Descriptions

CLIMATE
The Philippine has a tropical climate with relatively abundant rainfall and gentle winds. There are three pronounced seasons: the wet or rainy season from June to October; the cool or dry season from November to February; and the hot or dry season from March to May.


SIZE

Stretching 1,840 kilometers north-to-south off the southeast coast of Asia, the Philippines has a total land area of 300,000 sq. kms. or 115,600 sq. miles, slightly larger than the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


POPULATION

There are about 76.5 million Filipinos as of the last census conducted in May 2000. Population growth is estimated at 2.36 percent annually. Luzon, the largest island group, accounts for more than half of the total population.


LANGUAGES

The Philippines is the world's third English-speaking country, after the United States and the United Kingdom. While there are over 100 regional dialects, the national language is Pilipino. English is widely used in commercial and legal transactions.


RELIGIONS

The dominant religion in the Philippines is Catholicism, though a significant number are Protestants and Moslems.


UNIT OF MEASURES
The Philippines use the Metric System in most of trade and legal transactions.


ELECTRICITY

Most residents and business centers in the Philippines are using 220 volts a/c. However, a number of major hotels also have 110 volt a/c outlets.


CURRENCY

The Philippines' monetary unit is the peso, divided into 100 centavos. Foreign currency may be exchanged at any hotels, most large department stores, banks and authorized money changing shops accredited by the Central Bank of the Philippines. International credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, Bank Americard, Master Charge and American Express are accepted in major establishments.


TIPPING
Tipping is expected for many services. The standard practice is 10% of the total bill. Tipping is optional on bills that already include a 10% service charge.


COMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES
The country has international and national direct dial phone and facsimile service, mobile phone sites, internet and e-mail facilities, and worldwide express delivery service. The postal system is efficient. Most national dailies are in English. Foreign publications are sold at major hotels, malls, and bookstores in Metro Manila and key cities. There are 7 national television stations. which broadcast mainly in Filipino. Cable TV is available in many hotels in Manila and in many parts of the country.


BUSINESS AND BANKING HOURS
Private and government offices are open either from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Some private companies hold office on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Most shopping malls, department stores, and supermarkets are open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. There are 24-hour convenience stores and drugstores. Banks are open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, with automated teller machines (ATM) operating 24 hours.


DINING OUT
Filipino food is an exotic, tasteful blend of Oriental, European, and American culinary influences. There is a wide variety of fresh seafood and delectable fruits. First class restaurants offer gourmet specialties as well as Filipino cuisine.



ACCOMMODATIONS
In Metro Manila, key cities and towns throughout the country, a wide selection of de luxe, standard, economy and pension-type accommodations is available. In island destinations, there is a variety of resorts ranging from de luxe to special interest category. The Department of Tourism has a Homestay Program in several destinations outside Manila. The program offers visitors the comfort of modest homes and an insight into Philippine life. For information, contact the Tourist Information Center at Room 106, Department of Tourism Building, tel. nos. 524-2384 / 524-1703.


WHAT TO WEAR
Light, casual clothes are recommended. Warmer garments are needed for mountain regions. When visiting churches and temples, propriety dictates that shorts and scanty clothing be avoided. Formal occasions require dinner jackets and ties (or the Philippine barong tagalog) for men and cocktail dresses or long gowns for women.


SHOPPING
Visitors can choose from an exciting selection of great buys in a country known for export-quality items at reasonable prices: South Sea pearls, handwoven cloths, embroidered fineries, fashionable ready-to-wear and haute couture clothes, terra-cota, porcelain, coral and mother-of-pearl home accessories. Artifacts, pineapple fiber shirts, prehistoric jars, native handicrafts, and footwear are interesting items, too. The Philippines also produces fine basketry, furniture, fresh and processed fruits, exquisitely crafted jewelry, and gift items made of shell, wood, and stone. Big malls are located in Manila, Makati and EDSA, while handicraft, antique and curio shops abound at the Ermita District in Manila.


LOCAL TRANSPORT
By air, Philippine Airlines (Tel. No. 855-9999), Air Philippines (855-9000), Cebu Pacific (636-4938) provided daily services to major cities and towns. Asian Spirit (851-8888), Laoag International Airlines (551-9729), and Seair (891-8708) service the missionary routes. There are also scheduled chartered flights to major domestic destinations serviced by smaller commuter planes.

By sea, interisland ships connect Manila to major ports. Ferry services connect the smaller islands.
By land, Philtranco connects Manila to Bicol in Southern Luzon to Samar and Leyte in the Visayas and Davao in Mindanao.

Metered and fixed rate taxis are widely available in key cities nationwide. Jeepneys and buses are inexpensive ways of getting around most places. In Metro Manila the fastest way of commuting is via the railway system. LRT connects the northern district of Monumento to the southern district of Baclaran with stations situated at major intersections. MRT traverses the length of EDSA and connects North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, passing through the major arteries of Makati's financial district.


ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE
Metro Manila is the center of entertainment and cultural activities. The premier venue for the performing arts, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, features world-class performances by local and international guest artists. Museums located in Manila and in some parts of the country offer a glimpse of Philippine history and culture. Art galleries exhibit the works of the country's leading and promising visual artists.

Manila's nightlife is one of the most vibrant in Asia, reflecting the Filipino's love for music. The hubs of nightlife activities are the Remedios Circle in Malate, Ayala Center and The Fort at Bonifacio Global City in Makati, Timog and Tomas Morato Avenues in Quezon City, and Eastwood in Libis, Quezon City. Nightclubs, music lounges, pubs, and sing-along bars feature Filipino bands and singers who are known for their great musical talent. De luxe hotels offer a variety of live musical entertainment. Concerts and stage plays form part of the country's entertainment scene. For visitors who want to try their luck at the gaming tables there are casinos in Metro Manila and in the cities of Angeles, Olongapo, Tagaytay, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, and Laoag.

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  Information provided by Department of Tourism. Government of Philippines.

 

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