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Philippines Travel Guide

HISTORY

The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. It has a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese. Spain's colonization brought about the construction of Intramuros in 1571, a "Walled City" comprised of European buildings and churches, replicated in different parts of the archipelago. In 1898, after 350 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos, with leaders like Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo, succeeded in winning their independence.

In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States. Following the Philippine-American War, the United States brought widespread education to the islands. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous battle of Bataan and Corregidor which delayed Japanese advance and saved Australia. They then waged a guerilla war against the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. The Philippines regained its independence in 1946.

Filipinos are a freedom-loving people, having waged two peaceful, bloodless revolutions against what were perceived as corrupt regimes. The Philippines is a vibrant democracy, as evidenced by 12 English national newspapers, 7 national television stations, hundreds of cable TV stations, and 2,000 radio stations.

Filipinos are a fun-loving people. Throughout the islands, there are fiestas celebrated everyday and foreign guests are always welcome to their homes.

GOVERNMENT

Executive Branch

Chief of state:
President Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO and Vice President Noli de Castro; note: the president is both the chief of state and head of government

Cabinet:
Cabinet appointed by the president with the consent of the Commission on Appointments

Elections: president and vice president elected on separate tickets for six-year terms; election last held 10 May 2004.

Legislative Branch

Bicameral Congress or Kongreso consists of the Senate or Senado (24 seats - one-half elected every three years; members elected to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Kapulungan Ng Mga Kinatawan ( members elected to serve three-year terms; note: additional members may be appointed by the president but the Constitution prohibits the House of Representatives from having more than 250 members)

Elections: Senate - last held 10 May 2004; House of Representatives - last held 10 May 2004.

Judicial Branch

Supreme Court (justices are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Judicial and Bar Council and serve until 70 years ofage)

GENERAL INFORMATION

The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands covering a land area of 115,739 sq. m. (299,764 sq. km.). Main island groups are Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Capital is Manila. Time Zone is GMT + 8 hours.

CLIMATE
March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy, November to February is cool. Average temperatures: 78°F / 25°C to 90°F / 32°C; humidity is 77%.

POPULATION
There are a total of 76.5 million Filipinos as of the latest national census in May, 2000. Population growth is estimated at 2.36 percent annually. Luzon, the largest island group, accounts for more than half of the entire population.

LANGUAGES
Two official languages --- Filipino and English. Filipino which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is also widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education.

Eight (8) major dialects spoken by majority of the Filipinos: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense.

Filipino is that native language which is used nationally as the language of communication among ethnic groups. Like any living language, Filipino is in a process of development through loans from Philippine languages and non-native languages for various situations, among speakers of different social backgrounds, and for topics for conversation and scholarly discourse. There are about 76 to 78 major language groups, with more than 500 dialects.

RELIGIONS
Some 83% of Filipinos are Catholic. About 5% are Moslem. The rest are made up of smaller Christian denominations and Buddhist.

UNIT OF MEASURE
The Metric System is used in most trade and legal transactions.

ELECTRICITY
220 volts a/c is the common standard. 110 volts a/c is also used, especially in major hotels.

CURRENCY
The Philippines' monetary unit is the peso, divided into 100 centavos. Foreign currency may be exchanged at any hotels, most large department stores, banks, and authorized money changing shops accredited by the Central Bank of the Philippines. International credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, Bank Americard, Master Card, and American Express are accepted in major establishments.

SEASON DATES

High Season Dates: November 1- 22 Dec 2005, 8 Jan 2006 -31 May 2006
Low Season Dates: 1 June -31 Oct 2006
Super Peak Season: December 23, 2005 - 7 Jan 2006 , Chinese New Year 2006 and Holy Week.

 

:: Luzon ::

luzon destination

:: Visayas ::

visayas destination

:: Mindanao ::

mindanao destination

 

 

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