The Philippines, our home country. With more than 7500 islands and the number increases or decreases depending on the tide. The Philippines is situated in the Pacific ring of fire which makes it prone to typhoon and earthquake but despite this, the Philippines has one of the most diverse flora and fauna of the world.
Before you visit, check out the official Government Philippine Tourism Page for relevant information at tourism.gov.ph
The Philippines Overview
The Philippines is an archipelago that is grouped into three main island groups, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Each island group is unique and offers its own cultural experience. Internationally the Philippines is known for its pristine beaches like Boracay, El Nido, and Coron. The Philippines also has unique wildlife like the tarsier only found on the island of Bohol in the Visayas.
The Philippines is a highly developing country so don’t be surprised if you see towering skyscrapers and two-story houses side by side. The popular city centers in Luzon are Manila and its surrounding cities. In Visayas, Cebu City is the capital city of the region and can be a great hub to other provincial destinations.
To the South is Davao city. The city is largely surrounded by unspoiled landscape due to its distance from the capital.
Manila is a highly congested metropolitan district located in Luzon. It is the capital city of the Philippines and is compromised of a number of cities with its own unique subcultures and destinations.
Cebu City is our home city and is locally regarded as the queen city of the south. Cebu City is a great hub for destinations like Puerto Princessa and Boracay so it is one of the popular cities of the country. Cebu City is also a destination in itself with popular eco-centric attractions like whale shark watching, waterfall trekking, and exploring historic spots from the Spanish Era.
Puerto Princesa City
The city of Puerto Princesa is the capital city of Palawan. With a newly constructed international airport, the city is considered to be the gateway to El Nido and Coron. Puerto Princesa is a small city compared to other metropolitan centers like Cebu or Manila.
General Information about the Philippines
Timezone: GMT+8. It has the same timezone as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur.
Currency: The Local Currency is the Philippine Peso. Please refer to the official guide of the Central Bank of the Philippines (Bangko Sentral ng Philippines.) The Philippines has recently updated its Bills and coins and old bills before 2010 will no longer be accepted. The common denomination for bills is 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, and 20 pesos.
For coins, It has 10, 5, and 1 peso coins. For cents or locally known as centavos we have 25, 5, and 1 centavo.
Foreign Currency: Most Banks in the Philippines accept the United States Dollar, Japanese Yen, and Chinese Yuan. Please take note that Banks charge more for the exchange and you get less of your money compared to Commercial Foreign Exchanges.
Units of Measurement: Due to the influence of Spain and the United States the Philippines follow a mixture of the Metric System and US Customary System so always have a converter app ready in your phone
Language: The Official Langauge of the Philippines is Filipino but most of the locals can speak and understand English
What to Expect with the Weather
The Philippines is a tropical country meaning if it is not raining all day long, it is hot and humid all the long. Expect sudden downpours early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The Philippines has mainly three seasons across the year starting from the hot-dry season that starts from March to May, the rainy seasons from June to November, and finally the cold-dry season from December to February.
Several factors also affect the seasons of the Philippines like the southwest monsoon that brings heavy torrential rains across the region. The southwest monsoon is locally known as the Habagat. The Northwest monsoons, locally know as Amihan, bring dry air from the Pacific. The yearly average of the Philippines ranges from 22’C to 32’C.
Regardless of the seasons always have an umbrella to guard against the searing heat of the Sun or from sudden squalls.
The Official Weather Monitoring Government Agency of the Philippines is the Philippine Atmospheric Astronomical Services (PAGASA)
The Local Filipino Culture
The Philippines is a culturally diverse country and is a melting pot of eastern and western culture. The Filipino culture is closely related to the Malay culture of its neighbors like Malaysia and Indonesia. The Philippines is also heavily influenced by western cultures like Spain and the United States.
Generally, Filipinos are warm, welcoming and friendly to tourist regardless of social stature. Anyone you meet on the streets will be eager to point the correct direction or help you with finding your way. Communicating with the locals is not a problem because most can understand and speak English.
How to Get Around
The Philippines is an archipelago with more than a thousand islands so expect a lot of long boat trips and short hops via airplane. Travel between provinces and major islands is relatively easy and centered to cater to foreign tourist with special tourist help desks in every major hub. This is also evident in the Government’s increased spending in the transportation infrastructure.
Travel within and in-between cities like Manila, Quezon, or Cebu is a different story. The backbone of the city mass transportation is world war 2 solution which is the evolution of surplus jeeps left over from the war and converted into the “iconic” jeepney that is designed to carry more than 20 passengers at a time at the utmost utilitarian manner as possible.
What to wear in the Philippines
The Philippines has tropical weather and it can get hot and humid during noon time (30’C-32’C) most especially in the city centers so wearing light breathable clothes is ideal. During the evening and dawn, it can be cooler at 26’C so having a light jacket or hoodie is ideal.
The Philippines has hundreds of popular tourist beaches and wearing bikinis and two-pieces is generally acceptable and probably encourage but keep in mind that some beaches like Boracay have a strict policy against skimpy bikinis.
Filipino Cuisine is heavily influenced by Spanish, Malayan, and Western Flavors. Filipino Cuisine focuses more on Sweet and Salty servings with plentiful choices of desserts and delicacies.