PHILIPPINES

Wherever you choose to go in the Philippines, it’s the Filipinos that will make your holiday unforgettable. Lonely Planet calls us, ‘among the most ebullient and easy going people anywhere.’

Don’t be shy about coming up to a Filipino and starting a conversation. We’re not just fun, we’re officially friendly too. Forbes.com ranked us the friendliest country in Asia – eight in the world!

Filipinos are pre-dominantly of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, Spanish, American and Arab blood. More than 100 cultural minority groups are scattered throughout the country.

Roman Catholicism is practiced by approximately 83% of the population. The rest of the religions are mostly Christian. There are Muslims and Buddhists too.

The Philippines is a Southeast Asian country in the Western Pacific, comprising more than 7,000 islands. Its sprawling capital, Manila, is famous for its waterfront promenade and centuries-old Chinatown. Intramuros, a walled city in colonial times, is the heart of Old Manila. It’s home to the baroque 16th-century San Agustin Church as well as Fort Santiago, a storied citadel and military prison.
Capital: Manila
Dialing code: +63
Population: 98.39 million (2013) World Bank

We have two official languages – Filipino and English.

Filipino is based on Tagalog, the predominant dialect from the Luzon mainland, and is used nationally to communicate among the ethnic groups. There are seven (7) other widely used languages: Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicolano, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense. Apart from these, there are more than 176 local dialects!

Like any living language, Filipino is in a process of development through loans from Philippine or foreign languages, as well as from inventions among different sub-cultures (ask someone about “becky speak” or “gay lingo”).

Thanks to the American Period, American English was and continues to be taught in schools. Filipinos get a healthy amount of Hollywood movies and American TV shows too. So if you speak English, feel free to ask for directions or strike up a conversation. If the Filipino you spoke to can’t speak English, he’ll happily pull in someone who does.

1 Philippine Peso (Php) = 100 centavos.

Bank notes: Php20, Php50, Php100, Php200, Php500, Php1,000.

Coins: 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, Php1, Php5, Php10.

Foreign currency may be exchanged at most hotels, and in most of the large department stores, banks and authorized money changing shops. Exchanging money anywhere else is illegal and the laws are strictly enforced.

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