The Republic of the Philippines is a country in South East Asia, located in the western Pacific Ocean some 1,210 km (750 mi) from mainland Asia. It consists of the 7,107 Philippine Islands and forms in physical geography a part of the Malay Archipelago. The 333 years as a Spanish colony (1565–1898) and 48 years as an American protectorate (1898–1946) have been the greatest influences on Philippine culture. It is, with East Timor, one of the two predominantly Catholic nations in Southeast Asia. It is also one of the most westernized nations in the region with a unique blend of East and West.
The Philippines was the most developed country in Asia immediately following World War II, but has since lagged behind other countries because of poor economic growth, government confiscation of wealth, widespread corruption, and neo-colonial influences. Currently, the country attains a moderate economic growth, buoyed by remittances by its large, diasporic overseas Filipino workforce and booming information technology.
The country's major problems include an ongoing Muslim separatist movement in southern Mindanao, the New People's Army communist insurgencies in rural areas, historically inconsistent government policies, and environmental degradation such as rainforest depletion and marine and coastal pollution. The country also suffers from overpopulation due to having a high birth rate, which is far above the replacement rate and until recently was one of the highest in all of Asia.
| National motto: Maka-Diyos, Maka-kalikasan, Makatao at Makabansa|
(Filipino: For the Love of God, Nature, People and Country)
|Official languages||¹Filipino, English|
|Working Languages||Cebuano, Chabacano, Spanish, Chinese, Bahasa Melayu, Arabic|
|Largest city||Quezon City|
- % water
|Ranked 71st |
- Total (2004)
|Ranked 12th |
|Independence||Spain: June 12, 1898 |
|GDP (2003) |
$352.18 billion (25th) (PPP)
$80.57 billion (43rd) (nominal)
$4,321 (103rd) (PPP)
$989 (118th) (nominal)
|Currency||1 Philippine peso (piso) = 100 centavos (sentimos)|
|Time zone||UTC +8|
|National anthem||Lupang Hinirang (Land of the Morning)|
Table of contents
Main article: History of the Philippines
Human fossil records indicate that the Philippines may have been inhabited for thousands of years. Its aboriginal population, collectively known as the Negritos or Aetas, crossed prehistoric land or ice bridges to eventually settle in the islands' lush forests. Other migrants from the Malay Peninsula and Indonesian archipelago, and from Indochina and Taiwan, settled around the turn of the first millennium.
Asian interaction, Buddhist Kingdoms
Chinese merchants arrived in the 8th century. The rise of powerful Buddhist kingdoms precipitated trade with the Indonesian archipelago, India, Japan and Southeast Asia. Factional fighting among the kingdoms of Southeast Asia weakened their strength. In the meantime, the spread of Islam through commerce and proselytism, much like Christianity, brought traders and missionaries into the region; Arabs set foot in Mindanao in the 14th century. When the first Europeans arrived, led by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, there were rajahs as far north as Manila, who historically were tributaries of the kingdoms of Southeast Asia. However, the islands were essentially self-sufficient and self-ruling.
The Spanish claimed and colonized the archipelago in 1565 led by the Spanish Conquistador Miguel López de Legaspi who sailed from New Spain (present-day Mexico), arrived and settled in Cebu. Ruy López de Villalobos named the archipelago "Las Islas Filipinas" after King Felipe II. Augustinian and Franciscan friars marched with Spanish soldiers from island to island establishing forts and preaching Christianity. Roman Catholicism was immediately introduced and would come to be adopted by the majority of the population, through missionary work, as well as the Laws of the Indies and several restrictive edicts. Some resistance came from tribal groups in the highlands and the Muslim separatism, a trend that rages on today. Sporadic rebellions and violence erupted in the coastal populations throughout the next three centuries in response to colonial abuses and lack of reforms. The new territory was ruled from New Spain, and a burgeoning Manila Galleon or Manila-Acapulco galleon trade began in the 16th century.
Serious challenges to Spanish rule began in 1761 when Spain involved herself in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) declaring war on Great Britain. In 1762, colonial forces of the British East India Company captured Manila after a fierce struggle. In accordance with the 1763 Treaty of Paris ending the war between Great Britain against Spain and France, The Philippines was returned to Spain. Defeat from the hands of British however, inspired resistance from Filipino rebels such as Diego Silang who in 1762 expelled the Spanish from the coastal city of Vigan. The Spanish, tied down by fighting with the British and the rebels during the Seven Years War were unable to control the raids of the Moros of the south on the Christian communities of the Visayan Islands and Luzon. Thousands of Christian Filipinos were captured as slaves, and Moro raids continued to be a serious problem through the remainder of the century. The Chinese community, resentful of Spanish discrimination, for the most part enthusiastically supported the British, providing them with laborers and armed men who fought de Anda in Pampanga.
Economic Society of Friends
After Spanish rule was restored, José Basco y Vargas one of the ablest of Spanish administrators, was the governor from 1778 to 1787, and he implemented a series of reforms designed to promote the economic development of the islands and make them independent of the subsidy from New Spain. In 1781 he established the Economic Society of Friends of the Country, which, throughout its checkered history extending over the next century, encouraged the growth of new crops for export--such as indigo, tea, silk, opium poppies, and abaca (hemp)--and the development of local industry. A government tobacco monopoly was established in 1782. The monopoly brought in large profits for the government and made the Philippines a leader in world tobacco production.
Rizal, the Propaganda Movement, and the Revolution
The islands' economy began to open up during the 19th century. The rise of an ambitious, more nationalistic Filipino middle class, consisting of educated native Filipinos, Philippine-born Spaniards and creoles, Spanish mestizos and an economically entrenched Chinese mestizo community, signaled the end of complete domination by the Spanish. Enlightened by the Propaganda Movement to the injustices of the Spanish colonial government, they clamored for independence. José Rizal, the most famous propagandist, was arrested and executed in 1896 for acts of subversion. Soon after, the Philippine Revolution broke out, pioneered by the KKK (Kataastaasan at Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan) or Katipunan, a secret revolutionary society founded by Andres Bonifacio and later led by Emilio Aguinaldo. The revolution nearly succeeded in ousting the Spanish by 1898.
The U.S. Connection
That same year Spain and the United States fought the Spanish-American War, after which Spain ceded the Philippines, Cuba, Guam, and Puerto Rico to the United States for US $20 million through the Treaty of Paris. The Filipinos had by then declared independence, and this led to the Philippine-American War that officially ended in 1901, though sporadic fighting continued until 1913. The islands were made a U.S. territory with little self-government until 1935, when their status was upgraded to that of a U.S. Commonwealth. Independence was finally granted in 1946, after the Japanese had occupied the islands during World War II. The following period was marred by post-war problems; civil unrest during the unpopular dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, ousted in 1986; and later, the continuing problem of communist insurgency and Muslim separatism.
Main article: Politics of the Philippines
National GovernmentThe government of the Philippines, loosely patterned after the American system, is organized as a representative republic, with the President functioning as both head of state and government, as well as being the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a term of 6 years, during which he or she appoints and presides over the cabinet.
The bicameral Philippine legislature, the Congress, consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives; members of both are elected by popular vote. There are 24 senators serving 6 years in the Senate while the House of Representatives consists of no more than 250 congressmen each serving 3-year terms.
The judiciary branch of the government is headed by the Supreme Court, which has a Chief Justice as its head and 14 Associate Justices, all appointed by the president.
The Philippines is a founding and prominent member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is also an active participant of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a member of the Group of 24 and one of the 51 founding members of the United Nations on October 24,1945.
The Philippines is currently in a dispute with Taiwan, China, Vietnam and Malaysia over the oil- and natural gas-rich Spratly Islands and with Malaysia over Sabah. The Sultan of Sulu, who received the territory as a gift after having helped the Sultan of Brunei defeat a rebellion, has given the Philippine Government power to reclaim his lost territory. To this day, the Sultan of Sulu's family still receives "rental" monies from the Malaysian Government.
Regions and Provinces
The Philippines is divided into a hierarchy of local government units (LGUs) with the province as the primary unit. As of 2002, there are 79 provinces in the country. Provinces are further subdivided into cities and municipalities, which are in turn, composed of barangays. The barangay is the smallest local government unit.
All provinces are grouped into 17 regions for administrative convenience. Most government offices establish regional offices to serve the constituent provinces. The regions themselves do not possess a separate local government, with the exception of the Muslim Mindanao and Cordillera regions, which are autonomous.
- Ilocos Region (Region I)
- Cagayan Valley (Region II)
- Central Luzon (Region III)
- CALABARZON (Region IV-A) ¹ ²
- MIMAROPA (Region IV-B) ¹ ²
- Bicol Region (Region V)
- Western Visayas (Region VI)
- Central Visayas (Region VII)
- Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)
- Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX)
- Northern Mindanao (Region X)
- Davao Region (Region XI)
- SOCCSKSARGEN (Region XII) ¹
- Caraga (Region XIII)
- Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)
- Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)
- National Capital Region (NCR) (Metro Manila)
² These regions formed the former Southern Tagalog region, or Region IV.
Main article: Geography of the Philippines
The Philippines constitute an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total land area of approximately 300,000 km². It lies between 116° 40' and 126° and 34' E. longitude, and 4° 40' and 21° 10' N. latitude. It is bordered on the east by the Philippine Sea, on the west by the South China Sea, and on the south by the Celebes Sea. The island of Borneo lies a few hundred kilometers to the southwest and Taiwan directly north. The Moluccas and Celebes are farther south and on the eastern side of the Philippine Sea is Palau.
The islands are commonly divided into three major groups: Luzon (Regions I to V + NCR & CAR), Visayas (VI to VIII), and Mindanao (IX to XIII + ARMM). The busy port of Manila, on Luzon, is the country's capital and second-largest city after Quezon City.
The local climate is hot, humid, and tropical. The average yearly temperature is around 26.5° Celsius. Filipinos generally recognise three seasons: Tag-init or Tag-araw (the hot season or summer from March to May), Tag-ulan (the rainy season from June to November), and Taglamig (the cold season from December to February).
The southwest monsoon(May-October) is known as the "Habagat" and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon(November-April as the "Amihan".
Most of the mountainous islands used to be covered in tropical rainforests and are volcanic in origin. The highest point is Mount Apo on Mindanao at 2,954 m. Many volcanoes in the country, such as Mount Pinatubo, are active. The country is also astride the typhoon belt of the Western Pacific and is struck by about 19 typhoons per year.
Lying on the the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activities.
Main article: Economy of the Philippines
In 1998 the Philippine economy — a mixture of agriculture, light industry, and supporting services — deteriorated as a result of spillover from the Asian financial crisis and poor weather conditions. Growth fell to 0.6% in 1998 from 5% in 1997, but recovered to about 3% in 1999 and 4% in 2000. The government has promised to continue its economic reforms to help the Philippines match the pace of development in the newly industrialised countries of East Asia. Heavy debt (public debt at 77% of GDP), is hampering efforts to improve the economic situation. Budget allocation for servicing of debt is higher than the budget for the Department of Education and for the military combined.
The strategy includes improving infrastructure, overhauling the tax system to bolster government revenues, furthering deregulation and privatisation of the economy, and increasing trade integration with the region. Prospects for the future depend heavily on the economic performance of the two major trading partners, the United States and Japan, and a more accountable administration and consistent government policies.
From the article: Demographics of the Philippines
According to Philippine government statistics and current census data, some 95% of the population is ethnically Malay, descendants of immigrants from the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia, who arrived long before the Christian era. The most significant non-native ethnic minority are the Chinese, who have played an important role in commerce since the 9th century when they first arrived in the Philippines for trade. The Mestizos, those of mixed race, form a tiny but economically and politically important minority along with the small communities of Chinese, Spanish – Latin American, American, Japanese and Korean. The Negrito tribal communities inhabit the remote areas of Visayas and Mindanao.
The people of the Philippines are collectively known as Filipinos. Throughout the colonial era the term "Filipino" originally referred to the Spanish and Spanish-mestizo minority. The definition, however, was later changed to include the entire population of the Philippines regardless of ethnic origin. In Filipino slang the noun becomes Pinoy, a backformation of [pili]PINOY. The feminine form is Filipina and Pinay respectively.
The Philippines is the most ethnically diverse country in Asia. While in recent decades the government has worked to make the country more culturally homogenous, this is made difficult by the linguistic diversity of its inhabitants. A majority of the population is divided among eight major Malay-based ethnic groups, that as stated above constitute approximately 95 percent of the population. The largest groups are the Tagalogs (24%), Cebuanos (24%), and Ilocanos (11%), with the Hiligaynon (Ilonggo), Bicolano, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan (Pampango), and Pangasinense making up the rest.
The remainder includes ethnic Filipino Muslim groups in the some highland areas and southern region of Mindanao, as well as small foreign communities. The Aeta or Negritos, once active for thousands of years in the islands, have vanished into the interior rainforests. Their fate mirrors many indigenous groups around the world such as the Australian Aborigines and Native Americans. Many Aeta Filipinos were absorbed by the invading ethnic-Malay Filipinos or isolated by systematic displacement.
In the 100 years since the 1903 Census of the Philippines, the population has grown by a factor of eleven. The country suffers from overpopulation due to having a high birth rate, which is far above the replacement rate. The government and the Catholic church have clashed over the issue of different methods for population control – artificial (contraceptives, sterilization, etc.) versus natural methods (abstinence and spacing) respectively.
Main article: Languages of the Philippines
More than 170 languages are spoken in the Philippines and almost all of them belong to the Western Malayo-Polynesian languages. The official languages are Filipino and English.
Since 1939, in an effort to develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of the official national language, Filipino, which is based on Tagalog. Filipino is taught in all schools and is gaining acceptance, particularly as a second language for a diverse population. English, which was introduced under U.S. rule, is treated as the second official language and is used extensively in government, education and commerce.
Other languages spoken in Philippines include Chinese (Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese) among members of the Chinese and Chinese-Filipino communities, in their Chinatowns and community-based schools where the medium of instruction is in bilingual Mandarin/English, and Bahasa Melayu, Arabic, Hindi among some members of the Muslim and Hindu population.
Spanish was the official language from 1565 to 1973. With just 2,658 speakers (1990 census), Spanish has been in steady decline. Only some members within the Spanish-mestizo community use it as the language of the home. The sole existing Spanish-Asiatic creole language, Chabacano, is spoken by 292,630 speakers in the regions of Zamboanga and Cotabato in Mindanao.
Main article: Culture of the Philippines
The Culture of the Philippines reflects in its rich History. It is a rich blend of Eastern and Western Traditions, from native Malay cultures to Chinese, and includes Muslim, Hinduism, Spanish, Mexican and American influences.
The people are generally friendly and relaxed and wear clothes similar to those of Western society. While the country has not abandoned its Eastern traditions, the culture itself is strongly Western, since most of the major players in the region have been Western for the past 484 years right to this very day. The Roman Catholic religion plays a very important role for the majority of the Filipino population, having been introduced with the first Spanish colonizers.
Throughout the pre-hispanic era no distinct national cultural identity was shaped. This was partly due to the existence of an extraordinary number of regional cultures, ethnicities and languages in the country. Today there are estimated to be around 170 distinct languages, not counting each of their many dialects. The isolation between neighbouring populations — from village to village and island to island — also greatly contributed to this lack of a unified identity.
The arrival of the Spanish in 1565 brought Spanish culture and language. The colonizers and soon imposed Roman Catholic religion on the native Malay population. Augustinian and Franciscan missionaries, accompanied by Spanish soldiers soon spread Christianity from island to island. Their mission was made easier by the forced relocation of indigenous peoples during this time, as the uprooted natives turned to the foreign, structured religion as the new center of their lives. The priests and friars preached in local languages and employed indigenous peoples as translators, creating a bilingual class known as ladinos. The natives, called 'indios,' generally were not taught Spanish, but the bilinguale individuals, notably poet-translator Gaspar Aquino de Belen, produced devotional poetry written in the Roman script in the Tagalog language. Pasyon is a narrative of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ begun by Gaspar Aquino de Belen, which has circulated in many versions. Later, the Spanish ballads of chivalry, the corrido, provided a model for secular literature. Verse narratives, or komedya, were performed in the regional languages for the illiterate majority. They were also written in the Roman alphabet in the principal languages and widely circulated.
In addition, the classical literature (José Rizal, Pedro Paterno) and historical documents (national anthem, Constitución Política de Malolos), were written in Spanish, which is no longer an official language. The Philippine writers, including Claro M. Recto continued writing in Spanish until 1946.
The Philippines has many national heroes. Considered the first to repel western aggression was Lapu-Lapu of Mactan Island, who killed Ferdinand Magellan. Dr. José Rizal (born June 19, 1861, in the town of Calamba, Laguna), "Pride of the Malay Race" and Philippine National Hero, mastered 22 languages including Catalan, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Latin, Malay, Sanskrit, Spanish, Tagalog, and other native dialects; he was an architect, artist, educator, economist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, linguist, musician, mythologist, nationalist, naturalist, novelist, ophthalmic surgeon, poet, propagandist, sculptor and sociologist. The first Asian Secretary-General for the United Nations General Assembly was a Filipino – Carlos Pena Romulo. In more recent times, the Philippines has produced major sports heroes, such as Manny Pacquiao of boxing fame, and multi-champion billiards player Efren "Bata" Reyes.
Baroque Churches of the Philippines and Historic Town of Vigan are the cultural World Heritage Sites. However, during World War II, much of the city of Intramuros was destroyed but rebuilt in postwar time. Other World Heritage Sites include "The Rice Terraces" of the Cordillera, considered the 8th wonder of the world. Among the most popular tourist attractions within the Philippines are Boracay Island and Hidden Valley Springs. Jeepney transportation make up the remaining numbers to a colourful and vibrant culture which are left overs legacies of U.S. occupation.
- Communications in the Philippines
- Military of the Philippines
- Military history of the Philippines
- Transportation in the Philippines
- Holidays in the Philippines
- List of Philippine-related topics
- List of Philippine companies
The Philippines is a member of the following associations:
- Asian Development Bank
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
- Association of Southeast Asian Nations
- Latin Union
- United Nations (founding member)
- Non-Aligned Movement
- www.gov.ph – Government portal
- www.op.gov.ph – Office of the President
- www.supremecourt.gov.ph – Supreme Court
- www.wowphilippines.com.ph – Department of Tourism
- Philippine Daily Inquirer and GMA News
- ABS-CBN News
- The Manila Bulletin Online
- The Manila Times Online
- News from the Philippines
- Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
- The Filipino Reporter Online
- The Filipino Solidarity Project Non-profit non-commercial site devoted to fostering historical, political, cultural and social awareness
- CIA World Factbook – Philippines
- Alleba.com – WWW Virtual Library of the Philippines
- ManilaMail – a reference point for understanding the Philippines and Filipinos
- Filipino Community Forum – Filipino Community Forum for Filipinos around the world
|Countries in Southeast Asia|