The Philippines is predominantly a Christian nation on account of 300 years of Spanish rule, and proudly boasts to be the only Christian nation in Asia. Currently, it is estimated that 92.6% of the total Filipino population are Christians, 81% of which is Roman Catholic. In the south on the large island of Mindanao, many are adherents of Islam. Filipino Muslims make up about 5.6% of the national population. Other religious denominations/sects comprise about 11%, while about 1% have no religious affiliations. The Chinese minority, although statistically insignificant, has been culturally influential in coloring Filipino Catholicism with many of the beliefs and practices of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.
Religion in the Philippines evolved from the pre-Hispanic belief system of Filipinos in gods, spirits and creatures that guarded nature, to the major monotheistic religions. From this indigenous religious base two foreign religions were introduced — Islam and Christianity — and a process of cultural adaptation and synthesis began that is still evolving. Spain introduced Christianity to the Philippines in 1565. Earlier, beginning in 1350, Islam had been spreading northward from Indonesia into the Philippine archipelago. By the time the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, Islam was firmly established on Mindanao and Sulu and had outposts on Cebu and Luzon. When the Spaniards came, the Muslim areas had the highest and most politically integrated culture on the islands. While Islam was contained in the southern islands, Spain conquered and converted the remainder of the islands to Hispanic Christianity.
When the United States took over the Philippines in the first half of the century, the justifications for colonizing were to Christianize and democratize through mass education. Most of the teachers who went to the Philippines were Protestants, many of whom were Protestant ministers. There was a strong prejudice among some of these teachers against Catholics. Since this Protestant group instituted and controlled the system of public education in the Philippines during the American colonial period, it exerted a strong influence.
Eventually, other religious groups came about such as the Aglipayans or Iglesia Filipina Independiente, whose numbers peaked at 25 to 33 percent of the population in the early part of the 20th century during the armed rebellion against Spain, and another dynamic nationalized Christian sect known as lglesia ni Kristo, founded by Felix Manalo Ysagun sometime in 1914. Along with the Aglipayans and Iglesia ni Kristo, there have been a proliferation of Rizalist sects, claiming the martyred hero of Philippine nationalism, Jose B. Rizal as the second son of God and are incarnation of Christ.
Source: Pew Research Center. The Global Religious Landscape: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Major Religious Groups as of 2010.
The Manila Cathedral remains to be the most famous religious landmark in the Philippines being considered as the Mother Church of the Philippines, the central symbol and seat of Catholic Faith in the country. Numerous churches and places of worship have since been established in the many provinces, regions and islands in the Philippines, named after Patron Saints and the Religious, but the Manila Cathedral still stands out because of the sense of history and spirituality it brings.
The MINOR BASILICA AND METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION (Filipino: Basilika Menore at Kalakhang Katedral ng Kalinis-linisang Paglilihi; Spanish: Basílica Menor y Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción), also known as Manila Cathedral (Spanish: Iglesia Parroquial de Manila), is the Cathedral of Manila and basilica located in Intramuros, the historic walled city within today’s modern city of Manila, Philippines. It is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, a title for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the principal patroness for the Philippines. The cathedral serves as the episcopal see of the Archbishop of Manila, and is also considered as the Mother Church of the Philippines, along with Basilica of Sto. Nino in Cebu.
The cathedral was originally a parish church in Manila under the Archdiocese of Mexico in 1571, until it became a separate diocese on February 6, 1579 upon the issuance of the papal bull, Illius Fulti Præsido by Pope Gregory XIII. The cathedral was damaged and destroyed several times since the original structure was built in 1581 while the eighth and current structure of the cathedral was completed in 1958.
The basilica has merited a papal endorsement from Pope Gregory XIII and three apostolic visits from Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis. On 27 April 1981, Pope John Paul II issued papal bull Quod Ipsum designating the cathedral as a minor basilica by his own Motu Proprio.
Masjid Al-Dahab (or The Golden Mosque and Cultural Center; Filipino: Gintong Masjid) is situated in the predominantly Muslim section of the Quiapo district in Manila, Philippines, and is considered the largest mosque in Metro Manila.
The Golden Mosque acquired its name for its gold-painted dome as well as for its location in Globo de Oro Street. Under the supervision of former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, construction began on August 4, 1976 for the visit of Libya’s President Muammar al-Gaddafi, although his visit was cancelled. It now serves many in Manila’s Muslim community, and is especially full during Jumuah prayers on a Friday. The mosque can accommodate up to 3,000 worshipers.
Iglesia ni Cristo abbreviated as INC (English: Church of Christ) is an international church that originated in the Philippines. It was registered in 1914 by Felix Y. Manalo, who became its first Executive Minister.
Famed for its elegant, intricate and uniform structures, INC churches may be found in many parts of the cities of Manila, as well as in the different regions and provinces. Because of its huge membership, the INC is also known to deliver one and united vote and support for known political figures during national and local elections.
The Iglesia ni Cristo claims to be the one true church and the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus, and that all other Christian churches are apostates. INC doctrine cites that the official registration of the Church with the Government of the Philippine Islands on July 27, 1914, by Felix Y. Manalo—upheld by its members to be the last messenger of God—was an act of divine providence and the fulfillment of biblical prophecy concerning the reestablishment of the Church of Christ in the Far East concurrent with the coming of the Seventh seal marking the end of days.
The Philippine census by the National Statistics Office found that 2.45% percent of the population in the Philippines are affiliated with the Iglesia ni Cristo, making it the religion with the third largest number of adherents, with Islam at 5.57% and Roman Catholicism at 80.58%.