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Philippines

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The Philippines [1] (Filipino: Pilipinas) is an archipelago in South-East Asia. The nation consists of 7,107 islands located between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam, and north of Sabah and Borneo, combine all its beaches it forms one of the world's longest coastlines and it takes about 2 to 3 decades to visit and experience every island. Since Spanish colonial times, the country is considered to be Asia's largest Catholic country. Over a hundred ethnic groups, a mixture of foreign influences and a fusion of culture and arts have enhanced the uniqueness of the Filipino identity and the wonder that is the Philippines.

Understand

History

First steps

Several thousand years ago, the first settlers in the Philippines crossed shallow seas and land bridges from the mainland Asia to arrive in this group of islands. These were the Negritos or Aetas. Direct descendants of these people can still be found in Zambales province to the North of Manila. 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 baranggay, came from. The settlers are believed to originate from neighbouring countries notably Malaysia and Indonesia.

Pre-Spanish era

After the first Filipinos settled in the islands, they traveled further Pacific. 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 of present-day Malaysia and Indonesia. 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 was 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, mainly in the island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago to Islam. Later then Indianized kingdoms associated with the Srivijaya Kingdom and Islamic sultanates came to rise in the country.

Spanish and British rule

When the explorer Ferdinand Magellan set foot on Philippine soil through 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 gold jewelry. 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 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 on named for Crown Prince Philip II of Spain and most of the natives converted to Catholicism. The 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 which 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, which require payment of excessive taxes, tributes. They also oppresed the Philippines' natives by not subjecting them as slaves and sending them to prison for disobeying rules. The Manila Galleon trade made contact between the country and Mexico as well as the whole of the Americas, Mayans and Aztecs settled in modern day Mexico, Pampanga and introduced their cultures which then was embraced by the Filipinos, other Asians used the Manila Galleon trade in order 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 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.

Colonization strikes again

The Filipinos declared independence on June 12, 1898 and resisted the American occupation and colonization and fought the Americans for seven years until the Filipinos surrendered which completed the colonization of the Philippines. The American presence remained until World War II when Japan invaded the Philippines. The Japanese occupation lasted from 1941 to 1945 when Gen. Douglas McArthur fulfilled his promise and liberated the country from the Japanese. In 1946, the Philippines was granted full independence by the U.S., although they maintained a military presence in the country through the Subic Naval Base in Zambales and Clark Air Base in Angeles City. These facilities were ultimately returned to the Philippines in the early 1990's.

Pre-Modern Era

Up until the 1960's, the Philippines was second only to Japan in terms of development in Asia. Several decades of rule by Ferdinand Marcos plunged the country into deep debt. Poverty was widespread and infrastructure for development was severely lacking. In 1986, the People Power uprising finally overthrew the Marcos government. He was replaced by Corazon Aquino, widow of slain opposition leader, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr.

Modern era

Prior to the 21st Century, corruption became one of the main problems of the country. The country suffered slightly in the 1997 Asian Financial crisis but led to a second EDSA which overthrew Pres. Joseph Estrada, the then Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (daughter of one of the former presidents) took his place who will end her term this 2010. Growth in the Philippines is slow but it is hopefully catching up with its neighbours. On 2009, Typhoon Ketsana stormed the country, in just a day it flooded the whole of Metro Manila leaving casualties.

People

As of 2008, the Philippines has a population estimated at 96 million. From its long history of Western occupation, 300 years by the Spaniards and 30 years by the Americans, its people have evolved as a unique blend of East and West in both appearance and culture. But Filipinos are largely Malay in terms of ethnic origin (Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian). However, many, particularly in the cities of Luzon and the Visayas, have heavy Chinese, Spanish, and American mixtures, whereas those living in the provinces are mostly of pure Austronesian origin (known as "native"). Many Muslims in Mindanao have Arab, Indian and Chinese mixtures. The four largest foreign minorities in the country are as follows: Chinese, Koreans, and Indian, and the Japanese. Also of significance are the Americans, Indonesians, and Arabs. Pure Spaniards, and other Europeans, form a very small proportion in the country's population.

Needless to say, the Filipino trait is a confluence of many cultures put together. Filipinos are famous for the bayanihan or spirit of kinship and camaraderie taken from Malay forefathers. They observe very close family ties which is said to have been passed on by the Chinese. Religion 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 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 Southeast 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 many incorrectly equate to Tagalog) and whereas 76-78 languages and 170 dialects exist in this archipelago, still English is the second most widely spoken language in the country.

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.

Also, 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 level. But still, Filipinos are essentially Southeast Asians and many indigenous and pre-Hispanic attitudes and ways of thinking are still noticeable underneath a seemingly westernized veneer. Muslim Filipinos and 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.

Religion

The Philippines is not only the largest Christian country in Asia, but also it is the world's third largest Catholic Nation. The 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 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 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 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.

Climate

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 southeast 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 experience 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.

Holidays

Christmas: The Filipino Way


Filipinos are very Catholic; Christmas is celebrated from September till Epiphany, go and have Noche Buena with a Filipino family; Filipinos don't mind strangers eating with them in their dining table as this is customary during Fiestas, try out Hamon(ham) and Keso De Bola. Caroling is widely practiced by the youth around the Philippines, they'll appreciate if you give them at least 5-10 pesos. Don't miss the Misa Del Gallo; Early Mass or Simbang Gabi in Tagalog meaning Night Mass, this tradition was passed down from the Spanish, masses usually are held either on Midnight or before dawn, after this Filipinos eat Kakanin or rice cakes and Bibingka that are sold outside churches and also drink Tsokolate; hot chocolate or eat Champurado; hot chocalte porridge. Parols; Star of Bethlehem lanterns are hanged in front of houses, commercial establishments and streets, a Giant Lantern Festival is held in Pampanga. Belens or Nativities are displayed in city halls and/or commercial establishments. This is an experience, one shouldn't miss if he/she is travelling in the Philippines.

The Philippines is a Multi-Cultural country having Christian, Muslim and Chinese holidays aside from Secular holidays. The year is welcomed by New Year's Day on January 1, being a predominantly Catholic country means observing the traditional Catholic holidays of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday during Lent or months around April or May, Araw ng pagkabuhay or Easter Sunday is celebrated 3 days after Good Friday. Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor, Boy scouts reenact 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 Kilometer march and the people who participated in this march were captured, tortured and murdered. All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. In recognition of the Muslim Filipinos, the Islamic feast of Eid-Al-Fitr (known in the Philippines as Hari Raya Puasa), 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 (June 12). August 30 is declared National Heroes Day. Some holidays also commemorate national heroes such as Jose Rizal (Dec. 30) and Andres Bonifacio (Nov. 30) as well as Ninoy Aquino (August 21). Metro Manila is less congested during Holy Week as people tend to go to their hometowns 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 widely celebrated on December 25.

Dates

Culture

The Philippines is a diverse country just like Singapore, making the country more of a Salad bowl. Every foreigner that has stepped in its history has taken the Asian identity of the Filipinos. People in the big cities, such as Manila, may seem heavily Westernized. However, many people from the city do come from rural areas and are still deeply rooted to traditional Filipino ways. Tribal people do their best to maintain their heritage and culture despite the unavoidable influence of modern western culture, travelling remote places and meeting tribes and experiencing their culture and heritage is the best way to see how the Filipinos lived before the arrival of the Spanish. Filipino culture can be seen in the Tinikling dance which also shows distinctive influence from the Indonesians, the dance is mistakenly known as the national dance because of its popularity, the dance is demonstrated by two or more people holding two or more bamboo sticks known as Kawayan, then they start moving the bamboo sticks as the dancers put their foot in between the bamboo sticks quickly out and in. Kamayan, a literal meaning for eating with hands, try this while in the Philippines , to experience the Filipino way of eating.

The Filipinos have also retained their animistic ways. Many believe heavily in the presence of spirits and existence of ghouls, elves, and spirits in nature. Some Filipinos are also deeply religious and devout people. Regardless of your own beliefs, as a visitor, observance of religious rules and respect for the Filipinos beliefs will be greatly appreciated.

Books

Filipino literature is a mix of Indian sagas, folktales, and traces of Western influence. Classical books are written in Spanish as well as in Tagalog, 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. History, Documentary

Literature

Cinema and music

The Filipino film industry is suffering because of its main rival; the Western film industry, since the 21st century every year only 40 films are produced down from 200-300 films a year in the 1990s. Western culture has also permeated the music industry in the Philippines. Many songs 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 is, unfortuantely, slowly losing influence among the younger generations. Award winning films done by Filipino directors. The Filipino Film industry was booming the earlier days with over 200 movies per year produced and made but prior to the arrival of Western films, the Film industry collapsed in the 1990s but by the 21st century, successful attempts in reviving the independent Film industry were done. Filipino movies face fierce competition with western movies to this date.

Film

Fancy horror movies? Just like its neighbouring countries the Filipinos enjoy watching horror and thriller movies.

Music

Address

In the Philippines, Barangays which is the somewhat the equivalent of a typical Western Sub-Urban is abbreviated as Brgy., the word Barangay comes from the word Balangay which is an old boat, a Barangay contains usually not less than 100 families. Barangays are then further divided into Subdivisions, which is abbreviated Subd.. While getting a taxi or jeepney, Filipinos don't give the street's name, they give the address of a popular landmark instead which is near to their destination, so when you get a taxi or jeepney just give the popular landmark near your destination.

Tourism

Regions

The Philippines consists over 120 cities which is then categorized into 80 provinces which is then categorized into 17 regions which are finally divided into 3 major island groups, below listed are the 3 major Island groups.

Luzon (Luzon, Mindoro, Marinduque, Masbate)
The northernmost island group, center of government, history and economy and home to the capital
Visayas (Negros, Panay, Cebu (island), Bohol, Leyte, Palawan)
The central island group, heart of the country’s antiquity, nature and biodiversity
Mindanao (Mindanao, Basilan)
the southernmost island group, which showcases the Philippines’ indigenous and rich cultures







Cities

With 7,107 islands, the Philippines has many cities, below listed are nine important cities in the Philippines, some of which are provincial capitals and center of commerce and finance as well as culture and history.

Philippine is an archipelago, most of the cities are mostly accessible through plane, ships and RoRo (roll-on and roll off, a service which uses both bus and ship) from Manila. Inter-regional trips are also available

Other destinations

Get in

Nationals from the vast majority of countries can enter the Philippines without a visa for a period not exceeding 21 days [5], 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.

Nationals of Brazil and Israel are allowed to stay at the Philippines without a visa not exceeding 59 days. Holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative (SAR), British National Overseas (BNO), Portuguese Passports issued in Macau and Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports are allowed to stay in the Philippines without a visa not exceeding than seven days.

Visit the website of the Bureau of Immigration [6] and Department of Foreign Affairs [7] for more information.

If intending to stay longer, you should apply for a visa extension. Each visa extension is valid for 59 days, except the first which is 38 days (i.e 59-21). Effective 27 May 2009, all passengers regardless of citizenship or residence must fill-out the new machine-readable arrival-departure card which is issued by the airline. Unlike the previous scheme where arrival and departure cards are filled-out separately and independently from each other, the new card has a portion for arriving passengers, which will be given to the passport control officer and another part to be retained in the passport until departure. If you overstay, you can pay on departure a fine of ₱1000 per month of overstay plus the ₱2020 fee. To avoid all the hassle, before traveling get the longer visa from the embassy (or a consulate), as this saves you a couple of days hassle during your holiday. Contact the Philippine embassy [8] or Philippine consulate [9] of your country about the exact requirements for a visa application and opening hours of the consular section. When you arrive with a visa, show it to the immigration official, so that he will actually give you the 59 days, instead of the normal 21 days, on your arrival stamp.

By plane

Since the Philippines is an archipelago, most visitors will arrive by plane. International travelers can fly into airports in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Clark (Angeles), Kalibo, Laoag, Subic (Zambales), and Zamboanga. The Philippines, being an archipelago and therefore not connected by land to any of its neighboring countries is the usual reason why this paradise destination is skipped by many uninformed travelers. But below you will read about different options to reach the Philippine islands. Cebu Pacific[10], Philippine Airlines [11], Zest Airways [12], South East Asian Airlines [13] are among the national carriers, other carriers include Interisland Airlines[14] that serves inter-regional flights and Pacific Pearl Airways[15] that serve charter flights.

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 combination fly into Manila and out of Cebu.

The cheapest option when coming from Europe or South America is transitting into Singapore (via Tiger Airways) or Hong Kong (via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines) or fairly recently Kuala Lumpur (via Air Asia). In fact, the Air Asia trip from London to KL can be as low as €200 if you book a flight during off-peak season or well in advance. From KL, Cebu Pacific airlines can take you direct to Manila or you can pass by Singapore before your trip to this beautiful archipelago. From North America, use Philippine Airlines which has direct service from Vancouver and a stopover in Guam from San Francisco and Los Angeles. But there are many regional carriers that can give excellent open jaw ticket options Silkair with Singapore Airlines being one. Cathay Pacific also gives you plenty of flights from Hong Kong.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Most visitors will fly in through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport(NAIA)[16](IATA: MNL | ICAO: RPLL) The Airport is divided into four terminals; Terminal 1, 2, 3 and the Manila Passenger Domestic Terminal. Terminal 1 serves non-Philippine Airlines and non-Cebu Pacific flights. Terminal 2 is exclusively used by Philippine Airlines and Terminal 3 serves Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines. The Manila Passenger Domestic Terminal is open to domestic carriers; Zest Airways, Interisland Airlines and SEAIR. For passengers departing Terminal 2, a charger outlet center is available within the terminal as well as WiFi connectivity. Most people who fly in Terminal 1 might find it uncomfortable and the interiors dirty however those flying in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 are OK.

Major Airlines such as China Airlines[17], KLM[18], Emirates[19], Cathay Pacific[20], Korean Air[21], Thai Airways International[22], JAL[23], QANTAS[24], Singapore Airlines[25], Delta Air Lines[26] and flag carriers; Philippine Airlines[27] and Cebu Pacific[28] serve international flights. Aside from Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, Zest Airways[29], Interisland Airways[30] and SEAIR[31] serve domestic flights.

For further domestic flight connections, a free shuttle bus is available, ask the ground personnel on arrival.

Getting out, in and transiting in the airport:

Other airports

Other airports in the Philippines such as Kalibo Airport(a gateway to Boracay), Laoag International Airport, Francisco Bangoy International Airport(Davao) and Subic Bay International Airport receives direct connections from Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

By Boat

Services from Sandakan, Malaysia to Zamboanga, Jolo and Bongao are available, Weesam Express[42] offers these connections.

Get around

By plane

Philippine Airlines [43] and Air Philippines [44], Cebu Pacific [45], SEAIR [46], Asian Spirit [47] and Interisland Airlines [48] are some of the airlines that operate domestic flights. Philippine Airlines, Air Philippines and Cebu Pacific serve most large cities, while smaller operators like SEAIR, Asian Spirit and Interisland Airlines typically fly to popular resort destinations.

By train

Within Metro Manila, there is a network of light railway systems that connect various portions of the metropolis. This mode of transport is top choice among travelers for they are cheaper and faster compared to other land-based transportation. It operates from 6am to 12midnight daily. Fare

Within Metro Manila, there are networks of LRT[49] (Light Railway Transport) and MRT[50] (Metro Rail Transport) that connect various portions of the metropolis. The LRT network consists of two lines; the Purple line and the Yellow Line. The Megatren/Purple line covers stations from Santolan to Recto while the Metrorail/Yellow line covers the station from Monumento to Baclaran. Fares in the LRT range from ₱12 to ₱15. Tickets are available on purchase on the stations while ticket machines are installed in the Purple line. The MRT network covers the network from Taft Avenue to North Avenue, passing the financial center; Makati. The MRT is open from 5:00AM to 11:00PM with Midnight services extending to 1:00AM. Fares start from ₱10 to ₱15, a multi-use ticket can be purchased at ₱100. G-Pass, an alternative pass for the MRT launched by Globe Telecom, it can be purchased at ₱100 and have a free balance of ₱50, however this isn't only exclusive to Globe users. The Philippine National Railways[51] covers services in Metro Manila and provinces of Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Camarines Sur and Albay.

By car

There are major car rental companies such as Avis[52], Hertz[53] and Budget[54] have offices in Metro Manila, notably at the airport. These companies have chauffeur driven rentals available and prices are bound to be reasonable.

Due to heavy traffic in Metro Manila, certain areas of the city have laws that restrict certain vehicles based on the day of the week and the ending number of your vehicle's license plate (this plan is called "Color Coding", though it has nothing to do with the color of your vehicle). For example: Cars with license plates ending in 1 or 2 cannot drive between the hours of 7AM and 7PM on Mondays on most main roads. 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.

Number Coding
Day Plate number
Monday 1, 2
Tuesday 3, 4
Wednesday 5, 6
Thursday 7, 8
Friday 9, 0
Weekends and Holidays No coding

Travel from Metro Manila to various provinces in Luzon will typically start off from either the North Luzon Expressway(NLEX) or South Luzon Express Way(SLEX). These are tollways with good paved roads. Farthest tolls will not cost more than a few dollars from Metro Manila. From the expressways, national highways and provincial roads connect to the major cities and provinces. Another main highway system built in the northern part of Luzon is SCTEX or Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway which is a 94-kilometer 4-lane freeway.

Bridges and ferries connect the major islands together. Roads vary greatly in quality from the paved multi-lane highways to narrow dirt roads, which further complicates travel by car

By taxi

Taxi fares


Most of the taxi drivers nowadays charge people with fares not based on the meters, if you encounter this say "no" and say that drivers don't have a right to give you a fare that is double and not based on the meters, this is usually encountered by tourists as well as middle class-elite class Filipinos. If this happens get out of the taxi, threaten the driver you will call the police hotline;Philippine National Police[55] (PNP) tel:(+632)722-0650 start dialing your cellphone to make him believe you are calling the police or either call the MMDA[56](Metro Manila Development Authority) hotline; 136 if you're within Manila, you can also text the police at 2920 and your message must be as follows; PNP(space)(message), for your complaints. On 2009, some taxis have installed meters which give out receipts, ask for a receipt if they have one.

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! Moreover, don't be surprised if drivers want to bypass the meter during rush hour. Most taxis have the flag down rate of ₱30 with each 300 meters cost ₱2.50 while Yellow cab taxis are more expensive with a flag down rate of ₱40 with each 300 meters cost ₱4.00.

By bus

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.[57], Victory Liner[58], Philtranco[59] operate in the country.

By boat

Metro Manila

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.

Inter-island trips

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 ₱600 if it's only a one hour trip.WG&A SuperFerry[60] 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: Sulpicio Lines, Negros Navigation[61], Trans Asia Shipping Lines[62], and Cebu Ferries[63].

Oceanjet[64] 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.

WARNING: If the boat appears to be over capacity, do not board. Always check the latest weather reports before travel by ferry, as some captains are willing to sail even when a typhoon is approaching. Bringing your own life preserver is strongly recommended (but no substitute for common sense). Travel by boat should not be considered safer than air travel.


Cruises

7107 Islands Cruise[65] 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[66] 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.

By jeep and rickshaws

Jeepneys are the most known transportation to all Filipinos. They are the most affordable transport in the Philippines. Costing about ₱7 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.

Talk

The Philippines has two official languages: English and Filipino. Filipino is mainly based on the Tagalog language (a relative of Malay), it has loanwords from Spanish, English, Malay, Indonesian, Arabic(some words through Malay), Min nan, Japanese, Hindi and many other languages mostly from the Indian subcontinent and Europe. The history of Tagalog is that it was formerly the Javanese language which was brought by the Indonesians in moving to the archipelago, the language dramatically change in trading with other countries and during the Spanish colonial times, to this day the language is dominated by Spanish loanwords which is helpful for some Spanish people and which is also the reason why some Filipinos understand a little Spanish. In addition, as Malay and Filipino are closely related, speakers of Malay would also recognise many cognates in the Filipino language. Generally, somebody who speaks Malay and Spanish would be able to understand the conversations of locals to a certain extent, and might just be able to get by.

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. The provinces of Pangasinan and Pampanga also have their own languages. Further south of Metro Manila lies the Bicol Region where Bikolano 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 of choice for locals, and is largely restricted to formal speeches by the upper class. 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 youth, it is a mix of Tagalog and English, an example is shown below,

Taglish:How are you na? Ok naman ako.
English:How are you? I'm ok.

Spanish is no longer widely understood, 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.

There are some other ethnic groups who reside 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 as well as Lan-ang; a language which is made with the mix of Filipino and Hokkien, they are also taught Mandarin in Chinese schools. Muslim Filipinos are taught Arabic in schools in order to read the Qu'ran. Other groups include the Indians, Japanese, Arabs, Koreans, Americans and Europeans use their native language as their first language. 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.

See


Itineraries

Volunteer Opportunities

Learn

Scuba diving

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.

Martial Arts

Eskrima or Kali is Filipino martial art that emphasizes in using swords and sticks, it was used in films such as' Equilibrium, training centers and schools that teach Eskrima are mostly found around Metro Manila.

Tertiary education and ESL

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[68], De La Salle University[69], Ateneo University[70], Far Eastern University[71] and Adamson University[72] are just some of the major universities with many provincial branches 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 and Cebu, it is one of the largest hubs in learning ESL as it is one of the leading people in the world in proficiency of using English. International schools are around major financial, commercial and provincial capitals, Taguig City is served by International School of Manila[73], British School of Manila[74], German School of Manila[75] and French School of Manila which are part of the European International School campus[76], Faith Academy[77] caters to mostly Americans, Brent International School[78] has branches in the archipelago with one in the white beaches of Boracay, Korean International School[79], Manila Japanese School[80] and Chinese International School Manila [81] are also in Taguig City. 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.

Do

See also: Festivals in the Philippines for more information.

Work

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.

Unlike other countries, there are no strict bureaucratic papers needed such as carte de sejours and NBI IDs, so some formal jobs are not hard to come by and get. Do not expect large sums of money even for formal jobs. Wages are displayed on a per day basis rather than a per hour basis.

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

Buy

Money

Exchange Rates


As of January 2010:

  • U.S. Dollar $1 - Philippine Peso ₱46
  • Euro €1 - Philippine Peso ₱66 (down to 56 in May 2010)
  • Pound Sterling £1 - Philippine Peso ₱74
  • Saudi Rial SR1 - Philippine Peso ₱12
  • Japanese Yen ¥1 - Philippine Peso ₱0.50
  • Australian Dollar $1 - Philippine Peso ₱42
  • South African Rand R1 - Philippine Peso ₱6
  • Hong Kong Dollar $1 - Philippine Peso ₱5.80
  • Singapore Dollar $1 - Philippine Peso ₱32


The Philippine Peso(₱)(PHP) is the official currency. As of January 2010, one U.S. dollar trades at around ₱46.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. Money changers are not so common in the Philippines apart from some heavily touristed areas and most malls which usually have their own currency exchange stall. Banks on the other hand are widely available to exchange currency but usually impose a minimum amount and have limited hours of operation, usually from 9 AM to 3 PM on weekdays except Bank of the Philippine Islands[84] (BPI) and Banco De Oro[85] (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[86] (Central Bank of the Philippines) if you suspect if your money is counterfeited or not.

Be aware that no person is allowed to enter the Philippines carrying more than P10,000 without prior authorisation by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Those who have not gained prior authorisation will have to declare the excess money at the customs desk upon arrival — but if you have a reason to do so, like you are going to, say rent an apartment in Manila, you can be allowed pass through without any fee while carrying P30,000. However, it's entirely possible that this was a one-day luck and on a different day you may lose out by entering with a large amount of money.

ATMs and credit cards

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. An exception is HSBC where up to 50,000 pesos is possible. 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 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.

Costs

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 pricy. , more so in some cases places to stay are cheaper in Thailand. For example a stay in a hotel would cost as low as $30 or ₱1400, a flight to Cebu from Manila and vice-versa will cost $35 or ₱1645. Transportation is low as ₱8.50 for the first 4km in a Jeepney. Using the internet for 1 hour in an internet cafe range from ₱20 to ₱50 depending on the Internet Cafe's location, a can of coke costs as low was ₱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.

Shopping

What's a Pasalubong?

A pasalubong is a tradition practiced by Filipinos for a long time, a Pasalubong is something you bring to your friends and family as a souvenir, keepsake or gift from a place you have recently visited, nowadays Filipino immigrants from abroad as well as Filipinos who work outside their hometowns but within the Philippines bring pasalubong or send them mostly during Christmas, New Year, Birthdays, Holy Week and during the summer and winter vacations. Try this tradition if you're planning what to buy as a souvenir from the Philippines, Filipinos tend to be not selfish even co-workers, friends and neighbours as well as their co-worker's family, their friend's friends and their neighbour's neighbour (try giving pasalubongs to your enemies also, even the meanest person to them they'd also give them pasalubongs), it's funny but that's how Filipinos are. A Pasalubong consists the following, Food; usually delicacies and sweets, T-shirts, Souvenirs such as key chains, bags etc. they usually put all their pasulubongs into one box. This may be hard for you but as they say it's better to give than to receive, get tips from locals for what a typical pasalubong consists.

It isn't hard to find malls in the Philippines, the 3 largest malls in the world are found in the country, 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, shopping there is also cheap. Sales tend to happen during pay day and last 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[87]. Cheaper items are sold at flea markets and open markets where you can bargain the price like Divisoria, Market!Market!, Greenhills in Metro Manila. Ayala Center[88] is often compared to Singapore's Orchard Rd, from Entertainment to shopping, they have it all there, located in the Financial district of Makati. Not far from Makati is Serendra, 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 and is located in Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. The 4 largest mall operators are SM, Gaisano, Ayala and Robinson's with branches around the archipelago.

Eat

Cooking terms

What's in your menu?

  • Ginisa/Ginisang - Stir Fried
  • Nilaga/Nilagang - Boiled
  • Prito/Pritong/Piniritong - Fried
  • Paksiw/Pinaksiw - Cooked in Vinegar
  • Tostado/Tostadong - Toasted
  • Torta/Tinorta - Omelette
  • Tapa/Tinapa - Dried or smoked, Tinapa usually is Dried fish while Tapa usually refers to Beef Tapa
  • Nilasing - Cooked in alcoholic beverage, from Lasing meaning drunk.
  • Lechon/Nilechon - Roasted
  • Hilaw/Sariwa - Fresh
  • Daing/Dinaing - Dried fish
  • Inadobo/Adobo - Cooked in soy sauce

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. 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.

Filipino diet

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 twice to thrice 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.

Etiquette

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 not they'll never achieve good academic performance. Usually before a meal starts Filipinos say a prayer before food is served. Wait also till the host invites you to start eating. Also, it is rude to refuse food that the host offers. 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).

Cuisine

Filipinos usually serve at least one main course accompanied by rice for lunch and dinner. At times you would have two with a vegetable dish accompanying a meat dish. On special occasions such as fiestas, several main dishes would be served, a Filipino party or a Fiesta wouldn't be complete without Spaghetti, Pasta, Fruit Salad, Ice Cream, Rice, spring rolls, cake or rice cakes and soda. Soups are also often the main course apart from being a starter. It is not uncommon for Filipinos to douse their rice with the soup and eat the meat that came with the soup alongside.

Kanin at Kakanin

Kanin means Rice in Tagalog while Kakanin means Rice cakes.

Other kinds include Biko, Cuchinta, Pichi-Pichi, Sapin-Sapin, etc. The towns of Calasiao in Pangasinan and Binan, Laguna are famous for their puto

Pansit/Pansit

Pancit/Pansit 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

Silog and pankaplog

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.

Pankaplog
A slang term for a breakfast that mainly consists of Pande Sal(bread), kape(coffee) and itlog

Ulam

Ulam means Mains in Tagalog.

Western cuisine

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.

Fastfood chains

Western fast food chains have alot of branches within the country, with all the usual suspects being widely present including McDonald's (called as McDo in the Philippines for short), Wendy's, Burger King and Pizza Hut. Not only western fastfood is available but also localized versions of fastfood chains such as Jollibee and Greenwhich. Coffeshops such as Seattle's Best Coffee, Costa Coffee and Starbucks also operate in the country.

Filipino-Chinese cuisine

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.

Street food

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 or soda, usually eaten during the afternoon till night.

Snack and baked goods

Fruits & desserts

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:

Fruits

Sweet treats

Condiments and salads

Dietary restrictions

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.

Drink

Non-alcoholic drinks

Tropical fruit drinks made from dalandan (green mandarin), suha (pomelo), pinya (pineapple), calamansi (small lime), buko (young coconut), durian, guyabano (soursop) mango, banana, watermelon, strawberry and many more 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.

Sago't Gulaman a sweet drink made of molasses, sago pearls and seaweed gelatin, and taho, a sweet, warm snack made from sago pearls, soft tofu and carmelized syrup, are worth trying. They are affordable and sold in stalls along streets or by vendors around the a common area as well as in malls. Zagu is a shake with flavors such as strawberry and chocolate, with sago pearls. Another famous drink is 'buko juice, the juice is consumed via an inserted straw on the top of the buko or young coconut.

Tea, coffee and chocolate

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 tea 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.

Alcoholic drinks

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 probably cheapest in the whole of Asia). For a bottle of San Miguel bought at a 7-11 or Mini-Stop, a bottle would costs about ₱20-₱30 (about US$0.50). For top-end bars and clubs, a bottle would costs 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).

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.

Stay safe

WARNING: A heavy conflict is going on in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Basilan, Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) between Muslim militias and the Philippine government. In 2009 this region was declared the world's most hazardous area for journalists by the Committee to Protect Journalists, with 18 reporters dead in a massacre that claimed the lives of almost 60 people. Travelling to this region is dangerous and strongly discouraged. If it is necessary to visit, inform your embassy, remain cautious at all times and avoid public gatherings.


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 and drugs

Prostitution is thriving but officially illegal in the Philippines, although hostess bars, massage parlors and other opportunities abound which offer this service. The age of consent is 18. The Philippine National Police treat sex-offenders, child-molesters and people involving in prostitution harshly, catching you in an act associated with prostitution and child sex abuse will result to long term jail sentences, penalties and deportation to your country.

Marijuana and shabu (crystal methamphetamine) are widely used in the country however it is also Illegal and Penalties are very harsh, you might as well get long jail terms and get deported back to your country.

Gays and Lesbians

Gays and lesbians will slightly be fine here in the Philippines as some the younger tolerant generation are very accepting, but please use common sense (ie: avoid public kissing) as you may get stares or even verbal profanity. Also, in the countryside and with the 50 year old and up generation chances are they will condemn it. But nevertheless, Filipinos have their warm hospitality. Violence against gays and lesbians is rare but don't expect this.

Stay healthy

Eating and drinking

Drink the readily available bottled water. Buko (young coconut) juice is also safe if they have not added local ice to it. Be wary also 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, 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 waters 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 of the vendors might be using Magic Sugar(formally called 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 by consuming Magic sugar, it has been used as an alternative to ordinary sugar as it is much cheaper, call 117 (Philippine National Police) if you encounter such situation. Streetfood isn't so safe to consume in the Philippines, hygienic standards aren't enforced much. It is better to eat streetfood as well as pampalamig inside malls and shopping centers than in streets as stalls in malls and shopping centers have better enforcement of cleanliness.

Diseases

CDC[97] advises that risk of malaria exists in areas below 600 meters, except for the provinces of Aklan, Bilaran, Bohol, Camiguin, Capiz, Catanduanes, Cebu, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Masbate, northern Samar, Siquijor, and Metro Manila. Chloroquine is no longer a recommended malaria preventative for anywhere in the Philippines. In general malaria is not common in the Philippines compared to Africa and the rest of mainland 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 rise every year, it is advisable to apply anti-mosquito repellents and wear long sleeved clothes whenever possible. Rabies is also common among street animals in the country, get a vaccination for rabies if you haven't done so, if you're travelling 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 is of a high-risk in the country, get a vaccine if you haven't had one, as having exposure to food, water, sexual contact, and blood among the local people. If you plan to visit rural farming areas, Japanese encephalitis is common, it is recommended to get a vaccine to avoid this disease. Avoid swimming in fresh water (chlorinated swimming pools are exceptional) areas are you will have high risks of getting schistosomiasis. Leptospirosis is often contracted from recreational water activities in contaminated water such as Kayaking, it is common in the tropical areas of Southeast Asia.

Also please note the tubercolosis is very common in the countryside, it is advisable not to stay in certain villages in areas you are not familiar with for a very long time. It is also higly advisable that if one coughs or looks weak in strength it is highly advisable to avoid contact with that person.

Bring anti-diarrheal drugs with you, as unsanitary conditions present a high risk for traveler's diarrhea.

Although the Philippines is a low HIV prevalence country, it still pays to take precaution. Other sexually transmitted diseases are more common than HIV.

Cope

Electricity

See also: Travel topics -- Electrical systems

Most of the Philippines is 220 Volt 50 Hz with the older 2-prong plug formerly used in the USA (not polarized or grounded). Americans will need a step-down transformer. Also, they will need a passive plug adaptor intended for USA/Canada. Americans will need one too for any plug where one blade is wider than the other (polarized), or has a third round grounding pin. Europeans will need plug adapter. It's best also 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 110 V @ 50 Hz , but doesn't go very far beyond the city center. 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 drought seasons (March to May), most of the power-plants are hydro-electrics (as stated above in the climate section), regular black-outs happen during this time, ask if your hotel owns a generator.

Television and video

Television and video in the Philippines uses NTSC. Region Coded DVDs are Region 3 (SE Asia), though virtually all Tagalog movies are region free. There are two major networks in the Philippines - ABS-CBN and GMA. Cable and Satellite TV are widely available. 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.

Embassies and Consulates

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

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 to the people who are usually old enough to be your parents or grandparents in Filipino, it is greatly appreciated to include po in your sentences such as salamat po, call them also by Tito(Uncle), Tita(Aunt), Manong(Mr.) or Manang(Mrs./Ms.), Ate or Kuya(a word used to people older than you but not old enough to be your uncle or aunt) 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.

Although many Filipinos might not be able to afford tipping service workers, tipping is always accepted. Tips are customary, and in some instances, mandatory in the more high-end environments such as hotels and major restaurants.

Work

When working with people in the Philippines, it's important to remember that they often bring cultural influences into the workplace and 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. [98]

Street children

In many of the larger cities extreme poverty is prevalent. It is advised not 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.

Political topics

Keep in mind that the Marcos years (1965-1986) can be a polarizing topic within the Philippines. Visitors will find that the northern Ilokano 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 prior to approaching the topic.

Homosexuality

The Philippines is a predominant Roman Catholic country though a country many to Gays and Lesbians, respect is needed here, it is considered immoral for two people with the same sex kissing in the public.

Contact

The country code for the Philippines is 63. The area code for Metro Manila is 2. To make a overseas call, include the prefix 00.

The cheapest way to call to and from the Philippines is by using Voice Over Internet Protocol, there are several licensed VoIP providers in the Philippines. One of the most popular is Vodini Telecom [99].

Newspapers

English newspapers are available throughout the country and there are aslo some Japanese and Chinese language options. The Daily Tribune [100], Malaya [101], Manila Standard [102], Manila Bulletin [103], Business World [104], Philippine Daily Inquirer [105] and Visayan Daily Star [106] are some of the English newspapers.

Cell phones

There are three major companies operating GSM 900/1800 networks: Globe[107], Smart[108] and Sun Cellular [109]. Pre-paid SIM cards of these networks are easy to acquire and cost as little as ₱30 and provide a cheaper alternative to roaming charges. 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. In most urban locations and many resorts, cell phone service will be available. 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 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 (approximately US$2.20, US$7 and 12 respectively).

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

Internet access areas of broadband speeds are plentiful in city malls, much less so outside the cities, but are growing at a rapid pace. Internet surfing rates depend primarily on where you surf and the medium used (e.g. WiFi or wired). Internet services offered by hotels and shopping malls are expensive and can go up to ₱200/hour (approximately US$5) but neighbourhood cafes can be as cheap as ₱15/hour (approximately US$0.35). Public place WiFi services in the Philippines is provided by Airborneaccess.net and WiZ is likely to cost ₱100 (approximately US$2) for up to an hour. Coffee shops like Starbucks[110] and Seattle's Best[111] as well as malls usually carry WiFi service some are free to use. Certain areas may also carry free WiFi. 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 comes both in postpaid and prepaid variants.

Mail

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.

WikiPedia:Philippines

Related Information




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A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [112].

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

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