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Philippines - SOCIETY

Philippines - The Society


THE PHILIPPINES CONTINUED to be primarily a rural society in 1990, despite increasing signs of urbanization. The family remained the prime unit of social awareness, and ritual kin relations and associations of a patron-client nature still were the basis for social groupings beyond the nuclear family, rather than horizontal ties forged among members of economically based social classes. Because of a common religious tradition and the spread of Pilipino as a widely used, if not thoroughly accepted, national language, Filipinos were a relatively homogeneous population, with the important exceptions of the Muslim minority on Mindanao and in Sulu and southern Palawan provinces, and the upland tribal minorities sprinkled throughout the islands. Filipinos shared a common set of values emphasizing social acceptance as a primary virtue and a common world view in which education served as the principal avenue for upward social mobility. Cleavages in the society were based primarily on religious (in the case of Muslims versus Christians), sociocultural (in the case of upland tribes versus lowland coastal Filipinos), and urban-rural differences, rather than ethnic or racial considerations.

Improvements in the national transportation system and in mass communications in most parts of the archipelago in the 1970s and 1980s tended to reduce ethnolinguistic and regional divisions among lowland Filipinos, who made up more than 90 percent of the population. Some resistance to this cultural homogeneity remained, however, and continued regional identification was manifested in loyalty to regional languages and in opposition to the imposition of a national language based largely on Tagalog, the language of the Manila area.

Large numbers of rural migrants continued to flow into the huge metropolitan areas, especially Metro Manila. Filipinos also migrated in substantial numbers to the United States and other countries. Many of these migrants, especially those to the Middle East, migrated only to find temporary employment and retained their Philippine domiciles.

There has been a significant shift in the composition of the elite as a result of political and economic policies following the end of the administration of President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1986. Some of the elite families displaced by the Marcos regime regained wealth and influence, and many of the families enjoying power, privilege, and prestige in the early l990s were not the same as those enjoying similar status a decade earlier. The abolition of monopolistic marketing boards, along with some progress in privatization, has eliminated the economic base of some of Marcos's powerful associates.

As a result of economic policies that permitted fruit and logging companies to expand their landholdings, previously formed by tribal people, and to push farther and farther into the mountains to exploit timber resources, upland tribal people have been threatened and dislocated, and the country's rich rain forests have suffered. Despite government efforts to instill respect for cultural diversity, it remained to be seen whether minorities and the ecosystem they shared would survive the onslaught of powerful economic forces that include the migration of thousands of lowland Filipinos to the frontier areas on Mindanao, as well as the intrusion of corporate extractive industries. Even if these influences were held in check, the attraction of lowland society might wean the tribal people from their customary way of life.

Although it would seem that the continued high rate of population growth aggravated the state of the Philippine economy and health care, population growth did not seem to be a major concern of the government. Roman Catholic clergy withdrew cooperation from the Population Control Commission (Popcom) and sought its elimination. The commission was retained, and government efforts to reduce population growth continued but hardly on a scale likely to produce major results.



Philippines - Population


Population Growth

The Philippine population in the early 1990s continued to grow at a rapid, although somewhat reduced rate from that which had prevailed in the preceding decades. In 1990 the Philippine population was more than 66 million, up from 48 million in 1980. This figure represents an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent, down from 2.6 percent in 1980 and from more than 3 percent in the 1960s. Even at the lower growth rate, the Philippine population will increase to an estimated 77 million by the year 2000 and will double every twenty-nine years into the next century. Moreover, in 1990 the population was still a youthful one, with 57 percent under the age of twenty. The birth rate in early 1991 was 29 per 1,000, and the death rate was 7 per 1,000. The infant mortality rate was 48 deaths per 1,000 live births. Population density increased from 160 per square kilometer in 1980 to 220 in 1990. The rapid population growth and the size of the younger population has required the Philippines to double the amount of housing, schools, and health facilities every twenty-nine years just to maintain a constant level.


There were two significant migration trends that affected population figures in the 1970s and the 1980s. First was a trend of migration from village to city, which put extra stress on urban areas. As of the early 1980s, thirty cities had 100,000 or more residents, up from twenty-one in 1970. Metro Manila's population was 5,924,563, up from 4,970,006 in 1975, marking an annual growth rate of 3.6 percent. This figure was far above the national average of 2.5 percent. Within Metro Manila, the city of Manila itself was growing more slowly, at a rate of only 1.9 percent per annum, but two other cities within this complex, Quezon City and Caloocan, were booming at rates of 4 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively.

A National Housing Authority report revealed that, in the early 1980s, one out of four Metro Manila residents was a squatter. This figure represented a 150 percent increase in a decade in the number of people living in shantytown communities, evidence of continuing, virtually uncontrolled, rural-urban migration. The city of Manila had more than 500,000 inhabitants and Quezon City had 371,000 inhabitants in such neighborhoods. Moreover, rural-urban migrants, responding to better employment opportunities in peripheral metropolitan cities such as Navotas, had boosted the percentage of squatters in that city's total population.

A second major migration pattern consisted of resettlement from the more densely to the less densely populated regions. As a result of a population-land ratio that declined from about one cultivated hectare per agricultural worker in the 1950s to about 0.5 hectare by the early 1980s, thousands of Filipinos had migrated to the agricultural frontier on Mindanao. According to the 1980 census, six of the twelve fastest growing provinces were in the western, northern, or southern Mindanao regions, and a seventh was the frontier province of Palawan. Sulu, South Cotabato, Misamis Oriental, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, and Agusan del Sur provinces all had annual population growth rates of 4 percent or more, a remarkable statistic given the uncertain law-and-order situation on Mindanao. Among the fastestgrowing cities in the late 1970s were General Santos (10 percent annual growth rate), Iligan (6.9), Cagayan de Oro (6.7), Cotabato (5.7), Zamboanga (5.4), Butuan (5.4), and Dipolog (5.1)--all on Mindanao.

By the early 1980s, the Mindanao frontier had ceased to offer a safety valve for land-hungry settlers. Hitherto peaceful provinces had become dangerous tinderboxes in which mounting numbers of Philippine army troops and New People's Army insurgents carried on a sporadic shooting war with each other and with bandits, "lost commands," millenarian religious groups, upland tribes, loggers, and Muslims. Population pressures also created an added obstacle to land reform. For years, there had been demands to restructure land tenure so that landlords with large holdings could be eliminated and peasants could become farm owners. In the past, land reform had been opposed by landlords. In the 1990s there simply was not enough land to enable a majority of the rural inhabitants to become landowners. International migration has offered better economic opportunities to a number of Filipinos without, however, reaching the point where it would relieve population pressure. Since the liberalization of United States immigration laws in 1965, the number of people in the United States having Filipino ancestry had grown substantially to 1,406,770 according to the 1990 United States census. In the fiscal year ending September 30, 1990, the United States Embassy in Manila issued 45,189 immigrant and 85,128 temporary visas, the largest number up to that time.

In addition to permanent residents, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, more than half a million temporary migrants went abroad to work but maintained a Philippine residence. This number included contract workers in the Middle East and domestic servants in Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as nurses and physicians who went to the United States for training and work experience, a fair proportion of whom managed to become permanent residents. The remittances sent back to the Philippines by migrants have been a substantial source of foreign exchange.

Population Control

Popcom was the government agency with primary responsibility for controlling population growth. In 1985 Popcom set a target for reducing the growth rate to 1 percent by 2000. To reach that goal in the 1990s, Popcom recommended that families have a maximum of two children, that they space the birth of children at three-year intervals, and that women delay marriage to age twenty-three and men to age twenty-five.

During the Marcos regime (1965-86), there was a rather uneasy accommodation between the Catholic hierarchy and the government population control program. Bishops served on Popcom, and the rhythm method was included by clinics as a birth-control method about which they could give information. A few Catholic priests, notably Frank Lynch, even called for energetic support of population limitation.

The fall of Marcos coincided with a general rise of skepticism about the relation between population growth and economic development. It became common to state that exploitation, rather than population pressure, was the cause of poverty. The bishops withdrew from the Popcom board, opposed an effort to reduce the number of children counted as dependents for tax purposes, secured the removal of the population-planning clause from the draft of the Constitution, and attempted to end government population programs. Attacks on the government population program were defeated, and efforts to popularize family planning, along with the provision of contraceptive materials, continued. In the early 1990s, however, the program generally lacked the firm government support needed to make it effective.

<>Ethnicity, Regionalism, and Language

Updated population figures for the Philippines.




Historical Development of Ethnic Identities

Philippine society was relatively homogeneous in 1990, especially considering its distribution over some 1,000 inhabited islands. Muslims and upland tribal peoples were obvious exceptions, but approximately 90 percent of the society remained united by a common cultural and religious background. Among the lowland Christian Filipinos, language was the main point of internal differentiation, but the majority interacted and intermarried regularly across linguistic lines. Because of political centralization, urbanization, and extensive internal migration, linguistic barriers were eroding, and government emphasis on Pilipino and English (at the expense of local dialects) also reduced these divisions. Nevertheless, national integration remained incomplete.

Through centuries of intermarriage, Filipinos had become a unique blend of Malay, Chinese, Spanish, Negrito, and American. Among the earliest inhabitants were Negritos, followed by Malays, who deserve most of the credit for developing lowland Philippine agricultural life as it is known in the modern period. As the Malays spread throughout the archipelago, two things happened. First, they absorbed, through intermarriage, most of the Negrito population, although a minority of Negritos remained distinct by retreating to the mountains. Second, they dispersed into separate groups, some of which became relatively isolated in pockets on Mindanao, northern Luzon, and some of the other large islands. Comparative linguistic analysis suggests that most groups may once have spoken a form of "proto-Manobo," but that each group developed a distinct vernacular that can be traced to its contact over the centuries with certain groups and its isolation from others.

With the advent of Islam in the southern Philippines during the fifteenth century, separate sultanates developed on Mindanao and in the Sulu Archipelago. By the middle of the sixteenth century, Islamic influence had spread as far north as Manila Bay.

Spain colonized the Philippines in the sixteenth century and succeeded in providing the necessary environment for the development of a Philippine national identity; however, Spain never completely vitiated Muslim autonomy on Mindanao and in the Sulu Archipelago, where the separate Muslim sultanates of Sulu, Maguindanao, and Maranao remained impervious to Christian conversion. Likewise, the Spanish never succeeded in converting upland tribal groups, particularly on Luzon and Mindanao. The Spanish influence was strongest among lowland groups and emanated from Manila. Even among these lowland peoples, however, linguistic differences continued to outweigh unifying factors until a nationalist movement emerged to question Spanish rule in the nineteenth century.

Philippine national identity emerged as a blend of diverse ethnic and linguistic groups, when lowland Christians, called indios by the Spaniards, began referring to themselves as "Filipinos," excluding Muslims, upland tribal groups, and ethnic Chinese who had not been assimilated by intermarriage and did not fit the category. In the very process of defining a national identity, the majority was also drawing attention to a basic societal cleavage among the groups. In revolting against Spanish rule and, later, fighting United States troops, the indigenous people became increasingly conscious of a national unity transcending local and regional identities. A public school system that brought at least elementary-level education to all but the most remote barrios and sitios (small clusters of homes) during the early twentieth century also served to dilute religious, ethnic, and linguistic or regional differences, as did improvements in transportation and communication systems and the spread of English as a lingua franca.

<>Language Diversity and Uniformity
<>The Lowland Christian Population
<>Muslim Filipinos
<>Upland Tribal Groups
<>The Chinese

the Philippines.


Philippines - Language Diversity and Uniformity


Some eleven languages and eighty-seven dialects were spoken in the Philippines in the late 1980s. Eight of these--Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Bicolano, Waray-Waray, Pampangan, and Pangasinan--were native tongues for about 90 percent of the population. All eight belong to the Malay-Polynesian language family and are related to Indonesian and Malay, but no two are mutually comprehensible. Each has a number of dialects and all have impressive literary traditions, especially Tagalog, Cebuano, and Ilocano. Some of the languages have closer affinity than others. It is easier for Ilocanos and Pangasinans to learn each other's language than to learn any of the other six. Likewise, speakers of major Visayan Island languages--Cebuano, Ilongo, and Waray-Waray--find it easier to communicate with each other than with Tagalogs, Ilocanos, or others.

Language divisions were nowhere more apparent than in the continuing public debate over national language. The government in 1974 initiated a policy of gradually phasing out English in schools, business, and government, and replacing it with Pilipino, based on the Tagalog language of central and southern Luzon. Pilipino had spread throughout the nation, the mass media, and the school system. In 1990 President Corazon Aquino ordered that all government offices use Pilipino as a medium of communication, and 200 college executives asked that Pilipino be the main medium of college instruction rather than English. Government and educational leaders hoped that Pilipino would be in general use throughout the archipelago by the end of the century. By that time, it might have enough grass-roots support in non-Tagalog-speaking regions to become a national language. In the early l990s, however, Filipinos had not accepted a national language at the expense of their regional languages. Nor was there complete agreement that regional languages should be subordinated to a national language based on Tagalog.

The role of English was also debated. Some argued that English was essential to economic progress because it opened the Philippines to communication with the rest of the world, facilitated foreign commerce, and made Filipinos desirable employees for international firms both in the Philippines and abroad. Despite census reports that nearly 65 percent of the populace claimed some understanding of English, as of the early 1990s competence in English appeared to have deteriorated. Groups also debated whether "Filipinization" and the resulting shifting of the language toward "Taglish" (a mixture of Tagalog and English) had made the language less useful as a medium of international communication. Major newspapers in the early 1990s, however, were in English, English language movies were popular, and English was often used in advertisements.

Successful Filipinos were likely to continue to be competent in Pilipino and English. Speakers of another regional language would most likely continue to use that language at home, Pilipino in ordinary conversation in the cities, and English for commerce, government, and international relations. Both Pilipino, gaining use in the media, and English continued in the 1990s to be the languages of education.


Philippines - The Lowland Christian Population


Although lowland Christians maintained stylistic differences in dress until the twentieth century and had always taken pride in their unique culinary specialties, they continued to be a remarkably homogeneous core population of the Philippines. In 1990 lowland Christians, also known as Christian Malays, made up 91.5 percent of the population and were divided into several regional groups. Because of their regional base in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces to the north, east, and south, Tagalogs tended to be more visible than other groups. Cebuanos, whose language was the principal one in the Visayan Island area, inhabited Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Negros Oriental, Leyte, and Southern Leyte provinces, and parts of Mindanao. Ilocanos had a reputation for being ready migrants, leaving their rocky northern Luzon homeland not just for more fertile parts of the archipelago but for the United States as well. The home region of the Ilongos (speakers of Hiligaynon) included most of Panay, Negros Occidental Province, and the southern end of Mindoro. Their migration in large numbers to the Cotabato and Lanao areas of Mindanao led to intense friction between them and the local Muslim inhabitants and the outbreak of fighting between the two groups in the 1970s. The homeland of the Bicolanos, or "Bicolandia" was the southeastern portion of Luzon together with the islands of Catanduanes, Burias, and Ticao, and adjacent parts of Masbate. The Waray-Warays lived mostly in eastern Leyte and Samar in the Eastern Visayas. The Pampangan homeland was the Central Luzon Plain and especially Pampanga Province. Speakers of Pangasinan were especially numerous in the Lingayen Gulf region of Luzon, but they also had spread to the Central Luzon Plain where they were interspersed with Tagalogs, Ilocanos, and Pampangans.

As migrants to the city, these lowland Christians clustered together in neighborhoods made up primarily of people from their own regions. Multilingualism generally characterized these neighborhoods; the language of the local area was used, as a rule, for communicating with those native to the area, and English or Pilipino was used as a supplement. Migrants to cities and to agricultural frontiers were remarkably ready and willing to learn the language of their new location while retaining use of their mother tongue within the home.


Philippines - Muslim Filipinos


Muslims, about 5 percent of the total population, were the most significant minority in the Philippines. Although undifferentiated racially from other Filipinos, in the 1990s they remained outside the mainstream of national life, set apart by their religion and way of life. In the 1970s, in reaction to consolidation of central government power under martial law, which began in 1972, the Muslim Filipino, or Moro population increasingly identified with the worldwide Islamic community, particularly in Malaysia, Indonesia, Libya, and Middle Eastern countries. Longstanding economic grievances stemming from years of governmental neglect and from resentment of popular prejudice against them contributed to the roots of Muslim insurgency.

Moros were confined almost entirely to the southern part of the country--southern and western Mindanao, southern Palawan, and the Sulu Archipelago. Ten subgroups could be identified on the basis of language. Three of these groups made up the great majority of Moros. They were the Maguindanaos of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao provinces; the Maranaos of the two Lanao provinces; and the Tausugs, principally from Jolo Island. Smaller groups were the Samals and Bajaus, principally of the Sulu Archipelago; the Yakans of Zamboanga del Sur Province; the Ilanons and Sangirs of Southern Mindanao Region; the Melabugnans of southern Palawan; and the Jama Mapuns of the tiny Cagayan Islands.

Muslim Filipinos traditionally have not been a closely knit or even allied group. They were fiercely proud of their separate identities, and conflict between them was endemic for centuries. In addition to being divided by different languages and political structures, the separate groups also differed in their degree of Islamic orthodoxy. For example, the Tausugs, the first group to adopt Islam, criticized the more recently Islamicized Yakan and Bajau peoples for being less zealous in observing Islamic tenets and practices. Internal differences among Moros in the 1980s, however, were outweighed by commonalities of historical experience vis-à-vis non-Muslims and by shared cultural, social, and legal traditions.

The traditional structure of Moro society focused on a sultan who was both a secular and a religious leader and whose authority was sanctioned by the Quran. The datu were communal leaders who measured power not by their holdings in landed wealth but by the numbers of their followers. In return for tribute and labor, the datu provided aid in emergencies and advocacy in disputes with followers of another chief. Thus, through his agama (court--actually an informal dispute-settling session), a datu became basic to the smooth function of Moro society. He was a powerful authority figure who might have as many as four wives and who might enslave other Muslims in raids on their villages or in debt bondage. He might also demand revenge (maratabat) for the death of a follower or upon injury to his pride or honor.

The datu continued to play a central role in Moro society in the 1980s. In many parts of Muslim Mindanao, they still administered the sharia (sacred Islamic law) through the agama. They could no longer expand their circle of followers by raiding other villages, but they achieved the same end by accumulating wealth and then using it to provide aid, employment, and protection for less fortunate neighbors. Datu support was essential for government programs in a Muslim barangay. Although a datu in modern times rarely had more than one wife, polygamy was permitted so long as his wealth was sufficient to provide for more than one. Moro society was still basically hierarchical and familial, at least in rural areas.

The national government policies instituted immediately after independence in 1946 abolished the Bureau for Non-Christian Tribes used by the United States to deal with minorities and encouraged migration of Filipinos from densely settled areas such as Central Luzon to the "open" frontier of Mindanao. By the l950s, hundreds of thousands of Ilongos, Ilocanos, Tagalogs, and others were settling in North Cotabato and South Cotabato and Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur provinces, where their influx inflamed Moro hostility. The crux of the problem lay in land disputes. Christian migrants to the Cotabatos, for example, complained that they bought land from one Muslim only to have his relatives refuse to recognize the sale and demand more money. Muslims claimed that Christians would title land through government agencies unknown to Muslim residents, for whom land titling was a new institution. Distrust and resentment spread to the public school system, regarded by most Muslims as an agency for the propagation of Christian teachings. By 1970, a terrorist organization of Christians called the Ilagas (Rats) began operating in the Cotabatos, and Muslim armed bands, called Blackshirts, appeared in response. The same thing happened in the Lanaos, where the Muslim Barracudas began fighting the Ilagas. Philippine army troops sent in to restore peace and order were accused by Muslims of siding with the Christians. When martial law was declared in 1972, Muslim Mindanao was in turmoil.

The Philippine government discovered shortly after independence that there was a need for some kind of specialized agency to deal with the Muslim minority and so set up the Commission for National Integration in 1957, which was later replaced by the Office of Muslim Affairs and Cultural Communities. Filipino nationalists envisioned a united country in which Christians and Muslims would be offered economic advantages and the Muslims would be assimilated into the dominant culture. They would simply be Filipinos who had their own mode of worship and who refused to eat pork. This vision, less than ideal to many Christians, was generally rejected by Muslims who feared that it was a euphemistic equivalent of assimilation. Concessions were made to Muslim religion and customs. Muslims were exempted from Philippine laws prohibiting polygamy and divorce, and in 1977 the government attempted to codify Muslim law on personal relationships and to harmonize Muslim customary law with Philippine law. A significant break from past practice was the 1990 establishment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which gave Muslims in the region control over some aspects of government, but not over national security and foreign affairs.

There were social factors in the early 1990s that militated against the cultural autonomy sought by Muslim leaders. Industrial development and increased migration outside the region brought new educational demands and new roles for women. These changes in turn led to greater assimilation and, in some cases, even intermarriage. Nevertheless, Muslims and Christians generally remained distinct societies often at odds with one another.


Philippines - Upland Tribal Groups


Another minority, the more than 100 upland tribal groups, in 1990 constituted approximately 3 percent of the population. As lowland Filipinos, both Muslim and Christian, grew in numbers and expanded into the interiors of Luzon, Mindoro, Mindanao, and other islands, they isolated upland tribal communities in pockets. Over the centuries, these isolated tribes developed their own special identities. The folk art of these groups was, in a sense, the last remnant of an indigenous tradition that flourished everywhere before Islamic and Spanish contact.

Technically, the upland tribal groups were a blend in ethnic origin like other Filipinos, although they did not, as a rule, have as much contact with the outside world. They displayed great variety in social organization, cultural expression, and artistic skills that showed a high degree of creativity, usually employed to embellish utilitarian objects, such as bowls, baskets, clothing, weapons, and even spoons. Technologically, these groups ranged from the highly sophisticated Bontocs and Ifugaos, who engineered the extraordinary rice terraces, to more primitive groups. They also covered a wide spectrum in terms of their integration and acculturation with lowland Christian Filipinos. Some, like the Bukidnons of Mindanao, had intermarried with lowlanders for almost a century, whereas others, like the Kalingas on Luzon, remained more isolated from lowland influences.

There were ten principal cultural groups living in the Cordillera Central of Luzon in 1990. The name Igorot, the Tagalog word for mountaineer, was often used with reference to all groups. At one time it was employed by lowland Filipinos in a pejorative sense, but in recent years it came to be used with pride by youths in the mountains as a positive expression of their separate ethnic identity vis-à-vis lowlanders. Of the ten groups, the Ifugaos of Ifugao Province, the Bontocs of Mountain and Kalinga-Apayao provinces, and the Kankanays and Ibalois of Benguet Province were all wet-rice farmers who worked the elaborate rice terraces they had constructed over the centuries. The Kankanays and Ibalois were the most influenced by Spanish and American colonialism and lowland Filipino culture because of the extensive gold mines in Benguet, the proximity of Baguio, good roads and schools, and a consumer industry in search of folk art. Other mountain peoples of Luzon were the Kalingas of KalingaApayao Province and the Tinguians of Abra Province, who employed both wet-rice and dry-rice growing techniques. The Isnegs of northern Kalinga-Apayao Province, the Gaddangs of the border between Kalinga-Apayao and Isabela provinces, and the Ilongots of Nueva Vizcaya Province all practiced shifting cultivation. Negritos completed the picture for Luzon. Although Negritos formerly dominated the highlands, by the early 1980s they were reduced to small groups living in widely scattered locations, primarily along the eastern ranges of the mountains.

South of Luzon, upland tribal groups were concentrated on Mindanao, although there was an important population of mountain peoples with the generic name Mangyan living on Mindoro. Among the most important groups on Mindanao were the Manobos (a general name for many tribal groups in southern Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur provinces); the Bukidnons of Bukidnon Province; the Bagobos, Mandayas, Atas, and Mansakas, who inhabited mountains bordering the Davao Gulf; the Subanuns of upland areas in the Zamboanga provinces; the Mamanuas of the Agusan-Surigao border region; and the Bila-ans, Tirurays, and T-Bolis of the area of the Cotabato provinces. Tribal groups on Luzon were widely known for their carved wooden figures, baskets, and weaving; Mindanao tribes were renowned for their elaborate embroidery, appliqué, and bead work.

The Office of Muslim Affairs and Cultural Communities succeeded in establishing a number of protected reservations for tribal groups. Residents were expected to speak their tribal language, dress in their traditional tribal clothing, live in houses constructed of natural materials using traditional architectural designs, and celebrate their traditional ceremonies of propitiation of spirits believed to be inhabiting their environment. They also were encouraged to reestablish their traditional authority structure in which, as in Moro society, tribal datu were the key figures. These men, chosen on the basis of their bravery and their ability to settle disputes, were usually, but not always, the sons of former datu. Often they were also the ones who remembered the ancient oral epics of their people. The datu sang these epics to reawaken in tribal youth an appreciation for the unique and semisacred history of the tribal group.

Contact between primitive and modern groups usually resulted in weakening or destroying tribal culture without assimilating the tribal groups into modern society. It seemed doubtful that the shift of government policy from assimilation to cultural pluralism could reverse the process. James Eder, an anthropologist who has studied several Filipino tribes, maintains that even the protection of tribal land rights tends to lead to the abandonment of traditional culture because land security makes it easier for tribal members to adopt the economic practices of the larger society and facilitates marriage with outsiders. Government bureaus could not preserve tribes as social museum exhibits, but with the aid of various private organizations, they hoped to be able to help the tribes adapt to modern society without completely losing their ethnic identity.


Philippines - The Chinese


In 1990 the approximately 600,000 ethnic Chinese made up less than 1 percent of the population. Because Manila is close to Taiwan and the mainland of China, the Philippines has for centuries attracted both Chinese traders and semipermanent residents. The Chinese have been viewed as a source of cheap labor and of capital and business enterprise. Government policy toward the Chinese has been inconsistent. Spanish, American, and Filipino regimes alternately welcomed and restricted the entry and activities of the Chinese. Most early Chinese migrants were male, resulting in a sex ratio, at one time, as high as 113 to 1, although in the 1990s it was more nearly equal, reflecting a population based more on natural increase than on immigration.

There has been a good deal of intermarriage between the Chinese and lowland Christians, although the exact amount is impossible to determine. Although many prominent Filipinos, including José Rizal, President Corazon Aquino, and Cardinal Jaime Sin have mixed Chinese ancestry, intermarriage has not necessarily led to ethnic understanding. Mestizos, over a period of years, tended to deprecate their Chinese ancestry and to identify as Filipino. The Chinese tended to regard their culture as superior and sought to maintain it by establishing a separate school system in which about half the curriculum consisted of Chinese literature, history, and language.

Intermarriage and changing governmental policies made it difficult to define who was Chinese. The popular usage of "Chinese" included Chinese aliens, both legal and illegal, as well as those of Chinese ancestry who had become citizens. "Ethnic Chinese" was another term often used but hard to define. Mestizos could be considered either Chinese or Filipino, depending on the group with which they associated to the greatest extent.

Research indicates that Chinese were one of the least accepted ethnic groups. The common Filipino perception of the Chinese was of rich businessmen backed by Chinese cartels who stamped out competition from other groups. There was, however, a sizable Chinese working class in the Philippines, and there was a sharp gap between rich and poor Chinese.




The great majority of the Philippine population is bound together by common values and a common religion. Philippine society is characterized by many positive traits. Among these are strong religious faith, respect for authority, and high regard for amor proprio (self-esteem) and smooth interpersonal relationships. Philippine respect for authority is based on the special honor paid to elder members of the family and, by extension, to anyone in a position of power. This characteristic is generally conducive to the smooth running of society, although, when taken to extreme, it can develop into an authoritarianism that discourages independent judgment and individual responsibility and initiative. Filipinos are sensitive to attacks on their own self-esteem and cultivate a sensitivity to the self-esteem of others as well. Anything that might hurt another's self-esteem is to be avoided or else one risks terminating the relationship. One who is insensitive to others is said to lack a sense of shame and embarrassment, the principal sanction against improper behavior. This great concern for self- esteem helps to maintain harmony in society and within one's particular circle, but it also can give rise to clannishness and a willingness to sacrifice personal integrity to remain in the good graces of the group. Strong personal faith enables Filipinos to face great difficulties and unpredictable risks in the assurance that "God will take care of things." But, if allowed to deteriorate into fatalism, even this admirable characteristic can hinder initiative and stand in the way of progress.

Social organization generally follows a single pattern, although variations do occur, reflecting the influence of local traditions. Among lowland Christian Filipinos, social organization continues to be marked primarily by personal alliance systems, that is, groupings composed of kin (real and ritual), grantors and recipients of favors, friends, and partners in commercial exchanges.

Philippine personal alliance systems are anchored by kinship, beginning with the nuclear family. A Filipino's loyalty goes first to the immediate family; identity is deeply embedded in the web of kinship. It is normative that one owes support, loyalty, and trust to one's close kin and, because kinship is structured bilaterally with affinal as well as consanguineal relatives, one's kin can include quite a large number of people. Still, beyond the nuclear family, Filipinos do not assume the same degree of support, loyalty, and trust that they assume for immediate family members for whom loyalty is nothing less than a social imperative. With respect to kin beyond this nuclear family, closeness in relationship depends very much on physical proximity.

Bonds of ritual kinship, sealed on any of three ceremonial occasions--baptism, confirmation, and marriage--intensify and extend personal alliances. This mutual kinship system, known as compadrazgo, meaning godparenthood or sponsorship, dates back at least to the introduction of Christianity and perhaps earlier. It is a primary method of extending the group from which one can expect help in the way of favors, such as jobs, loans, or just simple gifts on special occasions. But in asking a friend to become godparent to a child, a Filipino is also asking that person to become a closer friend. Thus it is common to ask acquaintances who are of higher economic or social status than oneself to be sponsors. Such ritual kinship cannot be depended on in moments of crisis to the same extent as real kinship, but it still functions for small and regular acts of support such as gift giving.

A dyadic bond--between two individuals--may be formed based on the concept of utang na loob. Although it is expected that the debtor will attempt repayment, it is widely recognized that the debt (as in one's obligation to a parent) can never be fully repaid and the obligation can last for generations. Saving another's life, providing employment, or making it possible for another to become educated are "gifts" that incur utang na loob. Moreover, such gifts initiate a long-term reciprocal interdependency in which the grantor of the favor can expect help from the debtor whenever the need arises and the debtor can, in turn, ask other favors. Such reciprocal personal alliances have had obvious implications for the society in general and the political system in particular. In 1990 educated Filipinos were less likely to feel obligated to extend help (thereby not initiating an utang na loob relationship) than were rural dwellers among whom traditional values remained strong. Some observers believed that as Philippine society became more modernized and urban in orientation, utang na loob would become less important in the political and social systems.

In the commercial context, suki relationships (market- exchange partnerships) may develop between two people who agree to become regular customer and supplier. In the marketplace, Filipinos will regularly buy from certain specific suppliers who will give them, in return, reduced prices, good quality, and, often, credit. Suki relationships often apply in other contexts as well. For example, regular patrons of restaurants and small neighborhood retail shops and tailoring shops often receive special treatment in return for their patronage. Suki does more than help develop economic exchange relationships. Because trust is such a vital aspect, it creates a platform for personal relationships that can blossom into genuine friendship between individuals.

Patron-client bonds also are very much a part of prescribed patterns of appropriate behavior. These may be formed between tenant farmers and their landlords or between any patron who provides resources and influence in return for the client's personal services and general support. The reciprocal arrangement typically involves the patron giving a means of earning a living or of help, protection, and influence and the client giving labor and personal favors, ranging from household tasks to political support. These relationships often evolve into ritual kinship ties, as the tenant or worker may ask the landlord to be a child's godparent. Similarly, when favors are extended, they tend to bind patron and client together in a network of mutual obligation or a long-term interdependency.

Filipinos also extend the circle of social alliances with friendship. Friendship often is placed on a par with kinship as the most central of Filipino relationships. Certainly ties among those within one's group of friends are an important factor in the development of personal alliance systems. Here, as in other categories, a willingness to help one another provides the prime rationale for the relationship.

These categories--real kinship, ritual kinship, utang na loob relationships, suki relationships, patron-client bonds, and friendship--are not exclusive. They are interrelated components of the Filipino's personal alliance system. Thus two individuals may be cousins, become friends, and then cement their friendship through godparenthood. Each of their social networks will typically include kin (near and far, affinal and consanguineal), ritual kin, one or two patron-client relationships, one or more other close friends (and a larger number of social friends), and a dozen or more market-exchange partners. Utang na loob may infuse any or all of these relationships. One's network of social allies may include some eighty or more people, integrated and interwoven into a personal alliance system.

In 1990 personal alliance systems extended far beyond the local arena, becoming pyramidal structures going all the way to Manila, where members of the national political elite represented the tops of numerous personal alliance pyramids. The Philippine elite was composed of weathly landlords, financiers, businesspeople, high military officers, and national political figures. Made up of a few families often descended from the ilustrados, or enlightened ones, of the Spanish colonial period, the elite controlled a high percentage of the nations's wealth. The lavish life-styles of this group usually included owning at least two homes (one in Manila and one in the province where the family originated), patronizing expensive shops and restaurants, belonging to exclusive clubs, and having a retinue of servants. Many counted among their social acquaintances a number of rich and influential foreigners, especially Americans, Spaniards, and other Europeans. Their children attended exclusive private schools in Manila and were often sent abroad, usually to the United States, for higher education. In addition, by 1990 a new elite of businesspeople, many from Hong Kong and Taiwan, had developed.

In the cities, there existed a considerable middle-class group consisting of small entrepreneurs, civil servants, teachers, merchants, small property owners, and clerks whose employment was relatively secure. In many middle-class families, both spouses worked. They tended to place great value on higher education, and most had a college degree. They also shared a sense of common identity derived from similar educational experiences, facility in using English, common participation in service clubs such as the Rotary, and similar economic standing.

Different income groups lived in different neighborhoods in the cities and lacked the personal contact essential to the patron-client relationship. Probably the major social division was between those who had a regular source of income and those who made up the informal sector of the economy. The latter subsisted by salvaging material from garbage dumps, begging, occasional paid labor, and peddling. Although their income was sometimes as high as those in regular jobs, they lacked the protection of labor legislation and had no claim to any type of social insurance.




In 1990, nearly six out of every ten Filipinos lived in villages or barangays. Each barangay consisted of a number of sitios (neighborhoods), clusters of households that were the basic building blocks of society above the family. Each sitio comprised 15 to 30 households, and most barangays numbered from 150 to 200 households. As a rule, barangays also contained an elementary school, one or two small retail stores, and a small Roman Catholic chapel. They were combined administratively into municipalities.

In the larger center, one could find a much more substantial church and rectory for the resident priest, other non-Roman Catholic churches, a number of retail stores and the weekly marketplace, a full six-year elementary school and probably a high school, a rice and corn mill, a pit for cockfights, and the homes of most landowners and middle-class teachers and professionals living in the municipality. This urban concentration was not only the administrative center but also the social, economic, educational, and recreational locus. This was particularly so where the center was itself a full-scale town, complete with restaurants, cinemas, banks, specialty stores, gas stations, repair shops, bowling alleys, a rural health clinic, and perhaps a hospital and hotel or two. Television sets were found in most homes in such towns, whereas some barangays in remote areas did not even have electricity.

In the rural Philippines, traditional values remained the rule. The family was central to a Filipino's identity, and many sitios were composed mainly of kin. Kin ties formed the basis for most friendships and supranuclear family relationships. Filipinos continued to feel a strong obligation to help their neighbors-- whether in granting a small loan or providing jobs for neighborhood children, or expecting to be included in neighborhood work projects, such as rebuilding or reroofing a house and clearing new land. The recipient of the help was expected to provide tools and food. Membership in the cooperative work group sometimes continued even after a member left the neighborhood. Likewise, the recipient's siblings joined the group even if they lived outside the sitio. In this way, familial and residential ties were intermixed.

Before World War II, when landlords and tenants normally lived in close proximity, patron-client relationships, often infused with mutual affection, frequently grew out of close residential contact. In the early 1990s, patron-client reciprocal ties continued to characterize relations between tenants and those landlords who remained in barangays. Beginning with World War II, however, landlords left the countryside and moved into the larger towns and cities or even to one of the huge metropolitan centers. By the mid-1980s, most large landowners had moved to the larger cities, although, as a rule, they also maintained a residence in their provincial center. Landowners who remained in the municipality itself were usually school teachers, lawyers, and small entrepreneurs who were neither longstanding large landowners (hacenderos) nor owners of more than a few hectares of farmland.

In the urban areas, the landowners had the advantages of better education facilities and more convenient access to banking and business opportunities. This elite exodus from the barangays, however, brought erosion of landlord-tenant and patron-client ties. The exodus of the wealthiest families also caused patronage of local programs and charities to suffer.

The strength of dyadic patterns in Philippine life probably caused farmers to continue to seek new patron-client relationships within their barangays or municipalities. Their personal alliance systems continued to stress the vertical dimension more than the horizontal. Likewise, they sought noninstitutional means for settling disputes, rarely going to court except as a last resort. Just as the local landlord used to be the arbiter of serious disputes, so the barangay head could be called on to perform this function.

The traditional rural village was an isolated settlement, influenced by a set of values that discouraged change. It relied, to a great extent, on subsistence farming. By the 1980s, land reform and leaseholding arrangements had somewhat limited the role of the landlords so that farmers could turn to government credit agencies and merchants as sources of credit. Even the categories of landlord and tenant changed, because one who owned land might also rent additional land and thus become both a landlord and a tenant.

In many barangays, the once peaceful atmosphere of the community was gone, and community cohesion was further complicated by the effects of the New People's Army (NPA) insurgency. If residents aided the NPA, they faced punishment from government troops. Government troops could not be everywhere at all times, however, and when they left, those who aided the government faced vengeance from the NPA. One approach that the government took was to organize the villagers into armed vigilante groups. Such groups, however, have often been accused of extortion, intimidation, and even torture.

Economic organization of Philippine farmers has been largely ineffective. This fact has worked to the disadvantage of all of the farmers, especially the landless farm workers who were neither owners nor tenants. These landless farmers remained in abject poverty with little opportunity to better their lot or benefit from land reform or welfare programs.

Even in the 1990s, the pace of life was slower in rural than in urban areas. Increased communication and education had brought rural and urban culture closer to a common outlook, however, and the trend toward scientific agriculture and a market economy had brought major changes in the agricultural base. Scientific farming on a commercialized basis, land reform programs, and increased access to education and to mass media were all bringing change. In spite of migration to cities, the rural areas continued to grow in population, from about 33 million in 1980 to nearly 38 million in 1985. Rural living conditions also improved significantly, so that by the early 1990s most houses, except in the most remote areas, were built of strong material and equipped with electricity and indoor plumbing.




The Philippines, like most other Southeast Asian nations, has one dominant city that is in a category all by itself as a "primate city." In the mid-1980s, Metro <"http://worldfacts.us/Philippines-Manila.htm"> Manila produced roughly half of the gross national product (GNP) of the Philippines and contained two-thirds of the nation's vehicles. Its plethora of wholesale and retail business establishments, insurance companies, advertising companies, and banks of every description made the region the unchallenged hub of business and finance.

Because of its fine colleges and universities, including the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and De La Salle University, some of the best in Southeast Asia, the Manila area was a magnet for the best minds of the nation. In addition to being the political and judicial capital, Manila was the entertainment and arts capital, with all the glamour of first-class international hotels and restaurants. Because Manila dominated the communications and media industry, Filipinos everywhere were constantly made aware of economic, cultural, and political events in Manila. Large numbers of rural Filipinos moved to Manila in search of economic and other opportunities. More than one-half of the residents of Metro Manila were born elsewhere.

In the early 1990s, Manila, especially the Makati section, had a modern superstructure of hotels and banks, supermarkets, malls, art galleries, and museums. Beneath this structure, however, was a substructure of traditional small neighborhoods and a wide spectrum of life-styles ranging from traditional to modern, from those of the inordinately wealthy to those of the abjectly poor. Metro Manila offered greater economic extremes than other urban areas: poverty was visible in thousands of squatters' flimsy shacks and wealth was evident in the elegant, guarded suburbs with expensive homes and private clubs. But in Manila, unlike urban centers in other countries, these economic divisions were not paralleled by racial or linguistic residential patterns. Manila and other Philippine cities were truly melting pots, in which wealth was the only determinant for residence.

Whether in poor squatter and slum communities or in middleclass sections of cities, values associated primarily with rural barangays continued to be important in determining expectations, if not always actions. Even when it was clearly impossible to create a warm and personal community in a city neighborhood, Filipinos nevertheless felt that traditional patterns of behavior conducive to such a community should be followed. Hospitality, interdependence, patron-client bonds, and real kinship all continued to be of importance for urban Filipinos.

Still another indication that traditional Philippine values remained functional for city dwellers was that average household size in the 1980s was greater in urban than in rural areas. Observers speculated that, as Filipinos moved to the city, they had fewer children but more extended family members and nonrelatives in their households. This situation might have been caused by factors such as the availability of more work opportunities in the city, the tendency of urban Filipinos to marry later so that there were more singles, the housing industry's inability to keep pace with urbanization, and the high urban unemployment rates that caused families to supplement their incomes by taking in boarders. Whatever the reason, it seemed clear that kinship and possibly other personal alliance system ties were no weaker for most urban Filipinos than for their rural kin.

Urban squatters have been a perennial problem or, perhaps, a sign of a problem. Large numbers of people living in makeshift housing, often without water or sewage, indicated that cities had grown in population faster than in the facilities required. In fact, the growth in population even exceeded the demand for labor so that many squatters found their living by salvaging material from garbage dumps, peddling, and performing irregular day work.

Most squatters were long-time residents, who found in the absence of rent a way of coping with economic problems. The efforts of the government in the late 1980s to beautify and modernize the Manila area led inevitably to conflict with the squatters who had settled most of the land that might be utilized in such projects. The forced eviction of squatters and the destruction of their shacks were frequent occurrences.

Two types of organizations have intervened in support of squatters: nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and syndicates. The NGOs had a variety of programs, each one representing only a small minority of the actual squatters, but they sustained pressure on the government and demanded land titles and an end to forced evictions as well as help in housing construction. The syndicates were extra-legal entities that provided an informal type of government in the late 1980s, levying fees of as much as 3 billion pesos a year, or about US$120 million. The syndicates allocated land for lots, built roads and sidewalks of sorts, maintained order, and occasionally even provided water and light. In other words, they acted like private developers, although their only claim to the land was forcible seizure. Both the authoritarian Marcos government and the democratic Aquino government found it hard to handle the squatter problem. All proposed solutions contained difficulties, and probably only a major economic recovery in both rural and urban areas would provide a setting in which a degree of success would be possible.

The growth of other urban centers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, could signal a slowdown in the expansion of Metro Manila. This situation has been caused, at least in part, by the policies of both the Marcos and the Aquino administrations. The Marcos administration encouraged industrial decentralization and prohibited the erection of new factories within fifty kilometers of Manila. In an effort to relieve unemployment, the Aquino administration spent billions of pesos on rural infrastructure, which helped to expand business in the nearby cities. Cities such as Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, and General Santos on Mindanao, and especially Cebu on Cebu Island experienced economic growth in the 1980s far exceeding that of Manila.




Women have always enjoyed greater equality in Philippine society than was common in other parts of Southeast Asia. Since pre-Spanish times, Filipinos have traced kinship bilaterally. A woman's rights to legal equality and to inherit family property have not been questioned. Education and literacy levels in 1990 were higher for women than for men. President Aquino often is given as an example of what women can accomplish in Philippine society. The appearance of women in important positions, however, is not new or even unusual in the Philippines. Filipino women, usually called Filipinas, have been senators, cabinet officers, Supreme Court justices, administrators, and heads of major business enterprises. Furthermore, in the early 1990s women were found in more than a proportionate share of many professions although they predominated in domestic service (91 percent), professional and technical positions (59.4 percent), and sales (57.9 percent). Women also were often preferred in assembly-type factory work. The availability of the types of employment in which women predominated probably explains why about two-thirds of the rural to urban migrants were female. Although domestic service is a low-prestige occupation, the other types of employment compare favorably with opportunities open to the average man.

This favorable occupational distribution does not mean that women were without economic problems. Although women were eligible for high positions, these were more often obtained by men. In 1990 women represented 64 percent of graduate students but held only 159 of 982 career top executive positions in the civil service. In the private sector, only about 15 percent of top-level positions were held by women.

According to many observers, because men relegated household tasks to women, employed women carried a double burden. This burden was moderated somewhat by the availability of relatives and servants who functioned as helpers and child caretakers, but the use of servants and relatives has sometimes been denounced as the equivalent of exploiting some women to free others.

Since the Spanish colonial period, the woman has been the family treasurer, which, at least to some degree, gave her the power of the purse. Nevertheless, the Spanish also established a tradition of subordinating women, which is manifested in women's generally submissive attitudes and in a double standard of sexual conduct. The woman's role as family treasurer, along with a woman's maintenance of a generally submissive demeanor, has changed little, but the double standard of sexual morality is being challenged. Male dominance also has been challenged, to some extent, in the 1987 constitution. The constitution contains an equal rights clause--although it lacks specific provisions that might make that clause effective.

As of the early 1990s, divorce was prohibited in the Philippines. Under some circumstances, legal separation was permitted, but no legal remarriage was possible. The family code of 1988 was somewhat more liberal. Reflective of Roman Catholic Church law, the code allowed annulment for psychological incapacity to be a marital partner, as well as for repeated physical violence against a mate or pressure to change religious or political affiliation. Divorce obtained abroad by an alien mate was recognized. Although the restrictive divorce laws might be viewed as an infringement on women's liberty to get out of a bad marriage, indications were that many Filipinas viewed them as a protection against abandonment and loss of support by wayward husbands.


Philippines - RELIGION


Religion holds a central place in the life of most Filipinos, including Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Protestants, and animists. It is central not as an abstract belief system, but rather as a host of experiences, rituals, ceremonies, and adjurations that provide continuity in life, cohesion in the community, and moral purpose for existence. Religious associations are part of the system of kinship ties, patronclient bonds, and other linkages outside the nuclear family.

Christianity and Islam have been superimposed on ancient traditions and acculturated. The unique religious blends that have resulted, when combined with the strong personal faith of Filipinos, have given rise to numerous and diverse revivalist movements. Generally characterized by millenarian goals, antimodern bias, supernaturalism, and authoritarianism in the person of a charismatic messiah figure, these movements have attracted thousands of Filipinos, especially in areas like Mindanao, which have been subjected to extreme pressure of change over a short period of time. Many have been swept up in these movements, out of a renewed sense of fraternity and community. Like the highly visible examples of flagellation and reenacted crucifixion in the Philippines, these movements may seem to have little in common with organized Christianity or Islam. But in the intensely personalistic Philippine religious context, they have not been aberrations so much as extreme examples of how religion retains its central role in society.

The religious composition of the Philippines remained predominantly Catholic in the late 1980s. In 1989 approximately 82 percent of the population was Roman Catholic; Muslims accounted for only 5 percent. The remaining population was mostly affiliated with other Christian churches, although there were also a small number of Buddhists, Daoists (or Taoists), and tribal animists. Christians were to be found throughout the archipelago. Muslims remained largely in the south and were less integrated than other religious minorities into the mainstream of Philippine culture. Although most Chinese were members of Christian churches, a minority of Chinese worshipped in Daoist or in Buddhist temples, the most spectacular of which was an elaborate Daoist temple on the outskirts of Cebu.

<>Historical Background
<>Roman Catholicism
<>Indigenous Christian Churches
<>Ecumenical Developments
<>Church and State


Philippines - RELIGION - Historical Background


Spanish colonialism had, from its formal inception in 1565 with the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi, as its principal raison d'être the conversion of the inhabitants to Christianity. When Legazpi embarked on his conversion efforts, most Filipinos were still practicing a form of polytheism, although some as far north as Manila had converted to Islam. For the majority, religion still consisted of sacrifices and incantations to spirits believed to be inhabiting field and sky, home and garden, and other dwelling places both human and natural. Malevolent spirits could bring harm in the form of illness or accident, whereas benevolent spirits, such as those of one's ancestors, could bring prosperity in the form of good weather and bountiful crops. Shamans were called upon to communicate with these spirits on behalf of village and family, and propitiation ceremonies were a common part of village life and ritual. Such beliefs continued to influence the religious practices of many upland tribal groups in the modern period.

The religious system that conquistadors and priests imported in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was superimposed on this polytheistic base. Filipinos who converted to Catholicism did not shed their earlier beliefs but superimposed the new on the old. Saints took primacy over spirits, the Mass over propitiation ceremonies, and priests over shamans. This mixing of different religious beliefs and practices marked Philippine Catholicism from the start.

From its inception, Catholicism was deeply influenced by the prejudices, strategies, and policies of the Catholic religious orders. Known collectively as friars, the orders of the Augustinians, Dominicans, Franciscans, and others, and the Jesuits turned out to be just about the only Caucasians willing to dedicate their lives to converting and ministering to Spain's subject population in the Philippines. They divided the archipelago into distinct territories, learned the vernaculars appropriate to each region, and put down roots in the rural Philippines where they quickly became founts of wisdom for uneducated and unsophisticated local inhabitants. Because most secular colonial officials had no intention of living so far from home any longer than it took to turn a handsome profit, friars took on the roles of the crown's representatives and interpreters of government policies in the countryside.

The close relationship between church and state proved to be a liability when the Philippines was swept by nationalistic revolt in the late nineteenth century and Filipino priests seized churches and proclaimed the Independent Philippine Church (Iglesia Filipina Independiente). After the American occupation, Protestant missionaries came and established churches and helped to spread American culture.


Philippines - Roman Catholicism


The Catholic Church made a remarkable comeback in the Philippines in the twentieth century, primarily because the Vatican agreed to divest itself of massive church estates and to encourage Filipinos to join in the clergy. This resurgence was so successful that Protestant mission efforts, led by large numbers of American missionaries during the period of American colonial rule, made little headway. In the early 1990s, the clergy were predominantly Filipino, all of the diocesan hierarchy were Filipino, and the church was supported by an extensive network of parochial schools.

Catholicism, as practiced in the Philippines in the 1990s, blended official doctrine with folk observance. In an intensely personal way, God the Father was worshiped as a father figure and Jesus as the loving son who died for the sins of each individual, and the Virgin was venerated as a compassionate mother. In the words of scholar David J. Steinberg, "This framework established a cosmic compadrazgo, and an utang na loob to Christ, for his sacrifice transcended any possible repayment . . . . To the devout Filipino, Christ died to save him; there could be no limit to an individual's thanksgiving." As in other Catholic countries, Filipinos attended official church services (men usually not as regularly as women) such as Masses, novenas, baptisms, weddings, and funerals. They supplemented these official services with a number of folk-religious ceremonies basic to the community's social and religious calendar and involving just about everyone in the community.

Perhaps the single event most conducive to community solidarity each year is the fiesta. Celebrated on the special day of the patron saint of a town or barangay, the fiesta is a time for general feasting. Houses are opened to guests, and food is served in abundance. The fiesta always includes a Mass, but its purpose is unabashedly social. The biggest events include a parade, dance, basketball tournament, cockfights, and other contests, and perhaps a carnival, in addition to much visiting and feasting.

Christmas is celebrated in a manner that blends Catholic, Chinese, Philippine, and American customs. For nine days, people attend misas de gallo (early morning Christmas Mass). They hang elaborate lanterns (originally patterned after the Chinese lanterns) and other decorations in their homes and join with friends in caroling. On Christmas Eve, everyone attends midnight Mass, the climax of the misas de gallo and the year's high point of church attendance. After the service, it is traditional to return home for a grand family meal. The remaining days of the Christmas season are spent visiting kin, especially on New Year's Day and Epiphany, January 6. The Christmas season is a time of visiting and receiving guests. It is also a time for reunion with all types of kin--blood, affinal, and ceremonial. Children especially are urged to visit godparents.

During the Lenten season, most communities do a reading of the Passion narrative and a performance of a popular Passion play. The custom of reading or chanting of the Passion could be an adaptation of a pre-Spanish practice of chanting lengthy epics, but its continuing importance in Philippine life probably reflects the popular conception of personal indebtedness to Christ for His supreme sacrifice. At least one observer has suggested that Filipinos have, through the Passion, experienced a feeling of redemption that has been the basis for both millennial dreams and historical revolutionary movements for independence.


Philippines - Indigenous Christian Churches


Iglesia Filipina Independiente

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Independent Philippine Church), founded by Gregorio Aglipay (1860-1940), received the support of revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo during the revolt against Spain and subsequent conflicts with American forces. It rode the tide of antifriar nationalism in absorbing Filipino Roman Catholic clergy and forcibly seizing church property at the beginning of the twentieth century. One out of every sixteen diocesan priests and one out of four Philippine Catholics followed Aglipay into the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in those years of violent national and religious catharsis. The Iglesia Filipina Independiente, formally organized in 1902, thus enjoyed approximately five years of rapid growth, before a temporary decline in Philippine nationalism sent its fortunes into precipitous decline.

Many followers returned to Catholicism, especially after Americans and then Filipinos replaced Spanish priests. Among those who remained in the new church, a crippling schism emerged over doctrinal interpretation, especially after 1919 when members were suddenly instructed to discard earlier church statements concerning the divinity of Christ. To some extent, the schism was caused by Aglipay himself, who shifted his theological views between 1902 and 1919. At first, he deemphasized doctrinal differences between his church and Roman Catholicism, and most of the independent church's priests followed Roman Catholic ritual-- saying Mass, hearing confession, and presiding over folk religious-Catholic ceremonies just as always. Later, Aglipay moved closer to Unitarianism.

In 1938 the church formally split. The faction opposing Aglipay later won a court decision giving it the right to both the name and property of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. Followers of Aglipay, however, continued to argue that they represented true Aglipayanism. In the early l990s, those Aglipayans who rejected the Unitarian stance and adhered to the concept of the Trinity were associated with the Protestant Episcopal church of the United States.

Iglesia ni Kristo

In the 1990s, all over Luzon, the Visayan Islands, and even northern Mindanao, unmistakable Iglesia ni Kristo (Church of Christ) places of worship, all similar in design and architecture, were being constructed for a rapidly growing membership. Founded by Felix Manalo Ysagun in 1914, the Iglesia ni Kristo did not attract much notice until after World War II, when its highly authoritarian organization and evangelical style began to fill a need for urban and rural families displaced by rapid changes in Philippine society. The church, led by clergy with little formal education, requires attendance at twice-weekly services conducted in local Philippine languages, where guards take attendance and forbid entrance to nonmembers. Membership dues, based on ability to pay, are mandatory. Members are expected to be "disciplined, clean, and God-fearing." Gamblers and drunks face the possibility of being expelled. The church forbids (on penalty of expulsion) marriage to someone of another faith and membership in a labor union. The Iglesia ni Kristo also tells its members how to vote and is even respected for its ability to get out the vote for candidates of its choice.

There are a number of reasons why so many Filipinos have joined such an authoritarian church, not the least of which is the institution's ability to stay the decline of traditional Philippine vertical patron-client relationships, especially in urban areas. The church also has been successful in attracting potential converts through its use of mass rallies similar to Protestant revival meetings. The message is always simple and straightforward--listeners are told that the Iglesia ni Kristo is the mystical body of Christ, outside of which there can be no salvation. Roman Catholicism and Protestant churches are denounced--only through membership in the Iglesia ni Kristo can there be hope for redemption.

Although the original appeal of the Iglesia ni Kristo was to members of the lower socioeconomic class, its puritanical precepts encouraged social mobility; and many of its members were climbing the economic ladder. Whether the church would be able to maintain its puritanical, authoritarian stance when more of its members reached middle-class status was difficult to predict. The church gave neither a count nor an estimate of its membership, but the rapid construction of elaborate buildings, including a campus for an Iglesia ni Kristo college adjacent to the University of the Philippines, would indicate that it was expanding.


Philippines - Protestantism


From the start, Protestant churches in the Philippines were plagued by disunity and schisms. At one point after World War II, there were more than 200 denominations representing less than 3 percent of the populace. Successful mergers of some denominations into the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the formation of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) brought a degree of order. In the 1990s, there remained a deep gulf and considerable antagonism, however, between middleclass -oriented NCCP churches and the scores of more evangelical denominations sprinkled throughout the islands.

Protestantism has always been associated with United States influence in the Philippines. All major denominations in the United States, and some minor ones, sent missions to the Philippines, where they found the most fertile ground for conversions among some of the upland tribes not yet reached by Catholic priests and among the urban middle class. Most American school teachers who pioneered in the new Philippine public school system also were Protestants, and they laid the groundwork for Protestant churches in many lowland barrios. Filipinos who converted to Protestantism often experienced significant upward social mobility in the American colonial period. Most were middle-level bureaucrats, servants, lawyers, or small entrepreneurs, and some became nationally prominent despite their minority religious adherence.

Protestant missionaries made major contributions in the fields of education and medicine. Throughout the islands, Protestant churches set up clinics and hospitals. They also constructed private schools, including such outstanding institutions of higher education as Central Philippine University, Silliman University, Philippine Christian College, and Dansalan Junior College in Marawi.

The denominations planted by the early missionaries numbered among their adherents about 2 percent of the population in the late 1980s. Their influence was supplemented, if not overshadowed, by a number of evangelical and charismatic churches and para-religious groups, such as New Tribes Mission, World Vision, and Campus Crusade for Christ, which became active after World War II. Increased activity by these religious groups did not mean that the country had ceased to be primarily Catholic or that the older Protestant churches had lost their influence. It did indicate that nominal Catholics might be less involved in parish activities than ever, that the older Protestant churches had new rivals, and that, in general, religious competition had increased.

An indication of this trend is seen in the change in the affiliation of missionaries coming to the Philippines. In 1986 there were 1,931 non-Roman Catholic missionaries, not counting those identified with the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints. Of these, only sixty-three were from the denominations that sent missionaries in the early 1900s. The rest were from fundamentalist churches or para-church groups (the terms are not necessarily exclusive).


Philippines - Islam


In the early 1990s, Filipino Muslims were firmly rooted in their Islamic faith. Every year many went on the hajj (pilgrimage) to the holy city of Mecca; on return men would be addressed by the honoritic "hajj" and women the honorific "hajji". In most Muslim communities, there was at least one mosque from which the muezzin called the faithful to prayer five times a day. Those who responded to the call to public prayer removed their shoes before entering the mosque, aligned themselves in straight rows before the minrab (niche), and offered prayers in the direction of Mecca. An imam, or prayer leader, led the recitation in Arabic verses from the Quran, following the practices of the Sunni sect of Islam common to most of the Muslim world. It was sometimes said that the Moros often neglected to perform the ritual prayer and did not strictly abide by the fast (no food or drink in daylight hours) during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, or perform the duty of almsgiving. They did, however, scrupulously observe other rituals and practices and celebrate great festivals of Islam such as the end of Ramadan; Muhammad's birthday; the night of his ascension to heaven; and the start of the Muslim New Year, the first day of the month of Muharram.

Islam in the Philippines has absorbed indigenous elements, much as has Catholicism. Moros thus make offerings to spirits (diwatas), malevolent or benign, believing that such spirits can and will have an effect on one's health, family, and crops. They also include pre-Islamic customs in ceremonies marking rites of passage--birth, marriage, and death. Moros share the essentials of Islam, but specific practices vary from one Moro group to another. Although Muslim Filipino women are required to stay at the back of the mosque for prayers (out of the sight of men), they are much freer in daily life than are women in many other Islamic societies.

Because of the world resurgence of Islam since World War II, Muslims in the Philippines have a stronger sense of their unity as a religious community than they had in the past. Since the early 1970s, more Muslim teachers have visited the nation and more Philippine Muslims have gone abroad--either on the hajj or on scholarships--to Islamic centers than ever before. They have returned revitalized in their faith and determined to strengthen the ties of their fellow Moros with the international Islamic community. As a result, Muslims have built many new mosques and religious schools, where students (male and female) learn the basic rituals and principles of Islam and learn to read the Quran in Arabic. A number of Muslim institutions of higher learning, such as the Jamiatul Philippine al-Islamia in Marawi, also offer advanced courses in Islamic studies.

Divisions along generational lines have emerged among Moros since the 1960s. Many young Muslims, dissatisfied with the old leaders, asserted that datu and sultans were unnecessary in modern Islamic society. Among themselves, these young reformers were divided between moderates, working within the system for their political goals, and militants, engaging in guerrilla-style warfare. To some degree, the government managed to isolate the militants, but Muslim reformers, whether moderates or militants, were united in their strong religious adherence. This bond was significant, because the Moros felt threatened by the continued expansion of Christians into southern Mindanao and by the prolonged presence of Philippine army troops in their homeland.


Philippines - Ecumenical Developments


The coming of Protestant missionaries was not welcomed by Catholic clergy, and, for several years, representatives of Catholic and Protestant churches engaged in mutual recrimination. Catholics were warned against involvement in Protestant activities, even in groups like the Young Men's Christian Association and the Young Women's Christian Association. Since the 1970s, hostility between Catholics and many Protestant churches had lessened; churches emphasized the virtues rather than the alleged defects of other churches; and priests and pastors occasionally cooperated. Although the ecumenical emphasis did not eliminate competition and gained far more hold among older Protestant churches than among groups that had entered the Philippines more recently, the trend had significantly moderated religious tensions.

Some tentative efforts toward ecumenical understanding also were made in relations between Christians and Muslims, delineating common ground in the mutual acceptance of much of the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible. Occasional conferences were held in an attempt to expand understanding. Their success by the early 1990s was limited but might indicate that, even in this tense area, improvement was possible.


Philippines - Church and State


Church and state were officially separate in the 1990s, but religious instruction could, at the option of parents, be provided in public schools. The Catholic Church's influence on the government was quite evident in the lack of resources devoted to family planning and the prohibition of divorce.

The Catholic Church and, to a lesser extent, the Protestant churches engaged in a variety of community welfare efforts. These efforts went beyond giving relief and involved attempts to alter the economic position of the poor. Increasingly in the 1970s, these attempts led the armed forces of President Marcos to suspect that church agencies were aiding the communist guerrillas. In spite of reconciliation efforts, the estrangement between the churches and Marcos grew; it culminated in the call by Cardinal Jaime Sin for the people to go to the streets to block efforts of Marcos to remain in office after the questionable election of 1986. The resulting nonviolent uprising was known variously as People's Power and as the EDSA Revolution.

The good feeling that initially existed between the church and the government of President Aquino lasted only a short time after her inauguration. Deep-seated divisions over the need for revolutionary changes again led to tension between the government and some elements in the churches.

Catholics fell into three general groups: conservatives who were suspicious of social action and held that Christian love could best be expressed through existing structures; moderates, probably the largest group, in favor of social action but inclined to cooperate with government programs; and progressives, who did not trust the government programs, were critical both of Philippine business and of American influence, and felt that drastic change was needed. Progressives were especially disturbed at atrocities accompanying the use of vigilantes. They denied that they were communists, but some of their leaders supported communist fronts, and a few priests actually joined armed guerrilla bands. There appeared to be more progressives among religious-order priests than among diocesan priests.

The major Protestant churches reflected the same three-way division as the Catholics. The majority of clergy and missionaries probably were moderates. A significant number, however, sided with the Catholic progressives in deploring the use of vigilante groups against the guerrillas, asking for drastic land reform, and opposing American retention of military bases. They tended to doubt that a rising economy would lessen social ills and often opposed the type of deflationary reform urged by the IMF (International Monetary Fund).


Philippines - EDUCATION


In 1991 the education system was reaching a relatively large part of the population, at least at the elementary level. According to 1988 Philippine government figures, which count as literate everyone who has completed four years of elementary school, the overall literacy rate was 88 percent, up from 82.6 percent in 1970. Literacy rates were virtually the same for women and men. Elementary education was free and, in the 1987 academic year, was provided to some 15 million schoolchildren, 96.4 percent of the age-group. High school enrollment rates were approximately 56 percent nationwide but were somewhat lower on Mindanao and in Eastern Visayas region. Enrollment in institutions of higher learning exceeded 1.6 million.

Filipinos have a deep regard for education, which they view as a primary avenue for upward social and economic mobility. From the onset of United States colonial rule, with its heavy emphasis on mass public education, Filipinos internalized the American ideal of a democratic society in which individuals could get ahead through attainment of a good education. Middle-class parents make tremendous sacrifices in order to provide secondary and higher education for their children.

Philippine education institutions in the late 1980s varied in quality. Some universities were excellent, others were considered "diploma mills" with low standards. Public elementary schools often promoted students regardless of achievement, and students, especially those in poor rural areas, had relatively low test scores.

The proportion of the national government budget going to education has varied from a high of 31.53 percent in 1957 to a low of 7.61 percent in 1981. It stood at 15.5 percent in 1987. The peso amount, however, has steadily increased, and the lower percentage reflects the effect of a larger total government budget. Although some materials were still in short supply, by 1988 the school system was able to provide one textbook per subject per student. In 1991 the Philippine government and universities had numerous scholarship programs to provide students from low-income families with access to education. The University of the Philippines followed a "socialized tuition" plan whereby students from higher income families paid higher fees and students from the lowest income families were eligible for free tuition plus a living allowance.

Historical Background

Many of the Filipinos who led the revolution against Spain in the 1890s were ilustrados. Ilustrados, almost without exception, came from wealthy Filipino families that could afford to send them to the limited number of secondary schools (colegios) open to non-Spaniards. Some of them went on to the University of Santo Tomás in Manila or to Spain for higher education. Although these educational opportunities were not available to most Filipinos, the Spanish colonial government had initiated a system of free, compulsory primary education in 1863. By 1898 enrollment in schools at all levels exceeded 200,000 students.

Between 1901 and 1902, more than 1,000 American teachers, known as "Thomasites" for the S.S. Thomas, which transported the original groups to the Philippines, fanned out across the archipelago to open barangay schools. They taught in English and, although they did not completely succeed in Americanizing their wards, instilled in the Filipinos a deep faith in the general value of education. Almost immediately, enrollments began to mushroom from a total of only 150,000 in 1900-1901 to just under 1 million in elementary schools two decades later. After independence in 1946, the government picked up this emphasis on education and opened schools in even the remotest areas of the archipelago during the 1950s and the 1960s.

Education in the Modern Period

The expansion in the availability of education was not always accompanied by qualitative improvements. Therefore, quality became a major concern in the 1970s and early 1980s. Data for the 1970s show significant differences in literacy for different regions of the country and between rural and urban areas. Western Mindanao Region, for example, had a literacy rate of 65 percent as compared with 90 percent for Central Luzon and 95 percent for Metro Manila. A survey of elementary-school graduates taken in the mid-1970s indicated that many of the respondents had failed to absorb much of the required course work and revealed major deficiencies in reading, mathematics, and language. Performance was poorest among respondents from Mindanao and only somewhat better for those from the Visayan Islands, whereas the best performance was in the Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions.

Other data revealed a direct relationship between literacy levels, educational attainment, and incidence of poverty. As a rule, families with incomes below the poverty line could not afford to educate their children beyond elementary school. Programs aimed at improving work productivity and family income could alleviate some of the problems in education, such as the high dropout rates that reflected, at least in part, family and work needs. Other problems, such as poor teacher performance, reflected overcrowded classrooms, lack of particular language skills, and low wages. These problems, in turn, resulted in poor student performance and high repeater rates and required direct action.

Vocational education in the late 1980s was receiving greater emphasis then in the past. Traditionally, Filipinos have tended to equate the attainment of education directly with escape from manual labor. Thus it has not been easy to win general popular support for vocational training.

Catholic and Protestant churches sponsored schools, and there were also proprietary (privately owned, nonsectarian) schools. Neither the proprietary nor the religious schools received state aid except for occasional subsidies for special programs. Only about 6 percent of elementary students were in private schools, but the proportion rose sharply to about 63 percent at the secondary level and approximately 85 percent at the tertiary level. About a third of the private school tertiary-level enrollment was in religiously affiliated schools.

In 1990 over 10,000 foreign students studied in the Philippines, mostly in the regular system, although there were three schools for international students--Brent in Baguio and Faith Academy and the International School in Manila. These schools had some Filipino students and faculty, but the majority of the students and faculty were foreign, mostly American. Faith Academy served primarily the children of missionaries, although others were admitted as space was available.

Chinese in the Philippines have established their own system of elementary and secondary schools. Classes in the morning covered the usual Filipino curriculum and were taught by Filipino teachers. In the afternoon, classes taught by Chinese teachers offered instruction in Chinese language and literature.

In 1990 the education system offered six years of elementary instruction followed by four years of high school. Children entered primary school at the age of seven. Instruction was bilingual in Pilipino and English, although it was often claimed that English was being slighted. Before independence in 1946, all instruction was in English; since then, the national language, Pilipino, has been increasingly emphasized. Until the compulsory study of Spanish was abolished in 1987, secondary and highereducation students had to contend with three languages--Pilipino, English, and Spanish.

In 1991 all education was governed by the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports, which had direct supervision over public schools and set mandatory policies for private schools as well. Bureaus of elementary, secondary, and higher education supervised functional and regional offices. District supervisors exercised direct administrative oversight of principals and teachers in their district. There was a separate office for nonformal education, which served students not working for a graduation certificate from a conventional school. Financing for public schools came from the national treasury, although localities could supplement national appropriations.

Education policies fluctuated constantly and were likely to be changed before teachers became accustomed to them. Areas of disagreement among Filipinos produced educational change as one faction or another gained control of a highly centralized public education administration. One example was the community school program that sought to involve schools in agricultural improvement. It was pushed vigorously in the 1950s, but little has been heard about it since. Another policy issue was the choice of a language of instruction. Until independence, English was, at least in theory, the language of instruction from first grade through college. The emphasis on English was followed by a shift toward local languages (of which there were eighty-seven), with simultaneous instruction in English and Pilipino in later grades. Then, at least in official directives, in 1974 schools were told to drop the local language, and a bilingual--English and Pilipino--program was adopted.

One of the most serious problems in the Philippines in the 1980s and early 1990s concerned the large number of students who completed college but then could not find a job commensurate with their educational skills. If properly utilized, these trained personnel could facilitate economic development, but when left idle or forced to take jobs beneath their qualifications, this group could be a major source of discontent.


Philippines - HEALTH


The struggle against disease has progressed considerably over the years. Health conditions in the Philippines in 1990 approximated to those in other Southeast Asian countries but lagged behind those in the West. Life expectancy, for instance, increased from 51.2 years in 1960 to 69 years for women and 63 years for men in 1990. Infant mortality was 101 per 1,000 in 1950 and had dropped to 51.6 per 1,000 in 1989. In 1923 approximately 76 percent of deaths were caused by communicable diseases. By 1980 deaths from communicable diseases had declined to about 26 percent.

In 1989 the ratio of physicians and hospitals to the total population was similar to that in a number of other Southeast Asian countries, but considerably below that in Europe and North America. Most health care personnel and facilities were concentrated in urban areas. There was substantial migration of physicians and nurses to the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, but there are no reliable figures to indicate what effect this had on the Philippines. Hospital equipment often did not function because there were insufficient technicians capable of maintaining it, but the 1990 report of the Department of Health said that centers for the repair and maintenance of hospital equipment expected to alleviate this problem.

In 1987 a little more than one-half of the infants and children received a complete series of immunization shots, a major step in preventive medicine, but obviously far short of a desirable goal. The problem was especially difficult in rural areas. The Department of Health had made efforts to provide every barangay with at least minimum health care, but doing so was both difficult and expensive, and the more remote areas inevitably received less attention.

Although very few Filipinos have been infected with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), concern about the disease has caused authorities to give it considerable attention. By April 1979, only three people had died from AIDS, two of whom were overseas Filipinos visiting the homeland and one an American civilian who had contracted the disease outside the Philippines. In 1985 the Department of Health and the United States Naval Medical Research unit tested more than 17,000 people, including some 14,000 hospitality girls in Olangapo and a number of other Filipino cities. They identified twenty-one women as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) carriers. The American sponsorship of the study was seized upon as argument for ending the Military Bases Agreement with the United States. A June 1990 Philippine government study reported that at that time AIDS was growing at the rate of four cases a month and that twenty people had died from the disease. The study indicated that most AIDS cases in the Philippines were transmitted by heterosexual activity. An April 30, 1991, Department of Health report indicated that 240 Filipinos were infected with AIDS.

Like many other countries, the Philippines has a problem with illicit drugs. Official Philippine government statistics for 1989 indicate only 1,733 addicts, but the assumption was that the real number was from ten to a hundred times as great. The government has instituted both education and treatment programs, but it was uncertain how effective these programs would be. There also was a problem with inadequatedly tested legal drugs. In 1983, more than 265 pharmaceutical products were sold in the Philippines that were banned in many other countries. The Department of Health succeeded in eliminating 128 of them by 1988. Attempts to eliminate others have been blocked by the courts, which ruled that the department had acted without due process.

Malnutrition has been a perennial concern of the Philippine government and health care professionals. In 1987 the Department of Health reported that 2.8 percent of preschoolers were suffering from third-degree malnutrition and 17.6 percent from second-degree malnutrition. To alleviate this problem, the government targeted food assistance for nearly 500,000 preschoolers and lactating mothers.

Nutrition has shown some improvement. In 1955 government statistics estimated the daily per capita available food supply at only 80 percent of sufficiency. In 1986 it had improved to 101.8 percent. In the same period, the consumption of milk nearly tripled and the consumption of fats and oils more than doubled.

The Philippines has a dual health care system consisting of modern (Western) and traditional medicine. The modern system is based on the germ theory of disease and has scientifically trained practitioners. The traditional approach assumes that illness is caused by a breach of taboos set by supernatural forces. It is not unusual for an individual to alternate between the two forms of medicine. If the benefits of modern medicine are immediately obvious--eyeglasses, for instance--then there is little argument. If there is no immediate cure, the impulse to turn to the traditional healer is often strong.

One type of traditional healer that attracted the attention of foreigners as well as Filipinos was the so-called psychic surgeon, who professed to be able to operate without using a scalpel or drawing blood. Some practitioners attracted a considerable clientele and established lucrative practices. Travel agents in the United States credited these "surgeons" with generating travel to the Philippines.

Although medical treatment had improved and services had expanded, pervasive poverty and lack of access to family planning detracted from the general health of the Philippine people. In 1990 approximately 50 percent of the population was listed below the poverty line (down from 59 percent in 1985). A high rate of childbirth tended both to deplete family resources and to be injurious to the health of the mother. The main general helath hazards were pulmonary, cardivascular, and gastrointestinal disorders.

The Philippines had a social security system including medicare with wide coverage of the regularly employed urban workers. It offered a partial shield against disaster, but was limited both by the generally low level of incomes, which reduced benefits, and by the exclusion of most workers in agriculture. In April 1989, out of more than 22 million employed individuals, a little more than 10.5 million were covered by social security. In health care and social security, as with other services, the Philippines entered the 1990s as a modernizing society struggling with limited success against heavy odds to apply scarce financial resources to provide its people with a better life.


CITATION: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.

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