George Coedes (1886-1969) French scholar of Southeast Asian Archaeology and History referred to India’s influence on Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam as the ‘indianisation’ of these countries. In this article I am focusing on the Philippines.

The Philippines got its name from the prince of Austria who later became Prince Philip of Spain. The name was given by the Spanish explorer Jocano Lopez De Villalobos in 1544.

For at least 2 millennia before the arrival of the Spanish, the Philippines was ruled by Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms.  Between the 9th to 14th centuries the Javanese  Buddhist King Sri Vijaya also known as Rajanathe Vijaya ruled the country  followed by the Hindu Majapahit kingdom. The influence of the empire of SriVijaya spread up to Madagascar around 1,200 years ago. DNA study of Malagasy people trace their origins to 30 founding mothers who sailed from Indonesia! The Malagas language has many Sanskrit origin words.

In around 1400 Sri Lumay founded the kingdom of Cebu and its surrounding 167 islands and islets. He was half Malay and half Tamil and a prince of the famous Tamil Chola dynasty.  The kingdom later passed on to Sri Humabon.  Cebu is in the central region of the Philippines around 560 kilometers from the present capital Manila.

Butuan, which is in Mindanao island, southern Philippines was a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom from 1091. It was known for its gold mines.  The Spanish observed that gold the size of a walnut or an egg could be found by digging in the sand.  The first king was Sri Bata Shaja.  Amongst  the other kings who followed was king Siagu.  The last Hindu king Tupas was defeated by the Portuguese in 1565 and he converted to Christianity.  Hindu kings Humabon and Silongan also converted to Christianity. The Spanish ruled the Philippines till 1898.  They destroyed statues of Hindu gods and embarked on a mission to Christianise the Philippines.

In 1971 a statue of a Hindu goddess was found in Mindanao Island. Known as Golden Tara it is 1.79 kg, 21 carat gold statue dated between 13 and 14th Century. In the Tabon caves of the island of Palawa there is a Garuda statue.  Garuda is the eagle bird carrier of Lord Vishnu.  A copper statue of Lord Ganesh and a bronze alloy statue of Lord Shiva was found in Mactan Island, which is part of Cebu province.

Maharadia Lawana is a Maranao epic.  The Maranao are the indigenous people living in the Lanao province of the island of Minadano .  It is a predominantly Muslim area. Also known as Lake people, they have a dance form called Singkil.  The dance form is based on the epic of Darangen, which is an interpretation of the Ramayan. Mount Banahaw, the highest mountain in the Philippines, is considered sacred by Filipino people.  Annual pilgrimages are made to the sacred mountain by the majority Christian population of the country. This tradition is taken from the Hindu belief of worshiping mountains.

Pedro Chirino, a Spanish priest and historian noted that many Filipino customs were of Indian origin, such as the mode of greeting, offering prayers before major construction work and devotional area in the home.  Francisco de Sande, the third Spanish Governor and captain in general of the Philippines in 1577, referred to the country as Indian.  He said, ‘The Indians of this country are not simple or foolish. Nor are they frightened by anything whatsoever. They can only be dealt with guns or gifts of gold and silver’.

In 1989 what is known as the Laguna Copperplate Inscription was found near the river Lumbang.  It is the earliest written document found in the Philippines, dated around the 9th Century.  The inscription has many Sanskrit as well as old Javanese and Malay words.  According to Indologist Juan Francis the inscription confirms links between the Tagales people of Philippines and the SriVijaya empire and the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms of India.

According to Filipino anthropologist Felipe Landa Jocano, Indian influence on Philippine society is seen in the syllabic writing.  There are 336 words of Sanskrit origin, 150 of them are identified as the origins of some major Philippine terms.  Baybayin ancient script of the Philippines has its origins in the Indian Brahmi script. It has evolved into the modern Kulitan script of the Kapampangan and Iblan script of the Palawan tribe.

Tagalog, the first national language was renamed as Filipino. It has many Sanskrit origin words.  Some of them:







One who suffers





















Divine Law












South (also a Surname)



Admiral (also a Surname)














The present.

Past president Ferdinand Marcos and the present president Rodrigo Duterte proposed that the name of the country should be changed to the Republic of Maharlika.  It is a Sanskrit word, ‘Mahardhika’, meaning man of wealth, knowledge and ability.  During the brief British occupation of the Philippines between 1762 and 1764 there was a mutiny by the Indian soldiers of the British army. Many stayed on in the Philippines.

Over a million Filipinos are of full or partial Indian descent as of 2020.


Famous Filipino’s of Indian descent:

Rabia Occena Mateo – Miss Universe Philippines 2020.

Ramon Bagatsing – longest serving mayor of Manila from 1971 to 1986.  Ramon’s father was a Sikh.  His name was Mataram Singh. He was inspired by the Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh and opened a chapter of the revolutionary Ghadar party in Manila. He later changed his name to Amado Bhagat Singh. Ramon was a war hero who fought for the Americans in the Second World War.

Juan Cailles – army commander who served during the Philippines revolution and Philippine-American war.

Nitin Mehta

20th Jan.2020

This article follows:

The Great Celtic-India Connection 

The Great Maya-India Connection 

The Great Greek-India Connection, 

The Great Russia-India Connection  

The Great German-India Connection

The Great Japan-India Connection. 

The Great Ancient Egypt-India Connection.

The Great Slavic-India Connection

The Great Macedonia-India Connection

The Great Indonesia-India  Connection





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