50 Facts About the Philippines

The Philippines is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. It is  known for its pristine beaches, picturesque mountains, and friendly people. Millions of tourists arrive in this country each year to experience the natural, beautiful surroundings and to be graced with the warm welcomes of the Filipinos. Read on to discover some amazing facts about the Philippines.

Fact 1: The Philippines is the world’s second-largest archipelago.

  • It is divided into three island groups called Luzon, the northern islands; Mindanao, the southern islands; and the Visayas, a collection of islands in between the two.
  • The Philippine flag has three stars. Each star represents 1 of these groups of islands.

Fact 2: It has the fifth largest coastline in the world.

  • It is surrounded by the West Philippine Sea (or the South China Sea), Celebes Sea, Sulu Sea, Luzon Strait, and the Pacific Ocean.
  • Overall, it has close to 40,000 km of coastline. This coastline is made up from miles of different white sand beaches and crystal clear waters.

Fact 3: It is part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire.

  • The Philippines has hundreds of volcanoes. These volcanoes create around 20 earthquakes per day (although most are so faint they can barley be felt).
  • The three most active volcanoes are Mount Pinatubo, Mount Mayon, and Mount Taal.

Fact 4: The earliest inhabitants of this country are called Negritos.

  • Negritos were the original inhabitants of the islands. They were prehistoric nomadic tribes and they still exist in the country today.
  • Years of trades and explorations paved the way for the interactions with other races such as the Chinese, Malay, and other Islamic states.

Fact 5: The Philippines was Spain’s colony for over 300 years.

  • The Spanish colonization began when Ferdinand Magellan arrived in Cebu in 1521.
  • Spanish troops came into the Philippines years later. Their purpose was to turn the indigenous people of the country to Catholicism.

Fact 6: After the Spanish Colonization, the Philippines came under the control of the United States of America.

  • Due to the Treaty of Paris, the Spanish sold the Philippines to the US in 1898.
  • The US then started to actively force the Muslim areas of the Philippines to be under its control.

Fact 7: At the beginning of World War II, the Philippines was ruled by Japan.

  • Japan seized control of the country in 1941. This takeover ended in a gruesome death march where thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were forced to walk for more than 100 km.
  • The US later retook control of the country in 1944. In 1946 the Philippines gained complete independence, they were the first to do so in Southeast Asia after the Second World War.

Fact 8: The longest serving President of the country was Ferdinand Marcos.

  • Elected in 1965, former President Marcos ruled the country for 20 years. He declared martial law in 1972 effectively killing democracy in the country.
  • He was ousted in 1896 through a peaceful revolution called Edsa Revolution. It is commemorated yearly on February 25th.

Fact 9: Another President was ousted through a Peaceful Revolution.

  • In 2001, former President Joseph Estrada was ousted in what was called Edsa II, because of his alleged participation in graft and corrupt practices in the country.
  • He was later imprisoned but pardoned by the President who took over after his term.

Fact 10: The country is being terrorized by Muslim extremists called Abu-Sayyaf.

  • Since early 2000, at the peak of their terrorism, they abducted hundreds of people and bombed different places in the country.
  • The government, together with the support of the US, conducted military training and exercises to strengthen its defence against these terrorists.

Fact 11: A peace treaty was signed in 2016 by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that ended its 40-year struggle against the Philippine Government.

  • Thousands of Muslims voted in the 2016 election in the hope of finally ending its war against the Government.
  • A law was passed to give them autonomous rights, this allows them to live within their own religious laws.

Fact 12: The country is overloaded by various cultures.

  • Due to the colonization of Spain and the US, the Philippines is subjected to the heavy cultural norms from these countries. These cultural norms are evident in the music that is played, dances, and even in the food industry.
  • Also, due to its proximity to its neighbouring countries and centuries of trading, it has heavy Chinese and Malay influences affecting the languages that are used daily.

Fact 13: ‘Family ties’ is an important value in the Philippines.

  • Most families in the Philippines live together in one house. There are no expectations for the children to move out when they reach adulthood.
  • For most families, even if the children get married, it is accepted that they will all live in the parents’ house. They will raise the younger, newer family together.

Fact 14: It is the largest Catholic country in Asia.

  • Due to the colonization of Spain in the country, it has become the largest Catholic country in Asia. Over 80% of the population is Catholic and a significant proportion of the population is of the Christian faith.
  • There are hundreds of religious festivals in the country. The most prominent ones are Sinulog, Ati-atihan, Dinagyang, and Moriones.

Fact 15: It renamed the South China Sea to the West Philippine Sea.

  • For years, the body of water on the western side of the country was known as the South China Sea until it was renamed to the West Philippine Sea. This significant historical event was carried out to ensure the county had dominant ownership of the area.
  • In 2016, the Philippines won Scarborough Shoal at the International Court. They are the rightful legal owner of the highly contested area. This area is rich in ocean diversity and natural gas deposits.

Fact 16: It has its own traditional dances that are still used up to this day.

  • Tinikling is the national dance of the country. Dancers hit, tap and slide bamboos along the floor to create sounds that they can dance too. Other dancers then dance around the bamboos, while making sure they coordinate themselves so that they don’t get stuck in the middle of the bamboos when they get knocked together.
  • Other dances such as Pandanggo sa Ilaw and Sigil are quite popular too.
  • https://youtu.be/_WLfqDMwA_o

Fact 17: The national language is called Filipino, also the term used to call the people living in the Philippines.

  • Filipino is the collective term of the national language of the country. It is predominantly Tagalog but it also includes other terms from other languages and dialects in the country.
  • 28% of the country’s population is Tagalog, while 12% are Cebuano and Ilocanos. Another 25% is divided between the indigenous tribes.

Fact 18: Adobo is the unofficial national dish of the country.

  • Although adobo means sauce in Spanish, this Filipino dish pertains to the method of cooking the meat. The meat is cooked in a soy and vinegar sauce, with a garlic and peppercorn mix added later. It is then left to brown and is served.
  • Other well-known Filipino dishes are sinigang or tamarind soup, Bicol Express, and dinuguan (pork blood stew).

Fact 19: A ‘meal’ is not considered a ‘full-meal’ if rice is absent.

  • The three major meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, must contain rice for it to be considered a ‘full-meal’.
  • An in-between snack is also called merienda, and in some cases, rice is also served.

Fact 20: It used to take 14-16 years to finish your education in the Philippines.

  • Primary education takes 6 years and secondary education takes 4 years. University is another 4 or 5 years depending on the course chosen.
  • A law was passed recently adding 2 more years of schooling after completing secondary education.

Fact 21: It has two universities that are older than Harvard.

  • Harvard was built in 1636, but the University of Santo Tomas that was built in 1611.
  • The University of San Carlos is considered the oldest university in Asia. It was built in 1595.

Fact 22: There are more than 20 national holidays.

  • The country celebrates holidays from several different religious faiths, including Islamic and Christianity.
  • It also considers holidays such as the Chinese New Year.

Fact 23: The Philippines has the longest Christmas celebration in the world.

  • Christmas season in the Philippines starts on the 1st September, or more commonly known as the start of “Ber Months” by the locals.
  • It ends at the feast of the Three Kings, a week after the New Year.

Fact 24: Basketball is the most popular sport in the country.

  • Almost everyone in the country is avid fans of different basketball leagues such as NBA and the local leagues such as UAAP, NCCA, and PBL.
  • Although not a complete rival, cockfighting is another popular sport too amongst the men.

Fact 25: Filipinos are Boxing Fans.

  • Manny Pacquiao, considered by many as the greatest Filipino boxer, was the reason why boxing became even more popular in the country.
  • During his fights, the crime rate in the country drops to almost 0, and there’s no traffic in the major cities as everyone is watching his fight.

Fact 26: The Philippines is the 12th country to reach 100M population.

  • In 2014, the birth of a baby girl officially made the population of the Philippines 100 million.
  • 50.4% of the population is male, while 49.6% are females.

Fact 27: More than 50% of the population live in Luzon.

  • The densest region in Luzon, and in the country, is Metro Manila or the National Capital Region. It is made up of 11 cities and 1 municipality.
  • Other dense areas in the country are Metro Cebu and Metro Davao.

Fact 28: There are more than 12 million Filipinos abroad.

  • Known throughout the various countries as ‘Overseas Filipino Workers’, these Filipinos are the backbone of the Philippine economy. They enhance the country’s GDP because of their remittances.
  • Although commonly portrayed in foreign movies and series’ as domestic helpers, a huge chunk of Filipino workers abroad work in the medical, engineering and creative arts fields.

Fact 29: The Philippines supply 25% of the nurses in the world.

  • It was mentioned in a recent Oscars speech that medical shows in the US were unrealistic because there were no Filipino nurses in sight. This alludes to the fact that Filipinos make up the majority of healthcare workers in the US.
  • Huge number of Filipino Nurses are deployed in the UK, and Middle Eastern countries.

Fact 30: The Philippines has the 4th largest number of trafficked children in the world.

  • The Philippines is struggling with its fight against human and child trafficking.
  • An estimated 400,000 women and children are being victimized by human traffickers yearly. The age range of victims is from 15-20, but there are younger victims too.

Fact 31: The Philippine Eagle is the National Bird.

  • It is one of the endangered species’ in the country. It is being taken care of by the environmentalists in the country.
  • Killing an eagle will land you at least 12 years in prison.

Fact 32: In June 1991, Mt. Pinatubo erupted killing hundreds of people and displacing thousands.

  • It erupted over 5 miles worth of ash into the sky, this was enough to cover a significant part of the world. It also lowered the temperature a few degrees.
  • More people died in the aftermath because of the flash-flood mixed with volcanic ash, than the actual eruption.

Fact 33: It is the only country where an upside flag means the country is at war.

  • The flag of the Philippines has three colours: yellow, blue and red. The blue occupies the top side which means the country is at peace. The red under the blue means courage.
  • It has only been used twice: during the Philippine-American war in 1889-1901, and World War II in 1941-1945.

Fact 34: There are no large predators in the country.

  • But the wildlife is still dangerous, because you might encounter different poisonous snakes and crocodiles in the marsh areas.
  • You should be very careful with small insects too. In the Philippines there is a high rate of Malaria and Dengue cause by Mosquito bites.

Fact 35: It has one of the richest natural resources.

  • The Philippines has the largest copper deposit in the world.
  • It is also second to South Africa when it comes to gold, and second to the United States when it comes to geothermal energy production.

Fact 36: It has one of the richest biodiversities in the world.

  • In the last decade, at least 16 new mammals were discovered in the country.
  • You’ll also find thousands of marine creatures and corals in Tubbataha reef, a favourite destination of amateur and professional divers.

Fact 37: Deforestation is still a huge threat to the country.

  • Illegal loggers are prevalent in the country causing extreme deforestation in some of the mountainous areas.
  • To top it off, crop rotation also called “kaingin” in local terms, destroyed a lot of green areas in the country. This refers to the burning of large green areas to make way for crops.

Fact 38: Marvel at the Banaue Rice Terraces, a rice plantation carved into a mountain shaped like huge stairs.

  • It is a Unesco Heritage Site due to its natural beauty and because it is one of the evidence of how the indigenous people of the Philippines were innovative and creative in providing solutions to their problems.
  • It was also featured in Avengers: Infinity War, in the scene where Thanos was seen relaxing at the end of the film.

Fact 39: The Palawan Subterranean Underground River used to be the longest underground river in the world.

  • Considered as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, it ran for over 5 miles.
  • However, an underground river spanning to over six miles was discovered in Mexico.

Fact 40: An English term ‘Boondocks’ came from the Filipino word “bundok” which means mountain.

  • During the second world war, this term was adopted by the American soldiers to denote the mountainous and remote areas where rebels hid.
  • The Philippines also adopted the English language as part of its language, otherwise known as Taglish.

Fact 41: Filipinos found a way to use the Jeeps left by the Americans after the Second World War.

  • Nowadays, Jeeps are being used as a form of public transportation all over the Philippines. Filipinos made the back part bigger and more spacious.
  • The Jeep can accommodate up to 20 people. People sit and can admire the views on their journey.

Fact 42: Filipinos are crazy shoppers.

  • As a testament to this, 3 of the 10 largest malls in the world are located in the Philippines.
  • They are; SM Mall of Asia, the largest in the country; SM Megamall; and SM North Edsa.

Fact 43: Yoyo, the toy, was a weapon by the indigenous Filipino tribes.

  • Introduced as a toy by Pedro Flores in 1928.
  • The term ‘yoyo’ came from an Ilocano word, which means ‘come back’.

Fact 44: Filipinos love singing.

  • A common misconception around the globe is that Filipinos are all great singers, due to the numerous Filipino international singers and viral videos.
  • Some of the well-known Filipino singers are Lea Salonga, Bruno Mars, and Billy Crawford.

Fact 45: Karaoke was invented by a Filipino.

  • Patented in 1975, Roberto del Rosario initially called it “sing-along system.”
  • The Japanese later renamed it to karaoke which means to ‘sing without accompaniment’.

Fact 46: Its islands are known as the best islands in the world.

  • Boracay, a known party island in the country, was voted as 2015’s best island in the world.
  • The year after that, El Nido in Palawan got the same recognition.

Fact 47: It is one of the largest English speaking countries in Asia.

  • English is one of the mandatory languages of the country.
  • Most courses are taught in English.

Fact 48: It is the only country in Asia where foreign films do not have subtitles.

  • Most Filipinos are fluent in English, or they can understand English so there is no need for English films to have subtitles.
  • English is taught and used as the main medium of instruction from Kindergarten to University.

Fact 49: The Philippines used to be connected to other countries in Southeast Asia through land bridges.

  • These bridges disappeared later on when the water level rose.
  • This is one of the most accepted theories on how the first people in the country migrated.

Fact 50: It is one of the friendliest places on earth.

  • Filipinos are known for their hospitality, that’s why it is considered to be the friendliest place on earth.
  • This is also the reason why a lot of industries that deal in the customer service sector employee Filipinos.

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