Philippines

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The Philippines is an archipelago of more than 7,100 islands in South-East Asia located between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. The combined length of all its beaches make for one of the world's longest coastlines, and the many islands and many waves of immigration make for considerable cultural diversity. It would take decades to visit and experience everything. It has been Asia's largest Roman Catholic country since Spanish colonial times, but perhaps the easiest way to recognise a Filipino abroad is to see who has the broadest smile. More than a hundred distinct ethnic groups, a mixture of foreign influences and a fusion of culture and arts enhance the wonder that is the Philippines. (less...) (more...)

Population: 105,720,644 people
Area: 300,000 km2
Highest point: 2,954 m
Coastline: 36,289 km
Life expectancy: 72.21 years
GDP per capita: $4,500
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About Philippines

History

First steps

Several thousand years ago, the first settlers in the Philippines crossed shallow seas and land bridges from mainland Asia to arrive in this group of islands. These were the Negritos or Aetas. These people are related to Melanesians (e.g.: Australian Aborigines and Papuans). Direct descendants of these people can still be found in Negros Oriental. Several thousand years later, they were then followed by Austronesian settlers travelling the same route as the Negritos but this time over sea in their impressive Balangay boats. This word is where the basic form of political institution, the barangay, came from. The Austronesians are thought to have come from Taiwan, and traveled south to the Philippines, and as far away as Hawaii, Easter island, New Zealand and Madagascar. The majority of Filipinos are pure Austronesian.

Pre-Spanish era

The early Austronesians of the Philippines simultaneously traded with each other as well as with the Chinese, Japanese, Okinawans, Indians, Thais, Arabs and other Austronesians from Malaysia, Indonesia and Micronesia. An interesting mix of cultures developed in the islands, and a writing system called baybayin or alibata, as well as a social structure developed quickly, some of the traders stayed and married the natives. Hinduism and Buddhism was introduced by traders from India, Sumatra and Java. These two religions syncretized with the various indigenous animistic beliefs. Later, Arab, Malay and Javanese traders converted the natives in the island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago to Islam. The archipelago became a mix of the indigenous Austronesian and Melanesian people with some foreign influence from Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India.

Under Spanish rule

When the explorer Ferdinand Magellan set foot on the island of Homonhon in 1521, the Philippines was predominantly animist, with some Muslim and Hindu inhabitants mainly in the southern part of the country. Famished, Magellan's crew were treated to a feast by the welcoming islanders who wore elaborate tattoos. Magellan was Portuguese, but it was a Spanish Expedition which he led to the islands which were eventually claimed by Spain as its colony. Lapu-Lapu, a native chief of Mactan island, was against the Christianization of the natives; he then fought a battle with Magellan where Lapu-Lapu won while Magellan was killed. The Philippines was later named for Crown Prince Philip II of Spain and most of the natives converted to Catholicism. Some Muslims in the south and various animistic mountain tribes, however, resisted Spanish conquest and Catholic conversion.

The longest revolt against Spanish colonization was led by Francisco Dagohoy in Bohol and this lasted for 85 years covering the period of 1744-1829. As a cabeza de barangay or barangay captain, Dagohoy opposed the Spanish colonizers which were represented by priests and civil leaders and required payment of excessive taxes and tributes. They also oppressed the Philippines' natives by subjecting them as slaves and sending them to prison for disobeying rules. The Manila Galleon trade made contact between the Philippines and Mexico as well as the whole of the Americas. Mayans and Aztecs settled in the Philippines and introduced their cultures which were then embraced by the Filipinos. The Philippines received heavy influence from Mexico and Spain and the archipelago became "hispanicized". Other Asians used the Manila Galleon trade to migrate to the West. During the Spanish rule, people such as the Dutch, Portuguese and British tried to colonize the country, however only the British did so and it lasted for a desultory 2 years in the modern-day capital: Manila. The Philippines remained a Spanish colony for over 300 years until 1899 when it was ceded by Spain to the United States following the Spanish-American War.

American and Japanese occupation

Filipinos declared independence on 12 June 1898 and resisted the American occupation and colonization for seven long, brutal years until surrender completed the colonization of the Philippines. The American presence remained until World War II when, in turn, Japan invaded the Philippines. The Japanese occupation lasted from 1941 to 1945 when General Douglas McArthur fulfilled his promise and "liberated" the country from the Japanese. In 1946, the Philippines was notionally granted full independence by the US, becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to gain independence, although the US maintained a significant military presence, especially in the Subic Naval Base in Zambales and Clark Air Base in Angeles City, and from 1965 onwards relied on the corrupt dictator Ferdinand Marcos to continue to advance their great power objectives. It was not until many years after Marcos' exile to Hawai'i that the US military bases were returned to the Philippines in the early 1990s.

Pre-Modern Era

Up until the 1960s, the Philippines was second only to Japan in terms of development in Asia. Several decades of rule by Ferdinand Marcos then plunged the country into deep debt. Poverty was widespread and infrastructure for development was severely lacking. In 1986, the People Power uprising finally overthrew the Marcos government. (This was called the EDSA Revolution since the majority of the demonstrations took place on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or "EDSA".) He was replaced by Corazon Aquino, widow of murdered opposition leader, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr.

Modern era

Before the 21st century, corruption became one of the main problems of the country. The country suffered slightly in the 1997 Asian financial crisis that led to a second EDSA revolt which overthrew President Joseph Estrada; the then vice-president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (daughter of one of the former presidents), took his place. After her term ended in 2010, Benigno Aquino III (nicknamed "Noynoy" and "Pnoy"), son of Corazon and Benigno Aquino, Jr., was elected President. Growth in the Philippines is slow, but it is hopeful about catching up with its neighbours. In 2009 Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) stormed the country, flooding the whole of Metropolitan Manila in just a day, leaving casualties.

Climate

The climate is tropical, with March to May (summer) being the hottest months. The rainy season starts in June and extends through October with strong typhoons possible. The coolest months are from November to February, with mid-January to end of February considered the best for cooler and dryer weather. Locations exposed directly to the Pacific Ocean have frequent rainfall all year. This includes the popular Pagsanjan Falls south-east of Manila (though the falls will get you wet regardless). The average temperatures range from 78°F (25°C) to 90°F (32°C), and humidity is around 77 percent. Baguio, which is branded as the summer capital of the Philippines, tends to be cooler due to its being located in mountainous regions with temperatures at night going below 20°C (68°F). During summer, the country experiences droughts, sometimes at extreme conditions, from March(sometimes early as February) to May(sometime extending to June) water supply drops with most of the power plants being hydro electric meaning during summer, you'll be experiencing regular black-outs (locally known as brown-outs), so it isn't much suggested to travel during the months of March to May.

Activities

  • Aerial Sports - An annual Hot Air Balloon festival is held in Clark, Angeles in Pampanga, other than Hot Air balloons on display, people gather in this event to do sky diving, many activities are also held other than sky diving and hot air balloons. The Festival is held between January and February.
  • Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines, don't miss the PBA and UAAP basketball tournaments.
  • Bentosa and Hilot are Filipino alternative ways of healing, Bentosa is a method where a cup cover a tea light candle then it flames out and it drains out all the pain on the certain part of the body, Hilot is just the Filipino way of massaging.
  • Board Sailing - Waves and winds work together making the country a haven for board sailors. Boracay, Subic Bay and Anilao in Batangas are the main destinations.
  • Casinos: Metro Manila has a wide collection of casinos and entertainment destinations. Explore the Resorts World Manila, the country's first luxurious casino integrated resort, and the newly opened Solaire Resorts and Casino. The Entertainment City will be home to four integrated casino resorts. This development is expected to attract millions of rich Asian tourists and rival Las Vegas, Macau, and Singapore.
  • Caving - The Archipelago has some unique cave systems. Sagada is one popular destination for caving.
  • Dive - Blue, tranquil waters and abundant reefs make for good diving. Compared to neighboring countries, diving in the country is cheaper.
  • Festivals - Each municipality, town, city and province has their own festival, either religious or in honor of the city or a historical reason.
  • Golf - Almost every province has a golf course, it is a popular sport among the elite, rich and famous.
  • Medical Tourism - The Philippines supplies the world with many medical professionals with large numbers leaving the country every year for a better future abroad. This is indicative of the quality of medical education and medical tourism is on the rise too. Most come from America and Europe as compared to their home countries, healthcare here is much cheaper; as much as 80% less than the average price abroad. Most of the hospitals suggested for medical tourism are in Metro Manila. Alternative medicine is also popular with spas, faith healing and other fringe therapies widespread throughout the archipelago.
  • National Parks - National parks number around 60-70, they include mountains and coral reefs.
  • Mountain Biking - The archipelago has dozens of mountains and is ideal for mountain bikers. Bikes are the best mode of transportation in getting around remote areas. Some options include Baguio, Davao, Iloilo, Banaue, Mount Apo and Guimaras.
  • Rock Climbing - Apo Island, Atimonan, El Nido, Putting Bato, Wawa Gorge have the best sites in the archipelago for rock climbing.
  • Sea Kayaking - Caramoan Islands in Camarines Sur, Palawan, Samar and Siargao are popular.
  • Spas are popular, with many options, Spas are found near beaches, financial capitals etc.
  • Trekking - Mountain ranges and peaks offer cool weather for trekking and it might give you a sight of the beautiful exotic flora and fauna of the country. Mt. Kanlaon and Mount Pulag are good trekking spots.
  • Visita Iglesia - (Visita is Spanish for Visit, Iglesia is Spanish for Church = Visit Churches) done by mostly Filipino Roman Catholics to Churches, holy sites, shrines, basilicas etc. If you are religious try this, if you love art and architecture, churches are the best way to define what Filipino architecture.
  • Whitewater Rafting - One of the best, if not the best, whitewater rafting experience can be had in Cagayan de Oro City, a city in the northern part of Mindanao. Also, Davao is emerging as the Whitewater rafting capital in Mindanao, if not in the Philippines.

Food

Filipino cuisine has developed from the different cultures that shaped its history. As such, it is a melange of Chinese, Malay, Spanish, European and American influences. Though its cuisine is not as renowned as many of its neighbours, such as that of Thailand and Vietnam, Filipino cooking is nonetheless distinct in that it is possibly the least spicy of all South East Asian cuisines. Don't make the mistake of thinking that Filipino food is bland, though. It is just that instead of spices, Filipino food depends more on garlic, onions and ginger to add flavor to dishes. Painstaking preparation and prolonged cooking time is also a characteristic of most Filipino dishes, and when done properly is often what brings out the flavor of the food as, opposed to a healthy dose of spices.

The limited use of spices, possibly due to US influence, has to an extent hobbled the cuisine and the current penchant for fast food militates against the "painstaking preparations" that were once the hallmark of the cuisine. There are small movements to revive traditional Filipino cuisine but they may not succeed on a larger scale for a couple of reasons:

  1. They are too late. The corporations that drive the food and food processing market are way ahead of them and far too influential. They have won the battle of hearts and minds decades ago to the point that new babies each day are born thinking that the processed foods they are nourished on, and the magic monosodium glutamated spice mixes that flavor all their meals are actually examples of good food. Their exposure to real traditional cooking is likely to be extremely limited.
  2. The pantry that makes up filpino cuisine is by now so small that no matter what dish gets created, it only has about 3 to 5 ingredients. This has to change and the "old" ingredients must be reclaimed like herbs, spices and so forth. They were in use centuries ago and were just as common as what is seen today in Thailand etc, but they were gradually removed from the diet by foreign influences. It is useless to cling to the idea that Filpino cuisine is anywhere on par with its neighbors. No one but Filipinos actually believe that! It is way behind and should seek to catch up, it must make changes on a national level. The influence of balikbayans is critical in this area as they have seen both sides of the story and have been more exposed to international cuisines.

Kamayan, literally means Eating with Hands. Some Filipinos who were born and raised in rural provinces still eat with their hands, mostly at their homes during mealtimes. They would often say that Kamayan makes food taste better. Wash your hands clean before attempting this to avoid illnesses. Almost all Filipinos in the urban areas though use spoons, forks and knives. Eating with hands in public is not uncommon however if you're eating in a mid-range and splurge restaurant this may be considered rude.

To experience how the Filipinos eat in a budget way, Carenderias (food stalls) and Turo-turo (meaning Point-point, which actually means you point at the food you want to eat in the buffet table) are some of the options. Mains cost less than $1. Carenderias serve food cooked earlier and it may not always be the safest of options.

As with the rest of Southeast Asia, rice is the staple food of the Philippines. Some areas in the Visayas prefer corn but elsewhere Filipinos would generally have rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Uncooked rice usually comes in 50kg sacks but can be bought by the kilogram at the wet market or at neighborhood rice dealers. Single servings of rice are readily available at fastfood restaurants or eateries.

Filipino diet

The word diet is non-existent in the vocabulary of Filipinos or has never existed, as mentioned before they are laid back people, they love to eat as much as they can as if there is no tomorrow. They spend most of their money on food, a Filipino teenager might at least enter a fastfood chain two or three times a week, during fiestas in a city, town, barangay, purok or subdivision Filipinos would have big parties and it would last from noon to midnight when some of the people would end up being drunk, you can ask if you can join a fiesta in a home and some might welcome you as this is a tradition. If you're visiting the Philippines it is the best time to cut your so called diet and eat to your heart's content. The Filipino diet is a lot more similar to the west than the east, with Filipinos eating less vegetables, more oil, meat and sugar than people in neighboring countries; most Filipinos aren't health conscious. Cancer and heart-related diseases are the leading causes of death here. However if you visit rural areas they use more vegetables and less meat and practice old Filipino medicine.

Etiquette

Some Filipinos strictly use the serving spoon rule, sharing the belief with Indians that offering utensils or food that had come contact with someone's saliva is rude, disgusting, and will cause food to get stale quickly. Singing or having an argument while eating is considered rude, as they believe food is grasya/gracia or grace in English; food won't come to you if you keep disrespecting it. Singing while cooking is considered taboo because it will cause you to forever be a bachelor or a widow for life, another belief shared with the Indians. Conservative Filipinos share another belief with the Chinese that not finishing your food on your plate is taboo and rude, you'll often see Filipino parents scolding their children to finish their food or they'll never achieve good academic performance. Filipinos Usually say a prayer before food is served, furthermore wait till the host invites you to start eating. Also, it is rude to refuse food that the host offers or leave the dining table while someone is still eating. While eating in front of Chinese/Japanese/Korean-Filipinos don't stick your chopsticks vertically upright into a bowl of food (refer to China, Japan, South Korea eat sections for more information).

Kanin at Kakanin (Rice and Rice cakes)

Kanin means Rice in Tagalog while Kakanin means Rice cakes.

  • Sinangag is fried garlic rice, often mixed with vegetables, dried shrimps, dried fish strips, hotdogs or Chorizos.
  • Bibingka - rice cake with cheese and salted egg, it originates from Indian cuisine.
  • Puto - Soft white rice muffins.

Other kinds include Biko, Cuchinta, Pichi-Pichi, Sapin-Sapin, etc. The towns of Calasiao in Pangasinan and Binan, Laguna are famous for their puto

Pansit/Pancit (Noodles)

Pancit/Pancit or Noodles, an influence from Chinese cuisine and believed to give long life because of its length, often eaten in celebrations such as Birthdays and New Year. Below listed are some popular Filipino noodle dishes

  • Pancit Batchoy/La Paz Batchoy is a noodle soup usually made from pork organs, crushed crunchy fried pork rind, shrimp, vegetable, chicken stock, chicken, beef and especially noodles.
  • Pancit Bihon, sautéed noodles along with vegetables, pork and shrimp.
  • Pancit Molo is a Filipino wanton soup however it doesn't have noodles in it.
  • Pancit Palabok' noodles boiled then topped with atchuete also known as annatto seeds, shrimp, crushed crunchy fried pork.
  • Pancit Hab-hab' Stir fried Rice noodles, served in a banana leaf. Eaten without utensils by placing directly to the mouth. The signature noodle dish of Lucban Quezon.

Silog and pankaplog

Usually eaten at breakfast, this is the Filipino version of a typical American breakfast of egg, bacon and pancakes. Silog is an contraction of the words Sinangag(fried rice) and Itlog(egg). They are not only sold in Filipino eateries and stalls but also in restaurants and fastfood chains such as McDonald's.

  • Adosilog has Adobo
  • Longsilog has longganisa or local pork sausage
  • Tapsilog has tapa or cured beef
  • Tocilog has tocino or cured pork
  • Pankaplog A slang term for a breakfast that mainly consists of Pande Sal(bread), kape(coffee) and itlog

Ulam (Main dishes)

Ulam means Mains in Tagalog.

  • Adobo - chicken, pork or both served in a garlicky stew with vinegar and soy sauce as a base. It is arguably the national dish of the Philippines.
  • Bopis - pork innards, usually served spicy.
  • Burong Talangka - Filipino caviar, it is taken from Talangkas or Crabs.
  • Calamares - fried shrimp/squid wrapped in breading.
  • Camaron Rebusado - the Filipino version of tempura.
  • Chicken Curry - A lot different from other curries because it isn't spicy unlike other curries. Aside from chicken, Crab curry and other varieties are also available.
  • Dinuguan - a dark stew of pig's blood mixed with its innards. Usually served with a big green chili and best eaten with puto.
  • Daing na bangus - fried dried milkfish, usually served for breakfast with garlic fried rice and fried egg.
  • Kare-kare - peanuty stew of vegetables and meat simmered for hours on end, usually beef with tripe and tail and eaten with a side of shrimp paste (bagoong). There is also a seafood version of kare-kare with crabs, squid and shrimp instead of beef.
  • Lechon de leche - slow-roasted baby pork, usually served during larger occasions. The crispy skin is delicious and is often the first part that is consumed.
  • Lengua - roasted beef tongue marinated in savory sauce.
  • Nilaga - literally means "boiled", can be beef which in certain places is served with its marrow (bulalo), pork or chicken.
  • Pakbet - a traditional meal of mixed vegetables usually containing cut tomatoes, minced pork, lady finger, eggplant, etc.
  • Paksiw - fish or vegetables cooked with vinegar, ginger, garlic and chilli picante.
  • Sinigang - soup soured usually with tamarind (but can also be by guavas or kamias), can be served with pork, beef, chicken, fish or shrimp.
  • Tinola - chicken in ginger soup.

Western cuisine

Spanish, Portuguese, Mexicans, Americans and other European and Mediterranean people introduced their cuisine to the locals and just like they did to the Chinese, they embraced it. While the Spanish occupied the Philippines, connections of the Mexicans and the Aztecs with the Filipinos started in the Manila-Acapulco trade, the people introduced to each other their native cuisine. American influence came during the American colonization.

  • Arroz Caldo - Rice porridge, topped with egg, chicken liver and grind chicharon.
  • Arroz de Valenciana - Paella; Filipino style.
  • Biscocho - Sweet biscuit.
  • Caldereta - Pork or Beef tomato soup with sausages and vegetables.
  • Champorado - Introduced by the Mexicans but eventually in years the recipe changed by adding rice, sweet chocolate rice porridge. It is kind of like hot chocolate but with rice on it.
  • Empanada - Stuffed pastry.
  • Ensaymada - Sweet bread topped with cheese and butter.
  • Leche Flan - Creme brulee (Custard Pudding).
  • Menudo - Pork Stew.
  • Spaghetti - Possibly brought to the Philippines by the American-Italians during the American colonization, this is a must try for pasta lovers not because they love it, but because it is so different from the Italian spaghetti. Unlike the Italian version, Filipino spaghetti is sweet, its ingredients include sugar and condensed milk. The Filipinos are meat lovers who obsessively add meat to their spaghetti, including hotdog, Spam (this is what ham is called in the Philippines as Spam is so popular) and corned beef/pork or minced beef/pork.

Filipino-Chinese cuisine

The Filipinos and Chinese traded with each other in the early times, then the Chinese finally began settling in the Philippines and introduced their cuisine and culture, the Filipinos embraced the Chinese heritage and started adapting it in their lives including food. Most of the dishes found below are served in Chinatown and Filipino-Chinese fast food chains and eateries.

  • Pansit Bihon' (米粉) - Stir Fried noodles with either prawns or pork in it.
  • Hopia (好餅) - Mooncake; a sweet pastry dough with a filling inside it either yam, mung beans etc.
  • Kiampong (鹹飯) - Fried Rice.
  • Tikoy (年糕/甜粿) - Sticky rice cake, often eaten in New Year's Eve, believed that it would keep family ties strong.
  • Lumpia (潤餅) - Spring Rolls.
  • Taho (豆花) - Fresh tofu with brown sugar and vanilla syrup and pearl sago (pearl tapioca)
  • Siomai (燒賣) - Dim Sum.
  • Siopao (燒包) - Steamed buns with meat filling inside it.
  • Mami (肉麵) - Noodle Soup.
  • Lugaw (粥) - Congee made from Coconut milk and glutinous rice.

Fastfood chains

America's influence is palpable in the Philippines, and you'll be hard pressed to find a mall without the requisite McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, and even Taco Bell. Filipino fastfood chains that capture the essence of Filipino food compete strongly for Filipino tastebuds however, and they may be a safe place for the tourist to try the local fare. The following are a list of local fastfood chains that have branches all around the Metropolis, and in many cases around the country.

  • Jollibee. Jollibee is McDonald's rival in fastfood in the country, it has over 1000 stores around the world. Yum Burger, Chicken Joy, Spaghetti, and Palabok. has meals from php39.00 $1-$2 per serving.
  • Greenwich Pizza. The second of Jollibee corps' trifecta of fastfood chains, Greenwich Pizzas are your typical fare, but once again with the slightly sweeter than usual tomato sauce. Some seasonal offerings may be on offer though, like the sisig pizza, so check the menu. $2-$3 per serving.
  • Chowking. The Filipino version of Chinese food, also owned by Jollibee. For good sampling of their food, try the Lauriats, which feature a viand (beef, pork, chicken), rice, pancit (fried noodles with meat and veggies), siomai (dumplings), and buchi (a sweet rice ball covered with a sesame based coating. $2-$3 per serving.
  • Tapa King. Tapaking is where you get the ubiquitous tapsilog (fried beef strips, fried garlic rice, and egg), along with other local delicacies. $2-$3 per serving.
  • GotoKing. This where you go to get the localized version of congee called goto and lugaw, with different kinds of toppings like chicken, roasted garlic, egg, etc.
  • Mang Inasal. A relative newcomer, Mang Inasal actually brings a variety of barbecue called "inasal" into Metro Manila from the city of Iloilo. They offer other grilled meats, as well as soups like sinigang (a sour, tamarind based soup). $1-2$ per serving.
  • Goldilocks. The place to go for your baked treats and sweets like mamon (a spongy round cake), polvoron (a tighly packed powdery treat) ensaymada (bread baked with cheese and sugar), and host of other delicacies for those with a sweet tooth.
  • Red Ribbon. This is where you will find different variety of cakes, rolls, pastries, and even different pastas like spaghetti, carbonara, and palabok.

Street food

Arguably Filipino streetfood is one of the best however it may not be as clean as the ones you find in Singapore. Streetfood vendors have been criticized because of their unhygienic practices as well as unhealthy options but praised by many especially the youth because of its affordability and taste, nowadays streetfood is also found in malls but the traditional way of street vending still hasn't died out. Items are sold for as low as P5. Street food is usually enjoyed with beer, soda, juice or even Gulaman (Pearl Shakes) and is usually eaten during the afternoon till night.

  • Adidas - More edible than the popular shoe, Adidas is actually a slang used by the locals to refer to barbecued chicken feet. It is called Adidas as feet is associated with shoes.
  • Adobong Mani - Salted roasted peanuts, usually sold in small paperbags by vendors.
  • Betamax - Again people don't cook betamax and eat them-- it's another slang for pigs blood that has been barbecued. It is called betamax because its shape is cube-like and resembles a betamax player.
  • Barbecue - Either pork or chicken, barbecue remains one of the favorites. It isn't only eaten as street food, but sometimes with rice as a main during dinner.
  • Balut - is a fertilized duck egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. Popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, baluts are mostly sold by street vendors at night in the regions where they are available. Boiled and usually eaten with a sprinkle of salt and vinegar.
  • Banana cue - a popular street food made of saba (Plantain) bananas fried in very hot oil with caramelized sugar coating. The saba bananas can also be boiled instead of fried.
  • Chickenballs - Chicken version of fishballs.
  • Fishball - Something smells fishy? As the name suggests it is the fish version of meatballs, just like meatballs it is also deepfried.
  • Ice Candy - Ice candy is like a popsicle stick, it comes in different flavours such as mango which is actually the most common and popular. Sold in tiangge (small convenient stores in barangays) as well as in the streets. It is the common refreshment for locals during the summer.
  • Inasal - The best Inasal would be found in Bacolod, it is usually like grilled chicken but the sweet juicy version.
  • Isaw - Chicken intestines barbecue.
  • Kikiam - Originally from the Chinese, it is pork meat with vegetables which is wrapped in bean curd sheets.
  • Kwek-Kwek - Quail eggs and chicken that had been battered in egg then fried, it is orange in colour.
  • Penoy - same as balut, but without the embryo, just the yolk.
  • Squidballs - Squid version of fishballs.
  • Sorbetes - The Pinoy version of sorbet/ice Cream. Sold in different flavours notably; ube, vanilla, chocolate, mango, coconut, cheese and sometimes durian. Filipinos like to play with their food-- you'll see people dipping french fries in ice cream floats or people eating ice cream with bread. Don't leave the Philippines without trying some of the more unusual flavors. They are kind of exotic and perhaps weird, but tasty.
  • Tenga - Tenga is Filipino for ear, it is pig's ear that has been barbecued.

Snack and baked goods

  • Pan de Sal - Spanish for "salt bread", they are small buns usually made fresh in the morning, an alternative to rice for breakfast. They are usually eaten with a cup of coffee. Some people prefer to dip their pandesal in coffee.
  • Chicharon - crunchy snacks made from deep-fried pig skin. If you don't eat pork or have dietary restrictions there is chicken chicharon and sometimes fish chicharon.

Fruits & desserts

Tropical fruits abound in the Philippines. Most of the countryside produce finds its way to the metro areas and can be easily bought in supermarkets, such as:

Fruits

  • Coconut - Although it's familiar, you should try the coconut of the Philippines, the country is the largest exporter of coconuts in the world.
  • Durian - smells like hell but supposedly tastes of heaven, most common in Davao but can usually also be bought in some supermarkets in Manila.
  • Green Mangoes, Ripe Mangoes, Dried Mangoes - Don't leave Philippines without trying Green Indian mangoes with Bagoong(shrimp paste), tasting ripe mangoes and buying Dried mangoes as a Pasalubong.

Sweet treats

  • Banana chips - Unlike the ones eaten in India, the Filipino version is a lot thicker and sweeter, try dipping it in ice cream.
  • Buko Pie - Pie with scraped coconut as filling.
  • Cassava Cake
  • Egg Pie - Pie with sweet, flan like filling
  • Halo-Halo - Halo-Halo means mix-mix in Filipino, is another refreshing dessert which is a mix of sweetened beans and fruits, such as sweetened bananas, red and white beans, sago, crushed ice and milk and topped off with leche flan and ube jam and/or ice cream.
  • Ice scramble - Crushed ice with condensed milk.
  • Mais con Hielo/Yelo - A dessert of fresh sweet corn served in a glass mixed with crushed ice and milk.
  • Sampaloc candy - salted and sweetened tamarind fruit.
  • Turon' - Saba(Plantain) bananas in wrappers and fried and then topped with condensed milk or sugar.
  • Turron - Originally from Europe, a bar of cashew nuts with a white wafer.

Condiments and salads

  • Achara - Pickled Papaya salad, it actually originates from South Indian cuisine.
  • Banana Ketchup - During World War II, stocks of tomato ketchup ran out and people started complaining. So due to the high production of bananas, Filipinos thought of using banana instead of tomato. Don't worry: it doesn't taste like banana at all; it is kind of like sweet and sour ketchup. Try it with chicken, pork chops or spaghetti.
  • Bagoong (shrimp paste) - Shrimp paste is popular throughout Southeast Asia. Some people get allergies from shrimp paste, but they still consume it despite the itchy skin problems it causes. Fish is used instead sometimes.
  • Patis - Fish sauce.
  • Radish salad - Salad based on radish, onion and sugar, enjoyed with fish.

Dietary restrictions

Muslims will find it hard to find Halal food outside predominantly Muslim areas in the Philippines even though the country is one of the fastest emerging markets in exporting certified halal products. Ask if there is pork in the dish before eating it. Seventh Day Adventists would possibly find some vegetarian restaurants in the Philippines, mostly lurking in the commercial, financial and provincial capitals, and most of them use tofu instead of meat, Sanitarium products may be found in Seventh Day Adventists or Sanitarium hospitals. Hindus will find Indian restaurants which serve some vegetarian options around Metro Manila. Vegetarians and vegans will find it difficult to find a Filipino dish which is wholly vegetarian as most of the Filipinos love to add meat in every single dish they eat. Jews will also find it hard to find Kosher meals. However rabbis in the Philippines suggest some stores which sell Kosher food, visit Kosher Philippines for advice.

Drinks

Chilled drinks and juice

Due to the tropical climate of the Philippines, chilled drinks are popular. A stand selling chilled drinks and shakes are common especially on shopping malls. Fruit Shakes are served with ice, evaporated or condensed milk, and fruits such as mango, watermelon, pineapple, strawberry and even durians. Various tropical fruit drinks that can be found in the Philippines are dalandan (green mandarin), suha (pomelo), pinya (pineapple), calamansi (small lime), buko (young coconut), durian, guyabano (soursop) mango, banana, watermelon and strawberry, these are available at stands along streets, as well as at commercial establishments such as food carts inside malls. They are often served chilled with ice. Buko juice (young coconut) is a popular drink in the country, the juice is consumed via an inserted straw on the top of the buko or young coconut. Shakes

Sago't Gulaman a sweet drink made of molasses, sago pearls and seaweed gelatin is also a popular drink among Filipinos. Zagu is a shake with flavors such as strawberry and chocolate, with sago pearls.

Tea, coffee and chocolate

Salabat, sometimes called ginger tea, is an iced or hot tea made from lemon grass and pandan leaves or brewed from ginger root. Kapeng barako is a famous kind of coffee in the Philippines, found in Batangas, made from coffee beans found in the cool mountains. Try the Filipino hot chocolate drink, tsokolate, made from chocolate tablets called tableas, a tradition that dates back the Spanish colonial times. Champorado [36] isn't considered a drink by Filipinos, but it is another version of tsokolate with the difference of added rice. Records say that chocolate was introduced by the Aztecs to the Filipinos during the Manila-Acapulco trade.

Alcoholic drinks

Filipinos (except for observant Muslims) love to drink (and get drunk).

Metro Manila is home to many bars, watering holes, and karaoke sites. Popular places include Makati (particularly the Glorietta and Greenbelt areas), Ortigas Metrowalk, and Eastwood in Libis. Other big cities such as Cebu City and Davao also have areas where the nightlife is centered. Establishments serve the usual hard and soft drinks typical of bars elsewhere. Note that Filipinos rarely consume alcohol by itself. They would normally have what is called as "pulutan" or bar chow alongside their drinks which is like the equivalent of tapas. At the least, this would consist of mixed nuts but selections of grilled meats and seafood are not uncommon food alongside the customary drinks. When having a party, Filipinos enjoy drinking round-robin style using a common glass. One is supposed to drink bottoms-up before passing the glass to the next person. This custom is known as "tagayan" and one person usually volunteers to pour the drink.

Beer is perhaps the most common form of alcohol consumed in bars. San Miguel Beer is the dominant local brand with several variants such as Light, Dry, Strong Ice and their flagship variant Pale Pilsen. Budweiser, Heineken and Corona can also be found in upscale bars. Rum and ginebra which is the local form of gin are commonly available forms of hard liquor. Indigenous forms of liquor are lambanog and tuba which are both derived from coconut sap. Tuba is fermented from the coconut sap and though tuba itself can be drunk, it is also distilled to take the form of lambanog. Lambanog is now being marketed widely both locally and internationally in its base form as well as in several flavored variants such as mango, bubble gum and blueberry.

Alcohol is extremely cheap in the Philippines (and one of the cheapest in the whole of Asia). A bottle of San Miguel bought at a 7-Eleven or Mini-Stop costs about ₱20-₱30. Regular bars will offer it for ₱40-50, and even in top-end bars and clubs, a bottle would cost about ₱100-200. A bottle of 750ml Absolut Vodka at the supermarket will cost about ₱750, and a popular local rum (especially amongst knowledgeable expats) tanduay costs just below ₱70 at a 24 hour convenience store in Makati (The Financial District).

Shopping

The Philippine Peso (₱) is the official currency and in almost all cases the only currency used for normal transactions. Bills that may be accepted in extremis include US dollars and Euros, whose daily exchange rate is widely known. As of Jan 2013, one US dollar trades at ₱40.

Peso bills come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. One peso is equivalent to 100 centavos and coins come in 5, 10 and 25 centavo variants in addition to the 1, 5 and 10 peso coins. There are 2 versions of each bill with the newer version in circulation since December 2010 (albeit it is still rare to find them). The newer notes have similar colors to their old counterparts, have the same people at the front (Except for the 500-peso note which also features former President Aquino) but rather than historical sites at the back, these newer notes feature Filipino natural wonders and species unique to the country. The older notes will remain legal tender until 2014.

Money changers are not so common in the Philippines outside the some heavily touristed areas. A rule of thumb: the more currency you wish to exchange, the more favorable the rates can be. Banks on the other hand are widely available to exchange currency but usually impose a minimum amount (usually around USD100.00) and have limited hours of operation, usually from 9 AM to 3 PM on weekdays and you may enjoy their air conditioning during the long wait. The notable exceptions are Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Banco De Oro (BDO) which have longer hours of operation. Don't exchange money in stalls along the streets as some of them might be exchanging your money for counterfeit money, contact Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines or BSP) if you suspect the money you've been given is counterfeit. Money changers do exist at department stores, supermarkets and hotels but needless to say the rates are highly unfavorable to customers and some will only exchange into pesos.

Be aware that no person is allowed to enter or leave the Philippines carrying more than ₱10,000 of coins and banknotes without prior authorisation by the BSP. Those without prior authorisation will have to declare the excess money at the customs desk. Importing any amount of foreign currency is legal, but anything in excess of US$10,000 (or its equivalent) must be declared.

ATMs and credit cards

Visitors can also use the 6,000 ATMs nationwide to withdraw funds or ask for cash advances. The three major local ATM consortia are BancNet, MegaLink and Expressnet. International networks, like PLUS and Cirrus, are accessible with many ATMs, however Cirrus is more predominant than PLUS; however, withdrawals are often limited to 5,000 pesos. HSBC ATMs in Manila and Cebu and Davao let you take out P40,000 per transaction. Citi Bank ATMs in Manila. Cebu. Davao. Angeles. Lets you take out up to p15.000 per Transaction but now Citi Bank has a php200 fee per use on Overseas cards. Visitors who have a MasterCard/Maestro/Cirrus cards can withdraw funds or ask for cash advances at ATMs that display their logos. The most prominent MasterCard ATMs are the Express Tellers by BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) and the Smartellers by Banco de Oro. PLUS ATMs are not available locally as a complement by itself, but instead it is available along with Cirrus. Prominent examples include the Fasteller by Equitable PCI Bank and the Electronic Teller (ET) by Metrobank. Most MegaLink ATMs are linked to PLUS and Cirrus.

Credit card holders can use VISA, MasterCard, American Express and JCB cards in many commercial locations in the Philippines but merchants would usually require a minimum purchase amount before you can use your card. Cardholders of China UnionPay credit cards can get cash advances at many BancNet ATMs (particularly of Metrobank) but cannot use their cards in point of sale transactions at the moment. Credit cards are generally not accepted for government-related transactions.

In 2010, Philippine banks started to charge ₱200 per transaction for using foreign cards in their ATM machines, in addition to cash withdrawal and exchange fees already imposed by your bank. Considering small transaction limits, this adds at least 2-4% to the amount withdrawn - thus, bringing in cash and exchanging it to pesos in the bank generally will be cheaper.

Try to use a HSBC Bank ATM as the HSBC Banks ATMs are the only ones without a php200 fee for Overseas cards. your find HSBC Banks ATMs in Manila. Cebu. and Davao cities.

Costs

Traveling in Philippines is cheap (one of the least expensive places to visit in Asia and as well in the rest of the world.) Some accommodations may be pricey, more so in some cases than in Thailand. For example a stay in a tourist inn would cost as low as ₱500 a night, a flight to Cebu from Manila and vice-versa will cost as low as ₱999. Transportation is low as ₱8.00 for the first 4km in a Jeepney. Using the internet for an hour in an internet cafe ranges from ₱10 to ₱50 depending on the Internet Cafe's location, a can of coke costs as low as ₱16 while a copy of the International Herald Tribune costs ₱70 and Economist as low as ₱160. In most restaurants, there is 12% Value Added Tax (VAT) usually included in the unit price but service charge is often excluded and computed separately.

Shopping

It isn't hard to find shopping malls in the Philippines: The country is home to a large number of shopping malls, from large to small and from modern to traditional, you can find it all here in the Philippines. It's a fact consumerism has been part of a Filipino's life, even things they don't need but are in sale and discount they'll buy it. The reason why the country hasn't been affected much by recent financial crisis is because of the circulation of money, even if Filipinos are broke they'll find a way to buy something at least in a week for themselves.

As stated above, living in the Philippines is cheap and shopping in the country is also cheap compared to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei. Sales tend to happen during pay day and lasts for 3 days and also during the Christmas season (in the Philippines Christmas season extends from September to the first week of January) in Department stores like SM Department Store[33].

In the Philippines, Metro Manila is a great place for shopping. It is the main shopping hub of the country and is home to an extensive range of shopping centers. Metro Manila offers different types of shopping centers which are scattered around the metropolis, from modern and glittery shopping malls to traditional and busy markets, its all in Metro Manila. The Philippines is one of the ideal destinations for bargain shopping. Here you can find cheaper items that are sold at flea markets and open markets like Divisoria, Market! Market! and Greenhills, these markets are definitely the right place for a shopper who seeks bargains and cheap buys. But if you prefer buying luxurious and expensive clothes, bags, watches and jewelery, then the Ayala Center would be the right place for you, here you can find a variety of high-end shopping centers. The place is often compared to Singapore's Orchard Rd and Bangkok's Siam Square. From entertainment to shopping, they have it all there. Not far from Makati is the Bonifacio Global City, it is one of the growing business and shopping districts of the metropolis. It is home to several shopping malls, including Serendra, it is a Piazza that offers lifestyle and luxury shops and often called the Luxury lifestyle center of Metro Manila. The piazza features modern architecture that will make you think you're somewhere near the world of Star Wars. Stare, drool and be amazed at the public art displayed there. Coffee shops and tea shops are found around this area, as well as furniture and clothing stores. The 4 largest mall operators in the country are SM, Robinson's, Ayala and Gaisano with branches around the archipelago.

  • Antiques: Antique Porcelain plates are found around Manila after the Filipino-Chinese trade however be careful when you buy antiques. Antique Santos or Saint statues including Jesus and the Virgin Mary are also sold. Streets of Makati, Ermita and Vigan (in Ilocos) mostly sell antiques
  • Brass ware: Muslim Gongs are popular in the Philippines, jewel boxes, brass beds are other brass ware products. Just like antiques, tourists are advised to be careful in purchasing brass ware.
  • Books and Stationary: Filipino literature is amusing to read, English versions of Filipino novels are available in National Bookstore[34] and Power Books [35], books tend to be much cheaper in the country compared to other countries. Stationary items are sold at a very low price as low as ₱10, however be careful as some items may contain high lead content.
  • Clothes: Bargain clothes as low as are available in flea markets and Ukay-Ukays. Ukay-Ukays sell second-hand clothes from other countries at a cheap price. If you prefer branded clothes, Metro Manila has a lot of foreign brand shops scattered around the city predominantly in the business district of Makati.
  • Comics: Komiks or Comics in English is one of the most popular forms of literature in the Philippines and can be bought as cheap as P10. It is so popular that TV and Film adaptations are often found. Carlo J. Caparas and Mars Ravelo are two famous comic authors. They're available in newsstands and most of them are unfortunately in Tagalog, you might be lucky if you find an English version of it.
  • Embroidery: Embroidery is a best buy because the most of the national dresses are embroidered from pinya (Pineapple) leaves and other raw material. Handmade ones tend to be more expensive than machine-made ones.
  • Food: Buy Dried mangoes, Goldilocks and Red Ribbon has pastries and sweets such as Polvoron are also good to purchase. Native specialties are sold at Pasalubong centers. Aside from Pastries and sweets, buy condiments such as Banana Ketchup, Shrimp Paste as both of which are hard to find outside Asia. Don't miss the chocolates of the Philippines; Chocnut and Tablea, Chocnut is like a powdered chocolate with a sweet taste and often sticky once it sticks to your gums, Tablea are chocolate tablets used for making hot chocolate.
  • Jewelery: Silver Necklaces and Pearls are popular in the Philippines, however it is discourage if you buy jewelery made out from endangered animals and corals as corals are slowly disappearing. Handmade jewelery made by indigenous tribes of the Philippines are available, jewelery made from wood is also sold.
  • Mats: Pandan leaves are weaved and made into a mat, mats tend to be different in each region in the Philippines, Mats in Luzon tend to be simple while in Visayas they're multi-colored while in Mindanao tribes weave complex and difficult designs that often have meaning.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Philippines on Wikivoyage.

Popular cities in Philippines

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Boracay is a tropical island about an hour's flight from Manila in the Philippines. It has superb long white sand beaches, as good as any anywhere, and is one of the country's most developed tourist destinations. Facilities are available to suit different levels of activity. For those wanting to just lounge ... (read more)

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Makati City or just simple Makati lies in the heart of big Metropolis of Manila. The city is known for its upscale shopping malls, and is also home to high fashion brands, restaurants and hotels and is home to many to many affluent Filipinos. Makati is considered to be the center of financial, commercial and ... (read more)

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Cebu is a city on Cebu Island in the Philippines. It is known as the Queen City of the South. It is one of the most popular destinations in all of the Philippines for foreign tourists. It has the largest sea port in the Philippines and the second largest air hub. It is the second largest city in the country ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Magellan\'s Cross
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Manila is the capital of the Philippines, the center of governance, education, religion and finance in the country. Sprawling, congested and polluted will likely be the first words to enter your mind when you think of Manila but don't let that impression stop you from exploring its places of interests: its ... (read more)

Interesting places:

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Understand Puerto Princesa is the capital of the island province of Palawan. The city has been acclaimed several times as the cleanest and greenest city in the Philippines. It is said it's thanks to mayor Edward S. Hagedorn - politician that locals seem to love and admire (and mention in every occasion). With ... (read more)

Interesting places:

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Angeles City is in Pampanga province in the Central Luzon region of the Philippines. The city is rich in history and heritage, with old and historical significant buildings dotting its landscape, but these days it is best known for its high concentration of casinos and vibrant nightlife for men. Aside from ... (read more)

Interesting places:

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Panglao is an island in the island province of Bohol.

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Quezon City is the largest city in Metro Manila as well as the largest city in the Philippines. It has a population of about 2.68 million people. Recently, it has become the hub of information technology as well as its entertainment industry in the Philippines. The city was named after former Philippine ... (read more)

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Davao has a huge land area allocated to it officially and the inhabitants like to think it is one of the most crime-free large cities in the Philippines.

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Lapu-Lapu is an island city of Cebu Province in the Philippines.

Interesting places:

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States in Philippines

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Points of Interest in Philippines

Historical and Cultural

  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: See the spectacular Banaue Rice terraces in Batad and be fascinated at how it was built, see the only successful laid out plan of a European colonial town in Asia; Vigan. The Baroque churches (the Inmaculada Concepción in Manila, Nuestra Señora in Ilocos Sur, San Agustín in Ilocos Norte and Santo Tomás in Iloílo) of the Philippines will amaze you about the European Baroque architecture.
  • Churches and religious sites: See the Basílica de San Sebastián in Quiapo; the only all steel church or basilica in Asia. A visit to a city's cathedral is worth it.
  • Historical Sites: Intramuros, Rizal Park and Blood Compact site in Bohol are worth seeing and will give you a glimpse of the history of the country.
  • Visit the museums to learn about Philippine history and arts.

Natural

  • Beaches: Swim through the clear blue waters of Boracay and El Nido, sunbathe at the beaches of Puerto Galera and Pagudpud.
  • Coral reefs: Dive the Tubbataha Reefs National Park and see the spectacular collections of marine life and corals. Anilao also offers good options.
  • Wildlife and Plants: There are some rare animals that can only be found in the Philippines and most of them are endangered and threatened.
    • Philippine Monkey Eating Eagle - the largest eagle,
    • Tarsier - a small animal that looks like an alien and can be found in Bohol,
    • Carabaos and Tamaraws; water buffaloes only endemic in the Philippines

Aside from these animals, some species of rats, bats and water pigs are also endemic in the Philippines. Endemic plants like orchids like the Waling-Waling one of the rarest flowers in the world as well as one of the most expensive in the world. Visit the website of PESCCP (Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Project) for more information.

Sadly, because of the exploding population and rural poverty, many wild mammals and birds are eaten and are becoming rarer and rarer. However, some are just too big to eat: there are huge saltwater crocodiles and the largest in the world was caught in 2012. Lolong, a 21 ft, 4 inch saltie is the pride and joy of Bunawan, where town officials claim their favorite pet reptile has now been crowned "King of the Crocs" by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Itineraries

Rizal Park - Manila

Ayala Center - Makati

Boat Station 2 - Boracay Island

SMX Convention Center - Pasay

Bonifacio High Street - Taguig City

Burnham Park - Baguio

SM Megamall - San Juan

Magellan\'s Cross - Cebu

Metrowalk - Pasig

Smart Araneta Coliseum - Quezon City

University of the Philippines-Los Banos - Los Baños

Sabang Pier - Puerto Galera

William J Shaw Theater - Mandaluyong

Gaston Park - Cagayan de Oro

El Nido Municipal Hall - El Nido

Plaza Salcedo - Vigan

Alona Beach - Panglao

People\'s Park - Davao

San Agustin Church - Manila

Casa Manila Museum - Manila

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