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Exploring the history and experiences of mixed heritage persons and inter-racial relationships across the world

Philippines

Map Of The Philippines The aboriginal peoples of many parts of Southeast Asia are known as the Negritos, simply meaning "little black person" in Spanish, and so named due to their similarity to the African Pygmies in skin colour and small stature. There are some 30 such groups of people in the Philippines alone. The Negritos were slowly displaced by Taiwanese aboriginal people thousands of years ago and over the years, the first of the several ethnic Asian ethnic groups that were to finally inhabit the islands of the archipelago. Today some 10 different ethnic groups form the native peoples of the Philippines. Historically, the indigenous population of the Philippines were referred to as Indios.

Typical group of Negritos Trade with other Asian countries brought Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam which by 1565 had reached all over the islands. The Filipino language – Tagalog – spoken by a third of Filipinos is said to contain about 25% of words from the Indian language Sanskrit. Some 5% of the population can claim some Indian ancestry and there is also genetic evidence of Arab ancestry in the population.

Eventually, in 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan claimed the islands for Spain and it was colonised when Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first European settlements in Cebu. The Spanish had to fight off colonial competition from both the Dutch and the British to hold onto this colony.

The Spanish followed the usual pattern and mixed with the local peoples resulting in a new elite of criollos, Spanish people born in the islands and mestizos, mixed Filipinos, who with the increased trade become quite wealthy and infiltrated the civil service to the detriment of the European Spanish. This new power resulted in higher education levels and the birth of revolutionary ideas. The Spanish also encouraged other immigrant populations to inter-marry with the locals. In particular, the Chinese immigrants, who were predominately male, were encouraged to convert to Catholicism and take up local wives resulting in a Chinese mestizo community. Later on as the population grew, people of Chinese descent including mestizos tended to intermarry resulting in a mestizo community that now accounts for some 20% of the Philippine population which means that they are the larger representation of the mestizo elite in the commercial and political spheres of the country.

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