The Republic of the Philippines
(Filipino: Republika ng Pilipinas
) is an archipelago in South-East Asia consisting of 7,107 islands located between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam, and north of Sabah and Borneo.
The Philippines is an archipelago abundant in nature, rich in culture, and filled with pleasant discoveries. Experience the Philippines, its 7,107 islands, its natural wonders, colorful history and warm, engaging people. Over a hundred ethnic groups, a mixture of foreign influences and a fusion of culture and arts have enhanced the uniqueness of the Filipino race and the wonder that is the Philippines.Regions
There are a total of 79 provinces in the Philippines that can be divided among three main island groups:Luzon â€“ the northernmost island group, center of government, history and economy and home to the capitalVisayas â€“ the central island group, heart of the countryâ€™s antiquity, nature and biodiversityMindanao â€“ the southernmost island group showcase Philippinesâ€™ indigenous and rich cultureCities
Manila - National capital. The Metropolitan Manila area includes several cities and municipalities to form one administrative body governed jointly by the local governments and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).Angeles - Interesting place with a wild nightlife. Wonderful and friendly people.Bacolod - the city of smiles, land of sweet toothsBaguio - the country's summer capital (cool weather), nice parks and views, home of the "Igorot" peoples, vegetable gardensBatangas - the Int'l Port in South Luzon, beaches, dive-sites, resorts, heritage sitesCagayan de Oro - the city of golden friendship, whitewater raftingCebu - Also known as the Queen City of the South, Cebu is the first established indigenous settlement discovered by the west in the Philippines. For a short time before the re-dedication of Manila, Cebu City served as the capital of the far eastern territory claimed by SpainDavao - One of the largest cities in the world in terms of land area. Relatively young when compared with Manila or Cebu, it has grown to become the economic and commercial hub of the southern island of Mindanao. Nearby you'll find the country's tallest mountain (Mount Apo), the endangered Philippine Eagle, and one of priciest orchids in the world, the Waling-waling (Vanda Sanderiana.)Makati City - This city encompasses the major Central Business District. It is located within the Metro Manila area, and is east of Manila. It is where most of the country's business hubs are situated. It is also ideal for nightlife and shopping. Puerto Princesa - cleanest and greenest city Subic - freeport zone, adventure and sportsVigan - historic Spanish town, UNESCO World Heritage SiteOther destinations
AngelesBanaueBoracayCoron GroupEl NidoMalapascua IslandNegros Island (Negros Occidental & Negros Oriental)Panglao IslandPort Barton CoastlinePuerto Galera SabangTagaytayTaytayUnderstand
Several thousand years ago, the first settlers in the Philippines crossed shallow seas and land bridges from the Asian mainland to arrive in this group of islands. These were the Negritos or Aetas. Direct descendants of these people can still be found in Zambales province to the North of Manila. Several thousand years later, they were then followed by Austronesian settlers travelling the same route as the Negritos but this time over sea in their impressive Balanghay boats (the word is stil used to refer to the smallest political subdivision in the Philippines, the Barangay). After settling the islands reached further and settled the islands of Indonesia, Malaysia as well as the whole Pacific. The early Austronesians took no time in trading with each other as well as with the Chinese, Japanese, Okinawans, and Indians. An interesting mix of cultures developed in the islands, and a writing system as well as a social structure developed quickly. By the time the first westerner, explorer Ferdinand Magellan, was to set foot on Philippine soil in 1521, the Philippines was predominantly Muslim and Hindu Buddhist with many settlements ruled from Brunei and Java. Magellan was Portuguese but it was a Spanish Expedition which he led to the islands which were then taken by Spain as its colony. The Philippines actually was named for Crown Prince Philip II of Spain and most of the natives converted to Catholicism.
The Philippines remained a Spanish colony for over 300 years until 1899 when it was ceded by the Spanish to the United States following the Spanish - American War. American presence remained until World War II when Japan invaded the Philippines. The Japanese occupation lasted from 1941 to 1945 when Gen. Douglas McArthur fulfilled his promise and liberated the country from the Japanese.
In 1946, the Philippines was granted full independence by the U.S., although they maintained a military presence in the country through the Subic Naval Base in Olongapo and Clark Air Base in Pampanga. These facilities were ultimately returned to the Philippines in the early 1990's.
Up until the 1960's, the Philippines was supposedly second only to Japan in terms of development within the region. Several decades of corrupt rule by Ferdinand Marcos however plunged the country into debt and the Philippines ultimately became known as the sick man of Asia. Poverty was widespread and infrastructure for development was severely lacking. In 1986, the People Power uprising finally overthrew the Marcos government and he was replaced by Cory Aquino, widow of slain opposition leader, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr.
A couple of decades more have passed and somehow the Philippines is still lagging in comparison to its South East Asian neighbors Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Development is still slow but somehow the country is at least moving in the right direction.People
The people of the Philippines, or Filipinos, are descended from a mixture of Austronesians (related to Malays and Polynesians) and of the Southern Han Chinese. Many, particularly in the cities, have Spanish, Chinese, and American admixtures, whereas those living in the provinces are mostly of pure Filipino origin. The three largest foreign minorities in the country are as follows: Chinese (1st), Americans (2nd), and South Asians (3rd) and the Japanese (4th). Also of significance are the Australians, Indonesians, Arabs, Koreans, and Britons. The pure Spaniards form a very tiny proportion in the country's
population, however, Spanish contributions to ethnicity are not lost, since only a few Filipinos have Spanish in them, mostly rich Filipinos.
Filipinos are very hospitable by nature. Guests will often be treated like royalty in Philippine households. This is most evident during fiestas when even virtual strangers are welcomed and allowed to partake of the feast that most if not all households within the town serve during the occassion. At times, this hospitality is taken to a fault. Some households spend their entire savings on their fiesta offerings and sometimes even run into debt just to have lavish food on their table. They spend the next year paying for these debts and preparing for the next fiesta.
Also, it may seem peculiar for tourists to notice the Latin flair in Filipino culture. Philippine culture compared to the rest of Asia is highly hispanicized.Faith
The Philippines is by far the largest Christian country in Asia. The Catholic faith remains the single biggest legacy of three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule. Catholicism is still taken quite seriously in the Philippines. Masses still draw crowds from the biggest cathedrals in the metropolis to the smallest parish chapels in the countryside. During Holy Week, most broadcast TV stations close down or operate only on limited hours and those that do operate broadcast religious programmes. The Catholic Church also still exerts quite a bit of influence even on non-religious affairs such as affairs of state. Mores are changing slowly, however; Filipinos are now slowly accepting what were previously taboo issues in as far as Catholic doctrine is concerned, such as artificial birth control and the dissolution of marriage vows.ã€€
The biggest religious minority in the Philippines are Muslim Filipinos who primarily live in Mindanao and Sulu. In the past there were strained relations towards Muslims, them being seen at times as "dangerous", but in recent years with large scale migrations of Muslim Filipinos to predominantly Catholic areas, the attitude has changed for the better. The Muslim Filipinos differ in their interpretations of Islam, and like the Muslims of Indonesia, are generally more relaxed regarding such topics as gender-segregation or the veil. Then you have the Indian Filipinos, Chinese Filipinos, and Japanese Filipinos who are mostly
Hindu, Sikh, Buddhists, and Taoists which all accounts 3% of the population of the Philippines.Climate
The climate is tropical, with March to May (summer) being the hottest months. The rainy season starts in June and extends through October with strong typhoons possible. The coolest months are from November to February, with mid-January to end of February considered the best for cooler and dryer weather. However, locations exposed directly to the Pacific Ocean have frequent rainfall all year. This includes the popular Pagsanjan Falls southeast of Manila (though the falls will get you wet regardless). The average temperatures range from 78Â°F / 25Â°C to 90Â°F / 32Â°C, and humidity is around 77 percent. Baguio, which is branded as the summer capital of the Philippines, tends to be cooler due to it being located in mountainous regions with temperatures at night going below 20Â°C (68Â°F).Holidays
Being a predominantly Catholic country means observing the traditional Catholic holidays of Maunday Thursday and Good Friday during Lent. Christmas and New Year's Day are also observed as non-working holidays along with All Saints Day on November 1. In recognition of the Muslim Filipino, the Islamic feast of Eid-Al-Fitr (known in the Philippines as Hari Raya Puasa
), held after Ramadan; the Islamic holy month of fasting, is also a national holiday. This day changes year by year, as it follows the Lunar Calendar. Secular holidays include Labor Day (May 1), and Independence Day (June 12). Some holidays also commemorate national heroes such as Jose Rizal (Dec. 30) and Andres Bonifacio (Nov. 30). Metro Manila is less congested during Holy Week as people tend to go to their hometowns to spend the holidays there. Despite this, it is not a good idea to be in the metropolis at this time as most malls, shops and attractions are closed. Apart from Lent, malls and shops particularly in tourist areas generally still remain open on holidays. Shops may observe limited hours on Christmas, New Year and All Saint's Day. Holy week is also considered part of the super peak season for most beach resorts such as Boracay and the most popular ones tend to get overcrowded at this time. Due to its cool mountain weather, Baguio is also where a lot of people spend the Holy Week break.Get in
On entering the Philippines foreigners from most countries
automatically get a free 3-week tourist visa. If intending on staying longer you should apply for a visa extension. Each visa extension is valid for 59 days, except the first which is 38 days (i.e 59-21).
You can pay on departure a fine of PhP1000 per month of overstay plus the PhP2020 fee.
To avoid all the hassle, before traveling get the longer visa from the embassy (or a consulate), as this saves you a couple of days hassle during your holiday. Contact the Philippine embassy of your country about the exact requirements for a visa application and opening hours of the consular section. When you arrive with a visa, show it to the immigration official, so that he will actually give you the 59 days, instead of the normal 21 days, on your arrival stamp.
Bureau of Immigration offices are as follows:
-Bureau of Immigration Main Office. Magallanes Drive, Intramuros, Manila. Tel (011-63-2)527-5657.
-Bureau of Immigration Regional Office. P Burgos Street, Tribunal, Mandaue City, Cebu. Tel (011-63-32)345-6442/6443/6444.
-Bureau of Immigration Regional Office - Davao. BI Building, JP Laurel Ave., Bajada, Davao City, Tel (011-63-82)300-7258.
-Bureau of Immigration offices in other locationsBy plane
Since the Philippines is an archipelago, most visitors will arrive by plane. International travelers can fly into airports in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Clark, Kalibo Laoag, Subic, Basco (seasonal), Zamboanga).
If you plan to travel around the various islands it is best to get an open jaw ticket. This can save much time time back tracking. Most common open jaw combination in flying into Manila and out of Cebu.
The cheapest options when coming from Europe or North/South America is via Singapore or Hong Kong. There are many regional carriers that can give excellent open jaw ticket options Silkair with Singapore Airlines being one.
Most visitors will fly in through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)
in Manila. NAIA has three terminals. Terminal 2 is exclusively used by Philippine Airlines for its International and Domestic flight networks and by Air Philippines for its Domestic flight networks. Terminal 1 is used by airlines that flies to international destinations. Manila Domestic Passenger Terminal are used by airlines that flies to domestic destination. Terminal 3, as of the writing of this article, is not yet open to the public.
Major airlines that fly to Manila include KLM and Lufthansa, which has daily connections to Amsterdam and Frankfurt, respectively, and to other points in Europe; Northwest Airlines, which have various connections to the United States via Japan; Singapore Airlines with multiple connections each day to Singapore and Cathay Pacific which offers multiple flights a day to Hong Kong and further into the the Chinese Mainland. Budget carrier Jet Air Asia operates flights from Singapore to Manila unlike other low cost carriers which fly to Clark (see below).
Major airlines that fly into Manila include (as of January 2007):Air Macau (Macau)Air Niugini (Hong Kong, Port Moresby)Asiana Airlines (Busan, Seoul-Incheon)Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong)Cebu Pacific (Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul-Incheon, Singapore)China Airlines (Kaohsiung, Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan)China Southern Airlines (Beijing, Guangzhou, Xiamen)Continental Airlines (as Continental Micronesia; Guam, Koror, Saipan, Yap)Emirates (Dubai)Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi)EVA Air (Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan)Gulf Air (Manama, Muscat)Japan Airlines (operated by JALways; Tokyo-Narita)Jetstar Asia Airways (Singapore)KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Amsterdam)Korean Air (Seoul-Incheon)Kuwait Airways (Bangkok, Kuwait)Lufthansa (Frankfurt)Malaysia Airlines (Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur)Northwest Airlines (Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nagoya-Centrair, Tokyo-Narita)Philippine Airlines (Bangkok, Beijing, Busan, Fukuoka, Guam, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Jakarta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Nagoya-Centrair, Okinawa, Osaka-Kansai, San Francisco, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan, Tokyo-Narita, Vancouver, Xiamen)Qantas (Brisbane, Sydney)Qatar Airways (Doha)Royal Brunei (Bandar Seri Begawan)Saudi Arabian Airlines (Dammam, Jeddah, Riyadh)Singapore Airlines (Singapore)Thai Airways International (Bangkok, Osaka-Kansai)
From either international airport, passengers can connect to domestic flights. Philippine Airlines domestic flights leave from the same airport (Terminal 2), while other domestic airlines fly out of the old domestic airport.
The Diosdado Macapagal International Airport
in Clark, Pampanga is where budget airlines like Air Asia (from Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu) and Tiger Airways (from Singapore and Macau) fly to, aside from that it also receives direct flights from Hong Kong and Korea. Clark is located to the north of Metro Manila, about 1 to 2 hours by bus.
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport
in Cebu on the island of Visayas receives international traffic from Malaysia, Qatar, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea.
The Francisco Bangoy International Airport
in Davao City on the island of Mindanao receives direct flights from Seoul in South Korea, Singapore, Manado and Gorontalo in Indonesia, and Palau in Micronesia and seasonal flights from Macau.
The Kalibo Airport
in Kalibo in the province of Aklan receives, a gateway to Boracay, it receives direct flights from Seoul in South Korea.
The Laoag International Airport
in Laoag City in the province of Ilocos Norte receives direct flights from Guangzhou in China.
The Subic Bay International Airport
in Subic in the province of Zambales receives direct flights from Taipei in Taiwan.
The Basco Airport
in Basco in the province of Batanes receives seasonal flights from Macau.
The Zamboanga International Airport
in Zamboanga City on the Zamboanga Peninsula will soon receive direct flights from Sandakan in Malaysia beginning in April 23, 2007.Get around
Philippine Airlines and Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific, SEAIR, Asian Spirit and Interisland Airlines are some of the airlines that operate domestic flights. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific serve most large cities, while smaller operators like SEAIR, Asian Spirit and Interisland Airlines typically fly to popular resort destinations.By train
Within Metro Manila, there is a network of light railway systems that connect various portions of the metropolis. The Philippine National Railways network in the south is dilapidated and possibly not advisable for tourists to take.By car
The Strong Republic Nautical Highway has actually made travel by car across the various islands possible albeit quite impractical for tourists due to long travel times required and the relatively cheap price of airfares between the major cities. If one is insistent on driving, the major car rental companies such as Avis, Hertz and Budget have offices in Metro Manila, notably at the airport. These companies have chauffeur driven rentals available and prices are bound to be reasonable.
Due to heavy traffic in Metro Manila, certain areas of the city have laws that restrict certain vehicles based on the day of the week and the ending number of your vehicle's license plate (this plan is called "Color Coding", though it has nothing to do with the color of your vehicle). For example: Cars with license plates ending in 0 or 1 cannot drive between the hours of 7am and 7pm on Mondays on most main roads. Be sure to check with a local contact or the car rental agency/hotel concierge about whether these rules will apply to your vehicle, especially as foreigners driving can become targets for less scrupulous traffic aides.
Travel from Metro Manila to various provinces in Luzon will typically start off from either the North or South Expressways. These are tollways with good asphalt paved roads. Farthest tolls will not cost more than a few dollars from Metro Manila. From the expressways, national highways and provincial roads connect to the major cities and provinces.
Bridges and ferries connect the major islands together. Roads vary greatly in quality from the paved multi-lane highways to narrow dirt roads, which further complicates travel by carBy taxi
Taxis are generally available within the major cities but are usually not used for travel across the various provinces and regions. Some FX (shared taxis) however usually ply provincial routes.
You can also call reputable Taxi companies that can arrange pickups and transfers as well as airport runs.
Basic Taxi Company
Tel: 02 9001447
Tel: 02 6427777
Tel: 02 6437777By bus
Apart from flying, buses are usually the way to go when it comes to traveling across the Philippines, at least from within the major islands. Provincial bus companies have scheduled trips from Manila to provinces to the north and south.Major Provincial Bus Companies:* Alps Bus Co -- Southern Tagalog Region* JAM Bus Co -- Southern Tagalog Region* Five Star -- Ilocos Region* Victory Liner -- Ilocos Region, Baguio and Zambales* Saulog Transit -- Baguio, Olongapo, Cavite* Partas -- Ilocos Region* Farinas -- Ilocos Region* Dagupan Bus Co. -- Ilocos Region* Philtranco -- Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Northern, Eastern, and Southern Mindanao
Roll-on, Roll-off ferries have also made inter-island travel by bus possible.By boat
WG&A SuperFerry and a number of other companies operate interisland ferries. There is a convenient Friday overnight ferry trip to Coron, Palawan. This allows divers to spend the weekend in Coron and take the Sunday night ferry trip back to Manila, arriving around noon.
Ferry trips to other islands can take over 24 hours, depending on distance.
Other major ferry companies include: Sulpicio Lines, Negros NavigationWarning
: If the boat appears to be over-capacity, do not board. Always check the latest weather reports before travel by ferry, as some captains are willing to sail even when a typhoon is approaching. Bringing your own life preserver is strongly recommended (but no substitute for common sense). Travel by boat should not be considered more safe than air travel, and could easily be more dangerous.By jeep
The jeepney is by far the most affordable way to get around most major urban areas. Remnants of the Jeep used by the American troops during World War II, the innovative Filipinos modified the jeep (by lengthning the body and adding horizontal seats) to seat as many as 20 people (10 per side). In the provinces, Jeepneys also connect towns and cities together. For longer distances however, buses are more comfortable.
Also worthy of mention are the tricycle
and the pedicab
(three wheeled bike), however this may not be to the liking of most foreigners, as these are cramped and quite open to the traffic. These means of transport are also usually only used for very short distances.NOTE:
The jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs are meant for small people. Seating is cramped, even for locals, who are, on average, smaller by Western standards. Jeepney drivers/operators often insist on seating the vehicle to full capacity (say, nine per side) even if there's a very large person seated. Consider this if you're overweight or 6 feet or taller. Watch your head when boarding as the roof is low (compared to a bus). Also, drivers often don't look to see if anyone is boarding before embarking. As you board, you need to evaluate every half second
whether you're going to abort or hang on to the vehicle if it starts to move. If you're not in good physical shape, don't even try it.Talk
The Philippines has two official languages: English and Filipino
.Filipino is mainly based on the Tagalog languag (a relative of Malay), with heavy Tamil, Sanskrit, Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese, and Spanish and English influences.
Tagalog is the language spoken in the Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions as well as the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila. In the Northern Luzon provinces, Ilocano is the most common language spoken. The provinces of Pangasinan and Pampanga also have their own language. Further south of Metro Manila lies the Bicol Region where Bikolano is used. In the Southern Islands of Visayas and Mindanao, Cebuano is the most common language spoken. Other minor languages in the south include Hiligaynon and Waray.
There are some other ethnic groups who reside in the country, particularly in more urbanized areas like Manila. The biggest group are the Chinese - many of which have assimilated seemlessly with Filipino society. Other groups include the Koreans, Japanese, Middle Easterns, and the Europeans/Americans comprising the other major groups.
Communication wouldn't be too much of a hassle for the English-speaking traveler since the vast majority of the locals are English-speaking. The Philippines also has one of the highest percentages of truly bilingual and multilingual speakers in the world, surpassing other officially bilingual/multilingual nations and territories in Asia, such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. English is widely used around the country, particularly in big cities. It is also widely used in government, the media, and in commerce. Street signs and billboards will likely be in English, but public service messages may be in Filipino. English is a compulsory subject in all schools (public and private) from elementary school to university. Practically everyone you meet will understand English, even if s/he may not be completely fluent. In fact, English is the official language of business.
Many Spanish words survive in many of the local languages though mostly in corrupted form. (Some local languages such as Chavacano is entirely a corrupted form of Spanish.) Spanish is no longer widely understood. Since about 45% of all the words used in everyday speech are of Spanish provenance. Nonetheless, Spanish is still spoken fluently by a select population of the Philippine population,
mostly by rich Spanish Filipinos.Feast
The Philippines offers plenty of regional festivals, often linked to the feast of the patron saints of the town or city holding the festival. Parades and processions, marching bands, floats and dance displays are usual activities. A number of important festivals include the following:Black Nazarene - held in Quiapo Chruch Manila in January. Panagbenga - the flower festival held in Baguio every FebruaryChinese New Year - celebrations coinciding with the coming of the Lunar new year, held in many urban areas, particularly in Chinatown in downtown ManilaAti-Atihan - also held to commemorate the feast of the Sto. Nino, but this time in Kalibo on the island of Panay. The Queen of Philippine Festivals and said to be the Filipino version of Mardi Gras.Moriones - held during the Lenten Season in Marinduque. These are passion plays meant to depict the crucifixion and eventual resurrection of Jesus Christ.Pahiyas - held every May in Lucban, Quezon to celebrate the feast day of San Isidro Labrador. There is a town-wide house decorating contest held during the festival. The colors and designs used are a feast for the eyes.Flores de Mayo - flower festival held in every May. Many towns celebrate Flores De Mayo with the community congregating in the afternoons to pray the rosary, offer flowers to the Virgin Mary, and share homemade delicacies and snacks. Children and adults wearing their Sunday best, sing and dance to welcome the rains that will water the new crops. Kadayawan - held in Davao every August, Kadayawan means a Thanksgiving celebration for the good harvest, were most flowers and fruits are available during the season.Bangus Festival - not as popular as the other festivals. It is held annually in Dagupan City, Pangasinan. The usual events are a parade and 101 Ways to Cook Bangus. A "Longest Barbeque" was also held during the festival one year.Sun
Beaches can be found aplenty on this nation of 7,100 islands. These beaches come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and fineness of sand. Some are in well-secluded islands while others are just a short ride across a causeway from the city. Among the most notable are the following:Boracay - Boracay Island off the island of Panay has the White Beach. It is also one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It has fine, powdery white sand stretching on for several kilometers and is an excellent spot for sun-worshippers. Boracay also has several other lesser-known beaches. Outrigger boats to Boracay depart from Caticlan Port, just a short flight from Manila.Mactan Island - in Cebu, the Cebu airport is actually on Mactan IslandPagudpud - in Ilocos Norte, several hours north of Metro ManilaPanglao - small island off the island of Bohol, a short ride from the capital of Tagbilaran, which in turn is a short fast ferry ride from Cebu City. From Panglao, you can easily schedule an excursion to the Chocolate Hills for which Bohol is most known.Puerto Galera - on the island of Mindoro. Ferries to Puerto Galera depart from Batangas Port, a couple of hours drive south of Metro ManilaSamal Island - off the coast of DavaoCamiguin Island - an island-province north of Mindanao. Also known as the Lanzones Capital of the Philippines, it can be reached directly by plane or ferry.Negros Island - Negros Occidental (north-western half of the island, in the Western Visayas region) offers fine white sand beaches, and nearby Danjugan Island Marine Reserve. Danjugan Island is bursting with thousands of species of marine life and home to the endangered White Breasted Eagle. Negros Oriental (south-eastern half of the island, in the Central Visayas region) is home to Dumaguete and numerous beach resorts in Dauin that can take you to Apo Island, one of the most magnificent diving spots in the Philippines.Learn
Scuba diving is spectacular in the Philippines. There is a great variety of dive sites and most if not all of these would have at least a handful of PADI accredited diving schools where you can obtain your license. Costs (of both lessons and equipment) are likely to be cheaper here compared to places like Australia, the Carribean or even in nearby Thailand and Malaysia.Work
It is possible for foreigners to earn casual money whilst staying in the Philippines, especially in Manila and other bigger cities in provinces. These may include temporary teaching in schools, colleges and other institutions; and working in bars and clubs. Temporary work may also be available as an "extra" on the set of a film or television series. Fluency in English is very important in jobs even if knowledge of Filipino or Tagalog is considerably low.
Unlike other countries, there are no strict bureaucratic papers needed such as carte de sejours and NI IDs, so some formal jobs are not hard to come by and get. Do not expect large amount of sums of money even for formal jobs. Wages are displayed on a per day basis rather than a per hour basis.
Most establishments pay out monthly but informal jobs pay out variably either cash on hand or weekly.Buy
The Philippine peso
is the official currency. One US dollar is equivalent to P 46.957 PHP (17 May 2007).
Peso bills come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. One peso is equivalent to 100 centavos and coins come in 5, 10 and 25 centavo variants in addition to the 1, 5 and 10 peso coins.
Money changers are not so common in the Philippines apart from some heavily touristed areas and most malls which usually have their own currency exchange stall. Banks on the other hand are widely available to exchange currency but have a limited time of operation, usually from 9 AM to 3 PM on weekdays.
Visitors can also use the 6,000 ATMs nationwide to withdraw funds or ask for cash advances. The three major local ATM consortiums are BancNet, MegaLink and Expressnet. International networks, like PLUS and Cirrus, are accessble with many ATMs, but Cirrus is more predominant that PLUS. However, withdrawls are often limited to 5,000 peso. An exception is HSBC where up to 50,000 peso is possible.
Visitors who have a MasterCard/Maestro/Cirrus card can withdraw funds or ask for cash advances at ATMs that display their logos. The most prominent MasterCard ATMs are the Express Tellers by BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) and the Smartellers by Banco de Oro.
PLUS ATMs are not available locally as a complement by itself, but instead it is available along with Cirrus. Prominent examples include the Fasteller by Equitable PCI Bank and the Electronic Teller (ET) by Metrobank. Most MegaLink ATMs are linked to PLUS and Cirrus.
Credit card holders can use VISA, MasterCard, American Express and JCB cards in many locations in the Philippines but merchants would usually require a minimum purchase amount before you can use your card. Cardholders of China UnionPay credit cards can get cash advances at many BancNet ATMs (particularly of Metrobank) but cannot use their cards in point of sale transactions at the moment.Costs
The Philippines is one of the least expensive places to visit in Asia and as well in the rest of the world.
Here is a list of prices in Philippine pesos (P).
Flight from London Heathrow to Manila Â£500 (off peak - Aug - Nov, Jan - April) - Â£800 peak, economy
Flight from London Heathrow to Manila Â£1200 - Â£1800 (P120,000 - P180,000) Business and First Class
Flight from Manila to Singapore - US$115
Flight from Manila to Cebu - US$35
Typical 4-star hotel single room in Manila - P3500/$66.00
Typical 3D/2N hotel suite accommodation in Boracay Island - P14,000/$264.00
Air-conditioned dormitory in Manila - P240/$4.50
Single air-con room with private cold shower and cable TV in Cebu - P500/$9.45
Movie - P100-P160/$2.00-$3.00
Budget Meal - P40 (includes a cup of rice, assorted selection of meat, side dish of vegetables, and a bowl of clear broth soup).
Taxi - P30 for the first 2.5km and P2.50 for each succeeding 200m
Jeepney - P7.00 (first 4km; P6.00 for Students/Elderly/Disabled) P1.25/KM after the first 4km.
Elevated Train in Manila - P12-15 (LRT 1 and MRT 2), P10-P15 (MRT-3)
Internet use (1 hour) - P20-P50; depending on the Internet CafÃ©
7-Eleven: can of Coke - P16, 1.5 liter Coke - P35, Hotdog - P20, Donut - P16, serving of Spaghetti - P32, serving of Pork Adobo with rice - P35
Buffet in Cebu - P130
Buffet in Davao - P99
Buffet in Manila - P350
International Herald Tribune - P70
Economist Magazine - P160Eat
Filipino cuisine has developed from the different cultures that shaped its history. As such it is a melange of Indian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Malay, American, and Spanish influences. Though it is not as renowned as Thai and lately Vietnamese cuisine, Filipino cooking is nonetheless distinct in that it is possibly the least spicy of all South East Asian cuisines. Don't make the mistake to think of Filipino food as bland; it is just that instead of spices, Filipino food depends more on garlic, onions and ginger to add flavor to dishes. Painstaking preparation and prolonged cooking time is also a characteristic of most Filipino dishes, and this often is what brings out the flavor of the food as opposed to a healthy dose of spices.
Filipinos usually eat with a spoon and fork, with the spoon held in the right hand and the fork used for pushing food onto the spoon. But sometimes, Filipinos eat by their hands, usually on provinces and remote areas or when they are on a picnic and making banana tree leaf as their plate. Rice
As with the rest of South East Asia, rice is the staple food of the Philippines. Some areas in the south prefer corn but elsewhere Filipinos would generally have rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Rice comes in 50kg sacks.Mains
Filipinos usually serve at least one main course accompanied by rice for lunch and dinner. At times you would have two with a vegetable dish accompanying a meat dish. On special occassions such as fiestas, several main dishes would be served. Soups are also often the main course apart from being a starter. It is not uncommon for Filipinos to douse their rice with the soup and eat the meat that came with the soup alongside. Here are a few typical Filipino dishes: Adobo - chicken, pork or both served in a garlicky stew with vinegar and soy sauce as a base.Sinigang - soup soured usually with tamarind (but can also be by guavas or kamias), can be served with pork, beef, chicken, fish or shrimps.Lengua - roasted beef tongue marinated in savory sauceNilaga - literally means "boiled", can be beef which in certain places is served with its marrow (bulalo), pork or chicken.Calamares - fried shrimp/squid wrapped in breadings.Kare-kare - peanuty stew of vegetables and meat simmered for hours on end, usually beef with tripe and tail and eaten with a side of shrimp paste (bagoong). There is also a seafood version of kare-kare with crabs, squid and shrimp instead of beef.Camaron Rebusado - the Filipino version of tempura.Lechon de leche - slow-roasted baby pork, usually served during larger occassions. The crispy skin is delicious and is often the first part that is consumed.Daing na bangus - fried dried milkfish, usually served for breakfast with garlic fried rice and fried egg.Pakbet - a traditional meal of mixed vegetables usually containing cut tomatoes, minced pork, lady finger, eggplant, etc.Dinuguan - a dark stew of pig's blood mixed with its innards. Usually served with a big green chili and best eaten with puto.Bopis - pork innards, usually served spicy.Snacks
Filipinos love to snack. Merienda is what Filipinos call their mid-morning and mid-afternoon meals. Some favorite snack time meals include:Bibingka - rice cake with cheese and salted egg.Halo-halo - literally "mix-mix", fruit, sweets, crushed ice, milk, beans, and sometimes ice cream. Similar to the ice kachang served in Malaysia and Singapore.Balut - is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. Popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, baluts are mostly sold by street vendors at night in the regions where they are available. Boiled and usually eaten with a sprinkle of salt and vinegar.Penoy - same as balut, but unfertilized, with just the yolk.Buko pie - pie made with fresh coconut flesh.Pandesal - small buns usually made fresh in the morning, usually an alternative to rice for breakfast.Banana cue - a popular street food made of saba bananas fried in very hot oil with caramelized sugar coating. The saba bananas can also be boiled instead of fried.Fishballs - more popularly known to Filipinos as "fishballan" they usually come in vendor stands and are sold deep-fried along with squidballs, chickenballs and kikiam. Some stands also sell "isaw" (chicken innard), siomai (steamed dumpling), "kwekkwek" (boiled quail egg in orange coating), and "betamax" (dried and cubed pig's blood). A stick may sell from P5 to P10. Isaw sticks usually sell for P2.Puto - a general term for rice cake, they usually come as soft white rice muffins or pie-shaped desserts. Other kinds include Biko, Cuchinta, Pichi-Pichi, Sapin-Sapin, etc.Chicharon - crunchy snacks made from deep-fried pig parts.Fruits & Desserts
Tropical fruits abound in the Philippines. Most of the countryside produce finds its way to the metro areas and can be easily bought in supermarkets.Green, ripe, and dried mangoes - Philippine mangoes are among the best in the world. Durian - smells like hell but supposedly tastes of heaven, most common in Davao but can usually also be bought in some supermarkets in Manila.Sampaloc candy - salted and sweetened tamarind fruitMais con Hielo - corn mixed with crushed ice and milkLeche Flan - jelly made from butter, milk and honey
McDonald's, Dairy Queen, Burger King, Wendy's, KFC, Shakey's, Pizza Hut, Kenny Roger's Roasters, Sbarro's, Starbucks, Seattle's Best, Subway and other multinational fast food chains have established themselves in the Philippines.Drink
Metro Manila is home to many bars, watering holes, and karaoke sites. Popular places include Makati (particularly the Glorietta and Greenbelt areas), Ortigas Metrowalk, and Eastwood in Libis. Other big cities such as Cebu City and Davao also have areas where the nightlife is centered. Establishments serve the usual hard and soft drinks typical of bars elsewhere. Note that Filipinos rarely consume alcohol by itself. They would normally have what is called as "pulutan" or bar chow alongside their drinks which is like the equivalent of tapas. At the least, this would consist of mixed nuts but selections of grilled meats and seafood are not uncommon food alongside the customary drinks.
Beer is perhaps the most common form of alcohol consumed in bars. San Miguel Beer is the dominant local brand with several variants such as Light, Dry, Strong Ice and their flagship variant Pale Pilsen. Budweiser, Heineken and Corona can also be found in upscale bars. Rhum and "ginebra" which is the local form of gin are commonly available forms of hard liquor. Indigenous forms of liquor are lambanog
which are both derived from coconut sap. Tuba is fermented from the coconut sap and though tuba itself can be drunk, it is also distilled to take the form of lambanog. Lambanog is now being marketed widely both locally and internationally in its base form as well as in several flavored variants such as mango, bubble gum and blueberry.
Of course non-alcoholic drinks are also widely available in bars and other establishments. Don't miss:Calamansi juice (a fruit drink made from a small, round, green citrus fruit)Fresh Buko juice (young coconut)Sago''' at Gulaman (a sweet drink with tapioca pearls and seaweed gelatin)Green mango shakeTaho (a sweet, warm soya snack usually served in the morning, with tapioca balls, soft tofu and caramelized syrup)Sleep
Housing for tourists are hotels, condotels (mostly in Manila), apartels and pension houses. Hotels are usually more expensive, condotels are furnished condos rented out for long or short term stays, apartels are set up for both short and long term stays, and a pension house is usually more basic and economical. These all vary in terms of cleanliness, availability of air conditioning, and hot water showers. Motels, inns, and lodges are for illicit sex, and are usually a small room with a connected carport, hidden behind a high wall which provides for secret comings and goings. You can distinguish these from reputable lodgings by their hourly rates.Stay safe
Don't flash around valuables like mp3 players, jewelry and cellphones. Pickpockets is really common in the big cities of the Philippines. On other hand, Manila is one of the safest cities in the Southeast Asian region.
Several regions, notable the southern islands of Mindanao, are known for being "conflict areas," areas with long histories of insurgency from groups such as the New People's Army (NPA, a communist group) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF, a radical Islamic seperatist group). Having a reputable travel guide or a trusted local friend with you when traveling through these areas is highly advisable.
See also common scams and pickpockets.Prostitution
Prostitution is nationally illegal in the Philippines, although hostess bars and massage parlors abound. The age of consent is 18. Penalties for sex with minors are harsh, and offenders may also be prosecuted by their home country. Stay healthy
Drink the readily available bottled water. Buko (young coconut) juice is also safe if they have not added local ice to it. Be wary also of Buko juice vendors, some usually just add sugar to water. Buy and eat fruit that has not already been cut up. Cooked food from a karenderia (outdoor canteen) is okay if there is a fire under the pots and the food has been kept hot.
If you must drink tap water (it is usually served/contained in a small to medium plastic bag), water in Manila, Cebu City, Olongapo-Subic, and Angeles may be ok, but it is recommended that you boil tap water for at least 5 minutes just to be safe. Elsewhere drink bottled water. There is always the risk of contracting amoebiasis when drinking tap water in the countryside. Also, this applies to ice that is usually put in beverages.
Bottled water is best purchased from within stores and sheltered eateries. Bottled waters sold outside (by the roads) are more than likely used bottles filled with tap water, sealed then cooled.CDC
advises that risk of malaria exists in areas below 600 meters, except for the provinces of Aklan, Bilaran, Bohol, Camiguin, Capiz, Catanduanes, Cebu, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Masbate, northern Samar, Sequijor, and metropolitan Manila. NB: chloroquine is no longer a recommended malaria preventative for anywhere in the Philippines. In general malaria is not common in the Philippines and around half of the c. 40,000 annual cases are in a couple of discreet locations.
Also please note the tubercolosis is very common in the countryside, it is advisable not to stay in certain villages in areas you are not familiar with for a very long time. It is also higly advisable that if one coughs or is looks weak in strength it is highly advisable to avoid contact to that person.
Bring anti-diarrheal drugs with you, as unsanitary conditions present a high risk for traveler's diarrhea.Cope
Most of the Philippines is 220 Volt 60 Hz with the older 2-prong plug formerly used in the USA (not polarized or grounded). This is not a common voltage-frequency combination, so nearly everyone will have to pay close attention to what they plug in to an electric outlet. Americans will need a step-down transformer, while Europeans and Australians cannot use electric clocks and heavy-duty 50 Hz motors. Also, they will need a passive plug adaptor intended for USA/Canada. Americans will need one too for any plug where one blade is wider than the other (polarized), or has a third round grounding pin. It's best also to bring such items that work unviersally wuch as those electronics marked with a (100V-240V) compatibility to avoid voltage concerns.
Downtown Baguio (northern Luzon) uses 110 V @ 60 Hz like USA, but doesn't go very far beyond the city center. The airport, for example, is 220V. If staying in the Baguio area, always ask first!
If your equipment is 110-125V, merely crossing a street corner can cause it to be damaged or even catch fire. There are no signs in Baguio indicating where 110V ends and 220V begins.
Television and video in the Philippines use the NTSC format, which is the same as the USA and Canada. Televisions sets and VCRs made for Japan (though the same video format) will skip certain channels. Region Coded DVDs are Region 3 (SE Asia), though virtually all Tagalog movies are region free.See also: Travel topics
-- Electrical systemsRespect
A little courtesy goes a long way. Filipinos are a very friendly and hospitable people, sometimes even to a fault. Take the time to smile and say "thank you", and you'll receive much better responses. You will receive an even better response if you throw in a little Tagalog, such as "salamat", which means "thank you". When talking to the people older than you in Filipino, it is greatly appreciated to include "po" in your sentences such as "salamat po". In the countryside and in some urban homes, footwear is removed when entering a home, though they may make an exception for foreigners. The key is to look around before entering any home. If you see footwear just outside the door, more than likely the family's practice is to remove footwear before entering. If you wear socks, you don't have to remove them.Contact
The country code for the Philippines is 63. The area code for Metro Manila is 2.
GSM cell phones are in wide use all over the country, however iDEN network is also somewhat present (service is provided by Next Mobile, a subsidiary of Nextel) 3G technology is also available through Smart and Globe. In most urban locations and many resorts, cell phone service will be available. The average cost of an international long-distance call to the United States and other major countries is 40 US cents per minute (approximately 20 pesos), with local calls ranging from 6.50 to 7.50 pesos. Text messages cost one peso and the Philippines is usually tagged as the "texting capital of the world."
The three major telecommunications companies are PLDT (wireless subsidiary Smart Communications for mobile phones), Globe Telecom, and Sun Cellular. If you are visiting the Philippines, it is wise to check your mobile carrier to see if they offer international roaming for your plan and if so, which of the three carriers do they partner with and you will need at least a dualband GSM mobile phone.
Pre-paid SIM cards of these networks are easy to acquire and cost as low as P 150 (approximately US$ 3) and provide a cheap alternative to (usually) expensive roaming charges on home networks. If your unit is locked to your home service provider, cellphone repair shops in various malls have ways of unlocking. If you don't have a phone to begin with, a complete pre-paid kit with phone and SIM could be had for as low as 2 to 3 thousand pesos (US$40 to 60). Note that the phones that come with these kits would usually be locked to the local network provider. You would also need to have it unlocked before leaving if you plan on using it back home.
Reloading pre-paid SIMs is a breeze. Electronic Load (E-Load) stations are everywhere from small corner stores to the large malls where you just give your mobile phone number and the amount you wish to load (Globe, Smart and Sun each have their load denominations to choose from for E-loading). If you have a friend using the same mobile operator as you, you can load as little as a few pesos by letting him/her pass on some of his/her load to you and if you need hundreds of pesos worth of load, you can purchase pre-paid cards which are available in denominations of 300 and 500 pesos (approximately US$6 and 10 respectively).
Due to the wide use of cellular phones, pay phones are increasingly becoming obsolete. Some malls and public places still do have them and they usually come in either the coin or card operated variety. Globe and PLDT are the usual operators. Phone cards are usually sold by shops which sell cellphone pre-paid loads and cards. Note that phone cards of one company can not be used with the other company's card operated phones.
Internet access areas of broadband speeds are plentiful in city malls, much less so outside the cities, but are growing at a rapid pace. Some of these shops offer an alternative to the traditional overseas phone calls by use of their VOIP networks. Internet surfing rates depend primarily on where you surf and the medium used (e.g. WiFi or wired). Internet services offered by hotels and shopping malls are expensive and can go up to P200/hour (approximately US$4) but neighbourhood cafes can be as cheap as P15/hour (approximately US$0.30). WiFi service in the Philippines is provided by Airborneaccess.net and WiZ is likely to cost P100 (approximately US$2) for up to an hour. Coffee shops like Starbucks and Seattle's Best as well as malls usually carry WiFi service (check www.airborneaccess.net for the full list). Certain areas may carry free WiFi.
Apart from the Philippine postal service, FedEx, UPS, and DHL courier services are also available. Local couriers such as LBC and Aboitiz are also available.
), officially the Republic of the Philippines
(Republika ng Pilipinas
), is an island nation located in Southeast Asia, with Manila as its capital city. The Philippine Archipelago comprises 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean. The country reflects diverse indigenous Austronesian cultures from its many islands, as well as European and American influence from Spain, Latin America and the United States.
Filipinos are mostly of Austronesian descent. Filipino minorities include American, Spanish, Chinese, and Arab ancestry.
A former Spanish and United States colony, the Philippines has many affinities with the Western world including Spain and Latin America due to three centuries of Spanish colonial rule. Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion, and Filipino and English are the official languages.History
Archeological and paleontological theory suggests that Homo sapiens
existed in Palawan about 50,000 BC. The Negritos are thought to have arrived in the area that is now the Philippines more than 30,000 years ago, perhaps via land bridges that connected the area to the Asian continent during an ice age.
The ancestors of the vast majority of the Filipino people, the Austronesians from Taiwan, settled in northern Luzon around 2500 BC. They spread to the rest of the Philippines and later colonized most of Maritime Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific Islands. Arab, Chinese and Indian traders made contact with the Philippines during the course of the next thousand years until the arrival of the Europeans.
Sailing for the Spanish, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew were the first Europeans to arrive in the archipelago in 1521. Magellan was killed by indigenous warriors in Mactan Island while being involved with political conflicts with Lapu-Lapu. The beginnings of colonization came when the King Philip II of Spain (for whom the Philippines is named) ordered a follow-up expedition. The conquistador, Miguel LÃ³pez de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first Spanish settlements in Cebu. In 1571 he established Manila as the capital of the new Spanish colony.
Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the inhabitants. In the next 333 years, the Spanish military fought off various local indigenous revolts and various external colonial challenges. Such challenges came from the British, Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, and Portuguese. The most significant loss for Spain was the temporary occupation of the capital, Manila, by the British during the Seven Years' War. The Philippines was ruled as a territory of New Spain from 1565 to 1821, before it was administered directly from Spain. The Manila Galleon which linked Manila to Acapulco, Mexico traveled once or twice a year, beginning in the late 16th century. The Philippines opened itself to world trade on September 6, 1834.
A propaganda movement, which included Philippine nationalist JosÃ© Rizal, then a student studying in Spain, soon developed on the Spanish mainland. This was done in order to inform the government of the injustices of the administration in the Philippines as well as the abuses of the friars. In the 1880s and the 1890s, the propagandists clamored for political and social reforms, which included demands for greater representation in Spain. Unable to gain the reforms, Rizal returned to the country, and pushed for the reforms locally. Rizal was subsequently arrested, tried, and executed for treason on December 30, 1896. Earlier that year, the Katipunan, led by AndrÃ©s Bonifacio, already started a revolution, which was eventually continued by Emilio Aguinaldo, who established a revolutionary government, although the Spanish governor general Fernando Primo de Rivera proclaimed the revolution over in May 17, 1897. The country itself is undergoing desertification in place like Sorsogon, Baguio, Davao and the Sierra Madre mountain range.
Most of the mountainous islands used to be covered in tropical rainforest and are volcanic in origin. The highest point is Mount Apo on Mindanao at 2,954 metres (9,692 ft). There are many active volcanos such as Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo, and Taal Volcano. The country also lies within the typhoon belt of the Western Pacific and about 19 typhoons strike per year.
Lying on the northwestern fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activities. Some 20 earthquakes are registered daily in the Philippines, though most are too weak to be felt. The last great earthquake was the 1990 Luzon earthquake.
The longest river is the Cagayan River of northern Luzon. The nearly circular Manila Bay, is connected to the Laguna de Bay by means of the Pasig River. Subic Bay, the Davao Gulf and the Moro Gulf are some of the important bays. Transversing the San Juanico Strait is the San Juanico Bridge, that connects the islands of Samar and Leyte.Economy
The Philippines is a newly industrialized country with an agricultural base, light industry, and service-sector economy. It has been listed in "Next Eleven" economies. The Philippines has one of the most vibrant business process outsourcing (BPO) industries in Asia. Numerous call centers and BPO firms have infused momentum into the Philippines market, generating thousands of jobs, including Fortune 500 companies.
The resiliency of the Philippine economy is due to low foreign fund inflows and its agriculture-based economy that allowed it to snap back from Asian Financial Crisis as evidenced by a 3% growth in 1999 and 4% in 2000. By 2004, the Philippine economy catapulted to over 6% growth after the East Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pledged to turn the country into a First World state by 2020. In 2005, the Philippine peso was said to be Asia's best-performing currency. In 2006, the Philippine economy expanded at a rate of 5.4%, higher than of the previous year. The government plans to accelerate the country's GDP growth by 7% in 2007. The government forecasts the economy to grow at 9% by 2009.
Strategies for streamlining the economy include improvements of infrastructure, more efficient tax systems to bolster government revenues, furthering deregulation and privatization of the economy, and increasing trade integration within the region and across the world.
On November 1, 2005, a newly expanded value added tax (E-VAT) law was instituted as a measure to bridle the rising foreign debt and to improve government services such as education, health care, social security, and transportation. As of 2006, The Philippines' economic prosperity also depends in large part on how well its two biggest trading partners' economies perform: the U.S. and Japan.
Despite the growing economy, the Philippines will have to address several chronic problems in the future. Income inequality remains persistent; about 30 million people lived on less than $2 per day in 2005. China and India have emerged as major economic competitors, siphoning away investors who would otherwise have invested in the Philippines, particularly telecom companies. Regional development is also somewhat uneven, with the main island Luzon and Metro Manila gaining most of the new economic growth at the expense of the other regions.
In 2006, the Philippines experienced its lowest budget deficit in 8 years. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said that the nation is "making gains ahead of schedule." The Philippines' target in 2007 is to have a balanced budget. The 2006 budget deficit was at an all-time low of $1.27 billion.
The Philippines is a significant source of migrant workers; as of 2004, the Philippine government has estimated that there are over 8 million Overseas Filipinos while independent estimates by various Philippine civic organizations estimate the number at 11 million. Overseas Filipinos sent home a record $10.7 billion in 2005. The Filipino diaspora is present in 190 nations worldwide. In 2006, Overseas Filipinos remitted $12.8 billion back home and represents an almost 20% increase from the previous year. The government forecast for 2007 that at least $14 billion will be sent to the Philippines by Filipino workers.
The Philippines is a member of the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Colombo Plan, and the G-77, among others Demographics
The Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country, with a population of over 85 million as of 2005. Roughly two-thirds reside on the island of Luzon. Manila, the capital, is the eleventh most populous metropolitan area in the world. The literacy rate was 92.5% in 2003, and about equal for males and females. Life expectancy is 69.91 years, with 72.28 years for females and 66.44 years for males. Population growth per year is about 1.92%, with 26.3 births per 1,000 people. In the 100 years since the 1903 Census, the population has grown by a factor of eleven. This represents a much faster rate of growth than other countries in the region (Indonesia has grown fivefold over the same period). Ethnic groups
The people of the Philippines are called Filipinos. Most Filipinos are descended from the various Austronesian-speaking migrants who arrived in successive waves over a thousand years ago from Taiwan, genetically most closely related to the Ami tribe. Filipinos to this day are divided into various ethnic groups, including but not limited to the Visayan, the Tagalogs, the Ilocanos, the Moro, the Kapampangans, the Bicolanos, the Pangasinense, the Igorot, the Lumad, the Mangyan, the Ibanag, the Chabacano, the Badjao, the Ivatan, and the Palawan tribes. The Negritos, including the Aetas and the Ati, are considered as the aboriginal inhabitants of the Philippines though they are estimated to be fewer than 30,000 people (0.03%).
Filipinos of Chinese descent, who had been settling in the Philippines since pre-colonization, currently forms the largest non-Austronesian ethnic group, claiming about 2% of the population . Other significant minorities, ranked according to population, include Spanish, Americans, other Europeans, Japanese, Koreans, and South Asians. There are also numerous Arabs and Indonesians residing in the country, especially in Mindanao. The Philippines has Asia's largest Eurasian, Amerasian, and American population .
Throughout the country's history, various ethnic groups as well as immigrants and colonizers have intermarried, producing Filipino mestizos. These mestizos, apart from being of mixed indigenous Austronesian and European ancestry, can be descended from any ethnic foreign forebearers. They have mixed ancestry (mostly of Spanish or Mexican, American and other European descents), and about 10% have some Chinese ancestry. An unknown number of Filipinos also have some Amerindian ancestry. Languages
More than 170 languages and dialects are spoken in the country, almost all of them belonging to the Borneo-Philippines group of Malayo-Polynesian language branch of the Austronesian language family.
According to the 1987 Constitution, Filipino and English are both the official languages. Many Filipinos understand, write and speak English, Filipino and their respective regional languages.
Filipino is the de facto
standardized version of Tagalog and the nation's official language. English, the other official language, is widely used as a lingua franca
throughout the country.
Twelve major regional languages are the auxiliary official languages of their respective regions, each with over one million speakers: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Bikol, Pangasinan. Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao and Tausug.
English was imposed by Americans during the U.S. intervention and colonization of the archipelago. English is used in education, churches, religious affairs, print and broadcast media, and business, though the number of people who use it as a second language far outnumber those who speak it as a first language. Still, English is the preferred medium for textbooks and instruction for secondary and tertiary levels. Very few would prefer books in the vernacular. Movies and TV programs in English are not subtitled and are expected to be directly understood but many films and TV channels are now almost exclusively Tagalog in origin. English is the sole language of the law courts. Written and spoken competence in English among the majority of poor Filipinos has been decreasing in recent years due to the abandonment of English medium free primary education..
The Lan-nang-oe variant of Min Nan Chinese dialect is widely spoken by the country's Chinese minority.
Due to its close proximity as a neighbouring Southeast Asian nation, Indonesian (and some other Malay variants) are also spoken in the Philippines, particularly southern regions. As with Filipino, the Indonesian and Malay languages are also members of the Malayo-Polynesian language branch of the Austronesian language family and represent major languages of Southeast Asia.
Spanish in the Philippines was the original official language of the country for more than three centuries, but was used mainly by the educated illustrados (including JosÃ© Rizal) or self taught natives and the Spanish authorities. Spanish was the language of Philippine Revolution, and the 1899 Malolos Constitution proclaimed it as the official language. Following the American occupation of the Philippines, its use declined, especially after 1940. Currently, only a few Mestizos of Spanish and Mexican descents speak it as their first language, although a few others use it together with Tagalog and English.
Both Spanish and Arabic are used as auxiliary languages in the Philippines. The use of Arabic is increasingly prevalent among Filipino Muslims and taught in madrasah
(Muslim) schools. Religion
The Philippines is one of only two majority Roman Catholic countries in Asia (the other being East Timor). About 90% of Filipinos are Christians, where 81% belong to the Roman Catholic Church, and the 9% composed of Protestant denominations, the Philippine Independent Church, and Iglesia ni Cristo. While Christianity is a major force in the culture of the Filipinos, indigenous traditions and rituals still influence religious practice.
Approximately 5% of Filipinos are Muslims,
and are locally known as "Moros", having been dubbed this by the Spanish due to their sharing Islam with the Moors of North Africa. They primarily settle in parts of Mindanao, Palawan and the Sulu archipelago, but are now found in most urban areas of the country. Most lowland Muslim Filipinos practice normative Islam, although the practices of some Mindanao's hill tribe Muslims reflect a fusion with animism. There are also small populations of Buddhists, Jews and animists, which, along with other non-Christians and non-Muslims, collectively comprise 5% of the population . Culture
Filipino culture is a fusion of pre-Hispanic indigenous Austronesian civilizations of the Philippines mixed with Hispanic and American cultures. It has also been influenced by Chinese and Islamic cultures.
The Hispanic influences in Filipino culture are largely derived from the culture of Spain and Mexico as a result of over three centuries of Spanish colonial rule through Mexico City. These Hispanic influences are most evident in literature, folk music, folk dance, language, food, art and religion, such as Roman Catholic Church religious festivals. Filipinos hold major festivities known as barrio fiestas to commemorate their patron saints. One of the most visible Hispanic legacy, is the prevalence of Spanish surnames among Filipinos. This peculiarity, unique among the people of Asia, came as a result of a colonial decree for the systematic distribution of family names and implementation of the Spanish naming system on the inhabitants of the Philippines. A Spanish name and surname among the majority of Filipinos does not always denote of Spanish ancestry. Only 2% of the population (mostly Filipinos of Spanish and Mexican descent) would qualify as Hispanic by ancestry.
There are also significant amounts of Spanish influence in the country, such as names of countless streets, towns and provinces, which are named in Spanish. Spanish architecture also made a major imprint in the Philippines. This can be seen especially in the country's churches, government buildings and universities. Many Hispanic style houses and buildings are being preserved, like the Spanish colonial town in Vigan City, for protection and conservation. Kalesa is a horse-driven carriage introduced by the Spaniards and was a major mode of transportation during the colonial times. It is still being used today. Filipino cuisine is also heavily influenced by Mexican and Spanish cuisine.
The Chinese influences in Filipino culture are most evident in Filipino cuisine. The prevalence of noodles, known locally as mami
, are a testament to Chinese cuisine. Other Chinese influences include linguistic borrowings and the occasional Chinese derived surnames.
The use of English language in the Philippines is contemporaneous and is America's visible legacy. The most commonly played sports in the Philippines are basketball and billiards. There is also a wide influence of American Pop cultural trends, such as the love of fast-food and movies; many street corners boast fast-food outlets. Aside from the American commercial giants such as McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Burger King, and KFC, local fast-food chains have also sprung up, including Goldilocks, Jollibee, Greenwich Pizza, and Chowking. Modern day Filipinos also listen to contemporary American music and watch American movies. However, Original Pilipino Music (also known as OPM) and Philippine movies are also widely appreciated.
Filipinos honor national heroes whose works and deeds contributed to the shaping of the Filipino nation. JosÃ© Rizal is the most celebrated ilustrado
, a Spanish-speaking reformist visionary whose writings contributed greatly in nurturing a sense of national identity and awareness. His novels Noli Me Tangere
and El Filibusterismo
originally written in Spanish, are required readings for Filipino students, and provide vignettes of colonial life under the Spanish rule.
As with many cultures, music (which includes traditional music) and leisure activities are an important aspect of the Filipino society. Various sports are also enjoyed, including boxing, basketball, badminton, billiards, football (soccer) and ten-pin bowling being popular games in the country.
Traditional Filipino Martial Arts, such as Eskrima, had secretly been banned by the Spanish during the three-hundred year colonial period, but have been revived through an interest in learning pre-Hispanic culture. Hence, Filipino Martial Arts had in the twentieth century been made compulsory to learn for all members of the Filipino Armed Forces and the Police and many clubs exist.List of Philippine-related topicsExternal links
OfficialOfficial website of the Philippine Government - Gateway to governmental sitesMapsWikiSatellite view of Philippines at WikiMapiaOtherBBC Country Profile on the PhilippinesCIA World Factbook: PhilippinesU.S. Country Studies: PhilippinesOrigins of the Filipinos and Their Languages by Wilhelm G. Solheim II (PDF)History of the Philippine Islands in many volumes, from Project Gutenberg (and indexed under Emma Helen Blair, the translator)