This email probably should have happened 2 weeks ago, but that’s not how the Philippines does it.

May 3rd was Eid’l Fitr or the end of Ramadan. It was a regular holiday in the Philippines (full day off for almost everyone).  But they didn’t announce it was a day off until two days before.  I try to keep you updated on holidays, but I need to schedule my newsletter ahead of time. Monday I’ll let you know why.

Eid’l Fitr is one of the holidays celebrated in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao. If you have a Muslim OFS, this is like Christmas for them. They feast, party, and give gifts.

You’re probably wondering why the Philippines, a predominantly Christian country, celebrate an Islamic holiday.

Islam is the 2nd biggest religion in the Philippines. Around 5% of the population is Muslim, most residing in Mindanao.,of%20Population%20(2015%20POPCEN).

If you go to Mindanao, you’ll see mosques, madrasas, and restaurants catering to the Muslim community all over the place.

Why is the Muslim population concentrated in Mindanao?

Historically, Islam flourished in Mindanao because the Spaniards couldn’t establish a strong foothold on that island. Spain was able to take over Luzon and Visayas; that’s why most Filipinos converted to Christianity. Mindanao was harder to conquer due to its mountain ranges, thick forests, and strong resistance by the indigenous Muslim communities.

Also, if you look at the map of the Philippines, you’ll see that Mindanao is close to Brunei and Indonesia, which are predominantly Muslim. Throughout history, these places have traded with each other, which allowed Islam to thrive.

This relationship continues until today. There’s a group called BIMP-EAGA, which stands for Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asian Group Area. This group was established to spur economic growth in that area.

One of the things I love about OFS is their willingness and ability to contribute.
I had no idea about the Eid’l Fitr holiday until my OFS told me. Then they wrote this email about it.

They want me (and you) to understand the culture.