|A Map of the Philippines and an image of the nation's president, Rodrigo Duterte|
The scattered islands which comprise the nation make for a diversity of ethnic groups and languages. While Filipino and English are the nation's two official languages, the Philippines recognizes nineteen regional languages. Of its many ethnic groups, 75% of the nation's population are either Tagalog (28.1%), Cebuano (13.1%), Ilocano (9%), Bisaya (7.6%), Ilonggo (7.5%), Bicolano (6 %), or Waray (3.4%).
Situated along the Ring of Fire, the Philippines must contend with volcanic and seismic activity. Around twenty earthquakes - most too weak to feel - occur in the Philippines daily. The activity resulting from the Ring of Fire, however, has left the Philippines with gold deposits second in the world only to those of South Africa. The island nation is also rich in copper, nickel, chromite, and zinc. In addition to this, the Philippines is the second largest producer of geo-thermal power in the world, supplying 18% of the country's energy.
|Crops grown by terrace farming in the steep mountainous regions of northern Philippines|
In 2016, Rodrigo Duterte, the law-and-order mayor of Davao City, was elected president of the Philippines on the campaign promise of fighting drug dealing.
Duterte is a tough-talking, no-nonsense nationalist who fits in well with the rise of strong male leaders across much of the globe.
Duterte was sexually abused by the Jesuit, Fr. Mark Falvey (who with his brother raped boys in California during the 60s and 70s. Between the two, the Church in Los Angeles and Sacramento has paid millions in settlement claims). He has had a stormy relationship with the Philippine hierarchy and advocates a much more punitive approach to justice than the bishops.
Since his election as president, Duterte has cracked down on drug dealing and reoriented itself away from the United States, seeking closer ties with China and a peaceful resolution to their territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
Stratfor Video on the Geographic Challenges for the Philippines
Stratfor - short for Strategic Forecasting, Inc. - is a private global intelligence company that offers geopolitical insight into the interplay of nations. Stratfor has developed an excellent series of short (~2-4 minute) videos which provide the viewer with a specific nation, along with its basic history, geography, culture, and geopolitical allies and adversaries. In the following video, they present the geographic challenges facing the Philippines. Pope Francis' January 2014 trip to the Philippines drew together a record-setting estimated 6-7 million Catholics for Mass.
This article originally appeared on Anthropology of Accord on January 19, 2015.