Zamboanga del Sur Religion, Ethnic Groups, and Languages

Filed under Province

Zamboanga del Sur is a province that is shaped by the migration patterns of different groups of people, making Zamboanga a province of total ethnic diversity. The Subanon or Subanen people are the longest established ethnic group to have settled in Zamboanga, long before the province itself came into being. The Muslims followed suit, who are then followed by other ethnic groups, notably, the Visayans. The development of the place into the province it is now was then accelerated by the migration and arrival of other ethnic groups. These were the Chavacanos, the Muslims from other provinces, and the Tagalogs. Most of these ethnic groups brought with them their own set of traditions and culture, including their dialects. In 1995, the official census attempted to classify the population of Zamboanga del Sur based on their mother tongues. From the results, the ethnic groups in the province came down to Cebuanos, which made up 77.6%, Subanens which are about 9.01%, Muslims which are 6.6%, Chavacanos which comprise 1.33%, Ilocanos which make up 1.02%, and Tagalogs which are .32%. The Chinese are also represented, making .03%, while the rest make up 4.05%.

With such diverse groups of people congregating in one place, it is not unusual that religion and religious practices are also diverse and varied. Religion has always been an important facet of the lives of Filipinos, especially for those living in the province. In Zamboanga del Sur, Roman Catholicism is overwhelmingly predominant, especially among the Chavacanos, Visayans, and Luzon-oriented ethnic groups; essentially, Roman Catholics make up almost two-thirds of the population. This is not surprising, as the Philippines is considered the only predominantly Christian country in Southeast Asia. Next to the Roman Catholics, the evangelical groups come next, then the Muslims. It should be noted though that other Christian groups have also taken some ground in the province, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Iglesia ni Kristo.

The most commonly spoken language in Zamboanga del Sur is Cebuano or Visayan — not surprising considering they make more than a third of the population. Chavacano is also used, and is most commonly associated as Zamboanga’s native dialect. The rest of the population speak Tagalog, Subanen, Ilonggo, Ilocano, Boholano, and Maguindanaon.


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