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Latin American Asians are Asian people of Latin American (Either of North American or South American) descent. Latin American-Asians have been in Asia since the 16th century. The timeline of Latin American settlement in Asia mostly occurred from the 1500s to the 19th century when the Spanish used Filipino sailors to bring Latin-Americans from across the Pacific to serve as mercenaries and traders either to supplement its Filipino soldiers in the numerous wars the Philippines had with its Muslim or Confucian neighbors which surrounded the Philippines (ensuring a state of constant warfare)[3][4] or coordinate the Manila Galleon trade between Latin America and Asia. Therein, gems taken from South Asia, spices taken from Southeast Asia and silk and porcelain taken from East Asia were gathered and transshipped from the Philippines across the Pacific Ocean to Latin America in exchange for the products of Mexico in North America (Mainly chocolate and pineapples) and silver taken from the mines of Peru at South America.[5] This trade eventually extended to Europe where the silver mined in Latin America and silk gathered in the Philippines was used by Spain to fund its wars across Europe (mainly against the Ottoman Empire) and to a lesser extent, support the Philippines' many wars against the Sultanate of Brunei and the many sultanates in Mindanao. In a small scale, a few Latin Americans also settled in the ports of Macau in China and Ternate in Indonesia which were secondary trade-nodes to the primary one between Manila and Acapulco. Asides from this historical Latin American settlement into the Philippines, which has now mostly stopped and doesn't operate anymore and the current people merely being Latin-American descendants rather than Latin Americans themselves, there is also the modern presence of Brazilians in Japan which form the largest presence of people from the Americas, living in Asia, barring the Philippines.

Latin American Asian
Hispano-Asiatico y asiáticos latinos
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Total population
Officially Unknown but rough estimates place it at around 18 Million Filipinos possessing significant partial or majority Hispanic/Latin American ancestry[1] plus some 250,032 Brazilians living in Japan.[2] Thus, totaling to about 18 million 250 thousand Latin American Asians.
(Based on old Spanish-Censuses of the Philippines and the modern count of Brazilians in Japan)
Regions with significant populations
Philippines and Japan
American English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and Filipino
Christianity predominantly Roman Catholicism


The first Latin Americans Asians were primarily Mexicans and to a lesser extent, Colombians and Peruvians who made their way to Asia (Mainly the Philippines) in the 16th century, either as mercenaries or traders during the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines.[6][7] For two and a half centuries (between 1565 and 1815) many Mexicans and some Colombians and Peruvians were supplementing Filipino soldiers in the wars fought in conflict-ridden Philippines (I.E during the Castille War and The Battle of Manila etc.).[8] Others were traders engaged in the Philippine-built Manila-Acapulco Galleon Route and were assisting in the Spanish Empire's monopoly in trade as well as serving as officials for the Viceregal capital of Mexico wherein the Captaincy General of the Philippines was a part of.[9] The Latin-American soldiers who were sent to the Philippines from the Spanish colonies in America were often made up of Mulattoes, Mestizos and Indios (Amerindians).[10] This is proven by the letters written by Governor-Generals such as Don Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera who wrote that they brought soldiers over from Peru, settled Zamboanga City and waged war against the Sultanate of Maguindanao.[11]

In the 20th to 21st century, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians and Japanese Brazilians either immigrated to Japan or returned to Japan after Japan became wealthy.[12]

Geographic distributionEdit

Most of the people born in Latin-America who settled in Asia or descendants of the Latin-Americans who live in Asia are located in the Philippines. They are mostly concentrated in the old Spanish settlements of the Philippines. I.E Vigan, founded by the Mexico-born Conquistador, Juan de Salcedo or Puerto Princessa at Palawan, a military fortress originally created to engage in wars against the Brunei Sultanate. A city which was co-founded by a future Bishop of Colombia at South America, Saint Ezekiel Moreno, Cavite City or Zamboanga City in Mindanao, home to a Spanish-based creole language called Chavacano, a language with much linguistic borrowings from Quechua which comes from Peru, Nahuatl which has Mexican roots, and Taino which is Caribbean in origin. In the 17th Century, St Rose of Lima, from the Viceroyalty of Peru was declared a patron-saint of the Philippines, no doubt due to the influx of Peruvian soldiers to help in the wars against the southern Sultanates. Furthermore, in the midst of the Manila Galleon trade, a small number of Latinos settled in the ports of Macau in China and Ternate in Indonesia which were secondary connecting trade nodes to the primary trade-route between Manila, Philippines and Acapulco, Mexico.

Asides from the Philippines the only other country in Asia with a major concentration of immigrants from the Americas is Japan, where there are 250,000 Japanese of Brazilian origin. Because of common language and cultural proximity, a number of Brazilians settled Macau, others in East Timor and Goa.

Significant communitiesEdit


The Latinos and the Latino-descendants in the Philippines, unlike the Latinos in the United States or Canada (who are mostly refugee-immigrants fleeing their homelands for better opportunities in richer countries) are mostly soldiers or adventurers who left a more peaceful New World to help Native Filipinos in wars within conflict-prone Philippines[13] against the Islamic Bruneian Empire and the Moros to the South, Cambodia and Vietnam to the west and against the occasional raids by Chinese and Japanese pirates.

In the High-Medieval Period and the Age of Exploration the Spaniards often imported Mexican as well as Colombian and Peruvian mercenaries to help Filipino soldiers (Who did most of the fighting though) in these internal[14] as well as external wars.[15] For example, the Archbishop of Manila during the British Occupation was Mexican-born.[16] The war-forged Philippine archipelago eventually produced good soldiers. So much so, that a trusted man of Mexican independence leader Vicente Guerrero, a Filipino by the name Isidoro Montes de Oca was well respected. Even Vicente Guerrero's personal guards were mostly Filipinos or those Latinos who have seen action in the Philippines.

According to old Spanish records, they (Hispanic-Filipinos) account to around one-third of the inhabitants of the island of Luzon (Which hold around half of the total Philippine population). When applying the old Spanish census to modern times, around 18 Million Filipinos can be said to have significant amounts of Hispanic or Latin-American ancestry (About 30% to 75% Latin-American or Spanish admixture in their genome). However, genetic studies show that even among the rest of the Philippine population, they still hold trace amounts of Mediterranean-European of around (1.5% to 3.6%) and trace amounts of Amerindian (Around 1% to 1.5%) in their genome, per person. Modern Latin Americans of any nationality also live in the country because of cultural proximity.


Japanese Brazilian immigrants to Japan numbered 250,000 in 2004, constituting Japan's second-largest immigrant population. Their experiences bear similarities to those of Japanese Peruvian immigrants, who are often relegated to low income jobs typically occupied by foreigners.[17] Brazilian and Peruvian settlers i n Japan are largely, but not exclusively of Japanese blood. Brazilian settlers to Japan represented the largest number of Portuguese speakers in Asia, greater than those of formerly Portuguese East Timor, Macau and Goa combined.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jagor, Fëdor, et al. (1870). The Former Philippines thru Foreign Eyes
  2. ^ Richard Gunde (2004-01-27). "Japanese Brazilian Return Migration and the Making of Japan's Newest Immigrant Minority". UCLA International Institute. Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  3. ^ McAmis 2002, p. 33[citation not found]
  4. ^ "Letter from Francisco de Sande to Felipe II, 1578". Archived from the original on 14 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2009.
  5. ^ Williams, Glyn. 1999. The Prize of All the Oceans. Viking, New York. ISBN 0-670-89197-5, p. 4
  6. ^ Déborah Oropeza Keresey (July–September 2011). "La Esclavitud Asiática en El Virreinato de La Nueva España, 1565-1673" (PDF). Historia Mexicana (in Spanish). El Colegio de México. LXI (1): 20–21. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  7. ^ Déborah Oropeza (Fall–Winter 2009). "Ideas centrales en torno a la esclavitud asiática en la Nueva España" (PDF). Historia Mexicana (in Spanish). Encuentro de Mexicanistas 2010 (La esclavitud asiática en el virreinato de la Nueva España, 1565-1673) (1): 2. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  8. ^ De Borja, Marciano R., Basques in the Philippines.
  9. ^ Biblioteca de legislación ultramarina en forma de diccionario alfabético. Pág. 621. Compilado por: José María Zamora y Coronado. Editor: Impr. de J. M. Alegria, 1845
  10. ^ Letter from Fajardo to Felipe III From Manila, August 15 1620.(From the Spanish Archives of the Indies) ("The infantry does not amount to two hundred men, in three companies. If these men were that number, and Spaniards, it would not be so bad; but, although I have not seen them, because they have not yet arrived here, I am told that they are, as at other times, for the most part boys, mestizos, and mulattoes, with some Indians. There is no little cause for regret in the great sums that reënforcements of such men waste for, and cost, your Majesty. I cannot see what betterment there will be until your Majesty shall provide it, since I do not think, that more can be done in Nueva Spaña, although the viceroy must be endeavoring to do so, as he is ordered.")
  11. ^ "SECOND BOOK OF THE SECOND PART OF THE CONQUESTS OF THE FILIPINAS ISLANDS, AND CHRONICLE OF THE RELIGIOUS OF OUR FATHER, ST. AUGUSTINE" (Zamboanga City History) "He (Governor Don Sebastían Hurtado de Corcuera) brought a great reënforcements of soldiers, many of them from Perú, as he made his voyage to Acapulco from that kingdom."
  12. ^ Japan's trial run for migrant workers
  13. ^ "In 1637 the military force maintained in the islands consisted of one thousand seven hundred and two Spaniards and one hundred and forty Indians." ~Memorial de D. Juan Grau y Monfalcon, Procurador General de las Islas Filipinas, Docs. Inéditos del Archivo de Indias, vi, p. 425. "In 1787 the garrison at Manila consisted of one regiment of Mexicans comprising one thousand three hundred men, two artillery companies of eighty men each, three cavalry companies of fifty men each." La Pérouse, ii, p. 368.
  14. ^ Relacion verdadera de la gran vitoria que el Armada Española de la China tuuo contra los olandeses piratas, que andauan en aquellos mares, y de como le tomaron y echaron a fondo doze galeones gruessos, y mataron gra[n] numero de de [sic] gente
  15. ^ Nigel Gooding, Filipino Involvement in the French-Spanish Campaign in Indochina, retrieved 2008-07-04
  16. ^ Leebrick, Karl Clayton (2007). The English expedition to Manila and the Philippine Islands in the year 1762. University of California, Berkeley. p. 52.
  17. ^ Hamamatsu Journal; Sons and Daughters of Japan, Back From Brazil

Further readingEdit

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