Dr. Susan Russell
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More on Philippine geography, history, and culture at these sites:

The Library of Congress Country Studies

Southeast Asian Studies WWW Virtual Library

Austrian-Philippine Website

 

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Ato Ni: Bisaya has an  interesting discussion on why the Spanish language, despite more than 300 years of colonial rule by Spain, has not become the dominant language in the Philippines as it has in most former Spanish colonies.

 

CONTEMPORARY PHILIPPINES

Slides of Contemporary Philippines

Recommended Reading: David J. Steinberg, 1982, The Philippines: a Singular and a Plural Place. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Topical Outline of Philippine Culture, History and Peoples:

I. The Philippines in the Larger Southeast Asian Historical Context: Outside the Mainstream.

  1. Main geographical contrasts
  2. Seasonality and climate
  3. Trade and Early Empires: the Influence of China and India in Southeast Asia
  4. Four important themes:   
  • Religion and indigenous ritual beliefs are still intertwined, especially in curing.

  • Descent is almost entirely bilateral throughout the Philippines, and women hold a high economic position generally in the country.

  • Politics are often intricately personal, rather than policy-based, and alliances built through economic rewards are keys to political leadership and success.

  • Philippine relations with other Southeast Asian nations are often unique owing to a long tradition of Western colonial domination and exposure to North American political ideals.

II. The Impact of Western Colonialism: Religion, Wealth Stratification and Inequality, Democracy, and Education.

a. General Overview:
    a. Geography
            -- 3 main areas: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao-Sulu archipelago

    b. Languages
            -- over 70 major languages and 200 dialects. National language is Pilipino, based heavily on Tagalog, the language of Manila and southern central Luzon.

    c. Ethnic diversity
            --  roughly corresponds with language spoken. Lowland Filipinos are similar in culture (including religion) although differ in language. Less than 10 percent of population comprise ethnic minorities.

    d. Religious diversity
            -- 80 percent of the Christian inhabitants are Roman Catholic; the rest are Iglesia ni Cristo (a local offshoot with many wealthy patrons) or one of a number of growing Protestant sects. Jehovah's Witnesses are growing through a strong rural campaign. Mike Velarde heads the most recent fundamentalist Catholic Church movement, known as El Shaddai, which is very strong in Manila.

 

b. Spanish influence and the growth of Roman Catholicism.  (1550 - 1898)

IMPACTS OF SPANISH RULE:

1. Creation of a mestizo culture with entrenched landed interests and a highly skewed distribution of land.

2. Continuing difficulties with Muslim Filipinos in the southern islands and highland Luzon peoples politically. Since they were not colonized by the Spanish, they remain diverse culturally and have made strong demands for political autonomy and partial self-governance.

3. Spread of Roman Catholicism and ultimately nationalism.

            Birth of Nationalism: Feb. 17, 1872 following the execution of three Filipino priests by Spanish regime.

            Jose Rizal, executed by the Spanish in the late 1800s, helped launch the revolution against Spain in 1898. Rizal is considered the ‘father of the country’. The most important revolutionary leaders of the Katipunan armed forces were Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo.

c. American influence (1900 - 1946) and the legacy of democracy.

IMPACTS OF AMERICAN COLONIAL PERIOD:

1. Americans established democratic elections, universal elementary level education, and English as a second language.

2. Americans failed to implement land reform effectively, so that the highly unequal class structure continued and grew further apart in terms of wealth.

3. Wealthy families in each area managed to monopolize political power.

4. Population increased at a high rate, causing huge migrations of poor tenants and landless peasants to Manila and other major cities, especially after World War II.

5. Familiarity with American culture is very high due to migrations of Filipinos to the U.S. throughout this century, and also due to the influence of American colonial education that stressed teaching Filipinos about U.S. culture and history.

6. Until the 1980s, American policies promoted agricultural exports in the Philippines as a way of developing their economy. This policy led to a dependent economy that was vulnerable to shifting world prices and terms of trade. It is only recently that non-traditional exports have taken over agricultural exports and created a more diversified, less dependent economic climate.

7. Americans subdued the Muslim separatist movements in the southern islands, but later homesteading policies of resettling Christian Filipinos in Muslim areas (plus the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Arab world) created a resurgence of the separatist movement.

III. Contemporary Philippine Society and Ethnic Diversity.

--Roman Catholicism and folk religion.

-- Politics and Kinship: women's status, importance of the family, and the politics of families.

-- Security issues and elections.


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