The Philippines is a land famous for its scenic beauty and friendly people. Endless white sand beaches, lush greenery in stunning nature, and fresh and tasty food – there is so much to discover!
Some essential information for your visit:
The Republic of the Philippines is a country in East Asia made up of over 7,000 islands. The Philippines gets its name from Philip II, who was King of Spain during the Spanish colonization of the islands in the 16th century.
The best time to visit the Philippines is between January and May. November to February is cool, while March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy, with the months between July and September
characterized by typhoons. Average temperature: 25 degrees C; average humidity: 77%. Reliable source for up-to-date weather information Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
There are two official languages in the Philippines—Filipino and English. Filipino, based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is also widely used and well understood. There are also eight (8) major languages spoken by majority of the Filipinos: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Kapampangan, and Pangasinense and more than 111 dialects spoken, owing to the subdivisions of the
basic regional and cultural groups.
The Philippine Peso (sign: ₱; code: PHP) is the official currency in the country. 100 centavos or sentimos make up 1 peso. Currently is equals roughly 0,018 EUR. In the Philippines you can exchange currency at your hotel, most of the large department stores, banks and authorized money changing shops. Exchanging money anywhere else is illegal and the laws are strictly enforced. Most large stores, restaurants, hotels, and resorts accept major credit cards including American Express, Visas, and MasterCard.
The local time in the Philippines is GMT +8 hours. The country has only one time zone–Philippine Time (PHT)–which is 8 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
Most businesses are open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM from Monday to Friday and 8:00 AM until noon on Saturdays. Banks are open from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM from Mondays through Fridays. You will be required to show your passport for identification during bank transactions. Post offices are open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on weekdays only. Stamps for postcards are frequently available from the Concierge Desk at most major hotels. The Philippines uses ZIP codes, please include them in addressing local mail.
PEOPLE AND RELIGION
The Philippines has a population of 108 million as of March 2019. The Filipino is basically of Malay stock with a mix of Chinese, American, Spanish, and Arab blood. The long history of Western colonial rule in the Philippines, along with the frequent visits of merchants resulted in creating Filipinos – a people of a unique blend of east and west, both in appearance and culture. Filipinos are friendly, cheerful and hospitable, they cherish their families and friends and they are very pious. Christianity was introduced as early as the 16th century with the coming of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Protestantism was introduced by the first Presbyterian and Methodist missionaries who arrived with the American soldiers in 1899. Currently at least 83% of the total population belongs to the Roman Catholic faith. Islam was introduced during the 14th century shortly after the expansion of Arab commercial ventures in Southeast Asia. Today, it is limited to the southern region of the country. Two Filipino independent churches were organized at the turn of the century and are prominent today. These are the Aglipay (Philippine Independent Church) and the Iglesia Ni Kristo (Church of Christ) founded in 1902 and 1914, respectively. Recently the Aglipay signed a covenant with the Anglican Church. The Iglesia ni Kristo has expanded its membership considerably. Its churches, with their unique towering architecture, are landmarks in almost all important towns, provincial capitals, and major cities.
Bohol is one of the most wonderful provinces of the Visayas region. The main island and 61 smaller islands make up this enchanting archipelago. Tagbilaran City, the province’s capital, is located on the South West Coast. Over a million people live in the province and speak mainly Boholano, English and Tagalog.
From a bird’s-eye view, Boracay looks like a green butterfly that has spread out its wings across the blue shimmering sea. This small island in the centre of the Philippine archipelago is situated in the northwest of Panay Island. Condé Nast Traveler has ranked the White Beach in Boracay 2nd in the world.
The Philippines supports a rich and varied flora with close botanical connections to Indonesia and mainland Southeast Asia. Forests cover almost one-half of the land area and are typically tropical, with the dominant family, Dipterocarpaceae, representing 75% of the stands. The forest also has vines, epiphytes, and climbers. There are open man-made grasslands, ranging up to 2.4 m (8 ft) in height and most of them contain tropical savanna grasses that are non-nutritious and difficult to eradicate. The diverse flora includes 8,000 species of flowering plants, 1,000 kinds of ferns, and 800 species of orchids.
Common mammals include the wild hog, deer, wild carabao, monkey, civet cat, and various rodents. The Philippines has one of the highest rates of mammal endemism in the world, with more than 100 endemic mammal species out of 167 identified mammal species. One such species is the tamaraw, or dwarf water buffalo, which only can be found on the island of Mindoro and is also the largest endemic mammal in the country. Once numbered more than 10,000, the species is critically endangered with fewer than 300 living now. Other endemic mammals include the Philippine warty pig, the Visayan spotted deer, Negros naked-backed fruit bat, and the Palawan bearcat. The Philippines is home to the world’s largest bat, the golden-capped fruit bat, as well as the world’s smallest primate, the Philippine tarsier.
There are about 196 breeding species of birds, among the more numerous being the megapodes (turkey-like wildfowl), button quail, jungle fowl, peacock pheasant, dove, pigeon, parrot, and hornbill. More than 180 species or 35% of birds in the Philippines are endemic. The most well-known is perhaps the Philippine eagle, which evolved to become the jungle’s alpha predator, feeding upon lemurs, civets, macaques, reptiles, and other birds. One of the world’s largest eagles, the bird is critically endangered, with a population of fewer than 700 nowadays. Other endemic birds include the Negros bleeding-heart pigeon, the Cebu flowerpecker, the Philippine scops owl, and the Luzon hornbill.
Reptile and Amphibian Species
Reptilian life is represented by 190 species; there are crocodiles and the larger snakes include the python and several varieties of cobra. The Philippines has a 67% endemism rate for reptiles and a whopping 85% endemism rate for amphibians. The country is home to 10 species of endemic flying lizards, which glide from tree to tree using flaps of skin. It’s also home to the critically endangered Philippine crocodile, of which there is a population of fewer than 100 remaining. The country is home to the large sailfin lizard, so-called for the prominent ridge that rises along the spine of male specimens. Amphibians include the panther flying frog and the flat-headed frog.
About 70% of the Philippines’ 21,000 recorded insect species are considered endemic. Among the insects are some 300 butterfly species, including the red-bodied swallowtail, the common mime, the great eggfly butterfly, the scarlet mormon and the silverline butterfly. There are many brightly colored insects, such as the domed planthopper and the jewel beetle. The Philippines is also home to several species of endemic stick insects.
The undersea realm in the Philippines is one of the richest and most diverse anywhere in the world, a complex system of numerous micro-habitats that are home to a huge number of species. The abundance of underwater environments means you can choose to dive at any depth at which you feel comfortable, and see a variety of marine life each time. That might mean a gentle drift along a shallow coral garden or an extreme descent into open waters, with regular sightings of the big pelagic creatures-sharks, dolphins, manta rays and barracuda. In many established diving areas you can do both on the same day, with dozens of diving options as good as on your doorstep. Diving is possible all year-round in the Philippines, with surface water temperatures in the 25-28°C range, the warmest conditions being from February to June. On deeper dives temperatures can drop to 22°C duе to the upwelling of deeper, cooler water, so a wet suit is essential. During the typhoon season, be prepared for your plans to be disrupted if a major storm hits and boats are unable to sail. Visibility depends on water temperature, the strength of the current and wind direction, but generally lies in 10-30m range, as good as anywhere in the world.