Sports in the Philippines

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Rural children playing basketball in the Philippines.

Sports in the Philippines is an important part of the country's culture. There are five major sports in the Philippines. These are basketball, boxing, football, billiards and volleyball. Despite being a tropical nation, ice skating is a popular sport in the Philippines.[1][2] Sports such as athletics, weightlifting, aerobics, and martial arts are also popular recreations.

Among the others there are: badminton, baseball, bowling, swimming, wrestling, underwater diving, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, cockfighting, horse racing, motor racing, rugby, sepak takraw, and jai alai are also appreciated. With the sport of cockfighting being wildly popular in the Philippines, attracting large crowds who bet on the outcome of fights between the birds,[3] and the sport itself a popular form of fertility worship among almost all Southeast Asians.[4] Such sports activity as the sport of cockfighting, related to ritual forms of worship as practices and rituals of ancient worship intended for the blessings of the supernatural, as "in Indus Valley and other ancient civilizations, mother goddess had been invoked for fertility and prosperity"[5] which included that religious cockfight lay as a prime example of "cultural synthesis of 'little' and 'great' cultures"[6] due to religious syncretisms causing the loss for some of religious significance and hence a sport, while remaining for some as a form of ‘fertility worship’ and still for others as Baal or Baalim.

On July 27, 2009, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Republic Act No. 9850 into law, declaring Modern Arnis as the Philippine National Martial Art and Sport.[7]


The Philippines has participated in all editions of the Olympics except in 1980 when it joined the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics. The country is also the first tropical nation to participate at the Winter Olympics, debuting at the 1972 edition and has participated in three other edition of the winter games. Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) is the National Olympic Committee of the Philippines.

Sport for the disabled[edit]

The Philippine Sports Association for the Paralympic Committee of the Philippines (PhilSPADA-NPC Philippines), is the national sports association for people with disabilities, tasked to compete in activities related to sports, and physical fitness. It is affiliated with the International Paralympic Committee. PHILSPADA-NPC Philippines works with the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA),[8] the Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine Sports Commission, and the Philippine National Sport associations to train, and send qualified disabled Philippine athletes to international disabled sport competitions such as the ASEAN Para Games, the FESPIC Games, the Paralympic Games, as well as national competitions.

4th ASEAN Para Games, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
The Philippineshey athletes with cerebral palsy to compete in boccia in 4th ASEAN Paragames tournament. The Philippine Disabled Shooting Team, with the support of the Philippine National Shooting Association, competed in the ParaGames in the Air Rifle, and Air Pistol events.[3]

2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, China
Three athletes, one in powerlifting, and a team of two[9] in sailing, represented the Philippines in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

The 2008 Philippine Paralympic Team was organized, and managed by PHILSPADA with the support of the Philippine Sports Commission, and the Philippine Olympic Committee.

Individual Sports[edit]


Boxing is among the most popular individual sports in the Philippines. Some Filipino boxers such as Manny Pacquiao are recognized internationally. The Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines is the governing body for amateur boxing in the country.

Figure Skating[edit]

Ice skating rinks used as venues for figure skating are limited to shopping malls in the country, particularly in the Metro Manila area. The first ice skating rink in the country was opened in 1992 at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong. The first Olympic sized ice skating rink was opened at the SM Mall of Asia. An ice skating rink also operates in SM Southmall. There are more figure skating coaches in the Philippines than ice hockey coaches and the first Filipino ice skating coaches were roller skaters. The Philippine Championship is a national competitive for ice skating in which the winner gets to represent the country in international competitions.[10] The Philippines has also managed to qualify and send a figure skater to the 2014 Winter Olympics becoming the first Southeast Asian country to to do so at the Winter Olympics. The said figure skater was Michael Christian Martinez.[11]

Team Sports[edit]

American football[edit]

American football is a relatively new sport to the Philippines and is often mistaken for both codes of rugby football. ArenaBall Philippines currently holds a 4 team competition. Since August 2013, a fifth team joined-in marking its first official expansion team in the league. Apart from that, American Football Federation of the Philippines, the organization behind the Philippine Punishers and lately Philippine Valkyries, the former's female counterpart, has been actively competing against other Asian regents such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Saipan and US Guam Confederate.

Famous Filipino players to have played in the National Football League in the United States include Eugene Amano, Tim Tebow, Roman Gabriel, Tedy Bruschi, Chris Gocong, Steve Slaton, Aaron Francisco, Jordan Dizon, and Doug Baldwin.

The Philippines also organizes a men's national team.

Association football[edit]

The Philippine Sports Stadium, the largest football stadium in the country

The Philippine national football team or Azkals, is the national football team of the Philippines, and is controlled by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF). The United Football League (Philippines) is the Top Flight football league in the country, the (PFF) are planning to launch a National Football League this 2015 or 2016, each club's will represent their respective Cities or Provinces and required to have a youth squad for the Youth League. It will also help to promote football awareness and grassroots program to the young Filipino footballers who admires to play professional football.


The Philippine national baseball team is ranked 22nd on the IBAF World Rankings, and after the WBC Qualification tournament held at Taiwan in 2013, baseball in the Philippines is gradually gaining popularity.


A PBA basketball game at the Mall of Asia Arena.
A PBA basketball game at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Basketball is considered to be the most popular sport in the Philippines and is played on both the amateur and professional level. The professional league in the Philippines is the Philippine Basketball Association and currently runs a 12 team competition, but also in Asia's professional basketball league after the National Basketball Association. The national team is popularly known as Gilas Pilipinas and has recently qualified to compete in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Rugby league[edit]

Captain of the winning Philippines team, Luke Srama holding the trophy at the inaugural Asian Cup in 2012. (rugby league)

Rugby league is a relatively unknown sport in the Philippines and is often mistaken for rugby union and even American football. The Philippines National Rugby League are the governing body and are responsible for the growth of rugby league in the Philippines. The sport has recently been introduced to the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy and the plan is to introduce the sport though the maritime industry.[12] The national team are known as the Tamaraws.

Rugby union[edit]

A rugby union match between the national teams of the Philippines vs Iran (A lineout)

The Philippine Rugby Football Union was founded in 1999 and is the governing body of rugby union in the Philippines. There are currently around 12 schools playing rugby union in the Philippines and 10 teams that compete in regular competition. The national team is known as the Volcanoes and competes in the Asian 5 Nations and the Asian Seven Series.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Metro Manila · Basketball - the Philippines' most popular sport". 
  2. ^ Tarra Quismundo (August 12, 2007), RP skaters vow to soar in Skate Asia 2007, Philippine Daily Inquirer, retrieved 2008-08-31 
  3. ^ Bomb hits Philippines cock-fight - BBC - 14 April 2012
  4. ^ "Using Spirit Worship to Infuse Southeast Asia into the K-16 Classroom". Tun Institute of Learning. January 15, 2005. 
  5. ^ A Panorama of Indian Culture: Professor A. Sreedhara Menon Felicitation Volume - K. K. Kusuman - Mittal Publications, 1990 - p.130"[1]"
  6. ^ A Panorama of Indian Culture: Professor A. Sreedhara Menon Felicitation Volume - K. K. Kusuman - Mittal Publications, 1990 - p.127-128"[2]"
  7. ^ Republic Act No. 9850, Chan Robles Law Library.
  8. ^ International Paralympic Committee nonprofit representative for blind sport
  9. ^ "Documents & Rules - ISAF - World Sailing - Official Website : Classification - Questions Frequentes". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  10. ^ Aquino, Tricia (17 February 2014). "ICE RINKS IN THE PHILIPPINES?". Retrieved 30 June 2015.  Text " Before Michael Christian Martinez, SM's Henry Sy had one crazy dream" ignored (help)
  11. ^ "Manila on ice: YOG athlete Michael Christian Martinez creates history for the Philippines". Youth Olympic Games News ( 15 February 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  12. ^ "Rugby League in Zambales". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 

External links[edit]