Philippine culture is a unique and interesting melting pot of Asian European and American influences. The Philippines exhibits aspects found in other Asian countries with a Malay heritage, yet its culture also displays a significant number of Spanish and American influences. Traditional festivities known as barrio fiestas (district festivals) to commemorate the feast days of patron saints are common. These community celebrations are times for feasting, music, and dancing. The Ati-Atihan, Moriones and Sinulog festivals are a couple of the most well known events. Some traditions, however, are changing or gradually being forgotten due to modernization. The Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company has been lauded for preserving many of the various traditional folk dances found throughout the Philippines.
One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish names and surnames among Filipinos; a Spanish name and surname, however, does not necessarily denote Spanish ancestry. This peculiarity, unique among the people of Asia, came as a result of a colonial edict by Governor-General Narciso Clavería y Zaldua, which ordered the systematic distribution of family names and implementation of Hispanic nomenclature on the population. The names of many streets, towns, and provinces are also in Spanish. Very few Filipinos though speak Spanish.
The common use of the English language is an example of the American impact on Philippine society. It has contributed to the ready acceptance and influence of American pop cultural trends. This affinity is seen in Filipinos’ love of fast food, of American movies and music and of sports like basketball and pool billiard. Fast food outlets are found on many street corners. American global fast food chain stalwarts have entered the market, but local fast food chains like Goldilocks and most notably Jollibee, the leading fast food chain in the country, have emerged and compete successfully against their foreign rivals.
The Philippines’ rainforests and its extensive coastlines make it home to a diverse range of birds, plants, animals, and sea creatures. [It is one of the ten most biologically diverse countries. Around 1,100 land vertebrate species can be found in the Philippines including over 100 mammal species and 170 bird species not thought to exist elsewhere. The Philippines has among the highest rates of discovery in the world with sixteen new species of mammals discovered in the last ten years. Because of this, the rate of endemism for the Philippines has risen and likely will continue to rise. Native mammals include the tamaraw, the Philippine eagle, the palm civet cat, the dugong and the cloud rat. The famous Philippine tarsier is found on Bohol.
Although the Philippines lack large mammalian predators, it does have some very large reptiles such as pythons and cobras, together with gigantic saltwater crocodiles. In 2016 Travel Authentic Philippines organized a herpetology tour. It focused on snakes.
The largest crocodile in captivity, known locally as Lolong, was captured in the southern island of Mindanao. The national bird, known as the Philippine eagle has the longest body of any eagle.
Philippine maritime waters have unique and diverse marine life, an important part of the Coral Triangle. The total number of corals and marine fish species was estimated at 500 and 2,400 respectively. New records and species discoveries continuously increase these numbers underlining the uniqueness of the marine resources in the Philippines. The Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993.
With an estimated 13,500 plant species in the country, 3,200 of which are unique to the islands, Philippine rainforests boast an array of flora, including many rare types of orchids and rafflesia. Deforestation, often the result of illegal logging, is an acute problem in the Philippines. Forest cover declined from 70% of the Philippines’s total land area in 1900 to about 18.3% in 1999. Many species are endangered. Scientists say that Southeast Asia, which the Philippines is part of, faces a catastrophic extinction rate of 20% by the end of the 21st century.
The average yearly temperature is around 26.6 °C. In considering temperature, location in terms of latitude and longitude is not a significant factor. Whether in the extreme north, south, east, or west of the country, temperatures at sea level tend to be in the same range. Altitude usually has more of an impact. The average annual temperature of Baguio at an elevation of 1,500 meters above sea level is 18.3 °C. This makes it a popular destination during hot summers. Sitting astride the typhoon belt, most of the islands experience annual torrential rains and thunderstorms from July to October. Around nineteen typhoons enter the Philippine area of responsibility in a typical year with eight or nine making landfall.
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Currency and ATMs:
The Philippine peso, also referred to by its Filipino name piso, is the official currency of the Philippines. It is subdivided into 100 centavos or sentimos in Filipino. As a former colony of the United States, the country used English on its currency, with the word “peso” appearing on notes and coinage until 1967. Since the adoption of the usage of the Filipino language on banknotes and coins, the term “piso” is now used.
You won’t have a problem finding an ATM in major Philippine cities, especially in Metro Manila. Your best bet is to enter any mall and you’ll find at least one ATM there. Most ATMs charge a fee for withdrawing money. This is usually in the range of 150-200 PHP. Some local bank ATMs will also have a withdrawal limit, which ranges from Php4, 000 to P20, 000 per withdrawal, and may also impose a limit of 2 withdrawals per day.
Some ATMs may run out of money on weekends, paydays (10th/15th and 25th/30th of the month), just before and during national holidays. There are also long queues on the mentioned days.
A lot of the newer machines will return your card right after you enter your PIN, before your transaction is complete. Keep your card and continue with your withdrawal. Bring cash in the local currency to all remote places. Some rural areas may not even have a bank.
Visit your physician at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures.
Mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis (JE) and chikungunya virus occur all year round. There were increased levels of dengue cases in 2016. There’s a heightened risk of dengue fever during the rainy season (June to October). You should take appropriate precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Although adequate in major cities, medical care is limited in more remote areas. Even some of the more popular tourist destinations have limited and basic medical provisions. This may result in a delay when seeking urgent medical attention in an emergency.
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
As the strains of malaria, and the drugs used to combat them, frequently change, and as certain strains can become drug resistant, it is best to seek medical advice before your departure and take any medication prescribed. Pregnant or very young children are not advised to travel to malarial areas.
Other precautions are: to wear long sleeves, socks, closed shoes, and generally keep the body covered, to sleep with a mosquito net and to use mosquito coils and repellent.
Many passport holders do not require a visa to enter the Philippines and get 21 days visa free.
Please check the most recent guidelines with us as these can change.
Manila Ninoy Aquino Airport
Puerto Princesa Airport
Ilo Ilo Airport
General Santos Airport
Subic Bay Airport
Currency: Philippine peso
Population: 103 million
Official languages: English, Filipino