BACKGROUND: The Philippines was a Spanish colony for 400 years, largely adopting the Catholicism of its Spanish colonizers. Most Filipinos are poor. In the Muslim-majority southern island region of Mindanao, where VOM works, there is a long-running conflict between Muslim groups and the government over the Muslims’ desire to form an independent Islamic state. Some areas and even entire islands in this region are extremely dangerous for non-Muslims.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: The Philippines is a majority Catholic Christian country. Many Muslims, Christians and animists live on Mindanao and surrounding islands, with Protestant churches scattered throughout the region.
PERSECUTOR: In the Mindanao region, Christians are targeted by both Muslim and communist rebels.