The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. It has a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese. Spain’s colonization brought about the construction of Intramuros in 1571, a “Walled City” comprised of European buildings and churches, replicated in different parts of the archipelago. In 1898, after 350 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos, with leaders like Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo, succeeded in winning their independence.

In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States. Following the Philippine-American War, the United States brought widespread education to the islands. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous battle of Bataan and Corregidor which delayed Japanese advance and saved Australia. They then waged a guerilla war against the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. The Philippines regained its independence in 1946.

Filipinos are freedom-loving people, having waged two peaceful, bloodless revolutions against what were perceived as corrupt regimes. The Philippines has a vibrant democratic scene, as evidenced by 12 English national newspapers, 7 national television stations, hundreds of cable TV stations, and 2,000 radio stations. Filipinos are fun-loving people. Throughout the islands, there are fiestas celebrated everyday and foreign guests are always welcome to their homes.

Sources from REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM

The capital of the Philippines – its heart and soul — is Manila. It sets the rhythm of life in this archipelago and is a pulsating hub that blends the Oriental with the Occidental, the quaint with the modern, the mundane with the extraordinary.

Manila was born out of the ashes of a once flourishing Malay settlement by the banks of the Pasig River. In 1571, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi established the Ever Loyal City of Manila which, until 1898, was the seat of Spanish colonial rule in Asia. He built the city within walls and called it Intramuros.

An anchor tourist destination, Manila is the very core of the 7,000 times more islands that make up the Philippines. It is a center for the performing arts in Asia.

Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is one of two international airports serving the Metro Manila area and is the main international gateway to the Philippines.

There are 4 terminals:
NAIA Terminal 1 is a 16-gate terminal which currently services all international flights coming into Manila, except for those operated by Cebu Pacific Air, PAL Express, Philippine Airlines, All Nippon Air, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Emirates Airline, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways.

NAIA Terminal 2 or the Centennial Terminal holds both the international and domestic operations of the country’s flag carrier, Philippine Airlines.

NAIA Terminal 3 is currently the largest airport in Manila, a 65-hectare property adjacent to the NAIA runway facilities. The ground floor handles arrivals and the third level facilitating departures. Each level has 600 meters of curbside space, for drop offs and pickups. It houses all international flights of Delta Air Lines, Cathay Pacific Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Emirates Airlines, All Nippon Airways, AirAsia Philippines. International and domestic flights of Cebu Pacific Air and domestic flights by PAL Express.

NAIA Terminal 4 (domestic) houses operations of local carriers such as AirSWIFT, Cebgo, Philippine Air Asia and Skyjet.

Tourists can visit the Philippines without a visa if staying in the country for 21 days or less provided tourists have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months and a return ticket or a ticket to another destination outside the Philippines. If you wish to stay longer, you must obtain a Visa Extension either before your trip from a Philippine Consulate or Embassy or, once in the country. You may obtain it from the Bureau of Immigration.

See the list of nationals from countries allowed to stay in the Philippines for less than 21 days without a visa https://www.dfa.gov.ph/list-of-countries-for-21-day-visa

March to May is considered as the summer months in the Philippines. The average temperature is around 30 degree Celsius / 86 degree Fahrenheit and the annual humidity rate is about 77%.

It is advisable to bring casual/ smart business light clothes

For weather updates click on http://bagong.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/

The Philippines has 2 official languages: English & Filipino as well as 8 major dialects spoken by the majority of the Filipinos. Filipino is based on Tagalog which its vocabulary has been mainly influenced by Spanish and English.

English is widely used as a medium of instruction in higher education and in business.

The currency of The Philippines is the Peso (PHP) and the Centavo (100 centavos = 1 Peso).

100 PHP to USD = 1.93557 US Dollars
(This is for information only. All figures are subject to changes of real time conversation rate)

Foreign currency may be exchanged at hotels, and in most of the large department stores, banks and authorized money changing outlets. Most large stores, restaurants, hotels and resorts accept major credit cards including American Express, Visa and Master Card.

In the Philippines the power plugs and sockets are of type A, B and C. The standard voltage is 220 V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz.

Tipping is expected for many services. The standard amount is 10% of the total bill. Tipping is optional on bills that include a service charge, which is often 10% as well of the total bill.
Participants are advised to take out insurance before visiting the Philippines. Please check with your insurance company about their 24-hour emergency support telephone numbers.
The Philippines has only 1 time zone, Philippine Time (PHT), which is 8 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Globe Telecoms are the two major telecommunication carriers in the country. PLDT has three mobile brands, Smart Communications, Sun Cellular, and Talk ‘N Text (TNT). The current Philippine cellular infrastructure is Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). Once you arrive at the airport, Telecommunication Networks selling prepaid SIM cards are readily available. Some may even offer a free tourist SIM card which you need to load up. Prepaid cards for load are readily available in malls or convenience stores.