Republic of the Philippines
An archipelago of 7,107 islands!
The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines (Filipino: Republika ng Pilipinas), is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam. The Sulu Sea to the southwest lies between the country and the island of Borneo, and to the south the Celebes Sea separates it from other islands of Indonesia. It is bounded on the east by the Philippine Sea. Its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and its tropical climate make the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons but have also endowed the country with natural resources and made it one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. An archipelago comprising 7,107 islands, the Philippines is categorized broadly into three main geographical divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Its capital city is Manila.
The Philippines is a constitutional republic with a presidential system of government. It is governed as a unitary state with the exception of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which is largely free from the national government. The President functions as both head of state and head of government and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote for a single six-year term, during which he or she appoints and presides over the cabinet.
Philippine culture is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. The Philippines exhibits aspects found in other Asian countries with a Malay heritage, yet its culture also displays a significant amount of Spanish and American influences. Philippine cuisine has evolved over several centuries from its Malayo-Polynesian origins to become a mixed cuisine with many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian influences that have been adapted to local ingredients and the Filipino palate to create distinctively Filipino dishes. Philippine mythology has been handed down primarily through the traditional oral folk literature of the Filipino people. While each unique ethnic group has its own stories and myths to tell, Hindu and Spanish influence can nonetheless be detected in many cases. Various sports and pastimes are popular in the Philippines. Traditional Filipino games such as luksung baka, patintero, piko, and tumbang preso are still played primarily as children’s games among the youth.
Other places and informational links for the Philippines:
Philippine culture is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. The Philippines exhibits aspects found in other Asian countries with a Malay heritage, yet its culture also displays a significant amount of Spanish and American influences.
One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish names and surnames among Filipinos. However, a Spanish name and surname does not necessarily denote Spanish ancestry. This peculiarity, unique among the people of Asia, came as a result of a colonial decree, the Clavería edict, for the systematic distribution of family names and implementation of the Spanish naming system on the population.
The common use of the English language is an example of the American impact on Philippine society. It has contributed to the ready acceptance and influence of American pop cultural trends. This affinity is seen in Filipinos’ love of fast food, film, and music. Fast food outlets are found on many street corners. Filipinos regularly listen to and watch contemporary American, Asian, and European music and film just as they enjoy Original Pilipino Music (also known as OPM) and local films.
A passport is required for all visitors and tourists to enter. But unless you plan on staying for more than 30 days, you do not need a visa as long as your passport is valid for at least 6 months and you have a valid return ticket.
The transportation infrastructure in the country is relatively underdeveloped. Nevertheless there are many ways to get around, especially in urban areas. Buses, jeepneys, taxis, and motorized tricycles are commonly available in major cities and towns.
Train services are provided by three main railway networks that serve different areas of Metro Manila and parts of Luzon: the Manila Light Rail Transit System (LRT), the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT), and the Philippine National Railways (PNR).
As an archipelago, inter-island travel via watercraft is often necessary. The busiest seaports are Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga. Passenger ships and other sea vessels such as those operated by Superferry, Negros Navigation, and Sulpicio Lines serve Manila, with links to various cities and towns. Some rivers that pass through metropolitan areas, such as the Pasig River and Marikina River, have air-conditioned commuter ferries.
There are 85 public airports in the country.