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The national dance of the Philippines is the Tinikling. Barefoot dancers imitate the movement of birds as they step quickly over and between bamboo poles.
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Official Country Name: Republic of the Philippines
Capital City: Manila
Population: More than 109.5 million
Official Languages: Filipino (based on Tagalog), English
Life expectancy: Male 67 years, female 76 years
Population with access to safe drinking water: 47%
Infant mortality rate: 22 deaths / 1,000 live births
Percentage of children under the age of 5 underweight: 19.1%
Adult literacy rate: Male 96%, female 97%
Religion: Approximately 79.5% of the population are Roman Catholic, 9% are Protestant, 6% are Muslim, 4% are of another/unspecified religion or none.
Percentage living on less than $1.90 a day: 2.7%
Source: CIA World Factbook, International Religious Freedom Report, released in 2021 by the Office of International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State
In ancient times the inhabitants of the Philippines were diverse people groups who arrived from across Asia. Contact with Chinese traders was recorded in 982, and there is still evidence of Southern Asian influences in the country.
During the 15th century, Islam was introduced to the island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago through the island of Borneo. Another social change was instigated, and by the mid-16th century, two sultanates had been established, which took control of a number of smaller traditional barangays (traditional communities).
The Spanish arrived in the region around 1521. King Philip II (for whom the islands are named) dispatched three expeditions to the region before Miguel López de Legazpi finally established the first permanent Spanish settlement in Cebu in 1565.
Manila was founded as a Spanish city in 1571, and by the end of the 16th century, most of the coastal and lowland areas were under Spanish control. During this time, Catholicism spread across the country and by the 1800s, churches were responsible for overseeing public education.
The country gained independence from Spain in 1898 and was initially known as the “Malolos Republic.” November 1965 saw the beginning of the 21-year rule of Ferdinand E. Marcos. His presidency was marred by corruption and ended after widespread popular rebellion forced him into exile.
The Philippines has a rich cultural history that includes historical plays, handicrafts, handbags, basketry and woodcarving.
Folk dances are popular, including tinikling – a traditional dance that evolved in the Spanish colonial era and involves a pair of dances using bamboo poles to beat out rhythms.
Tagalog and Cebuano are the most spoken native languages in the Philippines spoken by around half the population. There are around 180 languages spoken in total throughout the country – including Visaya and Ilocano.
Tagalog: Magandang umaga (Good morning), Magandang hapon (Good afternoon), Magandang gabi (Good evening)
Visaya: Maayong aga (Good morning), Maayong hapon (Good afternoon), Maayong gabii (Good evening)
Ilocano: Naimbag nga agsapa (Good morning), Naimbag nga aldaw (Good afternoon), Naimbag nga rabii (Good evening)
Sports and Games
Sipa (which literally means ‘kick’) is considered the national sport of the Philippines and is played by two to four people who pass a small rattan ball back and forth. It is typically controlled by the feet, but every part of the body, except the hands and arms, may be used. The unofficial national sport is basketball. It is so popular among Filipinos that virtually every district in the country has at least one basketball court. Among the other sports where the Filipinos have gained international recognition are billiards, 10-pin bowling, boxing and chess.
Filipinos eat rice, sweet potatoes, vegetables, bananas, bread, soup, fish or chicken.
In the Philippines, the school year begins in June and ends in March. Primary and secondary education is provided free by the government, but many hidden costs exist. It’s quite normal for families to sell land and property to pay their children’s school fees.
While it’s compulsory for children to attend secondary school, many start dropping out around the age of 10 to support their parents due to these additional challenges.
According to UNICEF, only 78% of children complete basic education and the number of children out of school has reached 2.8 million.
Many schools lack even the most basic facilities such as clean water and toilets. It’s also a challenge to get qualified staff, so the quality of education varies across the country. The situation is particularly difficult for vulnerable children, those with disabilities and indigenous families in rural communities.
Approximately 79.5% of the population are Roman Catholic, 9% are Protestant, 6% are Muslim, 4% are of another/unspecified religion or none.
The constitution allows the population to freely practice the religion of their choice and prohibits the establishment of a state religion. The law treats intentional attacks of religiously affiliated buildings or facilities as war crimes or crimes against international humanitarian law.
The government permits religious instruction in public schools, but parents must provide written consent for their children to attend such classes. Local public schools give religious groups the opportunity to teach moral values during school hours. The government also allows groups to distribute religious literature in public schools.
Religious communities continue to participate in interreligious efforts to help address discrimination and build better relationships.
Source: International Religious Freedom Report, released in 2021 by the Office of International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State
Compassion UK Christian Child Development, registered charity in England and Wales (1077216) and Scotland (SC045059). A company limited by guarantee, Registered in England and Wales company number 03719092. Registered address: Compassion House, Barley Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 2UT.