• This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Discover the Philippines

Discover the Philippines: Find out about the country's rich heritage, culinary delights, the best time to visit, getting around, and must-see destinations.

People of the Philippines

People of the Philippines

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Knowing the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines before embarking on the trip is essential to discover a country full of contrasts and traditions, where influences from the different people from other countries that have passed through the archipelago mix. 

The ethnic and linguistic diversity of the Philippine islands

The ethnic and linguistic diversity of the Philippine islands

Researchers assume that the first settlement of the Philippines took place about 250,000 years ago. These were still archaic genera of Homo sapiens. A modern man came to the Philippines about 70,000 years ago. At that time the Philippine islands were still connected to the Asian mainland by the land bridge Sundaland. The islands of Sumatra, Java, and Borneo formed a landmass with the Malay Peninsula and there were also land connections to the Philippine islands of Palawan and Mindanao. 

Finds of the oldest human fossils from 2007 in the Cagayan Valley in northeast Luzon date the age to 67,000 years. However, there is disagreement among archaeologists as to whether these people immigrated via Sundaland or belonged to the seafaring Austronesian neighboring peoples.

Another site is located in the south of Palawan and indicates a settlement about 47,000 years ago. These first inhabitants are today considered the original population of the Philippines, from whose descendants the traditional tribes of the Philippines such as the Aeta or Ati emerged and which are summarized under the generic term Negrito ethnic groups. 

Today, the people of the Philippines are divided into about 111 ethnic groups, which include about 30 indigenous Filipino peoples. They make up between ten and twenty percent of the total population, whose number currently stands at about 102 million people. It is not only the richest diversity of peoples in Southeast Asia but worldwide. The more than 180 Filipino languages and dialects are spoken in the country bear witness to this diversity.
Regional overview of the people of the Philippines

Regional overview of the people of the Philippines

Although the indigenous Filipino people are among the least educated in the country, they display a variety of social structures, cultural expressions, and artistic skills. They achieve a high degree of creativity when it comes to decorating useful items such as bowls, baskets, clothing, weapons, or spoons. 

Many tribal groups are known for their carving and wickerwork, weaving, pottery, and other arts. Geographically, the indigenous peoples can be divided into highland peoples and lowland peoples. A Philippine lowland tribe was more exposed to colonial influences than those groups that have their home in the difficult to access mountain regions. Although partly Christianized, the lowland peoples also maintain their traditions and customs. 

The Negrito ethnic groups are generally considered the first inhabitants of the archipelago and, unlike the rest of the population, have dark brown to black skin, curly hair, small stature, and a narrow build. Relevant encyclopedias still use the term "Negritos" as a collective term for several indigenous peoples in Asia. However, this term is now considered politically incorrect and is often perceived as pejorative. In addition to about 25 indigenous Filipino people, the Negrito ethnic groups also include the indigenous population of the Andaman Islands, the Semang and Senoi ethnic groups on the Malay Peninsula, and the Mani in southern Thailand.

The remaining indigenous people of the Philippines, on the other hand, are hardly different in appearance from the rest of the Filipino population. However, they generally live in geographically isolated areas, which largely denies them access to basic social services. Moreover, their opportunities to participate in the country's main economic sectors are limited. They are hardly represented politically by appropriate organizations and have been increasingly displaced from their original habitats in the course of history. 

Recently, however, the government has recognized the valuable natural resources such as minerals, forests, and rivers in the territories of the indigenous people and has taken some measures to protect the ethnic groups. The Philippines also voted in favor of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) but has not yet ratified the corresponding ILO convention.
Traditional tribes of the Philippines

Traditional tribes of the Philippines

The members of the traditional tribes are often the descendants of the earliest immigrants. Their homeland is inaccessible and remote areas of the Philippine islands, which is why they were able to escape the influence of the colonialists. They are still not fully integrated into social life, but they contribute more and more to their skills and abilities by selling filigree handicrafts. 

The tribes with the highest population are probably the Manobo tribes. The Manobo and their sub-tribes populate large parts of Mindanao such as the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, Cotabato, and South Cotabato, the entire Davao region, and the island of Sarangani. Due to the large area of distribution, different Filipino languages and customs have developed in each settlement area, so that each sub-tribe has taken on the character of distinctiveness as a separate ethnic group. The exact number of Manobo is not known.

Among the oldest tribes in the Philippines are also the Tagbanua. In two sub-tribes they populate the central part of the island Palawan as well as the Calamian Islands off the coast. Their number of members amounts to about 13,000 persons. Their unique syllabic script, which was declared by UNESCO in 1999 as one of the most important memories of mankind, has been particularly well-received.

Among the oldest tribes on Mindanao are the T'Boli with 131,000 members and the Tiruray with 66,000 members. They belong to the upper group of the Lumad and are neither Christian nor Islamic. The T'Boli live at the southern tip of Mindanao in the province of Sarangani. A special heritage of the T'Boli is the different types of Agung ensembles, which use hanging humpback gongs to produce music without accompanying melodic instruments. The Tiruray lives in the province of Maguindanao and parts of the province of Cotabato. They are especially known for their artistic skills in basket weaving and can weave bicolored geometric patterns.

The Tao-Buhid lives in Mindoro and belongs to the oldest ethnic group in the Philippines. They were the first inhabitants in the country to trade with the Chinese. Examples of this trade relationship can be seen in the burial caves, where the porcelain and other pottery originating from China is abundant.
The largest ethnic groups in the Philippines

The largest ethnic groups in the Philippines

Below is an overview of the five most numerically represented ethnic groups in the Philippines. The name of the ethnic group is also the name of the language. Thus the five languages are after Filipino and also the most frequently spoken in the Philippines.

Percentage of Total Population


29.641 million


Central Luzon, Mindoro, Marinduque


21.424 million


Central Visayas, Province of Negros Oriental, parts of Mindanao


9.383 million


Ilocos Region, Parts of the region Cagayan Valley, The Babuyan Islands, Mindoro and Parts of Mindanao

Hiligaynon (Ilonggo)

7.816 million


Western Visayas, as dialect also in parts of Mindanao


3.471 million


Eastern Visayas

People of the Philippines: Their Culture

People of the Philippines: Their Culture

The Philippine culture has been formed as the result of a mixture of foreign influences and native elements. For the most part, these influences are the result of the colonization they had, so the culture of Spain and that of the United States are the most evident. 

Despite all these influences, however, the ancient Asian culture of the Filipinos remains and is seen in their way of life, in their beliefs, and their customs. The culture of the Filipinos is appreciated by many people from the different corners of the world. Some interesting facts about Filipino culture are the following:

  • Filipinos are very fond of music, in fact, there are many great and well-known singers in the country. Filipinos use various materials to create sound, and they like to perform dances and singing groups.
  • Christmas is one of the most beloved celebrations for Filipinos. Families come together on December 24 to celebrate the traditional “Christmas Eve”. The new year is also celebrated by gathering all the relatives again. It is celebrated with a feast of food, with the famous lechon usually present, as well as a variety of fruits on the table.
  • Filipinos are experts in sports, the traditional one in the country is called Arnis, which is a form of martial arts. In addition, Filipinos are also interested in basketball, soccer or boxing games.
  • Family is very important to them, and they also include uncles, grandparents, cousins, ​​and other external relationships such as godparents or very close friends. The children have loving godparents, and when the parents are not there, it is the grandparents who take care of the little ones.


The only Catholic nation in Asia, over 80% of the inhabitants in the Philippines are Catholic, making the Philippines the country where the church has the most significant presence. All towns have a church and Catholic education. It is easy to see during your trip that faith is one of the main characteristic features of Philippine society today.

Christmas, Easter, and the rest of the religious celebrations are celebrated in a massive way. It is easy to see processions and worship with hundreds of faithful anywhere in the archipelago.
Philippine traditional festivals

Philippine traditional festivals

Filipinos love to celebrate any event. Local fiestas and festivals are palpable in any corner of the islands and are usually religious or cultural in nature. It is estimated that there are more than 42,000 festivals celebrated annually.

All the towns celebrate their particular Fiesta in honor of their patron saint. Other festivities related to the local products of each region are celebrated, such as the Sinulog Festival in Cebu and the Lanzones Festival in Camiguin.

About Us

There is no doubt that the Philippines is the place for spontaneous adventures, relaxing getaways, and interesting cultural experiences. With over 7,107 islands, the country surely has something to offer for every kind of traveler. Check Philippines aims to be your ultimate source for practical information, guides, and tips to help you plan your travel to the Philippines and make the most of your stay in this tropical paradise.

We hope to inspire you to go on a journey to travel and explore the Philippines and experience its natural beauty and charm. Join us as we check the Philippines, and discover the country's beautiful destinations, rich heritage, and warm people, and we love sharing your ideas, too! Experience more fun in the Philippines. Check Philippines NOW!

Connect with Us

Contact Us