The Philippines is a multicultural country with an ethnic composition consisting ethnic Tagalog 24.4%, Bisaya 11.4%, Cebuano 9.9%, Ilocano 8.8%, Hiligaynon 8.4%, Bikol 6.8%, Waray 4%, and others 26.1% (2010 est.: CIA Factbook 2021). Integration efforts in the Philippines face linguistic and geographic barriers as the country has over 186 languages and over 1000 islands. In addition, the dominance of the Filipino/Tagalog language has led to the marginalization of other groups and ha often hindered integration efforts (Reyes and Alvarez 2015).
The Philippines has introduced several education policies to mitigate integration issues over decades. However, the policy framework lacks a long-term vision and consistency. Recently, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts has adopted a hybrid model to introduce and implement national cultural policies. Yet, the government makes decisions on overall cultural policy “regardless of the creation of public debates, conversations, consultations, or presentations to the [commission]” (Vitorillo 2020). This centralization of the decision-making on cultural and diversity policies and programs limits the role of civil society and ethnic organizations in advancing cultural integration within the community.
Philippines has achieved an overall ICDI score of 0.49. A slightly above average score of 0.67 in the component of anti-discrimination indicates the presence of anti-discrimination acts and policies which help promoted migrant integration and permission for citizens to hold dual citizenships. In a similar vein, a score of 0.72 in the component of inclusion signals a fairly positive situation around the representation of minority ethnic groups in the country. This also reflects on fairly strong intergroup relations and moderate levels of discrimination of ethnic minorities. In contrast, a score below 0.2 in the component of social contact signals that there is low levels of intercultural participation and an erosion of indigenous and immigrant living languages. The low score in the component of social contact is further exacerbated by sore below 0.25 in the component of access to communication which indicates low numbers of newspapers published, and a minimal use of mobile telephones and the internet.
Current Situation and Outlook
Philippines has attained relatively average scores across its legislative and opportunities dimensions. The overall ICDI score for Philippines can be improved by strengthening its structural dimensions through an encouragement of intercultural participation which would in turn increase the platforms available for social contact. It could also enhance access to communication among the population by increasing the number of newspapers published, mobile telephone users and internet users. Focusing on improving intergroup cohesion would also lend to improving components such as social contact.