Home Question Box How did the Philippines get to be such a large Catholic country? By Neela Kale October 28, 2010 The Philippine islands were colonized by the Spanish, who began to build settlements there in the late 16th century. The Spanish practice of colonization was to impose not only political rule but also religious hegemony; the cross and the sword went hand in hand during the Spanish imperial period throughout the world. Thus Christian missionaries suppressed Islam and the various indigenous religious traditions found in the Philippines and replaced them with Spanish baroque Catholic Christianity. Today Catholicism in the Philippines has its distinct sensibilities but also has deep roots in the religious practices and traditions brought from Spain. Although other Christian groups and other religions can be found in the Philippines, approximately 80% of the population today is Catholic.