Country Spotlight: The Philippines

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The Republic of the Philippines gains the honor of being the first country to get the spotlight on Where Monica Goes. From its more than seven thousand idyllic islands, clear turquoise waters, world-class diving sites, diverse wildlife, rich culture, friendly and hospitable locals, to delicious food, the Pearl of the Orient Seas can offer so much that one cannot help but to fall in love with it. As a Filipina myself, I can proudly say that I love my country and will always encourage others to come and visit this jewel in Asia. After reading this post, please let me know if I have convinced you to travel to the Philippines!

With a total land area of 300 000 square kilometers, the archipelago lies in Southeast Asia with Taiwan directly in the north, Vietnam in the west, Brunei and Indonesia in the south, and the Pacific Ocean in the east. It is situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire and has many active volcanoes, which contribute to seismic and volcanic activities as well as abundance of mineral deposits – gold (estimated to be second largest in the world after South Africa) copper, nickel and zinc. As for its wildlife, the Philippines is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna within its numerous rainforests and marine habitat.

The Philippine culture is a beautiful combination of Eastern and Western influences. Values, beliefs, languages and other aspects are similar to its Asian neighbors, but also exhibit traces of Spanish and American conquests. Being an archipelago with thousands of islands, the country is home to 186 individual languages. The official languages are Filipino and English. Travelers have easy communication with any local as more than 90% of the population can speak and understand the lingua franca of the world. For religion, it is predominantly Christian with 82.9% of the population Catholics while Islam is the second largest with 5%.

BASIC FACTS ABOUT PHILIPPINES

Capital: Manila
Population: 100+ million
Official languages: Filipino and English
Government: Presidential Republic
Currency: Philippine Peso
Climate: Tropical
Average temperature: 26 degrees Celsius
Time zone: UTC+8
Driving: Right
Electricity: 220V/60hz

GETTING AROUND THE PHILIPPINES

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Photo from Justin James Wright: http://www.jjwrightfineart.com/philippine-street-life-in-color/

Jeepney – king of the road; runs within Manila and provinces

Metro – LRT1, LRT2, and MRT3 run within the capital

Bus – ordinary and air-conditioned run within and outside Manila

Van – locally known as FX Taxi; more comfortable than bus but cheaper than taxi

Tricycle – local auto rickshaws that are common public transportation

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Photo from Justin James Wright: http://www.jjwrightfineart.com/philippine-street-life-in-color/

Plane – with more than 7100 islands scattered in the archipelago, flying is the fastest way to get from one point to another

Boat – locally known as Bangka; best mode of transportation when island hopping

Taxi – both ordinary and cab hailing companies such as Grab and Uber cars.

Kalesa – horse drawn carriage introduced during Spanish occupation; common around Manila and Vigan

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Image Source

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The Philippines have three seasons – hot dry (March to May), rainy (June to November) and cool dry (December to February). The coolest month is January while May is the hottest. To avoid strong typhoons from July to August, traveling can be between October to May.

High season is December to April (coolest and hottest months when locals usually take holiday trips) and low season is June to September (typhoon season).

WHERE TO VISIT

To give you a glimpse of the Philippines, here are some wonderful places that I have visited around my country. These will also be featured separately here in Where Monica Goes soon, each with detailed itinerary and travel tips and guides.

I. MANILA

The Capital. Culturally and historically rich. Bustling, skyscraper-smothered city where you can eat, drink, and shop almost 24/7.

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Manila skyline. Image Source

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II. PALAWAN

The paradise of the Philippines. Home of the most beautiful island in the world according to Condé Nast Traveler’s Reader Choice Awards.

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Coron, Palawan
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El Nido, Palawan
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Kayangan lake, Palawan

III. Cebu

Queen City of the South. One-hour plane ride from Manila. Home of the whale sharks, white sand beaches, turquoise waterfalls, spectacular diving sites, among others.

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Whaleshark encounter, Oslob, Cebu. 
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Sardine run, Moalboal, Cebu. Image Source
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Kawasan Falls, Badian, Cebu. Image Source

IV. Bohol

One-hour plane ride from Manila. A short ferry-ride from Cebu. Home of the majestic Chocolate Hills, world’s smallest, bug-eyed primate called Tarsier, pristine sandy beaches, world class diving sites.

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Chocolate Hills, Bohol. Image Source
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Tarsier. Image Source
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Diving in Panglao, Bohol. Photo courtesy of Agoda.com

V. Banaue

Hidden gem in the north. Home of the 2000-year-old rice terraces carved into the mountains.

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Banaue Rice Terraces. Image Source
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Image Source

VI. Bicol

The very active, perfect cone-shaped volcano. Beautiful, surfing-friendly beaches.

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Mayon Volcano. Image Source
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Caramoan islands. Image Source

VII. Boracay

Flagship tourist destination. World-famous white, powdery sand beach. Romantic sunset.

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Boracay island. Image Source 
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Boracay sunset. Image Source 

Aside from the seven mentioned above, there are still seven thousand islands left worth mentioning and exploring. The Philippines really has varied beautiful places and activities to offer that one should simply take and enjoy.

If you are planning for your next trip, will you consider the Philippines as your next destination? If you have already traveled here, which is your most favorite part of the country? What is your most memorable experience? Let Where Monica Goes know!

 

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9 Comments

  1. Fantastic post Monica… Have always been fascinated by the amazing islands of the Philippines and the beautiful waters and people there, thanks for sharing!

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