RELIGION IN THE PHILIPPINES: WITCHES, HOLY MOUNTAINS, MISSIONARIES AND HOMEGROWN PROTESTANT SECTS

RELIGION IN THE PHILIPPINES

Religions: Catholic 82.9 percent (Roman Catholic 80.9 percent,Aglipayan 2 percent), Muslim 5 percent, Evangelical 2.8 percent, Iglesia ni Kristo 2.3 percent, other Christian 4.5 percent, other 1.8 percent, unspecified 0.6 percent, none 0.1 percent (2000 census). [Source: CIA World Factbook]

Filipino Catholicism is a fusion of Catholicism brought by the Spanish and local animist and traditional beliefs, particularly a belief that deceased ancestors and land spirts influence the lives of the living. The character of Filipino Catholicism and religious practices vary a great deal from region to region. Among the local animist practices incorporated into Filipino Catholicism are offerings made to volcano spirits and the goddess of the seas. Catholics living in urban areas tend to be more liberal and Westernized than those living in the countryside. Philippines is the one Asian country where Confucianism and Buddhism have had little influence. The history of religion is mainly a leap from animism to Catholic Christianity. Confucianism and Buddhism have been practiced almost exclusively by the small ethnic Chinese community, most of whom are Christians. Nearly all the Muslims are Sunnis. The number of evangelical Protestants is rising quickly.

About 9.5 percent of the Christian population of the Philippines is non-Catholic. These include Protestants (5.4 percent) and the Philippine Independent Church (2.6 percent) and Iglesia ni Cristo (2.3 percent), which some consider Protestant sects. Protestants include Presbyterians, Methodists and evangelicals. Some regard the Philippine Independent Church, and Philippine Church of Christ as Protestant. Protestant missionaries arrived in 1901 and followed the Catholic example of establishing hospitals, clinics, and private schools. The Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) is currently the most active missionary group.

The constitution guarantees freedom of religion and separation of church and state. But Christianity predominates, and Muslims historically have been marginalized. The disagreement between the Muslim population of the southern provinces and the federal government is not so much about religion as it is about political goals. Filipinos that are not Catholics or Muslims was mostly affiliated with other Christian churches, although there are also a small number of Buddhists, Daoists (or Taoists), and tribal animists. Christians are to be found throughout the archipelago. Muslims live largely in the south and are less integrated than other religious minorities into the mainstream of Philippine culture. Although most Chinese are members of Christian churches, a minority of Chinese worshipped in Daoist or in Buddhist temples, the most spectacular of which was an elaborate Daoist temple on the outskirts of Cebu.

Religion holds a central place in the life of most Filipinos, including Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Protestants, and animists. It is central not as an abstract belief system, but rather as a host of experiences, rituals, ceremonies, and adjurations that provide continuity in life, cohesion in the community, and moral purpose for existence. Religious associations are part of the system of kinship ties, patronclient bonds, and other linkages outside the nuclear family. Non-Catholics do not object to Catholic symbols or prayer in public venues.*

In The Philippines Land of Broken Promises, James B. Goodno worte, “Spanish colonials built a Church on a a foundation of native religions that worshipped a plethora of gods, goddesses and demigods...The Spaniards did not obliterate these earlier religions but brought in a more powerful God.” Christianity and Islam have been superimposed on ancient traditions and acculturated. The unique religious blends that have resulted, when combined with the strong personal faith of Filipinos, have given rise to numerous and diverse revivalist movements. Generally characterized by millenarian goals, antimodern bias, supernaturalism, and authoritarianism in the person of a charismatic messiah figure, these movements have attracted thousands of Filipinos, especially in areas like Mindanao, which have been subjected to extreme pressure of change over a short period of time. Many have been swept up in these movements, out of a renewed sense of fraternity and community. Like the highly visible examples of flagellation and reenacted crucifixion in the Philippines, these movements may seem to have little in common with organized Christianity or Islam. But in the intensely personalistic Philippine religious context, they have not been aberrations so much as extreme examples of how religion retains its central role in society. *

Books: “Power and Intimacy in the Christian Philippines” by Fenella Cannell, 1999, Cambridge University Press; “The Philippines: A Singular and a Plural Place” by David J. Steinberg, 1982, Westview Press]

See Separate Article on CATHOLICISM IN THE PHILIPPINES

History of Religion in the Philippines

Historically, the Filipinos have embraced two of the great religions of the world - Islam and Christianity. Islam was introduced during the 14th century shortly after the expansion of Arab commercial ventures in Southeast Asia. Today, it is limited to the southern region of the country. Christianity was introduced as early as the 16th century with the coming of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Protestantism was introduced by the first Presbyterian and Methodist missionaries who arrived with the American soldiers in 1899. [Source: Philippines Department of Tourism]

Two Filipino independent churches were organized at the turn of the century and are prominent today. These are the Aglipay (Philippine Independent Church) and the Iglesia Ni Kristo (Church of Christ) founded in 1902 and 1914, respectively. Recently the Aglipay signed a covenant with the Anglican Church. The Iglesia ni Kristo has expanded its membership considerably. Its churches, with their unique towering architecture, are landmarks in almost all important towns, provincial capitals, and major cities. [Ibid]

Chinese religion, Buddhism and animism have also had roles in the development of religion in the Philippines and important to some groups of people. Dr. Jose Florante J. Leyson wrote in the Encyclopedia of Sexuality: “ Taoism was introduced to the Filipinos by Chinese merchants during the tenth century. Taoism has both a philosophical and a religious tradition. As the traditional Chinese population has aged, Taoist temples are increasingly seen only in few major cities where they serve as tourist attractions, not religious symbols and sites. As octogenarian males are dying and their religion is fading away, modern Chinese males are being Westernized or practice a more popular religious persuasion. [Source: Jose Florante J. Leyson, M.D., Encyclopedia of Sexuality www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology, 2001 |~|]

Buddhism was probably first introduced to the Philippines during the eighteenth century from India through the Malaysian peninsula and China. Chinese Buddhism, based on the Mahayana (Great Vehicle, Wide Path) school of India, was handed down from generation to generation by both Chinese traders and immigrants. This form of Buddhism is very similar to Taoism. More recently, Buddhism has become more of a social ceremonial practice rather than a religion, and its temples have become a tourist curiosity. The “fat-bellied” Buddha statue is a symbol of the family’s wealth and fertility that bedecked a Chinese house’s foyer or living room. |~|

Nature worship, the traditional indigenous religion of the Philippines, has been practiced from prehistoric times by the aboriginal Aetas, Negritos, Ifugaos, Igorots, and the hill people. Their constant struggle with the forces of nature for their survival has led to a closer relationship with their ancestors and the elements of nature. This form of religion has little if any systematic doctrine. However, there is one basic characteristic: the belief in the spirits of their ancestors who influence the living in every conceivable sphere of life and apply rewards and sanctions where appropriate. These religions also have lesser gods and deities with different powers related to physical health and fertility. The majority of tribal peoples believe that the first woman came from the “split” of the bamboo node, a kind of a tropical, tall, and slender palm with sequenced “nodes” in the trunk. |~|

Islam is practiced by 5 percent of the population, with the majority residing on Mindanao at the southwestern tip of the archipelago. Islam reached the Jolo and Zulu Islands in the Philippines, a century before the Spanish colonialists arrived, through Arab and Persian merchants arriving from the Malayan peninsula. Despite the fact that the Philippine government legally approves only monogamy, local Muslims, known as “Moros,” are allowed to have several wives provided they can afford them. |~|

History of Spanish Catholicism in the Philippines

When the Spanish took over the Philippines , they brought their long tradition of Catholicism with them. It was part of the Spanish conquest to convert all the natives to Christ through their Catholic tradition. Today as a result, the Catholic church still remains a very powerful force in the Philippines. For example, divorce is illegal there because of the Catholic church’s influence in the government and law-making. Filipinos still celebrate and participate in many Catholic holidays and customs. Practically everywhere you go you will see big Catholic cathedrals. In many homes, you’ll see pictures of the virgin Mary or the last supper, and many people carry around rosaries with them. On public transportation are plastered posters of Jesus and Mary and religious sayings. Because of the Spanish conquest, there is a strong tradition of Christianity among the Filipino people. [Source: by Rebecca, Philippines Baguio Mission, 2009-2011, the missionary website, preparetoserve.com \=/]

Spanish colonialism had, from its formal inception in 1565 with the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi, as its principal raison d'être the conversion of the inhabitants to Christianity. When Legazpi embarked on his conversion efforts, most Filipinos were still practicing a form of polytheism, although some as far north as Manila had converted to Islam. For the majority, religion still consisted of sacrifices and incantations to spirits believed to be inhabiting field and sky, home and garden, and other dwelling places both human and natural. Malevolent spirits could bring harm in the form of illness or accident, whereas benevolent spirits, such as those of one's ancestors, could bring prosperity in the form of good weather and bountiful crops. Shamans were called upon to communicate with these spirits on behalf of village and family, and propitiation ceremonies were a common part of village life and ritual. Such beliefs continued to influence the religious practices of many upland tribal groups in the modern period. [Source: Library of Congress *]

The religious system that conquistadors and priests imported in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was superimposed on this polytheistic base. Filipinos who converted to Catholicism did not shed their earlier beliefs but superimposed the new on the old. Saints took primacy over spirits, the Mass over propitiation ceremonies, and priests over shamans. This mixing of different religious beliefs and practices marked Philippine Catholicism from the start. *

From its inception, Catholicism was deeply influenced by the prejudices, strategies, and policies of the Catholic religious orders. Known collectively as friars, the orders of the Augustinians, Dominicans, Franciscans, and others, and the Jesuits turned out to be just about the only Caucasians willing to dedicate their lives to converting and ministering to Spain's subject population in the Philippines. They divided the archipelago into distinct territories, learned the vernaculars appropriate to each region, and put down roots in the rural Philippines where they quickly became founts of wisdom for uneducated and unsophisticated local inhabitants. Because most secular colonial officials had no intention of living so far from home any longer than it took to turn a handsome profit, friars took on the roles of the crown's representatives and interpreters of government policies in the countryside. *

The close relationship between church and state proved to be a liability when the Philippines was swept by nationalistic revolt in the late nineteenth century and Filipino priests seized churches and proclaimed the Independent Philippine Church (Iglesia Filipina Independiente). After the American occupation, Protestant missionaries came and established churches and helped to spread American culture. *

Introduction of Christianity to the Philippines

Initially, the primary goal of the Spanish in the Philippines was to convert the Filipinos to Christianity. One Jesuit priest wrote, “Lord Philip II...said that for one sole monastery in the Philippines in which the Holy Name of God was conserved, he would expend all the revenues of the kingdoms.”

The Spanish colonizers introduced Roman Catholicism to Luzon and the Visayas, but were unsuccessful in Mindanao, where Muslims staved off Spanish efforts. Catholicism caught n remarkably quick and Filipinos became passionate Catholics.

The relatively peaceful conquest of the Philippines by the Spanish in 1573 is sometimes “credited to the surviving spirit of Las Casas." So as not to repeat the mistakes the Spanish made in Latin America, Philip II ordered his soldiers, administrators and religious zealots not to brutalize the local people. Bartolomé de las Casas (1474-1566), a Spaniard who born in Seville who came to the New World as a conquistador in 1502, was most influential early supporter of the cause of Indian rights. He acquired his first slave as a university student at Salamance, Spain and later used slaves to run a mine and his own estate in Cuba. He continued to own slaves after he took the holy orders in 1512 and it wasn't until 1514, when he was preparing a sermon, that he suddenly became awakened to his wrong-doing when he read in the Bible: "he that sacrificeth of a thing wrongfully gotten, his offering is ridiculous, and the gifts of unjust men are not accepted." After this experience he was a changed man. He was convinced that "everything done to the Indians thus far was unjust and tyrannical" and decided at the age of 40 to devote is life to "the justice of those Indian peoples, and to condemn the robbery, evil and injustice committed against them."

Spanish Missionaries in the Philippines

Different missionary movements within the Catholic Church moved into different parts of the Philippines. By the mid 17th century the Augustinians had settled in southern and western Luzon and on Panay and Cebu islands. The Dominicans settled in northern Luzon. The Franciscans in southern Luzon and the Jesuits were on Leyte, Bohol, Negros and Marinduque.

David Gutierrez wrote in the History of the Order of St. Augustine: “The period between about 1500 and 1750 brought a dramatic change in world history. During this time, Christianity became the first religion to spread around the world. Why did this happen? One reason was the energy unleashed by the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. In particular, much Catholic missionary work grew out of the Counter-Reformation. Religious Orders were dedicated to making converts to Catholicism. The second major reason for the spread of Christianity was the Age of Exploration. By the 1500s, Europeans were travelling by sea to almost every part of the globe. Missionaries followed the European conquerors, traders, and colonists. [Source: David Gutierrez, History of the Order of St. Augustine, August 9, 2012]

The power of religious orders remained one of the great constants, over the centuries, of Spanish colonial rule. Even in the late nineteenth century, the friars of the Augustinian, Dominican, and Franciscan orders conducted many of the executive and control functions of government on the local level. They were responsible for education and health measures, kept the census and tax records, reported on the character and behavior of individual villagers, supervised the selection of local police and town officers, and were responsible for maintaining public morals and reporting incidences of sedition to the authorities. Contrary to the principles of the church, they allegedly used information gained in confession to pinpoint troublemakers. Given the minuscule number of Spanish living outside the capital even in the nineteenth century, the friars were regarded as indispensable instruments of Spanish rule that contemporary critics labeled a "friarocracy" (frialocracia). [Source: Library of Congress]

Augustinians Establish Themselves in the Philippines

David Gutierrez wrote in the History of the Order of St. Augustine: “In the Order of St. Augustine in the 16th century, it was the Augustinian Province of Castile that aggressively moved and participated in the missionary activity of the Church. In the year 1527, when Juan Gallego was elected as Provincial of the said circumscription, he took the initiative to promote missionary activity. For this reason he was also known as the creator of the missionary ideal in the Order. Though he was tasked to lead the first Augustinian missionary to Mexico, he was not able to carry this out for he died in 1534. [Source: David Gutierrez, History of the Order of St. Augustine, August 9, 2012 *=*]

“After some time of studies and application to obtain the necessary permission, seven religious men (Augustinians) were appointed to initiate this new endeavour. They were “all men of great intelligence and talent and almost all of recognized holiness.” They embarked at Seville on March 3, 1533 and arrived in Mexico on June 7 of the same year where they were welcomed as guests by the Dominicans for more than a month until they had their own house. Mexico served as a base of operations for missionaries in this century, and what have been mentioned about evangelizing, humanitarian and cultural work in Mexico also applies to the Augustinian missions in Latin America and the Philippines. *=*

“On first attempt on November 1, 1542, the Augustinians travelled from Mexico to the Philippine Islands. They stayed for a short time and did not establish any missions at that time. On September 24, 1559, King Philip of Spain wrote a letter to Andres de Urdaneta, a former captain in his father’s service and later an Augustinian friar, asking him to take part in the expedition which was to sail from Mexico “to discover the islands of the setting of the sun.” The King added: “according to the great knowledge which you say you have about the things of that land, and understanding as you do about navigation, and being a good cosmographer, it would be of great importance that you should set out in those aforesaid ships, to see what you may discover for your expedition and for the service of our Lord.” With this letter, the king sent another to the Provincial of the Augustinians in Mexico informing him of the content of the letter to Urdaneta. The king also expressed his wish that the Provincial send other Augustinians along with Urdaneta, that they might start Christianizing the islands that they would discover. Thus, the first five famous Augustinians joined the expedition and set sail for the Orient. *=*

“They all arrived to the island of Cebu on April 27, 1565. On May 5, they began the construction of the first foundation which the missionaries dedicated to the Child Jesus, in honor of the statue of our Saviour which Pigaffeta, the historian of Magellan’s expedition, had given to the ruler of Cebu and his wife in 1521, and which the Augustinians found upon their arrival. As to date, the Augustinians have been in the Philippines for 470 years. Jürgen Moltmann once said: “Historical awareness differentiates between the present past and the past present, and puts us in the position to discover the future in the past, to pick up past possibilities again to link them with the present future.” *=*

'Christianization' Strategies Employed by the Spanish in the Philippines

Professor Susan Russell wrote: “In little more than a century, most lowland Filipinos were converted to Roman Catholicism. There are a number of reasons why Spanish missionaries were successful in this attempt: 1) Mass baptism - the initial practice of baptizing large numbers of Filipinos at one time enabled the initial conversion to Christianity. Otherwise, there is no way that such a small number of Spanish friars, or Catholic priests, could have accomplished this goal. It is said that many Filipinos associated baptism with their own indigenous 'healing rituals', which also rely on the symbolism of holy water--very typical of Southeast Asian societies. [Source: Professor Susan Russell, Department of Anthropology, Center for Southeast Asian Studies Northern Illinois University, seasite.niu.edu <>]

“2) Reduccion policies - in areas where Filipinos lived scattered across the landscape in small hamlets, the Spanish military employed a resettlement policy that they had used successful in Central and Latin America. This policy was called reduccion, and essentially meant a forced relocation of small, scattered settlements into one larger town. The policy was designed for the convenience of administration of the Spanish colony's population, a way for a small number of armed Spanish constabulary to control more easily the movements and actions of a large number of Filipinos. It was also designed to enable Spain to collect taxes from their Christianized converts. Throughout Spanish rule, Christianized Filipinos were forced to pay larger taxes than indios, or native, unChristianized peoples. The reduccion policy also made it easier for a single Spanish Catholic friar to 'train' Filipinos in the basic principles of Christianity. In reality, the policy was successful in some areas but impossible to enforce. Spanish archives are full of exasperated colonial officials complaining about how such settlements were 'all but abandoned' in many cases after only a few weeks. <>

“3) Attitude of the Spanish clergy in the early phase - Spanish friars were forced to learn the native language of the peoples they sought to convert. Without schools that trained people in Spanish, the Spanish friars had no choice but to say Christian mass and otherwise communicate in the vernacular languages of the Philippines. There are over 200 native languages now; it is unknown how many existed in the beginning of Spanish rule. In the first half, or 150 years of Spanish rule, friars often supported the plight of local peoples over the abuses of the Spanish military. In the late Spanish period, in contrast, Spanish priests enraged many Filipinos for failing to a) allow otherwise 'trained' Filipino priests to ascend into the higher echelons of the Catholic Church hierarchy in the Philippines; b) return much of the land they had claimed as 'friar estates' to the Philippine landless farmers; and c) recognizing nascent and emerging Filipino demands for more autonomy and a greater say in how the colony was to be managed. <>

4) Adaptation of Christianity to the local context - Filipinos were mostly animistic in their religious beliefs and practices prior to Spanish intervention. In most areas they revered the departed spirits of their ancestors through ritual offerings, and also believed in a variety of nature spirits. Such beliefs were central to healing practices, harvest rites, and to maintaining a cosmological balance between this world and the afterlife. Spirits were invisible, but also responsible for both good and bad events. Spirits could be blamed for poor harvests, illness, and bad luck generally. Yet Filipinos believed that proper ritual feasting of the spirits would appease them, and result in good harvests, healthy recovery of the ill, and the fertility of women. <>

The legacy of Spanish conquest and colonial rule in the Philippines, as is true of all colonial attempts to 'master' or manage indigenous populations, is mixed. On the one hand, Spanish clergy were very destructive of local religious practices. They systematically destroyed indigenous holy places and 'idols', or statues and representations of indigenous spirits, gods or goddesses. They also tried to stamp out all examples of native scripts and literature for fear that Filipinos were using exotic symbols to foment rebellion. The Spanish also imposed new 'moralities' on Filipinos by discouraging slave holding, polygamy, gambling, and alcohol consumption that were a natural part of the indigenous social and religious practices. At the same time, Hispanic rule left a legacy of syncretic, rather than totally destructive, elements. Spanish clergy introduced some very European features of Catholic practice that blended well with indigenous ritual practices. Spanish Catholic priests relied on vivid, theatrical presentations of stories of the Bible in order to help Filipinos understand the central messages of Christianity. Today, this colonial legacy lives on whenever Filipino Catholics re-enact through religious dramas the passion of Christ, or Christ's martyrdom, during Holy Week. <>

Christianity in the Philippines Today

Professor Susan Russell wrote: “Christianity in the Philippines today, unlike during the Spanish period, is a mixture of nationalistic efforts by local peoples to 'Filipinize' Roman Catholicism and the efforts of a variety of Protestant missionizing successes. In the American colonial period, 1900-1946, a lot of Protestant teachers and missionaries came to the Philippines to 'purify' what they viewed as the incorrect or 'syncretic' characteristics of charismatic blends of Filipino Roman Catholicism. The Aglipayans were among the first to try to Filipinize Roman Catholicism and were popular in the early part of American colonial rule. The Iglesia ni Kristo is another Filipino-founded sect that has found strong support among well-to-do Filipinos. [Source: Professor Susan Russell, Department of Anthropology, Northern Illinois University, seasite.niu.edu <>]

“In remoter parts of the Philippines, where Spanish colonialism and Roman Catholicism never penetrated until the beginning of the 20th century, a variety of Christian missionaries compete for new converts. Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses typically go door-to-door, spreading the specific messages that their sects support. In traditional, staunchly Roman Catholic areas, their missionizing efforts and attacks on syncretic forms of Roman Catholicism are often unwelcome. In areas where Roman Catholicism is still fairly recent, the missionaries carry messages that are more carefully listened to by local Filipinos. What was once a truly Roman Catholic country in terms of the population has given way to a variety of forms of Christianity. <>

In the Luzon highlands, for example, where many indigenous ethno-linguistic groups resisted Spanish rule, Roman Catholic or Anglican priests today have a fairly comfortable accommodation with indigenous forms of ritual and belief. Local peoples follow traditional customs related to burial rites, but often invite Christian priests to celebrate the last rites or formal burial rites in addition. The advantage of this kind of syncretism is that people's beliefs and support for their traditions are not lost, but simply accommodated with beliefs and practices associated with the newer religion. Many recent Protestant missionaries, in contrast, fail to recognize the value of supporting indigenous customs, and simply attack local religious practices as evil. Their meager success in attracting converts speaks to the need for understanding the context in which American religious practice can flourish. <>

Most recently, 'El Shaddai' is a fundamentalist Christian movement within Roman Catholicism in the Philippines that has attracted a large number of converts, both in the Philippines and among Filipinos working abroad. Like charismatic fundamentalist Christian sects in the U.S., the El Shaddai movement, led by 'Brother Mike' Velarde, relies on 'healing' rites, mass congregations, and radio and t.v. appearances and broadcasts to appeal to a large number of people seeking messages and solutions to their poverty or problems. In the rallies in Manila that are broadcast throughout the Philippines by the media, vast numbers of Filipinos seek redemption or a better life by listening to what is essentially 'Filipino' gospel. Filipinos of all walks of life attend these rallies, sometimes to have their passports blessed so they can more easily attain jobs abroad that will help their families, and sometimes to have their bank books blessed so they can more easily save money. In any case, they, like many Americans who become enamored with t.v. evangelists, are looking for messages that promise not only salvation in the afterlife, but a better living standard in this life. Religious belief, as always, is based on the ability of a religion to offer answers to the questions, concerns, and needs of people in different cultural and economic circumstances. <>

Non-Catholic Christian Groups in the Philippines

The Roman Catholic Church has for centuries been the dominant religious force in the Philippines. About 80 percent of the nation's 100 million people are Catholic, but there is a plethora of home-grown Christian movements, the most highest-profile and strongest of which are the INC (Iglesia ni Cristo) and the Philippine Independent Church.

About 9.5 percent of the Christian population of the Philippines is non-Catholic. These include Protestants (5.4 percent) and the Philippine Independent Church (2.6 percent) and Iglesia ni Cristo (2.3 percent), which some consider Protestant sects. Protestants include Presbyterians, Methodists and evangelicals. Some regard the Philippine Independent Church, and Philippine Church of Christ as Protestant. Protestant missionaries arrived in 1901 and followed the Catholic example of establishing hospitals, clinics, and private schools. The Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) is currently the most active missionary group.

About two percent of the Philippines population are members of the Aglipayan church, or Philippines Independent, Church. It was foudned in 1902 by dissenting Catholics under Bishop Gregario Aglipay and blends elements of Anglican Christianity with Catholicism. It is regarded as Catholic offshoot.

Followers of The Flag of the Race ( Iglesia Atawat ng Lahi) sect believe that executed Filipino hero Jose Rizal is a direct reincarnation of Christ and he will return one day to save the faithful from poverty and suffering. The cult is based in the Calamba area and has an estimated 250,000 followers.

The Unification church of Sun Myung Moon (“Moonies”) is active in the Philippines. Nearly 1,000 Filipina women "married" in a mass wedding to Korean men were barred from leaving the country because the Unification church did not present valid marriage licenses and other documents. The church threatened to sue to Philippines government for "moral harassment" and in response the Philippines government refused to allow the South Korean grooms to return to the Philippines.

Propensity of Filipinos to Accept Weird Religious Beliefs

In 1912, Cornélis De Witt Willcox wrote in “Early in 1909, a miscreant who had been parading himself in women’s clothes as a female Jesus Christ, upon exposure by a native doctor, out of revenge got together a band of nineteen men, and with their help proceeded to cut the doctor to pieces. This occurred within a day’s march of Manila. The example just given suggests another Filipino trait, the readiness with which the more ignorant will swallow any and all religious nostrums, and form absurd sects, usually for the financial or other material benefit of their leaders. [Source:“The Head Hunters of Northern Luzon” by Cornélis De Witt Willcox, Lieutenant-Colonel U.S. Army, Professor United States Military Academy, 1912 <>]

“In yet another case, a murderous bandit of Tayabas Province, a Tagálog province, whom we caught and very properly hanged, used to promise as a reward for any deed of special villainy in which he might be interested, a bit of independencia (independence), and then would show a box with the word painted on it, declaring that it contained a supply sent down to him from Manila. He never failed to find men to do his will. Our purpose in citing these examples, whose number might be indefinitely multiplied, is not to show that the poor, ignorant Filipino is especially criminal of disposition, but to point out the ease with which he can be led by other men. If, under evil influence, he will altruistically, as it were, consent to almost any crime, obviously he can be induced to consent to almost anything else. His consent or acquiescence can not be taken to indicate appreciation of the issue. <>

Protestantism in the Philippines

Although 83 percent of the Philippine population are Roman Catholic, 8 percent are members of the Mormons (Church of the Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ), Seventh Day Adventists, Four Square Church, Philippine Independent Church (Aglipan), Church of Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Iglesia ni Kristo.

Protestantism began making inroads into the Philippines during the American colonial period (1898-1946) when missionaries from the Lutheran, Methodist and other churches began fanning out through the islands to win converts. Today evangelical Protestantism is on the rise in the Philippines. In recent years more and more Mormon, Baptist and Mennonite missionaries have been working the islands and a number of charismatic evangelical leaders have attracted large followings. Evangelicals are well known for their enthusiasm and zeal. Evangelical Protestantism has caught on particularly with the poor, presumably because it offers them hope for a better life, and there are a lot of poor in the Philippines. Some of the groups operate in places were Muslim insurgent groups are active. Some members have been kidnapped and even beheaded.

From the start, Protestant churches in the Philippines were plagued by disunity and schisms. At one point after World War II, there were more than 200 denominations representing less than 3 percent of the populace. Successful mergers of some denominations into the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the formation of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) brought a degree of order. In the 1990s, there remained a deep gulf and considerable antagonism, however, between middleclass -oriented NCCP churches and the scores of more evangelical denominations sprinkled throughout the islands. [Source: Library of Congress, 1991 *]

Protestantism has always been associated with United States influence in the Philippines. All major denominations in the United States, and some minor ones, sent missions to the Philippines, where they found the most fertile ground for conversions among some of the upland tribes not yet reached by Catholic priests and among the urban middle class. Most American school teachers who pioneered in the new Philippine public school system also were Protestants, and they laid the groundwork for Protestant churches in many lowland barrios. Filipinos who converted to Protestantism often experienced significant upward social mobility in the American colonial period. Most were middle-level bureaucrats, servants, lawyers, or small entrepreneurs, and some became nationally prominent despite their minority religious adherence. *

Protestant missionaries made major contributions in the fields of education and medicine. Throughout the islands, Protestant churches set up clinics and hospitals. They also constructed private schools, including such outstanding institutions of higher education as Central Philippine University, Silliman University, Philippine Christian College, and Dansalan Junior College in Marawi. *

The denominations planted by the early missionaries numbered among their adherents about 2 percent of the population in the late 1980s. Their influence was supplemented, if not overshadowed, by a number of evangelical and charismatic churches and para-religious groups, such as New Tribes Mission, World Vision, and Campus Crusade for Christ, which became active after World War II. Increased activity by these religious groups did not mean that the country had ceased to be primarily Catholic or that the older Protestant churches had lost their influence. It did indicate that nominal Catholics might be less involved in parish activities than ever, that the older Protestant churches had new rivals, and that, in general, religious competition had increased. *

An indication of this trend is seen in the change in the affiliation of missionaries coming to the Philippines. In 1986 there were 1,931 non-Roman Catholic missionaries, not counting those identified with the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints. Of these, only sixty-three were from the denominations that sent missionaries in the early 1900s. The rest were from fundamentalist churches or para-church groups (the terms are not necessarily exclusive). *

The major Protestant churches reflected the same three-way division as the Catholics. The majority of clergy and missionaries probably were moderates. A significant number, however, sided with the Catholic progressives in deploring the use of vigilante groups against the guerrillas, asking for drastic land reform, and opposing American retention of military bases. They tended to doubt that a rising economy would lessen social ills and often opposed the type of deflationary reform urged by the IMF (International Monetary Fund). *

Protestant Sects in the Philippines

The El Shaddai movement is believed to have 5 million followers. El Shaddai is a Hebrew word for God. The movement was founded in 1992 by Mariano "Brother Mike" Velarde, a popular television evangelist that tells his faithful that God can help them make money. Donations to the group are often "invested" in things like jobs and cures. Verlander is a television evangelist that draws more than a half million people to his rallies and acted as a spiritual advisor to former President Joseph Estrada.

The Jesus Miracle Brigade is an evangelical group that has a nightly television show with millions of viewers. It holds large rallies in stadiums and does a lot of faith healing. The movement is strong in Mindanao, where it was foudned in 1975. The sect received a lot of attention in the early 2000s when some its members were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf and were rescued by Philippines troops.

Describing one Jesus Miracle Brigade event, Mahlon Meyer wrote in Newsweek, “They raise their arms, palms outward, as if to receive divine energy. On the pulpit, in the center of the arena, a stringy-haired woman tells how she was cured of cervical cancer and near-blindness through prayer. She then bursts in to tears and cries out, ‘Hallelijah!’...A band starts up in a tent.”

In the early 2000s, eleven people were hacked to death in a clash between Christian groups on a southern Philippine island in Surigao del Norte province. Police said the victims were members of the Puluhan cult and its rival the Philippine Benevolent Missionary Association (PBMA). The fight occurred after the Puluhan cult took about 200 PBMA members hostage.

Tensions Between Religious Groups in the Philippines

The coming of Protestant missionaries was not welcomed by Catholic clergy, and, for several years, representatives of Catholic and Protestant churches engaged in mutual recrimination. Catholics were warned against involvement in Protestant activities, even in groups like the Young Men's Christian Association and the Young Women's Christian Association. [Source: Library of Congress, 1991 *]

Since the 1970s, hostility between Catholics and many Protestant churches had lessened; churches emphasized the virtues rather than the alleged defects of other churches; and priests and pastors occasionally cooperated. Although the ecumenical emphasis did not eliminate competition and gained far more hold among older Protestant churches than among groups that had entered the Philippines more recently, the trend had significantly moderated religious tensions. *

Some tentative efforts toward ecumenical understanding also were made in relations between Christians and Muslims, delineating common ground in the mutual acceptance of much of the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible. Occasional conferences were held in an attempt to expand understanding. Their success by the early 1990s was limited but might indicate that, even in this tense area, improvement was possible. *

Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Independent Philippine Church)

About 2.6 percent of Filipinos belong to the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Independent Philippine Church). Founded by Gregorio Aglipay (1860-1940), it received the support of revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo during the revolt against Spain and subsequent conflicts with American forces. It rode the tide of antifriar nationalism in absorbing Filipino Roman Catholic clergy and forcibly seizing church property at the beginning of the twentieth century. One out of every sixteen diocesan priests and one out of four Philippine Catholics followed Aglipay into the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in those years of violent national and religious catharsis. The Iglesia Filipina Independiente, formally organized in 1902, thus enjoyed approximately five years of rapid growth, before a temporary decline in Philippine nationalism sent its fortunes into precipitous decline. [Source: Library of Congress 1991*]

Many followers returned to Catholicism, especially after Americans and then Filipinos replaced Spanish priests. Among those who remained in the new church, a crippling schism emerged over doctrinal interpretation, especially after 1919 when members were suddenly instructed to discard earlier church statements concerning the divinity of Christ. To some extent, the schism was caused by Aglipay himself, who shifted his theological views between 1902 and 1919. At first, he deemphasized doctrinal differences between his church and Roman Catholicism, and most of the independent church's priests followed Roman Catholic ritual-- saying Mass, hearing confession, and presiding over folk religious-Catholic ceremonies just as always. Later, Aglipay moved closer to Unitarianism. *

In 1938 the church formally split. The faction opposing Aglipay later won a court decision giving it the right to both the name and property of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. Followers of Aglipay, however, continued to argue that they represented true Aglipayanism. In the early l990s, those Aglipayans who rejected the Unitarian stance and adhered to the concept of the Trinity were associated with the Protestant Episcopal church of the United States. *

Iglesia ni Kristo (Church of Christ)

About 2.3 percent of Filipinos belong to the Iglesia ni Christo (Iglesia ni Kristo, Church of Christ), a Protestant group established locally in the Philippines. Cecil Morella of AFP wrote: “INC was established in 1914 in Manila by Felix Manalo, a charismatic man who was raised a Catholic, became a Protestant preacher then founded his own religion in which he proclaimed himself the last messenger of God. Today its unique cathedrals topped by soaring spires can be seen in most cities and villages across the Philippines, while its missionary work has created congregations in more than 100 other countries. [Source: Cecil Morella, AFP, July 26, 2014]

In the 1990s, all over Luzon, the Visayan Islands, and even northern Mindanao, unmistakable Iglesia ni Kristo (Church of Christ) places of worship, all similar in design and architecture, were being constructed for a rapidly growing membership. Founded by Felix Manalo Ysagun in 1914, the Iglesia ni Kristo did not attract much notice until after World War II, when its highly authoritarian organization and evangelical style began to fill a need for urban and rural families displaced by rapid changes in Philippine society. The church, led by clergy with little formal education, requires attendance at twice-weekly services conducted in local Philippine languages, where guards take attendance and forbid entrance to nonmembers. Membership dues, based on ability to pay, are mandatory. Members are expected to be "disciplined, clean, and God-fearing." Gamblers and drunks face the possibility of being expelled. The church forbids (on penalty of expulsion) marriage to someone of another faith and membership in a labor union. The Iglesia ni Kristo also tells its members how to vote and is even respected for its ability to get out the vote for candidates of its choice. [Source: Library of Congress, 1991 *]

There are a number of reasons why so many Filipinos have joined such an authoritarian church, not the least of which is the institution's ability to stay the decline of traditional Philippine vertical patron-client relationships, especially in urban areas. The church also has been successful in attracting potential converts through its use of mass rallies similar to Protestant revival meetings. The message is always simple and straightforward--listeners are told that the Iglesia ni Kristo is the mystical body of Christ, outside of which there can be no salvation. Roman Catholicism and Protestant churches are denounced--only through membership in the Iglesia ni Kristo can there be hope for redemption. *

Although the original appeal of the Iglesia ni Kristo was to members of the lower socioeconomic class, its puritanical precepts encouraged social mobility; and many of its members were climbing the economic ladder. Whether the church would be able to maintain its puritanical, authoritarian stance when more of its members reached middle-class status was difficult to predict. The church gave neither a count nor an estimate of its membership, but the rapid construction of elaborate buildings, including a campus for an Iglesia ni Kristo college adjacent to the University of the Philippines, would indicate that it was expanding. *

Iglesia ni Kristo Beliefs, Politics and Money

Cecil Morella of AFP wrote: “The INC is at odds with the Catholic Church on many fundamental issues of doctrine, and numerous outsiders perceive it as a much more conservative brand of Christianity. INC's teachings are based on a rigid following of the Bible, and the church insists only its members qualify for salvation. Men and women must be separated in church for services, and they are only allowed to date or marry fellow INC members. Once married, they can never separate. Christmas and many Catholic fiestas that are hugely popular in the Philippines are not celebrated by INC members. [Source: Cecil Morella, AFP, July 26, 2014 <^>]

“INC also has a reputation for carrying out much more intense missionary work than the Catholic Church. "One has to respect how much more aggressive the INC is in expanding and sustaining itself," Louie Checa Montemar, a political science lecturer at Catholic De La Salle University in Manila, told AFP. <^>

“The INC typically creates the biggest headlines in the Philippines when it flexes its considerable financial and political muscle. Its political strength is built upon a ruling that all members must vote in national elections according to the verdict of the church's leader. INC refuses to disclose how many members it has -- although local media estimate it to be well above two million, giving it a powerful bloc vote that ensures politicians pay them close attention. "They have a preponderant influence on the government itself and on politics relative to their size," Ramon Casiple, head of the Manila-based think tank Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, told AFP. "Nobody wants to go against the Iglesia... in a close (election) fight." And while INC does not officially demand tithings, its policy of encouraging members to donate significant portions of their incomes to the church has undeniably paid rich dividends. <^>

Iglesia ni Kristo (Church of Christ) Celebrates Its 100 Anniversary

In July, 2014, Cecil Morella of AFP wrote: “A Philippine Christian church renowned for its discipline, money and political power will mark its 100th anniversary with more than one million followers expected to join the celebrations. The Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) members will congregate at a giant complex especially built for the occasion near Manila, in an event that will showcase the religion's stunning success at home and abroad. "The pace of the spread of Iglesia... has exploded," church spokesman Edwil Zabala told AFP during a tour of the "City of Victory" complex, which includes a 55,000-seat indoor stadium, to promote the centenary. [Source: Cecil Morella, AFP, July 26, 2014 <^>]

“The new arena on Manila's northern outskirts that will be the focal point of the celebrations cost $175 million. Like every other church and INC building, it was completely financed by the "offerings of the brethren", according to spokesman Zabala. Its ability to mass its people is also stunning, with prayer rallies and evangelical missions in Manila regularly drawing hundreds of thousands of people over recent years. INC officials said they were preparing to welcome more than one million followers for church services led by INC leader Eduardo Manalo, the founder's grandson. <^>

“Joyse Camit, a 49-year-old Manila office worker, will be among those celebrating. She was converted from Catholicism as a teenager along with the rest of her family after two years of INC home visits. "I love the discipline, and the idea of leading your life based solely on the Bible's teachings," Camit said. <^>

Animism and Sorcery in the Philippines

Animism, a belief that natural objects have souls, is the oldest religion in the Philippines. It is practiced by indigenous peoples in the mountains of Luzon. Female shamans in the Philippines lick the blood from daggers they personally had thrust into a pig before telling the future. The Babaylan were wise women of the Philippines, healers and priestesses who were demonized and often killed as witches by Spanish invaders after 1521.

Siquijor (15 miles from Demabguete on the island of Negros by ferry) is an island province famous for its witches and faith healers and nice deserted beaches. A number of shaman, mananambals (good and evil witches and warlocks) and sorcerers are said to live in Sant Antonio. The “bad side” sorcerers use voodoo potions, spider and poisonous snake agents and powerful plants to help people seeking revenge against others. The “good side” sorcerers are basically herbalists who use traditional medicine, oil massages, chants and prayers to help people feel better or overcome problems or diseases.

Many rituals and potions involve the use of lighting teeth, tooth-shaped pieces of basalt that are said to appear at the base of trees struck by lightning. Wooden amulets often have sweet, earthy-smelling herbs mixed with lightning teeth. Gayuma love potions work if you apply it to the forehead of the person you are hoping to woo. Some concoction have more than a hundred herbs. The biggest events are cockfights. During Holy Week tang alap rituals are conducted.

See Festivals, Minorities

Witches of Philippines' Siquijor Province

Sorcery mingled with elements of Catholicism thrives on Siquijor. Reporting from Siquijor, Benjamin Haas wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “At the end of a dirt road deep in the mountains, Consolacion Acay hobbled onto her porch and picked up her tools of the trade: a glass cup, a bamboo straw, a stone the size of an apricot pit and a bottle of potion. Then she began casting spells to heal her client. "I found this stone while I was swimming near waterfalls in the middle of the island," the unassuming 86-year-old said later. "That night I had a dream that taught me how to use the stone to heal people, and I've been doing it ever since." Acay dabbed the potion on certain points of her client's body, then half-filled the cup with water, dropped the stone in and began blowing air into the water with the straw. The water became murky — a sign, she said, that she was removing the malaise. She repeated the process until the water was clear. [Source: Benjamin Haas, Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2011 ==]

“Acay's magic doesn't put her on the fringe of society here; sorcery, both for good and evil, is a fact of life in Siquijor. Throughout the Philippines, mention of this place instantly conjures images of healers, witches and demons. One gruesome tale features a vampire that splits in two, its upper torso flying from rooftop to rooftop, devouring fetuses out of pregnant women. Magic in Siquijor consists mainly of traditional beliefs that have existed in the Philippines for centuries. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century and introduced Catholicism, locals began to blend ancient practices with their newfound religion. ==

“Many witches in Siquijor use Catholic imagery in their sorcery, and almost all regularly attend church. All their potions for the year are brewed in the week leading up to Easter. Father Larry Catubig, the senior Catholic priest on the island, said he realized the complicated nature of proselytizing to religiously devout witches. "It's good that the witches are going to church, and we try to steer them away from magic," he said. "But when they go back into the mountains, we have no control over what they do." ==

During Holy Week, vigilance is required at the religious processions because the witches steal parts of the relics on display for use in their potions, Catubig said. It's not unusual for gravestones in Siquijor to have pieces missing — stone angels without heads or perhaps a stump where a cross once stood. Often it's the work of "black witches" looking to enhance their brew. ==

“Although Acay works strictly in healing the sick, other witches here aren't so benevolent. Cayetano Umbalsa, 76, has been practicing witchcraft since his father began teaching him almost 60 years ago. Although he is well-versed in the healing spells, people come to him mainly for his proficiency in the dark arts. Jealous spouses and scorned lovers make up the bulk of such clients. The spells range from one to make your ex-lover constantly remember your face to those to cause sickness and even death. The black witches command steep fees: $345 to almost $700 in a region where the average annual income is about $2,500. The witches who limit their work to healing often ask for a small donation of a few dollars. ==

“Richard Quezon, the mayor of Siquijor town, the capital of the province, remembers being terrified by stories of evil witches in the mountains that rise from the middle of the island. "Before, everyone went to healers for things like liver problems or cancer," he said. "But now, with modern medicine, only those who can't afford to go to the hospital seek out healers." To some, that's a positive development. Evelyn C. Retana, a retired surgeon at the Siquijor town hospital, has seen sick people spend months hoping to be healed by witches only to eventually seek treatment at the hospital. But Quezon defends witchcraft. Last month he went to a witch because of a skin condition that wouldn't go away. "The medicine from the pharmacy didn't work, but the herbs and spells from the healer worked right away," he said. "Some things science can't explain."” ==

Mount Banahaw: the Philippines’ 'Holy Mountain'

Paulo Ordoveza wrote in U.S. News and World Report, “Three volcanic mountains—Makiling, Banahaw, and San Cristóbal—dominate the otherwise flat landscape about 50 miles south of Manila in the Philippines. A mix of Spanish, precolonial, and contemporary myths holds that Makiling's native spirit is a fairylike creature whose silhouette can be seen at rest atop the volcano's rugged peak, while the muse of Banahaw is a gruff warrior who battles with the maid of Makiling for ownership of the clouds. The spirit of San Cristóbal is said to be a Bigfoot-like, mischief-making monster who once wrestled with Banahaw for ownership of water flowing through the mountain's streams and waterfalls. Today, Mount Banahaw is blessed with water; Mount San Cristóbal is dry. [Source: Paulo Ordoveza, U.S. News and World Report, November 16, 2007 */*]

“Local religious folklore, strongly infused with Spanish colonial Roman Catholicism and the martyrdom mythos of nationalist revolutionaries, has latched on to Banahaw as the "holy mountain," a place that radiates ancient powers of healing and redemption. Although far less well known than more famous sites associated with healing miracles, such as Lourdes in France, it draws both pilgrims and trekkers, the faithful and the curious, the sick praying for a miracle and foreigners drawn by the mystical legends of this place. */*

“Amid towns and villages on Banahaw's slopes, there are monasteries and churches of the "Rizalistas," one of many sects in the region venerating nationalist hero José Rizal, who was born in the nearby town of Calamba and executed in Manila by the Spanish in 1896 for writing insurgent literature. The Rizalistas themselves are divided into diverse subsects, worshiping Rizal as revolutionary, saint, or reincarnation of Jesus, with Banahaw as their "New Jerusalem." */*

“Any of these churches gladly provides a guide, called a pator, who takes travelers on a tour of Banahaw's holy sites, called puwestos, to be visited in a sequence similar to the tradition of the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem. The puwestos are mainly natural features of the mountain: rocks, caves, waterfalls, even Banahaw's own peak. Some rock formations are noted for their resemblance to human features, such as those of the Virgin Mary or a saint. A spring in the shape of a giant footprint is called Bakas ni Kristo, literally Christ's Footprint. */*

“Pilgrims can wiggle through a cave called Kalbaryos, or Calvary, a narrow tunnel in the rock through which one must slide sideways, each successful passage earning the traveler an indulgence worth seven years of forgiveness for all sins. In another nearby cave, pators take pilgrims down a ladder to a tiny but deep pit in the rock filled with cloudy spring water said to have miraculous healing powers for those who dip themselves in it seven times. */*

“Many stories of Banahaw's powers hark back to pre-Christian animist stories handed down by oral tradition—stories that have survived and evolved to unite those in the area of different faiths around their spiritual mountain, drawing others from the Philippines and abroad to see if the power is truly there.” */*

Where Religion and the Marketplace Meet in the Philippines

In 2010, Jofelle Tesorio wrote in Asia News Network, “Weekends, especially Sundays, are the busiest days in Quiapo, the nerve centre of faith in Manila. Filipinos come here for many reasons. Students praying to pass an exam, couples wanting to have a child, a young woman trying to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy, a mother praying for a sick child, a man hoping to go abroad, a forlorn lover wishing to let the pain away-they're just among the many who are lured by Quiapo, where miracles do happen for those who have faith. [Source: Jofelle Tesorio, Asia News Network, July 20, 2010 ~]

“Filipino religiosity is about faith and devotion to a supreme being represented by a mix of the orthodox and the surreal. Quiapo, which used to be the centre of commerce during the Spanish colonisation in the Philippines, is a juxtaposition of sorts. Here you see devotees overflowing from inside the old Quiapo Church. They kneel, hold hands and sing religious prayers. Men and women, young and old take turns in wiping the black Jesus Christ's statue (called the Black Nazarene) to ask for blessings. Around the church, the commerce of the masses prospers. Occult stalls line up the streets leading to the entrance of the church. Laminated pictures and images of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary and other saints are displayed; rosaries, prayer books, crucifix and amulets for different purposes are, laid on stalls. ~

Old women sell 'herbal medicines' guaranteed to induce abortion or to cure all kinds of sickness. Others sell coloured candles-each represents a specific prayer. Red is for love, yellow is for good spirit, pink is for purity, green is for money, blue, purple and indigo are for health, self-expression, peace and tranquility. Middle-aged fortune tellers read tarot cards for people who want to know their destiny. The fortune tellers also accept prayer requests when asked by devotees. Many customers are women who often ask about their future husbands and the prospect of marriage. Love potions made from different herbs and animal concoctions are also popular among women. Beggars, young and old, some of them crippled, catch attention with their sad look, arms stretched waiting for alms. ~

Writer Godofredo Stuart described Quiapo as the commerce of religion and the commerce of the alternatives. Often, people who visit Quiapo are reminded of the Bible scene where Jesus Christ got furious upon seeing gambling stalls outside the House of God. But people don't only visit this old Manila town for their devotion. They come to hunt for bargain stuff. From pirated DVDs to DLSR cameras to car mugs to blasting stereos-everything is here. Hidalgo Street, is popular for cameras. Most professional photographers in the Philippines had, in one way or another, purchased a camera or a camera accessory here. They're not only cheap but cameras come with pieces of advice from sellers who know exactly what their clients need-whether they're professional or amateurs. There's always a camera for every person on this street. ~

“Right across Quiapo Church is the mecca of pirated DVDs. People scurry for good finds here-from Filipino slapstick comedies to American hardcore porn. A good DVD copy can be as cheap as 10 pesos (less than 25 US cents). The more you buy, the more discount you can get. Sellers here are honest to tell customers whether the DVD copies are from original ones or from movie houses. They also have an exchange and return policy. If your copy is bad, you can have it replaced or returned even without receipts. It is just a matter of finding the stall from a maze of thousands of DVD shops.” ~

Muslims

Sunni Muslims constitute the largest non-Christian group. They live in Mindanao and the Sulu Islands but have migrated to other provinces. Muslim provinces celebrate Islamic religious holidays as legal holidays. Mosques are located in large cities throughout the country. In smaller communities, Muslims gather in small buildings for services. [Source: everyculture.com]

See Separate Article MUSLIMS IN THE SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES Under See Minorities

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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