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Mabuhay ang Filipinas
Welcome to the Philippines
The Philippines is located in Asia, exactly in Southeast Asia, between the Pacific Ocean in the East and the South Chinese Sea in the West. Aproxiamately 1000 kilometers of China.
The Republic of the Philippines is made up of 7107 islands. Only about 7% of these islands are larger than one square mile (=2.59 square kilometers) and only one-third have names. From these 7107 islands are only 400 inhabited. With a land mass of 300,780 square kilometers the Philippines is considered a medium-sized nation, about two thirds the size of its first colonizer, Spain.
There are three main grouping islands, the Luzon group in the north, where the capital Manila is located, the Visayan group in the center and the Mindanao group in the south.
Explanation of the flag
The flag consists of a blue and a red stripe and on the left you can see a white triangle, on it there is a sun with eight rays and three stars.
The sunburst of eight rays inside the triangel represents the first eight provinces that took up arms against Spain. The stars on each angle symbolize the three main grouping isles Luzon, Mindanao and Visayas.
The red stripe represents courage and bravery and the blue stripe truth and justice. The white triangle stands for the Katipunan, a revolutionary organization and the colour white stands for peace.
The blue stripe is uppermost but during wartime, the red stripe is on top.
Manila – the capital
“The City of Our Affections“ This is how the Filipinos call their capital, Manila. This phrase is taken from an old Spanish writing; but it also expresses their modern sentiment.
Manila is located in the northern part of the Philippines: in Luzon and is actually more than Manila: the metropolis of today not only surrounds the City of Manila, but it includes seven other cities and nine towns. The City of Manila has an area of 38.3 square kilometers and has about 1.6 million inhabitants, the metropolitan area 636 square kilometers and about 9.6 million people.
Within the city you can find the medieval walled city of Intramuros (span.: “Between the walls“), Spain’s stronghold in Asia during its empire era. There you can see many buildings from the 15th and 16th century, for example the Manila Cathedral or San Augustin Church. When you’re in Manila don’t forget to visit also the National Museum. Here you can find out everything about the Filipinos. It is also worth to go for a walk through Rizal Park where you can see the monument of Dr. José Rizal.
Dr. Jose Rizal was a Filipino patriot who travelled through Europe especially to Spain but also to Germany (Heidelberg). Now regarded by the Filipinos as a national hero, he was executed by the Spanish in 1896.
Fort Santiago served as the military headquarters of the Spanish, British, American, and Japanese regimes. During World War II, it was a dreaded place where hundreds of men and women were jailed, tortured and executed by the Japanese military police. It was destroyed by American forces during 1945, and was restored as a public park.
The Rizal Shrine is a museum in honor of the national hero. It stands on the site of a brick barracks building where Rizal was imprisoned.
But Manila is a city full of contrasts, from the rich and beautiful buildings from the past to the present day, you can see plenty of beggars especially child beggars and people who live in patched wooden dwellings. The contrasts between poor and rich is indiscribable. There are many very poor and only less rich people, and those are so rich that you can’t believe it. There’s hardly no middle class. The rich live in subdevisions, surrounded by a huge, guarded wall with barbed wire comparable with the ex wall of Berlin (Berliner Mauer). Before you can get inside the subdivision there’s a passcontrol.
SM Mega Mall is a gigantic Shopping Mall in the centre of Manila. It is known as the third biggest in the world. It has 5 floors and is more than one kilometer long. There you can find hundreds of shops, restaurants, even a cinema and an amusement park with a roller coaster and other attractions and you can also go ice skating there.
No review of Manila is complete without mention of Manila’s traffic jams. If you think you have already seen the worst jams of the world, visit Manila and you will very soon change your mind.They tried already many things to reduce traffic for example numbered registered vehicles that are only allowed to pass the city on particular days, that means if your car registration begins with a „6“ for example, you are not allowed to drive in the city on a Wednesday.
A "Jeepney" is a form of public transportation there. Actually it is the most popular transportation in the Philippines. With the minimum fare of 5 pesos (about nine cents), you can travel across a town.
But the cheap fare is not what made Jeepneys "Philippine's pride".
At the beginning, Filipinos built their own Jeepneys out of U.S. army jeep surplus after WWII. The back of the jeeps were extended and a steel roof is added to protect riders from sun and rain. One Jeepney can accommodate 22-23 passengers. Then drivers started to add their identities to their Jeepneys. Designs and decorations highlight everywhere. In that way they try to attract their passengers. Vehicles are christened with names ranging from "Jesus is Lord" to "Sex Machine." Some jeepneys require a second battery just to power gratuitous lights and horns.
The climate of the Philippines is tropical with an average year-round temperature of 32º. Summer is from March to May and is always hot and dry. The average daily maximum in summer ranges from 33 to 34ºC. The wet season is from June to October, with heavy monsoonal rains and typhoons in most parts of the country. The coolest weather is from November to February, when the daily maximum is around 29 to 31ºC.
In the Philippines, 22 of more than 200 volcanoes are considered as active volcanoes. Above all, three volcanoes, Mayon, Pinatubo, and Taal are considered to be the most active.
Mayon volcano, well known for its almost perfect conical shape, is situated near the south western end of Luzon island.
Pinatubo volcano had never been noticed until 1991 eruption. It was a very ordinary complex of lava domes deep in the mountains. The eruption of 1991 was one of the largest in the 20th century and totally destroyed surrounding area.
The Philippine currency is Peso (P). It is devided into 100 Centavos (c). 1 Euro is at the moment 65 peso.
People / Culture/Religion/Language
The country is marked by a true blend of cultures; truly in the Philippines, East meets West. The background of the people is Indonesian and Malay. There are Chinese and Spanish elements as well. The history of American rule and contact with merchants and traders culminated in a unique blend of East and West, both in the appearance and culture of the Filipinos. Hospitality, a trait displayed by every Filipino, makes these people legendary in Southeast Asia. The Spaniards introduced Christianity (the Roman Catholic faith) and succeeded in converting the overwhelming majority of Filipinos. At least 80% of the total population belongs to the Roman Catholic faith. Before that the Filipinos believed in demons, like this wood carvings prove.The American occupation was responsible for teaching the Filipino people the English language. The national language is Pilipino, which is based on the language of Tagalog. In this island republic, the national languages or the two most common and widely spoken languages are Pilipino and English. The unique Pilipino language based on Tagalog but mixed with linguistic elements from other Philippine languages and also Spanish. Apart from Pilipino and English, there are about 80 other dialects in the Philippines. Spanish is still being spoken by a small minority in the country.
Rice Terraces / Ifugao
The Ifugao are one of several mountain communities of Cordillera Central in northern Luzon. They practice wet rice cultivation as well as dry cultivation of other crops, like sweet potatoes. The Ifugao have a remarkable tradition in woodcarving, basketry, waving and are well-known for their rice terraces, which are also known as the 8. world wonder. These were built up on mountain slopes to an elevation of 4,500 feet. The highest wall measures 50 feet (1 ft= 30,48 cm). The mountains, as a natural source of water, irrigate the „rice ponds“, also called payo, with elaborate man-made dikes and drainage system. Wet rice agriculture is the most important activity in Ifugao life. Each stage of rice production is accompanied by more than twenty rituals.
The Chocolate Hills are probably Bohol's most famous tourist attraction. They look like giant mole hills. Most people who first see pictures of this landscape can hardly believe that these hills are not a man-made artifact. The chocolate hills consist of more than 1000 hills . They are very uniform in shape and mostly between 30 and 50 metres high. They are covered with grass and at the end of the hot and dry season the grass becomes chocolate brown. That’s why they are called chocolate hills.
Legend say that the hills came into existance when two giants threw stones and sand at each other in a fight that lasted for days. When they were finally exhausted, they made friends and left the island, but left behind the mess they made. For the more romantically inclined is the tale of Arogo, a young and very strong giant who fell in love with an ordinary mortal girl called Aloya. After she died, the giant Arogo cried bitterly. His tears then turned into hills, as a lasting proof of his grief.
However, up to this day, even geologists didn’t know how they were formed.