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Fast Facts about the Philippines

Capital: Metro Manila

Climate: Wet season from July to November, dry season from December to June with an average temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit/32 degrees Celsius.

Clothing: Light and comfortable clothes are advised for daily activities. However, should you plan to visit a church or temple, a more appropriate formal attire is highly recommended.

Language: English is widely used as a medium of instruction in schools, hence it is easily understood even in the provinces. Filipino is the official language, with several variations in different provinces.

Currency: Philippine Peso (PhP). International credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted in most major establishments.

Religion: 83% are Roman Catholics, 5% are Muslims, and the remaining are Protestants and other denominations.

Food: Philippine cuisine is a mixture of American, Chinese, Malay, and Spanish dishes. Rice is the staple of most Filipinos, supplemented with seafood, red and white meat, vegetables and fruits which are naturally abundant. Each region has its own specialties.

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Transportation: Public utility vehicles such as buses, jeepneys and taxis ply normal routes. A Light Railway Transit (LRT) system passes through most of old Manila while a newer system called the Metro Railway Transit (MRT) passes through most of the business districts of Makati, Ortigas and Quezon City. For inter-island travel, there are several ferries and boats with daily trips. Land trips from Metro Manila to various points in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao are also available for the tourist who prefers a more scenic route around the country. For those who do not have the luxury of time, there are daily flights available.

Electricity: 220 Volts A/C is the common standard. 110 Volts A/C is also used in major hotels.

 

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National Hero: Dr. Jose Rizal, a well-educated Filipino from one of the prominent families during the Spanish Period, was an advocate of civil equality for Filipinos. Accused of sedition for writing Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and El Filibusterismo (The Reign of Greed), he was executed through a firing squad and was proclaimed a national martyr of the Philippines during the American Period.

 

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National Attire for Men: Barong Tagalog. Either short or long-sleeved, this shirt is made from woven fibers showing Chinese, Indo-Malayan, and Hindu influences.

 

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National Attire for Women: Baro’t Saya. The upper dress is called the baro or camisa, a jacket with sleeves while the lower part called the saya or patadyong, is a loose and long skirt.

 

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National Gem: South Sea Pearls. Their extraordinary sizes are normally large which is between 9mm to as much as 19mm which makes Philippine pearls expensive. South Sea Pearls are valuable. Its beauty and luster merits its reputation as “the queen of pearls”. There are two basic groups of Philippine South Sea cultured pearls: white and black. Their colors range from white and silvery blue to pale gold. The golden or light-yellowish varieties abound in Philippine and Indonesian waters while white or silvery hues occur mainly in Australian waters.

 

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National Footwear: Bakya or Wooden Clogs. It is made from local light wood like Santol and Laniti. It is cut to the desired foot size before being shaven until smooth. The side of the bakya is thick enough to be carved with floral, geometric or landscape designs. Afterwards, the bakya could then be painted or varnished. Uppers of plastic or rubber will then be fixed firmly using clavitos or tiny nails and the bakya is now ready to wear. It is very affordable and used to be the footwear of the public during the Spanish Period.

 

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National Dish: Lechon is a pig stuffed with spices and roasted whole on a bamboo spit. It is prepared for special occasions and served with a sauce made from pig’s liver.

 

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National Fruit: Mango; scientific name Mangifera Indica. Philippine Mango is a tropical fruit prevalently known to be yellow in color which achieves its addictive taste through its scrupulous harvest procedures. Philippine Mango is recognized worldwide for its best qualities, which cannot be beaten by any kind of mangoes around the globe. Green mango can be served as a salad constituent, while golden yellow mango can be served as plain, processed, dried or frozen.

 

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National Fish: Bangus or Milkfish; scientific name Chanos Chanos. Deboned milkfish, or “boneless bangus,” has become popular in stores and markets because milkfish is known for being bonier than other food fish in the Philippines. Bangus is a popular table fare among Filipinos. To the biologist, it is a naturally strong fish since it is capable in adapting and thrives even in the limited, unusual environment of the fishpond. This feature is not frequently found in most other fish class.

 

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National Bird: Philippine Eagle; scientific name Pithecophaga Jefferyi or Monkey-eating Eagle. It has brown and white-coloured plumage, and a shaggy crest, and generally measures 86 to 102 cm (2.82 to 3.35 ft) in length and weighs 4.7 to 8.0 kilograms (10.4 to 17.6 lb). It is considered the largest of the extant eagles in the world in terms of length.

 

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National Animal: Carabao; scientific name Babalu Arnee. It is a swamp type domestic water buffalo. Carabaos provide the necessary labor that allow Filipino farmers to grow rice and other staples.

 

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National Flower: Sampaguita or Arabian Jasmine; scientific name Jasminium Sambac. Philippine Sampaguita flower is a white, star-shaped blossom which has a sweet fragrance. It opens at night and droops in less than a day. The white flowers are often made into wreaths and its extract made into perfumes, and recently into an ice cream flavor. Sampaguita is not a tree but a woody vine. The flower became the National Flower of the Philippines in 1934.

 

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National Leaf: Anahaw (ah-na’haw); scientific name Saribus Rotundifolius. Its leaves are used for thatching, wrapping food, and are sometimes made into hats, woven mats and bags.

 

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National Tree: Narra or Angsana; scientific name Pterocarpus Indicus. It is one of the most wanted wood for furniture but because there are only a few trees left, cutting down a Narra tree is no longer allowed. It is mostly found in Bicol, Mindanao and the CagayanValley forests.

 

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National Vehicle: Kalesa or Horse-drawn Carriage. The kalesa has two round wheels on each side and two rows of seats that can accommodate four persons. The driver sits on a block of wood located at the front of the cart near the horse. This was one of the methods of transportation introduced in the Philippines in the 18th century by the Spaniards that only nobles and high ranked Spanish officials could afford. The Ilustrados, who are the rich Filipinos who had their own businesses, used the kalesa not only for traveling but as a way of transporting their goods as well. They are hardly ever used in the streets nowadays except in tourist spots and some rural areas.

 

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National House: Bahay Kubo or Nipa Hut. Bahay kubo is a shelter made out of bamboo and palm leaves. It is an ideal structure in farms because of its material which allows good ventilation.

 

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National Dance: Tinikling. The Tinikling is a dance from the Philippines which includes two people hitting bamboo poles to beat, tap, and slide on the ground and against each other in harmonization with one or more dancers who will step over and dance in between the poles. When the bamboo closes, the dancers must be agile enough to not get their feet caught between the bamboo poles. As the tinikling dance continues, the tempo increases in speed. The name came from birds locally known as Tikling. The term Tinikling literally means “tikling-like”.

 

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National Sport: Sipa. The Philippines’ traditional native sport which predates Spanish rule. The game is related to Sepak Takraw. Similar games include Footbag net, Footvolley, Bossaball and Jianzi. The game is both played by two teams, indoors or outdoors, on a court that is about the size of a tennis court. The teams consist of one, two or four players in each side. The aim of the game is to kick a soft ball made out of rattan fragments, back and forth over a net in the middle of the court.

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