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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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