|| History ||
The People || Visas
|| Customs || Currency
|| Weather || Clothing
Luzon is the island of contrasts. The most modern districts in the Philippines, including the capital city of Manila, are in Luzon, but so are some of the oldest tribal communities in the nation like the Ifugao of the Cordilleras. Luzon is also where a visitor can see the latest model luxury cars overtaking a carabao sled or modern skyscrapers within driving distance of primordial volcanos.
The Visayas is famous for its charm, a trait shared by many other southern regions in the world, but here seems to run deeper among a people who are intrinsically connected to their sun soaked island home. The Visayas is also famous as a seat of history, being one of the earliest Iandfalls of western voyagers. It has also gained a reputation as being a cradle of the nation's future, if the unprecedented economic growth of Cebu City continues.
Mindanao is our offering to the Guinness Book of Records with the world's largest clam, the world's largest Eagle, the nation's highest peak and the world's largest city. Mindanao is also home to the Philippines' Muslim population.
With a land mass of 300, 780 square kilometers, the Philippines is considered a medium- sized nation, about two- thirds the size of its first colonizer, Spain and a little larger than the British Isles. Manila is only one hour and 40 minutes from Hong Kong by jet; Sydney only 7 1/2 hours away. Flights to Europe take 17 hours and to the American west coast 15 hours.
has many things to offer the visitor: a mixture of the old and the new,
a diversity of art and culture and a warm, friendly people. Blessed by
nature, the Philippines has something to offer every sportsman
too . . . extraordinary dive sites, forests to roam, mountains to climb,
caves to explore.
The West discovered the Philippines when Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer who sailed for Spain, Ianded in Cebu in 1521. However, colonization didn't actually begin until 1565, when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi established a Spanish base in the town of Manila.
Because Philippine society was loosely organised, without a central government, the Spanish conquest was rapid and total. Only the Muslims in the south and some inaccessible hill tribes were able to resist Spanish influence. Along with the Spanish conquerors came a new religion, Christianity, a new language, new laws and the galleon trade.
Despite several uprisings against Spain, including the Katipunan, a revolutionary movement inspired by Dr. Jose Rizal and led by Andres Bonifacio, it was America that broke the Spaniard's grip on the Philippines. Unfortunately, that began the nation's second period of colonization. Once again there was resistance, this time led by Emilio Aguinaldo, but his rag-tag army was no match for Admiral Dewey's forces. In 1901, with Aguinaldo's capture, the Americans were entrenched.
The Americans brought over their educational system, their legal system and planted the seeds of their own style of government. In 1935, the Philippines became an American commonwealth country with Manuel Luis Quezon as president. The status quo ended with the Japanese Occupation and it wasn't until 1946, after the end of the Pacific war, that the Philippines finally regained true independence as the Republic of the Philippines under the presidency of Manuel Roxas. Still one of the strongest democracies in Asia, the current president is Fidel V. Ramos.
Like the Southern Chinese, the Thais, Malays, Indonesians and some Burmese, the modern-day Filipino traces his remotest genetic lines back to an Australoid and Mongoloid stock. You will also find a touch of Caucasian, Chinese, Indian and Arabic in their gene pool as well. But to truly understand the Filipino, you have to look at the land. The historic isolation between islands and the topographic isolation on each island,become the primary influence governing regional traits and societal behavior.
This diversity makes Filipinos all the more interesting. However, what is apparent isn't how different they are from each other, but rather how alike they are. Brought together by a common history and looking forward to a common future, it is not surprising to find a sharing of certain traits. Their warmth, grociousness and hospitality—all part of the Filipino psyche—will make your stay a delight.
You may bring in unlimited amount of foreign currency.
Upon Leaving: Any antiques you may have acquired during your stay must be accompanied by a certificate from the National Museum. You may also not take more than P5,000 out of the country.
Foreign currency may be exchanged at your hotel, most large department stores, banks and authorized money changing shops. Exchanging money anywhere else is illegal and the laws are strictly enforced.
Most large stores, restaurants , hotels and resorts accept major credit cards including American Express , Visas and MasterCard. Traveller' s checks preferably American Express are accepted at hotels and large department stores. Personal checks drawn on foreign banks are generally not accepted.
For Men Only: If you expect to have to attend any occasions which would usually require a jacket and tie (which is torture in this weather) there is a wonderful substitute. Go immediately to a department store and buy a barong tagalog. It is an embroidered shirt that is considered formal dress It will cost about P1,000,but it is worth every centavo
The water in Metro Manila and the other major cities are considered potable. Bottled spring water or mineral water is often supplied by hotels and resorts and sold in all grocery stores.
Telephone service is modern and you can direct dial anywhere in the world. Public phones are plentiful. The red public phones are 75 centavos (exact change only) for a local call. The modern silver public phones are P2 for a local call.
Important Telephone Numbers:
For other emergency numbers, please refer to Directory.
Newspapers & Other Media
Television is "on the air" from about noon to midnight, showing American programming as well as local programming. Channel 9 is now on 24 hours a day. The other standard channels are 2, 4, 5, 7, and 13. In some areas it is possible to receive Channel 21 which carries CNN News and ABC current events broadcasting. Channel 21 is a new station and its programming scope is constantly being enlarged. If you need more channels, most of the major hotels are on the STAR Satellite System bringing in TV programs from all over the world.
There is also AM and FM radio broadcasting with the pop stations primarily on AM in Filipino and the English language programs on FM.
Banks are open from 9:00 AM till 3:00 PM Monday through Friday. When banking in the Philippines, it is advisable to have your passport with you for identification.
The post offices are open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays only. Localpostage is P2 for a standard letter and P9 for letters to America and Europe. Stamps for postcards are frequently available from the Concierge Desk at most major hotels. The Philippines uses ZIP codes,please include them in addressing local mail.
NOTE: The Standard lunch hour is noon to 1:00 PM. Almost all businesses and government offices are closed.
Buses : Both air conditioned and regular buses travel all the major routes in Metro Manila except Roxas Boulevard. On an air-con bus a short ride is about P6, a moderate ride around P15 and a long ride out to the provinces about P25. The regular buses start at P1.50 and also increase in price for longer rides. Just tell the conductor where you are going and he will tell how much it is and give you a receipt. Keep the receipt as it is proof you paid.
Jeepneys : Called "folk arton wheels," jeepneys ply most of Manila's secondary roads and even a few major thoroughfares. They're as much fun to ride on as they are to look at and you have to try one. Although there are regular stops, you can often just flag one down and hop on. Call out bayad and pay the driver. If you are too far back, pass your P1.50 down. When you are ready to get off, call out para, wait till he slows down and jump.
The LRT : It's the fastest, cheapest way to go. P6 takes you from Monumento (the northern end of Edsa) to Baclaran, travelling first along Rizal Avenue and then Taft Avenue. Many of the tourist maps have the route of the LRT marked.
Air conditioned taxis cost P3.50 on the meter and additional P12.50 is
added to the final cost. Regular taxis cost P2.50 on the meter and then
add P7.50 to the final charge. Taxis are always lined up at the major
hotels and tourist restaurants and can be hailed on the street. If you
take a taxi, make sure the driver turns on the meter. If he gives you
a story that it is broken, get out and take another taxi. Unless you are
taking a long trip or traffic is unusually horrible, most taxi rides should
be well under P100. At least a 10% tip is expected.
Other Modes of Transport
Interisland transportation is provided by either airplane or ferry boat. Philippine Airlines services 43 major provincial airports. Aerolift Philippines and Pacific Airways are smaller carriers servicing more remote tourist destinations. For information about boat schedules, check with the Department of Tourism on T.M. Kalaw Street.