From Islam to Christianity: The Story of the Philippines' Religious Evolution

From Islam to Christianity: The Story of the Philippines' Religious Evolution
Bangsamoro ‘moro’ people ©

The Philippines has a complex and diverse religious history, having been influenced by different belief systems and practices throughout the centuries. One of the most significant transformations in its religious landscape was the shift from Islamic kingdoms to Christian colonization. This transition, which occurred over several centuries, has been the subject of much study and debate among scholars and historians.

Before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers in the 16th century, the Philippines was inhabited by various Islamic sultanates, particularly in the southern islands. These sultanates were established by Arab and Malay traders who brought Islam to the region in the 13th century. Islam quickly spread among the local population, and many communities embraced the new faith, creating a unique blend of Arab, Malay, and indigenous culture.

Moro sultanates
Moro sultanates


The arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century marked a significant turning point in the history of the Philippines. The Spanish, who were predominantly Catholic, saw the indigenous population as "pagans" in need of conversion. They established missions and friaries throughout the country and began aggressively converting the local population to Christianity.

The Spanish colonial authorities used various methods to promote Christianity, including force, coercion, and persuasion. They destroyed mosques and replaced them with churches, and they forced local rulers to convert to Christianity as a way of gaining political control. They also established schools and used education to promote the values and beliefs of Christianity.

Despite these efforts, the conversion of the Philippines to Christianity was not immediate or uniform. Many communities resisted the Spanish and clung to their Islamic faith, leading to conflicts and uprisings. The Spanish also faced opposition from other Christian groups, such as the Dutch and the British, who sought to establish their own foothold in the region.

Over time, however, Christianity became the dominant religion in the Philippines. The Spanish were successful in converting many of the local population, and the Catholic Church became an important institution in Philippine society. Today, the Philippines is one of the largest Christian nations in the world, with Catholicism as the dominant faith.

The transformation of the Philippines from Islamic kingdoms to Christian colonies has had a profound impact on the country's culture, history, and identity. It has shaped the country's religious and social values and has influenced its politics, economy, and society. However, the legacy of this transformation is still the subject of much debate and discussion among scholars and historians.


  1. Majul, Cesar Adib. Islam in the Philippines. University of the Philippines Press, 1999.
  2. Phelan, John Leddy. Spanish Colonialism and Philippine Society. University of California Press, 1967.
  3. Warren, James Francis. "The Impact of Spanish Rule on the Philippines." Pacific Historical Review, vol. 30, no. 1, 1961, pp. 33-46.
  4. Constantino, Renato. A History of the Philippines. Quezon City: Renato Constantino, 1975.
  5. Zaide, Sonia M. Philippine History and Government. National Bookstore, 2008.
  6. Steinberg, David Joel. The Philippines: A Singular and a Plural Place. Basic Books, 2000.
  7. Smith, Nigel. The Spanish Conquest of the Philippines. Routledge, 2017.
  8. Dayrit, Fabian. "Christianity and Islam in the Philippines: A Clash of Civilizations?" Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints, vol. 55, no. 1, 2007, pp. 29-58.


Moro sultanates
Moro sultanates


Akhyari Hananto

I began my career in the banking industry in 1997, and stayed approx 6 years in it. This industry boost his knowledge about the economic condition in Indonesia, both macro and micro, and how to More understand it. My banking career continued in Yogyakarta when I joined in a program funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB),as the coordinator for a program aimed to help improve the quality of learning and teaching process in private universities in Yogyakarta. When the earthquake stroke Yogyakarta, I chose to join an international NGO working in the area of ?disaster response and management, which allows me to help rebuild the city, as well as other disaster-stricken area in Indonesia. I went on to become the coordinator for emergency response in the Asia Pacific region. Then I was assigned for 1 year in Cambodia, as a country coordinator mostly to deliver developmental programs (water and sanitation, education, livelihood). In 2009, he continued his career as a protocol and HR officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya, and two years later I joined the Political and Economic Section until now, where i have to deal with extensive range of people and government officials, as well as private and government institution troughout eastern Indonesia. I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief in Good News From Indonesia (GNFI), a growing and influential social media movement, and was selected as one of The Most Influential Netizen 2011 by The Marketeers magazine. I also wrote a book on "Fundamentals of Disaster Management in 2007"?, "Good News From Indonesia : Beragam Prestasi Anak Bangsa di dunia"? which was luanched in August 2013, and "Indonesia Bersyukur"? which is launched in Sept 2013. In 2014, 3 books were released in which i was one of the writer; "Indonesia Pelangi Dunia"?, "Indonesia The Untold Stories"? and "Growing! Meretas Jalan Kejayaan" I give lectures to students in lectures nationwide, sharing on full range of issues, from economy, to diplomacy Less
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