ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippines (officially called the Republic of the Philippines) is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. 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 Filipino race is basically of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish, and Arab blood. The Philippines has a population of 92 million as of 2009.
Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese. Spain's colonization brought about the construction of Intramuros in 1571, a "Walled City" comprising of European buildings and churches, replicated in different parts of the archipelago. In 1898, after 350 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos succeeded in winning their independence.
In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous battle of Bataan and Corregidor which delayed Japanese advance and saved Australia. From 1941 to 1945, the Philippines was invaded by the Japanese. Independence was regained in 1946.
The Philippines has two official languages: Filipino and English. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education. The Philippines is the third largest English-speaking country in the world.
Eight (8) major dialects are spoken by majority of Filipinos: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense. There are around 78 major language groups, with more than 500 dialects.
On the average, November to February is cool, while March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy, with the months between July and September characterized by typhoons. Average temperature is 78 degrees F (25 degrees C); average humidity is 77%. For up-to-date weather information, visit the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Adminstration (PAGASA) website.
The currency in the Philippines is the Peso (P) and the Centavo. 100 centavos = P1. Coin denominations are: 1, 5, 10 and 25 centavos, P1, P5 and P10. Bill denominations are: 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1, 000 pesos. Foreign currency may be exchanged at banks, hotels, large department stores and authorized money changing shops.
For the latest foreign exchange rate, please visit this site.
Most large stores, restaurants, hotels and resorts accept major credit cards including American Express, Visa and MasterCard. Personal checks drawn on foreign banks are generally not accepted.
Most businesses and offices are open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays and 8:00 AM until 12 noon Saturdays. Lunch break is from 12 noon until 1:00 PM.
Malls and department stores are usually open from 10:00 AM until 9:00 PM everyday. Banks are open from 9:00 AM till 3:00 PM Mondays through Fridays, with no lunch break. When banking in the Philippines, it is advisable to have your passport with you for identification.