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About the PhilippinesEdit

The Philippines officially known as the Republic of the Philippines is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. To its west across the South China Sea is Vietnam. The Sulu Sea to the southwest separates it from the island of Borneo and to the south the Celebes Sea from other islands of Indonesia. It is bounded on the east by the Philippine Sea. An archipelago comprising 7,107 islands, the Philippines is categorized broadly into three main geographical divisions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The capital city is Manila.

With an estimated population of about 92 million people, the Philippines is the world’s 12th most populous country. It is estimated that there are about 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, equivalent to about 11% of the population residing outside the country. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. Its tropical climate sustains one of the richest areas in terms of biodiversity in the world.

The country has a rich history due to its diverse ethnic heritage, as well as foreign rule and influences. Negritos and later Austronesian peoples were the earliest inhabitants of the archipelago. The latter brought influences from Malay, Hindu, and Islamic cultures. Trade introduced Chinese cultural influences. The arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 marked the beginning of an era of Spanish interest and eventually rule, that lasted over three centuries. The Philippines became the Asian hub of the Manila-Acapulco galleon, a trade route that linked Asia and America for the first time in history. Spanish rule introduced western civilization to the Philippines, and spread Christianity. At the end of the 19th century there followed the Philippine Revolution and the Spanish-American War which ended Spanish rule, leading to the short-lived First Philippine Republic. During the Philippine-American War the Filipino forces fought for independence, but the United States became the new ruling power. Aside from the period of Japanese occupation, the United States retained sovereignty over the islands until the end of World War II when the Philippines gained independence. The United States bequeathed to the Philippines the English language and its democratic presidential bicameral system of government. Since independence the Philippines has had an often tumultuous experience with democracy, with popular “People Power” movements overthrowing a dictatorship in one instance but also underlining the institutional weaknesses of its constitutional republic in others.

The Motto of the Country: Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan, at Makabansa (“For God, People, Nature, and Country”)


The Filipino PeopleEdit

Photo by Andrew PamoradaMost Filipinos refer to themselves colloquially as “Pinoy” (feminine: “Pinay”), which is a slang word formed by taking the last four letters of “Pilipino” and adding the diminutive suffix “-y”.

The pre-1987 Philippine alphabet (Abakada)’s lack of the letter “F” had caused the letter “F” to be substituted with “P”. This is the reason, when the 28-letter modern Filipino alphabet has been made official in 1987, the name Filipino was preferred over Pilipino.

In a survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS), more than 60 percent of the 1,200 respondents said they were very proud to be Filipinos while more than 30 percent claimed they were proud of their national identity. The respondents also cited the following qualities of the Filipinos: God-centered, industrious, faithful, has convictions, responsible, peaceful and law-abiding, and loving and caring. Despite the many problems hounding the Philippines, Filipinos still consider themselves as among the happiest people in the world. Results of regional surveys conducted by MTV-Asia, ACNielsen and the Economist magazine have indicated that Filipinos are the happiest people in Asia.

In the World Values Survey conducted by University of Michigan, the Philippines was ranked 12th among 54 countries in the world in terms of happiness index. Among Asian countries, it was ranked first. According to the survey, the top ten happiest nations in the world were Iceland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, Great Britain and Venezuela.

The EconomyEdit

Makati SkylineThe Philippine economy is the 47th largest in the world, with an estimated 2008 gross domestic product (GDP nominal) of over US$ 166.9 billion (nominal).

Primary exports include semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil, and fruits. Major trading partners include China, Japan, the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia. Its unit of currency is the Philippine peso (PHP).

The Philippines is a newly industrialized country and Goldman Sachs includes the country in its list of the “Next Eleven” economies. The country has a labor force of around 38.1 million. The agricultural sector employs close to 32% of workers but contributes to only about 13.8% of GDP. The industrial sector employs around 13.7% of the workforce and accounts for 30% of GDP. Meanwhile the 46.5% of workers involved in the services sector are responsible for 56.2% of GDP.

The unemployment rate as of July 2009 stands at around 7.6% and due to the global economic slowdown inflation as of September 2009 reads 0.70%. Foreign currency reserves as of October 2009 are US$ 36.13 billion.[91] In 2004, public debt as a percentage of GDP was estimated to be 74.2%; in 2008, 56.9%. Gross external debt has risen to US$ 66.27 billion. The country is a net importer. In the 1960s, the country was regarded as the second wealthiest in Asia, next to Japan. However, the leadership of Ferdinand Marcos proved disastrous by gradually transforming the market economy into one with aspects of a centrally planned economy. The country suffered from slow economic growth and bouts of economic recession. Only in the 1990s with a program of economic liberalization did the economy begin to recover.

The Asian Financial Crisis affected the economy, resulting in a lingering decline of the value of the peso and falls in the stock market, although the extent to which it was affected was not as severe as that of some of its Asian neighbors. This was largely due to the fiscal conservatism of the government, partly as a result of decades of monitoring and fiscal supervision from the International Monetary Fund, in comparison to the massive spending of its neighbors on the rapid acceleration of economic growth.[39] By 2004, the economy experienced six percent growth in GDP and 7.3% in 2007, its fastest pace of growth in three decades. Yet the daily income for 45% of the population of the Philippines remains less than US$ 2.

Photo courtesy of Legend HotelsThe Philippine economy is heavily reliant on remittances which surpass foreign direct investment as a source of foreign currency. Regional development is somewhat uneven with Luzon—Metro Manila in particular—gaining most of the new economic growth at the expense of the other regions, although the government has taken steps to distribute economic growth by promoting investment in other areas of the country. Despite constraints, service industries such as tourism and business process outsourcing have been identified as areas with some of the best opportunities for growth for the country. However, China and India have emerged as major economic competitors.

The Philippines is a member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asian Development Bank which is headquartered in Mandaluyong City, the Colombo Plan, and the G-77 among other groups and institutions.


Why Visit the Country?Edit

Mount PinatuboThe second-largest archipelago in the world, with over 7000 tropical islands, the Philippines is one of the great treasures of Southeast Asia. Often overlooked by travellers because of its location on the ‘wrong’ side of the South China Sea, the Philippines rewards those who go the extra distance to reach it. And because it’s off the beaten path, the Philippines is a great place to escape the hordes who descend on other parts of Southeast Asia. First and foremost, the Philippines is a place of natural wonders – a string of coral-fringed islands strewn across a vast expanse of the western Pacific.

Below sea level, the Philippines boasts some of the world’s best diving and snorkelling, including wreck diving around Coron and swimming with the whale sharks off Donsol. Above sea level, it has a fantastic landscape with wonders enough to stagger even the most jaded traveller: the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, Banaue & the Rice Terraces and fascinating reminders of the islands’ history in places such as Samar & Leyte and Vigan. And if you’re after palm-fringed, white-sand beaches, try laidback Sipalay or flat-out party town Boracay.

Plantation Bay, CebuOf course, any traveller who has been here will tell you that it’s the people and their culture that makes the Philippines unique. Long poised at the centre of Southeast Asian trade, colonised by a succession of world powers, the Philippines is a vivid tapestry that reflects its varied cultural inheritance. And despite the poverty that afflicts much of the nation, the Filipinos themselves are among the most ebullient and easygoing people anywhere. The Philippines truly qualifies as one of the last great frontiers in Southeast Asian travel. Cross whichever ocean you need to and


When to VisitEdit

BoracayAny time is a good time to visit the Philippines, with the possible exception of Holy Week (around Easter), when hotels book out months in advance and prices triple. New Year’s sees a similar hotel crunch in popular spots like Boracay, but the parties make it worthwhile. Also be aware that during typhoon season (June to early December), tropical storms raging up the east coast can mean foul weather for days, but there’s not much you can do to predict typhoons. Adopt the Filipino maxim – bahala na (whatever will be will be) – and wait it out.

Magellan’s Cross, CebuThe Philippines’ weather has become more unpredictable in recent years, but January to May usually brings the best weather to most of the country. However, this is also the high tourist season. Foreign arrivals are highest in January to March, while Filipinos hit the road en masse in April and May for their ‘summer’ holidays. Don’t worry too much about crowds though; outside of a few popular beach resorts it’s never very hard to escape other tourists in the Philippines. Low season is during the ‘rainy’ months of June to September, which in some areas of the country aren’t rainy at all. Accommodation prices usually decrease during this time.


Entering the CountryEdit

Most people enter the Philippines at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) or through sea. Most nationalities are issued a 21-day visa on the spot.

AIR (Airports & Airlines)

Since most people fly to the Philippines and most flights land in Manila, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA; 02-877 1109; 203.160.183.226/miaa) in Parañaque, is likely to be your first taste of the Philippines. Too bad, but don’t despair – most of the country is a lot better run than decrepit old NAIA. Doubtless as an incentive for people to fly with Philippine Airlines (PAL), the national carrier, its passengers get exclusive use of the nicer Centennial Terminal (NAIA II).

Cebu City’s Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA; 032-340 2486; www.mactan-cebuairport.com.ph) is the country’s second-busiest airport and is much better. Depending on your itinerary, Cebu’s airport may also be a more practical entry or exit point. The biggest advantage of flying into Cebu is that it saves you having to deal with the chaos of Manila (and its unscrupulous taxi drivers). Cebu has international connections to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific, Kuala Lumpur (via Kota Kinabalu) with Malaysian Airlines, Singapore with SilkAir, and Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul with Philippine Airlines. Since all these cities are well served with international connections, it’s easy for the determined traveller to arrive in Cebu rather than Manila.

Another airport in the Philippines with regular international connections is Francisco Bangoy International Airport (DVO) in Davao on Mindanao, which has flights to and from Singapore with SilkAir.

Previously confined to cargo, the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA, formerly Clark) in Angeles City now handles international flights by AirAsia (to and from Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Tiger Airways (to and from Singapore), and CR Airways (to and from Hong Kong). Airlines flying to & from the philippines

Air France (AF; 02-887 1202; www.airfrance.com; hub Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris)

Air Macau (NX; 02-243 3111; en.airmacau.com.mo; hub Macau International Airport, Macau)

Air Niugini (PX; 02-891 3339; www.airniugini.com.pg; hub Port Moresby Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby)

Air Philippines (2P; 02-851 7601; www.airphils.com; hub Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila)

Asiana Airlines (OZ; 02-892 5688; us.flyasiana.com; hub Incheon International Airport, Seoul)

Cathay Pacific (CX; 02-757 0888; www.cathaypacific.com; hub Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong)

Cebu Pacific Air (5J; 02-636 4938; www.cebupacificair.com; hub Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan Island)

China Airlines (CI; 02-521 9331; www.china-airlines.com/en; hub Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport, Taoyuan)

China Southern Airlines (CZ; 02-551 3333; www.cs-air.com/en; hub Baiyun International Airport, Guangzhou)

Continental Airlines (CO; 02-818 8701; www.continental.com; hub Houston Intercontinental Airport, Houston)

Emirates (EK; 02-811 5278; www.emirates.com; hub Dubai International Airport, Dubai) EVA Air (BR; 02-864 3800; www.evaair.com/html/b2c/english; hub Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport, Taoyuan)

Gulf Air (GF; 02-817 8383; www.gulfairco.com; hub Bahrain International Airport, Bahrain)

Japan Airlines (JL; 02-886 6868; www.jal.co.jp/en; hub Narita Airport, Tokyo)

KLM (KL; 02-887 1202; www.klm.com; hub Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam)

Korean Air (KE; 02-817 6668; www.koreanair.com; hub Incheon International Airport, Seoul)

Kuwait Airways (KU; 02-812 9579; www.kuwait-airways.com/en; hub Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait)

Lufthansa Airlines (LH; 02-580 6400; www.lufthansa.com; hub Frankfurt Main Airport, Frankfurt)

Malaysia Airlines (MH; 02-525 9404; www.malaysiaairlines.com; hub Kuala Lumpur)

Northwest Airlines (NW; 02-521 1928; www.nwa.com; hub Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport, Minneapolis)

Orient Thai Airlines (OX; www.fly12go.com; hub Chiang Mai International Airport, Chiang Mai)

Philippine Airlines (PR; 02-817 1234; www.philippineairlines.com; hub Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Manila)

Qantas (QF; 02-812 0607; www.qantas.com; hub Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, Sydney)

Qatar Airways (QR; 02-812 1888; www.qatarairways.com; hub Doha International Airport, Qatar)

Royal Brunei (BI; 02-897 3309; www.bruneiair.com; hub Brunei International Airport, Brunei)

Saudi Arabian Airlines (SV; 02-896 3046; www.saudiairlines.com; hub King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah)

Thai Airways International (TG; 02-812 4744; www.thaiair.com; hub Bangkok International Airport, Bangkok)

SEA It’s possible to travel by sea between the Philippines and nearby parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. However, schedules and routes are very liable to change so it’s best to be flexible in your plans. Indonesia

EPA Shipping Line (083-380 3591) has ferries that sail between General Santos in Mindanao and the deep-water port of Bitung, 55km from Manado, Indonesia (P1800, 36 hours, twice weekly). The office is inside the port compound at Makar, near General Santos. This is a cargo boat that takes passengers; officially, foreigners should be able to make this trip, but you may want to check with the tourism office in General Santos first. You will need to get your visa requirements in order with the Indonesian consulate in Davao before you leave.

There is also a boat that sails between Bitung and Davao’s Sasa Pier (via General Santos) every Friday, but trip details change often so it’s best to check with Davao’s city tourism office. Malaysia

Aleson Lines (062-991 2687; PPA Terminal, Port Area, Zamboanga) boats leave Zamboanga in Mindanao for Sandakan in Malaysian Borneo twice weekly (cabin P3600, 16 hours).

SRN Fastcraft (992 3765) has two Weesam Express boats a week between Zamboanga and Sandakan (P5400, eight hours).


Moving Around the IslandsEdit

The unit of currency in the Philippines is the peso (P), which is also spelled piso in Filipino, and is divided into 100 centavos (c). Banknotes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 pesos. Coins are in 10c and 25c pieces, and P1, P5 and P10.

The smartest way to bring cash to the Philippines is in the form of a credit card, cash card or debit card. Provided you have your PIN, you can use these to get cash or cash advances from thousands of banks and ATMs in the Philippines (but don’t expect to find these in rural areas – always stock up on cash before leaving a city).

The Philippines is one of the most affordable countries in Southeast Asia..

Once outside Manila and Cebu, budget travellers can get by for around P1000 per day, spending around P400 on simple accommodation in guesthouses and backpacker joints, P200 for food in basic local restaurants, P200 for travel and P200 for sundries. If you’re staying put and bargain for long-term accommodation discounts, you may do significantly better than this daily budget.

Midrange travellers will come close to doubling the budget figure (say, around P1950 per day), spending around P850 on a reasonably comfortable hotel or simple resort accommodation, P500 for three decent meals a day, P300 for travel and another P300 for sundries. Once you enter top-end territory, the sky is almost the limit: top-end accommodation prices will almost always be quoted in US dollars, and will average around US$80 for a resort or standard hotel (though this can go much higher); meals at good restaurants can run to P500 or more per person; full-day car and driver hire will cost around P1000.

Of course, as far as prices go in the Philippines, location is the operative word. Prices in Manila or Cebu City aren’t necessarily indicative of expenses for the rest of your trip. In particular, Manila’s accommodation (especially midrange) tends to be pricey compared with the provinces. Likewise, the internationally famous resort Boracay is a lot pricier than most other islands, though bargains can be found even there. The season also plays a huge role in accommodation prices: in the off-season, you can ask for and expect to receive discounts on accommodation of between 20% and 40%.

Fortunately, no matter where you go in the Philippines, basic necessities are amazingly cheap all year round. Likewise, transport, with the exception of private boat and car hire, is also a great bargain, with airfares as low as you’ll find in any other parts of Southeast Asia.






trivia


Our Filipino trivia illustrates amusing Filipino facts and what’s best of the Pinoy. Some things charmingly Pinoy never change, and always remained a part of our lives. As a signature of our identity, here are a hundred points that mark us unquestionably Pinoy. If you are homesick, this is one delightful way to put a smile on your face.

MERIENDA. Where else is it normal to eat five times a day?

SAWSAWAN. Assorted sauces that guarantee freedom of choice, enough room for experimentation and maximum tolerance for diverse tastes. Favorites: toyo’t calamansi, suka at sili, patis.

KUWAN, ANO. At a loss for words? Try these and marvel at how Pinoys understand exactly what you want.

PINOY HUMOR AND IRREVERENCE. If you’re api and you know it, crack a joke. Nothing personal, really.

TINAG. Thank goodness for small entrepreneurs. Where else can we buy cigarettes, soap, condiments and life’s essentials in small affordable amounts?

Mano [Photo by Jim Bonner]SPIRITUALITY. Even before the Spaniards came, ethnic tribes had their own anitos, bathalas and assorted deities, pointing to a strong relationship with the Creator, who or whatever it may be.

PO, OPO, MANO PO. Speech suffixes that define courtesy, deference, filial respect–a balm to the spirit in these aggressive times.

PASALUBONG. Our way of sharing the vicarious thrills and delights of a trip, and a wonderful excuse to shop without the customary guilt.

BEACHES! With 7,000 plus islands, we have miles and miles of shoreline piled high with fine white sand, lapped by warm waters, and nibbled by exotic tropical fish. From the stormy seas of Batanes to the emerald isles of Palawan–over here, life is truly a beach.

BAGOONG. Darkly mysterious, this smelly fish or shrimp paste typifies the underlying theme of most ethnic foods: disgustingly unhygienic, unbearably stinky and simply irresistible.

Bacuit Bay, El Nido, PalawanBAYANIHAN. Yes, the internationally-renowned dance company, but also this habit of pitching in still common in small communities. Just have that cold beer and some pulutan ready for the troops.

BALIKBAYAN BOX. Another way of sharing life’s bounty, no matter if it seems like we’re fleeing Pol Pot everytime we head home from anywhere in the globe. The most wonderful part is that, more often than not, the contents are carted home to be distributed.

PILIPINO KOMIKS. Not to mention “Hiwaga,” “Aliwan,” “Tagalog Classics,” “Liwayway” and”Bulaklak” magazines. Pulpy publications that gave us Darna, Facifica Falayfay, Lagalag, Kulafu, Kenkoy, Dyesebel, characters of a time both innocent and worldly.

FOLK SONGS. They come unbidden and spring, full blown, like a second language, at the slightest nudge from the too-loud stereo of a passing jeepney or tricycle.

FIESTA. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow is just another day, shrugs the poor man who, once a year, honors a patron saint with this sumptuous, no-holds-barred spread. It’s a Pinoy celebration at its pious and riotous best.

BoracayASWANG, MANANANGGAL, KAPRE. The whole underworld of Filipino lower mythology recalls our uniquely bizarre childhood, that is, before political correctness kicked in. Still, their rich adventures pepper our storytelling.

JEEPNEYS. Colorful, fast, reckless, a vehicle of postwar Pinoy ingenuity, this Everyman’s communal cadillac makes for a cheap, interesting ride. If the driver’s a daredevil (as they usually are), hang on to your seat.

DINUGUAN. Blood stew, a bloodcurdling idea, until you try it with puto. Best when mined with jalape¤o peppers. Messy but delicious.

SANTACRUZAN. More than just a beauty contest, this one has religious overtones, a tableau of St. Helena’s and Constantine’s search for the Cross that seamlessly blends piety, pageantry and ritual. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to show off the prettiest ladies–and the most beautiful gowns.

BALUT. Unhatched duck’s embryo, another unspeakable ethnic food to outsiders, but oh, to indulge in guilty pleasures! Sprinkle some salt and suck out that soup, with gusto.

PAKIDALA. A personalized door-to-door remittance and delivery system for overseas Filipino workers who don’t trust the banking system, and who expect a family update from the courier, as well.

CHOC-NUT. Crumbly peanut chocolate bars that defined childhood ecstasy before M & M’s and Hersheys.

Pearl FarmKAMAYAN STYLE. To eat with one’s hand and eschew spoon, fork and table manners–ah, heaven.

CHICHARON. Pork, fish or chicken crackling. There is in the crunch a hint of the extravagant, the decadent and the pedestrian. Perfect with vinegar, sublime with beer.

PINOY HOSPITALITY. Just about everyone gets a hearty “Kain tayo!” invitation to break bread with whoever has food to share, no matter how skimpy or austere it is.

ADOBO, KARE-KARE, SINIGANG AND OTHER LUTON BAHAY FOOD. Home-cooked meals that have the stamp of approval from several generations, who swear by closely-guarded cooking secrets and family recipes.

LOLA BASYANG. The voice one heard spinning tales over the radio, before movies and television curtailed imagination and defined grown-up tastes.

PAMBAHAY. Home is where one can let it all hang out, where clothes do not make a man or woman but rather define their level of comfort.

TRICYCLE AND TRISIKAD. The poor Pinoy’s taxicab that delivers you at your doorstep for as little as PHPesos3.00, with a complimentary dusting of polluted air.

Fiesta [Photo courtesy of Pinoy Centric]DIRTY ICE CREAM. Very Pinoy flavors that make up for the risk: munggo, langka, ube, mais, keso, macapuno. Plus there’s the colorful cart that recalls jeepney art.

YAYAS. The trusted Filipino nanny who, ironically, has become a major Philippine export as overseas contract workers. A good one is almost like a surrogate parent–if you don’t mind the accent and the predilection for afternoon soap and movie stars.

SARSI. Pinoy rootbeer, the enduring taste of childhood. Our grandfathers had them with an egg beaten in.

PINOY FRUITS. Atis, guyabano, chesa, mabolo, lanzones, durian, langka, makopa, dalanghita, siniguelas, suha, chico, papaya, singkamas–the possibilities!

FILIPINO CELEBRITIES. Movie stars, broadcasters, beauty queens, public officials, all-around controversial figures: Aurora Pijuan, Cardinal Sin, Carlos P. Romulo, Charito Solis, Cory Aquino, Emilio Aguinaldo, the Eraserheads, Fidel V. Ramos, Francis Magalona, Gloria Diaz, Manuel L. Quezon, Margie Moran, Melanie Marquez, Ninoy Aquino, Nora Aunor, Pitoy Moreno, Ramon Magsysay, Richard Gomez, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Sharon Cuneta, Gemma Cruz, Erap, Tiya Dely, Mel and Jay, Gary V.

WORLD CLASS PINOYS. Personalities who put us on the global map: Lea Salonga, Paeng Nepomuceno, Manny Pacquiao. Eugene Torre, Luisito Espinosa, Lydia de Vega-Mercado, Jocelyn Enriquez, Elma Muros, Onyok Velasco, Efren “Bata” Reyes, Lilia Calderon-Clemente, Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Josie Natori. Rico Hizon. Charice Pempengco. Arnel Pineda. Efren Penaflorida.

JeepneysPINOY TASTES. A dietitian’s nightmare: too sweet, too salty, too fatty, as in burong talangka, itlog na maalat, crab fat (aligue), bokayo, kutchinta, sapin-sapin, halo-halo, pastilyas, palitaw, pulburon, longganisa, tuyo, ensaymada, ube haleya, sweetened macapuno and garbanzos. Remember, we’re the guys who put sugar (horrors) in our spaghetti sauce. Yum!

THE SITES AND SOUNDS. Banaue Rice Terraces, Boracay, Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, Corregidor Island, Fort Santiago, the Hundred Islands, the Las Piñas Bamboo Organ, Rizal Park, Mt. Banahaw, Mayon Volcano, Taal Volcano. A land of contrasts and ever-changing landscapes.

GAYUMA, AGIMAT AND ANTING-ANTING. Love potions and amulets. How the socially-disadvantaged Pinoy copes.

PHILIPPINE BASKETBALL. How the verticaly-challenged Pinoy compensates, via a national sports obsession that reduces fans to tears and fistfights.

PEOPLE POWER EDSA I & 2. When everyone became a hero and changed Philippine history overnight.

SAN MIGUEL BEER AND PULUTAN. “Isa pa nga!” and the Philippines’ most popular, world-renowned beer goes well with peanuts, corniks, tapa, chicharon, usa, barbecue, sisig, and all manner of spicy, crunchy and cholesterol-rich chasers.

RESILIENCY. We’ve survived 400 years of Spanish rule, the US bases, Marcos, the 1990 earthquake, lahar, lambada, Robin Padilla, Tamagochi, Ondoy and Pepeng.

YOYO. Truly Filipino in origin, this hunting tool, weapon, toy and merchandising vehicle remains the best way to “walk the dog” and “rock the baby,” using just a piece of string.

Basketball [Photo by Vic de Vera]PINOY GAMES. Pabitin, palosebo, basagan ng palayok. A few basic rules make individual cunning and persistence a premium, and guarantee a good time for all.

NINOY AQUINO. For saying that “the Filipino is worth dying for,” and proving it.

BALAGTASAN. The verbal joust that brings out rhyme, reason and passion on a public stage.

TABO. All-powerful, ever-useful, hygienically-triumphant device to scoop water out of a bucket _ and help the true Pinoy answer nature’s call. Helps maintain our famously stringent toilet habits.

PANDESAL. Despite its shrinking size, still a good buy. Goes well with any filling, best when hot.

JOLLIBEE. Truly Pinoy in taste and sensibility, and a corporate icon that we can be quite proud of. Do you know that it’s invaded the Middle East, as well?

THE BUTANDING, the dolphins and other creatures in our blessed waters. They’re Pinoys, too, and they’re here to stay. Now if some folks would just stop turning them into daing.

PAKIKISAMA. It’s what makes people stay longer at parties, have another drink, join pals in sickness and health. You can get dead drunk and still make it home.

SING-A-LONG/KARAOKE. Filipinos love to sing, and thank God a lot of us do it well!

KAYUMANGGI. Neither pale nor dark, our skin tone is beautifully healthy, the color of a rich earth or a mahogany tree growing towards the sun.

San Miguel BeerHANDWOVEN CLOTH AND NATIVE WEAVES. Colorful, environment-friendly alternatives to polyester that feature skillful workmanship and a rich indigenous culture behind every thread. From the pinukpok of the north to the malong of the south, it’s the fiber of who we are.

MOVIES. Still the cheapest form of entertainment, especially if you watch the same movie several times.

BAHALA NA. We cope with uncertainty by embracing it, and are thus enabled to play life by ear.

PAPAITAN. An offal stew flavored with bile, admittedly an acquired taste, but pointing to our national ability to acquire a taste for almost anything.

ENGLISH. Whether carabao or Arr-neoww-accented, it doubles our chances in the global marketplace.

THE MEDIA. The liveliest in Asia.

DIVISORIA. Smelly, crowded, a pickpocket’s paradise, but you can get anything here, often at rock-bottom prices. The sensory overload is a bonus.

BARONG TAGALOG. Enables men to look formal and dignified without having to strangle themselves with a necktie. Worn well, it makes any ordinary Juan look marvelously makisig.

FILIPINAS. They make the best friends, lovers, wives. Too bad they can’t say the same for Filipinos.

Jollibee [Photo by Jennifer Doyle]FILIPINOS. So maybe they’re bolero and macho with an occasional streak of generic infidelity; they do know how to make a woman feel like one.

CATHOLICISM. What fun would sin be without guilt? Jesus Christ is firmly planted on Philippine soil.

DOLPHY. Our favorite, ultra-durable comedian gives the beleaguered Pinoy everyman an odd dignity, even in drag.

STYLE. Something we often prefer over substance. But every Filipino claims it as a birthright.

BAD-TASTE. Clear plastic covers on the vinyl-upholstered sofa, posters of poker-playing dogs masquerading as art, overaccessorized jeepneys and altars–the list is endless, and wealth only seems to magnify it.

MANGOES. Crisp and tart, or lusciously ripe, they evoke memories of family outings and endless sunshine in a heart-shaped package.Mangoes. Crisp and tart, or lusciously ripe, they evoke memories of family outings and endless sunshine in a heart-shaped package.

UNBRIDLED OPTIMISM. Why we rank so low on the suicide scale.

STREET FOOD: Barbecue, lugaw, banana-cue, fishballs, IUD (chicken entrails), adidas (chicken feet), warm taho. Forget hepatitis; here’s cheap, tasty food with gritty ambience.

SIESTA. Snoozing in the middle of the day is smart, not lazy.

HONORIFICS AND COURTEOUS TITLES: Kuya, ate, diko, ditse, ineng, totoy, Ingkong, Aling, Mang, etc. No exact English translation, but these words connote respect, deference and the value placed on kinship.

DolphyHEROES AND PEOPLE WHO STOOD UP FOR TRUTH AND FREEDOM. Lapu-lapu started it all, and other heroes and revolutionaries followed: Diego Silang, Macario Sakay, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, Melchora Aquino, Gregorio del Pilar, Gabriela Silang, Miguel Malvar, Francisco Balagtas, Juan Luna, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Panday Pira, Emilio Jacinto, Raha Suliman, Antonio Luna, Gomburza, Emilio Aguinaldo, the heroes of Bataan and Corregidor, Pepe Diokno, Satur Ocampo, Dean Armando Malay, Evelio Javier, Ninoy Aquino, Lola Rosa and other comfort women who spoke up, honest cabbie Emilio Advincula, Rona Mahilum, the women lawyers who didn’t let Jalosjos get away with rape.

FLORA AND FAUNA. The sea cow (dugong), the tarsier, calamian deer, bearcat, Philippine eagle, sampaguita, ilang-ilang, camia, pandan, the creatures that make our archipelago unique.

PILIPINO SONGS AND OPM: “Ama Namin,” “Lupang Hinirang,” “Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal,” “Ngayon at Kailanman,” “Anak,” “Handog,”"Hindi Kita Malilimutan,” “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit”; Ryan Cayabyab, George Canseco, Restie Umali, Levi Celerio, Manuel Francisco, Freddie Aguilar, and Florante–living examples of our musical gift.

METRO AIDES. They started out as Imelda Marcos’ groupies, but have gallantly proven their worth. Against all odds, they continuously prove that cleanliness is next to godliness–especially now that those darned candidates’ posters have to be scraped off the face of Manila!

SARI-SARI STORE. There’s one in every corner, offering everything from bananas and floor wax to Band-Aid and bakya.

CHARITY GROUPS/NGO’S: Philippine National Red Cross. PAWS. Caritas. Fund drives. They help us help each other.

FAVORITE TV SHOWS THROUGH THE YEARS: “Tawag ng Tanghalan,” “John and Marsha,” “Champoy,” “Ryan, Ryan Musikahan,” “Kuwarta o Kahon,” “Public Forum/Lives,” “Student Canteen,” “Eat Bulaga.” In the age of inane variety shows, they have redeemed Philippine television.

QUIRKS OF PINOY LANGUAGE: that can drive crazy any tourist listening in: “Bababa ba?” “Bababa!”

“Sayang!” “Naman!” “Kadiri!” “Ano ba!?” “pala.” Expressions that defy translation but wring out feelings genuinely Pinoy.

COCKFIGHTING. Filipino men love it more than their wives (sometimes).

Folk Dance [Photo courtesy of Likha]DR. JOSE RIZAL. A category in himself. Hero, medicine man, genius, athlete, sculptor, fictionist, poet, essayist, husband, lover, samaritan, martyr. Truly someone to emulate and be proud of, anytime, anywhere.

NORA AUNOR. Short, dark and homely-looking, she redefined our rigid concept of how leading ladies should look.

NORANIAN OR VILAMANIAN. Defines the friendly rivalry between Ate Guy Aunor and Ate Vi Santos and for many years, the only way to be for many Filipino fans.

FILIPINO CHRISTMAS. The world’s longest holiday season. A perfect excuse to mix our love for feasting, gift-giving and music and wrap it up with a touch of religion.

RELATIVES AND KABABAYANS ABROAD. The best refuge against loneliness, discrimination and confusion in a foreign place. Distant relatives and fellow Pinoys readily roll out the welcome mat even on the basis of a phone introduction or referral.

FESTIVALS: Sinulog, Ati-atihan, Moriones. Sounds, colors, pagan frenzy and Christian overtones.

FOLK DANCES. Tinikling, pandanggo sa ilaw, kariñosa, kuratsa, itik-itik, alitaptap, rigodon. All the right moves and a distinct rhythm.

OFWsNATIVE WEAR AND COSTUMES. Baro’t saya, tapis, terno, saya, salakot, bakya. Lovely form and ingenious function in the way we dress.

SUNDAY FAMILY GATHERINGS. Or, close family ties that never get severed. You don’t have to win the lotto or be a president to have 10,000 relatives. Everyone’s family tree extends all over the archipelago, and it’s at its best in times of crisis; notice how food, hostesses, money, and moral support materialize during a wake?

CALESA AND KARITELA. The colorful and leisurely way to negotiate narrow streets when loaded down with a year’s provisions.

QUALITY OF LIFE. Where else can an ordinary employee afford a stay-in helper, a yaya, unlimited movies, eat-all-you-can buffets, the latest fashion (Baclaran nga lang), even Viagra in the black market?

ALL SAINT’S DAY. In honoring our dead, we also prove that we know how to live.

HANDICRAFTS. Shellcraft, rattancraft, abaca novelties, woodcarvings, banig placemats and bags, bamboo windchimes, etc. Portable memories of home. Hindi lang pang-turista, pang-balikbayan pa!

PINOY GREENS. Sitaw. Okra. Ampalaya. Gabi. Munggo. Dahon ng Sili. Kangkong. Luya. Talong. Sigarillas. Bataw. Patani. Lutong bahay will never be the same without them.

OFWs. The time and distance we’d go for a better life for our family , as proven by these modern-day heroes of the economy.

“Sabel” by BenCabTHE FILIPINO ARTIST. From Luna’s magnificent “Spoliarium” and Amorsolo’s sun-kissed ricefields, to Ang Kiukok’s jarring abstractions, BenCab’s Sabel and Borlongan’s haunting ghosts, and everybody else in between. Hang a Filipino painting on your wall, and you’re hanging one of Asia’s best.

TAGALOG SOAP OPERAS/TELESERYES. From “Gulong ng Palad” and “Flor de Luna” to today’s incarnations like “Mula sa Puso”–they’re the story of our lives, and we feel strongly for them, MariMar notwithstanding.

MIDNIGHT MADNESS, WEEKEND SALES, BANGKETAS, TIANGGES AND BARATILLOS. It’s retail therapy at its best, with Filipinos braving traffic, crowds, and human deluge to find a bargain.

(This Filipino trivia was borrowed from an article of The Philippine Daily Inquirer with thanks to our following Kabayans: LIBORIO G. ALTARENOS III, Sampaloc, Manila; Jerson Masiglat; MIA AMORES, ANDY ROQUE and SOS-FAG People, Makati, JENINA TEC, Tanza, Cavite; SAMUEL MIGUEL BRIONES, Mindanao State University, Marawi University, Iligan; ESTANISLAO T. CALDEZ, Tuguegarao, Cagayan; ROSELLE and MONICA CALDERON, Proj. 8, QC; BENJAMIN R. MEIMBAN, Makati; MIGUEL and PATTI FRESNOZA, Makati; ALVIN SALAZAR, Caloocan; ZAIRINE VILLACORTE, Proj. 7, QC; RODOLFO J. PESCASIO, Holy Spirit, QC; DENNIS C. SALVACION; LIZA B. TAN; RENELSON MORELOS, AB Philosophy, PUP Sta. Mesa; SEGUNDO G. BASA, Westmont Bank-Dau Branch, MICHAEL GONZALES, ALVIN SALAZAR, Caloocan, Metro Manila.)

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