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General View

Several thousand years ago, the first settlers in the Philippines crossed shallow seas and land bridges from mainland Asia to arrive in this group of islands. These were the Negritos or Aetas. These people are related to Melanesians (e g; Australian Aborigines and Papuans).. Direct descendants of these people can still be found in Negros Oriental. 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 Balangay boats..

This word is where the basic form of political institution, the barangay, came from. The Austronesian ethnic / linguistic group includes Malays, Indonesians and Polynesians, and is spread as far as Hawaii, Easter island, New Zealand and Madagascar.. The ones entering the Philippines are thought to have come from Taiwan, and traveled south to the Philippines. The majority of Filipinos are of Austronesian descent.. The early Austronesians of the Philippines simultaneously traded with each other as well as with the Chinese, Japanese, Okinawans, Indians, Thais, Arabs and other Austronesians from the Malay Peninsula and Nusantara (today's Malaysia and Indonesia) and Micronesia..

An interesting mix of cultures developed in the islands, and a writing system called baybayin or alibata, as well as a social structure developed quickly, some of the traders stayed and married the natives.. Hinduism and Buddhism were introduced by traders from India, Sumatra and Java. These two religions syncretized with the various indigenous animistic beliefs. Later, Arab, Malay and Javanese traders converted the natives in the island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago to Islam.. The archipelago became a mix of the indigenous Austronesian and Melanesian people with some foreign influence from Arabia, the Malay lands and India..

When the explorer Ferdinand Magellan set foot on the island of Homonhon in 1521, the Philippines was predominantly animist, with some Muslim and Hindu inhabitants mainly in the southern part of the country.. Famished, Magellan's crew were treated to a feast by the welcoming islanders who wore elaborate tattoos. Magellan was Portuguese, but it was a Spanish Expedition which he led to the islands which were eventually claimed by Spain as its colony.. Lapu Lapu, a native chief of Mactan island, was against the Christianization of the natives; he then fought a battle with Magellan where Lapu Lapu won while Magellan was killed. The Philippines was later named for Crown Prince Philip II of Spain and most of the natives converted to Catholicism..

Some Muslims in the south and various animistic mountain tribes, however, resisted Spanish conquest and Catholic conversion.. The longest revolt against Spanish colonization was led by Francisco Dagohoy in Bohol and this lasted for 85 years covering the period of 1744-1829. As a cabeza de barangay or barangay captain, Dagohoy opposed the Spanish colonizers which were represented by priests and civil leaders and required payment of excessive taxes and tributes.. They also oppressed the Philippines' natives by subjecting them as slaves and sending them to prison for disobeying rules. The Manila Galleon trade made contact between the Philippines and Mexico as well as the whole of the Americas..

Mayans and Aztecs settled in the Philippines and introduced their cultures which were then embraced by the Filipinos. The Philippines received heavy influence from Mexico and Spain and the archipelago became " hispanicized ".. Other Asians used the Manila Galleon trade to migrate to the West. During the Spanish rule, people such as the Dutch, Portuguese and British tried to colonize the country, however only the British did so and it lasted for a desultory 2 years in the modern day capital; Manila..

The Philippines remained a Spanish colony for over 300 years until 1899 when it was ceded by Spain to the United States following the Spanish American War.. The Filipinos declared independence on 12 June 1898 and resisted the American occupation and colonization for seven long, brutal years until surrender completed the colonization of the Philippines. The American presence remained until World War II when, in turn, Japan invaded the Philippines.. The Japanese occupation lasted from 1941 to 1945 when General Douglas McArthur fulfilled his promise and " liberated " the country from the Japanese..

In 1946, the Philippines was granted independence by the US, becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to gain independence from a colonial power, although the US maintained a significant military presence, especially in the Subic Naval Base in Zambales and Clark Air Base in Angeles City.. It was not until many years later in the early 1990's that the US bases were returned to the Philippines.. Up until the 1960s, the Philippines was widely considered to be the second most developed country in Asia after Japan. Several decades of misrule by the corrupt dictator Ferdinand Marcos then plunged the country into deep debt..

Poverty became widespread and infrastructure for development was severely lacking. In 1986, the People Power uprising finally overthrew the Marcos government.. (This was called the EDSA Revolution since the majority of the demonstrations took place on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) He was replaced by Corazon Aquino, widow of murdered opposition leader, Benigno " Ninoy " Aquino, Jr. Before the 21st century, corruption became one of the main problems of the country.. The country suffered slightly in the 1997 Asian financial crisis that led to a second EDSA revolt which overthrew President Joseph Estrada; the then vice president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (daughter of one of the former presidents), took his place..

After her term ended in 2010, Benigno Aquino III (nicknamed " Noynoy " and " Pnoy "), son of Corazon and Benigno Aquino, Jr, was elected President. Growth in the Philippines is slow, but it is hopeful about catching up with its neighbours.. In 2009 Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) stormed the country, flooding the whole of Metropolitan Manila in just a day, leaving casualties.. As of 2012, the Philippines has a population estimated at 103 million making it the twelfth largest nation on earth. Since the Philippines population is still growing rapidly, while that of Japan is declining, it will probably shortly overtake its northern neighbors to join the top ten..

From its long history of Western occupation - 300 years by Spain and 40 years by the US - its people have evolved as a unique blend of East and West in both appearance and culture.. Filipinos are largely Austronesian (more specifically Malayo Polynesian) in ethnic origin. However, many people, particularly in the cities of Luzon and the Visayas, have Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Spanish and American mixtures.. Those living in the provinces are mostly of Austronesian origin (known as " native "). Many Muslims in the Sulu archipelago near Borneo have Arab, Indian and Chinese mixtures. The four largest foreign minorities in the country are; Chinese, Koreans, Indians and the Japanese. Also of significance are Americans, Indonesians and Arabs. Spaniards and other Europeans form a very small proportion of the country's population..

Filipino traits are a confluence of many cultures. Filipinos are famous for the bayanihan or spirit of kinship and camaraderie taken from Austronesian forefathers. They observe very close family ties. Roman Catholicism comes from the Spaniards who were responsible for spreading the Christian faith across the archipelago.. The Spaniards introduced Christianity (Roman Catholicism) and succeeded in converting the overwhelming majority of Filipinos. At least 83% of the total population belongs to the Roman Catholic faith. The Philippines is one of only two countries in Asia with a majority Roman Catholic population (the other being East Timor)..

The genuine and pure expression of hospitality is an inherent trait in Filipinos, especially those who reside in the countryside who may appear very shy at first, but have a generous spirit, as seen in their smiles.. Hospitality, a trait displayed by every Filipino, makes these people legendary in South east Asia. 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 in the feast that most, if not all, households have during the occasion..

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. At any rate, seldom can you find such hospitable people who enjoy the company of their visitors.. Perhaps due to their long association with Spain, Filipinos are emotional and passionate about life in a way that seems more Latin than Asian..

Filipinos lead the bunch of English proficient Asian people today and English is considered as a second language. The American occupation was responsible for teaching the Filipino people the English language.. While the official language is Filipino (which is basically the Tagalog dialect) and whereas 76-78 languages and 170 dialects exist in this archipelago, still English is the second most widely spoken language in the country to varying degrees of comprehension but is a learnt language.. Around 3 million still speak Spanish, including Creole Spanish, Chavacano plus Spanish has been reintroduced as a language of instruction at school level..

The geographical and cultural grouping of Filipinos is defined by region, where each group has a set of distinct traits and dialects - the sturdy and frugal Ilocanos of the north, the industrious Tagalogs of the central plains, the loving and sweet Visayans from the central islands, and the colorful tribesmen and religious Muslims of Mindanao.. Tribal communities or minorities are likewise scattered across the archipelago.. It may seem peculiar for tourists to notice the Latin flair in Filipino culture. Mainstream Philippine culture compared to the rest of Asia is quite Hispanic and westernized at the surface. But still, Filipinos are essentially Austronesian and many indigenous and pre Hispanic attitudes and ways of thinking are still noticeable underneath a seemingly westernized veneer..

Indigenous groups, who have retained a fully Malayo Polynesian culture unaffected by Spanish influence, are also visible in cities like Manila, Baguio, Davao or Cebu, and can remind a visitor of the amazing diversity and multiculturalism present in the country.. The government of the Philippines is largely based on the political system of the United States. The President of the Philippines is elected directly by the people, and serves as both the Head of State and Head of Government.. The legislature consists of a bicameral congress, which consists of a lower house known as the Kapulungan ng mga Kinatawan (House of Representatives), and an upper house known as the Senado (Senate)..

Both houses are elected directly by the people, though the country is divided into districts for the election of the lower house, while the upper house is elected by the country as a whole.. The Philippines is not only the largest Christian country in Asia but also the world's third largest Roman Catholic nation. The Roman 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 programs..

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 Roman Catholic doctrine is concerned, such as artificial birth control, premarital sex, and the dissolution of marriage vows.. The biggest religious minority are Muslim Filipinos who primarily live in Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but also increasingly in cities such as Manila, Baguio or Cebu in the north and central parts of the country..

They account for around 5% of the population. Islam is the oldest continually practiced organized religion in the Philippines, with the first conversions made in the 12th century AD. Islam became such an important force that Manila at the time of the Spanish arrival in the 16th century was a Muslim city.. Many aspects of this Islamic past are seen in certain cultural traits many mainstream Christian Filipinos still exhibit (such as eating and hygiene etiquette) and has added to the melting pot of Filipino culture in general..

Sadly, Terrorist attacks and violent confrontations between the Filipino army and splinter militant Islamic organizations such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have strained relations between Muslim and the non Muslim Filipinos in rural areas in the south.. Yet, the Muslim Filipinos are much more liberal in their interpretations of Islam, and like the Muslims of Indonesia, are generally more relaxed regarding such topics as gender segregation or the hijab (veil) than South Asians or Middle Eastern Muslims..

Indian Filipinos, Chinese Filipinos, and Japanese Filipinos are mostly Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Shinto, and Taoist which all accounts for 3% of the population of the Philippines.. These populations have been in the country for centuries preceding Spanish rule, and many aspects of Buddhist and Hindu belief and culture are seen in the mainstream culture of Christian or Muslim Filipinos as well.. As with many things in the Philippines, religion statistics are never clear cut and defined, and many Christians and Muslims also practice and believe in indigenous spiritual aspects (such as honoring natural deities and ancestor worship, as well as the existence of magic and healers) that may in some cases contradict the orthodox rules of their religions..

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.. Locations exposed directly to the Pacific Ocean have frequent rainfall all year. This includes the popular Pagsanjan Falls south east of Manila (though the falls will get you wet regardless). The average temperatures range from 78 F (25 C) to 90 F (32 C), and humidity is around 77 percent..

Baguio, which is branded as the summer capital of the Philippines, tends to be cooler due to its being located in mountainous regions with temperatures at night going below 20 C (68 F).. During summer, the country experiences droughts, sometimes at extreme conditions, from March (sometimes early as February) to May (sometime extending to June) water supply drops with most of the power plants being hydro electric meaning during summer, you'll be experiencing regular black outs (locally known as brown outs), so it isn't much suggested to travel during the months of March to May..

The Philippines is a multicultural country having Christian, Muslim and Chinese holidays aside from secular holidays. The year is welcomed by New Year's Day on 1 January.. Being a predominantly Catholic country means observing the traditional Catholic holidays of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday during Lent or months around March or April, Araw ng pagkabuhay or Easter Sunday is celebrated 3 days after Good Friday.. Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor, Boy scouts re enact the march every 2 years in honor of this day that is also known as Bataan Day, they march as long as 10 kilometers, the Bataan Death March was part of the Bataan Battle which was also part of the Battle of the Philippines..

The Bataan Death March was a 60 km march and the people who participated in this march were captured, tortured and murdered.. All Saints Day is on 1 Nov and All Souls Day on 2 Nov In recognition of the Muslim Filipinos, the Islamic feast of Eid Al Fitr (known in the Philippines as Hari Raya Puasa) is 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. Chinese New Year is also celebrated by the Chinese Community but dates vary according to the lunar calendar. Secular holidays include Labor Day (May 1) and Independence Day (12 Jun)..

30 Aug is declared National Heroes Day. Some holidays also commemorate national heroes such as Jose Rizal (30 Dec) and Andres Bonifacio (30 Nov) as well as Ninoy Aquino (21 Aug).. Metro Manila is less congested during Holy Week as people tend to go to their home towns to spend the holidays there. 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. Christmas is ubiquitously celebrated on 25 Dec.

Araw Ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor); 9 April. National Heroes Day; Last Monday of August. Eid Ul Fitr (Hari Raya Puasa); varies according to lunar calendar. Eid Ul Adha; varies according to lunar calendar. Last Day of the Year; 31 December. The culture of the Philippines is very diverse. There is the native Melanesian and Austronesian culture, which is most evident in language, ethnicity, native architecture, food and dances. There is also some influence from Arabia, China, India and Borneo.. On top of that there is heavy colonial Hispanic influence from Mexico and Spain, such as in Religion, food, dance, language, festivals, architecture and ethnicity. Later influence from the US can also be seen in the culture..

Filipino literature is a mix of Indian sagas, folk tales, and traces of Western influence. Classical books are written in Spanish as well as in Tagalog, but to this day most of Filipino literature is written in English.. The Philippines, thus, is a multi cultural country with its roots stretching from Asia to Europe and to the Americas.. Red Revolution by Gregg R Jones (ISBN 0813306442) - Documentary about the guerrilla movement; New People's Army (NPA), in the Philippines.. In Our Image; America's Empire in the Philippines by Stanley Karnow (ISBN 0345328167) - Shares the story of European and American colonization in the archipelago as well as the restoration of democracy after the overthrew of Marcos..

El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal. Dekada ' 70 by Lualhati Bautista (ISBN 9711790238) - A story about a middle class Filipino family that struggled to fight with other Filipinos during the martial law during the time of Marcos.. The Day the Dancers Came by Bienvenido Santos. Amazing Archipelago by John Eric Taburada. The Filipino film industry is suffering because of its main rival, the Western film industry. In this 21st century only 40 films are produced each year; down from 200-300 films a year in the 1990s..

Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Festival. Cinemanila International Film Festival. Metro Manila Film Festival — held annually during the Christmas season, showcasing local films released during the festival month.. Western culture has also permeated the music industry in the Philippines; many songs written by Filipinos are in English. American rock n roll and, recently, rap and hip hop are heard and performed.. Traditional Filipino songs such as Kundiman (nostalgic / poetic songs) are still held dearly by the population but are, unfortunately, slowly losing influence among the younger generations..

Freddie Aguilar - Aguilar's " Anak " had been translated to many languages and topped the Billboard charts because of its popularity in both the Philippines and elsewhere. The song is about a boy who was loved by his parents so much who, as he grows old, later disrespects them.. As the song ends the boy comes back to his parents' arms after realizing all his mistakes. Most listeners could relate to the song, with some emotionally breaking down simply by relating to the song.. The song has an English version. It also tells us about Filipino parents, that even though children commit grave mistakes the parents are always there to forgive and help them..

Hotdog - The group's " Manila " was a popular song in the ' 80s; it is about a man living abroad missing the bustling streets of Manila as well as its food, people and noise.. Check out other pop and rock groups such as The Eraserheads, Spongecola, Parokya ni Edgar, Gary Valenciano, Side A and Apo Hiking Society. Journey frontman Arnel Pineda is a native of Manila (and a former street kid).. Barangays (abbreviated as Brgy) are the lowest government unit of administration.. Although some think the word came from the word Balangay (term used to refer to a boatload of settlers in the old days in Mindanao), the term linguistically originated from the Spanish term Barrio commonly used in the Visayas, which refers to a cluster of settlements in villages, until the term was legally adopted in local government law in the late 70s..

A Barangay contains usually not less than 100 families. Barangays are then further divided into sitios, a term used to refer to a community (sub village) especially in rural areas where settlements are scattered in far flung communities.. In urban cities, most barangays no longer have sitios but contiguous residential subdivisions or communities. Basically, every street address in the Philippines belongs to a barangay or two or more opposite barangays where boundaries are delineated by streets cutting across..

By comparison, a barangay in urban cities is somewhat different from barangays in rural towns. A barangay in urban cities such as capital Manila and neighboring Quezon City, could differ in terms of population density and territorial size when compared to barangays in Paracelis, which is a rural town.. Imagine Manila with a population of 1,660,714 living in 38.55 km2 distributed in 897 barangays compared to Quezon City with a population of 2,679,450 distributed in 142 barangays in 166.20 km2. as compared to Paracelis with a population of 24,705 living in just 9 barangays over a land area of 553.25 km2..

The biggest barangay in Paracelis is even bigger than the entire Manila.. While getting a taxi or jeepney, Filipinos don't give the street's name; they give the address of a popular landmark near their destination instead; so when you get a taxi or jeepney, just give the popular landmark near your destination.. In rural areas, it is not much harder to get to destinations since everybody knows almost everybody and you get to your destination just by knowing the name of the barangay and then the sitio..

General Info

The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a sovereign island country in Southeast Asia situated in the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of 7,107 islands that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.. Its capital city is Manila while its most populous city is Quezon City; both are part of Metro Manila.. To the north of the Philippines across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan; Vietnam sits west across the South China Sea; southwest is the island of Borneo across the Sulu Sea, and to the south the Celebes Sea separates it from other islands of Indonesia; while to the east it is bounded by the Philippine Sea and the island nation of Palau..

Its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator makes the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons, but also endows it with abundant natural resources and some of the world's greatest biodiversity.. At approximately 300,000 square kilometers, the Philippines is the 64th largest country in the world.. With a population of about 100 million people, the Philippines is the seventh most populated country in Asia and the 12th most populated country in the world. An additional 12 million Filipinos live overseas, comprising one of the world's largest diasporas..

Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. In prehistoric times, Negritos were some of the archipelago's earliest inhabitants. They were followed by successive waves of Austronesian peoples. Exchanges with Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Islamic states occurred.. Then, various nations were established under the rule of Datus, Rajahs, Sultans or Lakans.. The coming of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 marked the beginning of Spanish colonization. In 1543, Spanish explorer Ruy Lpez de Villalobos named the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip II of Spain..

With the arrival of Miguel Lpez de Legazpi from Mexico City, in 1565; the first Spanish settlement in the archipelago was established. The Philippines became part of the Spanish Empire for more than 300 years.. This resulted in the predominant religion in the country being Roman Catholicism. During this time, Manila became the western hub of the trans Pacific ManilaAcapulco galleon trade connecting Asia with the Americas.. As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, there followed in quick succession the Philippine Revolution, which spawned the short lived First Philippine Republic, and the PhilippineAmerican War. Aside from the period of Japanese occupation, the United States retained sovereignty over the islands until 1945..

After World War II, the Philippines was recognized as an independent nation. Since then, the Philippines has had an often tumultuous experience with democracy, which includes a People Power Revolution overthrowing a dictatorship.. The nation's large population size and economic potential have led it to be classified as a middle power. It is a founding member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and East Asia Summit..

What To See

UNESCO World Heritage Sites; See the spectacular Banaue Rice terraces in Batad and be fascinated at how it was built, see the only successful laid out plan of a European colonial town in Asia; Vigan.. The Baroque churches (the Inmaculada Concepcion in Manila, Nuestra Senora in Ilocos Sur, San Agustin in Ilocos Norte and Santo Tomas in Iloilo) of the Philippines will amaze you about the European Baroque architecture.. Churches and religious sites; See the Basilica de San Sebastian in Quiapo; the only all steel church or basilica in Asia. A visit to a city's cathedral is worth it..

Historical Sites; Intramuros, Rizal Park and Blood Compact site in Bohol are worth seeing and will give you a glimpse of the history of the country.. Visit the museums to learn about Philippine history and arts.. Beaches; Swim through the clear blue waters of Boracay and El Nido, sunbathe at the beaches of Puerto Galera and Pagudpud.. Coral reefs; Dive the Tubbataha Reefs National Park and see the spectacular collections of marine life and corals. Anilao also offers good options.. Wildlife and Plants; There are some rare animals that can only be found in the Philippines and most of them are endangered and threatened..

Philippine Monkey Eating Eagle - the largest eagle, Tarsier - a small animal that looks like an alien and can be found in Bohol, Carabaos and Tamaraws; water buffaloes only endemic in the Philippines. Aside from these animals, some species of rats, bats and water pigs are also endemic in the Philippines. Endemic plants like orchids like the Waling Waling one of the rarest flowers in the world as well as one of the most expensive in the world.. Visit the website of PESCCP (Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Project) for more information..

Sadly, because of the exploding population and rural poverty, many wild mammals and birds are eaten and are becoming rarer and rarer. However, some are just too big to eat; there are huge saltwater crocodiles and the largest in the world was caught in 2012.. Lolong, a 21 ft, 4 inch saltie is the pride and joy of Bunawan, where town officials claim their favorite pet reptile has now been crowned " King of the Crocs " by the Guinness Book of World Records..

What To Do

Aerial Sports - An annual Hot Air Balloon festival is held in Clark, Angeles in Pampanga, other than Hot Air balloons on display, people gather in this event to do sky diving, many activities are also held other than sky diving and hot air balloons.. The Festival is held between January and February.. Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines, don't miss the PBA and UAAP basketball tournaments.. Bentosa and Hilot are Filipino alternative ways of healing, Bentosa is a method where a cup cover a tea light candle then it flames out and it drains out all the pain on the certain part of the body, Hilot is just the Filipino way of massaging..

Board sailing - Waves and winds work together making the country a haven for board sailors. Boracay, Subic Bay and Anilao in Batangas are the main destinations.. Casinos; Metro Manila has a wide collection of casinos and entertainment destinations. Explore the Resorts World Manila, the country's first luxurious casino integrated resort, and the newly opened Solaire Resorts and Casino.. The Entertainment City will be home to four integrated casino resorts. This development is expected to attract millions of rich Asian tourists and rival Las Vegas, Macau, and Singapore..

Caving - The Archipelago has some unique cave systems. Sagada is one popular destination for caving.. Dive - Blue, tranquil waters and abundant reefs make for good diving. Compared to neighboring countries, diving in the country is cheaper.. Festivals - Each municipality, town, city and province has their own festival, either religious or in honor of the city or a historical reason.. Golf - Almost every province has a golf course, it is a popular sport among the elite, rich and famous.. Medical tourism - The Philippines supplies the world with many medical professionals with large numbers leaving the country every year for a better future abroad. This is indicative of the quality of medical education and medical tourism is on the rise too..

Most come from America and Europe as compared to their home countries, healthcare here is much cheaper; as much as 80% less than the average price abroad. Most of the hospitals suggested for medical tourism are in Metro Manila.. Alternative medicine is also popular with spas, faith healing and other fringe therapies widespread throughout the archipelago.. National parks - National parks number around 60-70, they include mountains and coral reefs.. Mountain biking - The archipelago has dozens of mountains and is ideal for mountain bikers. Bikes are the best mode of transportation in getting around remote areas. Some options include Baguio, Davao, Iloilo, Banaue, Mount Apo and Guimaras..

Rock climbing - Apo Island, Atimonan, El Nido, Putting Bato, Wawa Gorge have the best sites in the archipelago for rock climbing.. Sea kayaking - Caramoan Islands in Camarines Sur, Palawan, Samar and Siargao are popular.. Spas are popular, with many options, Spas are found near beaches, financial capitals etc. Trekking - Mountain ranges and peaks offer cool weather for trekking and it might give you a sight of the beautiful exotic flora and fauna of the country. Mt Kanlaon and Mount Pulag are good trekking spots..

Visita iglesia - (Visita is Spanish for Visit, Iglesia is Spanish for Church = Visit Churches) done by mostly Filipino Roman Catholics to Churches, holy sites, shrines, basilicas etc If you are religious try this, if you love art and architecture, churches are the best way to define what Filipino architecture.. Whitewater rafting - There is good whitewater rafting in Mindanao, both in the north around Cagayan de Oro and in the south near Davao..

How To Get In

Nationals from the vast majority of countries (147 at the last count), including all ASEAN and EEA countries, can enter the Philippines without a visa for a period not exceeding 30 days.. Nationals of Brazil and Israel may enter the Philippines without a visa for a longer stay not exceeding 59 days, while holders of Hong Kong and Macau SAR passports get 14 days.. Holders of British National (Overseas) passports and Portuguese passports issued in Macau may stay in the Philippines no longer than 7 days without a visa..

All passengers arriving in the Philippines are required to fill out a disembarkation form and a customs declaration form (one per family). Visa exempt nationals can enter the Philippines as long as they have a return ticket, as well as passports valid for a period of at least six months beyond the period of stay.. While enforcement was previously lax, these requirements are now strictly enforced, and foreigners have been deported from the Philippines for not meeting the entry requirements.. Nationals of countries which are required to obtain a visa to enter the Philippines may obtain one upon arrival under the Bureau of Immigration's Visa Upon Arrival Program (VUAP). However, this authorisation must be pre arranged with the BI before arriving in the Philippines..

59 day tourist visas (p3030) may also be applied for upon arrival by citizens of countries who are otherwise entitled to stay for only 30 days.. If intending to stay beyond the duration of the 30 day visa, you may apply for a visa extension at the Bureau of Immigration. Each visa extension is valid for one or two months, except the first which is 29 days (which extends the original visa to 59 days).. Extensions are granted only up to a maximum of six months, by which time foreign nationals who wish to stay longer must obtain an alien certificate of registration (ACR)..

To avoid going to the BI to renew a tourist visa, it is also possible to apply for a tourist visa at a Philippine embassy or consulate, although nationals of visa exempt countries who have a visa must present the visa to the immigration officer to avoid being stamped with the wrong visa.. If you overstay, you must pay on departure a fine of ₱ 1000 per month of overstay plus a ₱ 2,020 processing fee.. Under the " Balikbayan Program ", former Filipino citizens who have been naturalized in a foreign country may enter the Philippines visa free for up to one year..

They must prove their previous Philippine citizenship by presenting an old passport, birth certificate, or foreign naturalization documents (usually it's just sufficient to speak a Filipino language fluently and / or show the foreign passport with a Philippines place of birth).. Spouses and children may also avail themselves of the Balikbayan privilege, as long as they enter the Philippines together with the former Filipino citizen.. Although the Philippines is an archipelago, most visitors arrive by plane. International airports are located in Angeles, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Kalibo, Laoag, Manila and Zamboanga..

Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific, Air Asia Philippines, are the three airlines that fly within the Philippines.. If you plan to travel around the various islands, it is best to get an open jaw ticket. This can save much time back tracking. Most common open jaw ticket combinations fly into Manila and out of Cebu or vice versa.. Local airlines also have regular " seat sales ", advertising cheap fares for flights to domestic destinations.. However, be aware of travel dates; some tickets booked during a seat sale may only be used on dates well after the duration of the sale (sometimes up to a year after the sale) and advertised fares usually exclude government taxes and fuel surcharges..

If you live in an area with a large Filipino population (such as London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei or Tokyo), check out travel agencies catering to overseas Filipinos which often have fares keener than those generally advertised.. Most visitors entering the Philippines will fly in through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) (IATA; MNL). The airport is divided into four terminals; Terminals 1, 2, 3 and the Domestic Terminal (also known as Terminal 4)..

All flights depart from Terminal 1 with a few exceptions; Philippine Airlines and PAL Express international flights depart from Terminal 2, while PAL Express domestic flights and all Cebu Pacific and All Nippon Airways flights depart from Terminal 3 Air Asia and Tiger Air Philippines (now part of Cebu Pacific Airlines) flights depart from the Domestic Terminal.. Terminal 1, long regarded as one of Asia's worst airport terminals (if not the worst), is currently undergoing renovation and several areas of the terminal have been renovated. The newer Terminals 2 and 3 are regarded as being far nicer than Terminal 1, with more amenities to boot..

Some visitors who enter the Philippines choose to avoid flying through Manila, instead using other airports throughout the Philippines which have international flights.. The Diosdado Macapagal (Clark) International Airport (IATA; CRK) in Angeles City, Pampanga is 85 km north of Manila and was a popular hub for low cost carriers serving Manila.. Tiger Air and Jin Air are now the only two foreign low cost carriers serving Clark, flying from Singapore and Seoul respectively. Cebu Pacific has flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Bangkok..

while Spirit of Manila Airlines serves Clark from Taipei.. The Mactan Cebu International Airport (IATA; CEB) in Cebu is the Philippines' second busiest airport and a major hub for visitors headed to points in the Visayas and Mindanao. Several of the airlines which serve Manila also serve Cebu.. The Francisco Bangoy International Airport (IATA; DVO) in Davao is served by SilkAir with flights to Singapore.. Kalibo International Airport (IATA; KLO) in Kalibo, Aklan (near Boracay) Air Asia, has flights to Seoul, Shanghai and Taipei. Other airlines also have scheduled charter flights to Kalibo from points in South Korea, China and Taiwan..

Laoag International Airport (IATA; LAO) in Laoag, Ilocos Norte is served by Air Macau with regular charter flights to Macau.. Iloilo International Airport (IATA; ILO) in Iloilo is served by Cebu Pacific, with flights to Hong Kong and Singapore.. Passengers departing on international flights from other airports have to pay a terminal fee of ₱ 550, except for Clark, where the fee is ₱ 450 in addition to the Philippine travel tax.. Like in Manila, this is done before entering immigration and the pre departure area of the terminal. except in Cebu and Clark, terminal fees are only payable in Philippine pesos..

Weesam Express operates a regular ferry service which connects Zamboanga City, Sulu and Tawi Tawi with Sandakan, Malaysia.. Aleson Shipping Lines also has a ferry from Zamboanga to Sandakan. Schedule departs Zamboanga every Monday and Thursday 12 noon. Economy class ₱ 2700 per way. Cabin ₱ 3100 per way..

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What To Do

Aerial Sports - An annual Hot Air Balloon festival is held in Clark, Angeles in Pampanga, other than Hot Air balloons on display, people gather in this event to do sky diving, many activities are also held other than sky diving and hot air balloons.. The Festival is held between January and February.. Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines, don't miss the PBA and UAAP basketball tournaments.. Bentosa and Hilot are Filipino alternative ways of healing, Bentosa is a method where a cup cover a tea light candle then it flames out and it drains out all the pain on the certain part of the body, Hilot is just the Filipino way of massaging..

Board sailing - Waves and winds work together making the country a haven for board sailors. Boracay, Subic Bay and Anilao in Batangas are the main destinations.. Casinos; Metro Manila has a wide collection of casinos and entertainment destinations. Explore the Resorts World Manila, the country's first luxurious casino integrated resort, and the newly opened Solaire Resorts and Casino.. The Entertainment City will be home to four integrated casino resorts. This development is expected to attract millions of rich Asian tourists and rival Las Vegas, Macau, and Singapore..

Caving - The Archipelago has some unique cave systems. Sagada is one popular destination for caving.. Dive - Blue, tranquil waters and abundant reefs make for good diving. Compared to neighboring countries, diving in the country is cheaper.. Festivals - Each municipality, town, city and province has their own festival, either religious or in honor of the city or a historical reason.. Golf - Almost every province has a golf course, it is a popular sport among the elite, rich and famous.. Medical tourism - The Philippines supplies the world with many medical professionals with large numbers leaving the country every year for a better future abroad. This is indicative of the quality of medical education and medical tourism is on the rise too..

Most come from America and Europe as compared to their home countries, healthcare here is much cheaper; as much as 80% less than the average price abroad. Most of the hospitals suggested for medical tourism are in Metro Manila.. Alternative medicine is also popular with spas, faith healing and other fringe therapies widespread throughout the archipelago.. National parks - National parks number around 60-70, they include mountains and coral reefs.. Mountain biking - The archipelago has dozens of mountains and is ideal for mountain bikers. Bikes are the best mode of transportation in getting around remote areas. Some options include Baguio, Davao, Iloilo, Banaue, Mount Apo and Guimaras..

Rock climbing - Apo Island, Atimonan, El Nido, Putting Bato, Wawa Gorge have the best sites in the archipelago for rock climbing.. Sea kayaking - Caramoan Islands in Camarines Sur, Palawan, Samar and Siargao are popular.. Spas are popular, with many options, Spas are found near beaches, financial capitals etc. Trekking - Mountain ranges and peaks offer cool weather for trekking and it might give you a sight of the beautiful exotic flora and fauna of the country. Mt Kanlaon and Mount Pulag are good trekking spots..

Visita iglesia - (Visita is Spanish for Visit, Iglesia is Spanish for Church = Visit Churches) done by mostly Filipino Roman Catholics to Churches, holy sites, shrines, basilicas etc If you are religious try this, if you love art and architecture, churches are the best way to define what Filipino architecture.. Whitewater rafting - There is good whitewater rafting in Mindanao, both in the north around Cagayan de Oro and in the south near Davao..

How To Get In

Nationals from the vast majority of countries (147 at the last count), including all ASEAN and EEA countries, can enter the Philippines without a visa for a period not exceeding 30 days.. Nationals of Brazil and Israel may enter the Philippines without a visa for a longer stay not exceeding 59 days, while holders of Hong Kong and Macau SAR passports get 14 days.. Holders of British National (Overseas) passports and Portuguese passports issued in Macau may stay in the Philippines no longer than 7 days without a visa..

All passengers arriving in the Philippines are required to fill out a disembarkation form and a customs declaration form (one per family). Visa exempt nationals can enter the Philippines as long as they have a return ticket, as well as passports valid for a period of at least six months beyond the period of stay.. While enforcement was previously lax, these requirements are now strictly enforced, and foreigners have been deported from the Philippines for not meeting the entry requirements.. Nationals of countries which are required to obtain a visa to enter the Philippines may obtain one upon arrival under the Bureau of Immigration's Visa Upon Arrival Program (VUAP). However, this authorisation must be pre arranged with the BI before arriving in the Philippines..

59 day tourist visas (p3030) may also be applied for upon arrival by citizens of countries who are otherwise entitled to stay for only 30 days.. If intending to stay beyond the duration of the 30 day visa, you may apply for a visa extension at the Bureau of Immigration. Each visa extension is valid for one or two months, except the first which is 29 days (which extends the original visa to 59 days).. Extensions are granted only up to a maximum of six months, by which time foreign nationals who wish to stay longer must obtain an alien certificate of registration (ACR)..

To avoid going to the BI to renew a tourist visa, it is also possible to apply for a tourist visa at a Philippine embassy or consulate, although nationals of visa exempt countries who have a visa must present the visa to the immigration officer to avoid being stamped with the wrong visa.. If you overstay, you must pay on departure a fine of ₱ 1000 per month of overstay plus a ₱ 2,020 processing fee.. Under the " Balikbayan Program ", former Filipino citizens who have been naturalized in a foreign country may enter the Philippines visa free for up to one year..

They must prove their previous Philippine citizenship by presenting an old passport, birth certificate, or foreign naturalization documents (usually it's just sufficient to speak a Filipino language fluently and / or show the foreign passport with a Philippines place of birth).. Spouses and children may also avail themselves of the Balikbayan privilege, as long as they enter the Philippines together with the former Filipino citizen.. Although the Philippines is an archipelago, most visitors arrive by plane. International airports are located in Angeles, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Kalibo, Laoag, Manila and Zamboanga..

Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific, Air Asia Philippines, are the three airlines that fly within the Philippines.. If you plan to travel around the various islands, it is best to get an open jaw ticket. This can save much time back tracking. Most common open jaw ticket combinations fly into Manila and out of Cebu or vice versa.. Local airlines also have regular " seat sales ", advertising cheap fares for flights to domestic destinations.. However, be aware of travel dates; some tickets booked during a seat sale may only be used on dates well after the duration of the sale (sometimes up to a year after the sale) and advertised fares usually exclude government taxes and fuel surcharges..

If you live in an area with a large Filipino population (such as London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei or Tokyo), check out travel agencies catering to overseas Filipinos which often have fares keener than those generally advertised.. Most visitors entering the Philippines will fly in through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) (IATA; MNL). The airport is divided into four terminals; Terminals 1, 2, 3 and the Domestic Terminal (also known as Terminal 4)..

All flights depart from Terminal 1 with a few exceptions; Philippine Airlines and PAL Express international flights depart from Terminal 2, while PAL Express domestic flights and all Cebu Pacific and All Nippon Airways flights depart from Terminal 3 Air Asia and Tiger Air Philippines (now part of Cebu Pacific Airlines) flights depart from the Domestic Terminal.. Terminal 1, long regarded as one of Asia's worst airport terminals (if not the worst), is currently undergoing renovation and several areas of the terminal have been renovated. The newer Terminals 2 and 3 are regarded as being far nicer than Terminal 1, with more amenities to boot..

Some visitors who enter the Philippines choose to avoid flying through Manila, instead using other airports throughout the Philippines which have international flights.. The Diosdado Macapagal (Clark) International Airport (IATA; CRK) in Angeles City, Pampanga is 85 km north of Manila and was a popular hub for low cost carriers serving Manila.. Tiger Air and Jin Air are now the only two foreign low cost carriers serving Clark, flying from Singapore and Seoul respectively. Cebu Pacific has flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Bangkok..

while Spirit of Manila Airlines serves Clark from Taipei.. The Mactan Cebu International Airport (IATA; CEB) in Cebu is the Philippines' second busiest airport and a major hub for visitors headed to points in the Visayas and Mindanao. Several of the airlines which serve Manila also serve Cebu.. The Francisco Bangoy International Airport (IATA; DVO) in Davao is served by SilkAir with flights to Singapore.. Kalibo International Airport (IATA; KLO) in Kalibo, Aklan (near Boracay) Air Asia, has flights to Seoul, Shanghai and Taipei. Other airlines also have scheduled charter flights to Kalibo from points in South Korea, China and Taiwan..

Laoag International Airport (IATA; LAO) in Laoag, Ilocos Norte is served by Air Macau with regular charter flights to Macau.. Iloilo International Airport (IATA; ILO) in Iloilo is served by Cebu Pacific, with flights to Hong Kong and Singapore.. Passengers departing on international flights from other airports have to pay a terminal fee of ₱ 550, except for Clark, where the fee is ₱ 450 in addition to the Philippine travel tax.. Like in Manila, this is done before entering immigration and the pre departure area of the terminal. except in Cebu and Clark, terminal fees are only payable in Philippine pesos..

Weesam Express operates a regular ferry service which connects Zamboanga City, Sulu and Tawi Tawi with Sandakan, Malaysia.. Aleson Shipping Lines also has a ferry from Zamboanga to Sandakan. Schedule departs Zamboanga every Monday and Thursday 12 noon. Economy class ₱ 2700 per way. Cabin ₱ 3100 per way..

How To Get Around

Since the Philippines is an archipelago, the easiest way to move between islands is by plane. Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, Philippines AirAsia and Tigerair Philippines have significant domestic operations, linking many major towns and cities.. There are also several smaller carriers which serve resort destinations (such as Amanpulo in Palawan), as well as more remote destinations. While most cities are served by jet aircraft, some destinations are served by propeller driven planes..

The route networks of most local airlines are heavily centered around Manila and Cebu; flying between domestic points usually entails having to transit either city (sometimes both), although direct flights between other major cities are slowly being introduced.. Reaching Sulu and Tawi Tawi by air is a special case; travelers must fly through Zamboanga City.. A significant majority of domestic flights in the Philippines are operated by low cost carriers and are consequently economy only; PAL is the only airline to offer business class on domestic flights..

This does not mean however that fares are affordable; domestic seat sales are a common feature throughout the year, and all major airlines regularly offer promo fares on their websites.. However, fares increase significantly during major peak travel seasons (particularly during Christmas, Holy Week and the last two weeks of October), and in places served by only one airline (such as Calbayog, Camiguin or Siargao), fares also increase during major provincial or town fiestas.. Flights are frequently full during peak travel season, so it is advisable to book well in advance..

Passengers departing on domestic flights must pay a terminal fee before entering the pre departure area, although the fee will be integrated into the ticket price starting August 1, 2012 for flights departing from Manila and Cebu (tickets issued before that date do not include the terminal fee and the fee must be paid at the airport).. Fees vary, with most major cities charging ₱ 200, and smaller cities charging between ₱ 30 and ₱ 100. Fees are only payable in Philippine pesos except in Manila and Cebu, where U.S. dollars are accepted..

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) currently operates two overnight intercity services; the Bicol Express between Manila and Naga, Camarines Sur, which resumed on June 29, 2011 after a five year absence, and the Mayon Limited between Manila and Ligao in Albay.. Additional services are expected in the future as the rehabilitation of the PNR network progresses. Train service is comparable to (or slower than, due to delays) buses in terms of speed, but is more comfortable owing to the use of donated Japanese coaches for the service..

The Bicol Express and Mayon Limited are NOT non stop services; from Tutuban, Manila's main train station, the train calls at several points in Metro Manila, Laguna, Quezon and Camarines Sur before arriving in Naga (and Albay before arriving in Ligao for the Mayon Limited).. It is possible to travel between any two points served by the services, and fares are distance based. Children under three feet may travel for free.. There are currently four classes of service on the Bicol Express;. Executive sleeper class features individual air conditioned cabins. Each cabin has a bed, pull down armrests so that a portion of the bed can be used as a chair, and a small table..

Washrooms are available inside the coach.. Family sleeper class features four bed air conditioned cabins; two beds on each side, with one stacked on top of the other. Access to the top bunk is via a foldable ladder between both sides of the cabin, and cabins are separated from the aisle with a curtain.. The PNR promotes this class for the use of families traveling together, although it is possible to book an individual bed.. Reclining air conditioned economy class (or deluxe class) features air conditioned reclining chairs, two on each side of the cabin. On some coaches, it is possible to rotate the chairs so that passengers may face each other..

Economy class (or ordinary class) is the cheapest class of service, featuring upholstered benches on each side which can sit up to three people. Ventilation is provided via overhead ceiling fans.. On the Mayon Limited, only reclining air conditioned economy class (" deluxe ") and regular economy class are offered.. However, unlike the Bicol Express, the Mayon Limited provides service using two different trains; the " deluxe " service operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while the " economy " service operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays..

Passengers on PNR intercity services are entitled to a free baggage allowance of 20 kg.. It is possible to pre book seats on intercity trains by calling the PNR at + 63 2 319-0044. Pre booking seats is recommended during peak travel seasons (especially during Holy Week and in September, during the Penafrancia Festival in Naga), where trains can be full.. However, the PNR does send a second, all economy supplementary overnight train on certain days during peak season if traffic demand warrants it. Timetables and fares for all services, including supplementary services, are announced on the PNR's website and also on its official Facebook profile..

The PNR also operates the Commuter Express in Metro Manila, a once daily commuter service between Manila and Binan, Laguna (which is also part of the Commuter Express, but uses different trains), and the Bicol Commuter between Naga and towns in Camarines Sur and Albay.. Outside Luzon, larger islands' road networks converge on the largest city or cities (for example, Cebu City for Cebu, Iloilo City for Panay and Puerto Princesa for Palawan), while smaller islands (such as Marinduque, Catanduanes and Camiguin) usually have a road circling the entire island..

The Philippines has one highway which is part of the Asian Highway Network; the Pan Philippine Highway (AH26), also known locally as the Maharlika Highway. The highway begins in Laoag and ends in Zamboanga City, traversing through Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.. However, it is also the only highway in the Asian Highway Network which is not connected to any other highway; it is not possible to enter the Philippines by car.. Roads in the Philippines vary greatly in quality from the paved multi lane expressways of Luzon to the narrow dirt roads of remote mountain areas, which may complicate travel by car. Most major roads have two lanes and are normally paved with asphalt or concrete, although multi lane roads are common near major cities..

Road atlases and maps are available at bookstores throughout the country, and are very helpful when driving, especially when driving alone.. Major international car rental companies such as Hertz and Budget have offices in Metro Manila, notably at the airport. Avis and Europcar are among the largest international car rental companies, with offices in several cities throughout the Philippines.. There are also local car rental companies, such as Nissan Rent a Car. Regardless of the company, prices are bound to be reasonable..

Car rental companies usually allow either self drive or chauffeur driven rentals; some types of cars however (like vans) may only be rented out with a chauffeur. Also, some rental companies (mostly local ones) may only allow rentals to be driven within the island where the city of rental is located; for example, it may be possible to drive with a rental from Manila to Legazpi (both on Luzon), but not from Manila (Luzon) to Tacloban (Leyte) because it would entail the use of roll on / roll off (RO / RO) ferries..

If you intend to drive out of Luzon and into the outlying islands, the Visayas or Mindanao (and / or vice versa), be sure that the rental company's terms and conditions allow it.. In addition to the existing network of national and local roads, the Philippines has two additional road networks; an expressway network and the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) system.. Luzon has an expressway network dominated by the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). These are tollways with good paved roads, are privately maintained, and the farthest tolls will not cost more than a few dollars from Metro Manila..

Other expressways include the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (a 94 kilometer 4 lane freeway connecting Subic Bay and Tarlac) and the Bataan Provincial Expressway. Expressways are connected to the network of national highways and provincial roads which connect to major cities and provinces.. The Strong Republic Nautical Highway system is a three route network of national and provincial roads, bridges and roll on / roll off (RO / RO) ferries which facilitates the connection of major islands of the Philippines together by road, bringing down the cost of driving (and, ultimately, lowering the cost of shipping goods between islands)..

The SRNH system begins in Luzon, runs in a north south direction through the Visayas, and ultimately ends in Mindanao. The SRNH is useful for driving to tourist destinations outside Manila; for example, it is possible to drive to both Puerto Galera and Boracay from Manila via the Western Nautical Highway.. SRNH routes are signposted and a map of the network and RO / RO schedules are available from the Department of Tourism.. Foreign driver's licenses are legally valid in the Philippines for up to 90 days after arrival, after which a Philippine driver's license is required. It may also be a good idea to carry your passport showing that your last entry into the Philippines was less than 91 days ago..

Vehicular traffic in the Philippines moves on the right, and the vast majority of road signs are in English. Most signs conform to design guidelines used in the United States.. Filipinos are famous for their driving habits (or lack thereof). Traffic often grinds to a screeching halt, especially in major cities (Metro Manila in particular), and the honking of horns is a very common occurrence.. When there is no traffic, speeding, swerving and reckless passing happen on a regular basis, especially on desolate rural roads..

Car traffic competes with bus and jeepney traffic, which jostle sidewalk curbs to get more passengers, especially in areas without designated bus stops; the fact that bus and jeepney drivers' salaries are determined based on passenger load does not help the traffic situation in many cities.. Motorcycles frequently weave through traffic, increasing the risk of accidents. However, traffic lights, while frequently ignored in the past, are more strictly adhered to now. Seatbelts are mandatory only for persons in the front seat..

Due to heavy traffic congestion, Metro Manila and Baguio have laws that restrict certain vehicles based on the day of the week and the ending number of your vehicle's license plate; this is officially called the Uniform Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP), but it is simply known as " number coding " or, previously " color coding " (although it has nothing to do with the color of your vehicle).. Cities that enforce the UVVRP prohibit cars from being driven between 7AM and 7PM on a certain weekday on most national (primary) and secondary roads, although the implementation varies; in Metro Manila (excluding Makati and Pasay), a " window " exists between 10AM and 3PM where the scheme is not enforced, while in Baguio, the UVVRP is only enforced in the city center, and the scheme does not apply to the rest of the city..

In general however, the UVVRP does not apply to minor streets (mostly in residential areas), and those roads remain open to coded cars the whole day.. 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.. 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.. When hailing a taxi in the cities, ensure the meter is on and pay the metered fare. A tip of 10 pesos is acceptable. Also, make sure you have small denomination banknotes, as the drivers often claim not to have change in an effort to obtain a larger tip !. Please do have coins ready with you. Moreover, don't be surprised if drivers want to bypass the meter during rush hour.. (Updated April 2011) Most taxis have the flag down rate of ₱ 40 with each 300 meters cost ₱ 3.50 while Yellow cab taxis are more expensive with a flag down rate of ₱ 70 with each 300 meters cost ₱ 4.00..

You may book a taxi using GPS enabled mobile apps such as " Grab Taxi " and " Easy Taxi " for a small fee. This is better than hailing a cab because you can see the number of available taxis and their location via GPS.. Once you have a confirmed taxi booking, the name, photo, plate number and telephone number will appear on your mobile device and you can communicate with your driver to let him know exactly where you are.. This is initially available in Metro Manila and Cebu.. 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. It is the cheapest mode of transport when getting around, fares are as low as ₱ 300 - ₱ 500..

Provincial bus companies have scheduled trips from Manila to provinces to the north and south. Major provincial bus companies such as ALPS The Bus, Inc, Victory Liner, Philtranco operate in the country.. Although mariners from the Philippines are employed worldwide and have a good reputation as skilful and committed crew, it is a sad fact that shipowners in the Philippines put profit before lives and the Philippines has the sad distinction of having had some of the world's worst maritime disasters in peacetime..

(On 20 Dec 1987, the passenger ferry Dona Paz collided with the oil tanker Vector in the Tablas Strait, near Marinduque The tanker had more than 8,800 barrels of gasoline on board and the resulting conflagration quickly spread to the Dona Paz so that passengers had to leap into burning waters Subsequently, there were reports that the life jackets aboard the Dona Paz were locked away to prevent pilfering This one incident left an estimated 4,341 dead which included all but 24 of the Dona Paz's passengers, and all but two of the Vector's 13.

Get around Manila with Pasig's Pasig Ferry Service, waterbuses are available in stations around the historical river of Pasig. Fares ranges from ₱ 25, ₱ 35 and ₱ 45. For students and youth fares range ₱ 20 regardless of distance.. Next to buses, ships are the cheapest modes of transports when getting around the country as fares are as low as ₱ 1,000 if it's a trip lasting a day or two and ₱ 200 if it's only a one hour trip.. (2Go Travel) 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..

You can also stay on a Cruise Ship that's exploring around the Coron area. The 7,107 Island Cruise Ship takes passengers around Coron and some of its private islands.. Ferry trips to other islands can take over 24 hours, depending on distance. Other major ferry companies include; 2Go Travel Trans Asia Shipping Lines.. Oceanjet is a reliable company offering fast ferries throughout the Visayas at affordable prices. Schedule Information is difficult to obtain - newspapers often contain pages with ads on certain days, but, believe it or not, most people rely on word of mouth..

Be aware that while travelling by ferry is cheap, and relatively care free compared to air travel, boat services can be unreliable. Ferries can sometimes be delayed anywhere between 24 to 48 hours because all the cargo and passengers has not yet boarded.. If you need to make a deadline (such as an international flight), then fly instead of travelling by ferry.. 7107 Islands Cruise offers a cruises from Boracay to Puerto Galera to Boracay, prices range from ₱ 2,000 - ₱ 10,000, children below than 3 years old are free to travel who is accompanied by 2 adults, children from 5 to 12 years old are given a 50% discount, who are accompanied also by 2 adults while senior citizens can avail a 20% discount..

The cruise will tour around the Philippines in islands such as Boracay and Coron Island.. Hans Christian Andersen Cruise will take you on an unforgettable voyage through the Philippines. They have set their sights on memorable experiences, empty beaches, local fishing villages, fantastic diving and snorkeling - the perfect way to explore the picturesque archipelagos of the Philippines.. They offer a relaxed unpretentious holiday atmosphere and you won't have to worry about dress code.. Sun Cruises has tour packages to Corregidor Island in Manila Bay. Prices range from ₱ 2,000 for a day tour with a buffet lunch, to ₱ 3,000 for an overnight stay at the island..

The tour guides are very informative, and the island is steeped in history, particularly about the battles that raged there during World War 2 They also offer cruises around Manila Bay.. Jeepneys are the most known transportation to all Filipinos. They are the most affordable transport in the Philippines. Costing about ₱ 8 per 4 km and additional ₱ 1 per km, they are by far the most affordable way to get around most major urban areas.. They stop if you wave at them.. The jeepney is remnants of the Jeep used by the American troops during World War II, the innovative Filipinos modified the jeep (by lengthening the body and adding horizontal seats) to seat as many as 20 people (10 per side)..

Within Manila, you will find multiple Jeepneys per route, for added convenience. In the provinces, Jeepneys also connect towns and cities. For longer distances, however, buses are more comfortable. Also worthy of mention are the traysikels and the pedicabs or in other words Rickshaw; however, this may not be to the liking of most foreigners, as these are cramped and quite open to traffic.. These means of transport are usually used for very short distances. Traysikels are different from Pedicabs; they are motorized while pedicabs are manually used with the help of bicycles. Fares range from ₱ 3 to ₱ 7 or even higher, depending on the distance of your destination..

What To Buy

The Philippine Peso (₱) is the official currency and in almost all cases the only currency used for normal transactions. Bills that may be accepted in extremis include US dollars and Euros, whose daily exchange rate is widely known.. As of Jan 2013, one US dollar trades at ₱ 40.. 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.. There are 2 versions of each bill with the newer version in circulation since December 2010 (albeit it is still rare to find them)..

The newer notes have similar colors to their old counterparts, have the same people at the front (Except for the 500 peso note which also features former President Aquino) but rather than historical sites at the back, these newer notes feature Filipino natural wonders and species unique to the country.. The older notes will remain legal tender until 2014.. Money changers are not so common in the Philippines outside the some heavily touristed areas. A rule of thumb; the more currency you wish to exchange, the more favorable the rates can be..

Banks on the other hand are widely available to exchange currency but usually impose a minimum amount (usually around USD100 00) and have limited hours of operation, usually from 9 AM to 3 PM on weekdays and you may enjoy their air conditioning during the long wait.. The notable exceptions are Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Banco De Oro (BDO) which have longer hours of operation.. Don't exchange money in stalls along the streets as some of them might be exchanging your money for counterfeit money, contact Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines or BSP) if you suspect the money you've been given is counterfeit..

Money changers do exist at department stores, supermarkets and hotels but needless to say the rates are highly unfavorable to customers and some will only exchange into pesos.. Be aware that no person is allowed to enter or leave the Philippines carrying more than ₱ 10,000 of coins and banknotes without prior authorisation by the BSP. Those without prior authorisation will have to declare the excess money at the customs desk.. Importing any amount of foreign currency is legal, but anything in excess of US $10,000 (or its equivalent) must be declared..

Visitors can also use the 6,000 ATMs nationwide to withdraw funds or ask for cash advances. The three major local ATM consortia are BancNet, MegaLink and Expressnet.. International networks, like PLUS and Cirrus, are accessible with many ATMs, however Cirrus is more predominant than PLUS; however, withdrawals are often limited to 5,000 pesos.. HSBC ATMs in Manila and Cebu and Davao let you take out P40,000 per transaction. Citi Bank ATMs in Manila. Cebu. Davao. Angeles. Lets you take out up to p15.000 per Transaction but now Citi Bank has a php200 fee per use on Overseas cards..

Visitors who have a MasterCard / Maestro / Cirrus cards 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 commercial 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.. Credit cards are generally not accepted for government related transactions.. In 2010, Philippine banks started to charge ₱ 200 per transaction for using foreign cards in their ATM machines, in addition to cash withdrawal and exchange fees already imposed by your bank..

Considering small transaction limits, this adds at least 2 4% to the amount withdrawn - thus, bringing in cash and exchanging it to pesos in the bank generally will be cheaper.. Try to use a HSBC Bank ATM as the HSBC Banks ATMs are the only ones without a php200 fee for Overseas cards. your find HSBC Banks ATMs in Manila. Cebu. and Davao cities.. Tipping is not required in the Philippines, except when the customer wants to show appreciation for services rendered. However, tipping is becoming more common especially in service oriented places (spa, salon)..

In some restaurants and hotels, " Service Charge " (8% 12%) is included in the bill when issued; thus customer has the option to give an additional tip or not. In taxis, it is common to add 20-50 pesos on top of the fare.. Traveling in Philippines is cheap (one of the least expensive places to visit in Asia and as well in the rest of the world) Some accommodations may be pricey, more so in some cases than in Thailand.. For example a stay in a tourist inn would cost as low as ₱ 300 a night, a flight to Cebu from Manila and vice versa will cost as low as ₱ 999. Transportation is low as ₱ 8.00 for the first 4km in a Jeepney..

Using the internet for an hour in an internet cafe ranges from ₱ 10 to ₱ 50 depending on the Internet Cafe's location, a can of coke costs as low as ₱ 16 while a copy of the International Herald Tribune costs ₱ 70 and Economist as low as ₱ 160.. In most restaurants, there is 12% Value Added Tax (VAT) usually included in the unit price but service charge is often excluded and computed separately.. It isn't hard to find shopping malls in the Philippines; The country is home to a large number of shopping malls, from large to small and from modern to traditional, you can find it all here in the Philippines..

It's a fact consumerism has been part of a Filipino's life, even things they don't need but are in sale and discount they'll buy it.. The reason why the country hasn't been affected much by recent financial crisis is because of the circulation of money, even if Filipinos are broke they'll find a way to buy something at least in a week for themselves.. As stated above, living in the Philippines is cheap and shopping in the country is also cheap compared to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei..

Sales tend to happen during pay day and lasts for 3 days and also during the Christmas season (in the Philippines Christmas season extends from September to the first week of January) in Department stores like SM Department Store.. In the Philippines, Metro Manila is a great place for shopping. It is the main shopping hub of the country and is home to an extensive range of shopping centers.. Metro Manila offers different types of shopping centers which are scattered around the metropolis, from modern and glittery shopping malls to traditional and busy markets, its all in Metro Manila..

The Philippines is one of the ideal destinations for bargain shopping. Here you can find cheaper items that are sold at flea markets and open markets like Divisoria, Market ! Market ! and Greenhills, these markets are definitely the right place for a shopper who seeks bargains and cheap buys.. But if you prefer buying luxurious and expensive clothes, bags, watches and jewelery, then the Ayala Center would be the right place for you, here you can find a variety of high end shopping centers.. The place is often compared to Singapore's Orchard Rd and Bangkok's Siam Square. From entertainment to shopping, they have it all there. Not far from Makati is the Bonifacio Global City, it is one of the growing business and shopping districts of the metropolis..

It is home to several shopping malls, including Serendra, it is a Piazza that offers lifestyle and luxury shops and often called the Luxury lifestyle center of Metro Manila. The piazza features modern architecture that will make you think you're somewhere near the world of Star Wars.. Stare, drool and be amazed at the public art displayed there. Coffee shops and tea shops are found around this area, as well as furniture and clothing stores. The 4 largest mall operators in the country are SM, Robinson's, Ayala and Gaisano with branches around the archipelago..

Antiques; Antique Porcelain plates are found around Manila after the Filipino Chinese trade however be careful when you buy antiques. Antique Santos or Saint statues including Jesus and the Virgin Mary are also sold.. Streets of Makati, Ermita and Vigan (in Ilocos) mostly sell antiques. Brass ware; Muslim Gongs are popular in the Philippines, jewel boxes, brass beds are other brass ware products. Just like antiques, tourists are advised to be careful in purchasing brass ware.. Books and Stationary; Filipino literature is amusing to read, English versions of Filipino novels are available in National Bookstore and Power Books, books tend to be much cheaper in the country compared to other countries..

Stationary items are sold at a very low price as low as ₱ 10, however be careful as some items may contain high lead content.. Clothes; Bargain clothes as low as are available in flea markets and Ukay Ukays. Ukay Ukays sell second hand clothes from other countries at a cheap price. If you prefer branded clothes, Metro Manila has a lot of foreign brand shops scattered around the city predominantly in the business district of Makati.. Comics; Komiks or Comics in English is one of the most popular forms of literature in the Philippines and can be bought as cheap as P10. It is so popular that TV and Film adaptations are often found..

Carlo J Caparas and Mars Ravelo are two famous comic authors. They're available in newsstands and most of them are unfortunately in Tagalog, you might be lucky if you find an English version of it.. Embroidery; Embroidery is a best buy because the most of the national dresses are embroidered from pinya (Pineapple) leaves and other raw material. Handmade ones tend to be more expensive than machine made ones.. Food; Buy Dried mangoes, Goldilocks and Red Ribbon has pastries and sweets such as Polvoron are also good to purchase. Native specialties are sold at Pasalubong centers. Aside from Pastries and sweets, buy condiments such as Banana Ketchup, Shrimp Paste as both of which are hard to find outside Asia..

Don't miss the chocolates of the Philippines; Chocnut and Tablea, Chocnut is like a powdered chocolate with a sweet taste and often sticky once it sticks to your gums, Tablea are chocolate tablets used for making hot chocolate.. Jewelery; Silver Necklaces and Pearls are popular in the Philippines, however it is discourage if you buy jewelery made out from endangered animals and corals as corals are slowly disappearing. Handmade jewelery made by indigenous tribes of the Philippines are available, jewelery made from wood is also sold..

Mats; Pandan leaves are weaved and made into a mat, mats tend to be different in each region in the Philippines, Mats in Luzon tend to be simple while in Visayas they're multi colored while in Mindanao tribes weave complex and difficult designs that often have meaning..

What To Eat

Filipino cuisine has developed from the different cultures that shaped its history. As such, it is a melange of Chinese, Malay, Spanish, European and American influences.. Though its cuisine is not as renowned as many of its neighbours, such as that of Thailand and Vietnam, Filipino cooking is nonetheless distinct in that it is possibly the least spicy of all South East Asian cuisines.. Don't make the mistake of thinking that Filipino food is bland, though. 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 when done properly is often what brings out the flavor of the food as, opposed to a healthy dose of spices.. The limited use of spices, possibly due to US influence, has to an extent hobbled the cuisine and the current penchant for fast food militates against the " painstaking preparations " that were once the hallmark of the cuisine.. There are small movements to revive traditional Filipino cuisine but they may not succeed on a larger scale for a couple of reasons;.

Kamayan, literally means Eating with Hands. Some Filipinos who were born and raised in rural provinces still eat with their hands, mostly at their homes during mealtimes. They would often say that Kamayan makes food taste better.. Wash your hands clean before attempting this to avoid illnesses. Almost all Filipinos in the urban areas though use spoons, forks and knives. Eating with hands in public is not uncommon however if you're eating in a mid range and splurge restaurant this may be considered rude..

To experience how the Filipinos eat in a budget way, Carenderias (food stalls) and Turo turo (meaning Point point, which actually means you point at the food you want to eat in the buffet table) are some of the options.. Mains cost less than $1. Carenderias serve food cooked earlier and it may not always be the safest of options.. As with the rest of Southeast Asia, rice is the staple food of the Philippines. Some areas in the Visayas prefer corn but elsewhere Filipinos would generally have rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner..

Uncooked rice usually comes in 50kg sacks but can be bought by the kilogram at the wet market or at neighborhood rice dealers. Single servings of rice are readily available at fastfood restaurants or eateries.. The word diet is non existent in the vocabulary of Filipinos or has never existed, as mentioned before they are laid back people, they love to eat as much as they can as if there is no tomorrow.. They spend most of their money on food, a Filipino teenager might at least enter a fastfood chain two or three times a week, during fiestas in a city, town, barangay, purok or subdivision Filipinos would have big parties and it would last from noon to midnight when some of the people would end up being drunk, you can ask if you can join a fiesta in a home and some might welcome you as this is a tradition..

If you're visiting the Philippines it is the best time to cut your so called diet and eat to your heart's content.. The Filipino diet is a lot more similar to the west than the east, with Filipinos eating less vegetables, more oil, meat and sugar than people in neighboring countries; most Filipinos aren't health conscious.. Cancer and heart related diseases are the leading causes of death here. However if you visit rural areas they use more vegetables and less meat and practice old Filipino medicine..

Some Filipinos strictly use the serving spoon rule, sharing the belief with Indians that offering utensils or food that had come contact with someone's saliva is rude, disgusting, and will cause food to get stale quickly.. Singing or having an argument while eating is considered rude, as they believe food is grasya / gracia or grace in English; food won't come to you if you keep disrespecting it.. Singing while cooking is considered taboo because it will cause you to forever be a bachelor or a widow for life, another belief shared with the Indians. Conservative Filipinos share another belief with the Chinese that not finishing your food on your plate is taboo and rude, you'll often see Filipino parents scolding their children to finish their food or they'll never achieve good academic performance..

Filipinos Usually say a prayer before food is served, furthermore wait till the host invites you to start eating. Also, it is rude to refuse food that the host offers or leave the dining table while someone is still eating.. While eating in front of Chinese / Japanese / Korean Filipinos don't stick your chopsticks vertically upright into a bowl of food (refer to China, Japan, South Korea eat sections for more information).. Kanin means Rice in Tagalog while Kakanin means Rice cakes.. Sinangag is fried garlic rice, often mixed with vegetables, dried shrimps, dried fish strips, hotdogs or Chorizos..

Bibingka - rice cake with cheese and salted egg, it originates from Indian cuisine.. Puto - Soft white rice muffins.. Other kinds include Biko, Cuchinta, Pichi Pichi, Sapin Sapin, etc The towns of Calasiao in Pangasinan and Binan, Laguna are famous for their puto. Pancit / Pancit or Noodles, an influence from Chinese cuisine and believed to give long life because of its length, often eaten in celebrations such as Birthdays and New Year. Below listed are some popular Filipino noodle dishes. Pancit Batchoy / La Paz Batchoy is a noodle soup usually made from pork organs, crushed crunchy fried pork rind, shrimp, vegetable, chicken stock, chicken, beef and especially noodles..

Pancit Bihon, sauteed noodles along with vegetables, pork and shrimp.. Pancit Molo is a Filipino wanton soup however it doesn't have noodles in it.. Pancit Palabok ' noodles boiled then topped with atchuete also known as annatto seeds, shrimp, crushed crunchy fried pork.. Pancit Hab hab ' Stir fried Rice noodles, served in a banana leaf. Eaten without utensils by placing directly to the mouth. The signature noodle dish of Lucban Quezon.. Usually eaten at breakfast, this is the Filipino version of a typical American breakfast of egg, bacon and pancakes. Silog is an contraction of the words Sinangag (fried rice) and Itlog (egg)..

They are not only sold in Filipino eateries and stalls but also in restaurants and fastfood chains such as McDonald's.. Longsilog has longganisa or local pork sausage. Tapsilog has tapa or cured beef. Tocilog has tocino or cured pork. Pankaplog A slang term for a breakfast that mainly consists of Pande Sal (bread), kape (coffee) and itlog. Adobo - chicken, pork or both served in a garlicky stew with vinegar and soy sauce as a base. It is arguably the national dish of the Philippines.. Bopis - pork innards, usually served spicy..

Burong Talangka - Filipino caviar, it is taken from Talangkas or Crabs.. Calamares - fried shrimp / squid wrapped in breading.. Camaron Rebusado - the Filipino version of tempura.. Chicken Curry - A lot different from other curries because it isn't spicy unlike other curries. Aside from chicken, Crab curry and other varieties are also available.. Dinuguan - a dark stew of pig's blood mixed with its innards. Usually served with a big green chili and best eaten with puto.. Daing na bangus - fried dried milkfish, usually served for breakfast with garlic fried rice and fried egg..

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.. Lechon de leche - slow roasted baby pork, usually served during larger occasions. The crispy skin is delicious and is often the first part that is consumed.. Lengua - roasted beef tongue marinated in savory sauce.. Nilaga - literally means " boiled ", can be beef which in certain places is served with its marrow (bulalo), pork or chicken..

Pakbet - a traditional meal of mixed vegetables usually containing cut tomatoes, minced pork, lady finger, eggplant, etc. Paksiw - fish or vegetables cooked with vinegar, ginger, garlic and chilli picante.. Sinigang - soup soured usually with tamarind (but can also be by guavas or kamias), can be served with pork, beef, chicken, fish or shrimp.. Tinola - chicken in ginger soup.. Spanish, Portuguese, Mexicans, Americans and other European and Mediterranean people introduced their cuisine to the locals and just like they did to the Chinese, they embraced it..

While the Spanish occupied the Philippines, connections of the Mexicans and the Aztecs with the Filipinos started in the Manila Acapulco trade, the people introduced to each other their native cuisine.. American influence came during the American colonization.. Arroz Caldo - Rice porridge, topped with egg, chicken liver and grind chicharon.. Arroz de Valenciana - Paella; Filipino style.. Caldereta - Pork or Beef tomato soup with sausages and vegetables.. Champorado - Introduced by the Mexicans but eventually in years the recipe changed by adding rice, sweet chocolate rice porridge. It is kind of like hot chocolate but with rice on it..

Ensaymada - Sweet bread topped with cheese and butter.. Leche Flan - Creme brulee (Custard Pudding).. Spaghetti - Possibly brought to the Philippines by the American Italians during the American colonization, this is a must try for pasta lovers not because they love it, but because it is so different from the Italian spaghetti.. Unlike the Italian version, Filipino spaghetti is sweet, its ingredients include sugar and condensed milk.. The Filipinos are meat lovers who obsessively add meat to their spaghetti, including hotdog, Spam (this is what ham is called in the Philippines as Spam is so popular) and corned beef / pork or minced beef / pork..

The Filipinos and Chinese traded with each other in the early times, then the Chinese finally began settling in the Philippines and introduced their cuisine and culture, the Filipinos embraced the Chinese heritage and started adapting it in their lives including food.. Most of the dishes found below are served in Chinatown and Filipino Chinese fast food chains and eateries.. Pansit Bihon ' (米 粉) - Stir Fried noodles with either prawns or pork in it.. Hopia (好 餅) - Mooncake; a sweet pastry dough with a filling inside it either yam, mung beans etc.

Kiampong (鹹 飯) - Fried Rice.. Tikoy (年 糕 / 甜 粿) - Sticky rice cake, often eaten in New Year's Eve, believed that it would keep family ties strong.. Lumpia (潤 餅) - Spring Rolls.. Taho (豆 花) - Fresh tofu with brown sugar and vanilla syrup and pearl sago (pearl tapioca). Siopao (燒 包) - Steamed buns with meat filling inside it.. Lugaw (粥) - Congee made from Coconut milk and glutinous rice.. America's influence is palpable in the Philippines, and you'll be hard pressed to find a mall without the requisite McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, and even Taco Bell..

Filipino fastfood chains that capture the essence of Filipino food compete strongly for Filipino tastebuds however, and they may be a safe place for the tourist to try the local fare.. The following are a list of local fastfood chains that have branches all around the Metropolis, and in many cases around the country.. Jollibee. Jollibee is McDonald's rival in fastfood in the country, it has over 1000 stores around the world. Yum Burger, Chicken Joy, Spaghetti, and Palabok. has meals from php39.00 $1 - $2 per serving..

Greenwich Pizza. The second of Jollibee corps' trifecta of fastfood chains, Greenwich Pizzas are your typical fare, but once again with the slightly sweeter than usual tomato sauce. Some seasonal offerings may be on offer though, like the sisig pizza, so check the menu.. Chowking. The Filipino version of Chinese food, also owned by Jollibee.. For good sampling of their food, try the Lauriats, which feature a viand (beef, pork, chicken), rice, pancit (fried noodles with meat and veggies), siomai (dumplings), and buchi (a sweet rice ball covered with a sesame based coating..

Tapa King. Tapaking is where you get the ubiquitous tapsilog (fried beef strips, fried garlic rice, and egg), along with other local delicacies. $2 - $3 per serving.. GotoKing. This where you go to get the localized version of congee called goto and lugaw, with different kinds of toppings like chicken, roasted garlic, egg, etc. Mang Inasal. A relative newcomer, Mang Inasal actually brings a variety of barbecue called " inasal " into Metro Manila from the city of Iloilo. They offer other grilled meats, as well as soups like sinigang (a sour, tamarind based soup)..

Goldilocks. The place to go for your baked treats and sweets like mamon (a spongy round cake), polvoron (a tighly packed powdery treat) ensaymada (bread baked with cheese and sugar), and host of other delicacies for those with a sweet tooth.. Red Ribbon. This is where you will find different variety of cakes, rolls, pastries, and even different pastas like spaghetti, carbonara, and palabok.. Arguably Filipino streetfood is one of the best however it may not be as clean as the ones you find in Singapore..

Streetfood vendors have been criticized because of their unhygienic practices as well as unhealthy options but praised by many especially the youth because of its affordability and taste, nowadays streetfood is also found in malls but the traditional way of street vending still hasn't died out.. Items are sold for as low as P5. Street food is usually enjoyed with beer, soda, juice or even Gulaman (Pearl Shakes) and is usually eaten during the afternoon till night.. Adidas - More edible than the popular shoe, Adidas is actually a slang used by the locals to refer to barbecued chicken feet. It is called Adidas as feet is associated with shoes..

Adobong Mani - Salted roasted peanuts, usually sold in small paperbags by vendors.. Betamax - Again people don't cook betamax and eat them -- it's another slang for pigs blood that has been barbecued. It is called betamax because its shape is cube like and resembles a betamax player.. Barbecue - Either pork or chicken, barbecue remains one of the favorites. It isn't only eaten as street food, but sometimes with rice as a main during dinner.. 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.. Banana cue - a popular street food made of saba (Plantain) bananas fried in very hot oil with caramelized sugar coating. The saba bananas can also be boiled instead of fried.. Chickenballs - Chicken version of fishballs.. Fishball - Something smells fishy ? As the name suggests it is the fish version of meatballs, just like meatballs it is also deepfried.. Ice Candy - Ice candy is like a popsicle stick, it comes in different flavours such as mango which is actually the most common and popular. Sold in tiangge (small convenient stores in barangays) as well as in the streets..

It is the common refreshment for locals during the summer.. Inasal - The best Inasal would be found in Bacolod, it is usually like grilled chicken but the sweet juicy version.. Isaw - Chicken intestines barbecue.. Kikiam - Originally from the Chinese, it is pork meat with vegetables which is wrapped in bean curd sheets.. Kwek Kwek - Quail eggs and chicken that had been battered in egg then fried, it is orange in colour.. Penoy - same as balut, but without the embryo, just the yolk.. Squidballs - Squid version of fishballs..

Sorbetes - The Pinoy version of sorbet / ice Cream. Sold in different flavours notably; ube, vanilla, chocolate, mango, coconut, cheese and sometimes durian. Filipinos like to play with their food -- you'll see people dipping french fries in ice cream floats or people eating ice cream with bread.. Don't leave the Philippines without trying some of the more unusual flavors. They are kind of exotic and perhaps weird, but tasty.. Tenga - Tenga is Filipino for ear, it is pig's ear that has been barbecued..

Pan de Sal - Spanish for " salt bread ", they are small buns usually made fresh in the morning, an alternative to rice for breakfast. They are usually eaten with a cup of coffee.. Some people prefer to dip their pandesal in coffee.. Chicharon - crunchy snacks made from deep fried pig skin. If you don't eat pork or have dietary restrictions there is chicken chicharon and sometimes fish chicharon.. 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, such as;.

Coconut - Although it's familiar, you should try the coconut of the Philippines, the country is the largest exporter of coconuts 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.. Green Mangoes, Ripe Mangoes, Dried Mangoes - Don't leave Philippines without trying Green Indian mangoes with Bagoong (shrimp paste), tasting ripe mangoes and buying Dried mangoes as a Pasalubong.. Banana chips - Unlike the ones eaten in India, the Filipino version is a lot thicker and sweeter, try dipping it in ice cream..

Buko Pie - Pie with scraped coconut as filling.. Egg Pie - Pie with sweet, flan like filling. Halo Halo - Halo Halo means mix mix in Filipino, is another refreshing dessert which is a mix of sweetened beans and fruits, such as sweetened bananas, red and white beans, sago, crushed ice and milk and topped off with leche flan and ube jam and / or ice cream.. Ice scramble - Crushed ice with condensed milk.. Mais con Hielo / Yelo - A dessert of fresh sweet corn served in a glass mixed with crushed ice and milk..

Sampaloc candy - salted and sweetened tamarind fruit.. Turon ' - Saba (Plantain) bananas in wrappers and fried and then topped with condensed milk or sugar.. Turron - Originally from Europe, a bar of cashew nuts with a white wafer.. Achara - Pickled Papaya salad, it actually originates from South Indian cuisine.. Banana Ketchup - During World War II, stocks of tomato ketchup ran out and people started complaining. So due to the high production of bananas, Filipinos thought of using banana instead of tomato..

Don't worry; it doesn't taste like banana at all; it is kind of like sweet and sour ketchup. Try it with chicken, pork chops or spaghetti.. Bagoong (shrimp paste) - Shrimp paste is popular throughout Southeast Asia. Some people get allergies from shrimp paste, but they still consume it despite the itchy skin problems it causes. Fish is used instead sometimes.. Radish salad - Salad based on radish, onion and sugar, enjoyed with fish.. Muslims will find it hard to find Halal food outside predominantly Muslim areas in the Philippines even though the country is one of the fastest emerging markets in exporting certified halal products. Ask if there is pork in the dish before eating it..

Seventh Day Adventists would possibly find some vegetarian restaurants in the Philippines, mostly lurking in the commercial, financial and provincial capitals, and most of them use tofu instead of meat, Sanitarium products may be found in Seventh Day Adventists or Sanitarium hospitals.. Hindus will find Indian restaurants which serve some vegetarian options around Metro Manila. Vegetarians and vegans will find it difficult to find a Filipino dish which is wholly vegetarian as most of the Filipinos love to add meat in every single dish they eat..

Jews will also find it hard to find Kosher meals. However rabbis in the Philippines suggest some stores which sell Kosher food, visit Kosher Philippines for advice..

Options For Drink

Due to the tropical climate of the Philippines, chilled drinks are popular. A stand selling chilled drinks and shakes are common especially on shopping malls. Fruit Shakes are served with ice, evaporated or condensed milk, and fruits such as mango, watermelon, pineapple, strawberry and even durians.. Various tropical fruit drinks that can be found in the Philippines are dalandan (green mandarin), suha (pomelo), pinya (pineapple), calamansi (small lime), buko (young coconut), durian, guyabano (soursop) mango, banana, watermelon and strawberry, these are available at stands along streets, as well as at commercial establishments such as food carts inside malls..

They are often served chilled with ice. Buko juice (young coconut) is a popular drink in the country, the juice is consumed via an inserted straw on the top of the buko or young coconut.. Sago't Gulaman a sweet drink made of molasses, sago pearls and seaweed gelatin is also a popular drink among Filipinos. Zagu is a shake with flavors such as strawberry and chocolate, with sago pearls.. Salabat, sometimes called ginger tea, is an iced or hot tea made from lemon grass and pandan leaves or brewed from ginger root. Kapeng barako is a famous kind of coffee in the Philippines, found in Batangas, made from coffee beans found in the cool mountains..

Try the Filipino hot chocolate drink, tsokolate, made from chocolate tablets called tableas, a tradition that dates back the Spanish colonial times. Champorado isn't considered a drink by Filipinos, but it is another version of tsokolate with the difference of added rice.. Records say that chocolate was introduced by the Aztecs to the Filipinos during the Manila Acapulco trade.. Filipinos (except for observant Muslims) love to drink (and get drunk).. 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..

When having a party, Filipinos enjoy drinking round robin style using a common glass. One is supposed to drink bottoms up before passing the glass to the next person. This custom is known as " tagayan " and one person usually volunteers to pour the drink.. 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. Rum and ginebra which is the local form of gin are commonly available forms of hard liquor. Indigenous forms of liquor are lambanog and tuba 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.. Alcohol is extremely cheap in the Philippines (and one of the cheapest in the whole of Asia). A bottle of San Miguel bought at a 7 Eleven or Mini Stop costs about ₱ 20 - ₱ 30.. Regular bars will offer it for ₱ 40-50, and even in top end bars and clubs, a bottle would cost about ₱ 100-200..

A bottle of 750ml Absolut Vodka at the supermarket will cost about ₱ 750, and a popular local rum (especially amongst knowledgeable expats) tanduay costs just below ₱ 70 at a 24 hour convenience store in Makati (The Financial District)..

Where To Sleep

Housing options for tourists include hotels, condotels, apartelles, motels, inns / bed and breakfasts, and pension houses.. Hotels are usually for the higher end traveller, although hotel rates -- even for four star establishments -- are not very high compared to other international destinations.. Condotels are furnished condominium units rented out for long or short term stays, apartelles 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 also serve lodging purposes but have a reputation as meeting places for illicit sex, a unit being usually a small room with a connected carport, hidden behind a high wall which provides for secret comings and goings.. You can distinguish these by their hourly rates, while more reputable institutions usually have daily rates..

Connect

Fire, Medical and Police Emergencies; 117 by voice or text message.. The national Emergency Network Philippines (ENP) is also called Patrol 117 and routes emergency calls originating anywhere in the Philippines' archipelago to the appropriate one of sixteen emergency call centers located in various cities throughout the nation.. When a Patrol 117 call is made from a mobile phone, that call is automatically routed to the nearest emergency call center. However 117, as an emergency number able to be dialled even without credit, a roaming agreement or even a SIM card, is not registered on most mobile phone models or SIM cards. Because of this, the ENP also supports, as a contingency measure, dialling 112 or 911. (These alternative numbers will generally not work from landlines) Because of this, the ENP also supports, as a contingency measure, dialling 112 or 911. (These alternative numbers will generally not work from landlines).

Philippine Coast Guard Action Center; + 63 2 527-3880. National Poison Control; + 63 2 524-1078. Motorist Assistance '; 136 (Metro Manila only). Tourist hotline; + 63 2 524-1728 and 524-1660. Directory assistance; 187 or 114 (fee applies). The country code for the Philippines is 63. The International dialling prefix to make an overseas call from the Philippines is 00. The area code for Metro Manila is 2. Phone numbers in the Philippines have the format + 63 35 539-0605 where " 63 " is the country code, the next one, two or three digits are the area code and the remaining 7 digits are the " local " part of the subscriber number that can be called from within that particular area code using abbreviated dialing..

Mobile numbers in the Philippines must always be dialed with all 11 digits (including a " 0 " prefixing the " 8nn " or " 9nn " within the Philippines), no matter where they are being called from.. The 8nn or 9nn is a mobile prefix, not an " area code ", as such and the second and third digits (the nn part) denotes the original mobile network assigned.. As is the case with most mobile numbers, they can also be called within or outside the Philippines using the international format; + 63 996-202-4961..

Most toll free numbers can not be called from outside Philippines but can be dialed using the format 1800-1855-0165 domestically.. You need to dial " 0 " in front of the geographic area code from outside that particular area code (but when still within the Philippines).. The cheapest way to call to and from the Philippines is by using Internet telephony (VoIP). There are several licensed VoIP providers in the Philippines. One of the most popular is Vodini Telecom.. Most Philippines toll free numbers can not be called from outside the Philippines, so they are not listed in international format. eg; 1800 1855 0165.

Mobile numbers in the Philippines must always be dialled with all 11 digits (including a " 0 " prefixing the " 8nn " or " 9nn " within the Philippines), no matter where they are being called from.. The 8nn or 9nn is a mobile prefix, not an " area code ", as such and the second and third digits (the nn part) denotes the original mobile network assigned.. As is the case with most mobile numbers, they can also be called within or outside the Philippines using the international format as listed in our Philippines articles.

There are three major companies operating GSM 900/1800 networks; Globe, Smart and Sun Cellular. Your home provider at home should have agreements with one of these providers so check with them before leaving home.. Roaming may be quite expensive just as elsewhere however, pre paid SIM cards of these networks are easy to acquire and cost as little as ₱ 30 and provide a cheaper alternative.. If your unit is locked to your home service provider, cellphone repair shops in various malls have ways of unlocking (the typical fee to unlock is ₱ 300 but can go as high as ₱ 2,000 for certain units like a Blackberry)..

If you don't have a phone to begin with, a complete pre paid kit with phone and SIM can be purchased for as little as ₱ 1,500.. Phones that come with these sot of deals are usually locked to a local network provider, and you would need to have it unlocked before leaving if you plan on using it back home.. GSM mobile phones are in wide use all over the country. 3G technology is available through Globe and Smart, but is poorly implemented and often not properly operational especially outside urban areas. In most urban locations and many resorts, cell phone service will be available..

Please note that Sun cellular did not work outside the main island of Luzon. Globe or Smart is a much better choice. The usual cost of an international long distance call to the United States, Europe or other major countries is $0.40 per minute.. Local calls range from ₱ 6.50 per minute for prepaid calls (a new law was passed that will eventually require per pulse, i e rates per 6 seconds charging) but unlike other countries, you won't be charged for incoming calls.. Text messages typically cost as low as ₱ 1 and the Philippines is usually tagged as the " texting capital of the world ". International SMS is charged at a higher rate of between ₱ 15-25..

Plans for unlimited call and SMS are offered by the networks are but are almost always restricted to those made to parties within the same network.. Reloading (known in other countries as recharge / recharging or top up / topping up) 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 ₱ 100, ₱ 300 and ₱ 500.. Due to the wide use of mobile 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 at broadband speeds are plentiful in city malls, much less so outside the cities, but are growing at a rapid pace. Internet prices depend primarily on where you surf and the medium used (e g Wi Fi or wired).. Internet services offered by hotels and shopping malls are expensive and can go up to ₱ 200 / hour but neighbourhood cafes can be as cheap as ₱ 10 / hour. Public Wi Fi services in the Philippines provided by Airborneaccess.net and WiZ are likely to cost ₱ 100 for up to an hour..

But if you want cheaper, there is an internet cafe chain in SM malls called, " Netopia ", that has a land line internet connection for around ₱ 20 an hour. Coffee shops like Starbucks and Seattle's Best, as well as malls, usually carry Wi Fi service and some are free to use.. The SM chain of malls also offer free Wi Fi, so you can sit virtually anywhere in the mall and access free wireless.. In addition, you may want to consider buying a mobile broadband modem starting at ₱ 995 where service is also provided by Globe, Smart or Sun..

Mobile broadband signals vary depending on the available infrastructure in your particular location but, in general, Smart has the largest network in the country, followed by Globe, and then Sun.. It takes up to 24 hours for internet to be available on a new SIM card Mobile broadband comes both in postpaid and prepaid variants.. To buy a modem and subscription you will have to go to one of the larger cities - the small shops just selling cell phones and SIM cards aren't able to sell mobile broadband..

" Loads " often cost just ₱ 20 an hour for most mobile internet modems. However, service is usually slower during certain times -- especially in the evening -- due to a high volume of people surfing.. Even with a fast broadband dongle, service is then almost guaranteed to slow down to a standstill.. 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. Postal mail from abroad is often " lost ", so don't send anything valuable..

English newspapers are available throughout the country and there are also some Japanese and Chinese language options. The Daily Tribune, Malaya, Manila Standard, Manila Bulletin, Business World, Philippine Daily Inquirer and Visayan Daily Star are some of the English newspapers..

How To Stay Safe

Use common sense when traveling to and around the Philippines, as with traveling to other developing nations. Although the people of these islands are generally friendly and accommodating, one must be aware of the prevalence of poverty (especially in big cities) and the things that, unfortunately, come with it.. You must not flash your valuables (especially Apple iPods and iPhones) because they pose a pickpocketing threat. Carry small change and don't flash large bills. Pickpockets are common in the big cities..

Manila is not a place for violent robbery, but the ativan scam is common practice. Don't expect any reprisal from the police and must also sometimes be wary of them as they can be easily bribed and might be entangled in their own scams.. Women are advised to travel in large groups and must use caution when out at night. Do not enter alleyways and remote areas at night.. See also common scams and pickpockets.. Prostitution is thriving but officially illegal in the Philippines, although hostess bars, massage parlors and other fronts abound which offer this service. EDSA and Makati in Metro Manila, and Angeles City are known hot spots for these activities..

The age of consent is 18. The Philippine National Police treat sex offenders, child molesters and people involved in prostitution harshly; catching you in an act associated with prostitution and child sex abuse will result in a long prison sentence, penalties and deportation to your country.. Marijuana and shabu (crystal methamphetamine) are widely used in the country; however, they are also illegal and penalties are very harsh; you might very well get a long prison sentence, followed by deportation..

Gays and lesbians will be fine in the Philippines as some of the younger tolerant generation are very accepting, but should use common sense (i e; avoid public kissing) as they may get stares or even verbal profanity. Also, in the countryside and with the 60 year old and older generation chances are they will condemn it. But nevertheless, Filipinos have their warm hospitality. Violence against gays and lesbians is rare..

History

The metatarsal of the Callao Man, reliably dated by uranium series dating to 67,000 years ago replaced the Tabon Man of Palawan, carbon dated to around 24,000 years ago, as the oldest human remains found in the archipelago.. Negritos were also among the archipelago's earliest inhabitants, but their appearance in the Philippines has not been reliably dated. There are several opposing theories regarding the origins of ancient Filipinos.. The most widely accepted based on linguistic and archeological evidence, is the " Out of Taiwan " model, which hypothesizes that Austronesians from Taiwan began migrating to the Philippines around 4000 BCE, displacing earlier arrivals..

By 1000 BCE the inhabitants of the archipelago had developed into four kinds of social groups hunter gatherer tribes, warrior societies, highland plutocracies, and maritime harbor principalities.. Some of the societies scattered in the islands remained isolated but many evolved into states that developed substantial trade and contacts with the peoples of Eastern, Southern and Southeastern Asia; including those from Brunei, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan as well as other Austronesian islands..

The 1st millennium saw the rise of the harbor principalities and their growth into Maritime states composed of autonomous barangays independent of, or allied with larger nations which were either Malay thalassocracies led by Datus, Chinese tributary states ruled by Huangs or Indianized Kingdoms governed by Rajahs.. For example, Datu Puti ruled over the Kedatuan of Madja as after he purchased his realms from the Ati Chieftain, Marikudo. Madja as, being founded on Panay island, named after their destroyed homeland, the state of Pannai..

The Rajahnate of Butuan, attained prominence under the rule of Rajah Sri Bata Shaja, the Kingdom of Tondo, was ruled over by the Lakandula dynasty and the Rajahnate of Cebu which was led by Rajamuda Sri Lumay.. Other nations in this era include the Sinified kingdom of Ma i, represented by Huang Gat Sa Li han and Sulu which, before its Islamization, was also an Indianized Rajahnate under its first ruler, Rajah Sipad the Older.. The great epics; the Hinilawod, Darangan and the Biag Ni Lam Ang trace their origins to this era..

The 1300s heralded the arrival and eventual spread of the Islamic religion in the Philippine archipelago. In 1380, Karim ul ' Makdum and Shari'ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab trader born in Johore, arrived in Sulu from Malacca and established the Sultanate of Sulu by converting Sulu's rajah and marrying his daughter.. At the end of the 15th century, Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuwan of Johor introduced Islam in the island of Mindanao. He subsequently married Paramisuli, an Iranun princess, and established the Sultanate of Maguindanao..

The sultanate form of government extended further into Lanao. Eventually, Islam spread out of Mindanao in the south into Luzon in the north. Even Manila was Islamized through the reign of Sultan Bolkiah in 1485 to 1521, wherein, the Bruneian Empire subjugated the Kingdom of Tondo by converting Rajah Salalila to Islam.. However, states like the Animist Igorot, Malay Madja as, Sinified Ma i, and Indianized Butuan still maintained their cultures. In some kingdoms, anti Islamic fervor was present. As a result, the rivalries between the datus, rajahs, huangs, sultans, and lakans eventually eased Spanish colonization..

These states became incorporated into the Spanish Empire and were Hispanicized and Christianized.. In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines and claimed the islands for Spain. Colonization began when Spanish explorer Miguel Lpez de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first Hispanic settlements in Cebu.. After re locating to Panay island and consolidating a coalition of native Visayan allies and Spanish soldiers, the Spaniards marched upon Islamic Manila. Under Spanish rule, Manila became the capital of the Spanish East Indies, therein they put down the Tondo Conspiracy and defeated the Chinese warlord Limahong..

Spanish rule contributed significantly to bringing political unity to the fragmented states of the archipelago. From 1565 to 1821, the Philippines was governed as a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and then was administered directly from Madrid after the Mexican War of Independence.. The Manila galleons and its large naval fleet linking Manila to Acapulco traveled once or twice a year between the 16th and 19th centuries. Trade introduced foods such as corn, tomatoes, potatoes, chili peppers, and pineapples from the Americas..

Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the lowland inhabitants to Christianity and founded schools, a university, and hospitals. While a Spanish decree introduced free public schooling in 1863, efforts in mass public education mainly came to fruition during the American period.. During its rule, the Spanish fought off various indigenous revolts and several external colonial challenges from Chinese pirates, the Dutch, and the Portuguese. In an extension of the fighting of the Seven Years' War, British forces occupied Manila from 1762 to 1764..

Spanish rule was eventually restored following the 1763 Treaty of Paris. In the 19th century, Philippine ports opened to world trade and shifts started occurring within Philippine society.. Many Spaniards born in the Philippines and those of mixed ancestry became wealthy, and an influx of Latin American settlers opened up government positions traditionally held by Spaniards born in the Iberian Peninsula.. The ideals of revolution also began to spread through the islands. Criollo dissatisfaction resulted in the 1872 Cavite Mutiny that was a precursor to the Philippine Revolution..

Revolutionary sentiments were stoked in 1872 after three priestsMariano Gmez, Jos Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora were accused of sedition by colonial authorities and executed. This would inspire a propaganda movement in Spain, organized by Marcelo H del Pilar, Jos Rizal, and Mariano Ponce, lobbying for political reforms in the Philippines.. Rizal was eventually executed on December 30, 1896, on charges of rebellion. As attempts at reform met with resistance, Andrs Bonifacio in 1892 established the secret society called the Katipunan, who sought independence from Spain through armed revolt..

Bonifacio and the Katipunan started the Philippine Revolution in 1896. A faction of the Katipunan, the Magdalo of Cavite province, eventually came to challenge Bonifacio's position as the leader of the revolution and Emilio Aguinaldo took over.. In 1898, the SpanishAmerican War began in Cuba and reached the Philippines. Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898, and the First Philippine Republic was established in the Barasoain Church in the following year..

The islands were ceded by Spain to the United States as a result of the latter's victory in the Spanish American War. A compensation of 20 million US dollars was paid according to the terms of the 1898 Treaty of Paris.. As it became increasingly clear the United States would not recognize the nascent First Philippine Republic, the PhilippineAmerican War broke out, the First Republic was defeated, and the archipelago was administered under an Insular Government.. The Americans then suppressed the subs states the First Republic fractured into mainly, the waning Sultanate of Sulu, as well as the insurgent Tagalog Republic, the Cantonal Republic of Negros, in the Visayas, and the Republic of Zamboanga, in Mindanao..

During this era, a renaissance in Philippine culture occurred, with the expansion of Philippine cinema and literature. Daniel Burnham built an architectural plan for Manila which would have transformed it into a modern city.. In 1935, the Philippines was granted Commonwealth status with Manuel Quezon as president. He designated a national language and introduced women's suffrage and land reform.. Plans for independence over the next decade were interrupted by World War II when the Japanese Empire invaded and the Second Philippine Republic of Jos P Laurel was established as a collaborator state..

Many atrocities and war crimes were committed during the war such as the Bataan Death March and the Manila massacre that culminated during the Battle of Manila. In 1944, Quezon died in exile in the United States and Sergio Osmea succeeded him.. Allied troops defeated the Japanese in 1945. By the end of the war it is estimated over a million Filipinos had died.. On October 24, 1945, the Philippines became one of the founding members of the United Nations and the following year, on July 4, 1946, it became recognized by the United States as independent, during the presidency of Manuel Roxas..

Disgruntled remnants of the communist Hukbalahap continued to roam the countryside but were put down by President Elpidio Quirino's successor Ramon Magsaysay.. Magsaysay's successor, Carlos P Garcia initiated the Filipino First Policy, which was continued by Diosdado Macapagal, with celebration of Independence Day moved from July 4 to June 12, the date of Emilio Aguinaldo's declaration, while furthering the claim on the eastern part of North Borneo.. In 1965, Macapagal lost to Ferdinand Marcos, who was elected president. Early in his presidency he initiated numerous public projects but was accused of massive corruption, such as the embezzlement of billions of dollars in public funds..

Amidst great social turmoil and nearing the end of his term, Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972. This period of his rule was characterized by political repression, censorship, and human rights violations.. His wife Imelda continued to live a lavish lifestyle as the majority of Filipinos remained in poverty. On August 21, 1983, Marcos' chief rival, opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr, was assassinated at Manila International Airport.. Marcos eventually called for snap presidential elections in 1986 against Aquino's widow, Corazon. Marcos was proclaimed the winner, but the results were widely regarded as fraudulent, leading to the People Power Revolution..

Marcos and his allies fled to Hawaii and Aquino was recognized as president.. The return of democracy and government reforms beginning in 1986 were hampered by national debt, government corruption, coup attempts, disasters, a persistent communist insurgency, and a military conflict with Moro separatists.. Corazon Aquino's administration ended with the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 1991, withdrawal of U.S. forces due the rejection of the U.S. Bases Extension Treaty and transfer of Clark Air Base in November 1991 and Subic Bay in December 1992 officially to the government, ending the basing of American military forces in the country..

The economy was known as the " Tiger Economy in Asia ", with an average of 6 GDP growth rate during the administration of Fidel V Ramos, who won in the Philippine presidential election held in May 11, 1992.. However, the political stability and economic improvements, such as the peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front in 1996, were overlooked by the onset of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.. Ramos' successor, Joseph Estrada assumed office in June 1998 and managed to regain the economy from -0.6 growth to 3.4 by 1999 amidst the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The government had announced a war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in March 2000 and neutralized the camps including the headquarters of the insurgents..

In the middle of ongoing conflict with the Abu Sayyaf, accusations of alleged corruption, and a stalled impeachment process, Estrada's administration was overthrown by the 2001 EDSA Revolution and succeeded by his Vice President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on January 20, 2001.. In Arroyo's 9 year administration, The economy experienced GDP growth from 4 in 2002 to 7 growth in 2007 with the completion of infrastructure projects like the MRT Line 2 in 2004 and managed to avoid the Great Recession.. Nevertheless, It was tied with graft and political scandals like the Hello Garci scandal pertaining to the alleged manipulation of votes in the 2004 presidential elections. On November 23, 2009, the Maguindanao massacre led to the murder of 34 journalists..

Benigno Aquino III won the 2010 national elections and served as the 15th President of the Philippines. He was the third youngest person to be elected president and the first to be a bachelor.. During the previous years, The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed on October 15, 2012, as the first step of the creation of an autonomous political entity named Bangsamoro. however, territorial disputes in eastern Sabah and the South China Sea have escalated.. The economy in the country performed well especially in 2013 at 7.2 GDP growth which is 2nd fastest in Asia Aquino signed the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, commonly known as K12 program in May 15, 2013 aiming to enhance the educational system in the country..

On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the country and heavily devastated the country especially in the Visayan Region..

Economy

The national economy of the Philippines is the 39th largest in the world, with an estimated 2013 gross domestic product of 272.207 billion. Primary exports include semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil, and fruits.. Major trading partners include the United States, Japan, China, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Germany, Taiwan, and Thailand. Its unit of currency is the Philippine peso.. The Philippines is classified as a middle power. A newly industrialized country, the Philippine economy has been transitioning from one based on agriculture to one based more on services and manufacturing..

Of the country's total labor force of around 40.813 Million, the agricultural sector employs close to 32 but contributes to only about 14 of GDP. The industrial sector employs around 14 of the workforce and accounts for 30 of GDP. Meanwhile the 47 of workers involved in the services sector are responsible for 56 of GDP.. The unemployment rate as of September 10, 2014 stands at 6.7 accounting for 1.06 million jobs, lower than the 7.5 recorded in Q4 2013.. However, due to the damage of the recent typhoon and the port congestion, the inflation rate was high in July 2014 at 4.9. Gross international reserves as of October 2013 are 83.201 billion..

In 2004, public debt as a percentage of GDP was estimated to be 74.2 but in 2008 it fell to 56.9. and in 2012, 40.2. The country is a net importer but it is also a creditor nation.. After World War II, the country was for a time regarded as the second wealthiest in East Asia, next only to Japan. However, by the 1960s its economic performance started being overtaken.. The economy stagnated under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos as the regime spawned economic mismanagement and political volatility. The country suffered from slow economic growth and bouts of economic recession. Only in the 1990s with a program of economic liberalization did the economy begin to recover..

The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis affected the economy, resulting in a lingering decline of the value of the peso and falls in the stock market. But the extent it was affected initially was not as severe as that of some of its Asian neighbors.. This was largely due to the fiscal conservatism of the government, partly as a result of decades of monitoring and fiscal supervision from the International Monetary Fund, in comparison to the massive spending of its neighbors on the rapid acceleration of economic growth..

There have been signs of progress since. In 2004, the economy experienced 6.4 GDP growth and 7.1 in 2007, its fastest pace of growth in three decades.. Average annual GDP growth per capita for the period 19662007 still stands at 1.45 in comparison to an average of 5.96 for the East Asia and the Pacific region as a whole and the daily income for 45 of the population of the Philippines remains less than 2. Other incongruities and challenges exist. The economy is heavily reliant on remittances which surpass foreign direct investment as a source of foreign currency. Remittances have peaked in 2010 at 10.4 and 8.6 in 2012 of the national GDP..

Regional development is uneven, with Luzon Metro Manila in particular gaining most of the new economic growth at the expense of the other regions, although the government has taken steps to distribute economic growth by promoting investment in other areas of the country.. Despite constraints, service industries such as tourism and business process outsourcing have been identified as areas with some of the best opportunities for growth for the country.. Goldman Sachs includes the country in its list of the " Next Eleven " economies. but China and India have emerged as major economic competitors. Goldman Sachs estimates that by the year 2050, it will be the 20th largest economy in the world..

HSBC also projects the Philippine economy to become the 16th largest economy in the world, 5th largest economy in Asia and the largest economy in the South East Asian region by 2050.. The Philippines is a member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the Asian Development Bank which is headquartered in Mandaluyong, the Colombo Plan, the G 77, and the G 24 among other groups and institutions.. The transportation infrastructure in the country is relatively underdeveloped. Partly this is due to the mountainous terrain and the scattered geography of the islands, but also the result of the lower investment of the government in infrastructure..

In 2013, About 3 of the GDP went to infrastructure development which was lower than that of some of its neighbors. Consequently, while there are 213,151 kilometers of roads in the country, only around 25.56 of the total is paved.. The current administration under President Benigno Aquino III has been pushing to improve the country's infrastructure and transportation systems through various projects. Nevertheless there are many ways to get around, especially in urban areas.. Buses, jeepneys, taxis, and motorized tricycles are commonly available in major cities and towns. In 2007, there were about 5.53 million registered motor vehicles with registration increasing at an average annual rate of 4.55..

Travelling from one island to another by means of air travel is an option in the country. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has the responsibility of the management of airports and the implementation of policies regarding safe air travel.. with 85 public airports that are currently operational The Ninoy Aquino International Airport serves the Greater Manila Area along with Clark International Airport. Philippine Airlines, Asia's oldest commercial airline still operating under its original name, and Cebu Pacific, the leading low cost airline, are the major airlines serving most domestic and international destinations..

Philippines' roads and highways consist of a network of national and provincial highways, Expressways, secondary and municipal avenues and roads spanning a length of 205,497 km as of December 2007.. The expressways and highways in the country are mostly located on the island of Luzon including the Pan Philippine Highway, connecting the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao, the North Luzon Expressway, South Luzon Expressway, and the SubicClarkTarlac Expressway.. Rail transport in the Philippines plays a vital role of transporting passengers and cargo within major cites as well as long distance travel..

Rail network in the country including Manila Light Rail Transit System, and Manila Metro Rail Transit System serving the Metro Manila area, Philippine National Railways serves the Luzon Island, and the defunct Panay Railways that previously served the island of Panay.. Three types of train systems are currently under development namely the Automated Guideway Transit, an electric powered, fully automated train, the Hybrid Electric Road Train which is a long bi articulated bus, and a full scale passenger train..

As an archipelago, inter island travel via watercraft is often necessary. The busiest seaports are Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga. 2GO Travel and Sulpicio Lines serve Manila, with links to various cities and towns through passenger vessels.. The 919 kilometer Strong Republic Nautical Highway, an integrated set of highway segments and ferry routes covering 17 cities was established in 2003. The Pasig River Ferry Service serves the major rivers in the metro including the Pasig River and Marikina River having numerous stops in Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig and Marikina..

Philippines have pursued efforts to improve the field of science and technology. The Department of Science and Technology is the governing agency responsible for the development of coordination of science and technology related projects in the Philippines.. National Scientist of the Philippines award was given to individuals that have contributed to different field of science in the country.. Notable Filipino scientists include Maria Orosa, a food technologist famous for her formulated food products like calamansi nip, soyalac and the banana ketchup, Fe del Mundo, a pediatrician whose pioneering work in pediatrics as an active medical practice spanned 8 decades, Paulo Campos, a physician who was dubbed as " The Father of Nuclear Medicine in the Philippines " for his contributions in the field of nuclear medicine, Ramon Barba, an inventor and horticulturist known for his method to induce more flowers in mango trees,..

In July 1996, The country's first satellite, The Palapa B 2P, acquired by the Mabuhay Philippines Satellite Corporation, was launched and moved to a new orbital slot in August 1, 1996 and renamed as Mabuhay.. Plans of launching the country's first microsatellite was visioned by the Department of Science and Technology within July 2016 in cooperation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Research organizations formed in the country, including the International Rice Research Institute, an international independent research and training organization established in 1960 with headquarters in Los Baos, Laguna..

focusing on the development of new rice varieties and rice crop management techniques to help farmers in the country improve their lives.. The Philippines has a sophisticated cellular phone industry and a high concentration of users. Text messaging is a popular form of communication, and in 2007, the nation sent an average of one billion SMS messages per day.. Over five million mobile phone users also use their phones as virtual wallets, making it a leader among developing nations in providing financial transactions over cellular networks. The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company commonly known as PLDT is the leading telecommunications provider..

It is also the largest company in the country. The National Telecommunications Commission is the agency responsible for the supervision, adjudication and control over all telecommunications services throughout the country. There are approximately 383 AM and 659 FM radio stations and 297 television and 873 cable television stations.. In March 29, 1994, the country became live in the internet through a router serviced by PLDT to a Sprint communication's router in California via a 64 kbits connection. Estimates for internet penetration in the Philippines vary widely ranging from a low of 2.5 million to a high of 24 million people..

Social networking and watching videos are among the most frequent internet activities.. The travel and tourism sector is a major contributor to the economy, contributing 7.1 share in the Philippine GDP and employing 1,226,500 jobs, accounting for 3.2 percent of total employment in the country in 2013.. The industry had grown by US4.8 billion in 2013 2,433,428 international visitors have arrived in the country from January to June 2014 up by 2.22 in the same period in 2013. South Korea, China, and Japan accounted for 58.78 while Americas accounted for 19.28 and Europe 10.64..

On 2013, The sector has employed 1,226,500 jobs accounting for 3.2 percent of total employment in the country. The governing body Department of Tourism has the responsibility for the management and promotion of the tourism sector.. On January 6, 2012. A new slogan named " It's More Fun in the Philippines " of the tourism department was launched and ranked third in world's best marketing campaigns according to Warc 100.. As an archipelago consisting of 7,107 islands, Philippines has numerous beaches, caves and other rock formations..

Tourist attractions in the country includes the white sand beaches of Boracay, named as the best island in the world by Travel Leisure in 2012, commercial shopping malls located in Manila including the SM Mall of Asia, Festival Supermall, etc, Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao, historic town of Vigan, Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Magellan's Cross in Cebu, Tubbataha Reef in Visayas and others in the rest of the country..

Culture

Philippine culture is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. The Philippines exhibits aspects found in other Asian countries with a Malay heritage, yet its culture also displays a significant amount of Spanish and American influences.. Traditional festivities known as barrio fiestas to commemorate the feast days of patron saints are common.. The Moriones Festival and Sinulog Festival are a couple of the most well known. These community celebrations are times for feasting, music, and dancing. Some traditions, however, are changing or gradually being forgotten due to modernization..

The Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company has been lauded for preserving many of the various traditional folk dances found throughout the Philippines. They are famed for their iconic performances of Philippine dances such as the tinikling and singkil that both feature the use of clashing bamboo poles.. One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish names and surnames among Filipinos. However, a Spanish name and surname does not necessarily denote Spanish ancestry..

This peculiarity, unique among the people of Asia, came as a result of a colonial decree, the Clavera edict, for the systematic distribution of family names and implementation of the Spanish naming system on the population.. The names of many streets, towns, and provinces are also in Spanish. Spanish architecture has left an imprint in the Philippines in the way many towns were designed around a central square or plaza mayor, but many of the buildings bearing its influence were demolished during World War II..

Some examples remain, mainly among the country's churches, government buildings, and universities.. Four Philippine baroque churches are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites the San Agustn Church in Manila, the Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, the Nuestra Seora de la Asuncin Church in Ilocos Sur, and the Santo Toms de Villanueva Church in Iloilo.. Vigan in Ilocos Sur is also known for the many Hispanic style houses and buildings preserved there.. The common use of the English language is an example of the American impact on Philippine society. It has contributed to the ready acceptance and influence of American pop cultural trends. This affinity is seen in Filipinos' love of fast food and Western film and music..

Fast food outlets are found on many street corners. American global fast food chain stalwarts have entered the market, but local fast food chains like Goldilocks and most notably Jollibee, the leading fast food chain in the country, have emerged and compete successfully against their foreign rivals.. Philippine cuisine has evolved over several centuries from its Malayo Polynesian origins to become a mixed cuisine with many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian influences that have been adapted to local ingredients and the Filipino palate to create distinctively Filipino dishes..

Dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to the elaborate, such as the paellas and cocidos created for fiestas. Popular dishes include lechn, adobo, sinigang, kare kare, tapa, crispy pata, pancit, lumpia, and halo halo.. Some common local ingredients used in cooking are calamondins, coconuts, saba, mangoes, milkfish, and fish sauce. Filipino taste buds tend to favor robust flavors but the cuisine is not as spicy as those of its neighbors.. Unlike many of their Asian counterparts, Filipinos do not eat with chopsticks; they use Western cutlery..

However, possibly due to rice being the primary staple food and the popularity of a large number of stews and main dishes with broth in Philippine cuisine, the main pairing of utensils seen at the Filipino dining table is that of spoon and fork, not knife and fork.. The traditional way of eating with the hands known as kamayan is seen more often in less urbanized areas.. Philippine mythology has been handed down primarily through the traditional oral folk literature of the Filipino people. While each unique ethnic group has its own stories and myths to tell, Hindu and Spanish influences can nonetheless be detected in many cases..

Philippine mythology mostly consists of creation stories or stories about supernatural creatures, such as the aswang, the manananggal, the diwataengkanto, and nature. Some popular figures from Philippine mythologies are Maria Makiling, Lam Ang, and the Sarimanok.. Philippine literature comprises works usually written in Filipino, Spanish, or English. Some of the most known were created in the 19th century. Francisco Balagtas the poet and playwright who wrote Florante at Laura is recognized as a preeminent writer in the Filipino language..

Jos Rizal wrote the novels Noli Me Tngere and El Filibusterismo and is considered a national hero. His depiction of the injustices of Spanish rule, and his death by firing squad, inspired other Philippine revolutionaries to seek independence.. Several Filipino writers were awarded National Artist of the Philippines such as N V M Gonzalez, Amado V Hernandez, Francisco Arcellana, Nick Joaqun, F Sionil Jos and many more.. Philippine media uses mainly Filipino and English. Other Philippine languages, including various Visayan languages are also used, especially in radio due to its ability to reach remote rural locations that might otherwise not be serviced by other kinds of media..

The dominant television networks ABS CBN, GMA and TV5 also have extensive radio presence.. The entertainment industry is vibrant and feeds broadsheets and tabloids with an unending supply of details about celebrities and sensationalist scandals du jour. Drama and fantasy shows are anticipated as are Latin telenovelas, Asianovelas, and anime.. Daytime television is dominated by game shows, variety shows, and talk shows such as Eat Bulaga and It's Showtime. Philippine cinema has a long history and is popular domestically, but has faced increasing competition from American, Asian and European films..

Critically acclaimed directors and actors include Lino Brocka and Nora Aunor for films like Maynila Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag and Himala. In recent years it has become common to see celebrities flitting between television and movies and then moving into politics provoking concerns.. Various sports and pastimes are popular in the Philippines including basketball, boxing, cockfighting, volleyball, football, badminton, karate, taekwondo, billiards, ten pin bowling, chess, and sipa.. Motocross, cycling, and mountaineering are also becoming popular. Basketball is played at both amateur and professional levels and is considered to be the most popular sport in the Philippines..

In 2010, Manny Pacquiao was named " Fighter of the Decade " for the 2000s by the Boxing Writers Association of America, World Boxing Council, and World Boxing Organization.. The Philippines has participated in the Summer Olympic Games since 1924 and was the first country in Southeast Asia to compete and win a medal. The country had competed in every Summer Olympic Games since then, except when they participated in the American led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics.. The Philippines is also the first tropical nation to compete at the Winter Olympics..

Traditional Philippine games such as luksung baka, patintero, piko, and tumbang preso are still played primarily as children's games among the youth. Sungka is a traditional native Philippine board game. Card games are popular during festivities, with some, including pusoy and tong its, being used as a form of illegal gambling.. Mahjong is played in some Philippine communities. The yo yo, a popular toy in the Philippines, was introduced in its modern form by Pedro Flores with its name from the Ilokano language..

Arnis is the national martial art and sport..

Geography

The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total land area, including inland bodies of water, of approximately 300,000 square kilometers. Its 36,289 kilometers of coastline makes it the country with the 5th longest coastline in the world.. It is located between 116 40 ', and 126 34 ' E longitude and 4 40 ' and 21 10 ' N latitude and is bordered by the Philippine Sea to the east, the South China Sea to the west, and the Celebes Sea to the south.. The island of Borneo is located a few hundred kilometers southwest and Taiwan is located directly to the north. The Moluccas and Sulawesi are located to the south southwest and Palau is located to the east of the islands..

Most of the mountainous islands are covered in tropical rainforest and volcanic in origin. The highest mountain is Mount Apo. It measures up to 2,954 meters above sea level and is located on the island of Mindanao.. The Galathea Depth in the Philippine Trench is the deepest point in the country and the third deepest in the world. The trench is located in the Philippine Sea. The longest river is the Cagayan River in northern Luzon.. Manila Bay, upon the shore of which the capital city of Manila lies, is connected to Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines, by the Pasig River. Subic Bay, the Davao Gulf, and the Moro Gulf are other important bays..

The San Juanico Strait separates the islands of Samar and Leyte but it is traversed by the San Juanico Bridge.. Situated on the western fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity. The Benham Plateau to the east in the Philippine Sea is an undersea region active in tectonic subduction.. Around 20 earthquakes are registered daily, though most are too weak to be felt. The last major earthquake was the 1990 Luzon earthquake. There are many active volcanoes such as the Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo, and Taal Volcano..

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century. Not all notable geographic features are so violent or destructive.. A more serene legacy of the geological disturbances is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, the area represents a habitat for biodiversity conservation, the site also contains a full mountain to the sea ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia.. Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, mineral deposits are abundant. The country is estimated to have the second largest gold deposits after South Africa and one of the largest copper deposits in the world..

It is also rich in nickel, chromite, and zinc. Despite this, poor management, high population density, and environmental consciousness have resulted in these mineral resources remaining largely untapped. Geothermal energy, however, is another product of volcanic activity that the country has harnessed more successfully.. The Philippines is the world's second biggest geothermal producer behind the United States, with 18 of the country's electricity needs being met by geothermal power.. The Philippines' rainforests and its extensive coastlines make it home to a diverse range of birds, plants, animals, and sea creatures. It is one of the ten most biologically megadiverse countries and is at or near the top in terms of biodiversity per unit area..

Around 1,100 land vertebrate species can be found in the Philippines including over 100 mammal species and 170 bird species not thought to exist elsewhere. The Philippines has among the highest rates of discovery in the world with sixteen new species of mammals discovered in the last ten years. Because of this, the rate of endemism for the Philippines has risen and likely will continue to rise. Because of this, the rate of endemism for the Philippines has risen and likely will continue to rise..

The Philippines lacks large predators, with the exception of snakes, such as pythons and cobras, saltwater crocodiles and birds of prey, such as the national bird, known as the Philippine eagle, which scientists suggest as the largest eagle in the world.. The largest crocodile in captivity, known locally as Lolong, was captured in the southern island of Mindanao. Other native animals include the palm civet cat, the dugong, and the Philippine tarsier associated with Bohol.. With an estimated 13,500 plant species in the country, 3,200 of which are unique to the islands, Philippine rainforests boast an array of flora, including many rare types of orchids and rafflesia..

Philippine maritime waters encompass as much as 2,200,000 square kilometers producing unique and diverse marine life and are an important part of the Coral Triangle. The total number of corals and marine fish species was estimated at 500 and 2,400 respectively.. However, new records and species discoveries continuously increase these numbers underlining the uniqueness of the marine resources in the Philippines. The Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993.. Philippine waters also sustain the cultivation of pearls, crabs, and seaweeds..

Deforestation, often the result of illegal logging, is an acute problem in the Philippines. Forest cover declined from 70 of the country's total land area in 1900 to about 18.3 in 1999.. Many species are endangered and scientists say that Southeast Asia, which the Philippines is part of, faces a catastrophic extinction rate of 20 by the end of the 21st century.. According to Conservation International, " the country is one of the few nations that is, in its entirety, both a hotspot and a megadiversity country, placing it among the top priority hotspots for global conservation. ".

The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate and is usually hot and humid. There are three seasons tag init or tag araw, the hot dry season or summer from March to May; tag ulan, the rainy season from June to November; and tag lamig, the cool dry season from December to February.. The southwest monsoon is known as the Habagat, and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon, the Amihan. Temperatures usually range from 21 C to 32 C although it can get cooler or hotter depending on the season.. The coolest month is January; the warmest is May..

The average yearly temperature is around 26.6 C In considering temperature, location in terms of latitude and longitude is not a significant factor. Whether in the extreme north, south, east, or west of the country, temperatures at sea level tend to be in the same range.. Altitude usually has more of an impact. The average annual temperature of Baguio at an elevation of 1,500 meters above sea level is 18.3 C, making it a popular destination during hot summers.. Sitting astride the typhoon belt, most of the islands experience annual torrential rains and thunderstorms from July to October, with around nineteen typhoons entering the Philippine area of responsibility in a typical year and eight or nine making landfall..

Annual rainfall measures as much as 5,000 millimeters in the mountainous east coast section but less than 1,000 millimeters in some of the sheltered valleys. The wettest known tropical cyclone to impact the archipelago was the July 1911 cyclone, which dropped over 1,168 millimeters of rainfall within a 24 hour period in Baguio.. Bagyo is the local term for a tropical cyclone in the Philippines..

Things To Learn

See Scuba diving for more information. Scuba diving is spectacular in the Philippines. There is a great variety of dive sites and most if not all of these 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 Caribbean or even in nearby Thailand and Malaysia.. Eskrima or Kali is a Filipino martial art that emphasizes using swords and sticks; it has been showcased in films such as Equilibrium. Training centers and schools that teach Eskrima are mostly found around Metro Manila..

Many foreigners such as Europeans, Chinese, Americans and Koreans choose to study and finish university in the Philippines because compared to other countries, Universities here are cheaper and offer the same system the Americans apply (however most schools follow K 10, international schools follow K 12 standards), major schools such as University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, Ateneo de Manila University, Far Eastern University and Adamson University are just some of the major universities with many provincial branches in the country..

Of these, the University of the Philippines is considered by most to be the most prestigious in the country.. The country is also a hub for people seeking to learn English mostly Chinese and Koreans, there are many English learning centers around the country predominantly around Metro Manila, Bacolod, Cebu, and Taguig City, as well as all significant financial, commercial and provincial capitals.. It is one of the largest hubs in learning ESL in Asia. Other international schools in the Philippines are also found and usually operated by British and other European diplomats, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and American immigrants and diplomats..

Cope

See also; Travel topics -- Electrical systems. Most of the Philippines is 220 Volt 60 Hz with mixed usage of both the American and European styles of plug. There is sometimes a ground in some areas. Americans will need a step down transformer.. It's also best to bring such items that work universally such as those electronics marked with a 100V 240V 50/60Hz compatibility to avoid voltage concerns.. Downtown Baguio (northern Luzon) uses 110V, and is also 60 Hz. This doesn't extend beyond the center of the city. The airport, for example, is 220V. If staying in the Baguio area, always ask first !.

If your equipment is 100-127V, 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.. During the dry season (March to May), since most of the power plants are hydro electric (as stated above in the climate section), frequent black outs occur; ask if your hotel has a generator.. Television and Video is in NTSC. Region Coded DVDs are Region 3 (Southeast Asia), though virtually all Filipino movies are region free..

Major Networks that operate are - ABS CBN, GMA, and TV5, all operate in Filipino, which all compete for ratings making network wars part of Filipino culture from the corner of the street to your hotel reservations desk there would always be an argument which stations airs the best telenovelas (TV Drama Series).. The three major stations air TV Series to Newscasts. ABS CBN and GMA have regional substations who operate in their own major regional languages.. ETC, operates in English with exceptions of Filipino, airs Foreign TV Series in English as well as franchised TV shows like Project Runway while Chase purely airs in English and its content is just Foreign TV Series in English..

Studio 23 is ABS CBN's free to air channel which targets sports fanatics and the young population.. All 6 Channels operate free to air, most of the channels which operate purely in English are available on Cable TV alone - SkyCable and Global Destiny Cable are the best known cable operators in the country while Dream is the country's sole satellite TV operator.. Almost all hotels and major commercial centres have cable or satellite TV. Channels such as BBC, CNN, Bloomberg. ABS CBN's News Channel, ANC, provide 24/7 news headlines, updates, travel, business and lifestyle programs, almost always in English except the early morning news show originating from ABS CBN..

Several embassies and consulates are open in the Philippines, for a full detailed list of embassies visit EmbassiesAbroad.com.

Demographics

The population of the Philippines increased from 1990 to 2008 by approximately 28 million, a 45 growth in that time frame. The first official census in the Philippines was carried out in 1877 and recorded a population of 5,567,685.. As of 2013, the Philippines has become the world's 12th most populous nation, with a population of over 100 million. It is estimated that half of the population resides on the island of Luzon.. The population growth rate between 1995 to 2000 of 3.21 decreased to an estimated 1.95 for the 2005 to 2010 period, but remains a contentious issue. The population's median age is 22.7 years with 60.9 aged from 15 to 64 years old..

Life expectancy at birth is 71.94 years, 75.03 years for females and 68.99 years for males. There are about 12 million Filipinos outside the Philippines. Since the liberalization of United States immigration laws in 1965, the number of people in the United States having Filipino ancestry has grown substantially.. In 2007 there were an estimated 12 million Filipinos living overseas.. According to the official count the population of Philippines hit 100 million at the time of midnight on July 27, 2014, making it the 12th country to reach this number..

Metro Manila is the most populous of the 12 defined metropolitan areas in the Philippines and the 11th most populous in the world. As of the 2007 census, it had a population of 11,553,427, comprising 13 of the national population.. Including suburbs in the adjacent provinces of Greater Manila, the population is around 21 million.. Metro Manila's gross regional product is estimated as of July 2009 to be 468.4 billion and accounts for 33 of the nation's GDP. In 2011, it ranked as the 28th wealthiest urban agglomeration in the world and the 2nd in Southeast Asia, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers..

According to the 2000 census, 28.1 of Filipinos are Tagalog, 13.1 Cebuano, 9 Ilocano, 7.6 BisayaBinisaya, 7.5 Hiligaynon, 6 Bikol, 3.4 Waray, and 25.3 as " others ", which can be broken down further to yield more distinct non tribal groups like the Moro, the Kapampangan, the Pangasinense, the Ibanag, and the Ivatan.. There are also indigenous peoples like the Igorot, the Lumad, the Mangyan, the Bajau, and the tribes of Palawan. Negritos, such as the Aeta and the Ati, are considered among the earliest inhabitants of the islands..

Filipinos generally belong to several Asian ethnic groups classified linguistically as part of the Austronesian or Malayo Polynesian speaking people. It is believed that thousands of years ago Austronesian speaking Taiwanese aborigines migrated to the Philippines from Taiwan, bringing with them knowledge of agriculture and ocean sailing, eventually displacing the earlier Negrito groups of the islands.. The two most important non indigenous minorities include the Chinese and the Spaniards. Chinese Filipinos, mostly descendants of immigrants from Fujian China after 1898, number 2 million, although there is an estimated 18 million Filipinos who have partial Chinese ancestry, stemming from precolonial Chinese migrants..

Intermarriage between the groups is evident in the major cities and urban areas. Furthermore, at least, one third of the population of Luzon as well as a few old settlements in the Visayas and Zamboanga City at Mindanao, have Hispanic ancestry.. Descendants of such mixed couples are known as mestizos.. Ethnologue lists 175 individual languages in the Philippines, 171 of which are living languages, while 4 no longer have any known speakers. Most native languages are part of the Philippine branch of the Malayo Polynesian languages, which is itself a branch of the Austronesian language family..

The only non Austronesian language indigenous to the Philippines is Chavacano, a Spanish based creole. According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Filipino and English are the official languages. Filipino is a standardized version of Tagalog, spoken mainly in Metro Manila and other urban regions.. Both Filipino and English are used in government, education, print, broadcast media, and business. The constitution mandates that Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis..

Nineteen regional languages act as auxiliary official languages used as mediums of instruction Aklanon, Bikol, Cebuano, Chavacano, Hiligaynon, Ibanag, Ilocano, Ivatan, Kapampangan, Kinaray a, Maguindanao, Maranao, Pangasinan, Sambal, Surigaonon, Tagalog, Tausug, Waray Waray, and Yakan.. Other indigenous languages such as, Cuyonon, Ifugao, Itbayat, Kalinga, Kamayo, Kankanaey, Masbateo, Romblomanon, and several Visayan languages are prevalent in their respective provinces. The Chavacano language, a creole language born from Spanish, is also spoken in Cavite and Zamboanga..

Languages not indigenous to the islands are also taught in select schools. Mandarin is used in Chinese schools catering to the Chinese Filipino community. Islamic schools in Mindanao teach Modern Standard Arabic in their curriculum.. French, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish are taught with the help of foreign linguistic institutions. The Department of Education began teaching the Malay languages Indonesian and Malaysian in 2013.. The Philippines is a secular nation with a constitutional separation of church and state. As a result of Spanish cultural influence, the Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic countries in Asia, the other being East Timor, a former Portuguese colony..

More than 90 of the population are Christians about 80.6 belong to the Roman Catholic Church while 9.5 belong to Protestant Christian denominations, such as the Iglesia ni Cristo, the Philippine Independent Church, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, and Jehovah's Witnesses.. According to National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, as of 2012 Muslims were a minority reported as comprising 11 of the population, most of whom live in parts of Mindanao, Palawan, and the Sulu Archipelago an area known as Bangsamoro or the Moro region..

Some have migrated into urban and rural areas in different parts of the country. Most Muslim Filipinos practice Sunni Islam according to the Shafi'i school. There are some Ahmadiyya Muslims in the country.. Philippine traditional religions are still practiced by an estimated 2 of the population, made up of many aboriginal and tribal groups. These religions are often syncretized with Christianity and Islam. Animism, folk religion, and shamanism remain present as undercurrents of mainstream religion, through the albularyo, the babaylan, and the manghihilot..

Buddhism is practiced by 1 of the populations, and together with Taoism and Chinese folk religion it is dominant in Chinese communities. There are smaller number of followers of Hinduism, Sikhism, and Judaism and Baha'i.. About 1 to 11 of the population is non religious.. The National Statistics Office reported a simple literacy rate of 95.1 for male and 96.1 for female having an average of 95.6 and a functional literacy rate of 84.2 for male and 88.7 for female having an average of 86.45 in 2008 Literacy in females is greater than in males..

Education spending accounts for 16.11 in the proposed 2015 national budget, higher by 15.1 than the current 2014 budget. The Commission on Higher Education lists 2,180 higher education institutions, 607 of which are public and 1,573 private.. Classes start in June and end in March. The majority of colleges and universities follow a semester calendar from June to October and November to March. There are a number of foreign schools with study programs.. Republic Act No 9155 gives the framework of basic education in the Philippines and provides for mandatory 6 year elementary and 4 year high school education but was amended by the Republic Act No 10533 or Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, signed in May 15, 2013 to add two years to the basic education system in the country..

The Department of Education covers elementary, secondary, and nonformal education; the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority administers the post secondary middle level education training and development; and the Commission on Higher Education supervises the college and graduate academic programs and degrees as well as regulates standards in higher education.. In 2004, madaris were mainstreamed in 16 regions nationwide mainly in Muslim areas in Mindanao under the auspices and program of the Department of Education. Public universities are all non sectarian entities, and are further classified as State University and College or Local College and University..

The University of the Philippines is the national university of the Philippines.. Healthcare in the country are mostly taken up by private health providers. In 2013, total expenditures on the health sector is still short compared to the 5 WHO standard representing only 3.8 of the GDP.. As of 2009, 67.1 of healthcare came from private expenditures while 32.9 was from government. External resources accounted for 2.9 of the total. Health expenditures represented about 6.1 of total government spending..

Per capita total expenditure at average exchange rate was 52. The budget allocation for Healthcare in 2010 was 28 billion or 310 per person but had an increase in budget in 2014 with a record high in the collection of taxes from the House Bill 5727.. There are an estimated 90,370 physicians or 1 per every 833 people, 480,910 nurses, 43,220 dentists, and 1 hospital bed per every 769 people. Retention of skilled practitioners is a problem.. 70 of nursing graduates go overseas to work. The country is the biggest supplier of nurses. In 2001 there were about 1,700 hospitals, of which about 40 were government run and 60 private..

Cardiovascular diseases account for more than 25 of all deaths. According to official estimates, 1,965 cases of human immunodeficiency virus were reported in 2003, of which 636 had developed acquired immune deficiency syndrome.. Despite the increase of HIVAIDS cases from 12,000 in 2005 to 17,450 as of April 2014 with 5,965 people that were under anti retroviral therapy, The country is still a low HIV prevalence country with less than 0.1 of the adult population estimated to be HIV positive..

How To Talk

The Philippines has two official languages; English and Filipino. Filipino is mainly based on the Tagalog language (a relative of Malay). It has also been influenced by English, Spanish, Malay, Indonesian, Hindi, Arabic, Chinese and many other languages mostly from the Indian subcontinent and Europe.. While Filipino is an Austronesian language like Malay, Indonesian and Javanese, the language has been heavily influenced by other languages, most notably Spanish, during the Spanish colonial period, and to this day the language is dominated by Spanish loanwords..

Hence, many Filipinos can understand a little Spanish, while Spanish speakers would also recognise many Filipino words. In addition, as Malay and Filipino are closely related, speakers of Malay would also recognise many cognates in the Filipino language.. Filipino 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 while Kapampangan is widespread in Central Luzon..

Further south of Metro Manila lies the Bicol Region where Bicolano is used. In the Southern Islands of Visayas and Mindanao, Cebuano is the most common language spoken. Other languages in the south include Hiligaynon and Waray.. English is an official language of the Philippines and is a compulsory subject in all schools, so it is widely spoken in the larger cities and main tourist areas. However, it is usually not the first language for locals.. The use of English isn't as widespread anymore on radio and free to air TV as it once was with only 3 TV channels using it on a full time basis. However almost all broadsheet newspapers still use English..

Tourists won't have problems using English when making inquiries from commercial and government establishments. A few simple phrases in Filipino will come in handy when traveling to rural places as English proficiency is limited there.. Taglish is spoken nowadays by the urban youth but its use is discouraged by language educators. It is a mix of Tagalog and English, and an example is shown below;. Spanish is no longer widely spoken, though many Spanish words survive in the local languages. A Spanish based Creole language known as Chavacano is spoken in Cavite and in Zamboanga. The government is trying to revive Spanish by providing Spanish in public schools as an optional language..

Younger Spanish Filipinos tend to speak Filipino languages and / or English as their primary language, however there are around 3 million people who speak Spanish plus there is daily radio programme " Filipinas Ahora Mismo " which broadcasts from Manila in Spanish.. There are some other ethnic groups in the country, particularly in more urbanized areas like Manila. The largest group is the Chinese, many of whom have assimilated with Filipino society.. Take note however that since most of them come from Fujian province, they speak Hokkien (rather than Mandarin) as well as Lan ang; a language which is made with the mix of Filipino and Hokkien, but they are also taught Mandarin in Chinese schools..

Muslim Filipinos are taught Arabic in schools to read the Qu'ran. Other groups include the Indians, Japanese, Arabs, Koreans, Americans and Europeans. In some cosmopolitan areas, there are establishments catering to Korean speakers.. Indian languages such as Hindi and Punjabi are also spoken by the Indian communities while Europeans speak their own languages..

Etymology

The Philippines was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain. Spanish explorer Ruy Lpez de Villalobos during his expedition in 1542 named the islands of Leyte and Samar Felipinas after the then Prince of Asturias.. Eventually the name Las Islas Filipinas would be used to cover all the islands of the archipelago. Before that became commonplace, other names such as Islas del Poniente and Magellan's name for the islands San Lzaro were also used by the Spanish to refer to the islands.. The official name of the Philippines has changed several times in the course of the country's history. During the Philippine Revolution, the Malolos Congress proclaimed the establishment of the Repblica Filipina or the Philippine Republic..

From the period of the SpanishAmerican War and the PhilippineAmerican War until the Commonwealth period, American colonial authorities referred to the country as the Philippine Islands, a translation of the Spanish name. From the 1898 Treaty of Paris, the name Philippines began to appear and it has since become the country's common name.. Since the end of World War II, the official name of the country has been the Republic of the Philippines..

Cities

With more than 7000 islands, the Philippines archipelago has many cities. Listed below are only nine of the most important cities for visitors, some of which are provincial capitals and centers of commerce and finance, as well as culture and history.. Manila - the national capital, is one of the most densely populated cities in the world - with all of that implies in terms of pollution, crime, urban poverty and traffic jams - with few parks.. However, the smiling, stoical and resourceful people themselves are its saving grace, rather than the relatively few surviving monuments, historical landmarks and sights widely scattered around the city and its surrounding metropolitan area of Metro Manila !.

Bacolod - known as the " City of Smiles " because of the MassKara Festival (Mascara in Spanish), a festival held annually on 19 October, it is one of the gateways to Negros Island and the home of the famous Bacolod Chicken Inasal.. Baguio - Luzon's summer capital because of its cool weather, it boasts well maintained parks and scenic areas, as well as being the home of the " Igorot ", the indigenous peoples of the Cordilleras.. Cebu - the " Queen City of the South " is the first city founded by Spaniards in the Philippines and is a major center for commerce, industry, culture and tourism..

Consider flying into its graft free and under used airport as a more central and pleasant alternative to Manila - regularly nominated as the world's nastiest major airport - if your object is tourism.. Cagayan de Oro - known as the " City of Golden Friendship ", it is popular for white water rafting and is the gateway to Northern Mindanao.. Davao - the largest city in the world in terms of land area, is known for its Durian fruit and for being the home of Mount Apo, the Philippines' tallest mountain..

Tagbilaran - known as the site of the Sandugo (blood compact) between Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Rajah Sikatuna representing the people of Bohol.. Vigan - the capital of Ilocos Sur and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its city center is the finest example of Spanish colonial architecture in the Philippines. Visit between 03; 00 and 05; 15 to savour some of its well preserved, cobbled streets rather than the stench and noise of two stroke engines.. Zamboanga - known as " La Ciudad Latina de Asia " (Asia's Latin City), it is the melting pot between the Philippines' Christian and Muslim cultures, boasting old mosques, grand churches and historic colonial structures..

Other Destinations

Banaue 2000 year old rice terraces and called by Filipinos the eighth wonder of the world, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. People are fascinated at the immense work of the Igorots in making this. Baguio, also called the City of Pines, is a highland city in North Luzon that has become a favorite summer vacation spot of Filipinos because of its cool weather and picturesque landscape.. Batangas is the birthplace of scuba diving in the Philippines with world class dive sites and beaches. It's accessibility by road about 2 hours from the Manila airport makes it a popular destination. It is home to Taal Volcano and the Taal heritage town..

Boracay is 10 km island featuring white sands.. Camarines Sur has beautiful coral reefs, and shorelines of Black and white sands. Visit the Camarines Sur Watersport complex and go water skiing.. Donsol is the Whale Shark Capital of the world, dive and see whale sharks.. Malapascua Island just like other islands in the Philippines, the island features a beautiful white sand shoreline and coral gardens.. Palawan offers beautiful beaches and coral reefs that are home to a large variety of creatures such as dugongs and manta rays. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean Park; a cave with beautiful rock formations as well as an underground river..

Puerto Galera, a favorite getaway for people during Holy Week because of its white sand shorelines and it's amazing flora.. Sabang is a municipality in Puerto Galera, dive its beautiful waters and be amazed at the fauna that you will see.. Tagaytay, tired of the old scene of the noisy metropolis of Manila ? or missing the cool weather ? Head to Tagaytay, it provides a view of Taal Volcano, the weather is cool and often a getaway for Filipinos tired of warm tropical weather during the Holy Week..

Administrative Divisions

The Philippines is divided into three island groups Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. These are divided into 17 regions, 81 provinces, 144 cities, 1,491 municipalities, and 42,028 barangays.. In addition, Section 2 of Republic Act No 5446 asserts that the definition of the territorial sea around the Philippine archipelago does not affect the claim over the eastern part of Sabah..

What To Respect

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 in Filipino to people who are old enough to be your parents or grandparents, it is greatly appreciated to include po in your sentences; e.g.; salamat po.. You can also use Tito (Uncle), Tita (Aunt), Manong (Mr) or Manang (Mrs / Ms), Ate (older sister) or Kuya (older brother) for people older than yourself but not old enough to be an aunt or uncle..

Older speakers will tend to use " manong " and " manang " instead) with their name, it is mean to call older people with their names. If you are having a conflict, stay relaxed, make a joke and smile.. Getting angry or standing on your stripes will not bring you far, and you will lose respect.. 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..

When working with people in the Philippines, it's important to remember that they often bring cultural influences into the workplace that don't always match well with your business culture. When you first meet another business person, it's important that you address them with both their title and both their first and last name.. Businesses in the Philippines are often structured as a hierarchy and it's important to note that most decisions are made from the top down. Additionally, the Filipino value of " social harmony " doesn't always allow for directness when approaching sensitive issues..

In many of the larger cities extreme poverty is prevalent. It is illegal to give money to beggars or the street children who run around at all hours. If you really want to give something, food is the better alternative.. At times, when children go up to foreigners they won't go away until you give something. To counter this, avoid swearing and just ignore them. They can understand swear words and might call on their friends to bug you even more.. Keep in mind that the Marcos years (1965-1986) can be a polarizing topic within the Philippines..

Visitors will find that the northern Ilocano population view the regime as an era of stability, while the metropolitan areas in the south of Luzon take strong pride in the people's power or " EDSA " revolution that deposed the regime.. Either way it is best to assess the speaker's opinion before approaching the topic.. The Philippines is a predominantly Roman Catholic country, although home to a large Gay and Lesbian community. Common sense is advised for travelers, as it is considered immoral by some to show public displays of affection between members of the same sex..

In the Visayas, " Bayots " (or " Bayuts " - the Pilipino equivalent is " bakla ") are flamboyant male homosexuals and are often very much in demand in occupations such as hairdressing, interior design and beauty therapy..

Politics

The Philippines has a democratic government in the form of a constitutional republic with a presidential system. It is governed as a unitary state with the exception of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which is largely free from the national government.. There have been attempts to change the government to a federal, unicameral, or parliamentary government since the Ramos administration.. The President functions as both head of state and head of government and is the commander in chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote for a single six year term, during which he or she appoints and presides over the cabinet..

The bicameral Congress is composed of the Senate, serving as the upper house, with members elected to a six year term, and the House of Representatives, serving as the lower house, with members elected to a three year term.. The senators are elected at large while the representatives are elected from both legislative districts and through sectoral representation.. The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, composed of a Chief Justice as its presiding officer and fourteen associate justices, all of whom are appointed by the President from nominations submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council..

The Philippines' international relations are based on trade with other nations and the well being of the 11 million overseas Filipinos living outside the country. As a founding and active member of the United Nations, the Philippines has been elected several times into the Security Council.. Carlos P Romulo was a former President of the United Nations General Assembly. The country is an active participant in the Human Rights Council as well as in peacekeeping missions, particularly in East Timor..

In addition to membership in the United Nations, the country is also a founding and active member of ASEAN, an organization designed to strengthen relations and promote economic and cultural growth among states in the Southeast Asian region.. It has hosted several summits and is an active contributor to the direction and policies of the bloc.. The Philippines values its relations with the United States. It supported the United States during the Cold War and the War on Terror and is a major non NATO ally..

Despite this history of goodwill, controversies related to the presence of the now former U.S. military bases in Subic Bay and Clark and the current Visiting Forces Agreement have flared up from time to time.. Japan, the biggest contributor of official development assistance to the country, is thought of as a friend. Although historical tensions still exist on issues such as the plight of comfort women, much of the animosity inspired by memories of World War II have faded.. Relations with other nations are generally positive. Shared democratic values ease relations with Western and European countries while similar economic concerns help in relations with other developing countries. Historical ties and cultural similarities also serve as a bridge in relations with Spain..

Despite issues such as domestic abuse and war affecting overseas Filipino workers, relations with Middle Eastern countries are friendly as seen in the continuous employment of more than two million overseas Filipinos living there.. With communism no longer the threat it once was, once hostile relations in the 1950s between the Philippines and China have improved greatly. Issues involving Taiwan, the Spratly Islands, and concerns of expanding Chinese influence, however, still encourage a degree of caution..

Recent foreign policy has been mostly about economic relations with its Southeast Asian and Asia Pacific neighbors.. The Philippines is an active member of the East Asia Summit, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Latin Union, the Group of 24, and the Non Aligned Movement. It is also seeking to strengthen relations with Islamic countries by campaigning for observer status in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the military force of the Philippines that is responsible for national security and is composed of three branches the Philippine Air Force, the Philippine Army, and the Philippine Navy..

Currently, The Armed Forces of the Philippines' manpower is a voluntary force meaning it acquires its personnel from volunteers through recruitment however, according to the Section 4, Article II of the Constitution of the Philippines, conscription may be possible.. Civilian security is handled by Philippine National Police under the Department of the Interior and Local Government.. In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the largest separatist organization, the Moro National Liberation Front, is now engaging the government politically..

Other more militant groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the communist New People's Army, and the Abu Sayyaf which have been reported of kidnappings of foreigners, where victims are held for ransom, particularly in the southern island of Mindanao, but their presence has decreased in recent years due to successful security provided by the Philippine government.. The Philippines has been an ally of the United States since World War II. A mutual defense treaty between the two countries was signed in 1951. The Philippines supported American policies during the Cold War and participated in the Korean and Vietnam wars..

It was a member of the now dissolved SEATO, a group that was intended to serve a role similar to NATO and that included Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.. After the start of the War on Terror, the Philippines was part of the coalition that gave support to the United States in Iraq..

Regions

Officially, the Philippines consist of over 120 cities which are then categorized into 80 provinces which are then grouped into 17 regions. Wikivoyage has divided all of these into 4 major island groupings;.

Work

Under Philippine law, any foreigner working must have an Alien Employment Permit issued by the Department of Labor. The paperwork is in general handled by the prospective employer and the employee picks up the relevant visa at a Philippine Embassy or Consulate.. Working without a permit is not allowed and does not give you any labor protections. Furthermore, visas are checked upon departing the Philippines. Those who have overstayed without permission are subject to fines and, in certain cases, even jail..

It is possible for foreigners to earn casual money while 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 while knowledge of Filipino or Tagalog is considerably low.. Recently as of late 2010, the Philippines has overtaken India in the call center industry, and many international companies hire English fluent workers..

Most establishments pay monthly but informal jobs pay out variably either cash on hand or weekly..

How To 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 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 and other major cities is usually 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 water sold outside (by the roads) are more than likely used bottles filled with tap water, sealed then cooled.. Be careful of drinking pampalamig (cold drinks like Sago't Gulaman) as some vendors might be using Magic Sugar (Sodium Cyclamate), an artificial sweetener, which has been banned by the Philippine Government because of its adverse effects on health such as higher risk of getting cancer..

It has been used as an alternative to ordinary sugar as it is much cheaper; call 117 (Philippine National Police) if you encounter such a situation.. Street food isn't so safe to consume in the Philippines; hygienic standards aren't enforced much. It is better to eat street food as well as pampalamig inside malls and shopping centers than in streets as stalls in malls and shopping centers have better enforcement of cleanliness.. CDC advises that a risk of malaria exists only in non urban areas below 600 meters on the islands of Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro and Palawan. The Visayas are free of Malaria. Chloroquine is no longer a recommended malaria preventative for anywhere in the Philippines due to strains resistant to this drug..

In general malaria is not common in the Philippines compared to Africa and the rest of Southeast Asia, and around half of the c 40,000 annual cases are in a couple of discrete locations.. Dengue fever is common in the Philippines and cases increase every year, so it is advisable to apply mosquito repellents and wear long sleeved clothes whenever possible.. Rabies is also common among street animals in the Philippines, so get a vaccination for rabies if you haven't already, and if you're traveling with children, vaccinate them as soon as possible as they are of high risk of getting rabies because they tend to play more with animals..

Hepatitis A and B and C are a high risk in the country. Get a vaccine if you haven't had one, as you can contract hepatitis through exposure to contaminated food or water, sexual contact, or contact with blood of infected people.. Japanese encephalitis is common, and vaccination is recommended. Avoid swimming in fresh water areas where you will have high risks of getting schistosomiasis (unless they are chlorinated). Leptospirosis is often contracted from recreational water activities, such as kayaking, in contaminated water..

Tuberculosis is very common in the countryside, so try to avoid individuals who cough or look weak and be careful about staying too long in villages that may be high in contagious people.. Bring anti diarrheal drugs with you, as unsanitary conditions present a high risk for traveler's diarrhea. Gatorade or other " sport drinks " might relieve you from fluid loss. Drink bottled liquids if you are unsure of the water, and always wash your hands.. Although the Philippines used to have a low HIV rate, over the last 3 years the HIV rate in the Philippines has been going up by over 40% per year. Until the end of December, 2013, there were 16516 Known cases of HIV in the Philippines..

In 2013, there were 4814 new cases of HIV in the Philippines, up 44% on 2012. The Philippines has a low rate of people going for HIV tests. Other sexually transmitted diseases are more common than HIV..