Thursday, September 29, 2011

About the Philippines

  • The Republic of the Philippines, also known as "the Pearl of the Orient", is an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total land area of approximately 300,000 square kilometers and is just a little more than 1,200 kilometers away from mainland Asia. It is a tropical archipelago with thousands of coconut and palm tree lined white sand beaches and Adventure Tours to take you there.
  • The Philippines is a founding and active member of the United Nations. The Philippines is also a founding and prominent member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an active member in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Group of 24. The Philippines is a major non-NATO ally of the United States.
  • The Philippines is divided into three major island groups: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Manila, on the island of Luzon, is the country's capital and is the second largest city after Quezon City, also in Luzon.
  • Philippine  weather is hot, humid, and tropical. This is mainly the reason why Philippine tourism is booming as westerners try to escape the cold weather, taking refuge in the Philippines' abundant beaches filled with coconut trees and white sand. The average yearly temperature is around 26.5 degrees Celsius. The 3 seasons are: the hot season or summer from March to May, the rainy season from June to November, and the cold season from December to February.
  • The highest point in the Philippines is Mount Apo in Davao at 2,954 meters above sea level. Many volcanoes in the country, such as Mount Pinatubo, are active. The Philippines is also across the typhoon belt of the Western Pacific and is hit by an average of 20 typhoons per year.

Ethnologue lists 175 individual languages in the Philippines, 171 of which are living languages while 4 no longer have any known speakers. They are part of the Borneo–Philippines group of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, which is itself a branch of the Austronesian language family.

Filipino and English are the official languages. Filipino is a de facto version of Tagalog, spoken mainly in Metro Manila and other urban regions. Both Filipino and English are used in government, education, print, broadcast media, and business.
More than 90% of the population are Christians: about 80% belong to the Roman Catholic Church while 10% belong to other Christian Denominations.
There are many ways to get around, especially in urban areas. Buses, jeepneys, taxis, and motorized tricycles (tricycle) are commonly available in major cities and towns.

Mass Rail Transit/MRT

Visa and Other Entry Requirements
  • You’ll only be allowed into the Philippines if your passport is valid for at least six months after arrival, and must show proof of onward or return passage.
  • No visa is necessary for citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the European Union and the United States, for a stay not exceeding 21 days. Should you wish to stay longer, a Visa Extension should be obtained before your trip from a Philippine Consulate or Embassy, or from the Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines.
  • Holders of Taiwanese Passports and Hong Kong Certificates of Identity must get a special entry permit.

  • Visitors are allowed to bring in their personal belongings duty free, as well as two cartons of cigarettes or two tins of pipe tobacco, up to one liter of alcohol, and an unlimited amount of foreign currency. Rules may be different for returning citizens (balikbayans) – if in doubt, check with the Embassy or Consulate in your home city.
  • Any antiques you plan to depart with must must be accompanied by a certificate from the National Museum. You are also forbidden from bringing more than PhP5,000.00 (five thousand Philippine pesos) out of the country.

  • The Philippines has certain safety and security issues that should be of paramount concern to any traveler. In big cities like Manila, grinding poverty makes crimes like kidnapping and theft a sadly commonplace occurrence.
  • Terrorism by extremist groups is also a concern: groups like Abu Sayyaf have a history of kidnapping foreign tourists, and terrorist bombings have taken place in Manila and Mindanao’s most crowded transport hubs and public places.
Travel Alert: Due to the uncertain political situation in Mindinao, including the Zamboanga Peninsula and the Sulu Archipelago, travel to these areas is not advised. Check Safe Travel for current government warnings.

Money Matters
  • The currency in the Philippines is the Peso (PhP), divided into 100 Centavos. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos, P1, and P5, and notes in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1, 000 pesos. Click here to see the peso's exchange rate against the US dollar.
  • All commercial banks, most large hotels, and some malls are authorized to exchange foreign currency.
  • American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa credit cards are widely accepted across the country. Travelers’ checks (preferably American Express) are accepted at hotels and large department stores.

The Philippines is one of the great treasures of Southeast Asia. Often overlooked by travellers because of its location on the ‘wrong’ side of the South China Sea, the Philippines rewards those who go the extra distance to reach it. And because it’s off the beaten path, the Philippines is a great place to escape the hordes who descend on other parts of Southeast Asia. First and foremost, the Philippines is a place of natural wonders – a string of coral-fringed islands strewn across a vast expanse of the western Pacific. Below sea level, the Philippines boasts some of the world’s best diving and snorkelling, including wreck diving around Coron and swimming with the whale sharks off Donsol. Above sea level, it has a fantastic landscape with wonders enough to stagger even the most jaded traveller: the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, Banaue & the Rice Terraces and fascinating reminders of the islands’ history in places such as Samar & Leyte and Vigan. And if you’re after palm-fringed, white-sand beaches, try laidback Sipalay or flat-out party town Boracay.

Of course, any traveller who has been here will tell you that it’s the people and their culture that makes the Philippines unique. Long poised at the centre of Southeast Asian trade, colonised by a succession of world powers, the Philippines is a vivid tapestry that reflects its varied cultural inheritance. And despite the poverty that afflicts much of the nation, the Filipinos themselves are among the most ebullient and easygoing people anywhere. The Philippines truly qualifies as one of the last great frontiers in Southeast Asian travel. Cross whichever ocean you need to and see for yourself.

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