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A demonstration of arnis, the national sport of the Philippines
A demonstration of arnis, the national sport of the Philippines
Rural children playing basketball
Rural children playing basketball

Sports in the Philippines is an important part of the country's culture. There are six major sports in the Philippines: basketball, boxing, tennis, football, billiards, and volleyball. Despite being a tropical nation, ice skating has recently become a popular sport in the Philippines.[1][2] Sports such as athletics, weightlifting, aerobics, and martial arts are also popular recreations.

On July 27, 2009, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Republic Act No. 9850 into law, declaring Arnis as the Philippine National Martial Art and Sport.[3]


The governing agency for sports in the Philippines is the Philippine Sports Commission which was created in 1990[4] while the Games and Amusements Board is the government's regulatory body for professional sports in the country.[5]

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), a private entity is the sports body which represents the Philippines in international sports competition sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee including the Olympic Games. The POC was established in 1975, replacing the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation which was founded in 1911. The POC's membership also includes national sports associations (NSAs), organizations which governs a specific sport or discipline in the country. The Philippine Paralympic Committee is the POC's counterpart in disabled sports and is a member of the International Paralympic Committee.

There are also other alternative sporting bodies such as the Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines which claims to be the sole governing body for university sports in the country and participates in International University Sports Federation (FISU) sanctioned tournaments.

Summary by discipline

Traditional sports

Cockfighting in Iloilo
Cockfighting in Iloilo

The Philippines has numerous traditional sports that were popular before the colonial era and after the colonial era. Among these are archery, arnis, horse-riding, fling sports, wrestling sports, dart sports, track sports, and traditional martial arts.

With the sport of cockfighting being wildly popular in the Philippines, attracting large crowds who bet on the outcome of fights between the birds,[6] and the sport itself a popular form of fertility worship among almost all Southeast Asians.[7] Such sports activity as the sport of cockfighting, related to ritual forms of worship as practices and rituals of ancient worship intended for the blessings of the supernatural, as "in Indus Valley and other ancient civilizations, mother goddess had been invoked for fertility and prosperity"[8] which included that religious cockfight lay as a prime example of "cultural synthesis of 'little' and 'great' cultures"[9]

Individual sports


Main article: Boxing in the Philippines

The Philippines has produced one of the most number of boxing champions in the world such as Francisco Guilledo (Pancho Villa), Ceferino Garcia, Nonito Donaire (The Filipino Flash) and Manny Pacquiao (Pacman).[citation needed]

Boxing is among the most popular individual sports in the Philippines. Some Filipino boxers such as Manny Pacquiao, Gabriel Elorde and Pancho Villa are recognized internationally. The Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines is the governing body for amateur boxing in the country.

The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (formerly Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines) (ABAP) is the governing body of amateur boxing in the Philippines. The ABAP's current goal is for the country to win its first ever Olympic gold medal in boxing, to be recognized as one of the world's boxing powers as well as to improve the image of the Philippines abroad.

The country continually produces talented fighters, often in the junior featherweight division (122 pounds and below). The International Boxing Association sanctions amateur (Olympic-style) boxing matches which allows the national amateur boxing athletes of the Philippines to represent the country and compete in regional, continental and international matches and tournaments. The Philippines has currently two silver and three bronze Olympic medals.

Figure skating

Ice skating rinks used as venues for figure skating are limited to shopping malls in the country, particularly in the Metro Manila area. The first ice skating rink in the country was opened in 1992 at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong. The first Olympic sized ice skating rink was opened at the SM Mall of Asia. An ice skating rink also operates in SM Southmall. There are more figure skating coaches in the Philippines than ice hockey coaches and the first Filipino ice skating coaches were roller skaters. The Philippine Championship is a national competitive for ice skating in which the winner gets to represent the country in international competitions.[10] The Philippines has also managed to qualify and send a figure skater to the 2014 Winter Olympics becoming the first Southeast Asian country to do so at the Winter Olympics. The said figure skater was Michael Christian Martinez.[11]

Team sports

American football

American football is a relatively new sport to the Philippines. ArenaBall Philippines was the first league and lasted from 2009 to 2015. In 2016 the Philippine-American Football League was founded.

The Philippines also organizes a men's national team.

Famous Filipino players to have played in the National Football League in the United States include Eugene Amano, Tim Tebow, Roman Gabriel, Tedy Bruschi, Chris Gocong, Steve Slaton, Aaron Francisco, Jordan Dizon, and Doug Baldwin.

In the 2010s the Super Bowl has begun to be aired in the country on over the air television. The sport has gained some popularity in the Philippines.

Association football

Main article: Football in the Philippines

The Philippine Sports Stadium, the largest football stadium in the country
The Philippine Sports Stadium, the largest football stadium in the country

Football in the country dates back in the 1890s. The men's national team of the Philippines played their earlier matches prior to World War II against China and Japan at the Far Eastern Championship Games.They experience a decline after that period but has since recovered following their stint at the 2010 AFF Championship.The country also organizes a women's national team which has competed at the AFC Women's Asian Cup.

The Philippines Football League is the top flight football league in the country. Each club represents their respective cities or provinces and required to have a youth squad for the Youth League. It also helps to promote football awareness and grassroots program to the young Filipino footballers who admire to play professional football.

The Philippine Football Federation is the governing body for football in the country.


A 2019 Southeast Asian Games basketball game at the Mall of Asia Arena

Main article: Basketball in the Philippines

Basketball was introduced in the country during the American colonial era and is one of the sports contested at the now defunct Far Eastern Championship Games. The men's national team has competed in the Summer Olympics making their debut in 1936 although they have been absent in the recent editions of the Games.They have also competed in the FIBA World Cup with the country hosting the tournament when it was still known as the FIBA World Championships in 1978.Their third-place finish in the 1954 edition was their best performance in the tournament, they will host the 2023 edition with Japan and Indonesia.

The Philippine Basketball Association is the oldest league in Asia and is the top basketball league in the country. Other rival or smaller leagues in the country are organized. College basketball leagues and competitions such as the Philippine Collegiate Championship. Basketball matches of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines and the National Collegiate Athletic Association also receives attention.

The country also has a women's basketball team which has competed at the FIBA Asia Women's Championship, as well as men youth team's and 3x3 national teams.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (Basketball Federation of the Philippines) is the national sport association of basketball in the Philippines.

Rugby league

Rugby league was first played in the Philippines in 2012. The Philippines National Rugby League are the governing body and are responsible for the growth of rugby league in the Philippines. The sport was introduced to the Philippine Merchant Marine Academys by Australian expats.[12][13] Clubs have also been established by Papua New Guinean expats and students (where rugby league is their national sport).[14][15][16]

The national team are known as the Tamaraws and represents the country in international rugby league competition.

Rugby union

A rugby union match between the national teams of the Philippines vs Iran (A lineout)
A rugby union match between the national teams of the Philippines vs Iran (A lineout)

Main article: Rugby union in the Philippines

The Philippine Rugby Football Union was founded in 1998 and is the governing body of rugby union in the Philippines. There are currently around 12 schools playing rugby union in the Philippines and 10 teams that compete in regular competition. The national team is known as the Volcanoes and competes in the Asia Rugby Championship and the Asian Sevens Series.


Main article: Volleyball in the Philippines

A women's volleyball match in the Shakey's V-League. (now Premier Volleyball League)
A women's volleyball match in the Shakey's V-League. (now Premier Volleyball League)

The NSA affiliated with the sport is called the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas. Women's volleyball currently enjoys immense popularity[17] primarily due to its growing fan base in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines and the National Collegiate Athletic Association amateur tournaments.

Internationally, competitors are given the opportunity to represent the country in tournaments such as the Southeast Asian Games as well as the Olympics.

The sport has also seen the development of semi-professional leagues such as the Philippine Super Liga and the Premier Volleyball League.

Sports leagues

The following are the main domestic leagues (or de facto top-flight leagues) in the Philippines.

Olympics and Paralympics

Main articles: Philippines at the Olympics and Philippines at the Paralympics

The Philippines has participated in all editions of the Olympics except in 1980 when it joined the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics.[18][19] The country is also the first tropical nation to participate at the Winter Olympics, debuting at the 1972 edition and has participated in three other edition of the winter games.[20]

The Philippines has also participated in the Summer Paralympics although it has still to make its debut in the Winter Paralympics.

The country won its first Olympic gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics through weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.[21]

All time medal count

Event Appearances Gold Silver Bronze Total Rank
Summer Olympic Games 22 1 5 8 14 94th
Winter Olympic Games 5 0 0 0 0 -
Summer Paralympic Games 7 0 0 2 2 117th
Summer Youth Olympic Games 3 0 1 0 1 100th
Winter Youth Olympic Games 2 0 0 0 0 -
Summer Deaflympic Games 3 0 0 0 0 -
Summer Universiade 8 2 3 1 6 72nd
Winter Universiade Did not participate
Summer Special Olympics[22] - - - - -
Winter Special Olympics - - - - -
World Games 10 1 5 5 11 62
World Beach Games 1 0 0 0 0 -
World Combat Games 1 0 0 0 0 -
Military World Games Did not participate
IBSA World Games - - - - - -
INAS Global Games - - - - - -
Games of the New Emerging Forces* 1 0 0 0 0 -
Islamic Solidarity Games Did not participate
Women's Islamic Games Did not participate
Afro-Asian Games 1 1 4 10 15 15th
Asian Games 18 67 114 229 410 12th
Asian Winter Games 4 0 0 0 0
Asian Para Games 3 10 17 19 46 16th
FESPIC Games* - 3 8 11 22 -
Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games 3 3 14 16 33 -
Asian Indoor Games 3 3 6 10 19 -
Asian Martial Arts Games 1 2 6 10 18 12th
Asian Beach Games 5 5 10 32 47 22nd
Asia Pacific Deaf Games 0 0 0 1 1 22nd
Far Eastern Championship Games 11 79 53 51 183 1st
Asian Youth Games 2 2 4 1 7 14th
Asian Youth Para Games 2 1 1 6 8 -
FESPIC Youth Games 1 0 1 1 2 14th
Pan Arab Games Did not participate
Southeast Asian Games 22 1,067 1,194 1,477 3,737 4th
ASEAN Para Games 9 146 184 212 542 6th
ASEAN University Games* - 48 80 138 266 6th
ASEAN School Games 11 41 43 105 189 6th
Arafura Games* = = = = = =

Regional Hosting

Year Event Host City Nations Start Date End Date
1913 Far Eastern Championship Games Manila 6 1 February 9 February
1919 Far Eastern Championship Games Manila 3 12 May 16 May
1934 Far Eastern Championship Games Manila 3 17 May 22 May
1925 Far Eastern Championship Games Manila 4 16 May 20 May
1954 Asian Games Manila 18 1 May 9 May
1981 Southeast Asian Games Manila 7 5 December 15 December
1991 Southeast Asian Games Manila 9 24 November 3 December
2002 ASEAN University Games Manila 9 11 April 30 April
2005 Southeast Asian Games Manila 11 27 November 5 December
2005 ASEAN Para Games Manila 11 27 November 5 December
2014 ASEAN School Games Marikina 7 29 November 7 December
2019 Southeast Asian Games Philippines[23] 11 30 November 11 December
2019 ASEAN Para Games Philippines[24] 11 Cancelled
2021 ASEAN School Games Dumaguete City 7 Future Event

World and Continental Championship hosting

Year Event Host City Nations Start Date End Date Sport
1954 Asian Baseball Championship Manila 4 18 December 26 December Baseball
1955 Asian Baseball Championship Manila 4 - - Baseball
1957 Asian Table Tennis Championships Manila - - - Table Tennis
1960 ABC Championship Manila 7 16 January 18 January Basketball
1963 Asian Table Tennis Championships Manila - - - Table Tennis
1965 Asian Baseball Championship Manila 4 - - Baseball
1965 Asian Cycling Championships Manila - - - Cycling
1966 Asian Judo Championships Manila - 28 May 29 May Judo
1969 Asian Badminton Championships Manila - 3 February 15 February Badminton
1970 Asian Amateur Boxing Championships Manila - - - Boxing
1971 Asian Weightlifting Championships Manila - 9 October 11 October Weightlifting
1973 Asian Baseball Championship Manila 5 - - Baseball
1973 Asian Athletics Championships Marikina 14 18 November 23 November Athletics
1973 ABC Championship Manila 12 1 December 15 December Basketball
1977 Asian Cycling Championships Manila - - - Cycling
1978 FIBA World Championship Manila & Quezon City 14 1 October 14 October Basketball
1983 Asian Cycling Championships Manila - - - Cycling
1984 Asian Taekwondo Championships Manila - 9 November 11 November Taekwondo
1991 Asian Archery Championships Manila 14 - - Archery
1993 Asian Athletics Championships Manila 18 30 November 4 December Athletics
1994 Asian Taekwondo Championships Manila - 28 January 30 January Taekwondo
1995 Asian Cycling Championships Quezon City - 23 April 3 May Cycling
1995 Asian Senior Karate Championships Manila - 18 September 24 September Karate
1997 Asian Women's Volleyball Championship Manila 9 21 September 28 September Volleyball
1997 Asian Judo Championships Manila - 22 November 23 November Judo
2001 Asian Badminton Championships Manila - 21 August 26 August Badminton
2003 Asian Athletics Championships Manila 18 20 September 23 September Athletics
2004 Asian Amateur Boxing Championships Puerto Princesa - 11 January 18 January Boxing
2009 Asian Men's Volleyball Championship Manila 18 27 September 5 October Volleyball
2013 FIBA Asia Cup Manila 15 1 August 11 August Basketball
2016 Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy Manila - - - Figure Skating
2016 Asian Taekwondo Championships Pasay City - 18 April 20 April Taekwondo
2017 Asian Women's Volleyball Championship Binan & Muntinlupa 14 9 August 17 August Volleyball
2021 Asian Women's Volleyball Championships Pampanga 8 15 May 22 May Volleyball
2021 Asian Swimming Championships Tarlac 18 7 November 17 November Aquatics
2023 FIBA World Cup Bocaue , Pasay City & Quezon City 32 25 August 10 September Basketball

Domestic multi-sport competitions

The Philippine government organizes the Palarong Pambansa, the national games for student-athletes in the country which often serves as a route for Filipinos to be scouted to national teams of their respective sports.[25]

Other domestic games include the Philippine National Games and the Batang Pinoy.

Corruption and mismanagement

Graft and corruption are major issues in the Philippine sports industry. Graham Lim, a former secretary general of the Basketball Association of the Philippines, a former POC-recognized national federation for basketball, said in a The Manila Times article that politics and monopoly in Philippine sports started when the present leaders, including Peping Cojuangco, the current Philippine Olympic Committee president and his golfer-friend Richie Garcia, the chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission, took over the control of the sporting sector in 2005 that made Philippine athletes to suffer decline and deterioration on their high-caliber quality due to corruption and politicking.[26] In 2009, Lim was arrested[27] and later declared an "undesirable alien" by the Department of Justice due to countless deportation cases, in connection with his questionable citizenship, said that the deportation order is issued because the pressure pushed by his arch-rivals Manny V. Pangilinan, the head of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the later-recognized NSA for basketball and Cojuangco.[citation needed]

Lim also exposed a top government official, through a deputy has asked 6 million pesos to settle the case, also he claims that several NSAs (National Sports Associations) are headed by some people who have "toe the line" to Cojuangco and anyone who do not follow his orders would be dismissed "by hook or by crook".[26] An NSA also questioned the appointment of Cojuangco's daughter Mikee as the representative of the Philippines in the International Olympic Committee without any caution. Former Senator Nikki Coseteng also noted that the suffrage of the athletes was emerged due to lack of foreign exposures and depleted training program as a result on sports bodies' insufficient budget and incompetent sports officials.[28]

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, the former Table Tennis Association of the Philippines president filed a graft and corruption case against Cojuangco and Garcia in 2012 due to issuance of checks and releasing of funds of PSC to the group of Ting Ledesma who have claimed as TATAP officials despite a court case filed by Manila Regional Title Court on the legitimacy of TATAP officials.[29]

A column by Jarius Bondoc in the Philippine Star dated March 2, 2016, reported that more than 1 billion pesos of earnings from casinos that supposed to fund the sports development program of the PSC by the First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corporation, have been diverted into the account of former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima from 2012 to 2015.[30]

In March 2015, Edgardo Cantada, brother of prominent broadcaster Joe Cantada and president of the now-unrecognized by the POC, Philippine Volleyball Federation, also questioned Cojuangco on the removal of the body into the local olympic commission, and replaced by another formed NSA by Cojuangco, Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas. Cantada pointed three reasons that POC is under dictatorship: worsening campaign for the national teams in international tourneys, including the Southeast Asian Games, NSAs in turmoil against POC are involved and the negligence and corruption issues between Cojuangco's favorite national sports associations.[31]

See also



  1. ^ "Metro Manila · Basketball – the Philippines' most popular sport". Archived from the original on February 23, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  2. ^ Tarra Quismundo (August 12, 2007), RP skaters vow to soar in Skate Asia 2007, Philippine Daily Inquirer, retrieved August 31, 2008[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Republic Act No. 9850, Chan Robles Law Library.
  4. ^ "PSC Profile". Philippine Sports Commission. June 22, 2017. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  5. ^ "Games and Amusements Board". Games and Amusements Board. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  6. ^ Bomb hits Philippines cock-fight – BBC – April 14, 2012
  7. ^ "Using Spirit Worship to Infuse Southeast Asia into the K-16 Classroom". Tun Institute of Learning. January 15, 2005. Archived from the original on December 3, 2012.
  8. ^ A Panorama of Indian Culture: Professor A. Sreedhara Menon Felicitation Volume – K. K. Kusuman – Mittal Publications, 1990 – p.130"[1]"
  9. ^ A Panorama of Indian Culture: Professor A. Sreedhara Menon Felicitation Volume – K. K. Kusuman – Mittal Publications, 1990 – p.127-128"[2]"
  10. ^ Aquino, Tricia (February 17, 2014). "ICE RINKS IN THE PHILIPPINES? | Before Michael Christian Martinez, SM's Henry Sy had one crazy dream". Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  11. ^ "Manila on ice: YOG athlete Michael Christian Martinez creates history for the Philippines". Youth Olympic Games News. February 15, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  13. ^ "2014 Rugby League 4 Nations: To be, or not to be? – 2014 Four Nations – Rugby League Tri / Four Nations News".
  14. ^ "PNG coached Manila league team set for first match – Loop PNG". October 18, 2015.
  15. ^[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "All eyes on Westpac for Rugby League Four Nations final – 2014 Four Nations – Rugby League Tri / Four Nations News".
  17. ^ Ochosa, Mike (October 21, 2015). "The future is bright for Philippine women's volleyball". Rappler. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  18. ^ Grasso, John; Mallon, Bill; Heijmans, Jeroen (2015). Historical Dictionary of the Olympic Movement. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 473. ISBN 978-1-4422-4860-1. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  19. ^ United States Department of State Bureau of African Affairs (1980). AF Press Clips. p. 24. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  20. ^ "The Games of the VIII Olympiad: Official Report (part 1, page 91)" (PDF). (in French). French Olympic Committee. July 28, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 5, 2011. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  21. ^ "Olympics latest: Hidilyn Diaz wins Philippines' first-ever gold medal". Nikkei Asia. July 23, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  22. ^ "Special Olympics Indonesia". Special Olympics Indonesia. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  23. ^ The 2019 Southeast Asian Games is the first officially decentralized games. While games were held in various cities, mostly in the Clark, Metro Manila and the Subic Bay areas, there is no designated host city for this edition alternately known as "Philippines 2019".
  24. ^ The 2019 Southeast Asian Games is the first officially decentralized games. While games were held in various cities, mostly in the Clark, Metro Manila and the Subic Bay areas, there is no designated host city for this edition alternately known as "Philippines 2019".
  25. ^ Lozada, David (May 2, 2012). "Palarong Pambansa and why it matters". Rappler. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  26. ^ a b Sy Egco, Joel M. (March 6, 2016). "Corruption persists in Philippine sports". The Manila Times. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  27. ^ Araneta, Sandy (December 12, 2009). "BAP's Lim nabbed, faces deportation charge". The Philippine Star. ABS-CBN News. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  28. ^ "Philippine sports is a mess – Coseteng". The Manila Times. July 13, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  29. ^ "Corruption raps filed against PSC, POC". Antonio Trillanes IV. Archived from the original on March 8, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  30. ^ Bondoc, Jarius (March 2, 2016). "'Purisima' collected P1 B from casino – but for whom?". The Philippine Star. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  31. ^ "PVF to POC: Respect NSA autonomy". The Philippine Star. March 7, 2015. Retrieved March 6, 2016.