Religion in the Philippines
by Ma. Ernita Joaquin


Religion and the Modern World
Religious Freedom
Religious Groups
Religious Briefs
Public Life and Religion
Modules for Teachers
Tagalog Main Page

Prepared August  2002. Opinions expressed in this module are those of the author and do not reflect the views of the NIU Seasite.

Religious Briefs: introducing the faiths

Religious diversity was not noted in the country until the latter half of the 20th century.  Before the explosion of numerous churches and establishment of denominations within churches, the country was mainly divided among Catholics, Muslims, Protestants and a small scattering of oriental and indigenous believers. Below is a sampling of spiritual affiliations of Filipinos.

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Selected PE02086A.gif (1977 bytes) Readings**

Animism and Indigenous Beliefs

Indigenous Religious Beliefs and Cosmology of the Filipino
  • pre-Hispanic Filipinos believed in a Supreme God and also believed that spirits - anitos- inhabited inanimate objects that must be worshipped;  remnants of animism linger among ethnic minorities in the north and south

Roman Catholic

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines

Festival Country

  • Introduced at the onset of Spanish colonization in 1521, first in the province of Cebu where voyager Ferdinand Magellan landed; the "sword" and the "cross" ruled the country for more than 300 years, helping to make the Philippines the only pre-dominantly Christian country in Southeast Asia
Iglesia ni Cristo (translation: Church of Christ) The Father Alone is the True God

INC: Who Are They?

  • Founded in 1914 by Felix Manalo, the INC has members in 67 other countries, particularly among Filipino communities in the United States; they reject the doctrine of Trinity and argues the duality of Christ's nature
Aglipayan/Iglesia Filipina Independiente
(Philippine Independence Church)
Aglipayanism and the Philippine Independence Church

An Introduction to the Iglesia Filipina Independiente

  • Its first Supreme Bishop was Gregorio Aglipay, a revolutionary leader during the war for Philippine independence at the turn of the 19th century; it was launched  in August 1902 by Isabelo de los Reyes, a newspaperman imprisoned for conspiracy against Spain; the church was a breakaway from the Roman Catholic Church
Ang Dating Daan (Church of God in Christ Jesus) Various Issues of Faith
(in Tagalog)


  • Its founders coming mainly from the Bulacan and Pampanga, this group has attracted many followers using the popular technique of question-and-answer forums in different villages; its preachers, like those from INC, are among the most ferocious debaters in contemporary religious scene
Islam The Oldest Existing Religion in the Philippines
  • Arab traders during the pre-Hispanic period brought the faith to the country's inhabitants especially in southern region, in Mindanao; today Islam, mostly of the Sunni branch, remains strong in the island as autonomy from the Manila government has become a regional battlecry
Seventh-Day Adventists Official Statement of SDA on Important Issues
  • SDA, as its name signifies, bears the Christian Old Testament doctrine of worshipping on the Sabbath (Saturday); Manalo, before founding the Iglesia Ni Cristo was said to have belonged to the SDA
Jehovah's Witnesses Introduction to Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Along with the SDA, the Jehovah's Witnesses is another fundamentalist group that has membership all over the world; like the INC, it rejects the concept of the Trinity

Writer, Hero, Myth, and Spirit: The Changing Image of Jose Rizal

  • Regarded as the Filipino Christ/Messiah by inhabitants mainly of the Laguna province (in Southern Tagalog) where he was born, Jose Rizal, the Philippines' foremost hero, left a legacy of spiritual dimensions;  Rizalistas recognize prophecies in his writings  
Other Indigenous Beliefs Mount Banahaw: Holy Site?

PBMA and the Ecleo Family

  • different indigenous religious groups thrive in isolated and mountainous localities and islands of the country; some are linked to pre-colonial legends and myths; some are induced by the power of natural forces; others a mixture of Catholicism, superstition, and particular preferences of charismatic individuals
Other Christian Groups/ Protestants United Methodist Church
Worldwide Church of God
  • Some 8% of the population are said to belong to different protestant groups and denominations; these groups have their main ties to North American churches; Fidel Ramos was the first Protestant leader of the Philippines
El Shaddai DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International Profile of the El Shaddai
  • Its members composed mainly of Catholics, the El Shaddai was founded by Mariano "Mike" Velarde, a real estate developer, in the early 80s; propagating the belief in the miracle-seed-of-faith offering in huge prayer rallies, it  has gained staunch following in Metro Manila and other provinces, sometimes in conflict with the wishes of the Catholic Hierarchy


** The selected readings are for reference only and the views they contain are not held by the NIU Seasite


iglesiacomics.gif (20113 bytes)
"Ang pangalang "Iglesia ni Cristo" ang pangalang opisyal, sapagka't ito ang ipinag-utos na ipangbati sa lahat. Hindi ito katawagan panglahi o pangpook o pang-isang katangian lamang..."

:   "Ang Dating Daan"

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