Before the Spanish period, the archipelagoes of Southeast Asia were under the influence of traders from the Hindu-Malayan culture, such as the Majapahit Empire, which was then supplanted by Islamic conquest by the Sultanate of Malacca. The Sultanate itself had converted from Hinduism to Islam in 1414, and of Borneo. In the Majapahit Empire, the last Hindu kings retreated to Bali around 1500. Influences from the Indian subcontinent may be traced earlier to before the arrival of the Arabs and the Europeans during the 15th and 16th centuries respectively. The rulers of many of the islands were called Rajas, or Rajahs. An example would be the Visayas, said to be named after the last Southeast Hindu Prince Srivijaya:)
/wiki/File:Laguna_Copperplate_Inscription.gif/wiki/File:Laguna_Copperplate_Inscription.gifThe first document found in the Philippines, the Laguna Copperplate Inscription (circa 900 AD), shows direct Hindu influences present in Filipino culture prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century
Until the arrival of an Arab trader to Sulu Island 1450 and Ferdinand Magellan, who sailed in behalf of Spain 1521, the chiefs of many Philippine islands were called Rajas, and the script was derived from Brahmi. Karma, a Hindu concept is understood as part of the traditional view of the universe by many Philippine peoples, and have counterparts such as kalma in the Pampangan language, and Gabâ in the Cebuano language. The vocabulary in all Philippine languages reflect strong Hindu influences.
In the archipelago that was to become the Philippines, the statues of the Hindu gods were hidden to prevent their destruction by a religion which destroyed all cult images. One statue, a “Golden Tara”, a 4-pound gold statue of a Hindu-Malayan goddess, was found in Mindanao in 1917. The statue, denoted the Agusan Image, is now in the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. The image is that of a Hindu-Malayan female deity, seated cross-legged. It is made of “twenty-one carat gold and weighs nearly four pounds.” It has a richly ornamented headdress and many ornaments in the arms and other parts of the body. Scholars date it to the late 13th or early 14th century. It was made by local artists, perhaps copying from an imported Javanese model. The gold was used from this area, since Javanese miners were known to have been engaged in gold mining in Butuan at this time.
The existence of these gold mines, this artefact and the presence of “foreigners” permit us to surmise on the existence of some foreign trade, gold as element in the barter economy, and of cultural and social contact between the natives and “foreigners.” As previously stated, his statue is not housed in The Philippines. Prof. Beyer in 1918 tried to get the government to buy it for the National Museum, but as the bullion exceeded 4,000 pesos (at the old rate), funds were not available. Mrs. Leonard Wood (whose husband was military-governor of the Moro Province in 1903-1906 and governor general in 1921-1927) raised funds for its purchase by the Chicago Museum of Natural History. It is now on display in that museum’s Gold Room.
According to Prof. Beyer, considered the “Father of Philippine Anthropology and Archaeology”, a woman in 1917 found it on the left bank of the Wawa River near Esperanza, Agusan, projecting from the silt in a ravine after a storm and flood. From her hands it passed into those of Bias Baklagon, a local government official. Shortly after, ownership passed to the Agusan Coconut Company, to whom Baklagon owed a considerable debt. Mrs. Leonard Wood bought it from the coconut company…”
Today, there is a Hindu temple at Mahatma Gandhi Street on U N avenue in Paco area, Manila, Metro Manila and about 15 minutes away, there is a Sikh temple at U.N. Avenue and as per estimate there is 22 gurudwaras in all over Philippines today. Although most of the adherents are Indians, Sri Lankans and Nepalese. There are various Hare Krishna groups that are gaining in popularity. Indians have been in the Philippines even before the Spaniards but blend into society and tend to maintain a low profile.