P h i l i p p i n e s

The Land || History || The People || Visas || Customs || Currency || Weather || Clothing ||
Newspapers & Media || Business Hours< || Language || Getting Around || Modes of Transport ||
Weather Conditions || Things to Know || Sightseeing || Museums and Art || Further Information

The Land
The Philippines
is an archipelagic nation made up of 7,107 islands spanning 1,840 kilometers north to south. It is part of the East Indies, a vast island group Iying south and east of mainland Asia, with Taiwan at it northernmost coast and Borneo on the south. The three main Philippine island groups are Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

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.

The Philippines 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.

Situated on the crossroads of Asia, on the eastern rim of the China Sea, the Philippines has hosted voyagers, migrants and traders since the dawn of history. That it was the center of Iively Asian trade route that stretched all the way to China and Japan can be seen from the relics these early visitors left behind. Among our archaeological treasures is a Neolithic spirit boat typical of early Southeast Asian culture.

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.

The People
Halo-halo is a Filipino word that means mixture. While it describes a popular dessert, it could also describe the Filipino. They look like Asians, write and speak English like Americans, worship like Spaniards, and have an outlook that is international.

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.

If you are coming from America Asia or Europe and hold a valid passport . and either a return ticket or a ticket to another destination outside the Philippines you may enter without a formal visa and stay for 21 days. If you wish to stay longer you must obtain a Visa Extension either before your trip from a Philippine Consulate or Embossy or, once here, from Bureau of Immigration.

Upon Arriving: Visitors are allowed to bring in duty free personal belongings two cartons of cigarettes or two tins of pipe tobacco and up to one liter of alcohol. Balikbayans have separate rules and should check with the Embassy or Consulate in their home city.

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.

The currency in the Philippines is the Centavo and the Peso (P). 100 centavos = P1. Coin denominations are: 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos, P1, P2 and P5. Bill denominations are : 5 ,10 20 ,50, 100, 500 and 1, 000 pesos.

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.

The Philippines is tropical with just two seasons hot and dry from November to June and rainy from July to October. Filipinos will tell you that it is cool from December through February and they themselves will wear jackets.

People in the Philippines dress for the weather (HOT!) Casual attire during the day for women are light blouses and shorts. For men collared T- shirts worn over slacks. In the evening skirts are substituted for shorts and the T-shirts are tucked in.

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

Electricity is 220 volts a/c. Many of the major tourist hotels also have 110 volt a/c outlets.

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.

Some Important Telephone Numbers:
Police & Fire: 757 or 116 24-Hour Tourist
Emergence No.: 501- 650 or 501- 728
Directory Assistance: 114
National Operator: 109
International Operator: 108
Direct Dialing Assist once: 112

For other emergency numbers, please refer to Directory.
NOTE: It is advisable to always have the telephone number and the address of your embassy or consulate with you.

Newspapers & Other Media
The newspapers in the Philippines have been called the freest in the world, as you will see for yourself, with more than 24 different morning papers to choose from, most of them in English. There is also a wide selection of magazines printed in English including Time, Newsweek and Asiaweek. In Metro Manila you can buy the Asian Wall Street Journal, The International Herald Tribune and USA Today.

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.

Business Hours
Most businesses are open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays and 8:00 AM till noon Saturdays.

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.

While there are over 100 regional languages in the Philippines, the national language is Filipino, with English as the most widely spoken second language. All business, governmental and legal transactions are conducted in English.

Getting Around
There are four modes of public transport in Metro Manila and surprisingly, they are easy to use.

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.

Toxis: 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
Most of the major car rental agencies, including AVIS, Budget, and Hertz have offices in Metro Manila and carry a full line of vehicles from jeeps to limousines. All vehicles may be rented with or without a driver. If you wish to do your own driving you must have a valid foreign or international license.

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.


Climate: Tropical (two seasons)
Dry Season:
March -May (warm) 33-34 C
Wet Season:
June- October (monsoonal)
November -February (coolest) 29-31C
Coastline: 334,539km
Terrain: Many of the islands in the Philippines are extinct volcanoes and atolls. On the larger islands, many mountains, rainforests, rich valleys and swamp regions. The Philippines still does have thermal activity consisting of active volcanoes and hot springs.


Population: 67,114,060
Language: Tagalog (Pilipino dialect) is the National Language. The American occupation was responsible for teaching the English Language. The Philippines is currently the third largest English speaking country in the world.
Currency: peso(P). Notes are issued in denominations of P5, P10, P20, P50, P100, P500, P1000. Coins are issued for 5c(centavos), 10c, 25c, 50c, p1, p2, p5.
Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks, hotels and authorized exchanged dealers. Outside of Manila payments are preferably made in pesos.
Major Travellers Cheques are widely accepted.
Major Credit Cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Diners Club) can be used to pay for most goods and services.
Bank Hours Banks are open 9am-3pm Mon-Fri (except public holidays).
Shop Hours Most shops operate 10am-7.30pm daily (except public holidays)
Time : Local time is GMT plus 8 hours.
Business English is the language used. Sexual equality is more widespreed in the Philippines then in other Asian countries. Make sure you have business cards.


Castle Manila: A replica mid 19th C house, recreating the Intramuros lifestyle of upper class Filipinos at this time.
Corner Real and General Lunar Street.
Intramuros. Manila
Luzon, Tel (02) 487 754
Chocolate Hills : Bohol’s most famous attraction: the area is named because of the rich grass which covers them turns brown in summer.
Carmen Town, Bohol
Colo’n Street: The oldest street in the Philippines located in the heart of Cebu.
Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery: The only underground cemetery in the Philippines ; it served as a meeting place for the revolutionary leaders in Laguna.
Luzon, Tel (02) 599-031.
Magellan’s Cross: The most historically famous landmark in Cebu. Planted by Magelan in 1521, it marks the place where the first Christian Filipinos were baptized.Cebu.


Katibawasan Falls: These 250 feet falls cascade down to a pool surrounded by orchids and other rich tropical flora- 4 km from Mambajao.
Maquinit Hot Springs : Located on a scenic beach corner, this is the premium hot spring in the Philippines.
Hidden Valley: A natural recluse is created within this 90m crater . A haven for lush jungle life, natural springs and still water pools. Accommodation available
Alaminos, Laguna.
Luzon, Tel (02) 571 872
Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife: Quezon Avenue.
Quezon City.
Rizal Memorial Park: Within the lush park there are monuments, a scating rink and adventure playground. free concerts are on every Sunday.
Ermita, Manila.

* For further information contact Department of Tourism on Tel: (02) 599 031


Museums & art galleries Ateneo Art Gallery Quezon City Tel: (02) 998 721
Metropolitan Mueseum of
Manila Tel: (02) 832 3645
National Mueseum Manila Tel: (02) 494 450
Villa Escudero San Pablo City, Quezon City Tel: (02) 521 8698


Visa and Passport No Visas are required for foreigners entering the country for a stay no longer than 21 days , 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 have no diplomatic relations. A temporary visitors visa is required for those who are planning to stay up to 59 days. Vacination certificates may be neccesary for long term stays. Holders of Hong Kong and Taiwan passports need special permits. All visas and permits may be obtained from Philippine embassies and consulates.
Duty Free Items: Two 1 litre bottles of alchohol, and two cartons of cigarettes are allowed.
Air Travel to the Country : Ninoy Aquino International Airport (7 km from city centre)
Ninoy Aquino Avenue
Manila, Ph: (02) 832 2938

Mactan International Airport
Cebu, Ph: (02) 831 4006

(Most major airlines have flights to the country).



Deptartment of Tourism: T.M. Kalaw Street
Rizal Park
Metro Manila
P.O. Box 3451
Tel: (02) 599031
Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporatiom: 4th Floor, Suites 10-17
Legasi Towers
300 Roxas Boulevard
Metro Manila
P.O. Box EA-459
Tel: (02) 575031
Department of Tourism : Ninoy Aquino International Airport

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