The population of the Philippines is over 86,300,000 and growing rapidly due to the young age of much of the population as well the Catholic dislike of birth control measures; the average number of children born per woman is 3.22. Over one half of the population is under the age of twenty, and the population is expected to double every twenty nine years unless control measures are successful. The government has tried to encourage each family to have no more than two children; in doing so, it has had an uneasy relationship with the Catholic Church which has supported limited measures (the rhythm method, for example) but which has not provided leadership in this area. The entire program lacks government resolve and funding. In common with many other developing countries, the Philippines has seen a rapid migration from rural to urban areas with the resulting social problems of unemployment, slums, crime and poverty.
Philippine society is relatively homogeneous as over ninety percent of the population ise descended from Malay immigrants to the islands. Over the centuries, these immigrants intermarried with the indigenous negritos (although a small minority of negritos remains in the mountain areas) and separated into distinct linguistic groups as they scattered throughout the islands. While today eleven languages and eighty-seven dialects make up the linguistic diversity of the Philippines , most of these belong to the Malay-Polynesian language family. These languages are not mutually intelligible and a great deal of debate has gone into the creation of a national languages. Tagalog, the language spoken in central and southern Luzon is today the “national” language, also called “Pilipino” and the government has mandated that it, rather than the more widely spoken English ,be used as a medium of school instruction and for official government business. English language competence has declined in the past twenty years although it is still the medium of exchange for commerce and international relations and major newspapers continue to appear in English; as well much of the schooling is still in English. The ethnic homogeneity is supported by a religious homogeneity as over 83% of the population adheres to the Roman Catholic faith and another nine percent to Protestant denominations. This shared religious, social, and ethical value system over-rides much of the division caused by the variety of languages.
Minority groups include the Muslim community, which makes up about 5% of the total population of the Philippines and which has been in the news as many of them are engaged in a long term civil war for the creation of their own homeland. Ethnically and racially, they are the same as other Filipinos but they have increasingly separated themselves from mainstream Philippine life and identified with the worldwide Islamic community. Another 3 % of the population consists of the indigenous tribes, which number about one hundred distinct groups. As the Filipino communities expanded over the centuries, these indigenous peoples were increasingly isolated from each other in remote pockets of hill and mountain areas. Some of these groups are adapting and blending in well with mainstream culture; others maintain their separate and independent ways. The government has created tribal areas for them, but has put restrictions on the ways they can act within these areas. The final significant minority group is the Chinese who number around six hundred thousand. Chinese have settled and traded in the Philippine Islands for centuries and have established permanent settlements. Many Chinese have intermarried with Filipinos and many prominent Filipinos such as Past President Corazon Aquino, have mixed Chinese ancestry. However, the Chinese maintain their own identity, their own schools, and a sense of their superiority; they are the least assimilated of the minority groups.