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Mexicans in the Philippines
Mexicanos en las Filipinas
Ang mga Mehikano sa Pilipinas
Total population
377[1] (Mexican nationals in the country; unknown number of Mexican descent) 2.33% of the population in the Spanish-Philippines during the 1700s.[2]
Regions with significant populations
Metro Manila, Cebu City, Zamboanga City
Spanish, Tagalog and other Philippine languages
Roman Catholicism and Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Related ethnic groups
Mexicans of European descent, Indigenous peoples of Mexico, Mestizos in Mexico

Mexican settlement in the Philippines comprises a multilingual Filipino ethnic group composed of Philippine citizens with Mexican ancestry. The immigration of Mexicans to the Philippines dates back to the Spanish period.[3]


Main articles: History of Mexico, History of the Philippines, and Viceroyalty of New Spain

Mexican immigration to the Philippines mainly occurred during the Hispanic period. Between 1565-1821, the Philippines were in fact administered from the Viceroyalty of New Spain's capital, Mexico City. During this period trans-Pacific trade brought many Mexicans and Spaniards to the Philippines as sailors, crew, prisoners, slaves, adventurers and soldiers[4] in the Manila-Acapulco Galleons which was the main form of communication between the two Spanish territories. Similarly the route brought various different Filipinos, such as native Filipinos, Spanish Filipinos (Philippine-born Insulares), Chinese Filipinos (See Chinese immigration to Mexico), and other Asian groups to Mexico.

According to Stephanie Mawson in her M.Phil thesis entitled Between Loyalty and Disobedience: The Limits of Spanish Domination in the Seventeenth Century Pacific, in the 1600s there were thousands of Latin American settlers sent to the Philippines by the Spaniards per year and around that time frame the Spaniards had cumulatively sent 15,600 settlers from Peru and Mexico[5] while there were only 600 Spaniards from Spain,[6] that supplemented a Philippine population of only 667,612 people.[7] Due to the initial low population count, people of Latin American and Hispanic descent quickly spread across the territory.[8]

Geographic distribution and year of settlement of the Latin-American immigrant soldiers assigned to the Philippines in the 1600s.[9]
Location 1603 1636 1642 1644 1654 1655 1670 1672
Manila[9] 900 446 407 821 799 708 667
Fort Santiago[9] 22 50 86 81
Cavite[9] 70 89 225 211
Cagayan[9] 46 80 155 155
Calamianes[9] 73 73
Caraga[9] 45 81 81
Cebu[9] 86 50 135 135
Formosa[9] 180
Moluccas[9] 80 480 507 389
Otón[9] 66 50 169 169
Zamboanga[9] 210 184
Other[9] 255
Total Reinforcements[9] 1,533 1,633 2,067 2,085 n/a n/a 1,632 1,572

The book, "Intercolonial Intimacies Relinking Latin/o America to the Philippines, 1898–1964 By Paula C. Park" citing "Forzados y reclutas: los criollos novohispanos en Asia (1756-1808)" gave a higher number of later Mexican soldier-immigrants to the Philippines, pegging the number at 35,000 immigrants in the 1700s,[2] in a Philippine population which was only around 1.5 Million,[10] thus forming 2.33% of the population.[11] Corroborating these Spanish era estimates, an anthropological study published in the Journal of Human Biology and researched by Matthew Go, using physical anthropology, concluded that 12.7% of Filipinos can be classified as Hispanic (Latin American mestizos or Malay-Spanish mestizos), 7.3% as Indigenous American, African at 4.5% and European at 2.7%. Thus, as much as 20% of those sampled bodies, which were representative of the Philippines, translating to about 20 million Filipinos, can be physically classified as Latin American in appearance.[12] As a result, German ethnographer Fedor Jagor, using Spanish censuses, estimated that one-third of the island of Luzon, which holds half of the Philippine population, had varying degrees of Spanish and Latin American ancestry.[13]

Nevertheless, during the era of the Latin American Wars of Independence Spain feared that the large Mexican population in the Philippines would incite the Filipinos to rebel, thus Spaniards direct from Spain were imported and the Latin American class in the Philippines were displaced and were forced into a lower rank of the caste system.[14]

During the Spanish period, the islands formed part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, along with other areas of the Pacific Ocean such as the Marianas and the Caroline Islands and during a short period in northern Taiwan. The Spaniards built trade routes from Mexico to the Philippines, primarily from their starting points of Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, with their final destination being Manila, the current capital of the Philippines. The Spanish ships on these routes were known as the Manila galleons.[15]

Mexican (or rather, New Spaniard) immigrants to the Philippines belonged to different ethnic groups such as indigenous people, mestizos and Creoles who mainly mixed with the local population, which increased the number of descendants with Spanish surnames. The construction of the military fort of Zamboanga used the help of these Mexican immigrants who had already settled in the islands. The Mexican legacy in the Philippines, consisting of marriage between the Spanish and the indigenous culture of origin (Maya and Nahuatl), has been marked in these islands. Many words that originated from Nahuatl, a language spoken by the descendants of the indigenous Mexican Aztecs, have influenced some local languages of the Philippines.[16]

See also


  1. ^ "Mexicanos residentes en FILIPINAS 2020" (PDF) (in Spanish).
  2. ^ a b "Intercolonial Intimacies Relinking Latin/o America to the Philippines, 1898–1964 Paula C. Park" Page 100
  3. ^ Forced Migration in the Spanish Pacific World: From Mexico to the Philippines, 1765-1811.
  4. ^ "In 1637 the military force maintained in the islands consisted of one thousand seven hundred and two Spaniards and one hundred and forty Indians." ~Memorial de D. Juan Grau y Monfalcon, Procurador General de las Islas Filipinas, Docs. Inéditos del Archivo de Indias, vi, p. 425. "In 1787 the garrison at Manila consisted of one regiment of Mexicans comprising one thousand three hundred men, two artillery companies of eighty men each, three cavalry companies of fifty men each." La Pérouse, ii, p. 368.
  5. ^ Stephanie Mawson, ‘Between Loyalty and Disobedience: The Limits of Spanish Domination in the Seventeenth Century Pacific’ (Univ. of Sydney M.Phil. thesis, 2014), appendix 3.
  6. ^ Spanish Settlers in the Philippines (1571–1599) By Antonio Garcia-Abasalo
  7. ^ The Unlucky Country: The Republic of the Philippines in the 21st Century By Duncan Alexander McKenzie (page xii)
  8. ^ "Filipino-Mexican-Central-and-South American Connection, Tales of Two Sisters: Manila and Mexico". June 21, 1997. Retrieved August 18, 2020. Tomás de Comyn, general manager of the Compañia Real de Filipinas, in 1810 estimated that out of a total population of 2,515,406, "the European Spaniards, and Spanish creoles and mestizos do not exceed 4,000 persons of both sexes and all ages, and the distinct castes or modifications known in America under the name of mulatto, quarteroons, etc., although found in the Philippine Islands, are generally confounded in the three classes of pure Indians, Chinese mestizos and Chinese." In other words, the Mexicans who had arrived in the previous century had so intermingled with the local population that distinctions of origin had been forgotten by the 19th century. The Mexicans who came with Legázpi and aboard succeeding vessels had blended with the local residents so well that their country of origin had been erased from memory.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Convicts or Conquistadores? Spanish Soldiers in the Seventeenth-Century Pacific By Stephanie J. Mawson AGI, México, leg. 25, núm. 62; AGI, Filipinas, leg. 8, ramo 3, núm. 50; leg. 10, ramo 1, núm. 6; leg. 22, ramo 1, núm. 1, fos. 408 r –428 v; núm. 21; leg. 32, núm. 30; leg. 285, núm. 1, fos. 30 r –41 v .
  10. ^ "The Unlucky Country The Republic of the Philippines in the 21st Century" By Duncan Alexander McKenzie (2012)(page xii)
  11. ^ Garcia, María Fernanda (1998). "Forzados y reclutas: los criollos novohispanos en Asia (1756-1808)". Bolotin Archivo General de la Nación. 4 (11).
  12. ^ An inter-university study published in the Journal of Forensic Anthropology concluded that the bodies curated by the University of the Philippines, representing the country, showed the percentage of the population that is phenotypically classified as Hispanic is 12.7%, while that of Indigenous American classification is 7.3%. 20% of the sample representative of the Philippines are therefore Latino in physical appearance.Go, Matthew (2019). "Classification Trends among Contemporary Filipino Crania Using Fordisc 3.1". Human Biology. 2 (4). University of Florida Press: 1–11. doi:10.5744/fa.2019.1005. Retrieved September 13, 2020. [Page 1] ABSTRACT: Filipinos represent a significant contemporary demographic group globally, yet they are underrepresented in the forensic anthropological literature. Given the complex population history of the Philippines, it is important to ensure that traditional methods for assessing the biological profile are appropriate when applied to these peoples. Here we analyze the classification trends of a modern Filipino sample (n = 110) when using the Fordisc 3.1 (FD3) software. We hypothesize that Filipinos represent an admixed population drawn largely from Asian and marginally from European parental gene pools, such that FD3 will classify these individuals morphometrically into reference samples that reflect a range of European admixture, in quantities from small to large. Our results show the greatest classification into Asian reference groups (72.7%), followed by Hispanic (12.7%), Indigenous American (7.3%), African (4.5%), and European (2.7%) groups included in FD3. This general pattern did not change between males and females. Moreover, replacing the raw craniometric values with their shape variables did not significantly alter the trends already observed. These classification trends for Filipino crania provide useful information for casework interpretation in forensic laboratory practice. Our findings can help biological anthropologists to better understand the evolutionary, population historical, and statistical reasons for FD3-generated classifications. The results of our studyindicate that ancestry estimation in forensic anthropology would benefit from population-focused research that gives consideration to histories of colonialism and periods of admixture.
  13. ^ Jagor, Fëdor, et al. (1870). The Former Philippines thru Foreign Eyes
  14. ^ The economic background of Rizal’s time By Benito J. Legarda Jr (The Philippine Review of Economics Vol. XLVIII No. 2 December 2011 pp. 4)
  15. ^ Schurz, William Lytle. The Manila Galleon, 1939. P 193.
  16. ^ Hispanic Words of Indoamerican Origin in the Philippines Page 136-137