Americans in the Philippines

American settlement in the Philippines
Jaya Ramsey • Marcio Lassiter
Total population
300,500 (2012)[1]
Regions with significant populations
BaguioSan FernandoTuguegaraoCalamba
San Fernando, PampangaCalapanLegazpiIloilo
CebuTaclobanPagadianCagayan de OroDavao
FilipinoAmerican English
Protestantism · Roman Catholicism · Buddhism · Atheism
Related ethnic groups
African American

American settlement in the Philippines (or American Filipino) began during the Spanish period, when Americans came to the islands primarily to conduct business. They owned many businesses in trade and in the sugar industry. Although not harassed by Spanish laws, the American inflow to the Philippines was minimal until the Philippine-American War. Following the colonization of the islands by the United States of America, thousands of Americans have settled, either temporarily or permanently. Most were either members of the U.S. military, or missionaries sent by North American mission groups.

After independence in 1946, many Americans chose to remain in the Philippines while maintaining relations with relatives in the United States. During the post-independence period, most Americans who settled in the Philippines were largely professionals, although missionaries still continue to settle in the country. Today, the Philippines has the largest American population in Asia, and is the seventh-largest American community in the world.[2] In 2012, the U.S. State Department estimated that there were over 300,000 U.S. citizens living in the Philippines.[3]

Commencement of major American immigration to the Philippines

American colonial rule in the Philippines saw an increase in immigration to the Philippines. Retiring soldiers and other military-men were among the first Americans to become long-term Philippine residents and settlers. The Education Act of 1901 authorized the colonial government to recruit American teachers to help establish the new educational system, and 80 former soldiers became teachers. They were soon joined by 48 teachers recruited in America who arrived in June 1901 on the ship Sheridan, and by 523 others who arrived on August 1, 1901 on the Thomas. Collectively, these teachers became known as the Thomasites.[4] Besides English, the Thomasites taught agriculture, reading, grammar, geography, mathematics, general courses, trade courses, housekeeping and household arts (sewing, crocheting and cooking), manual trading, mechanical drawing, freehand drawing and athletics (baseball, track and field, tennis, indoor baseball and basketball). Many of these people settled in the Philippines and had Philippine spouses. By 1930, there were already thriving American and Filipino mestizo communities.

American settlement following Independence

The 1940s was a period of large-scale American immigration to the Philippines. However, this ended was abruptly by the World War II. Many Americans, as well as American mestizos in the Philippines, were interred and killed by the Japanese. After the Philippines gained independence from the United States in 1946, many Americans chose to permanently settle in the Philippines. The Americans, until the mid-1990s, had a heavy presence in the cities of Angeles and Olongapo, northeast of Manila, due to the presence of large US military bases there. During the American colonial period (1898–1946), a recorded number of more than 800,000 Americans were born in the Philippines. Large concentrations of Filipinos with American ancestry aside from Metro Manila are located in the areas of the former US bases such as the Subic Bay area in Zambales and Clark Field in Angeles.

Currently, American citizens living in the Philippine can be broken up into four groups:

  • Citizens born in the Philippines who have lived all their lives in the Philippines
  • People born in the Philippines who immigrated to the U.S., acquired citizenship and have returned to the Philippines, often to retire (known as Filipino Americans or Fil-Ams)
  • Citizens temporarily living in the Philippines often due to their or their spouse's work
  • Non-Filipino-Americans who retire to the Philippines who are often married to Filipinos or Filipino-Americans


Main article: Amerasian

As the Philippines lies in Southeast Asia, the offspring of a Filipino and an American is termed an Amerasian.

The number of American mestizos is thought to be between 20,000 and 30,000. Most speak English, Tagalog and/or other Philippine languages. The majority are to be found in Angeles City, which has the largest proportion of Amerasians in the Philippines.[5]

The majority of black people in the Philippines who are sometimes classified as African-Filipinos or Afro-Filipino as an umbrella term are of part-African American descent, mostly descending from United States army servicemen. (Unlike in the United States, there are no official race classifications in the Philippines.)

The Philippine Children's Fund of America, based in Angeles City, was created by the US and Philippine governments in 1991 to assist impoverished Filipino children of American ancestry, also known as Amerasians, by providing educational scholarships, employment and working visas to the United States. Around 56,000 children under the age of 16 benefit from the fund today.

An academic research paper presented in the U.S. (in 2012) by an Angeles, Pampanga, Philippines Amerasian college research study unit suggests that the number of military origin, biracial Filipino Amerasians probably lie between 200,000 and 250,000, and possibly substantially more. The paper, (co-authored by Pete C. Kutschera, Ph.D., visiting professor and director of the Philippine Amerasian Research Center at Systems Plus College Foundation) maintained that the number of FilipinoAmerasians, the progeny of U.S. servicemen, private corporate contractor and government employees stationed over the years in the Philippines, is so significant that mixed-heritage Anglo, African and Latino Amerasians qualify as a genuine human diaspora. It amplified on an earlier theme Dr. Kutschera surfaced in his 2010 doctorate dissertation which focused on stigmatization, discrimination and psychosocial risk and mental disorder among a sample of African and Anglo Amerasians residing in Angeles, site of the Clark Air Force Base. The author asserts that the Angeles-Manila-Olongapo Triangle (AMO) is believed to contain the highest concentration of biracial Anglo, African and Latino Amerasians on the globe.[6][7]


Today, the Philippines has a large population of Americans and people with American roots, as well as a burgeoning Amerasian population.[5]

The total number of US citizens living in the Philippines is more than 300,000.[3]

Prominent descendants of American settlers

For a list of prominent or noteworthy descendants of American settlers, see Category:Filipino people of American descent.

See also


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