The Republic of the Philippines, for most world travelers, is as close to heaven as you can get. With dazzling sandy beaches, precious fields of rice, and tropical forests that burst with unimaginable wildlife, this country captivates all who set foot in it.
Rich in culture, this country seems as if it has taken the best from both the East and West. It spreads over 300,000 square kilometers, and 2 languages — Filipino and English — are recognized as official. The capital of the Philippines is Manila, and the official currency is the peso. Here, we’ll try to present this country in all its glory.
The amazing Republic of the Philippines holds the title of the second-largest archipelago on the planet. Here is what you should know about its geographic position:
1. The islands of the Philippines are surrounded by Celebes, Sulu, China, and the Philippine Sea. That gives them 36,289 kilometers of gorgeous coves, harbors, and brilliant beaches; this is the fifth-largest coastline in the world.
2. It unifies 7,100 islands which are divided into three areas. Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is settled on Luzon island. In the south, the greatest area is Mindanao, and the Visayas Islands are in the middle. These three regions are depicted as stars on the flag of the Philippines.
3. The country is on the west side of the Ring of Fire in the Pacific ocean. Every day, around 20 earthquakes strike it, yet most of those are so weak you cannot feel them. It is home to hundreds of volcanoes, and the three most active ones are Taal Volcano, Mayon Volcano, and Mount Pinatubo.
The exoticism of this place lies as much in its history as in its location. You should know that:
4. The first inhabitants of the Philippines were prehistoric nomadic tribes known as the Negritos.
5. For more than 3 centuries, the Philippines was a Spanish colony. The colonization started with Magellan’s explorations in 1521. In 1543, Villalobos named the archipelago after King Philip II of Spain.
6. In 1898, the Philippines were ceded from Spain to the U.S. as a settlement of the war, and the United States started assimilating Muslims by force.
7. When WWII started (1941), Japan occupied the archipelago, yet the U.S. managed to win it back in 1944. The islands got their independence and became a republic in 1946, which made them the first country to accomplish this in Southeast Asia.
8. Unfortunately, some facts about the Philippines are not fun. This country witnessed extremists attacks by an organization called MILF (The Moro Islamic Liberation Front) which resulted in two major massacres in 2001.
The culture of the Philippines has grown under many different influences — from Malay through Spain to the U.S.
9. There are around 184 languages spoken in this country, yet, as we have mentioned, the official languages are Tagalog (Filipino) and English.
10. They inherited “bayanihan” (the spirit of the community) from their Austronesian ancestors. This is a concept which stands for Filipinos’ willingness to help one another in times of need without expecting a reward. You can see Chinese influence in the way they cultivate the bond with their family members.
11. More than 80% of Filipinos are of Roman Catholic denomination. They honor their patron saint by organizing fiestas, and the best-known ones are the Sinology and Moraines.
12. Two traditional folk dances of the Philippines are the “tinkling” and the “sigil,” and they are preserved by the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company. They involve jumping patterns and bamboo poles.
13. On special occasions, Filipinos wear national costumes. Women wear long dresses that have butterfly sleeves and wide skirts called “tern,” and men wear “barong tagalong,” which is a shirt made of pineapple pulp, and slacks.
14. Around 28% of the population belong to the Tagalog tribe, 12% are Cebuano, and Hiligaynon, Bicol, and the Visayas take around 10% of the population each. There is 25% of the non-tribal population.
15. Adobo is considered a national meal of the Philippines. This is a stew made of chicken or pork with vinegar, soya sauce, peppercorns, and garlic. The term “adobo,” in the Spanish language, means sauce, but don’t let the Spanish name fool you; it was domestic on the islands before the colonists came.
16. Rice is a basic component of Filipino diet.
17. Mandatory education in this country includes 6 years of elementary and 4 years of high school. The University of San Carlos has been opened in 1595, and in 1611, the University of Santo Tomas was opened in Manila.
18. All Christmas lovers would appreciate the Philippines during the holidays. Starting in September and ending in January, it is filled with many feasts and celebrations.
Since 2014, the population of the Philippines has formally reached the number of 100 million people. Now, half of its population lives on Luzon, and the most densely populated area is the city of Manila. Here is what you should know about the fine (and some not so fine) people of the Philippines:
19. 25% of all nurses overseas arrive from the Republic of the Philippines.
20. Sadly, they struggle with human trafficking. The dreadful statistics show that 375,000 young girls are included in the gruesome sex trade.
Additional Interesting Information
21. The Philippines is also the second-biggest geothermal energy producer in the world.
22. These islands are the habitat of more than 100 mammal and 170 bird species that can only be found there. Many of those are endemic. And in the last decade, scientists have discovered 16 new mammal species.
23. Deforestation is one of the biggest problems.
24. Filipinos recognize their rice terraces of Cordilleras as the 8th world wonder. As they have been estimated to be older than 2,000 years, UNESCO included them into precious world heritage.
25. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River in the province of Palawan, which stretches over eight kilometers, is the second-longest river underground on the planet.
26. The Philippines is also the homeland of the longest reptile in the world — the Reticulated Python — that can grow up to 29 feet.
27. Manila got its name from a tree with white flowers in the shape of a star known by the name of Niland. This plant is also referred to as indigo tree because it produces a blue dye.
28. American soldiers’ slang term “boondocks,” which is used for people who live in isolation, has its roots in the Tagalog word “bundok,” meaning “mountain.”
29. Here, you can find three of the ten largest shopping malls on the planet: SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, and SM North Edsa.
30. The modern yo-yo toy was the invention of Pedro Flores from the Philippines. It was based on the studded weapon attached to a rope that was used for hunting. The name of the toy means “come back,” and it originates from Ilocano language.
31. Erythromycin was an invention of Abelardo Aguilar, a Filipino doctor, from 1949. The pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly patented it, and ever since, it has been used for persons who are allergic to penicillin.
32. In 1975, the 1st karaoke machine was by Roberto del Rosario, who named it “Sing-Along System.” Later, its name was translated by Japanese as “karaoke.”
33. The first Filipino president that came to power by the election, Ferdinand Marcos, passed in 1989 but wasn’t buried until 2016 because the officials could not decide if his resting place should be with other presidents or not.
The Republic of the Philippines is an unusual fusion of different traditions. This colorful land has so much to offer, both in cultural heritage and nature. From volcanoes through forests to beaches, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
However, even a paradise such as this can have many issues, from deforestation and corruption to horrific human trafficking. These worldwide problems cast a shadow on all of us. That is why, aside from knowing fun facts, it is crucial to be aware of the other side of the coin and try to contribute toward finding a solution.