Faith in the Context of Migration: Ethnographic Features of Faith of Migrant Filipino Catholics in Macau, China


Filipinos comprise some of the biggest numbers of migrants worldwide, and in Macau, they are the largest non-Chinese migrant ethnic group. Mainly Catholic, they are also known to be very religious people, and as such, for most Filipinos, faith plays a central role in the migration process. This paper is a study of how Filipinos understand what faith is and what elements of their faith are most practiced in their place of migration. A qualitative analysis of interviews with Filipino migrants in Macau coupled with data from a survey questionnaire reveal some major ethnographic features of the faith of Filipino Catholics particularly construed from the use of words and concepts expressed in their own language. Some of the major themes that emerged include views on the meaning and significance of faith, the relationship between fatalism and self-determination, and the relation between the public practice of attending mass and the private practice of personal prayer. These beliefs and practices are viewed in the context of the disruption brought about by the process of migration and it shows that in the case of Filipino migrants, their faith survives and thrives even amidst changes in the physical and social environment. The study also points to the need for integrating linguistic anthropology as a useful tool in providing a more nuanced analysis of faith and religious practice among migrants.

Author Information
Ian Shelley Alabanza, University of Saint Joseph, Macao

Paper Information
Conference: ACERP2018
Stream: Religion - Linguistics, Language and Religion

This paper is part of the ACERP2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon