Philippines Education and Religion
Is there a Filipino culture in a country whose name is of colonial origin? What could be the national bond that unites the more than 7,000 islands with their different peoples and different languages, religious practices and eating habits? People who are interested, politicians, scientists and artists always bite their teeth when answering this question. That is a good thing as long as the diversity of cultural influences from India, China, Japan, Europe and the USA persists until the initial question arises again.
Education means a lot to Filipinos; it enables a better job, especially abroad, or a way out of poverty. The Department of Education describes the historical background of the Filipino education system. The country is one of the countries with the lowest illiteracy rate in the world.
The education system is designed according to the US school system and consists of state primary and secondary schools and almost exclusively private or church-run colleges and universities. These are usually attended by children from high-income classes and have a high quality of education. But some such private institutions have a bad reputation and are considered “diploma mills”.
The education system is divided into three areas:
- Primary or elementary school (6 years)
- High School (Secondary 4 years)
- Colleges and universities (4-5 years)
In addition, there are a large number of technical training schools (vocational training schools) for students who for various reasons cannot afford to attend a college or university. In recent times, especially training centers for nurses or other (medical) nursing staff have sprung up like mushrooms across the country after a warm downpour. Graduates hope for a lucrative job abroad from successful completion of such facilities. In the spring of 2013, a bilateral agreement on the recruitment of Filipino specialists in Germany was signed in Manila and Berlin, which among other things provides for the deployment of 500 Filipino nurses in German care facilities and hospitals.
The country’s well-known colleges / universities include:
- University of the Philippines
- De La Salle College in Manila
- Ateneo de Manila
- University of Santo Tomas in Manila
- St. Louis University in Baguio City
- University of San Carlos in Cebu City
- Silliman University in Dumaguete
- Ateneo de Davao University
- Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro
- Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City
- Asian Institute of Management in Manila
- International School Manila
- German European School Manila
During the nearly 350 years of Spanish colonial times, the country turned into the stronghold of Catholicism in Asia. About 84 percent of Filipinos are Roman Catholic faith, nine percent belong to Protestant churches.
Muslim Filipinos make up about five percent of the population and live mainly in the south. There are also Buddhists and – among the various mountain peoples – followers of natural religions.
Foreign visitors will remember the confectioner-style churches. They belong to the Iglesiya ni Cristo, which was founded in 1914 by Felix Manalo. Another religious community that was baptized in protest against Spanish Catholicism and the dominance of the Vatican is the Iglesiya Filipina Indepedente, created in 1902 by Gregorio Aglipay and Isabelo delos Reyes. Their services are held in the respective regional languages, their priests are allowed to marry.
So-called charismatic and evangelical movements such as the Born Again Christians and El Shaddai, which are headed by eloquent preachers, have recently gained a strong popularity. Since their members represent a considerable potential electorate, these religious groups are often courted by politicians.
Popular piety(The country’s best-known contemporary author, Francisco Sionil José, who turned 90 in December 2014, prefers to speak of “superstition”) is also reflected everywhere in everyday life. Filipinos cross themselves whenever they drive past a church. Jeepneys are adorned with small altars and images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Even shops are often adorned with a baby Jesus statue, hung with sampaguita, the jasmine-like national flower, and sweets. After all, Nino is also considered the patron of good business. And: who doesn’t want that? Once again, all of this – religiosity, devotional goods and superstition – was revealed in a brilliant mixture on the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit to the archipelago in mid-January 2015.
Whenever and whenever you have time, you should definitely visit churches – mostly full – and get an idea of the religiosity of Filipinos for yourself. Of course you will also meet countless devotional merchants who sell their saints, blessed and other extraordinary things, sometimes in flashy colors; With faith alone they are not able to earn their living (subsistence) either. Filipinos also keep in touch with their favorite saints worldwide online.
Additional resources on religion and belief (s) can be found at the following links:
- Islam in the Philippines
- Questions and Answers on Babaylanism.