Philippines

What We Do in the Philippines

Freedom from Hunger continues its longstanding partnership with our microfinance partner, CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions, to bring Credit with Education to an average of 500,000 of their clients each year. We continue to support CARD’s work to extend health financing, health supplies and linkages to preferred health providers to their clients. Freedom from Hunger also supports CARD’s international office to extend Credit with Education through partners in Cambodia and Vietnam. Freedom from Hunger is currently assisting CARD to develop a new Savings Education service and will support CARD to integrate the new service into its operations for rollout to all of its clients in the coming years.

About the Philippines

  • Population: 82.84 million
  • Area: Land: 298,170 sq. km. Water: 1,830 sq. km.
  • Languages: Two official languages: Filipino (based on Tagalog) and English; eight major dialects: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocan, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 83%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 5%
  • Average life expectancy at birth: 67.8 years
  • Infant mortality rate: 28.7 deaths/1,000 live births
  • Percent undernourished: 20 percent of the total population

Located between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, the Philippines are close enough to their Asian and Malaysian neighbors that they have been regularly visited for thousands of years. Of the 7,100 Philippine islands, the three largest, Luzon, Mindanao and Palawan, are home to the majority of Filipinos. In fact, only 2,000 of the islands are inhabited and 2,500 remain unnamed. Most of the islands are actually quite small, with only 1,000 measuring more than 1 square kilometer (0.4 miles).

The Philippine archipelago's proximity to the Asian mainland, coupled with the isolated island geography, has resulted in 60 ethnological groups and the 80 different dialects within the country. Even so, over 80 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, a legacy of 300 years of Spanish occupation. The smallest religious minority, Muslim Malay, makes up five percent of the population. In addition to regular interaction with its Asian neighbors, Filipino culture has been influenced by trade with the Middle East, beginning as early as the 11th century, and the foreign rule of Spain, Japan and the United States. The Philippines eventually gained independence in 1946.

Spanish colonization of the Philippines began in 1565 when Miguel Lopez de Legaspi established a base in Manila. There was considerable political unrest as Filipinos resisted Spanish rule that continued until the Spanish-American war in 1898. After the Spanish were defeated, the islands were purchased by the United States from the Spanish for US$20 million and a ten-year transition process began toward full sovereignty. In 1942, Japan invaded the Philippines, thereby suspending this process, and ruled until the U.S. re-invaded in 1944. The Philippines finally gained full independence in 1946.

The transition to an autonomous country was not without challenges, and political unrest has continued. In 1986, the People's Power Revolution began when Filipinos as a nation revolted against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, who had ruled the country since 1965. Today, Gloria Arroyo holds the position of President, after the former President was ousted on charges of corruption. In the present-day Philippines, much of the population struggles against chronic hunger and poverty on a daily basis. The 2000 Family Income and Expenditures Survey in the Philippines found that between 1997 and 2000, the poverty level actually rose to 33.7 percent. More than 20 percent of the population (or over 15 million people) are considered undernourished, and close to one-third of Filipino children under five are moderately or severely underweight. These statistics are thought to be much worse in rural areas of the Philippines.

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