Filipino people

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President AquinoJosé Rizal, the Philippine national hero
Mangyan girlGary ValencianoTboli Woman
From left to right: Ifugao man, former President Corazon Aquino, National Hero José Rizal, a Mangyan girl, singer Gary Valenciano, Tboli woman.
Total population: over 95 million
Significant populations in: Philippines:
   87,857,473 (2005)

United States:
   2,365,478 (2000)
   327,550 (2001)
   an estimated 5 million

Language: English, Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Bikol, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Tausug, many others
Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic, significant Muslim minority, and others.
Related ethnic groups: Indonesians, Malaysians, Polynesians, others.

The Filipinos or the Filipino people are the native inhabitants and citizens of the Republic of the Philippines located in Southeast Asia. The term Filipino (feminine: Filipina) may also refer to people of Philippine descent.

Throughout the colonial era the term "Filipino" originally referred to the Spanish and Spanish-mestizo minority. The definition, however, was later changed to include the entire population of the Philippines regardless of ethnic origin.

Colloquially, Filipinos may refer to themselves as Pinoy (feminine: Pinay), which is formed by taking the last four letters of Pilipino and adding the diminutive suffix -y. The word was coined by expatriate Filipino Americans during the 1920's and was later adopted by Filipinos in the Philippines. Another term for Filipinos includes Flip. This latter also has its origins in the 1920's, however, some Filipinos may consider it offensive due to its perceived derogatory connotations and murky origins.



Main article: History of the Philippines

American anthropologist H. Otley Beyer was the first to propose that Malays who came from Malaysia populated the Philippines in a handful of waves of migration. However, according to contemporary research by anthropologists, linguists (Blust, Reid, Ross, Pawley), and archaeologists (Bellwood), the vast majority of Filipinos are descended from Austronesian-speaking migrants, which are said to have arrived in what is now the Philippines from southern China via Taiwan thousands of years ago. There are also various Negrito groups whose ancestors go back to thousands of years ago, before the Austronesian-speaking migrants arrived in the Philippines.

The Philippines, prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in 1521, was not ruled or united as a single nation. Instead, the inhabitants were divided into separate tribes, or nations, usually based on their respective ethnolinguistic groups.

By the mid-to-late 16th century, the archipelago was refered to as Filipinas (Philippines) by the Spaniards in honor of King Philip II of Spain. During the 333 years of Spanish rule, the term Filipino refered to the Spaniards who were born in the archipelago. Indigenous Filipinos were usually referred to as "indios." The same misnomer was earlier applied by the Spaniards to the natives of the Americas believing they had reached India, though by this time "indio" had become synonymous with "indigenous", and was used on other native inhabitants outside of the Americas encountered by the Spanish.

Following the revolution, Spanish-American War in 1898, and the Philippine-American War, the native indios were left searching for a national identity. The native revolutionaries then called themselves Filipinos, taking ownership of the term that had earlier been utilised by the Philippine-born Spaniards. General Emilio Aguinaldo was among the first to apply "Filipino" as the national designation for the indigenous inhabitants of the Philippines, as well as all other persons born in the country. This act was intended to help unite the population and establish nationalism in the 1900's against the U.S. presence and occupation of the islands. The term indio, however, was still being used well into the mid part of the 20th century, as evidenced by Roman Catholic baptismal records.

Culture and religion

Main article: Culture of the Philippines

Filipino culture is primarly based on the cultures of the various native groups, though influenced by the Spanish culture. The Hispanic Roman Catholic faith, the customs and traditions illustrate this. (83%) of the population is Roman Catholic.

Many celebrations derive from both Spanish Catholic and native influences. Some annual celebrations include the Peñafrancia festival in the Bicol region, the Sinulog, Ati-Atihan and the Black Nazarene. Residents of the villages of Guadalupe Viejo and Guadalupe Nuevo in Makati City celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe.

A significant minority in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago are adherents of Islam, which constitutes (5%) of the population.

Filipinos of Spanish descent and Spanish-mestizos

Main article: Ethnic Groups of the Philippines

Spanish-mestizos, Filipino of mixed native and Spanish or Mexican ancestry, number 2% of the total population. There are also several thousand unmixed Spanish, Mexican and other Hispanic expatriate communities living in the country, though these total less than 0.05%. These specific minority groups can be found throughout the country, particularly in the province and cities of Cebu, Zamboanga and Manila.

Native Language

Main article: Languages of the Philippines

According to Ethnologue, there are more than 170 languages spoken in the country. Filipino is taught in schools throughout the country under the name Filipino. Although Filipino is the national language, Visayan (also known as Cebuano) is widely spoken in the Visayas and Mindanao regions, which make up 2/3 of the nation. Tagalog is only spoken as the primary tongue in the Luzon region. English is also spoken as second language and is widely used as the language medium in schools, universities and the media.

Other languages spoken are Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Tausug and Chabacano


Filipinos in North America

Main article: Filipino American

As part of the Spanish empire, Filipinos crewed ships sailing between the far-flung New World possessions of the Spanish Habsburgs and their Bourbon successors, including California, Florida, and Louisiana.

Filipinos have been immigrating to the United States since the early 1900's. In 1903, pensionados arrived in the Philippines to study in colleges and universites. Starting in 1906, Filipinos came to Hawaii, Alaska, California, and Washington to work on sugarcane plantations, farms, lumber, and salmon canneries.

Filipino immigration dramatically increased after Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965.

The US Military also played a significant role in bringing Filipinos to the United States. Filipinos were able to enlist into either the United States Navy at Subic Bay Naval Base and the United States Air Force at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Additionally, many American soldiers married Filipinos and brought them to the United States.

See also


  • Peter Bellwood (July 1991). The Austronesian Dispersal and the Origin of Languages, Scientific American, 265: 88-93
  • Bellwood, Peter; Fox, James; & Tryon, Darrell (1995) The Austronesians: Historical and comparative perspectives, Department of Anthropology, Australian National University. ISBN 0-7315-2132-3
  • Peter Bellwood (1998). Taiwan and the Prehistory of the Austronesians-speaking Peoples, Review of Archaeology, 18: 39–48
  • Peter Bellwood & Alicia Sanchez-Mazas (June 2005). Human Migrations in Continental East Asia and Taiwan: Genetic, Linguistic, and Archaeological Evidence, Current Anthropology, 46:3: 480-485
  • David Blundell. Austronesian Disperal, Newsletter of Chinese Ethnology, 35: 1-26
  • Robert Blust (1985). The Austronesian Homeland: A Linguistic Perspective, Asian Perspectives, 20: 46-67
  • Peter Fuller (2002). "Asia Pacific Research".Reading the Full Picture. Canberra, Australia: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies. Accessed on July 28, 2005.
  • "Homepage of linguist Dr. Lawrence Reid." Accessed July 28, 2005.
  • Malcolm Ross & Andrew Pawley (1993). Austronesian historical linguistics and culture history, Annual Review of Anthropology, 22: 425-459
  • John Edward Terrell (Dec. 2004). Introduction: 'Austronesia' and the great Austronesian migration, World Archaeology, 36:4: 586-591
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