Filipinos with Arab background
mga Arabo
Total population
Estimated 2% of population have partial Arab ancestry[1]
Regions with significant populations
Mindanao · Metro Manila · Visayas
Arabic · Filipino · English · other languages of the Philippines
Sunni Islam · Greek Orthodox Christianity · Catholicism · Others
Related ethnic groups
Arab diaspora

Arab traders have been visiting the Philippines for about 2,000 years, playing a prominent role in the trade networks of the time. They used Southeast Asia for stopovers and trading posts.[2] Since the 14th century, Arab travelers such as Makhdun Karim is known to have reached the Philippines and brought Islam to the region.[3] They moved from the southern islands such as Mindanao and traveled towards the north and converted the Filipinos to Islam, many of these early Arabs married Filipina women.[4]

That same century Syrian Arabs also brought Christianity to the region along with pre-Islamic belief systems.[4] An estimated 2% of the population of the Philippines, about 2.2 million people, could claim partial Arab ancestry.[5]


Arab traders have been visiting Philippines for nearly 2,000 years. Since the 14th century Arab travelers had traded extensively with local chiefs, datos and rajahs. During the advent of Islam into Southeast Asia, Makhdum Karim, the first Islamic missionary to reach the Sulu Archipelago, brought Islam to what is now the Philippines, first arriving in Tawi-Tawi.[3]

Arab and Persian traders passed by the Philippines, on their way to Guangzhou, China. Subsequent visits of Arab Muslim missionaries strengthened the Islamic faith in the Philippines, concentrating in the south and reaching as far north as Manila. According to the Syrian Consulate in Makati, the first Orthodox Christians on the islands were Syrian and Lebanese merchants and sailors, who arrived in Manila after the city was opened to international trade. Many of the Lebanese sailors married local women and their descendants have since become Philippine citizens.[citation needed]

Political and economic relations were enhanced in the 1970s between the Philippines and Arab nations, this was during the period of oil shocks and political instability in the Middle East. This led to closer collaboration between the countries and led to an increase in Philippine laborers working in the Middle East.[2]

In recent times, another wave of Arabs to arrive in the Philippines were refugees from war-torn nations, such as Lebanon (undergoing civil war in the 1980s) and Arab other nations involved in the Gulf War in 1991. While other Arabs were entrepreneurs who intend to set up businesses. Filipinos with Arab descent live primarily in Mindanao, while the more recent immigrants live in Manila.[citation needed]

Cesar Majul

Filipino author Cesar Adib Majul, the son of a Greek Orthodox Christian immigrant from Syria, converted to Islam in his late adulthood. He became a prominent historian on the Muslim Moro people and the history of Islam in the Philippines and wrote many books about Moros and Islam.[6][7]

Notable people

Movie and TV celebrities

Beauty Pageant Titleholders

World War II guerrillas

YouTube Personalities

See also


  1. ^ Arab world’s ancient links to Philippines forged through trade, migration and Islam By Saeb Rawashdeh
  2. ^ a b "Arab world's ancient links to Philippines forged through trade, migration and Islam — ambassador". Jordan Times. 2016-10-11. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  3. ^ a b Quiling, Mucha Shim (2016-11-07). "Tawi-tawi celebrates Karim'ul Makhdum Day". MindaNews. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  4. ^ a b Project, Joshua. "Arab in Philippines". Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  5. ^ "Arab world's ancient links to Philippines forged through trade, migration and Islam — ambassador". Jordan Times. 2016-10-11. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  6. ^ Artchil Daug (2012). Thoughts from the Mountaintop: Essays on Philippine History and other Magical Realisms. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-105-66059-7.
  7. ^ Leon Ma. Guerrero (19 July 2012). The First Filipino: The Award-Winning Biography of Jose Rizal. BookBaby. p. 400. ISBN 978-1-62309-293-1.
  8. ^ ABS-CBN Interactive[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ DAILY STAR: Star Life Archived September 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Papers of Colonel Clyde C. Childress, USA". MacArthur Memorial. Retrieved 9 October 2023.
  11. ^ "Republic Act No. 3455 - An Act granting Filipino Citizenship to Khalil Khodr". Supreme Court E-Library. Congress of the Philippines. Retrieved 9 October 2023.