problematic human rights situation is the climate of impunity, the criminalization of human rights defenders and the red-baiting of civil society groups (stigmatization as alleged communists who are persecuted). The number of murdered journalists is high, despite formal freedom of the press: Reporters Without Borders has listed the Philippines as the five most dangerous countries since 2013. "In the Philippines, gunmen from motorcycles are shooting journalists in the open street with increasing frequency without fear of punishment." In 2013, eight journalists were killed. Since the massacre in Maguindanao in 2009, with 30 journalists killed alone, another 33 have been murdered. President Rodrigo Duterte already confirmed in his election campaign that he wants to eradicate crime in the Philippines and shoot drug dealers . He also advocated lynching against drug addicts. Human rights activists accuse Duterte of tolerating numerous death squads that killed hundreds of drug dealers. Numerous media reported that 465 suspected drug dealers have been killed since Duterte took office. More than 160 judges, police officers and military officials accused Duterte, among other things, of complicity because, according to him, they have direct connections to the drug mafia. In a speech he gave in Davao on August 7, 2016 , he named nine judges and more than 50 current or former MPs, mayors and other politicians who were allegedly involved in the drug trafficking. Retired police officers and the military were also asked to report to the Supreme Court or their superiors. In his speech he announced in the same way that he could be wrong on numerous accusations. The secretary of the Presidential Communications Group , Martin Andanar , announced that would be brought against the suspects criminal case.

Freedom of the press

Only media whose companies are 100 percent owned by Filipino citizens may be operated in the media industry. The critical news portal Rappler was threatened with closure in January 2018. There are a good 600 radio stations in the country, which have faced increased pressure from the Duterte government.

In 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte denied another broadcast license to the anti -government broadcaster ABS-CBN Corporation .


The Philippine armed forces were restructured after independence in 1950; the armed forces army , navy , air force and a paramilitary gendarmerie were formed . Today's modern professional army without conscription had a strength of 125,000 soldiers in 2021, plus 130,000 reservists .

The country spent just under 1.0 percent of its economic output, or $ 4.25 billion, on its armed forces in 2020.



Rice cultivation in Mindanao
Daily oil consumption of some countries in Southeast Asia, liters per day / inhabitant
  • Currency: 1 Philippine Peso = 100 Centavos
  • 1 EUR = 59.479 PHP (July 30, 2021)
  • GDP: $ 304 billion (2016)

Although the Philippines are counted among the up-and-coming Next Eleven , they belong to the poorer countries seen from a European perspective . There is a strong economic contrast between a small, rich upper class and the broad majority of the population. In the metropolitan region of Manila, for example, there is on the one hand the clean and safe skyscraper city of Makati City with numerous international companies, on the other hand there are also many extensive slums without adequate water and electricity supplies. Furthermore, there is a clear north-south divide in income. While on the main island of Luzon (in the north) there is an export-oriented industry (especially in the textile , automotive and electronics industries ), agriculture ( rice cultivation ) predominates in southern Mindanao . The main trading partners are the People's Republic of China , the United States and Japan . The main export goods are electronics, machines and means of transport. The Philippines' economic output has grown steadily by 6 to 7 percent annually in recent years, making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

The unemployment rate was 5.7% in 2017, but many jobs are informal and underemployment is widespread. In 2017, 25.4% of the total workforce worked in agriculture, 18.3% in industry and 56.3% in the service sector. The total number of employees is estimated at 42.8 million for 2017; 39.9% of them are women.

The insurance of cash deposits with Philippine banks is a major economic obstacle. Only amounts up to 250,000 Peso (approx. 5,000 EUR) are insured. This also applies if the deposits are deposited in different accounts at the same bank. Another obstacle is widespread corruption.

The Philippines has a very strong service sector due to the widespread knowledge of English. Call centers in particular that work for American companies are very numerous in the Philippines. Compared to Indian call center employees, Filipinos for the American market have the advantage that they speak a more understandable accent and are more familiar with American expressions.

Other service branches are accounting and software development, as Filipino university graduates are very well trained in these areas, but still have quite low salaries.

The tourism sector is growing rapidly. In 2016, the country was visited by approximately 6 million tourists, spending $ 5.1 billion. Tourist arrivals have almost doubled since 2010.

Panorama of Makati City (Metro Manila), the financial center of the Philippines

The acquisition of real estate is only possible for Filipino citizens, foreigners can only acquire real estate under certain conditions. The background to this is the frequent abuse, for example in international auctions. However, it is possible to acquire Filipino citizenship as a foreigner.

In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, the Philippines ranks 56th out of 137 countries (as of 2017-2018).

Energy sector

For energy are oil , natural gas , wood , coal and renewable energy sources increasingly as hydropower and geothermal energy used. In recent decades, large hydropower plants have been built on the Agus (418 MW), Angat (246 MW), Magat (381  MW ), Pantabangan reservoirs (100 MW) and on Lake Caliraya . The Philippines is the second largest user of geothermal power plants in the world. Large geothermal power plants include the Bacon-Manito I and II geothermal power plants in the Pocdol Mountains , the Palinpinon geothermal field on the Cuernos de Negros and the Naglabong and Tiwi thermal spring fields on the Malinao volcano . The country's total energy output from geothermal sources in 2007 was 1.931  GW . Due to their island location, the Philippines have great potential for generating electricity from wind energy . The data produced by the United States Department of Energy wind mapping survey suggest a potential of over 70 GW. A 40 MW wind farm was commissioned in Ilocos Norte in 2002.

Solar energy is to be used primarily for local needs. Solar systems were installed in 150 remote villages. It is planned to install a total of 15,000 solar systems for domestic use. So far, biogas is rarely used in the Philippines. Since 2005, a pilot power plant has only been built in Victoria's City , which is designed for the production of 51 MW of electrical power; waste from sugar cane production is used for this. Two ocean current power plants in the San Bernardino Strait and the Strait of Surigao are to be tested for the use of ocean currents .

The discovery of the Malampaya natural gas field off the coast of Palawan enabled the Philippines to reduce its dependence on imports such as coal and oil. The production of natural gas began in 2001, the prerequisite for this was the construction of a 501 km long pipeline to Batangas City. A total of six power plants were built or converted in the greater Manila area. In 2007 they produced a combined output of 4.88 GW; by 2012 this value is to be increased to approx. 8 GW. It is planned to lay another pipeline in the Visayas and on the island of Mindanao.

The mix of primary energy sources in the Philippines in 2003 was as follows: 40% crude oil, 11% coal, 9% geothermal energy, 6% natural gas, 4% hydropower and approx. 30% other energy sources. The share of renewable energy sources in 2003 was 43% of total energy generation and is to be expanded further. That of renewable energies was 15%. In 2007, the Philippines generated 59,612 GWh of electricity. During their generation, the energy source mix was distributed as follows: natural gas 31.5%, coal 28.2%, geothermal energy 17.1%, hydropower 14.4%, crude oil 8.6% and 0.1% other energies. The primary consumption of crude oil is largely limited to the transport sector, which in 2007 amounted to approx. 74% of the total consumption. The Philippines are one of the smaller emitters of climate-damaging greenhouse gases. Without the coal and steel industries, such as the agro-forestry and forestry, emissions amounted to approx. 142 million tons in 2005. The emissions of the greenhouse gases generated peaked in the years 1997 to 2005 and have since decreased significantly, despite economic growth averaging 4 %. In 2007 it was at a level that corresponded to that of the early 1980s.

Foreign Filipinos

The Filipinos who work abroad as so-called Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) represent an important economic factor . The remittances of these guest workers amounted to around 30.6 billion US dollars in 2016, which was just under 10% of economic output.

Around eight million Filipinos (approx. 9% of the total population of 89,468,677 inhabitants) work permanently abroad, Filipino women particularly frequently in Hong Kong , Singapore , Taiwan and Arab countries , primarily as housemaids or nannies, but also in simple jobs, as a cashier. In the USA, however, the largest number of foreign Filipinos live with almost 4 million people of Filipino descent in 2015. Marriage with a "foreigner" from a wealthy state is also very popular and is often used as an opportunity to leave the country and start a new one To start existence abroad. With the income in hard currency, large projects can be carried out at home with relatively little effort. Filipinos' monthly home payments are huge and actually make the population achieve better standards.

Filipino emigrants find their way around the USA , Canada , Australia , New Zealand and Europe ( Great Britain , Italy , Spain , France , Germany , Austria and Switzerland ) well due to their good education and good English skills . They often work in health care, mostly as technicians and technologists, but also as doctors and nurses, as well as educators, domestic staff and in catering. Filipino men can be found on large cruise ships around the world, mainly in laundries, as musicians, or as servants. On cargo ships they serve as crew members or as ship masters and officers. As many well-educated Filipinos move abroad, the local economy suffers from the loss of skilled workers ( talent drain ); the marriage market is also dried up as a result. On the other hand, foreign currencies come into the country through activities abroad.

The government is considering reintroducing a five percent income tax for all Filipinos working abroad to allow money to flow into the state budget. However, this plan met with great resistance from those affected.


The island nation's transport system is predominantly based on shipping , aviation and road traffic . Shipping dominates national traffic, followed by air traffic . The largest passenger shipping company is the SuperFerry Cooperation, followed by Negros Navigation . Both companies offer ferry connections throughout the Philippines , including long-haul routes. Trans Asia Shipping operates regionally in the Visayas , and numerous smaller companies also offer regional ferry connections. The plane is the fastest mode of transportation in the Philippines. The country's largest airline is Philippine Airlines , which offers international routes to the regions of North America, East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Your domestic offshoot is Airphil Express . The largest domestic airline is the Cebu Pacific , it offers flights to all regions of the country. Smaller airlines are Zest Airways and Tigerair Philippines . The two main international airports in the Philippines are Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and Mactan-Cebu Airport .

The railway system is underdeveloped and consists essentially of a single line of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) into the Bicol region. The government wants the connection to San Fernando and San Jose City to be rebuilt. Further rail projects exist on the island of Panay and Mindanao. In Manila there is a modern light rail system (in elevated version), the Mass Rapid Transit Manila (on the route of the EDSA Avenue ), and the Light Rapid Transit (direct north-south connection). The prices in April 2013 were below 0.30 euros for the full length of the route. On the big islands, coaches run regularly between the big cities , most of which are air-conditioned. Buses running in the capital Manila are called "ordinary". Most of the country's cities are dominated by jeepneys for short-haul traffic, followed by auto rickshaws and bicycle taxis for ultra- short-haul traffic.

In 2014, the entire road network covered around 216,387 km, of which 61,093 km were paved.


There are 90,000 registered doctors and 2,400 hospitals in the Philippines, 1,700 of which are public. Over 60% of the population are covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) statutory health insurance scheme, but only about 50% of the population have access to health care.

In general, the state hospitals are underfunded and accordingly precariously equipped. Treatment is free of charge, but medication has to be paid for yourself. Wealthy Filipinos and foreigners prefer the large and well-equipped hospitals in Manila ( Makati Medical Center , Philippine Heart Center of Asia ).

Most of the population has no vaccination protection whatsoever. Tetanus prophylaxis is only sporadic. The degree of rabies infection, including among pets, is very high.

Life expectancy in the Philippines was 69.2 years in 2016. In a regional comparison, it has increased only very slowly over the past few decades.

The Philippine Deaf Association has existed since 1996 .

Economic data

Change in gross domestic product (GDP) in% compared to the previous year (real)
year 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Change in% yoy 4.1 1.1 7.6 3.7 6.7 7.1 6.1 6.1 6.9 6.7
Source: World Bank
Development of the inflation rate
in% compared to the previous year
Development of the budget balance
in% of GDP
("minus" means deficit in the national budget)
year 2014 2015 2016 2017 year 2015 2016 2017
inflation rate 4.2 1.4 1.8 3.2 Budget balance 0.6 −0.4 −0.3
Source: IMF
Development of foreign trade
(foreign trade in billion US dollars and its change compared to the previous year in%)
2014 2015 2016
Billion US $ % yoy Billion US $ % yoy Billion US $ % yoy
import 67.7 3.1 70.2 3.6 85.9 22.5
export 61.8 9.0 58.6 −5.1 56.3 −4.0
balance −5.9 −11.5 −29.6
Source: GTAI

Main trading partner of the Philippines (2016), source: GTAI

Export (in percent) to Import (in percent) of
JapanJapan Japan 20.7 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 18.5
United StatesUnited States United States 15.4 JapanJapan Japan 11.9
Hong KongHong Kong Hong Kong 11.7 United StatesUnited States United States 8.9
China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 11.0 ThailandThailand Thailand 7.8
SingaporeSingapore Singapore 6.6 Korea SouthSouth Korea South Korea 6.5
GermanyGermany Germany 4.1 SingaporeSingapore Singapore 6.5
ThailandThailand Thailand 3.8 TaiwanRepublic of China (Taiwan) Taiwan 6.3
other countries 26.7 other countries 33.6

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 48.7 billion , which was offset by income equivalent to US $ 45.5 billion. This results in a budget deficit of 0.9% of GDP .

The national debt in 2016 was $ 105.5 billion, or 33.7% of GDP.

In 2006, the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:



What is commonly understood as Filipino culture is the culture of the Christian lowland dwellers, who form the majority and were under Spanish rule. The highland inhabitants as well as Filipino Muslims and Filipino Chinese differ in their manners and customs in some cases considerably from the majority society. Otherwise, American influence can be felt everywhere in the Philippines, even if it was not as profound as the influence of more than three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule and Catholicism.

The Philippines is one of the few countries where divorce is prohibited. Under certain conditions and complicated procedures, a marriage can be annulled retrospectively. Because of this, many Filipino couples in the Dominican Republic are getting divorced. Adultery is also a criminal offense.

If a Filipino citizen marries in the country, a “ Legal Capacity” must be submitted by the groom beforehand. This document is issued by the responsible registry office in the country of origin and must be confirmed by the respective embassy. Because of the numerous forgeries, the German Embassy in Manila has meanwhile (since 2001) recognized no Filipino documents without extensive personal checks.

Spanish influence

Effect of foreign affiliations

The Spanish language could not establish itself in the majority of the population, although the Spaniards ruled the island for around 330 years because - unlike in Central and South America - they were more interested in trade and less in the mixing of two cultures in the Philippines . Spanish was not initially taught to the locals, rather the Spanish priests and monks learned the native languages ​​and trained a few locals, so-called ladinos , to be translators. On December 20, 1863, Queen Isabella II of Spain signed a Royal Decree which laid down the necessary provisions for the creation of a primary school system that was public, universal and free of charge. Since the implementation of this compulsory school system, the Spanish language has also been taught from elementary school in many schools across the country. After a few decades and the construction of hundreds more new schools, a significant proportion of the locals already spoke the Spanish language.

In the American colonial era, however, English was strongly promoted at the expense of Spanish. As a result, fewer than 5,000 Filipinos now speak Spanish as their mother tongue, but around 1,200,000 Filipinos speak Chavacano , a Spanish Creole language .

Spanish - as well as the pronunciation of Spanish loanwords - is more Mexican than Spanish in the Philippines, as the Philippines were ruled from Mexico until independence and the two countries were in lively exchange with Acapulco through the galleon trade. When the Philippines came under direct Spanish rule after the independence of Mexico, there were conflicts between the Spaniards born in the Philippines (Insulares) and the Spaniards from Europe (Peninsulares) . Quite a few Insulares fought on the side of the locals in the Philippine Revolution of 1896, even if nationalist historians in the Philippines like to suppress this.

Spanish terms or words are used for many everyday terms - including time and numbers, names of house compartments, household and clothing items and vehicle parts. These, too, have been partially converted or alienated, but are still very reminiscent of the Spanish terms. For example, the word “siempre” means “always, forever” in Spanish, in the Philippines this word is used more for “natural, of course”. There are some special Tagalog expressions for the above terms, but these are rarely used. Efforts are underway, however, based on the national hero and writer José Rizal , to revive the historically traditional language. Schools founded by Spaniards such as Colegio de San Juan de Letran , University of Santo Tomas , Colegio de Santa Catalina and other organizations such as Circulo Cervantino and Casino Español still teach Spanish as a foreign language, but like all other Filipino universities use English as the main language of instruction.


Most Filipinos - but also islands, parts of the country and localities - have Spanish names as a result of the Spanish colonial period that lasted around 330 years. Until 1849, most Filipinos had only one first name; some also named themselves after Catholic saints (for example San Pedro, del Pilar, San Buenaventura).

On November 21, 1849, the Spanish Governor General Narciso Clavería y Zaldúa issued a decree that made family names compulsory for all Filipinos. To this end, an alphabetical list of Spanish names was distributed to all provincial governors. The provincial governors sent each parish priest an extract from this list. The eldest person in each family could then choose a family name for the whole family from this sub-list. Since this system only gave places names that began with a certain letter, the local origin can be identified from many names. The list that all Filipino family names go back to is known as the Claveria List . The purpose of the decree was to simplify administration, tax collection and census.

However, residents of the Philippines who had a non-Spanish surname before the Claveria Decree were able to keep it. Certain names such as Cojuangco (Ko Kwan-co), Tanlimco (Tan Lim-co) or Joson (Ho Sun) point to Chinese ancestors, while some names such as Tupas, Gatmaitan, or Gatbonton are old indigenous surnames. Anyone who could prove that their family had been using a Spanish surname for at least four generations was also allowed to keep it.


Influence of the geographical location

The Philippines were largely cut off from the cultural developments on the mainland and the islands of Southeast Asia from the early Middle Ages to modern times. The Hindu and Buddhist empires, which have been important in the region since the first centuries AD , did not exert any cultural influence on the Philippines. There are multiple cultural connections between the Philippine Islands and the rest of Southeast Asia from earlier times. This includes forms of house building, the cultivation of wet rice, ritual contact with ancestral spirits, the consumption of betel and the use of bamboo in the household and for musical instruments. Up to ten percent of the population, who, apart from the small minority of the Negritos, are roughly equally distributed between the north and the south, still have a connection to native musical forms; the vast majority are only receptive to Western musical styles. When the first Spaniards arrived, the Philippines still had a rich tradition of instrumental and vocal music, as can be seen in the early travel reports - starting with Antonio Pigafetta in 1521.

Indigenous ethnic groups in the north

The oldest Filipino music tradition is cultivated in the north by the Igorot and related peoples in the Cordilleras of Luzon. The musical instruments used for entertainment are made almost entirely from bamboo. Some are intended for solo play, others for small ensembles. These include multi-stringed bamboo tubes zithern that in Kalinga and Bontoc kolitong are called, rattling , Fork Basin (Ifugao: hangar ) and bamboo blow forks (Kalinga: balingbing, Isneg: paginggeng ) of a slotted bamboo section, board zithers (Ifugao: taddeng ) with three to four Wire strings, pounding pipes , xylophones , jaw harps (Kalinga: ulibao, of the Indonesian genggong type ), nasal flutes and magnetic resonance flutes ( corresponding to the Indonesian suling ). At weddings and funeral rituals, choirs perform with a choir (Ibaloi: badiw ), the Kalinga accompany peace ceremonies , which ensure coexistence with neighboring ethnic groups, and weddings with formally strictly defined forms of singing called dango and ading .

Only flat gongs ( gangsa ) and occasionally long wooden tubular drums are used for the ceremonial music and to accompany the ceremonial dances . The gangsa -Music forms the structural basis, at which the light music-oriented.

Muslim ethnic groups in the south

Pre-Hispanic musical traditions have been preserved in the south mainly on Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, Palawan, Negros and in the west on Panay and Mindoro. The second musical tradition independent of Luzon is characterized by the use of hump gongs . It came into the country from the 14th century, initially with Muslim seafarers and traders, and is widespread in the settlement areas of the Muslim population groups on the southern islands. The ensembles called kulintang , with several humpback gongs mounted horizontally in a row ( kulintang also as the name of the instrument), a vertically suspended humpback gong ( agung ) , a group of four humpback gongs (gandingan) and a beaker drum ( dabakan ) are particularly related to the Indonesian gamelan . The kulintang plays the melody, while the other gongs and the drum complement a rhythm.

The bamboo jaw harp kubing is widespread in the south , along with bamboo slit drums and bamboo xylophones. The stringed instruments in the south include the two-string boat lute kutiyapi (form related to the sape in Borneo, name related to the Javanese kacapi ), several bamboo tubular zithers and a single-stringed fiddle, which was regionally replaced by a modified European violin (like biola in Indonesia ). The Muslim ethnic groups cultivate numerous, often melismatic singing styles, including the epic chants baat and darangan as well as love songs (bayok) .

European-American influenced music

The most widespread folk music tradition goes back to the influence of Christian missionaries and the nearly four centuries of Spanish colonial rule. As a result, native styles of music were completely displaced in many places. The missionaries introduced organ, guitar and flute playing. There were also Spanish entertainment dances. At the end of the 19th century, music schools, symphony orchestras and choirs were founded based on the European model. Regionally, ensembles with guitars and singing (in the Visayas ) or with flutes and drums (in the Ilocos region ) are preferred today . In the Tagalog language region , the typical Spanish guitar ensembles rondalla and the brass bands banda are popular. In addition, there are music and song forms belonging to Christian holidays ( pasyon, epic song about the life of Christ).

A particularly valued genre of love songs in the Tagalog language, which originated at the beginning of the 20th century, is called kundiman . It goes back above all to the two composers Nicanor Abelardo (1893–1934) and Francisco Santiago (1889–1947).

The models of modern pop music come mainly from the United States. During the American period (1898–1946), jazz and American folk were introduced alongside European classical music . The national rock music variant pinoy rock has been extremely popular since the 1960s . Some well-known Filipino pop musicians are Freddie Aguilar , Pilita Corrales , Grace Nono, Imelda Papin, Lea Salonga , Randy Santiago , Gary Valenciano ("Gary V") and the rapper , who lives in the United States .

Concerts with symphonic and other Western classical music take place in Manila and the larger cities . The leading classical composers in the Philippines include Antonio Buenaventura (1904–1996), Rodolfo Soldevilla Cornejo (1909–1991), Lucrecia Kasilag (1917–2008), Felipe Padilla de Leon (1912–1992), Eliseo M. Pajaro (1915– 1984), Hilarion Rubio y Francesco (1902–1985), Lucinio Tino Sacramento (1908–1984), Ramon Tapales (1906–1995), Rosendo E. Santos (1922–1994) and Amada Santos Ocampo (1925–2009).


Actors or directors with wholly or partially Filipino descent are Lino Brocka , Rob Schneider , Vanessa Minnillo , Dante Basco , Tia Carrere , Lou Diamond Phillips , Bob Morley , Vanessa Hudgens and Brillante Mendoza .

Filipino cuisine

Filipino cuisine combines Spanish - Mexican , Chinese , Indian , Japanese and American influences that have influenced the regional cuisines of the different ethnic groups in the Philippines.


There are many festivals in the Philippines every year, including the Barrio Fiesta and Fiesta de Sandugo . Each area has its own festivals, often celebrated with parades and fireworks in honor of the local saint (s).

In pre-Hispanic times, many Hindu and Buddhist elements came to the Philippines as the Philippines was under the influence of the Sri Vijaya and Majapahit empires. As a result of the 333 years of colonization by the Spaniards, many Spanish and Mexican traditions also flowed into the culture, and after 1898 American influences also came to the island. About 60% of Filipino traditions and customs have their origins in pre-Hispanic times despite centuries of foreign rule.

An important festival is Flores de Mayo (May flowers), which celebrates the end of the hot dry season and the beginning of the rainy season, an important time for agriculture.

The Christian holidays are celebrated extensively, but very differently than in Europe. On All Saints 'Day and All Souls ' Day, family members camp in the cemeteries, there is more of a party atmosphere than mourning, as one wants to make the dead happy. Christmas in the Philippines is celebrated from December 16, there are masses at 4 a.m. until December 24, called misa de gallo (cock mass). The start of the Christmas season is on September 1st. According to Spanish tradition, children are not given presents by their godparents until January 6th (Epiphany). Public life comes to a standstill during Holy Week, while cinemas are closed on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Some men have themselves nailed to the cross on Good Friday in penance, a custom that the official Catholic Church does not like to see. In Manila , the place on January 9 Black Nazarene held a heavy statue of the "Black Christ" carried through the streets in which members of local gangs to repentance. Only men are allowed to attend this procession.

Other local festivals are the Ati Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan, which celebrates the conquest of the island and the displacement of the Negrito or Ati tribes; the Santo Nino (Christ Child) festival in Cebu , at which the Christianization of the island is celebrated; or the Penafrancia festival in Bikol , where large river processions take place .

A big week-long festival is the Kadayawan in Davao City . Famous Filipino stars and singers perform in the shopping malls , and on the weekend there is a large parade (bird festival) with festively decorated floats. At the end of the day, a jury will choose the most beautiful float.


One of the oldest recorded stories in the Philippines is the legend of The Life of Lam-Ang . Other well-known popular legends in the Philippines are the story of the Princess Urduja , the Maragtas legend, and the legend of the Kalantiaw law book ; these legends are required reading in schools, even if there is controversy about their authenticity .


Filipino mythology is a collection of stories about magical beings and creatures. Despite strong westernization and Christianization , many Filipinos still believe in the existence of such beings, especially in the provinces. There have also been reports of sightings, but these have often remained unconfirmed.

Since the country is made up of many islands and inhabited by many ethnic groups , Filipino mythology is very fragmented. However, there are similarities among these groups such as belief in heaven ( Kaluwalhatian or Kalangitan ), hell (Kasanaan) and the human soul (kaluluwa) .

  • Aswang : Aswang, probably the most famous mythological figure in the Philippines, is a corpse-eating ghoul and - similar to the European werewolf - can take the form of an animal. During the day, aswangs take the form of a human or an animal (usually a bat or a pig). At night, when the moon is full , they appear at midnight to hunt down unsuspecting sleeping people. The myth of the aswang is particularly popular in Cadiz and in Duenas, Iloilo.
  • Dila: Dila is the tongue of a ghost. Dilas invade the bamboo floors of rural houses and lick certain people to death.
  • Diwatas and Engkatos : Diwatas or fairies are said to live in large trees like acacias and baletes. They are the guardian spirits of nature and bring blessing or ruin to those who do or harm forests and mountains. A famous such Diwata is Maria Makiling , the guardian of Mount Makiling in Laguna Province. Engkantos (also written Encantos) or male fairies live mainly in the sea. It is a custom among Filipino fishermen to throw meat and other delicacies into the sea as sacrifices for the Engkantos after a good catch.
In other parts of the country, Diwatas correspond to the Greek gods and goddesses. The most famous diwatas include: Bathala (also known as Kabunian , Malayari, and Lumawig ), rulers of heaven; Amanikable , ruler of the seas; Dian Masalanta. Goddess of love; Apolake (or Adlaw ), sun god; Mayari (or Bulan in other areas ), moon goddess; Tala. Goddess of the stars; and Anitan. Guardian of lightning.
  • Dwende: Dwende is the Spanish word for dwarf . Dwendes often live in houses or on trees in rural areas. Depending on how you treat them, they bring bad luck or bad luck. Filipinos often leave food on the floor so that the dwendes who inhabit (or, as they say, protect) the house would not be offended but would bring blessings to the house. There are also dwendes who live in anthills, and when you come to an anthill you ask for their permission to pass.
  • Kapre: Kapre, a large and dark giant , inhabits forests.
  • Manananggal: A manananggal is a sorceress who can divide her body into two parts. She wears bat wings on her back. Head and torso roam the country, eating bedridden and sick people. If the lower half of her body is sprinkled with ashes and salt, her head cannot return and she will be destroyed for good. Sometimes it is mistaken for or equated with an aswang.
  • Mangkukulam: Mangkukulam is a witch. In the Visayas it is called Mambabarang .
  • Matruculan: Matruculan invades a virgin's house and impregnates her. According to another version, the matruculan kills an expectant mother, opens her womb and eats the fetus. As a defense, the husband cuts the air with his ax during labor. Belief in Matruculan is not as widespread today as it was in Spanish times.
  • Multo: Multo, the word for spirit in Tagalog, comes from the Spanish muerto (German: Toter). Filipinos believe that a multo, often the ghost of a deceased relative, visits them regularly. The word for visiting a multo is minumulto or dinadalaw .
  • Nuno sa Punso: The Nuno sa Punso inhabits small hills in the ground. This is why Filipinos say “makikiraan lang po” (“Sorry please”) when they pass a hump in the ground so as not to offend the Nuno. Often they are confused with the Dwende.
  • Putol na Kamay: Putol na Kamay often live in mailboxes or cupboards in rural houses. The name means "cut hand".
  • Santelmo: Santelmo (from the Spanish "Fuego de San Telmo", German: Elmsfeuer ) is a ball of fire that was seen by dozens of Filipinos, especially in the mountains of the Sierra Madre. Scientifically, these phenomena are explained by atmospheric electrical fields that occur when thunderstorm fronts are approaching and which discharge as Elm's fire on tall, pointed objects. There were reports of sightings as early as the Spanish era (16th to 19th centuries). Elmsfire on ship masts was particularly observed by seafarers. This phenomenon can also be observed on mountain peaks in the mountains.
  • Sirena and Siyokoy: A Sirena (German: Sirene ) is a mermaid . Fishermen from the cities on the Pacific in particular often reported sirens on the beach. Siyokoy is the siren's male counterpart. It has a brown scaly skin similar to that of fish and gill slits.
  • Tikbalang : A tikbalang is a being with the head of a horse and the body of a human.
  • Tiyanak: According to Filipino belief, a Tiyanak is the descendant of a woman and a demon (compare changeling ). A tiyanak can also be an aborted fetus that comes to life and brings misfortune to the mother. He is described as hairless with red skin and glowing eyes.
  • Thanbucha: According to Filipino belief, a thanbucha is the descendant of a man and a newt . A thanbucha can also be an aborted fetus that comes to life and brings misfortune to the mother. He is described as hairless with red skin and glowing eyes. Illegitimate children are drowned right after they are born.


In 2005, 2.5% of GDP was spent on education. A large part of the schools consists of private schools. The illiteracy rate in the Philippines is low.


Ball sports, athletics, swimming and boxing

The most popular sports include basketball , boxing, and pool . The Filipino basketball players became Asian champions five times in 1960, 1963, 1967, 1973 and 1986 . The most famous Filipino athlete at the moment is the multiple boxing world champion Manny Pacquiao . The Greek-Filipino wrestler Dave Batista and the pool player Efren Reyes are also known .

A high jumper ( Simeon Toribio ), two swimmers and four boxers took part in the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles . Toribio, the swimmer José Villanueva and the bantamweight Teofilo Yldefonso each won a bronze medal .

Martial arts

The weapon-heavy forms Arnis , Kali and Eskrima , as well as a fighting style similar to kickboxing, the Sikaran , have their origin in the Philippines. They are well known for effective, lethal knife techniques and extremely fast double stick shapes. Less known are Panantukan , a Filipino style of boxing, and Dumog , the counterpart to wrestling.


The diving in the Philippines has its origin in Anilao in southern Luzon. Expats and Filipinos mostly from nearby Manila explored the underwater world on weekends. Today you can find international diving centers and resorts all over the archipelago. Puerto Galera on Mindoro was and is still a diving stronghold today. In the Visayas , diving activities are largely concentrated in Bohol, Moalboal and the Dumaguete region. Coron in northern Palawan is just as popular with wreck divers as Subic Bay in western Luzon. Here you can dive various wrecks from the Second World War . Liveaboards are also becoming increasingly popular in the Philippines. The goals include the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea and the Apo Reef north of Mindoro . The Philippines are located in the Coral Triangle and have an above-average biodiversity. For years there has been a successful fight against dynamite and cyanide fishing in many areas . Most of the dive sites are close to the coast and can be reached in a few minutes by boat from the respective base.

The diving training is mostly based on PADI guidelines. However, other certifications are also recognized by international diving organizations. Most diving centers use the INT compressed air cylinder connection standardized in accordance with ISO 12209-3 , so it is advisable to bring an adapter for the DIN connection that is widely used in Europe.

sightseeing features

Chocolate Hills
Panorama of the rice terraces of Banaue, Philippines

On Luzon are the famous rice terraces of Banaue and Batad and the volcanoes Pinatubo , Taal and Mayon (many consider the most beautiful volcano view of the world as it stands as a near-perfect cone of a flat plane). About two hours from Manila in the Laguna province are the famous Pagsanjan waterfalls . Also noteworthy are the many beaches that the coasts of the Philippines have to offer.

Important sights are part of the world cultural or natural heritage, such as the baroque churches in the Philippines San Agustín in the Spanish city fortress Intramuros and in Paoay and Miagao . The historic Spanish old town of Vigan is largely unknown . Historically significant sacred buildings are the Cathedral of Malolos and the Cathedral of Manila . The only church building in Asia with a façade completely made of steel in the neo-Gothic style is the Basílica de San Sebastián . One of the few buildings in Asia to be built in the Art Deco style is the Manila Metropolitan Theater building . The Rizal Park is of great national importance . Outside of Manila is the Baroque church in Daraga , Albay province (Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church), built in 1773 and declared a National Heritage Site in 2007. The church stands on a mountain hill in the municipality of Daraga, from which one has a panoramic view of the famous Mayon volcano.

There are numerous Spanish fortresses in the Philippines , some of which are well preserved. On Bohol there are the Chocolate Hills , which are reminiscent of Toblerone chocolate in their shape and have been declared a National Natural Monument. A total of 1268 mounds of this shape have been counted in the area. In Cebu City, the Daoist temple is one of the architectural gems.

Two coral reefs known worldwide among scuba divers are the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea and the Apo Reef in the Mindoro Strait . The largest coral reef in the Philippines, however, is the largely unknown Caubyan and Calituban double reef . In the national parks and nature reserves, new animal and plant species are constantly being discovered, for example in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park . The most famous national park is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park , which is home to the longest underground river in the world.



Islands and archipelagos

The national territory of the Philippines comprises about 7100 islands, of which about 460 have an area of ​​more than 2.6 square kilometers. The eleven main islands are Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Palawan, Panay, Mindoro, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol and Masbate.

National parks and nature reserves

Luzon archipelago :

Mindoro and Palawan :

Visayas archipelago :

Mindanao archipelago :

See also

Portal: Philippines  - Portal to further articles about the Philippines


  • Rainer Werning, Jörg Schwieger (Hrsg.): Handbook Philippines. Society - politics - economy - culture. regiospectra, Berlin, 2019, 6th, completely revised edition, ISBN 978-3-9477-2906-7 (gives deep insights into all areas of Filipino society and history)
  • Wolfgang Bethge: The Philippines - Insights into nature, culture, history and society. Shaker, Aachen 2009, ISBN 978-3-86858-196-6 .
  • Jens Peters: Philippines. Travel manual. 18th edition. JPP, Bremen 2005, ISBN 3-923821-30-1 (most comprehensive German-speaking Philippines travel guide)
  • Eduard Brachetto: Philippines. Paradise in permanent emergency. Brachetto, Kloten 2003, ISBN 3-0344-0167-1 .
  • Maike Grabowski, Hannah Wolf, Johannes Icking, Action Alliance Human Rights-Philippines (ed.): Human Rights in the Philippines - Claim and Reality. Asia House Foundation, Cologne 2014, ISBN 978-3-933341-60-0 . (gives a good overview of the current human rights situation)

Web links

Commons : Philippines  - Collection of pictures, videos, and audio files
Wiktionary: Philippines  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikisource: Philippines  - Sources and full texts
Wikivoyage: Philippines  - Travel Guide
Wikimedia Atlas: Philippines  geographical and historical maps

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Coordinates: 11 °  N , 123 °  E