Indigenous peoples in the Philippines

There has been no accurate comprehensive count of Philippine indigenous peoples since 1916. The Philippine national census in 2010 included an ethnicity variable, which could have given a more accurate projection of the percentage of indigenous peoples among the Philippine population of around 98 million. However, no data on this variable has been released as of the end of 2012. The country's indigenous population thus continues to be estimated at between 10 and 20 %.

The indigenous groups in the northern mountains of Luzon (Cordillera) are collectively called Igorot while the groups on the southern island of Mindanao are collectively called Lumad. There are smaller groups collectively called Mangyan in the central islands as well as even smaller, more scattered, groups in the central islands and Luzon.

Situation of indigenous peoples in the Philippines

Indigenous peoples in the Philippines generally live in geographically isolated areas with a lack of access to basic social services and few opportunities for mainstream economic activities or political participation. They are the people with the least education and the least meaningful political representation.

In contrast, commercially valuable natural resources such as minerals, timber and water are concentrated in their areas, making them continuously vulnerable to development aggression from both private and public extractive industries.

Legislation Concerning Indigenous Peoples

In 2012, the Republic Act 8371, known as the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA)commemorated the 15th year since its promulgation. The law calls for respect for indigenous peoples’ cultural integrity, right to their lands and right to self-directed development of these lands. Apart from there being some fundemental critisism of the law itself, more substantial implementation of the law is still being sough.

The UNDRIP and ILO Convention 169

The Philippines voted in favour of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the government has not yet ratified the ILO Convention 169.

Read more

A yearly update on the situation of indigenous peoples in the Philippines is published every year in May in IWGIA's publication "The Indigenous World". The latest yearly updates can be downloaded to your right.

View our photos from the Philippines on Flickr