The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands covering a land area of 115,739 sq. m. (299,764 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 88.57 million Filipinos as of the latest national census in 2007. Population growth is estimated at 2.04 percent annually. Luzon, the largest island group, accounts for almost half of the entire population.
Two official languages --- Filipino and English. Filipino which is based on Tagalog, 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 a good time 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 your hotel, 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 , Visas 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 weekdays and 8:00 AM till noon 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.
The 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 when most businesses and government offices are closed for the break.
People in the Philippines dress for the weather. Casual attire for women are light cotton blouses and skirts or slacks and collared T- shirts or linen barong over slacks for men.
Eight (8) major dialects spoken by majority of the Filipinos: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense.
Like any living language, Filipino is in a process of development through loans from Philippine languages and non-native languages for various situations, 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.
Some 83% of Filipinos are Catholic. About 5% are Moslem. The rest are made up of smaller Christian denominations and Buddhist.