Location: Southeastern Asia, archipelago between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, and east of Vietnam. Area: 300,000 square kilometers. Terrain: Mostly mountains with narrow to extensive coastal lowlands. Highest point: Mount Apo (9,692 feet/2954 meters).
Population: 97,976,603. There are 190 people groups in the Philippines; 21 are counted among the “least reached” people groups of the world.Life expectancy: 71.09 years.
Largest people groups: Tagalog (28.1 percent), Cebuano (13.1), Ilocano (9), Bisaya/Binisaya (7.6), Hiligaynon Ilonggo (7.5), Bikol (6), Waray (3.4), other (25.3).
Religion: Catholic 80.9 percent; Muslim 5 percent; Evangelical 2.8 percent. There has been decades of Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines.
Languages: Filipino (official national language, based on Tagalog) and English (official language) with eight major dialects (Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiigaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinan).
Economy: More than one-third of the labor force works in agriculture, growing sugarcane, coconuts, rice, corn, bananas, cassavas, pineapples, and mangoes. About 15 percent works in industries such as electronics assembly, garments, footwear, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food processing, petroleum refining, and fishing. Average annual income: $3,300.
Politics: The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; they were ceded to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935, the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. But in 1942 the islands fell under Japanese occupation during World War II, and U.S. forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control. On July 4, 1946 the Republic of the Philippines attained independence
Climbing: Hiking is possible on nearly every island and “most famously on Luzon, where a trek through the awesome rice terraces around Banaue and Batad is a highlight of any trip to the country,” according to the Lonely Planet guide. There are areas where rock climbing and rappelling skills are put to use. The most notable mountains suitable for climbing are Pulog, Mayon, Halcon, Apo, and Banahaw. Volcano climbing is also a popular pastime. According to the official list, there are 37 volcanoes (18 are active and 19 are dormant).
People: Kankanaey. Location: They live in the upland areas of the Benguet province on the northern island of Luzon. Population: 221,000.
Ethnic tree: Malay Peoples. People cluster: Filipino, Tribal.
Religion: Ethnic religions. About 15 percent of the population is Christian.
Customs: Because of many years of missionary presence in the areas, the people have been Christianized. Although many profess faith in Christ, most still engage in pagan practices as displayed in rituals during weddings, rites of passage, planting and harvesting, and medicine. The dead are buried in hanging coffins, which are placed in cliff sides and situated facing the East so the sun will shine on the end of the coffin where the head is located. It is believed that this encourages the dead family member to bless those left behind.
Economy: A hardworking people in the field of agriculture. They build rice terraces that are renowned for their beauty and productivity. This is a significant source of their food. The staple of their diets consists of camote, rice, potatoes, and other root crops (such as tugi and gabi). Most of their income is yielded through agriculture. In the village (or barangay) of Tacadang, where Climbing For Christ has been ministering since July 2008, the average annual income is less than US$1,200. The average size of a family there is seven members.
Overview: The Kankanaey are open to the Gospel, but other religious groups or cults have abused this openness and reached people in the area. Christian testimony is needed so unbelievers can be taught the difference between the Truth of Jesus and the deceptions of cults. Church building and support also are needed. Because of the geographic location (in the mountains in the north) and the minority status of the people group, the amount of government assistance and development available is limited. The people in remote areas of the mountains are very poor and have none of the luxuries of society (i.e. electricity, running water, sanitation, etc.). Meeting physical needs is an open door to addressing spiritual needs.