Natives of the Philippines islands are called Filipinos. There are about 104 million Filipinos living in the Philippines and about 11 million Filipinos living outside of the Philippines. There are around 180 languages spoken by Filipinos.


The Location


The Population


The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

  • Typical rural homes, made of bamboo and lumber from coconut trees, provide little protection from the severe weather that the Philippines experiences. Philippines woman and children outside of home
  • When designing the curriculum, Compassion staff consulted church partner staff and the assisted children to specifically meet the needs of children in poverty. Philippines young children in classroom
  • Children in rural areas often are malnourished. That’s why a primary component of the Compassion program is to provide them nutritious meals and snacks. Philippines girls with cups
  • Compassion-assisted children receive regular dental checkups. This dentist is a volunteer who serves four child development centers in the Philippines. Philippines boy getting dental exam
  • At the end of each day’s activities at their Compassion center, children are led in prayer by a staff member. Their spiritual nurture also includes Bible stories and life application lessons. Philippines children praying
  • Rural communities often lie in the shadow of volcanoes. There are 25 active volcanoes throughout the Philippine islands. Philippines people on road with umbrellas

Overview: Rural Philippines

For people living in rural parts of the Philippines, life is a constant battle against the unknown. Will there be enough rain for crops this year? Or will the river overflow its banks, destroying homes and farmland? Even if they knew the answers, these desperately poor people would still have no way to prepare for the outcomes.

The largest rural area in the Philippines is Negros Occidental, one of the five provinces in Western Visayas, or Region VI. It lies near the central part of the Philippines, with Bacolod City as its capital. It is composed of 19 municipalities, 13 cities, and about 700 barangays, or villages – mostly rural. It is the fourth most populous province in the country, with nearly 2.4 million residents.

The agricultural lifestyle practiced here is highly unpredictable. During the dry seasons, there are few ways to make a living, and malnourishment rises during these long months. The rainy season brings relief, but it is often short-lived, as low-lying fields flood and a year’s wages are washed away in the mud.

Children here have little access to medical care, and even if a parent can get a child into the city, there is often no money to pay the doctor. Many children die from easily preventable and treatable diseases, including infections, colds and diarrhea.


Culture Corner

philippines rural culture

PLAY THE GAME Iring-Iring with your children.

  1. After the person who is it is determined, he or she goes around the circle and drops a handkerchief behind one of the players in the circle.
  2. If this player notices the handkerchief, he or she has to pick up the handkerchief and go after the it around the circle.
  3. The it has to reach the vacant spot left by the player before the it is tagged; otherwise, the it has to take the handkerchief and repeat the process all over again.

Life in Rural Philippines

Rural communities in the Philippines can be found in the mountains, along the coastal lowlands, or on wide, countryside plains. Poverty is common among rural families, who typically make a meager living from agriculture. To help their families earn a little more income, children often drop out of school to work in the fields.

Rural communities often lack of adequate medical care, and children commonly suffer from easily preventable, treatable illnesses.

Throughout the Philippines, the weather is hot and humid year-round. The rainy season is June through November, when life-threatening typhoons can occur.

Children at Home

Typical houses in rural Philippines are small, fragile structures constructed with bamboo floors, wooden walls, and a thatched roof. Most families have little access to sanitary water, and electricity is sporadic. Their homes are prone to flooding, and the materials used provide little protection against rain or extreme temperatures. During the winter months, families catch colds from sleeping on the floor — colds that often turn into life-threatening respiratory infections and bronchitis.


Community Issues and Concerns philipines rural community

Rural Philippines is primarily agricultural, with sugar as its main product. Most villages average a 9 percent unemployment rate, but even for farmers, who technically are unemployed, there is little steady income.

Because of poverty, many children drop out of school to work in sugarcane plantations. Here, they are exploited and forced to work long hours for meager pay.

Local Needs and Challenges

Children in rural Philippines are vulnerable to illness because few medical facilities are available. Even when facilities are accessible, their parents are too poor to seek help. Extreme poverty also means that child labor is an issue.

Each year, devastating typhoons destroy the homes and livelihoods of rural families. In December 2011, for example, a typhoon took the lives of thousands of Filipinos. Compassion’s Disaster Relief Fund is frequently used to help Philippine families victimized by such natural disasters.


Schools and Education philippines rural education

The school year in Negros Occidental generally runs from June through March. Children attend classes in one of the more than 1,500 schools in the province. Six years are required for elementary school and another four years are necessary to graduate from high school. Like typical public schools in the country, elementary and secondary education is free, but most Compassion-assisted children need support for school uniforms, textbooks and transportation expenses.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Rural Compassion Philippines child development centers teach children that they are valued — beyond their abilities in their family’s fields. While many children in rural villages leave school to help harvest crops, Compassion sponsors ease some of this pressure by providing school and medical fees, and ensuring that parents will have no obstacles to their children’s education.


Working Through the Local Church

Compassion’s ministry in the Philippines, as in every country where we work, is based in the local church. It is an ideal partnership because evangelical churches are springing up throughout the country. Also, because Filipinos have lost confidence in other institutions, including the government, they are embracing the church as a source of humanitarian help and hope.

Several of our church partners have noticed that even when people are suspicious of their motives in helping children, it takes only a few weeks for families to realize the sincerity of the church and gladly send their children to be registered in the program. Often entire families begin attending the church services and eventually become members.

How Compassion Works in Philippines philippines rural compassion in philippines

Compassion's work in the Philippines began in 1972. Currently, more than 66,400 children participate in 339 child development centers.

Compassion partners with churches to help them provide Philippine children with a program of long-term child development that addresses their physical, social/emotional, educational and spiritual needs. This program gives impoverished children the opportunities they need to rise above their circumstances and become all God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

In the Philippines, Partnership Facilitators are important liaisons between Compassion and the country’s partner churches. Facilitators are like missionaries, sent out to minister to the churches, equipping them for successful partnership.

One of Compassion Philippines’ 29 Partnership Facilitators, Salustiano Leosala, currently serves 11 church partners in the Camarines Sur region. To visit these churches, Salustiano must travel six hours by bus to the region’s main city, Naga, then travel by jeepney – a smaller bus – another few hours to reach them. But it is well worth the effort, he emphasizes.

“My role is to facilitate,” Salustiano says. He believes his main task is “to train the church partners so that they are more prepared in the ministry for the Lord.”


Prayer Requests

  • Children who are graduating from high school. Only a few go on to college in the city (Bacolod or Dumaguette), while those who are left behind usually end up becoming unemployed, young parents. There are very few professional or career opportunities in the area.
  • Physical, emotional and spiritual strength of child development center staff as they faithfully minister to the children and their families.
  • Preservation of natural resources, which directly affects the jobs of many of our children’s families.
  • The health of the children in this region, especially our youngest, most vulnerable little ones. Rural Philippines has a much higher incidence of child mortality than the urban region.