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Southeast Asia : Philippines
Revision as of 10:30, 4 January 2011 by SONORAMA (Talk | contribs)

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Quick Facts
Capital Manila
Government Republic
Currency Philippine peso (₱,PHP)
Area total: 300,000 km2
water: 1,830 km2
land: 298,170 km2
Population 91,983,000 (2009 est.)
Language English and Filipino (based on the Tagalog language) are the two official languages. There are about 8 major languages, 76 to 78 major language groups, with more than 170 distinct languages.Optional language Spanish and Arabic
Religion Christianity 91% (Roman Catholic 82%, Protestant 9%), Islam 5%, Buddhism 3% and other 1%.
Electricity 220V 50Hz (in Baguio 110V with transformers)
Country code +63
Internet TLD .ph
Time Zone UTC +8
Manila bay skyline

The Philippines [1] (Filipino: Pilipinas) is an archipelago in South-East Asia. The nation consists of 7,107 islands located between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam, and north of Sabah and Borneo, combine all its beaches it forms one of the world's longest coastlines and it takes about 2 to 3 decades to visit and experience every island. Since Spanish colonial times, the country is considered to be Asia's largest Catholic country. Over a hundred ethnic groups, a mixture of foreign influences and a fusion of culture and arts have enhanced the uniqueness of the Filipino identity and the wonder that is the Philippines.

The Chocolate Hills of Bohol



First steps

Several thousand years ago, the first settlers in the Philippines crossed shallow seas and land bridges from the mainland Asia to arrive in this group of islands. These were the Negritos or Aetas. Direct descendants of these people can still be found in Zambales province to the North of Manila. Several thousand years later, they were then followed by Austronesian settlers travelling the same route as the Negritos but this time over sea in their impressive Balangay boats. This word is where the basic form of political institution, the baranggay, came from. The settlers are believed to originate from neighbouring countries notably Malaysia and Indonesia.

Pre-Spanish era

After the first Filipinos settled in the islands, they traveled further Pacific. The early Austronesians of the Philippines simultaneously traded with each other as well as with the Chinese, Japanese, Okinawans, Indians, Thais, Arabs and other Austronesians of present-day Malaysia and Indonesia. An interesting mix of cultures developed in the islands, and a writing system called baybayin or alibata, as well as a social structure developed quickly, some of the traders stayed and married the natives. Hinduism and Buddhism was introduced by traders from India, Sumatra and Java. These two religions syncretized with the various indigenous animistic beliefs. Later, Arab, Malay and Javanese traders converted the natives, mainly in the island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago to Islam. Later then Indianized kingdoms associated with the Srivijaya Kingdom and Islamic sultanates came to rise in the country.

Spanish and British rule

When the explorer Ferdinand Magellan set foot on Philippine soil through the island of Homonhon in 1521, the Philippines was predominantly animist, with some Muslim and Hindu inhabitants mainly in the southern part of the country. Famished, Magellan's crew were treated to a feast by the welcoming islanders who wore elaborate gold jewelry. Magellan was Portuguese but it was a Spanish Expedition which he led to the islands which were eventually claimed by Spain as its colony. Lapu-Lapu was against the Christianization of the natives, he then fought a battle with Magellan where Lapu-Lapu won while Magellan was killed. The Philippines was later on named for Crown Prince Philip II of Spain and most of the natives converted to Catholicism. Some Muslims in the south and various animistic mountain tribes, however, resisted Spanish conquest and Catholic conversion.

The longest revolt against Spanish colonization was led by Francisco Dagohoy in Bohol which lasted for 85 years covering the period of 1744-1829. As a cabeza de barangay or barangay captain, Dagohoy opposed the Spanish colonizers which were represented by priests and civil leaders, which required payment of excessive taxes, tributes. They also oppresed the Philippines' natives by not subjecting them as slaves and sending them to prison for disobeying rules. The Manila Galleon trade made contact between the country and Mexico as well as the whole of the Americas, Mayans and Aztecs settled in modern day Mexico, Pampanga and introduced their cultures which then was embraced by the Filipinos, other Asians used the Manila Galleon trade in order to migrate to the West. During the Spanish rule, people such as the Dutch, Portuguese and British tried to colonize the country, however only the British did so and it lasted for 2 years in the modern-day capital; Manila. The Philippines remained a Spanish colony for over 300 years until 1899 when it was ceded by Spain to the United States following the Spanish-American War.

Colonization strikes again

The Filipinos declared independence on June 12, 1898 and resisted the American occupation and colonization and fought the Americans for seven years until the Filipinos surrendered which completed the colonization of the Philippines. The American presence remained until World War II when Japan invaded the Philippines. The Japanese occupation lasted from 1941 to 1945 when Gen. Douglas McArthur fulfilled his promise and liberated the country from the Japanese. In 1946, the Philippines was granted full independence by the U.S., although they maintained a military presence in the country through the Subic Naval Base in Zambales and Clark Air Base in Angeles City. These facilities were ultimately returned to the Philippines in the early 1990's.

Pre-Modern Era

Up until the 1960's, the Philippines was second only to Japan in terms of development in Asia. Several decades of rule by Ferdinand Marcos plunged the country into deep debt. Poverty was widespread and infrastructure for development was severely lacking. In 1986, the People Power uprising finally overthrew the Marcos government. He was replaced by Corazon Aquino, widow of slain opposition leader, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr.

Modern era

Prior to the 21st Century, corruption became one of the main problems of the country. The country suffered slightly in the 1997 Asian Financial crisis but led to a second EDSA which overthrew Pres. Joseph Estrada, the then Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (daughter of one of the former presidents) took his place who will end her term this 2010. Growth in the Philippines is slow but it is hopefully catching up with its neighbours. On 2009, Typhoon Ketsana stormed the country, in just a day it flooded the whole of Metro Manila leaving casualties.


Luneta Park

As of 2008, the Philippines has a population estimated at 96 million. From its long history of Western occupation, 300 years by the Spaniards and 30 years by the Americans, its people have evolved as a unique blend of East and West in both appearance and culture. But Filipinos are largely Malay in terms of ethnic origin (Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian). However, many, particularly in the cities of Luzon and the Visayas, have heavy Chinese, Spanish, and American mixtures, whereas those living in the provinces are mostly of pure Austronesian origin (known as "native"). Many Muslims in Mindanao have Arab, Indian and Chinese mixtures. The four largest foreign minorities in the country are as follows: Chinese, Koreans, and Indian, and the Japanese. Also of significance are the Americans, Indonesians, and Arabs. Pure Spaniards, and other Europeans, form a very small proportion in the country's population.

Needless to say, the Filipino trait is a confluence of many cultures put together. Filipinos are famous for the bayanihan or spirit of kinship and camaraderie taken from Malay forefathers. They observe very close family ties which is said to have been passed on by the Chinese. Religion comes from the Spaniards who were responsible for spreading the Christian faith across the archipelago. The Spaniards introduced Christianity (Roman Catholicism) and succeeded in converting the overwhelming majority of Filipinos. At least 83% of the total population belongs to the Roman Catholic faith.

The genuine and pure expression of hospitality is an inherent trait in Filipinos, especially those who reside in the countryside who may appear very shy at first, but have a generous spirit, as seen in their smiles. Hospitality, a trait displayed by every Filipino, makes these people legendary in Southeast Asia. Guests will often be treated like royalty in Philippine households. This is most evident during fiestas when even virtual strangers are welcomed and allowed to partake in the feast that most, if not all, households have during the occasion. At times, this hospitality is taken to a fault. Some households spend their entire savings on their fiesta offerings and sometimes even run into debt just to have lavish food on their table. They spend the next year paying for these debts and preparing for the next fiesta. At any rate, seldom can you find such hospitable people who enjoy the company of their visitors. Perhaps due to their long association with Spain, Filipinos are emotional and passionate about life in a way that seems more Latin than Asian.

Filipinos lead the bunch of English-proficient Asian people today and English is considered as a second language. The American occupation was responsible for teaching the Filipino people the English language. While the official language is Filipino (which many incorrectly equate to Tagalog) and whereas 76-78 languages and 170 dialects exist in this archipelago, still English is the second most widely spoken language in the country.

The geographical and cultural grouping of Filipinos is defined by region, where each group has a set of distinct traits and dialects - the sturdy and frugal Ilocanos of the north, the industrious Tagalogs of the central plains, the loving and sweet Visayans from the central islands, and the colorful tribesmen and religious Muslims of Mindanao. Tribal communities or minorities are likewise scattered across the archipelago.

Also, it may seem peculiar for tourists to notice the Latin flair in Filipino culture. Mainstream Philippine culture compared to the rest of Asia is quite Hispanic and westernized at the surface level. But still, Filipinos are essentially Southeast Asians and many indigenous and pre-Hispanic attitudes and ways of thinking are still noticeable underneath a seemingly westernized veneer. Muslim Filipinos and indigenous groups, who have retained a fully Malayo-Polynesian culture unaffected by Spanish-influence, are also visible in cities like Manila, Baguio, Davao or Cebu, and can remind a visitor of the amazing diversity and multiculturalism present in the country.


San Agustin Church, Intramuros, Manila

The Philippines is not only the largest Christian country in Asia, but also it is the world's third largest Catholic Nation. The Catholic faith remains the single biggest legacy of three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule. Catholicism is still taken quite seriously in the Philippines. Masses still draw crowds from the biggest cathedrals in the metropolis to the smallest parish chapels in the countryside. During Holy Week, most broadcast TV stations close down or operate only on limited hours and those that do operate broadcast religious programs. The Catholic Church also still exerts quite a bit of influence even on non-religious affairs such as affairs of state. Mores are changing slowly, however; Filipinos are now slowly accepting what were previously taboo issues in as far as Catholic doctrine is concerned, such as artificial birth control, premarital sex, and the dissolution of marriage vows. 

The biggest religious minority are Muslim Filipinos who primarily live in Mindanao and ARMM, but also increasingly in cities such as Manila, Baguio or Cebu in the north and central parts of the country. They account for around 5% of the population. Islam is the oldest continually practiced organized religion in the Philippines, with the first conversions made in the 12th century AD. Islam became such an important force that Manila at the time of the Spanish arrival in the 16th century was a Muslim city. Many aspects of this Islamic past are seen in certain cultural traits many mainstream Christian Filipinos still exhibit (such as eating and hygiene etiquette) and has added to the melting pot of Filipino culture in general. Sadly, Terrorist attacks and violent confrontations between the Filipino army and splinter militant Islamic organizations such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have strained relations between Muslim and the non-Muslim Filipinos in rural areas in the south. Yet, the Muslim Filipinos are much more liberal in their interpretations of Islam, and like the Muslims of Indonesia, are generally more relaxed regarding such topics as gender-segregation or the hijab (veil) than South Asians or Middle Eastern Muslims.

Indian Filipinos, Chinese Filipinos, and Japanese Filipinos are mostly Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Shinto, and Taoist which all accounts 3% of the population of the Philippines. These populations have been in the country for centuries preceding Spanish rule, and many aspects of Buddhist and Hindu belief and culture are seen in the mainstream culture of Christian or Muslim Filipinos as well. As with many things in the Philippines, religion statistics are never clear-cut and defined, and many Christians and Muslims also practice and believe in indigenous spiritual aspects (such as honoring natural deities and ancestor-worship, as well as the existence of magic and healers) that may in some cases contradict the orthodox rules of their religions.


The climate is tropical, with March to May (summer) being the hottest months. The rainy season starts in June and extends through October with strong typhoons possible. The coolest months are from November to February, with mid-January to end of February considered the best for cooler and dryer weather. Locations exposed directly to the Pacific Ocean have frequent rainfall all year. This includes the popular Pagsanjan Falls southeast of Manila (though the falls will get you wet regardless). The average temperatures range from 78°F / 25°C to 90°F / 32°C, and humidity is around 77 percent. Baguio, which is branded as the summer capital of the Philippines, tends to be cooler due to its being located in mountainous regions with temperatures at night going below 20°C (68°F). During summer, the country experience droughts, sometimes at extreme conditions, from March(sometimes early as February) to May(sometime extending to June) water supply drops with most of the power plants being hydro electric meaning during summer, you'll be experiencing regular black-outs (locally known as brown-outs), so it isn't much suggested to travel during the months of March to May.


Christmas: The Filipino Way


Filipinos are very Catholic; Christmas is celebrated from September till Epiphany, go and have Noche Buena with a Filipino family; Filipinos don't mind strangers eating with them in their dining table as this is customary during Fiestas, try out Hamon(ham) and Keso De Bola. Caroling is widely practiced by the youth around the Philippines, they'll appreciate if you give them at least 5-10 pesos. Don't miss the Misa Del Gallo; Early Mass or Simbang Gabi in Tagalog meaning Night Mass, this tradition was passed down from the Spanish, masses usually are held either on Midnight or before dawn, after this Filipinos eat Kakanin or rice cakes and Bibingka that are sold outside churches and also drink Tsokolate; hot chocolate or eat Champurado; hot chocalte porridge. Parols; Star of Bethlehem lanterns are hanged in front of houses, commercial establishments and streets, a Giant Lantern Festival is held in Pampanga. Belens or Nativities are displayed in city halls and/or commercial establishments. This is an experience, one shouldn't miss if he/she is travelling in the Philippines.

The Philippines is a Multi-Cultural country having Christian, Muslim and Chinese holidays aside from Secular holidays. The year is welcomed by New Year's Day on January 1, being a predominantly Catholic country means observing the traditional Catholic holidays of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday during Lent or months around April or May, Araw ng pagkabuhay or Easter Sunday is celebrated 3 days after Good Friday. Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor, Boy scouts reenact the march every 2 years in honor of this day that is also known as Bataan Day, they march as long as 10 kilometers, the Bataan Death March was part of the Bataan Battle which was also part of the Battle of the Philippines, the Bataan Death March was a 60 Kilometer march and the people who participated in this march were captured, tortured and murdered. All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. In recognition of the Muslim Filipinos, the Islamic feast of Eid-Al-Fitr (known in the Philippines as Hari Raya Puasa), held after Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, is also a national holiday. This day changes year by year, as it follows the Lunar Calendar. Chinese New Year is also celebrated by the Chinese Community but dates vary according to the lunar calendar. Secular holidays include Labor Day (May 1) and Independence Day (June 12). August 30 is declared National Heroes Day. Some holidays also commemorate national heroes such as Jose Rizal (Dec. 30) and Andres Bonifacio (Nov. 30) as well as Ninoy Aquino (August 21). Metro Manila is less congested during Holy Week as people tend to go to their hometowns to spend the holidays there. Holy week is also considered part of the super peak season for most beach resorts such as Boracay and the most popular ones tend to get overcrowded at this time. Due to its cool mountain weather, Baguio is also where a lot of people spend the Holy Week break. Christmas is widely celebrated on December 25.


  • New Year's Day - January 1
  • Maundy Thursday - Varies
  • Good Friday - Varies
  • Easter Sunday - Varies
  • Araw Ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) - April 9
  • Labor Day - May 1
  • Independence Day - June 12
  • Ninoy Aquino Day - August 21
  • National Heroes Day - Last Monday of August
  • All Saints Day - November 1
  • All Souls Day - November 2
  • Eid Ul Fitr (Hari Raya Puasa) - Varies according to lunar calendar
  • Eid Ul Adha - Varies according to lunar calendar
  • Bonifacio Day - November 30
  • Christmas Day - December 25
  • Rizal Day - December 30
  • Last Day of the Year - December 31


The Philippines is a diverse country just like Singapore, making the country more of a Salad bowl. Every foreigner that has stepped in its history has taken the Asian identity of the Filipinos. People in the big cities, such as Manila, may seem heavily Westernized. However, many people from the city do come from rural areas and are still deeply rooted to traditional Filipino ways. Tribal people do their best to maintain their heritage and culture despite the unavoidable influence of modern western culture, travelling remote places and meeting tribes and experiencing their culture and heritage is the best way to see how the Filipinos lived before the arrival of the Spanish. Filipino culture can be seen in the Tinikling dance which also shows distinctive influence from the Indonesians, the dance is mistakenly known as the national dance because of its popularity, the dance is demonstrated by two or more people holding two or more bamboo sticks known as Kawayan, then they start moving the bamboo sticks as the dancers put their foot in between the bamboo sticks quickly out and in. Kamayan, a literal meaning for eating with hands, try this while in the Philippines , to experience the Filipino way of eating.

The Filipinos have also retained their animistic ways. Many believe heavily in the presence of spirits and existence of ghouls, elves, and spirits in nature. Some Filipinos are also deeply religious and devout people. Regardless of your own beliefs, as a visitor, observance of religious rules and respect for the Filipinos beliefs will be greatly appreciated.


Filipino literature is a mix of Indian sagas, folktales, and traces of Western influence. Classical books are written in Spanish as well as in Tagalog, to this day most of Filipino literature is written in English. The Philippines thus is a Multi-cultural country with its roots stretching from Asia to Europe and to the Americas. History, Documentary

  • Red Revolution by Gregg R. Jones (ISBN 0813306442) - Documentary about the guerrilla movement; New People's Army (NPA), in the Philippines.
  • In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines by Stanley Karnow (ISBN 0345328167) - Shares the story of European and American colonization in the archipelago as well as the restoration of democracy after the overthrew of Marcos.


  • Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal
  • El Filibusterismo by Jose Rizal
  • Dekada '70 by Lualhati Bautista (ISBN 9711790238) - A story about a middle class Filipino family that struggled to fight with other Filipinos during the martial law during the time of Marcos.
  • The Day the Dancers Came by Bienvenido Santos

Cinema and music

The Filipino film industry is suffering because of its main rival; the Western film industry, since the 21st century every year only 40 films are produced down from 200-300 films a year in the 1990s. Western culture has also permeated the music industry in the Philippines. Many songs are in English. American Rock-n-Roll and, recently, rap and hip-hop are heard and performed. Traditional Filipino songs such as Kundiman (nostalgic/poetic songs) are still held dearly by the population but is, unfortuantely, slowly losing influence among the younger generations. Award winning films done by Filipino directors. The Filipino Film industry was booming the earlier days with over 200 movies per year produced and made but prior to the arrival of Western films, the Film industry collapsed in the 1990s but by the 21st century, successful attempts in reviving the independent Film industry were done. Filipino movies face fierce competition with western movies to this date.


  • Ricky Lee - Himala(1982) —
  • Mike De Leon - Sister Stella L.(1984) — Movie about a nun's fight against the oppression and political injustice of the government.
  • Metro Manila Film Festival — Held annually during the Christmas season showcases local works of Filipino directors.
  • Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Festival
  • Cinemanila International Film Festival

Fancy horror movies? Just like its neighbouring countries the Filipinos enjoy watching horror and thriller movies.

  • Chito Roño - Feng Shui(2004) — is a big hit in Asia, the movie is about a married woman named Joy who discovers a Ba Gua; a mirror used in Chinese Geomancy, Feng Shui. She then discovers she becomes lucky but also that every lucky in return is death to people who had seen their faces in the mirror.
  • Yam Laranas - Sigaw(2004) — is another big hit too, its popularity led it to an American Remake; The Echo(2009). A movie about a guy who moves to an apartment who then hears noises and discovers things which other can't see nor hear.
  • By Various Directors - Shake, Rattle & Roll (Film Series) — have over more than 10 volumes from the late 1980s to this day, its format is somewhat like a TV-series if seen in a modern American TV set. It is premiered in the Metro Manila Film Festival where it competes with other local movies.


  • Freddie Aguilar - Anak; had been translated to many languages and topped the billboard charts because of its popularity not only to Filipinos but to the whole world, the song is about a boy who was loved by his parents so much but as he grows old he disrespects them but as the song ends the boy comes back to his parents' arms after realizing all his mistakes, most of the listeners relate to the song and some have emotional breakdowns probably by relating to the song. It has an English version, this song shows the Filipino parents that even though you have mistakes they are always there to forgive and help you.
  • Hotdogs - Manila is a popular song in the 80s, it is about a man missing the bustling streets of Manila as well as its food, people and noise.


In the Philippines, Barangays which is the somewhat the equivalent of a typical Western Sub-Urban is abbreviated as Brgy., the word Barangay comes from the word Balangay which is an old boat, a Barangay contains usually not less than 100 families. Barangays are then further divided into Subdivisions, which is abbreviated Subd.. While getting a taxi or jeepney, Filipinos don't give the street's name, they give the address of a popular landmark instead which is near to their destination, so when you get a taxi or jeepney just give the popular landmark near your destination.


  • Department of Tourism[2]
  • Experience Philippines[3]
  • My Philippines[4]


The Philippines consists over 120 cities which is then categorized into 80 provinces which is then categorized into 17 regions which are finally divided into 3 major island groups, below listed are the 3 major Island groups.

Regions of the Philippines
Luzon (Luzon, Mindoro, Marinduque, Masbate, Palawan)
The northernmost island group, center of government, history and economy and home to the capital
Visayas (Negros, Panay, Cebu (island), Bohol, Leyte)
The central island group, heart of the country’s antiquity, nature and biodiversity
Mindanao (Mindanao, Basilan)
the southernmost island group, which showcases the Philippines’ indigenous and rich cultures


With 7,107 islands, the Philippines has many cities, below listed are nine important cities in the Philippines, some of which are provincial capitals and center of commerce and finance as well as culture and history.

  • Manila - the national capital of the country, it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, over 100 parks are scattered around the city.
  • Bacolod - dubbed as the City of Smiles because of the popularity of MassKara Festival; a festival held annually on October 19, not to mention also the famous Chicken Inasal.
  • Baguio - the country's summer capital because of it's cool weather, well-maintained parks and views and home of the indigenous "Igorot" people.
  • Cebu - known as the Queen City of the South, Cebu is the first established indigenous settlement discovered by the west in the Philippines.
  • Cagayan de Oro - known as the City of Golden Friendship, it is popular for whitewater rafting and is the gateway to Northern Mindanao.
  • Davao - one of the largest cities in the world in terms of land area, known for its 'Durian'.
  • Tagbilaran - site of the Blood Compact Treaty between Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Rajah Sikatuna representing the Bohol-anon people (of Bohol).
  • Zamboanga City- also known as the Asia's Latin City which comes alive during the Fiesta Pilar a festival which is in honor of the holy image of Our Lady of Pillar.

Philippine is an archipelago, most of the cities are mostly accessible through plane, ships and RoRo (roll-on and roll off, a service which uses both bus and ship) from Manila. Inter-regional trips are also available

Other destinations

  • Banaue, home to the 2000 year old Rice terraces. People are fascinated at how the Igorots have made this, hence the Filipinos calling it as the 8th wonder of the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Boracay is 10km island featuring white sands.
  • Camarines Sur has beautiful coral reefs, and shorelines of Black and white sands. Visit the Camarines Sur Watersport complex and go water skiing.
  • Donsol is the Whale Shark Capital of the world, dive and see whale sharks.
  • Malapascua Island just like other islands in the Philippines, the island features a beautiful white sand shoreline and coral gardens.
  • Palawan offers beautiful beaches that are often inhabited and waters which have coral reefs that are home to a large variety of fishes, not only coral reefs but also animals such as dugongs and manta rays. Not only white beaches and tranquil water but see the Puerto Princesa Subterranean Park, a cave with beautiful rock formations as well as an underground river.
  • Puerto Galera, a favourite getaway for people during Holy Week because of its white sand shorelines and it's amazing flora.
  • Sabang is a municipality in Puerto Galera, dive its beautiful waters and be amazed at the fauna that you will see.
  • Tagaytay, tired of the old scene of the noisy metropolis of Manila? or missing the cool weather? Head to Tagaytay, a home to many historical sites as well as home to Mt. Taal, the weather is cool and often a getaway for Filipinos tired of warm tropical weather during the Holy Week.

Get in

The Mayon volcano, in Bicol

Nationals from the vast majority of countries including ASEAN countries can enter the Philippines without a visa for a period not exceeding 21 days [5], as long as they have a return ticket, as well as passports valid for a period of at least six months beyond the period of stay.

Nationals of Brazil and Israel are allowed to stay at the Philippines without a visa not exceeding 59 days. Holders of Hong Kong Special Administrative (SAR), British National Overseas (BNO), Portuguese Passports issued in Macau and Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports are allowed to stay in the Philippines without a visa not exceeding than seven days.

Visit the website of the Bureau of Immigration [6] and Department of Foreign Affairs [7] for more information.

If intending to stay longer, you should apply for a visa extension. Each visa extension is valid for 59 days, except the first which is 38 days (i.e 59-21). Effective 27 May 2009, all passengers regardless of citizenship or residence must fill-out the new machine-readable arrival-departure card which is issued by the airline. Unlike the previous scheme where arrival and departure cards are filled-out separately and independently from each other, the new card has a portion for arriving passengers, which will be given to the passport control officer and another part to be retained in the passport until departure. If you overstay, you can pay on departure a fine of ₱1000 per month of overstay plus the ₱2020 fee. To avoid all the hassle, before traveling get the longer visa from the embassy (or a consulate), as this saves you a couple of days hassle during your holiday. Contact the Philippine embassy [8] or Philippine consulate [9] of your country about the exact requirements for a visa application and opening hours of the consular section. When you arrive with a visa, show it to the immigration official, so that he will actually give you the 59 days, instead of the normal 21 days, on your arrival stamp.

By plane

Since the Philippines is an archipelago, most visitors will arrive by plane. International travelers can fly into airports in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Clark (Angeles), Kalibo, Laoag, Subic (Zambales), and Zamboanga. The Philippines, being an archipelago and therefore not connected by land to any of its neighboring countries is the usual reason why this paradise destination is skipped by many uninformed travelers. But below you will read about different options to reach the Philippine islands. Philippine Airlines [10], Cebu Pacific[11], Zest Airways [12], South East Asian Airlines [13] are among the national carriers, other carriers include Interisland Airlines[14] that serves inter-regional flights and Pacific Pearl Airways[15] that serve charter flights.

If you plan to travel around the various islands, it is best to get an open jaw ticket. This can save much time back-tracking. Most common open jaw combination fly into Manila and out of Cebu.

The cheapest option when coming from Europe or South America is transitting into Singapore (via Tiger Airways) or Hong Kong (via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines) or fairly recently Kuala Lumpur (via Air Asia). In fact, the Air Asia trip from London to KL can be as low as €200 if you book a flight during off-peak season or well in advance. From KL, Cebu Pacific airlines can take you direct to Manila or you can pass by Singapore before your trip to this beautiful archipelago. From North America, use Philippine Airlines which has direct service from Vancouver and a stopover in Guam from San Francisco and Los Angeles. But there are many regional carriers that can give excellent open jaw ticket options Silkair with Singapore Airlines being one. Cathay Pacific also gives you plenty of flights from Hong Kong.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Most visitors will fly in through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport(NAIA)[16](IATA: MNL | ICAO: RPLL) The Airport is divided into four terminals; Terminal 1, 2, 3 and the Manila Passenger Domestic Terminal. Terminal 1 serves non-Philippine Airlines and non-Cebu Pacific flights. Terminal 2 is exclusively used by Philippine Airlines and Terminal 3 serves Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines. The Manila Passenger Domestic Terminal is open to domestic carriers; Zest Airways, Interisland Airlines and SEAIR. For passengers departing Terminal 2, a charger outlet center is available within the terminal as well as WiFi connectivity. Most people who fly in Terminal 1 might find it uncomfortable and the interiors dirty however those flying in Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 are OK.

Major Airlines such as China Airlines[17], KLM[18], Emirates[19], Cathay Pacific[20], Korean Air[21], Thai Airways International[22], JAL[23], QANTAS[24], Singapore Airlines[25], Delta Air Lines[26], flag carrier; Philippine Airlines[27], and Cebu Pacific[28] serve international flights. Aside from Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, Zest Airways[29], Interisland Airways[30] and SEAIR[31] serve domestic flights.

For further domestic flight connections, a free shuttle bus is available, ask the ground personnel on arrival.

Getting out, in and transiting in the airport:

  • Taxi: On arrival taxis are available for service on arrival but do not accept rides from people who approach you. Taxis charge around ₱150-₱200, major hotel representatives are available on arrival, have chauffeur services which you can book on advance, the cost is around ₱750-₱950.
  • MRT: You can either take a short 2km ride to Baclaran Station that is connected to the MRT. However plans are undergoing for construction of a new station in the Airport; NAIA Station.
  • Transits: Free shuttle bus services are available on arrival, that connect Terminal 1 to T2 and T3.

Other airports

  • The Mactan-Cebu International Airport[35] (IATA: CEB | ICAO: RPVM) in Cebu, is the second busiest airport with various domestic and international connections. Aside from flag-carriers, Asiana Airlines[36], Korean Air[37], China Eastern Airlines[38] and Cathay Pacific, Malaysian Airlines[39], SilkAir[40] and Qatar Airways[41] operate in the airport from their respective hubs.

Other airports in the Philippines such as Kalibo Airport(a gateway to Boracay), Laoag International Airport, Francisco Bangoy International Airport(Davao) and Subic Bay International Airport receives direct connections from Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

By Boat

Services from Sandakan, Malaysia to Zamboanga, Jolo and Bongao are available, Weesam Express[42] offers these connections.

Get around

By plane

Philippine Airlines [43] and Air Philippines [44], Cebu Pacific [45], SEAIR [46], Asian Spirit [47] and Interisland Airlines [48] are some of the airlines that operate domestic flights. Philippine Airlines, Air Philippines and Cebu Pacific serve most large cities, while smaller operators like SEAIR, Asian Spirit and Interisland Airlines typically fly to popular resort destinations.

By train

Manila Rail Transit System map

Within Metro Manila, there is a network of light railway systems that connect various portions of the metropolis. This mode of transport is top choice among travelers for they are cheaper and faster compared to other land-based transportation. It operates from 6am to 12midnight daily. Fare

Within Metro Manila, there are networks of LRT[49] (Light Railway Transport) and MRT[50] (Metro Rail Transport) that connect various portions of the metropolis. The LRT network consists of two lines; the Purple line and the Yellow Line. The Megatren/Purple line covers stations from Santolan to Recto while the Metrorail/Yellow line covers the station from Monumento to Baclaran. Fares in the LRT range from ₱12 to ₱15. Tickets are available on purchase on the stations while ticket machines are installed in the Purple line. The MRT network covers the network from Taft Avenue to North Avenue, passing the financial center; Makati. The MRT is open from 5:00AM to 11:00PM with Midnight services extending to 1:00AM. Fares start from ₱10 to ₱15, a multi-use ticket can be purchased at ₱100. G-Pass, an alternative pass for the MRT launched by Globe Telecom, it can be purchased at ₱100 and have a free balance of ₱50, however this isn't only exclusive to Globe users. The Philippine National Railways[51] covers services in Metro Manila and provinces of Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, Camarines Sur and Albay.

By car

There are major car rental companies such as Avis[52], Hertz[53] and Budget[54] have offices in Metro Manila, notably at the airport. These companies have chauffeur driven rentals available and prices are bound to be reasonable.

Due to heavy traffic in Metro Manila, certain areas of the city have laws that restrict certain vehicles based on the day of the week and the ending number of your vehicle's license plate (this plan is called "Color Coding", though it has nothing to do with the color of your vehicle). For example: Cars with license plates ending in 1 or 2 cannot drive between the hours of 7AM and 7PM on Mondays on most main roads. Be sure to check with a local contact or the car rental agency/hotel concierge about whether these rules will apply to your vehicle, especially as foreigners driving can become targets for less scrupulous traffic aides.

Number Coding
Day Plate number
Monday 1, 2
Tuesday 3, 4
Wednesday 5, 6
Thursday 7, 8
Friday 9, 0
Weekends and Holidays No coding

Travel from Metro Manila to various provinces in Luzon will typically start off from either the North Luzon Expressway(NLEX) or South Luzon Express Way(SLEX). These are tollways with good paved roads. Farthest tolls will not cost more than a few dollars from Metro Manila. From the expressways, national highways and provincial roads connect to the major cities and provinces. Another main highway system built in the northern part of Luzon is SCTEX or Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway which is a 94-kilometer 4-lane freeway.

Bridges and ferries connect the major islands together. Roads vary greatly in quality from the paved multi-lane highways to narrow dirt roads, which further complicates travel by car

By taxi

Taxi fares

Most of the taxi drivers nowadays charge people with fares not based on the meters, if you encounter this say "no" and say that drivers don't have a right to give you a fare that is double and not based on the meters, this is usually encountered by tourists as well as middle class-elite class Filipinos. If this happens get out of the taxi, threaten the driver you will call the police hotline;Philippine National Police[55] (PNP) tel:(+632)722-0650 start dialing your cellphone to make him believe you are calling the police or either call the MMDA[56](Metro Manila Development Authority) hotline; 136 if you're within Manila, you can also text the police at 2920 and your message must be as follows; PNP(space)(message), for your complaints. On 2009, some taxis have installed meters which give out receipts, ask for a receipt if they have one.

Taxis are generally available within the major cities but are usually not used for travel across the various provinces and regions. Some FX (shared taxis), however, usually ply provincial routes. You can also call reputable Taxi companies that can arrange pickups and transfers as well as airport runs.

When hailing a taxi in the cities, ensure the meter is on and pay the metered fare. A tip of 10 pesos is acceptable. Also, make sure you have small denomination banknotes, as the drivers often claim not to have change in an effort to obtain a larger tip! Moreover, don't be surprised if drivers want to bypass the meter during rush hour. Most taxis have the flag down rate of ₱30 with each 300 meters cost ₱2.50 while Yellow cab taxis are more expensive with a flag down rate of ₱40 with each 300 meters cost ₱4.00.

By bus

Apart from flying, buses are usually the way to go when it comes to traveling across the Philippines, at least from within the major islands. It is the cheapest mode of transport when getting around, fares are as low as ₱300-₱500. Provincial bus companies have scheduled trips from Manila to provinces to the north and south. Major provincial bus companies such as ALPS The Bus, Inc.[57], Victory Liner[58], Philtranco[59] operate in the country.

By boat

Metro Manila

Get around Manila with Pasig's Pasig Ferry Service, waterbuses are available in stations around the historical river of Pasig. Fares ranges from ₱25, ₱35 and ₱45. For students and youth fares range ₱20 regardless of distance.

Inter-island trips

Next to buses, ships are the cheapest modes of transports when getting around the country as fares are as low as ₱1,000 if it's a trip lasting a day or two and ₱600 if it's only a one hour trip.WG&A SuperFerry[60] and a number of other companies operate interisland ferries. There is a convenient Friday overnight ferry trip to Coron, Palawan. This allows divers to spend the weekend in Coron and take the Sunday night ferry trip back to Manila, arriving around noon. You can also stay on a Cruise Ship that's exploring around the Coron area. The 7,107 Island Cruise Ship takes passengers around Coron and some of its private islands.

Ferry trips to other islands can take over 24 hours, depending on distance. Other major ferry companies include: Sulpicio Lines, Negros Navigation[61], Trans Asia Shipping Lines[62], and Cebu Ferries[63].

Oceanjet[64] is a reliable company offering fast ferries throughout the Visayas at affordable prices. Schedule Information is difficult to obtain - newspapers often contain pages with ads on certain days, but, believe it or not, most people rely on word-of-mouth.

Travel Warning WARNING: If the boat appears to be over capacity, do not board. Always check the latest weather reports before travel by ferry, as some captains are willing to sail even when a typhoon is approaching. Bringing your own life preserver is strongly recommended (but no substitute for common sense). Travel by boat should not be considered safer than air travel.


7107 Islands Cruise[65] offers a cruises from Boracay to Puerto Galera to Boracay, prices range from ₱2,000 - ₱10,000, children below than 3 years old are free to travel who is accompanied by 2 adults, children from 5 to 12 years old are given a 50% discount, who are accompanied also by 2 adults while senior citizens can avail a 20% discount. The cruise will tour around the Philippines in islands such as Boracay and Coron Island.

Hans Christian Andersen Cruise[66] will take you on an unforgettable voyage through the Philippines. They have set their sights on memorable experiences, empty beaches, local fishing villages, fantastic diving and snorkeling - the perfect way to explore the picturesque archipelagos of the Philippines. They offer a relaxed unpretentious holiday atmosphere and you won’t have to worry about dress code.

Sun Cruises [67] has tour packages to Corregidor Island in Manila Bay. Prices range from ₱2,000 for a day tour with a buffet lunch, to ₱3,000 for an overnight stay at the island. The tour guides are very informative, and the island is steeped in history, particularly about the battles that raged there during World War 2. They also offer cruises around Manila Bay.

By jeep and rickshaws


Jeepneys are the most known transportation to all Filipinos. They are the most affordable transport in the Philippines. Costing about ₱7 per 4 km and additional ₱1 per km, they are by far the most affordable way to get around most major urban areas.. They stop if you wave at them. The jeepney is remnants of the Jeep used by the American troops during World War II, the innovative Filipinos modified the jeep (by lengthening the body and adding horizontal seats) to seat as many as 20 people (10 per side). Within Manila, you will find multiple Jeepneys per route, for added convenience. In the provinces, Jeepneys also connect towns and cities. For longer distances, however, buses are more comfortable.

Also worthy of mention are the traysikels and the pedicabs or in other words Rickshaw; however, this may not be to the liking of most foreigners, as these are cramped and quite open to traffic. These means of transport are usually used for very short distances. Traysikels are different from Pedicabs; they are motorized while pedicabs are manually used with the help of bicycles. Fares range from ₱3 to ₱7 or even higher, depending on the distance of your destination.


Tagalog written in a Filipino Comic; Zsa Zsa Zaturnah

The Philippines has two official languages: English and Filipino. Filipino is mainly based on the Tagalog language (a relative of Malay) but it has borrowed thousands of loanwords from Spanish. It has also been influenced by English, Malay, Indonesian, Hindi, Arabic, Chinese and many other languages mostly from the Indian subcontinent and Europe. The history of Tagalog is that it was formerly the Javanese language which was brought by the Indonesians in moving to the archipelago, the language dramatically change in trading with other countries and during the Spanish colonial times, to this day the language is dominated by Spanish loanwords which is helpful for some Spanish people and which is also the reason why some Filipinos understand a little Spanish. In addition, as Malay and Filipino are closely related, speakers of Malay would also recognise many cognates in the Filipino language. Generally, somebody who speaks Malay and Spanish would be able to understand the conversations of locals to a certain extent, and might just be able to get by.

Filipino is the language spoken in the Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions as well as the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila. In the Northern Luzon provinces, Ilocano is the most common language spoken while Kapampangan is widespread in Central Luzon. Further south of Metro Manila lies the Bicol Region where Bicolano is used. In the Southern Islands of Visayas and Mindanao, Cebuano is the most common language spoken. Other languages in the south include Hiligaynon and Waray.

English is an official language of the Philippines and is a compulsory subject in all schools, so it is widely spoken in the larger cities and main tourist areas. However, it is usually not the first language of choice for locals. Tourists won't have problems using English when making inquiries from commercial and government establishments. A few simple phrases in Filipino will come in handy when traveling to rural places as English proficiency is limited there. Taglish is spoken nowadays by the youth, it is a mix of Tagalog and English, an example is shown below,

Taglish:How are you na? Ok naman ako.
English:How are you? I'm ok.

Spanish is no longer widely understood, though many Spanish words survive in the local languages. A Spanish based Creole language known as Chavacano is spoken in Cavite and in Zamboanga. The government is trying to revive Spanish by providing Spanish in public schools as an optional language. Younger Spanish-Filipinos tend to speak Filipino languages and/or English as their primary language.

There are some other ethnic groups who reside in the country, particularly in more urbanized areas like Manila. The largest group is the Chinese, many of whom have assimilated with Filipino society. Take note however that since most of them come from Fujian province, they speak Hokkien as well as Lan-ang; a language which is made with the mix of Filipino and Hokkien, they are also taught Mandarin in Chinese schools. Muslim Filipinos are taught Arabic in schools in order to read the Qu'ran. Other groups include the Indians, Japanese, Arabs, Koreans, Americans and Europeans use their native language as their first language. In some cosmopolitan areas, there are establishments catering to Korean speakers. Indian languages such as Hindi and Punjabi are also spoken by the Indian communities while Europeans speak their own languages.


Crisologo Street in Vigan
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: See the spectacular Banaue Rice terraces in Batad and be fascinated at how it was built, see the only successful laid out plan of a European colonial town in Asia; Vigan. The Baroque churches (the Immaculate Conception in Manila, Nuestra Senora in Ilocos Sur, San Agustin in Ilocos Norte and Santo Tomas in Iloilo) of the Philippines will amaze you about the European Baroque architecture.
  • Coral reefs: Dive the Tubbatahaa Reefs National Park and see the spectacular collections of marine life and corals. Anilao also offers good options.
  • Churches and religious sites: See the Basilica of San Sebastian in Quiapo; the only all steel church or basilica in Asia. A visit to a city's cathedral is worth it.
  • Historical Sites: Intramuros, Rizal Park and Blood Compact site in Bohol are worth seeing and will give you a glimpse of the history of the country.
  • Wildlife and Plants: Rare animals that can only be found in the Philippines and most of them are endangered and threatened. Philippine Monkey Eating Eagle; The largest eagle, Tarsier; a small animal that looks like an alien and can be found in Bohol, Carabaos and Tamaraws; water buffaloes only endemic in the Philippines, aside from these animals, some species of rats, bats and water pigs are also endemic in the Philippines. Endemic plants like orchids like the Waling-Waling one of the rarest flowers in the world as well as one of the most expensive in the world. Visit the website of PESCCP[68] (Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Project) for more information.
  • Malls and Shopping: The bustling urban streets of Metro Manila, have fair options of bargain centers and malls, shop in the second and fourth largest malls of the world; SM City North EDSA and SM Mall of Asia.
Hawksbill Turtle in Sabang


Volunteer Opportunities


Scuba diving

See Scuba diving for more information

Scuba diving is spectacular in the Philippines. There is a great variety of dive sites and most if not all of these have at least a handful of PADI-accredited diving schools where you can obtain your license. Costs (of both lessons and equipment) are likely to be cheaper here compared to places like Australia, the Caribbean or even in nearby Thailand and Malaysia.

Martial Arts

Eskrima or Kali is Filipino martial art that emphasizes in using swords and sticks, it was used in films such as' Equilibrium, training centers and schools that teach Eskrima are mostly found around Metro Manila.

Tertiary education and ESL

Many foreigners such as Europeans, Chinese, Americans and Koreans choose to study and finish university in the Philippines because compared to other countries, Universities here are cheaper and offer the same system the Americans apply (however most schools follow K-10, international schools follow K-12 standards), major schools such as University of the Philippines[69], De La Salle University[70], Ateneo University[71], Far Eastern University[72] and Adamson University[73] are just some of the major universities with many provincial branches in the country.

The country is also a hub for people seeking to learn English mostly Chinese and Koreans, there are many English learning centers around the country predominantly around Metro Manila, Bacolod and Cebu, it is one of the largest hubs in learning ESL as it is one of the leading people in the world in proficiency of using English. International schools are around major financial, commercial and provincial capitals, Taguig City is served by International School of Manila[74], British School of Manila[75], German School of Manila[76] and French School of Manila which are part of the European International School campus[77], Faith Academy[78] caters to mostly Americans, Brent International School[79] has branches in the archipelago with one in the white beaches of Boracay, Korean International School[80], Manila Japanese School[81] and Chinese International School Manila [82] are also in Taguig City. Other international schools in the Philippines are also found and usually operated by British and other European diplomats, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and American immigrants and diplomats.


Baguio mountains
  • Aerial Sports - An annual Hot Air Balloon festival is held in Clark, Angeles in Pampanga, other than Hot Air balloons on display, people gather in this event to do sky diving, many activities are also held other than sky diving and hot air balloons. The Festival is held between January and February.
  • Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines, don't miss the PBA [83] and UAAP [84] basketball tournaments.
  • Bentosa and Hilot are Filipino alternative ways of healing, Bentosa is a method where a cup cover a tea light candle then it flames out and it drains out all the pain on the certain part of the body, Hilot is just the Filipino way of massaging.
  • Board Sailing - Waves and winds work together making the country a haven for board sailors. Boracay, Subic Bay and Anilao in Batangas are the main destinations.
  • Caving - The Archipelago has osme unique cave systems. Sagada is one popular destination for caving.
  • Dive - Blue, tranquil waters and abundant reefs make for good diving. Compared to neighboring countries, diving in the country is cheaper.
  • Festivals - Each municipality, town, city and province has their own festival, either religious or in honor of the city or a historical reason.        See also: Festivals in the Philippines
    for more information.
  • Golf - Almost every province has a golf course, it is a popular sport among the elite, rich and famous.
  • Medical Tourism - The Philippines supplies the world with many medical professionals with large numbers leaving the country every year for a better future abroad. This is indicative of the quality of medical education and medical tourism is on the rise too. Most come from America and Europe as compared to their home countries, healthcare here is much cheaper; as much as 80% less than the average price abroad. Most of the hospitals suggested for medical tourism are in Metro Manila. Alternative medicine is also popular with spas, faith healing and other fringe therapies widespread throughout the archipelago.
  • National Parks - National parks number around 60-70, they include mountains and coral reefs.
  • Mountain Biking - The archipelago has dozens of mountains and is ideal for mountain bikers. Bikes are the best mode of transportation in getting around remote areas. Some options include Baguio, Davao, Iloilo, Banaue, Mt. Apo and Guimaras.
  • Rock Climbing - Apo Island, Atimonan, El Nido, Puting Bato, Wawa Gorge have the best sites in the archipelago for rock climbing.
  • Spas are popular, with many options, Spas are found near beaches, financial capitals etc.
  • Trekking - Mountain ranges and peaks offer cool weather for trekking and it might give you a sight of the beautiful exotic flora and fauna of the country. Mt. Kanlaon and Mt. Pulag are good trekking spots.
  • Visita Iglesia - Visita Iglesia (Visita is Latin for Visit, Iglesia is Latin for Church; Visit Churches) is the practice done by mostly Filipino Roman Catholics to Churches, holy sites, shrines, basilicas etc. If you are religious try this, if you love art and architecture; churches are the best way to define what Filipino architecture.
  • Whitewater Rafting - One of the best, if not the best, whitewater rafting experience can be had in Cagayan de Oro City, a city in the northern part of Mindanao. Also, Davao is emerging as the Whitewater rafting capital in Mindanao, if not in the Philippines.


Under Philippine law, any foreigner working must have an Alien Employment Permit issued by the Department of Labor. The paperwork is in general handled by the prospective employer and the employee picks up the relevant visa at a Philippine Embassy or Consulate. Working without a permit is not allowed and does not give you any labor protections. Furthermore, visas are checked upon departing the Philippines. Those who have overstayed without permission are subject to fines and, in certain cases, even jail.

It is possible for foreigners to earn casual money while staying in the Philippines, especially in Manila and other bigger cities in provinces. These may include temporary teaching in schools, colleges and other institutions; and working in bars and clubs. Temporary work may also be available as an "extra" on the set of a film or television series. Fluency in English is very important in jobs while knowledge of Filipino or Tagalog is considerably low. Recently as of late 2010, the Philippines has overtaken India in the call center industry, and many international companies hire English fluent workers.

Most establishments pay monthly but informal jobs pay out variably either cash on hand or weekly.



Exchange Rates

As of January 2010:

  • U.S. Dollar $1 - Philippine Peso ₱46
  • Euro €1 - Philippine Peso ₱66 (down to 56 in May 2010)
  • Pound Sterling £1 - Philippine Peso ₱74
  • Saudi Rial SR1 - Philippine Peso ₱12
  • Japanese Yen ¥1 - Philippine Peso ₱0.50
  • Australian Dollar $1 - Philippine Peso ₱42
  • South African Rand R1 - Philippine Peso ₱6
  • Hong Kong Dollar $1 - Philippine Peso ₱5.80
  • Singapore Dollar $1 - Philippine Peso ₱32

The Philippine Peso(₱)(PHP) is the official currency. As of January 2010, one U.S. dollar trades at around ₱46.Peso bills come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. One peso is equivalent to 100 centavos and coins come in 5, 10 and 25 centavo variants in addition to the 1, 5 and 10 peso coins. Money changers are not so common in the Philippines apart from some heavily touristed areas and most malls which usually have their own currency exchange stall. Banks on the other hand are widely available to exchange currency but usually impose a minimum amount and have limited hours of operation, usually from 9 AM to 3 PM on weekdays except Bank of the Philippine Islands[85] (BPI) and Banco De Oro[86] (BDO) which have longer hours of operation. Don't exchange money in stalls along the streets as some of them might be exchanging your money for counterfeit money, contact Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas[87] (Central Bank of the Philippines) if you suspect the money you've been given to be counterfeit.

Be aware that no person is allowed to enter the Philippines carrying more than P10,000 without prior authorisation by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Those who have not gained prior authorisation will have to declare the excess money at the customs desk upon arrival — but if you have a reason to do so, like you are going to, say rent an apartment in Manila, you can be allowed pass through without any fee while carrying P30,000. However, it's entirely possible that this was a one-day luck and on a different day you may lose out by entering with a large amount of money.

ATMs and credit cards

Visitors can also use the 6,000 ATMs nationwide to withdraw funds or ask for cash advances. The three major local ATM consortia are BancNet, MegaLink and Expressnet. International networks, like PLUS and Cirrus, are accessible with many ATMs, however Cirrus is more predominant than PLUS; however, withdrawals are often limited to 5,000 pesos. An exception is HSBC where up to 50,000 pesos is possible. Visitors who have a MasterCard/Maestro/Cirrus cards can withdraw funds or ask for cash advances at ATMs that display their logos. The most prominent MasterCard ATMs are the Express Tellers by BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) and the Smartellers by Banco de Oro. PLUS ATMs are not available locally as a complement by itself, but instead it is available along with Cirrus. Prominent examples include the Fasteller by Equitable PCI Bank and the Electronic Teller (ET) by Metrobank. Most MegaLink ATMs are linked to PLUS and Cirrus.

Credit card holders can use VISA, MasterCard, American Express and JCB cards in many locations in the Philippines but merchants would usually require a minimum purchase amount before you can use your card. Cardholders of China UnionPay credit cards can get cash advances at many BancNet ATMs (particularly of Metrobank) but cannot use their cards in point of sale transactions at the moment.


Traveling in Philippines is cheap (one of the least expensive places to visit in Asia and as well in the rest of the world.) Some accommodations may be pricy. , more so in some cases places to stay are cheaper in Thailand. For example a stay in a hotel would cost as low as $30 or ₱1400, a flight to Cebu from Manila and vice-versa will cost $35 or ₱1645. Transportation is low as ₱8.50 for the first 4km in a Jeepney. Using the internet for 1 hour in an internet cafe range from ₱20 to ₱50 depending on the Internet Cafe's location, a can of coke costs as low was ₱16 while a copy of the International Herald Tribune costs ₱70 and Economist as low as ₱160. In most restaurants, there is 12% Value Added Tax (VAT) usually included in the unit price but service charge is often excluded and computed separately.


What's a Pasalubong?
A pasalubong is a tradition practiced by Filipinos for a long time, a Pasalubong is something you bring to your friends and family as a souvenir, keepsake or gift from a place you have recently visited, nowadays Filipino immigrants from abroad as well as Filipinos who work outside their hometowns but within the Philippines bring pasalubong or send them mostly during Christmas, New Year, Birthdays, Holy Week and during the summer and winter vacations. Try this tradition if you're planning what to buy as a souvenir from the Philippines, Filipinos tend to be not selfish even co-workers, friends and neighbours as well as their co-worker's family, their friend's friends and their neighbour's neighbour (try giving pasalubongs to your enemies also, even the meanest person to them they'd also give them pasalubongs), it's funny but that's how Filipinos are. A Pasalubong consists the following, Food; usually delicacies and sweets, T-shirts, Souvenirs such as key chains, bags etc. they usually put all their pasulubongs into one box. This may be hard for you but as they say it's better to give than to receive, get tips from locals for what a typical pasalubong consists.

The World in SM Mall of Asia

It isn't hard to find malls in the Philippines, the 3 largest malls in the world are found in the country, it's a fact consumerism has been part of a Filipino's life, even things they don't need but are in sale and discount they'll buy it. The reason why the country hasn't been affected much by recent financial crisis is because of the circulation of money, even if Filipinos are broke they'll find a way to buy something at least in a week for themselves.

As stated above, living in the Philippines is cheap, shopping there is also cheap. Sales tend to happen during pay day and last for 3 days and also during the Christmas season (in the Philippines Christmas season extends from September to the first week of January) in Department stores like SM Department Store[88]. Cheaper items are sold at flea markets and open markets where you can bargain the price like Divisoria, Market!Market!, Greenhills in Metro Manila. Ayala Center[89] is often compared to Singapore's Orchard Rd, from Entertainment to shopping, they have it all there, located in the Financial district of Makati. Not far from Makati is Serendra, a Piazza that offers lifestyle and luxury shops and often called the Luxury lifestyle center of Metro Manila. The piazza features modern architecture that will make you think you're somewhere near the world of Star Wars, stare, drool and be amazed at the public art displayed there. Coffee shops and tea shops are found around this area, as well as furniture and clothing stores and is located in Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. The 4 largest mall operators are SM, Gaisano, Ayala and Robinson's with branches around the archipelago.

  • Antiques: Antique Porcelain plates are found around Manila after the Filipino-Chinese trade however be careful when you buy antiques. Antique Santos or Saint statues including Jesus and the Virgin Mary are also sold. Streets of Makati, Ermita and Vigan (in Ilocos) mostly sell antiques
  • Brass ware: Muslim Gongs are popular in the Philippines, jewel boxes, brass beds are other brass ware products. Just like antiques, tourists are advised to be careful in purchasing brass ware.
  • Books and Stationary: Filipino literature is amusing to read, English versions of Filipino novels are available in National Bookstore[90] and Power Books [91], books tend to be much cheaper in the country compared to other countries. Stationary items are sold at a very low price as low as ₱10, however be careful as some items may contain high lead content.
  • Clothes: Bargained clothes as low as $3 is available in flea markets and Ukay-Ukays. Ukay-Ukays sell second-hand clothes from other countries at a cheap price. If you prefer branded clothes, Metro Manila has a lot of foreign brand shops scattered around the city predominantly in the business district of Makati.
  • Comics: Komiks or Comics in English is one of the most popular forms of literature in the Philippines and can be bought as cheap as P10. It is so popular that TV and Film adaptations are often found. Carlo J. Caparas and Mars Ravelo are two famous comic authors. They're available in newstands and most of them are unfortunately in Tagalog, you might be lucky if you find an English version of it.
  • Embroidery: Embroidery is a best buy because the most of the national dresses are embroidered from pinya (Pineapple) leaves and other raw material. Handmade ones tend to be more expensive than machine-made ones.
  • Food: Buy Dried mangoes, Goldilocks and Red Ribbon has pastries and sweets such as Polvoron are also good to purchase. Native specialties are sold at Pasalubong centers. Aside from Pastries and sweets, buy condiments such as Banana Ketchup, Shrimp Paste as both of which are hard to find outside Asia. Don't miss the chocolates of the Philippines; Chocnut and Tablea, Chocnut is like a powdered chocolate with a sweet taste and often sticky once it sticks to your gums, Tablea are chocolate tablets used for making hot chocolate.
  • Jewelery: Silver Necklaces and Pearls are popular in the Philippines, however it is discourage if you buy jewelery made out from endangered animals and corals as corals are slowly disappearing. Handmade jewelery made by indigenous tribes of the Philippines are available, jewelery made from wood is also sold.
  • Mats: Pandan leaves are weaved and made into a mat, mats tend to be different in each region in the Philippines, Mats in Luzon tend to be simple while in Visayas they're multi-colored while in Mindanao tribes weave complex and difficult designs that often have meaning.
  • Shoes and Bags: The Philippines made a mark in the industry of Shoes and Bags after former first lady Imelda Marcos had over thousands of pairs of shoes. Marikina, Rizal is known to be the shoe and bag capital of the Philippines, you can order for custom made shoes if you tend to stay longer.
  • Woodcarving: Wood carved products are available handmade by indigenous tribes, most of the carved products are Rice Granaries, god carvings and animal totems.
  • Shells: Can be found on tiangees

Be aware of import/export laws, particularly when leaving the country, as some items like food may be confiscated at the airport. If you bought a pet, be sure it has the right papers that will be accepted in your destination. It is wise to declare your souvenirs to Customs Officials to avoid future trouble.


Cooking terms
What's in your menu?

  • Adobo/Inadobo - Cooked in soy sauce
  • Tostado/Tostadong - Toasted
  • Guisa/Ginisa/Ginisang - Stir fried
  • Torta/Tinorta - Omelette
  • Asado/Inasado - Grilled
  • Tapa/Tinapa - Dried or smoked, tinapa usually is dried fish while tapa usually refers to "beef tapa"
  • Lechon/Nilechon - Roasted
  • Laga/Nilaga/Nilagang - Boiled
  • Prito/Pritong/Piniritong - Fried
  • Paksiw/Pinaksiw - Cooked in vinegar
  • Nilasing - Cooked in alcoholic beverage, from lasing meaning drunk
  • Sariwa/Hilaw - Fresh
  • Daing/Dinaing - Dried fish

Filipino cuisine has developed from the different cultures that shaped its history. As such, it is a melange of Chinese, Malay, Spanish, European and American influences. Though its cuisine is not as renowned as many of its neighbours, such as that of Thailand and Vietnam, Filipino cooking is nonetheless distinct in that it is possibly the least spicy of all South East Asian cuisines. Don't make the mistake of thinking that Filipino food is bland, though. It is just that instead of spices, Filipino food depends more on garlic, onions and ginger to add flavor to dishes. Painstaking preparation and prolonged cooking time is also a characteristic of most Filipino dishes, and when done properly is often what brings out the flavor of the food as, opposed to a healthy dose of spices. Kamayan, literally means Eating with Hands. Some Filipinos who were born and raised in rural provinces still eat with their hands, mostly at their homes during mealtimes. They would often say that Kamayan makes food taste better. Wash your hands clean before attempting this to avoid illnesses. Almost all Filipinos in the urban areas though use spoons, forks and knives. Eating with hands in public is not uncommon however if you're eating in a mid-range and splurge restaurant this may be considered rude.

To experience how the Filipinos eat in a budget way, Carenderias (food stalls) and Turo-turo (meaning Point-point, which actually means you point at the food you want to eat in the buffet table) are some of the options. Mains cost less than $1. Carenderias serve food cooked earlier and it may not always be the safest of options.

As with the rest of Southeast Asia, rice is the staple food of the Philippines. Some areas in the Visayas prefer corn but elsewhere Filipinos would generally have rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Uncooked rice usually comes in 50kg sacks but can be bought by the kilogram at the wet market or at neighborhood rice dealers. Single servings of rice are readily available at fastfood restaurants or eateries.

Filipino diet

The word diet is non-existent in the vocabulary of Filipinos or has never existed, as mentioned before they are laid back people, they love to eat as much as they can as if there is no tomorrow. They spend most of their money on food, a Filipino teenager might at least enter a fastfood chain twice to thrice a week, during fiestas in a city, town, barangay, purok or subdivision Filipinos would have big parties and it would last from noon to midnight when some of the people would end up being drunk, you can ask if you can join a fiesta in a home and some might welcome you as this is a tradition. If you're visiting the Philippines it is the best time to cut your so called diet and eat to your heart's content. The Filipino diet is a lot more similar to the west than the east, with Filipinos eating less vegetables, more oil, meat and sugar than people in neighboring countries; most Filipinos aren't health conscious. Cancer and heart-related diseases are the leading causes of death here. However if you visit rural areas they use more vegetables and less meat and practice old Filipino medicine.


Some Filipinos strictly use the serving spoon rule, sharing the belief with Indians that offering utensils or food that had come contact with someone's saliva is rude, disgusting, and will cause food to get stale quickly. Singing or having an argument while eating is considered rude, as they believe food is grasya/gracia or grace in English; food won't come to you if you keep disrespecting it. Singing while cooking is considered taboo because it will cause you to forever be a bachelor or a widow for life, another belief shared with the Indians. Conservative Filipinos share another belief with the Chinese that not finishing your food on your plate is taboo and rude, you'll often see Filipino parents scolding their children to finish their food or not they'll never achieve good academic performance. Usually before a meal starts Filipinos say a prayer before food is served. Wait also till the host invites you to start eating. Also, it is rude to refuse food that the host offers or leave the dining table while someone is still eating. While eating in front of Chinese/Japanese/Korean-Filipinos don't stick your chopsticks vertically upright into a bowl of food (refer to China, Japan, South Korea eat sections for more information).


Filipinos usually serve at least one main course accompanied by rice for lunch and dinner. At times you would have two with a vegetable dish accompanying a meat dish. On special occasions such as fiestas, several main dishes would be served, a Filipino party or a Fiesta wouldn't be complete without Spaghetti, Pasta, Fruit Salad, Ice Cream, Rice, spring rolls, cake or rice cakes and soda. Soups are also often the main course apart from being a starter. It is not uncommon for Filipinos to douse their rice with the soup and eat the meat that came with the soup alongside.

Kanin at Kakanin

Kanin means Rice in Tagalog while Kakanin means Rice cakes.

  • Sinangag is fried garlic rice, often mixed with vegetables, dried shrimps, dried fish strips, hotdogs or Chorizos.
  • Bibingka - rice cake with cheese and salted egg, it originates from Indian cuisine.
  • Puto - Soft white rice muffins.

Other kinds include Biko, Cuchinta, Pichi-Pichi, Sapin-Sapin, etc. The towns of Calasiao in Pangasinan and Binan, Laguna are famous for their puto


Pancit Canton

Pancit/Pancit or Noodles, an influence from Chinese cuisine and believed to give long life because of its length, often eaten in celebrations such as Birthdays and New Year. Below listed are some popular Filipino noodle dishes

  • Pancit Batchoy/La Paz Batchoy is a noodle soup usually made from pork organs, crushed crunchy fried pork rind, shrimp, vegetable, chicken stock, chicken, beef and especially noodles.
  • Pancit Bihon, sautéed noodles along with vegetables, pork and shrimp.
  • Pancit Molo is a Filipino wanton soup however it doesn't have noodles in it.
  • Pancit Palabok' noodles boiled then topped with atchuete also known as annatto seeds, shrimp, crushed crunchy fried pork.

Silog and pankaplog

Usually eaten at breakfast, this is the Filipino version of a typical American breakfast of egg, bacon and pancakes. Silog is an contraction of the words Sinangag(fried rice) and Itlog(egg). They are not only sold in Filipino eateries and stalls but also in restaurants and fastfood chains such as McDonald's.

  • Adosilog has Adobo
  • Longsilog has longganisa or local pork sausage
  • Tapsilog has tapa or cured beef
  • Tocilog has tocino or cured pork

A slang term for a breakfast that mainly consists of Pande Sal(bread), kape(coffee) and itlog


Ulam means Mains in Tagalog.

  • Adobo - chicken, pork or both served in a garlicky stew with vinegar and soy sauce as a base. It is arguably the national dish of the Philippines.
  • Bopis - pork innards, usually served spicy.
  • Burong Talangka - Filipino caviar, it is taken from Talangkas or Crabs.
  • Calamares - fried shrimp/squid wrapped in breading.
  • Camaron Rebusado - the Filipino version of tempura.
  • Chicken Curry - A lot different from other curries because it isn't spicy unlike other curries. Aside from chicken, Crab curry and other varieties are also available.
  • Dinuguan - a dark stew of pig's blood mixed with its innards. Usually served with a big green chili and best eaten with puto.
  • Daing na bangus - fried dried milkfish, usually served for breakfast with garlic fried rice and fried egg.
  • Kare-kare - peanuty stew of vegetables and meat simmered for hours on end, usually beef with tripe and tail and eaten with a side of shrimp paste (bagoong). There is also a seafood version of kare-kare with crabs, squid and shrimp instead of beef.
  • Lechon de leche - slow-roasted baby pork, usually served during larger occasions. The crispy skin is delicious and is often the first part that is consumed.
  • Lengua - roasted beef tongue marinated in savory sauce.
  • Nilaga - literally means "boiled", can be beef which in certain places is served with its marrow (bulalo), pork or chicken.
  • Pakbet - a traditional meal of mixed vegetables usually containing cut tomatoes, minced pork, lady finger, eggplant, etc.
  • Paksiw - fish or vegetables cooked with vinegar, ginger, garlic and chilli picante.
  • Sinigang - soup soured usually with tamarind (but can also be by guavas or kamias), can be served with pork, beef, chicken, fish or shrimp.
  • Tinola - chicken in ginger soup.

Western cuisine

Spanish, Portuguese, Mexicans, Americans and other European and Mediterranean people introduced their cuisine to the locals and just like they did to the Chinese, they embraced it. While the Spanish occupied the Philippines, connections of the Mexicans and the Aztecs with the Filipinos started in the Manila-Acapulco trade, the people introduced to each other their native cuisine. American influence came during the American colonization.

  • Arroz Caldo - Rice porridge, topped with egg, chicken liver and grind chicharon.
  • Arroz de Valenciana - Paella; Filipino style.
  • Biscocho - Sweet biscuit.
  • Caldereta - Pork or Beef tomato soup with sausages and vegetables.
  • Champorado - Introduced by the Mexicans but eventually in years the recipe changed by adding rice, sweet chocolate rice porridge. It is kind of like hot chocolate but with rice on it.
  • Empanada - Stuffed pastry.
  • Ensaymada - Sweet bread topped with cheese and butter.
  • Leche Flan - Creme brulee (Custard Pudding).
  • Menudo - Pork Stew.
  • Spaghetti - Possibly brought to the Philippines by the American-Italians during the American colonization, this is a must try for pasta lovers not because they love it, but because it is so different from the Italian spaghetti. Unlike the Italian version, Filipino spaghetti is sweet, its ingredients include sugar and condensed milk. The Filipinos are meat lovers who obsessively add meat to their spaghetti, including hotdog, Spam (this is what ham is called in the Philippines as Spam is so popular) and corned beef/pork or minced beef/pork.

Fastfood chains

America's influence is palpable in the Philippines, and you'll be hard pressed to find a mall without the requisite McDonalds,KFC, Pizza Hut, and even Taco Bell. Filipino fastfood chains that capture the essence of Filipino food compete strongly for Filipino tastebuds however, and they may be a safe place for the tourist to try the local fare. The following are a list of fastfood chains that have branches all around the Metro, and in many cases around the country.

  • Jollibee, [92]. The most well known Filipino fastfood chain of all, Jollibee can boast of over a thousand stores in the Philippines and more than 300 stores around the world. Typical fastfood fare for the most part, but the burger dressing will taste different (read: sweet) to most foreigners. For something a little different, try the pancit palabok, which is a vermicelli dish with an orange sauce. $1-$2 per serving.
  • Greenwich Pizza, [93]. The second of Jollibee corps' trifecta of fastfood chains, Greenwich Pizzas are your typical fare, but once again with the slightly sweeter than usual tomato sauce. Some seasonal offerings may be on offer though, like the sisig pizza, so check the menu. $2-$3 per serving.
  • Chowking, [94]. The Filipino version of Chinese food, also owned by Jollibee. For good sampling of their food, try the Lauriats, which feature a viand (beef, pork, chicken), rice, pancit (fried noodles with meat and veggies), siomai (dumplings), and buchi (a sweet rice ball covered with a sesame based coating. $2-$3 per serving.
  • Tapa King, [95]. Tapaking is where you get the ubiquitous tapsilog (fried beef strips, fried garlic rice, and egg), along with other local delicacies. $2-$3 per serving.
  • GotoKing, [96]. This where you go to get the localized version of congee called goto and lugaw, with different kinds of toppings like chicken, roasted garlic, egg, etc.
  • Mang Insasal, [97]. A relative newcomer, Mang Inasal actually brings a variety of barbecue called "inasal" into Metro Manila from the smaller city of Bacolod. They offer other grilled meats, as well as soups like sinigang (a sour, tamarind based soup). $1-2$ per serving.
  • Goldilocks, [98]. The place to go for your baked treats and sweets like mamon (a spongy round cake), polvoron (a tighly packed powdery treat) ensaymada (bread baked with cheese and sugar), and host of other delicacies for those with a sweet tooth.

Filipino-Chinese cuisine

Siomai with Calamansi

The Filipinos and Chinese traded with each other in the early times, then the Chinese finally began settling in the Philippines and introduced their cuisine and culture, the Filipinos embraced the Chinese heritage and started adapting it in their lives including food. Most of the dishes found below are served in Chinatown and Filipino-Chinese fast food chains and eateries.

  • Pansit Bihon' (米粉) - Stir Fried noodles with either prawns or pork in it.
  • Hopia (好餅) - Mooncake; a sweet pastry dough with a filling inside it either yam, mung beans etc.
  • Kampiong - Fried Rice.
  • Tikoy (年糕) - Sticky rice cake, often eaten in New Year's eve, believed that it would keep family ties strong.
  • Lumpia (潤餅) - Spring Rolls.
  • Taho (頭花) - Fresh tofu with brown sugar and vanilla syrup and pearl sago (pearl tapioca)
  • Siomai (燒賣) - Dim Sum.
  • Siopao (燒包) - Steamed buns with meat filling inside it.
  • Mami (麵) - Noodle Soup.
  • Lugaw (粥) - Congee made from Coconut milk and glutinous rice.

Street food

Fishball and Kikiam
Chicken Inasal

Arguably Filipino streetfood is one of the best however it may not be as clean as the ones you find in Singapore. Streetfood vendors have been criticized because of their unhygienic practices as well as unhealthy options but praised by many especially the youth because of its affordability and taste, nowadays streetfood is also found in malls but the traditional way of street vending still hasn't died out. Items are sold for as low as P5. Street food is usually enjoyed with beer or soda, usually eaten during the afternoon till night.

  • Adidas - More edible than the popular shoe, Adidas is actually a slang used by the locals to refer to barbecued chicken feet. It is called Adidas as feet is associated with shoes.
  • Adobong Mani - Salted roasted peanuts, usually sold in small paperbags by vendors.
  • Betamax - Again people don't cook betamax and eat them-- it's another slang for pigs blood that has been barbecued. It is called betamax because its shape is cube-like and resembles a betamax player.
  • Barbecue - Either pork or chicken, barbecue remains one of the favorites. It isn't only eaten as street food, but sometimes with rice as a main during dinner.
  • Balut - is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. Popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, baluts are mostly sold by street vendors at night in the regions where they are available. Boiled and usually eaten with a sprinkle of salt and vinegar.
  • Banana cue - a popular street food made of saba (Plantain) bananas fried in very hot oil with caramelized sugar coating. The saba bananas can also be boiled instead of fried.
  • Chickenballs - Chicken version of fishballs.
  • Fishball - Something smells fishy? As the name suggests it is the fish version of meatballs, just like meatballs it is also deepfried.
  • Ice Candy - Ice candy is like a popsicle stick, it comes in different flavours such as mango which is actually the most common and popular. Sold in tiangge (small convenient stores in barangays) as well as in the streets. It is the common refreshment for locals during the summer.
  • Inasal - The best Inasal would be found in Bacolod, it is usually like grilled chicken but the sweet juicy version.
  • Isaw - Chicken intestines barbecue.
  • Kikiam - Originally from the Chinese, it is pork meat with vegetables which is wrapped in bean curd sheets.
  • Kwek-Kwek - Quail eggs and chicken that had been battered in egg then fried, it is orange in colour.
  • Penoy - same as balut, but without the embryo, just the yolk.
  • Squidballs - Squid version of fishballs.
  • Sorbetes - The Pinoy version of sorbet/ice Cream. Sold in different flavours notably; ube, vanilla, chocolate, mango, coconut, cheese and sometimes durian. Filipinos like to play with their food-- you'll see people dipping french fries in ice cream floats or people eating ice cream with bread. Don't leave the Philippines without trying some of the more unusual flavors. They are kind of exotic and perhaps weird, but tasty.
  • Tenga - Tenga is Filipino for ear, it is pig's ear that has been barbecued.

Snack and baked goods

  • Pan de Sal - Spanish for "salt bread", they are small buns usually made fresh in the morning, an alternative to rice for breakfast. They are usually eaten with a cup of coffee. Some people prefer to dip their pandesal in coffee.
  • Chicharon - crunchy snacks made from deep-fried pig skin. If you don't eat pork or have dietary restrictions there is chicken chicharon and sometimes fish chicharon.

Fruits & desserts

Mangoes and Bananas
Buko Pie anyone?

Tropical fruits abound in the Philippines. Most of the countryside produce finds its way to the metro areas and can be easily bought in supermarkets, such as:


  • Coconut - Although it's familiar, you should try the coconut of the Philippines, the country is the largest exporter of coconuts in the world.
  • Durian - smells like hell but supposedly tastes of heaven, most common in Davao but can usually also be bought in some supermarkets in Manila.
  • Green Mangoes, Ripe Mangoes, Dried Mangoes - Don't leave Philippines without trying Green Indian mangoes with Bagoong(shrimp paste), tasting ripe mangoes and buying Dried mangoes as a Pasalubong.

Sweet treats

  • Banana chips - Unlike the ones eaten in India, the Filipino version is a lot thicker and sweeter, try dipping it in ice cream.
  • Buko Pie - Pie with scraped coconut as filling.
  • Cassava Cake
  • Egg Pie - Pie with sweet, flan like filling
  • Halo-Halo - Halo-Halo means mix-mix in Filipino, is another refreshing dessert which is a mix of sweetened beans and fruits, such as sweetened bananas, red and white beans, sago, crushed ice and milk and topped off with leche flan and ube jam and/or ice cream.
  • Ice scramble - Crushed ice with condensed milk.
  • Mais con Hielo/Yelo - A dessert of fresh sweet corn served in a glass mixed with crushed ice and milk.
  • Sampaloc candy - salted and sweetened tamarind fruit.
  • Turon' - Saba(Plantain) bananas in wrappers and fried and then topped with condensed milk or sugar.
  • Turron - Originally from Europe, a bar of cashew nuts with a white wafer.

Condiments and salads

  • Achara - Pickled Papaya salad, it actually originates from South Indian cuisine.
  • Banana Ketchup - During World War II, stocks of tomato ketchup ran out and people started complaining and demands for ketchup were high, due to the high production of bananas; Filipinos thought of using banana instead of tomato. Don't worry it doesn't taste like banana at all, it is kind of like sweet and sour ketchup. Try it with chicken, pork chop as well as spaghetti.
  • Bagoong (shrimp paste) - Shrimp paste is popular throughout Southeast Asia. Some people get allergies from shrimp paste, but they still consume it despite the itchy skin problems it causes. Fish is used instead sometimes.
  • Patis - Fish sauce.
  • Radish salad - Salad based on radish, onion and sugar, enjoyed with fish.

Dietary restrictions

Muslims will find it hard to find Halal food outside predominantly Muslim areas in the Philippines even though the country is one of the fastest emerging markets in exporting certified halal products. Ask if there is pork in the dish before eating it. Seventh Day Adventists would possibly find some vegetarian restaurants in the Philippines, mostly lurking in the commercial, financial and provincial capitals, and most of them use tofu instead of meat, Sanitarium products may be found in Seventh Day Adventists or Sanitarium hospitals. Hindus will find Indian restaurants which serve some vegetarian options around Metro Manila. Vegetarians and vegans will find it difficult to find a Filipino dish which is wholly vegetarian as most of the Filipinos love to add meat in every single dish they eat. Jews will also find it hard to find Kosher meals. However rabbis in the Philippines suggest some stores which sell Kosher food, visit Kosher Philippines for advice.


Sunset during Happy Hour on Boracay

Non-alcoholic drinks

Tropical fruit drinks made from dalandan (green mandarin), suha (pomelo), pinya (pineapple), calamansi (small lime), buko (young coconut), durian, guyabano (soursop) mango, banana, watermelon, strawberry and many more are available at stands along streets, as well as at commercial establishments such as food carts inside malls. They are often served chilled with ice.

Sago't Gulaman a sweet drink made of molasses, sago pearls and seaweed gelatin, and taho, a sweet, warm snack made from sago pearls, soft tofu and carmelized syrup, are worth trying. They are affordable and sold in stalls along streets or by vendors around the a common area as well as in malls. Zagu is a shake with flavors such as strawberry and chocolate, with sago pearls. Another famous drink is 'buko juice, the juice is consumed via an inserted straw on the top of the buko or young coconut.

Tea, coffee and chocolate

Salabat, sometimes called ginger tea, is an iced or hot tea made from lemon grass and pandan leaves or brewed from ginger root. Kapeng barako is a famous kind of tea in the Philippines, found in Batangas, made from coffee beans found in the cool mountains. Try the Filipino hot chocolate drink, tsokolate, made from chocolate tablets called tableas, a tradition that dates back the Spanish colonial times. Champorado isn't considered a drink by Filipinos, but it is another version of tsokolate with the difference of added rice. Records say that chocolate was introduced by the Aztecs to the Filipinos during the Manila-Acapulco trade.

Alcoholic drinks

Metro Manila is home to many bars, watering holes, and karaoke sites. Popular places include Makati (particularly the Glorietta and Greenbelt areas), Ortigas Metrowalk, and Eastwood in Libis. Other big cities such as Cebu City and Davao also have areas where the nightlife is centered. Establishments serve the usual hard and soft drinks typical of bars elsewhere. Note that Filipinos rarely consume alcohol by itself. They would normally have what is called as "pulutan" or bar chow alongside their drinks which is like the equivalent of tapas. At the least, this would consist of mixed nuts but selections of grilled meats and seafood are not uncommon food alongside the customary drinks. When having a party, Filipinos enjoy drinking round-robin style using a common glass. One is supposed to drink bottoms-up before passing the glass to the next person. This custom is known as "tagayan" and one person usually volunteers to pour the drink.

Beer is perhaps the most common form of alcohol consumed in bars. San Miguel Beer is the dominant local brand with several variants such as Light, Dry, Strong Ice and their flagship variant Pale Pilsen. Budweiser, Heineken and Corona can also be found in upscale bars. Rum and ginebra which is the local form of gin are commonly available forms of hard liquor. Indigenous forms of liquor are lambanog and tuba which are both derived from coconut sap. Tuba is fermented from the coconut sap and though tuba itself can be drunk, it is also distilled to take the form of lambanog. Lambanog is now being marketed widely both locally and internationally in its base form as well as in several flavored variants such as mango, bubble gum and blueberry.

Alcohol is extremely cheap in the Philippines (and probably cheapest in the whole of Asia). For a bottle of San Miguel bought at a 7-11 or Mini-Stop, a bottle would costs about ₱20-₱30 (about US$0.50). For top-end bars and clubs, a bottle would costs about ₱100-200. A bottle of 750ml Absolut Vodka at the supermarket will cost about ₱750, and a popular local rum (especially amongst knowledgeable expats) tanduay costs just below ₱70 at a 24 hour convenience store in Makati (The Financial District).


Housing options for tourists include hotels, condotels, apartelles, motels, inns/bed-and-breakfasts, and pension houses.

Hotels are usually for the higher-end traveller, although hotel rates--even for four-star establishments-- are not very high compared to other international destinations. Condotels are furnished condominium units rented out for long or short term stays, apartelles are set up for both short and long term stays, and a pension house is usually more basic and economical. These all vary in terms of cleanliness, availability of air conditioning, and hot water showers. Motels, inns, and lodges also serve lodging purposes but have a reputation as meeting places for illicit sex, a unit being usually a small room with a connected carport, hidden behind a high wall which provides for secret comings and goings. You can distinguish these by their hourly rates, while more reputable institutions usually have daily rates.

Stay safe

Travel Warning WARNING: A heavy conflict is going on in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Basilan, Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) between Muslim militias and the Philippine government. In 2009 this region was declared the world's most hazardous area for journalists by the Committee to Protect Journalists, with 18 reporters dead in a massacre that claimed the lives of almost 60 people. Travelling to this region is dangerous and strongly discouraged. If it is necessary to visit, inform your embassy, remain cautious at all times and avoid public gatherings.

Use common sense when traveling to and around the Philippines, as with traveling to other developing nations. Although the people of these islands are generally friendly and accommodating, one must be aware of the prevalence of poverty (especially in big cities) and the things that, unfortunately, come with it. You must not flash your valuables (especially Apple iPods and iPhones) because they pose a pickpocketing threat. Carry small change and don't flash large bills. Pickpockets are common in the big cities. Manila is not a place for violent robbery, but the ativan scam is common practice. Don't expect any reprisal from the police and must also sometimes be wary of them as they can be easily bribed and might be entangled in their own scams. Women are advised to travel in large groups and must use caution when out at night. Do not enter alleyways and remote areas at night.

See also common scams and pickpockets.

Prostitution and drugs

Prostitution is thriving but officially illegal in the Philippines, although hostess bars, massage parlors and other opportunities abound which offer this service. EDSA and Makati in Metro Manila, and Angeles City are known hot spots for these activities. The age of consent is 18. The Philippine National Police treat sex-offenders, child-molesters and people involving in prostitution harshly, catching you in an act associated with prostitution and child sex abuse will result to long term jail sentences, penalties and deportation to your country.

Marijuana and shabu (crystal methamphetamine) are widely used in the country however it is also Illegal and Penalties are very harsh, you might as well get long jail terms and get deported back to your country.

Gays and Lesbians

Gays and lesbians will slightly be fine here in the Philippines as some the younger tolerant generation are very accepting, but please use common sense (ie: avoid public kissing) as you may get stares or even verbal profanity. Also, in the countryside and with the 50 year old and up generation chances are they will condemn it. But nevertheless, Filipinos have their warm hospitality. Violence against gays and lesbians is rare but don't expect this.

Stay healthy

Eating and drinking

Drink the readily available bottled water. Buko (young coconut) juice is also safe if they have not added local ice to it. Be wary also of Buko juice vendors, some usually just add sugar to water. Buy and eat fruit that has not already been cut up. Cooked food from a karenderia (outdoor canteen) is okay if there is a fire under the pots and the food has been kept hot. If you must drink tap water (it is usually served/contained in a small to medium plastic bag), water in Manila, Cebu City and other major cities, but it is recommended that you boil tap water for at least 5 minutes just to be safe. Elsewhere drink bottled water. There is always the risk of contracting amoebiasis when drinking tap water in the countryside. Also, this applies to ice that is usually put in beverages. Bottled water is best purchased from within stores and sheltered eateries. Bottled waters sold outside (by the roads) are more than likely used bottles filled with tap water, sealed then cooled. Be careful of drinking pampalamig (cold drinks like Sago't Gulaman) as some of the vendors might be using Magic Sugar(formally called Sodium Cyclamate); an artificial sweetener, which has been banned by the Philippine Government because of its adverse effects on health such as higher risk of getting cancer by consuming Magic sugar, it has been used as an alternative to ordinary sugar as it is much cheaper, call 117 (Philippine National Police) if you encounter such situation. Streetfood isn't so safe to consume in the Philippines, hygienic standards aren't enforced much. It is better to eat streetfood as well as pampalamig inside malls and shopping centers than in streets as stalls in malls and shopping centers have better enforcement of cleanliness.


CDC[99] advises that risk of malaria exists in areas below 600 meters, except for the provinces of Aklan, Bilaran, Bohol, Camiguin, Capiz, Catanduanes, Cebu, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Masbate, northern Samar, Siquijor, and Metro Manila. Chloroquine is no longer a recommended malaria preventative for anywhere in the Philippines. In general malaria is not common in the Philippines compared to Africa and the rest of mainland Southeast Asia, and around half of the c. 40,000 annual cases are in a couple of discrete locations. Dengue fever is common in the Philippines and cases rise every year, it is advisable to apply anti-mosquito repellents and wear long sleeved clothes whenever possible. Rabies is also common among street animals in the country, get a vaccination for rabies if you haven't done so, if you're travelling with children vaccinate them as soon as possible as they are of high risk of getting rabies because they tend to play more with animals. Hepatitis A and B is of a high-risk in the country, get a vaccine if you haven't had one, as having exposure to food, water, sexual contact, and blood among the local people. If you plan to visit rural farming areas, Japanese encephalitis is common, it is recommended to get a vaccine to avoid this disease. Avoid swimming in fresh water (chlorinated swimming pools are exceptional) areas where you will have high risks of getting schistosomiasis. Leptospirosis is often contracted from recreational water activities in contaminated water such as Kayaking, it is common in the tropical areas of Southeast Asia.

Also please note the tubercolosis is very common in the countryside, it is advisable not to stay in certain villages in areas you are not familiar with for a very long time. It is also higly advisable that if one coughs or looks weak in strength it is highly advisable to avoid contact with that person.

Bring anti-diarrheal drugs with you, as unsanitary conditions present a high risk for traveler's diarrhea. Gatorade or other "sport drinks" might relieve you from fluid loss. Drink bottled liquids if you are unsure of the water, and always wash your hands.

Although the Philippines is a low HIV prevalence country, it still pays to take precaution. Other sexually transmitted diseases are more common than HIV.



See also: Travel topics -- Electrical systems

Most of the Philippines is 220 Volt 50 Hz mixed with the American and European plug. There is sometimes a ground in some areas. Americans will need a step-down transformer. It's best also to bring such items that work universally such as those electronics marked with a 100V-240V 50/60hz compatibility to avoid voltage concerns.

3-phase voltage is 380v.

Downtown Baguio (northern Luzon) uses 110 V, but it's also 50 Hz. The airport, for example, is 220V. If staying in the Baguio area, always ask first! If your equipment is 100-127V, merely crossing a street corner can cause it to be damaged or even catch fire. There are no signs in Baguio indicating where 110V ends and 220V begins.

During drought seasons (March to May), most of the power-plants are hydro-electrics (as stated above in the climate section), regular black-outs happen during this time, ask if your hotel owns a generator.

Television and video

Television and video in the Philippines uses NTSC. Region Coded DVDs are Region 3 (SE Asia), though virtually all Tagalog movies are region free. There are two major networks in the Philippines - ABS-CBN and GMA. Cable and Satellite TV are widely available. SkyCable and Global Destiny Cable are the best-known cable operators in the country while Dream is the country's sole satellite TV operator. Almost all hotels and major commercial centres have cable or satellite TV. Channels such as BBC, CNN, Bloomberg. ABS-CBN's News Channel, ANC, provide 24/7 news headlines, updates, travel, business and lifestyle programs, almost always in English.

Embassies and Consulates

Several embassies and consulates are open in the Philippines, for a full detailed list of embassies visit


A little courtesy goes a long way. Filipinos are a very friendly and hospitable people, sometimes even to a fault. Take the time to smile and say "thank you", and you'll receive much better responses. You will receive an even better response if you throw in a little Tagalog, such as "salamat", which means "thank you". When talking to the people who are usually old enough to be your parents or grandparents in Filipino, it is greatly appreciated to include po in your sentences such as salamat po, call them also by Tito(Uncle), Tita(Aunt), Manong(Mr.) or Manang(Mrs./Ms.), Ate or Kuya(a word used to people older than you but not old enough to be your uncle or aunt) with their name, it is mean to call older people with their names. If you are having a conflict, stay relaxed, make a joke and smile. Getting angry or standing on your stripes will not bring you far, and you will lose respect.

In the countryside and in some urban homes, footwear is removed when entering a home, though they may make an exception for foreigners. The key is to look around before entering any home. If you see footwear just outside the door, more than likely the family's practice is to remove footwear before entering. If you wear socks, you don't have to remove them.

Although many Filipinos might not be able to afford tipping service workers, tipping is always accepted. Tips are customary, and in some instances, mandatory in the more high-end environments such as hotels and major restaurants.


When working with people in the Philippines, it's important to remember that they often bring cultural influences into the workplace and that don't always match well with your business culture. When you first meet another business person, it's important that you address them with both their title and both their first and last name. Businesses in the Philippines are often structured as a hierarchy and it's important to note that most decisions are made from the top down. Additionally, the Filipino value of "social harmony" doesn't always allow for directness when approaching sensitive issues. [100]

Street children

In many of the larger cities extreme poverty is prevalent. It is advised not to give money to beggars or the street children who run around at all hours. If you really want to give something, food is the better alternative.

Political topics

Keep in mind that the Marcos years (1965-1986) can be a polarizing topic within the Philippines. Visitors will find that the northern Ilokano Population view the regime as an era of stability, while the metropolitan areas in the south of Luzon take strong pride in the people's power or "EDSA" revolution that deposed the regime. Either way it is best to assess the speaker's opinion prior to approaching the topic.


The Philippines is a predominantly Roman Catholic country, although a home to a large Gay and Lesbian community. Common sense is advised for travelers, as it is considered immoral by some to show public displays of affection between members of the same sex.


The country code for the Philippines is 63. The area code for Metro Manila is 2. To make a overseas call, include the prefix 00.

  • Police, Medical and Fire: 117/112/911. 117 may also be texted from cellphones.
  • Motorist Assistance': 136 (Metro Manila only)
  • Tourist hotline: (+63)2-5241728;5241660
  • Immigration hotline: 527
  • Directory assistance: 187 (fee applies)

The cheapest way to call to and from the Philippines is by using Voice Over Internet Protocol, there are several licensed VoIP providers in the Philippines. One of the most popular is Vodini Telecom [101].


English newspapers are available throughout the country and there are aslo some Japanese and Chinese language options. The Daily Tribune [102], Malaya [103], Manila Standard [104], Manila Bulletin [105], Business World [106], Philippine Daily Inquirer [107] and Visayan Daily Star [108] are some of the English newspapers.

Cell phones

There are three major companies operating GSM 900/1800 networks: Globe[109], Smart[110] and Sun Cellular [111]. Pre-paid SIM cards of these networks are easy to acquire and cost as little as ₱30 and provide a cheaper alternative to roaming charges. If your unit is locked to your home service provider, cellphone repair shops in various malls have ways of unlocking (the typical fee to unlock is ₱300 but can go as high as ₱2,000 for certain units like a Blackberry). If you don't have a phone to begin with, a complete pre-paid kit with phone and SIM can be purchased for as little as ₱1,500. Phones that come with these sot of deals are usually locked to a local network provider, and you would need to have it unlocked before leaving if you plan on using it back home.

GSM mobile phones are in wide use all over the country. 3G technology is available through Globe and Smart, but is poorly implemented and often not properly operational. In most urban locations and many resorts, cell phone service will be available. The usual cost of an international long-distance call to the United States, Europe or other major countries is $0.40 per minute. Local calls range from ₱ 6.50 per minute for prepaid calls (a new law was passed that will eventually require per pulse, i.e. rates per 6-seconds charging) but unlike other countries, you won't be charged for incoming calls. Text messages typically cost as low as ₱1 and the Philippines is usually tagged as the "texting capital of the world". International SMS is charged at a higher rate of between ₱15-25. Plans for unlimited call and SMS are offered by the networks are but are almost always restricted to those made to parties within the same network.

Reloading pre-paid SIMs is a breeze. Electronic Load (E-Load) stations are everywhere from small corner stores to the large malls where you just give your mobile phone number and the amount you wish to load (Globe, Smart and Sun each have their load denominations to choose from for E-loading). If you have a friend using the same mobile operator as you, you can load as little as a few pesos by letting him/her pass on some of his/her load to you and if you need hundreds of pesos worth of load, you can purchase pre-paid cards which are available in denominations of ₱100, ₱300 and ₱500 (approximately US$2.20, US$7 and 12 respectively).

Due to the wide use of mobile phones, pay phones are increasingly becoming obsolete. Some malls and public places still do have them and they usually come in either the coin or card operated variety. Globe and PLDT are the usual operators. Phone cards are usually sold by shops which sell cellphone pre-paid loads and cards. Note that phone cards of one company can not be used with the other company's card operated phones.


Internet access areas of broadband speeds are plentiful in city malls, much less so outside the cities, but are growing at a rapid pace. Internet surfing rates depend primarily on where you surf and the medium used (e.g. WiFi or wired). Internet services offered by hotels and shopping malls are expensive and can go up to ₱200/hour (approximately US$5) but neighbourhood cafes can be as cheap as ₱15/hour (approximately US$0.35). Public place WiFi services in the Philippines is provided by and WiZ is likely to cost ₱100 (approximately US$2) for up to an hour. Coffee shops like Starbucks[112] and Seattle's Best[113] as well as malls usually carry WiFi service some are free to use. Certain areas may also carry free WiFi. In addition, you may want to consider buying a mobile broadband modem starting at ₱995 where service is also provided by Globe, Smart or Sun. WiFi signals vary depending on available infrastructure on your particular location, but in general Smart has the largest network in the country, followed by Globe, and then Sun. Mobile broadband comes both in postpaid and prepaid variants. "Loads" often cost just $2 an hour for most mobile internet modems.


Apart from the Philippine postal service, FedEx, UPS, and DHL courier services are also available. Local couriers such as LBC and Aboitiz are also available. Postal mail from abroad is often "lost", so don't send anything valuable.

This country guide is usable. It has links to this country's major cities and other destinations (and all are at usable status or better), a valid regional structure and information about this country's currency, language, cuisine, and culture is included. At least the most prominent attraction is identified with directions. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!



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