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Indian Filipinos
Total population
150,000 Unknown[A]
Regions with significant populations

Indian Filipinos refers to Filipinos of Indian descent who have historical connections with and have established themselves in what in now the Philippines. The term refers to Filipino citizens of either pure or mixed Indian descent currently residing in the country, the latter a result of intermarriages between the Indians and local populations.

Iron Age finds in Philippines also point to the existence of trade between Tamil Nadu and the Philippine Islands during the ninth and tenth centuries B.C.[1]


Ancient history[edit]

India had greatly influenced the many different cultures of the Philippines through the Indianized kingdom of the Hindu Majapahit, Khmer Empire and the Buddhist Srivijaya.[2] Indian presence in the Philippines has been ongoing since ancient times along with the Japanese people, and the Han Chinese, and Arab and Persian traders, predating even the coming of the Europeans by at least two millennium. Indian people together with the natives of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula, who came as traders introduced Hinduism to the natives of the Philippines. Indian migrants have been crucial in the establishment of several Indianized Kingdoms or "Rajahnates" in the Philippines, Rajahates such as that of Butuan and Cebu. Indian Bania converts to Islam brought Sunni Islam to the Philippine islands in the course of trade, which was later enhanced and strengthened by Arab Muslim Sea traders to Mindanao and Sulu Sultanate.[3]

By the 17th century, Gujarati merchants with the aid of Khoja and Bohri ship-owners had developed an international transoceanic empire which had a network of agents stationed at the great port cities across the Indian Ocean. These networks extended to the Philippines in the east, East Africa in the west, and via maritime and the inland caravan route to Russia in the north.[4]

Colonial Period[edit]

Sepoy troops from Madras (now Chennai, Tamil Nadu), British India also arrived with the British expedition and occupation between 1762 and 1764 during the Seven Years' War. When the British withdrew, many of the Sepoys (Army privates) mutinied and refused to leave. Virtually all had taken Filipina brides (or soon did so). They settled in what is now Cainta, Rizal, just east of Metro Manila.[5] As of 2006, between 70 and 75 percent of Indians in the Philippines lived in Metro Manila, with the largest community outside of Manila being in Isabela province.[6] The region in and around Cainta still has many Sepoy descendants.

However, India business people started to arrive in larger numbers in The Philippines during the American colonial period (1898–1930s) - especially during the 1930s and 1940s, when many Indians and Indian Filipinos lived in Filipino provinces, including Davao. When the economy of the Philippines were based in Manila, many moved there, which explains why today half of the Indian and Indian Filipino community are now based there. The longest serving Mayor of Manila, Ramon Bagatsing, was of Indian-Punjabi descent, having moved to Manila from Fabrica, Negros Occidental before the second world war.

A second surge of Indian businessmen, especially Sindhis arrived in Philippines during the India - Pakistan partiition (1947).[7]


Most of the Indians and Indian Filipinos in the Philippines are Sindhi and Punjabi as well as a large Tamil population. Many are fluent in Tagalog and English as well as local languages of the provinces and islands. Many are prosperous middle class with their main occupations in clothing sales and marketing. Sikhs are involved largely in finance, money lending (locally called Five - six[8] ), sales and marketing.

Over the last three decades, a large number of civil servants and highly educated Indians working in large banks, Asian Development Bank and the BPO sector have migrated to Philippines, especially Manila.[9] Most of the Indian Filipinos and Indian expatriates are Hindu and Sikh, but have assimilated into Filipino culture and some are Catholic. The community regularly conducts philanthropic activities through bodies such as the Mahaveer foundation, The SEVA foundation[10] and the Sathya Sai organization.[11]

Most Indians congregate for socio-cultural and religious activities at the Hindu Temple (Mahatma Gandhi Street, Paco, Manila), the Indian Sikh Temple (United Nations Avenue, Paco, Manila), and the Radha Soami Satsang Beas center (Alabang, Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila). The late "priest" (scripture reader in Sindhi and Gurumukhi) of the Hindu Temple, Giani Joginder Singh Sethi, was active in interfaith affairs, accepted visits by school students, and organised the first major translation of Guru Nanak's Jap Ji into Filipino (Tagalog), translated by Usha Ramchandani and edited by Samuel Salter (published 2001).

Many Indians have intermarried with Filipinos, more so than in neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, mainly because their populations are largely Muslim, and the Indians there (with the exception of Indian-Muslims) are averse to marrying Muslims in those host countries.[12]

Indian Filipino companies with the largest work force include Indo Phil Textile (1,800 employees), Global Steel (950 employees and 8,000 in Iligan), Hinduja Global (3,500 workers) and Aegis People Support (over 12,000).[13]

Filipino people of Indian descent[edit]


  1. ^ The number of Filipinos of full or partial Indian descent is unknown as a great portion of the community has merged with the rest of the population therefore making it impossible to gather accurate statistical figures within the Philippines.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tamil Cultural Association - Tamil Language". tamilculturewaterloo.org. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "Pre Colonial Period", An Online Guide to Philippine History, geocities.comCollegePark/Pool, archived from the original on 12 December 2007, retrieved 17 May 2008 [unreliable source?]
  3. ^ "2010/07/528/the-cultural-influences-of-india-china-arabia-and-japan". philippinealmanac.com. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  4. ^ Rajesh Rai, Peter Reeves, ed. (2008). The South Asian Diaspora: Transnational Networks and Changing Identities. Routledge. p. 1. ISBN 9781134105953. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Rye 2006, p. 713
  6. ^ Rye 2006, pp. 720–721
  7. ^ Rising India and Indian communities in East Asia. LSEAS Publishing. 2008. ISBN 978-981-230-799-6.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  8. ^ "Indians in the Philippines". Philippines Indian Business and Community guide. www.phindia.info. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "Departments and offices". Organisation. Asian Development Bank (ADB). Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Community work". www.phindia.info. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "International Sai Haiyan mission". Sathya Sai Organization. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  12. ^ Sandhu, K.S.; Mani, A. (1993). Indian Communities in Southeast Asia (First Reprint 2006). Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 707. ISBN 9789812304186. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  13. ^ Enriquez, march (15 October 2011). "Meet some of PH's Fil-Indian businessmen". Inquirer. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 

External links[edit]

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