What Is Considered Tall in the Philippines?

I am not “tall” in America—but in the Philippines, I am. Today, let’s talk about what counts as “tall” in the Philippines. Would you be considered tall there?

The average height in the Philippines is 165 cm (5’5″) for men and 154 cm (5’1″) for women. Overall, the Philippines has some of the shortest heights of any country. The average American man (5’9″ or 175 cm) is taller than about 97% of Filipino people.

Below, I’ll share some height comparison tables, so you can see how you compare to Filipino men and women. I’ll also discuss the reasons why Filipino people are so short on average, and whether they’re getting any taller in recent years or not.

Average Height in the Philippines

The average man in the Philippines is 5’5″ tall (165 cm), and the average woman is 5’1″ (154 cm). (source)

Here are some comparisons to put that into context:

  • On average, Filipino men are 12 cm (4.7″) shorter than men from the United States, 13 cm (5.1″) shorter than men from Canada and the U.K., and 14 cm (5.5″) shorter than men from Australia.
  • On average, Filipino women are 9 cm (3.5″) shorter than women from the U.S., 10 cm (3.9″) shorter than women from the U.K., and 11 cm (4.3″) shorter than women from Canada and Australia.

We’ll look at how the Philippines compares to other Asian countries for height below. But next, let’s look at the distribution of different heights in the Philippines.

Height Comparison Tables

Have you ever wondered how your height would compare to Filipino men and women? Well, you can use the following two tables to check it out.

First, let’s see how your height compares to Filipino men. (Note: These tables assume you’re comparing your height to an adult around 30 years old.)

Your HeightYou Are Taller Than ____% of Filipino Men.
4’9″ (145 cm)~0%
4’10” (147 cm)0.2%
4’11” (150 cm)0.6%
5’0″ (152 cm)2%
5’1″ (155 cm)4%
5’2″ (157 cm)10%
5’3″ (160 cm)18%
5’4″ (163 cm)31%
5’5″ (165 cm)47%
5’6″ (168 cm)63%
5’7″ (170 cm)77%
5’8″ (173 cm)87%
5’9″ (175 cm)94%
5’10” (178 cm)98%
5’11” (180 cm)99.1%
6’0″ (183 cm)99.7%
6’1″ (185 cm)99.9%
6’2″+ (188+ cm)~100%
How does your height compare to Filipino men? (source)

Now, let’s take a look at how your height compares to Filipino women:

Your HeightYou Are Taller Than ____% of Filipino Women.
4’5″ (135 cm)~0%
4’6″ (137 cm)0.2%
4’7″ (140 cm)0.8%
4’8″ (142 cm)2%
4’9″ (145 cm)6%
4’10” (147 cm)14%
4’11” (150 cm)27%
5’0″ (152 cm)44%
5’1″ (155 cm)62%
5’2″ (157 cm)77%
5’3″ (160 cm)88%
5’4″ (163 cm)95%
5’5″ (165 cm)98%
5’6″ (168 cm)99.5%
5’7″ (170 cm)99.9%
5’8″+ (173+ cm)~100%
How does your height compare to Filipino women? (source)

Why Are Filipino People So Short?

It’s said that the two biggest factors determining height are genetics and nutrition. Genetics seem to determine 60% to 80% of your height, while nutrition determines the other 20% to 40%. (source)

So, how do these factors explain the height of Filipino people?

It’s been suggested in Discover Magazine that Asian people may be shorter due to the gene “HMGA2.” The “short” allele of this gene is more common in East Asian populations than in Europe and Africa.

So, that could explain at least part of the genetic reasons for short heights in the Philippines. I also found a Stanford article about why evolution has favored shorter bones in some populations—and those factors could also be at play.

But nutrition also seems to play a big role—and this is something that comes up when discussing recent trends in Filipino height.

Are Filipinos Getting Taller?

Over the past century, many Asian populations have grown much taller. Japan, South Korea, and many other countries have seen major increases in average height.

Even nearby to the Philippines in Thailand, the official height standards for Thai children, men, and women have had to be increased by the Thai government in recent years. (source)

But the same is not true in the Philippines. In fact, height requirements for the Filipino police and armed forced were reduced in 2020. This suggests there was an insufficient number of recruits who could pass the previous height standards.

Indeed, research showed from 2003 to 2013, there was no increase in average height of Filipinos. And looking further back, from 1946 to 1996, research actually shows that Filipino women got a little bit shorter. (source)

This lack of growth suggests that Filipino nutrition has not been improving in recent decades, relative to other countries in Asia.

More broadly, it may reflect the economic struggles still felt in the Philippines, as physical height is almost always tied to the economic development of a country.

Certainly, countries with the biggest growth in recent decades—particularly South Korea—have had a more dramatic rise out of poverty compared to the Philippines.

The Tallest Filipino People

Some Filipinos are obviously much taller than the typical range, however. Here are a few of the tallest people in the Philippines:

  • William Biscocho is apparently the tallest man in the Philippines, listed at 7’4″ (224 cm) by some sources.
  • Kai Sotto and Raul Dillo, both 7’3″ (221 cm) tall, are tied as the tallest Filipino basketball players ever.
  • A lot of the other lists of tall Filipinos you can find are specific focused on tall Filipino basketball players.

Height in the Philippines vs Other Countries

Now let’s take a look at how the Philippines fits compares to other Southeast and East Asian countries for height:

CountryFemale Avg. HeightMale Avg. Height
Cambodia5’1″ (154 cm)5’5″ (165 cm)
China5’4″ (163 cm)5’9″ (175 cm)
Indonesia5’1″ (154 cm)5’5″ (166 cm)
Japan5’2″ (158 cm)5’8″ (172 cm)
Malaysia5’2″ (157 cm)5’6″ (168 cm)
Philippines5’1″ (154 cm)5’5″ (165 cm)
Singapore5’3″ (161 cm)5’8″ (173 cm)
South Korea5’4″ (163 cm)5’9″ (175 cm)
Taiwan5’3″ (160 cm)5’8″ (173 cm)
Thailand5’3″ (159 cm)5’7″ (171 cm)
Vietnam5’2″ (158 cm)5’6″ (168 cm)
Average Heights in Asia by Country. (Source)

As you can see, the shortest countries here are Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Meanwhile, the tallest are South Korea and China.

So, in fact, Philippines is tied for being the shortest in this batch. (However, some other data sets seem to say that Indonesians are shorter than Filipinos.)