Philippines People and Languages
Alphabetized adults: 95% (2014)
Major religions: Roman Catholic & Protestant (91%)
Urban population: 45% (2016)
Life expectancy (female / male): 72 / 65.3 (2015)
Gender Inequality Index: Rank 97 of 160 (2017)
Number of births: 3.06 (2016)
Infant mortality: 42/1000 live births (2016)
Is there a Filipino culture in a country whose name – in contrast to its Southeast Asian neighbors – 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?
The amalgamation of Chinese, Arabic, Indian, Spanish and US-American influences during their eventful history has taught the Filipinos to appreciate diversity as an enrichment of their life patterns and to sway to the rhythm of rapid or slow social changes. Their (resistance) power has rightly been compared to that of a bamboo. Filipinos have remained what they always have been: exceptionally adaptable life artists who master the positive and negative elements of their history despite great misery with a zest for life, wit and serenity.
Peoples and languages
A diversity of peoples and languages (approximately 80 languages and dialects) distinguishes the Filipino society. 12 percent of Filipinos / as can be attributed to the indigenous population. A total of 60 different indigenous population groups are distinguished.
The ethnic groups living in the northern Cordillera region are grouped under the collective term Igorot, which includes the Ifugao, Bontoc, Kalinga, Kankanai and Ibaloi.
The short, curly-haired and dark-skinned Negritos or Aetas are considered indigenous people. The Mangyan, who have a pre-colonial script, live in the mountainous regions of Mindoro Island, south of Manila.
The so-called lowland Christians are divided – also linguistically – into the following main groups: Ilocano, Pampangueno, Pangasinan, Tagalog, Bicolano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon (Ilonggo) and Waray.
The Muslim-Filipinos or Moroz make up a large part of the population of the south. Their main groups include the Tausug, Maranao, Maguindanao, Yakan and the Badjao, who call themselves Sama Di Laut, people of the sea.
The 18 non-Muslim ethnic groups in Mindanao – collectively known as Lumad – comprise 1.8 million people. The National Commission for Culture and Arts in Mindanao maintains a website specially tailored to the needs of Lumad. The indigenous peoples are confronted with numerous problems – especially with forced displacement as a result of the implementation of large infrastructure projects and / or the settlement of mining and mining companies such as Lepanto.
The national language is Filipino and is essentially based on Tagalog. Bisaya or Cebuano is widespread in the central and southern part of the country and is the lingua franca, especially in the south of the archipelago. English is understood almost everywhere and is common in education, business, finance, and the media.
Some common terms in Filipino:
- Magandang araw po. > Good afternoon.
- Kumusta po kayo? > How are you?
- Mabuti po naman. > I’m fine.
- Maraming Salamat. > Thank you very much.
- Cain tayo! > Let’s eat!
- Talaga? > Seriously?
- Paalam. > Goodbye.
If you want to learn Filipino, Tagalog, Cebuano or Tausug, the following websites are recommended:
- Learn Filipino
- Tagalog Lessons
- Cebuano Lessons
- Thousands of lessons
Migration, transnational families, OFWs, Balikbayan
The first arrivals from the realm of over 7,000 islands in the South China and West Philippine Sea were, as far as the Federal Republic is concerned, medical personnel. Families were separated and their relatives suddenly found themselves scattered in all corners of the world. They all drove out into the wide world in order to contribute to improving the living conditions for themselves and those at home through higher earning opportunities than at home. Soon the magic word “transnational families” made the rounds. This means mothers who work as nannies or domestic help in Europe, fathers who go to sea internationally, brothers who tour Japan in music bands, and sisters and aunts who toil in Taiwan’s factories or serve in hospitals and retirement homes in the USA.
It is noticeable that this group of people are people who received an above-average (school) education in the Philippines and often held prominent positions in the sectors (e.g. computer industry, school system) in which they previously worked. For example, it is nothing special to meet Filipinos at Rome’s Termini train station in the busy Sunday morning hours who used to work as headmasters or programmers in cities and provinces.
Many Filipino migrants and contract workers who earn their living in countries in the Middle East work under precarious conditions and are often exposed to sexual harassment and / or overt violence. There have been and are always cases where Filipinas who acted in self-defense and killed the tormentor were sentenced to death and executed.
In the positive case, the “Balikbayan”, the interim returnees as well as the Filipinos and Filipinas returning to their homeland after long years of life and work abroad enjoy an evening of relative prosperity – with their own and extended (extended) families.
Other recommended sources about migration and migrants are:
- Servants of Globalization
- Globalization and the “hidden” insecurity of women migrants in Japan