Manila - Post Report Question and Answers

Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not to me. I'm Black and I've never felt uncomfortable. It's a cosmopolitan city, so diversity (both race and gender) exists and seems appreciated. - Mar 2023

I can’t speak to the ethnic/racial aspect, but in my work I was pleased to often see women leaders across Philippine business and government. - Mar 2023

Not that I know of. There is a preference for lighter skin amongst Filipinos (many soaps and cremes are whitening). - May 2022

Sadly the biggest prejudices tend to occur among the haves and have nots. Poor people are treated as second class citizens. - Apr 2021

Aside from some brewing prejudice against Chinese, I have not encountered much. Filipinos are omnivorous consumers of all culture, which I think has built up some natural antibodies to bigotry. I've seen a Filipino guy with a Russian first name, an English nickname, and Spanish last name wearing a LeBron jersey while karaoke singing a K-Pop song. - Oct 2020

I don't really see too many problems. - Feb 2020

Ethnic and religious prejudices are there but I haven't felt them. Gender equality is not so much noticeable among expats but among locals yes. I know several local professional women, but when it gets to domestic help, helpers are almost always women and drivers are almost always men. I get some looks for driving my car myself. - May 2018

Outside of Mindanao and the far southern parts of the country, there don’t seem to be many problems with religious/ethnic tensions, or gender discrimination. The Philippines has seen two female presidents in the past 30 years, the current VP (and several other prominent politicians) are female, and women are generally well represented along the economic ladder. - Feb 2017

Not really. White people are a treat outside of Manila, black people especially so. Expect to have rustics yell "Hey Joe" when they see a non-Asian walking around. It's well intentioned and harkens back to the WWII era. Filipinos are possibly the friendliest people on earth, and during our time here we have observed very little overt prejudice. There is some tension between Catholics and Muslims but it is not overt. - Jul 2016

This is a very religious country, but I haven't experienced these problems. - Jan 2016

This is a VERY religious country. Foreigners in general are treated well, though men more so than women. - Jan 2016

Yes. As with most of Asia the darker you are the worse people treat you. The Philippines is no exception. I imagine people of African descent and people with dark-skin such as Indians or Pakistanis are pre-judged by the locals who base all their opens from popular American movies. Go figure! - Sep 2015

Not that I'm aware of. - Aug 2015

There is regularly expressed anti-Muslim bias and women are expected to be married and have children, but not to the extent that you would need to worry as an expat, more just dealing with the beauty salon expressing surprise if you're not Catholic with three kids or your driver talking about how Muslims are violent. - Aug 2015

None that I have seen,or read about. - Jan 2014

Not that I found. - Dec 2013

Gender prejudices exist, but females wield a surprisingly large amount of power, from the highest levels of business and government down to the family unit. Yes, racial and religious problems exist like anywhere else in the world - Nov 2013

Not that I am aware of. - Apr 2013

Filipinos treat white people better than others, and this colonial atmosphere is not something I will miss. Gender roles are more distinct, and people are not politically correct. For xample, a progressive Filipino contact once told me, as I sat next to my female colleague, that "I do all the trouble-shooting. That's a job better done by men." - Feb 2013

Not that we've seen. - Sep 2012

There are a lot of racial prejudices, particularly against other Asians. There are strong gender ideas as well. There is also a strong caste system that is very real, though less codified than other places. This doesn't affect expats, though it makes lots of pampering and servants available. - May 2012

Most of the country is Catholic, but those who are not, do not suffer prejudice. You can find pretty much a church of any denomination to attend services as well. - Mar 2012

No. Although the northern part of the Philippines is Catholic, and the Southern part is Muslim. The southern Muslim part is intolerant of anyone not Muslim. - Jan 2012

Filipinos can be racist. There are many billboards around Manila advertising whitening creams. Darker skinned persons that visit spas routinely are asked if they want a whitening creme. The thought that lighter skinned persons are superior is prevalent. However I never heard of a violent hate-crime based on skin color. Filipinos are pre-dominantly Catholic but in the south, there is a large population of Muslims with a small group of Islamist extremists. I'm not sure if there are prejudices in Manila based on religion. - Jul 2011

I haven't personally experienced any or heard of any. I have heard men I'm acquainted with say that they are downright uncomfortable with how frequently they are accosted in public places, but that is not so much a prejudice as it is opportunistic. - May 2011

Not that we have seen. - May 2011

Women are on top in the Philippines, and men sometimes feel like the glass ceiling is on them. There are religious problems between Muslims and Christians, but it is largely confined to Mindanao and Sulu. We have not really seen racial, religious, or gender prejudices in Manila. If you are American, you will be an instant celebrity whether you like it or not. - Feb 2010

Some religious tension between Christians and Muslims, but don't see it really in Manila. I find people listen more to my husband, but that may just be personal experience. No gender prejudices that I see among the high social classes, but definitely a male dominated society among the lower classes. Women are not always treated equally and they are often abused. You don't really see this much though in the daily life of an expat. - Jan 2010

Things seem to be pretty equal regarding gender, with women in high levels of government and business. Religious prejudices are more of an issue in Mindanao, with the constant tensions of the native islamic peoples trying to obtain independence. - Jul 2009

Filipinos themselves seem to naturally discriminate among each other (ie you go to a store and see a help wanted sign with requirements of height, age, religion, and skin tone). However, with expats they seem to just view us all as foreign and exotic. Admittedly every time I see a skin whitening commercial it breaks my heart a little. - Apr 2009

Religious and gender prejudices are not apparent, but expats of African descent will often encounter odd looks and might overhear negative comments. Filipinos are very concerned about skin colour and every other ad seems to be for whitening products. - Jun 2008


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