The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands covering a land area of 115,739 sq. m. (300,000 sq. km.). The main island groups are Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The capital is Manila. Time Zone is GMT + 8 hours.
There are a total of 92.3 million Filipinos as of the latest national census in 2010 (Source: www.nscb.gov.ph). Population growth is estimated at 2.04 percent annually. Luzon, the largest island group, accounts for almost half of the entire population.
The Philippines has two official languages --- Filipino and English. Filipino is based on Tagalog, and is the national language. English is also widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education.
November to February are the coolest months and are good times to visit the Philippines as far as the weather is concerned. Meanwhile, March to May are the summer months in the country and are classified as hot and dry. The rainy season is between June to October. The average temperature range is between 25°C to 30°C in Manila and 15°C to 26°C in Baguio; average humidity is 77%. Some parts of the country such as Cebu, in the Visayas and Davao, in Mindanao, are warm and comfortable in all seasons and can be visited throughout the year.
UNIT OF MEASURE
The Metric System is used in most trade and legal transactions.
220 volts a/c is the common standard. 110 volts a/c is also used, especially in major hotels.
The currency in the Philippines is the Peso (PhP) and the Centavo. 100 centavos = P1. Coin denominations are: 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos, P1, and P5. Bill denominations are : 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1, 000 pesos.
Foreign currency may be exchanged at 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.
Most large stores, restaurants, hotels and resorts accept major credit cards including American Express, Visa and MasterCard. Traveller's checks, preferably American Express, are accepted at hotels and large department stores. Personal checks drawn on foreign banks are generally not accepted.
Most businesses are open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM on weekdays and 8:00 AM till noon on Saturdays. Banks are open from 9:00 AM till 3:00 PM Mondays through Fridays. When banking in the Philippines, it is advisable to have your passport with you for identification.
Post offices are open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays only. Stamps for postcards are frequently available from the Concierge Desk at most major hotels. The Philippines uses ZIP codes; please include them in addressing local mail.
NOTE: The Standard lunch hour is noon to 1:00 PM. Most businesses and government offices are closed.
People in the Philippines dress for the weather. Casual attire during the day for women are light blouses and shorts. For men collared T- shirts worn over slacks. In the evening, skirts are substituted for shorts and the T-shirts are tucked in.
Like any living language, Filipino is in a process of development through loans from Philippine languages and non-native languages, among speakers of different social backgrounds, and for topics for conversation and scholarly discourse. There are about 76 to 78 major language groups, with more than 500 dialects.
The Muslims represent between 5% to 10% of the Philippine population, while 83% are Roman Catholic and some ethnic groups belong to different Christian denominations; besides a discrete presence of Hindu, Buddhist, Animist and others without a religious affiliation.