The Philippines

Philippines, island country of Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean comprises ethnically diverse people of the Philippines collectively are called Filipinos. Philippines is an archipelago consisting of some 7,100 islands and islets. Contemporary Filipino society consists of nearly 100 culturally and linguistically distinct ethnic groups. 

The climate of the Philippines is tropical and strongly monsoonal (i.e., wet-dry). In general, rain-bearing winds blow from the southwest from approximately May to October. From June to December tropical cyclones (typhoons) often strike the Philippines. Typhoons are heaviest in Samar, Leyte, south-central Luzon, and the Batan Islands, and, when accompanied by floods or high winds, they may cause great loss of life and property.

The Philippines does not survive on calamities and political chaos. It has a mix of cultures influenced by more than 300 years of Spanish colonization and almost 50 years of American occupation, the latter being more obvious and prominent especially with regards to language. The national language is Filipino, with most Filipinos speaking "tagalog" which makes use of several Spanish words. But Filipinos do not speak Spanish, and the younger generation are hardly familiar with it since it was removed from the college curriculum in 1987.  English (American English to be more specific) is spoken by almost all Filipino, secondary to their native dialect. There are more than 100 dialects but English is the common language. Since Filipinos are known to speak English well, gramar and diction wise, the Philippines is a hub for call centers that cater to international markets.

Population: 96 million

Religion: Catholic, Muslim, Christian, Buddhism

Currency: Philippine Peso (Forex: USD1 = Php45)

Health Advisory: Dengue, Typhoid

Because of Spanish rule, more than 80 percent of the population is Catholic, and the Catholic church still has some influence on governing policies, in particular maternal health, family planning and birth control. Although the country is predominantly Catholic, the southern islands are mostly Muslim. There is relatively peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims in most parts of the archipelago but some southern islands have been in conflict since the 70's when Muslims began to fight for autonomy. Since then, some Muslim territories in the southern region such as the island of Sulu have not been very welcoming to tourism.

However, there are many other islands in the Philippines that are paradise-like with white sandy beaches, rich marine life, fresh air, blue skies, green pastures, and interesting wild life. Manila is the capital city and the point of entry, known for the worst traffic one might experience in their lifetime, but nightlife, entertainment, and shopping are very active. It is also a good place for international dining, but for local authentic traditional food, visit the islands!

The government of the Philippines, through its Department of Tourism, has made much efforts in promoting tourism in the country, for both local and international tourists. Some of the most popular destination are Boracay and Palawan for its beaches and white sands, Bohol for its chocolate hills and the smallest monkey in the world: the Tarsiers, Batanes at the tip of the northern island of Luzon for its scenic view, the Banaue Rice Terraces, and many other sites known for water sports, food and fiestas, and many outdoor activities.

 

If you plan to visit the Philippines, check out these links to learn more about its culture, activities, and other relevant information to help you prepare for your trip.

 

"It's more fun in the Philippines"

"10 Family Friendly Destinations in the Philippines"

"Culture and Etiquette in the Philippines"

"Lonely Planet: Bohol, Philippines"

"Phiippine Consulate General: New York"