About Philippines

The Philippines officially the Republic of the Philippines, is a unitary sovereign state and island country in Southeast Asia. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, it consists of about 7,641 islands that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila. Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Vietnam to the west, Palau to the east and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south.

The Philippines' 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. The Philippines has an area of 300,000 square kilometers (115,831 sq mi), and a population of approximately 103 million. It is the eighth-most populated country in Asia and the 12th most populated country in the world. As of 2013, approximately 10 million additional Filipinos lived overseas, comprising one of the world's largest diasporas. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. In prehistoric times, Negritoswere some of the archipelago's earliest inhabitants. They were followed by successive waves of Austronesian peoples. Exchanges with Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Islamic nations occurred. Then, various competing maritime states were established under the rule of Datus, Rajahs, Sultans or Lakans.

The arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in Homonhon, Eastern Samar in 1521 marked the beginning of Hispanic colonization. In 1543, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip II of Spain. With the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi from Mexico City, in 1565, the first Hispanic settlement in the archipelago was established. The Philippines became part of the Spanish Empire for more than 300 years. This resulted in Catholicism becoming the dominant religion. During this time, Manila became the western hub of the trans-Pacific trade connecting Asia with Acapulco in the Americas using Manila galleons.

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, followed by the bloody Philippine–American War of conquest by US military force. Aside from the period of Japanese occupation, the United States retained sovereignty over the islands until after World War II, when the Philippines was recognized as an independent nation. Since then, the Philippines has often had a tumultuous experience with democracy, which included the overthrow of a dictatorship by a non-violent revolution.

It is a founding member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the East Asia Summit. It also hosts the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank.The Philippines is considered to be an emerging market and a newly industrialized country,which has an economy transitioning from being one based on agriculture to one based more on services and manufacturing. It is one of the only two predominantly Christian nations in Southeast Asia, the other being East Timor.

Capital Manila
Largest city Quezon City
Official language and national language Filipino English
Area 300,000 km2 (120,000 sq mi)
Total Water (%) 0.61
Population 100,981,437
Currency Peso (Filipino: piso) (₱) (PHP)
Time zone PST (UTC+8)
Country Code +63

The Do’s and Don’ts of Traveling to Philippines

The Filipinos are one of a kind and people all over the world just love saying how much they love the country and its people. Well, basically because the Filipinos are heartwarming and hospitable lot and they can go leaps and bounds in showing that especially to guests. Foreigners are perpetually drawn to the magnet that is the Philippines. Albeit an easy-to-please country, some helpful tips on basic do’s and don’ts will make your stay even more memorable.

DO’s

Use honorifics or familial words
You should know that the people are courteous and respectful. “Sir” and “Ma’am” or “Madam” are used by the Filipinos to each and every new kid on the block. For travellers, try using familial words like “Tita” for Aunt, “Tito” for Uncle or just about any elder you bump into, “kuya” or “ate” (brother and sister, respectively) for the much younger brood but maybe older than you. The word “Po” will earn you that genuine smile that is so scarce in this world. “Po”, by the way is a word indicative of respect.

Be friendly
The Filipinos are by nature very friendly people. Smile is something that never runs out (even if there’s no food on the table) in any situation. A reciprocal friendliness will get you the best friends one can ever find in the world.

Have a good sense of humor
Filipinos can take anything in stride and by just making fun out of even the most trying circumstances. Take time to laugh with them and see the genuine appreciation for the gesture.

A simple Thank You
Hospitality is a trait commonly shared by every Filipino. Tourists and travellers often get the experience first-hand and they are quite surprised with the kind of welcoming hearts the people have in this country. A simple Thank You for any favor done will be gratifying for them.

Wave back
Strangers or no strangers, the people love to wave at people anytime, anywhere. This is their way of saying they do appreciate your coming to the country (for whatever reason or purpose) and that they would be happy to see you again. Waving back is

acknowledging their presence and that simple gesture will make them very pleased.
• And believe in equality. And especially that young women drink equally to men.

DON’T

Don’t be flashy
Most targeted by scammers and pickpockets are those flashing out their wealth. It is always recommended that tourists don’t come in with valuables flashed around. Keep them and use them only when in a safe environment, and not on the street.

Don’t lose temper
You may encounter some people in the places that you travel to who only speak their dialect. Don’t show irritation when talking to them. Instead try to find someone who can at least understand a little English to get your message across.

Don’t refuse food
Filipinos are hospitable and they will offer food to guests every chance they get. That’s part of the hospitality they are so known for. Don’t refuse especially if they made the effort to cook them for you.

Don’t walk the streets alone
If you are in the metropolis or the rural areas, it is not advisable to walk the streets alone. As a foreigner, you will easily get the attention of people and some of them may not be as heartwarming as the others.

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.

It is estimated that half of the population resides on the island of Luzon. The 3.21% population growth rate between 1995 and 2000 decreased to an estimated 1.95% for the 2005–2010 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.Poverty Incidence significantly dropped to 21.6% in 2015 from 25.2% in 2012.

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 the Philippines hit 100 million at the time of midnight on July 27, 2014, making it the 12th country to reach this number.

Largest cities or towns

1. Quezon City 2. Manila
3. Davao City 4. Caloocan
5. Cebu City 6. Zamboanga City
7. Taguig 8. Antipolo
9. Pasig 10. Cagayan de Oro

Languages

Ethnologue lists 186 individual languages in the Philippines, 182 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 Austronesia language family. The only language not classified as an Austronesia language is Chavacano which is a creole language of Mexican-Spanish and is classified as a Romance language.

Filipino and English are the official languages of the country. 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. In most towns, the local indigenous language is spoken. The Philippine constitution provides for the promotion of Spanish and Arabic on a voluntary and optional basis, although neither are used on as wide a scale as in the past. Spanish, which was widely used as a lingua franca in the late nineteenth century, has since declined greatly in use, but is experiencing revival due to government promotions, while Arabic is mainly used in Islamic schools in Mindanao. However, Spanish loanwords are still present today in many of the indigenous Philippine languages.

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, and Yakan. Other indigenous languages such as, Cuyonon, Ifugao, Itbayat, Kalinga, Kamayo, Kankanaey, Masbateño, Romblomanon, Malay, and several Visayan languages are prevalent in their respective provinces.

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, and Spanish are taught with the help of foreign linguistic institutions. The Department of Education began teaching the Malay languages of Indonesian and Malaysian in 2013.

Religion

92% Christianity

5.57% Islam

2.43% others

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 number of Spanish and American influences.

Traditional festivities known as barrio fiestas (district festivals) to commemorate the feast days of patron saints are common. These community celebrations are times for feasting, music, and dancing and the Moriones and Sinulog festivals are a couple of the most well-known.

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 tinkling and singkil that both feature clashing bamboo poles.

Cosmopolitanism
One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish names and surnames among Filipinos; a Spanish name and surname, however, does not necessarily denote Spanish ancestry. This peculiarity, unique among the people of Asia, came as a result of a colonial edict by Governor-General Narciso Clavería y Zaldua, which ordered the systematic distribution of family names and implementation of Hispanic nomenclature 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 Agustín Church in Manila, the Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Santa María) Church in Ilocos Sur, and the Santo Tomás de Villanueva Church in Iloilo.

Vigan in Ilocos Sur is also known for the many Hispanic-style houses and buildings preserved there. In Iloilo, a lot of the colonial edifices constructed during the American occupation in the country can still be seen. Commercial buildings, houses and churches in that era are abundant in the city and especially in Calle Real.

However, certain areas of the country like Batanes have slight differences as both Spanish and Filipino ways of life assimilated differently due to the climate there and limestone and coral were used as building materials. Idjangs or Ivatan castles were the primary shelter of the people prior to the Spanish conquest of the whole Philippines.

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 American 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.

Festivals

It’s a known fact that Filipinos everywhere in the world love to celebrate and get together. Just take a look at this long list of festivals in the Philippines. With that being just a partial list, we wouldn’t be surprised if there’s at least one fiesta or festival in a town somewhere in the country on any given day of the year.

Lasting anywhere between a day to an entire month, Philippine festivals are huge cultural celebrations that attract both local and foreign tourists due to its colorful and festive nature.

Because of Spain’s Catholic influence dating back to the mid-1500s, most of these festivals are usually religious in nature while others are meant to commemorate important events in history. Either way, attending a Philippine festival is definitely something you have to experience at least once.

Since there’s usually a festival going on each month, timing isn’t going to be a problem. If you’re looking for Philippine festivals to attend, here’s a chronological list of 10 popular ones to give you an idea of which ones to visit.

Ati-Atihan Festival
3rd weekend of January | Kalibo, Aklan
This Sto. Niño festival started it all. One of the oldest religious celebrations in the country, Ati-Atihan is characterized by a parade filled with face-painted celebrants, indigenous costumes and weapons, tribal dances, and loud drumbeats.

Tourists who flock to Kalibo for the festivities are free to cover themselves in black soot and dance on the streets with the drum beats. Known as the “The Filipino Mardi Gras,” it is truly an experience not to be missed.

Sinulog Festival
3rd weekend of January | Cebu City
Cebu also has its own version of the festival in honor of the Sto. Niño. If you find yourself attending the Sinulog Festival, “Pit Señor!” is a phrase you will hear a lot. It means “Panangpit sa Señor,” a Cebuano phrase that means to plead to the Señor Santo Niño.

It is one of the most attended festivals in the Philippines, attracting millions of locals and tourists from all over the world. In 2013, it was reported that the number of participants reached a whopping four million.

Sinulog not only sets the stage for Cebuano talents but also for other regional acts as contingents from neighboring provinces are showcased through street dancing, pageantry, and sports. It is also known for hosting the country’s biggest raves, drawing a growing number of party-goers from all over the country year after year.

Dinagyang Festival
4th weekend of January | Iloilo City
If you happen to know someone from Iloilo, try and ask them about this Philippine festival. You’ll see how their pride for their city’s festival is nothing short of astounding.

Once a year, Iloilo City transforms into one big street party — streets closed, bands in all corners, overflowing food and drinks, and towering boom boxes. To cap it all off, tribes representing different barangays and high schools perform in one very competitive street dancing contest.

It’s no wonder how this city’s once simple celebration in honor of the child Jesus (Sto. Niño) ended up bagging several awards including the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines’ (ATOP) title holder for Best Tourism Event of the Philippines.

According to Iloilo City Tourism Officer Ben Jimena, the winning tribes are now going international and will be promoting Philippine tourism to countries like the United States, Canada, and Singapore.

Panagbenga Festival
February | Baguio City
The word “Panagbenga” comes from the Kankanaey term that means “season of blooming.” With the numerous parades of floral floats and children dressed as flora and fauna, it definitely lives up to its name, making Baguio the perfect destination for those who still have a hangover from the huge festivals in January.

Adding to the usual Baguio tourist sites to visit, the whole length of the Session Road during Panagbenga becomes a feast for the eyes. Called “Session Road in Bloom,” Baguio’s famous street is closed to vehicular traffic to make way for flower carts, street dancing, and outdoor cafes.

Now that it’s a huge event bringing in thousands of tourists each year, it’s important to plan ahead (make early restaurant reservations, bring a map, etc.) if you are attending this Philippine festival.

Moriones Festival
Holy Week | Boac, Gasan, and Mogpog, Marinduque
This week-long celebration of the life of St. Longinus is what makes Marinduque one of the top destinations during Holy Week in the Philippines. Morion is the helmet worn by the centurions while Moriones refers to the costumed penitents reenacting the search for St. Longinus, hunted by his fellow centurions for converting to Christianity.

During the festival you will see Marinduqueños dressed up as centurions (Moriones) looking for Longinus. One person acts as Longinus, hiding from them while the townspeople play along and allow him to hide in their houses. Via Crucis or the reenactment of the Passion of Christ also happens during this Philippine festival.

Aliwan Fiesta
Last weekend of April | Pasay City, Manila
Aliwan Fiesta is more of a competition than it is a festival. However, it has undeniably added great value to the growing interest in Philippine festivals. Although it just started in the early 2000s, it has already gained a strong fan-base nationwide with more than 5,000 young men and women from all over the country joining the competition.

For a lot of people who are in Manila, heading to the CCP Complex is the cheapest way to see quality performances from tribes representing festivals in their respective provinces. Plus, it’s always great to see tribes from Dinagyang and Sinulog give their A-performances to grab the million-peso grand prize.

Pahiyas Festival
15th of May | Lucban, Quezon
One of the Philippines’ most colorful harvest festival, May 15th marks that time of the year when people in Lucban decorate their houses with different-colored produces in an almost competitive manner.

It’s not uncommon to see singakamas (turnip), talong (eggplant), sigarilyas (winged bean) and all the other vegetables and fruits mentioned in the Bahay Kubo song hanging on the exteriors of their homes. You can actually bring a basket and pick the produce from the walls for free.

Pintados Festival
29th of June | Tacloban City
Pintados is another festival in honor of the Sto. Niño (yes, this is the 4th of its kind in the list). It just goes to show how Filipinos want to be reminded to be childlike in their ways and to place hope in their children.

This festival has been growing in popularity because of the contingents they send to the Aliwan Fiesta every year. They don’t fail to amaze. Leyte is also the home base of other festivals like Alikaraw, Pasaka, and the 2009 Aliwan Fiesta champions, Buyogan.

Kadayawan Festival
3rd week of August | Davao City
Kadayawan comes from the Dabawenyo word “madayaw,” a friendly greeting which means good or beautiful. Probably the biggest festival in Mindanao, Kadayawan has everything all other festivals have: street dancing, beauty pageants, fireworks displays, floral floats.

It is a celebration of Davao‘s as well as the rest of Mindanao’s abundance; showcasing flowers, fruits, and other produces that abound the country’s second largest island. Just two years ago, they even introduced a week-long street food fiesta in Freedom Park, Roxas Avenue called Kaan sa Da’n.

MassKara Festival
19th of October | Bacolod City
Colorful masks, street dancing, electrical displays and best of all… the sweet smiles of Bacoleñas! What more could you ask for?

MassKara is a combination of the words “mass” which means “crowd” and “kara” which means “face.” You will see participants wearing smiling masks signifying a multitude of smiling faces, solidifying Bacolod’s title as the “City of Smiles.”

Like Sinulog, it is also swarmed by the younger party crowd as it is conveniently scheduled during the semester break.

There are still a lot of Philippine festivals not mentioned in this list. The next time you book a flight, you might want to consider scheduling it during that destination’s festival dates.

Climate

The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate that 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 (from May to October) is known as the Habagat, and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon (from November to April), the Amihan. Temperatures usually range from 21 °C (70 °F) to 32 °C (90 °F) 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 (79.9 °F). 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 (4,900 ft) above sea level is 18.3 °C (64.9 °F), 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 (200 in) in the mountainous east coast section but less than 1,000 millimeters (39 in) 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 (46.0 in) of rainfall within a 24-hour period in Baguio. Bagyo is the local term for a tropical cyclone in the Philippines.

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