ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES
Mabuhay. Welcome to the land of warm-water beaches, coastlines you can have to yourself, smouldering volcanoes, intricate cave systems and undiscovered backpacker trails.
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.
PEOPLE AND RELIGION
The Filipino is basically of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish, and Arab blood. The Philippines has a population of 76.5 million as of May 2000, and it is hard to distinguish accurately the lines between stocks. From a long history of Western colonial rule, interspersed with the visits of merchants and traders, evolved a people of a unique blend of east and west, both in appearance and culture.
CULTURE AND ARTS
The major cultural agencies of government are the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the National Historical Institute, the National Museum, The National Library, the Records Management and Archives Office, and the Commission on the Filipino Language. The Heads of these cultural agencies are all ex-officio members of the NCCA Board and all except the Commission on the Filipino Language are together under the National Commission on Culture and Arts.
The first half of the year, from January to May, is the best time to visit the country. November to February is cool, while March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy, with the months between July and September characterized by typhoons. Average temperature is 78 degrees F/25 degrees C; average humidity is 77%. Some parts of the country such as Cebu, are warm and comfortable in all seasons and can be visited throughout the year.
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 the 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.
The currency in the Philippines is the Peso (PhP) and the Centavo. 100 centavos = P1. Coin denominations are: 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos, P1, and P5. Bill denominations are : 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1, 000 pesos.
Foreign currency may be exchanged at your hotel, and in most of the large department stores, banks and authorized money changing shops. Exchanging money anywhere else is illegal and the laws are strictly enforced.
Most large stores, restaurants , hotels and resorts accept major credit cards including American Express , Visas and MasterCard. Traveller's checks preferably American Express are accepted at hotels and large department stores. Personal checks drawn on foreign banks are generally not accepted.
Unit of Measure
The Metric System is used in most trade and legal transactions.
220 volts a/c is the common standard. 110 volts a/c is also used, especially in major hotels.
People in the Philippines dress for the weather. Casual attire during the day for women are light blouses and shorts. For men collared T- shirts worn over slacks. In the evening skirts are substituted for shorts and the T-shirts are tucked in.
For Men Only: If you expect to have to attend any occasion which would usually require a jacket and a tie, there is a wonderful substitute. You may go to a department store and buy a barong tagalog. It is an embroidered shirt that is considered a formal dress. It will cost more or less PhP1,000.00, but it is worth every centavo.
Water supply in Metro Manila and in all the other major cities are considered potable. Bottled purified water, spring water or mineral water is often supplied by hotels and resorts, and sold in all grocery stores.
Telephone and Mobile Phone
Telephone service is modern and you can direct dial anywhere in the world. Public phones are plentiful. Public phones require a minimum of two one-peso coins for a local call.
Bayantel - Bayan Telecommunications, Philippines
Globe Telecom - One of the leading mobile phone companies in the Philippines
PLDT/Smart - One of the leading telecommunication company in the Philippines
Some Important Telephone Numbers: (24-Hour Hotline)
Police & Fire: 757 or 116
Emergency No.: 501- 650 or 501- 728
Directory Assistance: 114
National Operator: 109
International Operator: 108
For other emergency numbers, please refer to Directory
NOTE: It is advisable to always have the telephone number and the address of your embassy or consulate with you.
Most businesses are open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays and 8:00 AM till noon Saturdays. Banks are open from 9:00 AM till 3:00 PM Mondays through Fridays. When banking in the Philippines, it is advisable to have your passport with you for identification.
The post offices are open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays only. Stamps for postcards are frequently available from the Concierge Desk at most major hotels. The Philippines uses ZIP codes, please include them in addressing local mail.
NOTE: The Standard lunch hour is noon to 1:00 PM. Most businesses and government offices are closed.
Local time is GMT +8 hours.
Business English is the language used. Sexual equality is more widespread in the Philippines than in other Asian countries. Make sure you have business cards.
Passenger Terminal Fee is levied on all passengers embarking for:
International travel : Php750.00
Domestic travel: Php200.00
Place of payment: Airport of departure.
Children under 2 years of age.
Transit passengers remaining in the transit area and not leaving the airport.
Anti-Smoking Law in Enclosed Places, etc.
MANILA, Philippines -- Section five of the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 (Republic Act 9211) prohibits the carrying of any lighted tobacco product in public vehicles, schools, health centers, elevators, cinemas, malls and in places where fire hazards are present.
Smoking is also banned in recreational facilities for minors. Fines imposed on violators of this section range from P500 to P10,000.