Introduction: South-East Asia
South-East Asia is a sub region of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. Southeast Asia is bordered to the north by East Asia, to the west by South Asia and Bay of Bengal, to the east by Oceania and Pacific Ocean, and to the south by Australia and Indian Ocean.
The region, together with part of South Asia, was well known by the Europeans as the East Indies or simply the Indies until the 20th century. Chinese sources referred the region as Nanyang – which literally means the ‘Southern Ocean.’
The term “Southeast Asia” was first used in 1839 by an American pastor, Howard Malcolm, in his book entitled – ‘Travels in South-Eastern Asia.’ The term was officially used in the midst of World War II by the Allies, through the formation of South East Asia Command (SEAC) in 1943.
Today, there are eleven South-East Asian nations: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Each of the South-East Asian countries, is culturally and ethnically diverse, with hundreds of languages spoken by different ethnic groups. Ten countries in the region are members of ASEAN, a regional organisation established for economic, political, military, educational and cultural integration amongst its members.
One of the prominent nations of these group of countries is the Philippines. Named after King Philip II of Spain, Philippines is situated in the western Pacific Ocean, it is an archipelago of about 7,600 islands. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands, with a large number of Filipinos even living across the world.
Today, the Philippines is considered to be an emerging market and a newly industrialized country, which has an economy transitioning from being based on agriculture to one based more on services and manufacturing. However, the Philippines also has a rich colonial past, which has helped in shaping the country it is today. Journalist Alan Robles has opined, “Colonialism created the Philippines, shaped its political culture and continues to influence its mindset. The 333 years under Spain and nearly five decades under the USA decisively moulded the nation”.