|Other Pages of Interest|
|1. GENERAL INFORMATION||Personal Search|
|2. CLIMATE & WEATHER CONDITIONS||Filipina Courtship Secrets|
|3. PEOPLE AND CULTURE||Immigration Information|
|4. LOCAL CUSTOMS||Travel Videos|
|5. CURRENCY||Personal Ads|
|6. THINGS TO KNOW||Specials|
|7. VISAS & PASSPORT||Calling Bargains|
|8. CUSTOMS REGULATIONS||Gift Ideas|
|9. TRAVEL TO THE COUNTRY||Flower Shop|
|10. TRAVEL WITHIN THE COUNTRY||More Introduction Sites|
|11. SIGHTSEEING||My Friends|
|12. DINING AND DRINKING||My Store|
|13. ENTERTAINMENT||Personal Tour|
|14. PHONE NUMBERS||My Site Story|
|15. VISITORS INFORMATION||? Why Older Men ?|
|16. USEFUL PHRASES||My Personal Story|
The Philippines were claimed in the name of Spain in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer sailing for Spain, who named the islands after King Philip II of Spain. They were then called Las Felipinas. The Americans took control of the Philippines upon defeating Spain in the Spanish-American war of 1898. During World War II, the islands were occupied by the Japanese. Toward the end of the war, the Americans returned, and following the war, the Philippines were granted independence.
The country known today as the Republic of the Philippines lies right in the heart of Southeast Asia, between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. The Philippines has 7,107 islands extending more than 1,700 kilometers (1,056mi) in the direction of the Equator.
The islands are divided into three main areas: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Luzon is the major northern island; it is there that you will find the capital, Manila. The Visayas, is the middle cluster of islands featuring tropical beaches scattered throughout warm seas. Mindanao is the southernmost group of islands and has a diverse topography. There are five major mountain systems and the same number of peninsulas as well as valleys, lakes and regions of dense forests and swamps.
A visit to the Philippines is a travel bargain. Your expenses are relatively low, and the offerings are varied with good facilities. Take your pick from the hectic city life of Manila or the unspoiled natural beauty of the countryside. The bonus is that, unlike many other destinations in Asia, the country is not overrun by tourism.
The climate of the Philippines is tropical with an average year-round temperature of 32ºC (90ºF). Summer is from March to May and is always hot and dry. The average daily maximum in summer ranges from 92 to 94ºF (33 to 34ºC). June to October is the wet season with heavy monsoonal rains and typhoons in most parts of the country. The coolest weather in the Philippines is from November to February, when the daily maximum is around 84 to 88ºF (29 to 31ºC).
Borders: South China Sea to the west and north, Pacific Ocean to the east and south.
Coastline: 207,749 miles (334,539km)
Terrain: Many of the islands in the Philippines are extinct volcanoes and atolls. On the larger islands are many mountains, tropical rain forests, rich valleys and swamp regions. There are narrow to extensive coastal lowlands. The Philippines does still have thermal activity consisting of active volcanoes and hot springs.
The country is marked by a true blend of cultures; truly in the Philippines, East meets West. The background of the people is Indonesian and Malay. There are Chinese and Spanish elements as well. The history of American rule and contact with merchants and traders culminated in a unique blend of East and West, both in the appearance and culture of the people of the Filipinos, or people of the Philippines.
Hospitality, a trait displayed by every Filipino, makes these people legendary in Southeast Asia. Seldom can you find such hospitable people who enjoy the company of their Western 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.
The Spaniards introduced Christianity (the Roman Catholic faith) and succeeded in converting the overwhelming majority of Filipinos. At least 80% of the total population belongs to the Roman Catholic faith.
The American occupation was responsible for teaching the Filipino people the English language. The Philippines is currently the third-largest English speaking country in the world.
Religion: 83% Roman Catholic, 9% Protestant, 5% Muslim, 3% Buddhist and other.
Filipinos place great emphasis on polite language and gentle conversation. Voice tone is always soft and gentle, and direct questions should be avoided.
Filipinos value their self-esteem, so never criticize or argue with them publicly. Most men, when so provoked, will fight for the preservation of their pride or self-esteem.
Avoid topics such as politics, religion, corruption and foreign aid. Filipinos enjoy conversations about their families.
Punctuality is expected for meetings, it is better to arrive a little late for a dinner invitation.
Greet business people with a handshake.
Women feel comfortable conducting business here, as sexual equality is more widespread in the Philippines than in other Asian countries.
Make sure you have your business cards, as Filipinos like to know who they are dealing with.
The unit of currency in the Philippines is the peso (P). Notes are issued by the Central Bank in denominations of P5, P10, P20, P50, P100, P500 and P1,000. Coins are issued for 5c (centavos), 10c, 25c, 50c, P1, P2 and P5. Last check the exchange was about 40 pesos per one US dollar.
Most foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks, hotels and authorized foreign exchange dealers. Outside of Manila, the use of the Philippine pesos for payments is preferred.
Travelers checks issued by American Express, Bank of Tokyo, Bank of America, Barclays and Citibank are widely accepted. Major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club can be used to pay for most goods and services. Usually you will receive the best exchange rate when you use your credit card. ( FYI you get about 7.5 Hong Kong dollars per 1 US dollar )
Population: over 75 million
Shop Hours: Most shops operate from 10am to 7:30pm daily and are closed on public holidays.
Bank Hours: Banks are open 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday and are closed on public holidays.
Time: Local time is GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) plus 8 hours. (13 hours ahead of NYC in USA - 12 if on "daylight savings" time)
Restaurants: Most upscale restaurants automatically add a 10% to 15% service charge to the total amount of the bill and a 4% to 10% sales tax for food and drinks. In restaurants, when no service charge has been added, at least 10% of the bill is expected as a tip.
Porters: In hotels, tip doormen and porters P10-P20.
Taxis: 10% of the final fare.
For most foreigners staying up to 21 days, entry visas are not required upon entering the country, provided visitors have valid passports and tickets to leave the Philippines. Visas are required only for stateless persons and citizens of countries with which the Philippines has no diplomatic relations. For visitors who are planning to stay more than 21 days, for up to 59 days, a temporary visitors visa is required, and registration with the Commission on Immigration and Deportation is necessary. Foreigners arriving from an area infected by plague, typhus or yellow fever are required to have valid vaccination and immunization certificates. Holders of Hong Kong and Taiwan passports need special entry permits. Visas and permits may be obtained from Philippine embassies and consulates.
Visitors are advised to fill in the Baggage and Currency Declaration Form before arrival to facilitate customs examination. For those with no currency or article to declare, BC Form 117, signed by the custom officer. serves as a gate pass.
Foreign currency more than US$3,000 must be declared at the Central Bank of the Philippines counter situated behind the customs examination area. Departing passengers are not allowed to take out foreign currency more than the amount that was brought in and declared. Local currency not exceeding P1,000 can be taken out of the country. Imported items brought in, and not to be taken out again upon leaving, are taxable.
Duty-Free Items: Two bottles (1 liter each) of alcoholic beverages, two reams (400 sticks) of cigarettes and two tins of smoking tobacco are allowed to be brought duty-free into the country.
Mactan International Airport
SHIP OR FERRY
|Sea travel is very slow but is considerably cheaper than flying. Touring the Philippines by boat is one of the pleasures of adventure travel in Southeast Asia. Your travel agent will have more details.|
The state run Philippine National Railways (PNR) has a provincial line that runs north to San Fernando, La Unión and south to Legaspi City, Albay. The central station is in Tutuban along Claro M. Recto Avenue.
Ships and Ferries
Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery
Maquinit Hot Springs
Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine
Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife
Rizal Memorial Park
Archdiocesan Museum of Manila
Ateneo Art Gallery
Central Bank Money Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Manila
Philippine Museum of Ethnology
One of the Filipino people's favorite pastime, especially in the provinces. is the cockfight. Cockfights are held every Sunday in several cockpits around Manila and are abundant in the provinces. The highly prized birds are fitted with sharpened blades and displayed to the highly emotional crowd before bets are verbally placed with the calador. This sport can get rather bloody and is offensive to many first time spectators.
The Philippine archipelago is reputed to have more sites for scuba diving than any other country in the world. With at least 28,000 square kilometers (10,808 sq.mi) of the best coral reefs, its undersea world has an incredible amount to offer a scuba diver. Warm, crystal-clear water in various shades of blue, with an amazing visibility to depths of up to 200 feet (61m). Beneath the waters are undiscovered reefs and mysterious shipwrecks waiting to be explored. There are many dive sites, diveshops, dive boat operators and dive tour operators; contact the tourist office for more detailed information.
Sportsfishing has become a very popular sport in the waters surrounding the Philippines. The country ranks 12th in the world for fish production, with almost two million square kilometers (770,000 sq.mi) of fishing grounds. Some 2,400 fish species inhabit these grounds, and many are perfect for sportsfishing. Big game fish such as the blue marlin and the giant tuna, as well as the smaller but very aggressive grouper, or lapu lapu, are also plentiful.
Imagine playing golf amid coconut palms, jungle foliage and deep gorges, or better yet, on a seaside golf course overlooking the South China Sea and Manila Bay. This is golf at its best - golf in the Philippines. Compared to other countries, green fees are unbelievably reasonable. In Metro Manila there are over 10 golf courses.
A wide choice of food establishments awaits visitors, whether they will be dining in Metro Manila or in the various provinces in the country. When in the Philippines, it is worth seeking out kamayan (eating with your hands) restaurants for a true cultural experience. Because of its coastline, the Philippines boasts of seafood galore. In fact, most restaurants offer seafood cooked one way or another. The most popular form of cooking, though, is broiling.
Filipino food is an intriguing blend of Malaysian, Chinese, Spanish and American cuisines. For instance, the use of coconut milk as an ingredient is a gastronomic legacy from the Filipinos' Malay ancestors. Popular dishes such as lumpia (egg rolls) and pancit (noodles) are Chinese. Even the country's most famous dish lechon (roast pig), originated in China. Some traditional dishes are still called by their Spanish names such as mechado (beef with pork fat), menudo (diced meat and potatoes stewed in tomato sauce) and pochero (pork, green beans, cabbage and other selected vegetables).
Within each region, you will find specialized dishes. Baguio is famous for serving the best in fruit and vegetables from the Trinidad Valley. Pamanga is known for tocino (sweet preserved meats), Bicol, the coconut-growing region, uses gata (coconut milk) in cooking, along with many spices. Don't miss Zamboanga for its excellent prawns, crabs and lobsters.
Ordering in restaurants is easy since the menus are in English, although most of the dishes are simply described by their method of cooking. Remember, you're not finished with your meal until you have had dessert. Choose from the wide variety of baked delights, Philippine-made ice-cream, or fresh fruits, since the Philippines offers one of Asia's largest selection of tropical fruits.
Beer in the country is probably the finest and the cheapest in the East. Locally brewed San Miguel Beer is very good; it is now being challenged by several new brews such as the lighter Carlsberg and less expensive Manila Beer. Five-year-old Tanduay and locally produced gins and vodkas are all first-class spirits.
People who live outside the larger towns often drink tuba, a very strong coconut wine, rather than the more expensive beers or liquors. The alcohol content is not very high, but the effect is very similar to that of tequila. Lambanog is boiled tuba distilled in the true Kentucky moonshine manner. Tapey is an alcoholic beverage made from rice or corn, popular with the hill tribes of northern Luzon. Basi, a homemade wine from Ilocos Norte, is made from sugarcane juice to which barks and berries have been added.
Filipino musicians are among the best in Asia. Metro Manila bustles with nightlife and is often heralded as Asia's entertainment capital. There is a wide variety of music to choose from: pop, rock, jazz or Broadway, as well as a wide range of bistros, nightclubs, pubs, bars and cafes at which you can hear it. Traditional Filipino music and dance are offered at theaters or hotel restaurants where cultural dance troupes perform regularly. For the culturally inspired, the Cultural Center of the Philippines is your best bet.
Fire and Ambulance: 7575
24-Hour Tourist Assistance Hotlines: Tel 501728 or 501660
International Access Code: 00
Country Code: 63
Using Public Phones: To make a call from a pay phone, lift the receiver and deposit three 25-centavo coins. Wait for the dial tone, which is normally delayed by a few seconds. You can then dial the number of the party you need to call. There is no time limit for a phone call. Be prepared for bad connections and crossed lines.
Only a few hotels have international direct dial. Where it exists, dial 10511, wait for an outside line and speak directly to an AT&T USA direct operator. For less expensive calls, use a credit card or call collect instead of going through a hotel operator.
National Direct Dialing service is provided for major cities in the Philippines. Dial 112 for direct dialing assistance, 108 for operator assisted international calls and 109 for local calls.
For directory assistance, dial 114. All operators speak English.
Department of Tourism
Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation
Department of Tourism
DOT/PCVC (Department of Tourism/Philippine
Highmount House, Level 6
21/F, Regent Centre
2/F, Dainan Bldg.
556 Fifth Ave.