Some time ago, my wife bought a copy of the Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Human (London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2008) on sale at a National Book Store. I liked the entry for Filipinos under the section Peoples and the subsection Far East (and the sub-subsection Indo-Malaysia).

Location Philippines; also US, Middle East, Europe
Population 84 million
Language Tagalog, or Filipino (including Visaya dialect); Ilocano, Cebuano
Beliefs Roman Catholic Christianity, Sunni Islam, Protestant Christianity, Buddhism, animism

The Filipinos are of Malay origin with some Chinese, US, Spanish, and Arab features. Most Filipinos live in the lowland areas of the Philippines and are Catholics. This shared religion has tended to promote a common Filipino culture; however, it alienates the large Muslim minority.

Some 4 million Filipinos work abroad, in around 140 countries. Regardless of background, the great majority are employed as domestic workers, although some are nurses, midwives, and medical technicians.

The fiesta is an important part of Filipino culture. Each city and barrio (quarter or village) has at least one festival of its own, usually on the feast of its patron saint, which means that there is always a fiesta under way somewhere in the country. The biggest and most elaborate of the festivals is Christmas, a season that is always celebrated with much pomp and pageantry.

The entry has two pictures. One is of people lighting candles with a statue of Christ on the cross in the background (with the caption “Catholic Devotion Despite having Malay origins, the majority of Filipinos are devout Roman Catholics. The Philippines has the largest Catholic population of any Asian country.”).

The other is of a man standing next to a jeepney (with the caption “Customized Bus In the Philippines, the population gets around on elongated and highly decorated jeeps, known as Jeepneys.”).

I found the entry honest. I also found it refreshing because, unlike typical descriptions of the Philippines and Filipinos, this one doesn’t mention the country’s Spanish colonization and American occupation.

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