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Philippines

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The Heritage Hotel Manila
The Heritage Hotel Manila - dream vacation

Roxas Boulevard corner EDSAPasay City

Remington Hotel
Remington Hotel - dream vacation

Resorts World Manila, Newport Boulevard, Newport CityPasay City

Red Planet Makati
Red Planet Makati - dream vacation

E. Mercado corner F. Calderon St.,Makati City

Mandarin Plaza Hotel
Mandarin Plaza Hotel - dream vacation

Archbishop Reyes Avenue corner Escario StreetCebu City

The Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas) is an archipelago of more than 7,100 islands in Southeast Asia between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea.

The country has one of the world's longest coastlines with many fine beaches and excellent diving. There is great cultural diversity due to the many islands, many waves of immigration, and a mixture of foreign influences — the country was a Spanish colony from the late 1500s to 1898, then American until 1946 — and much mixing of cultural influences. It would take decades to visit and experience everything.

Many locals speak English well and most of the others have at least some English. Food and accommodations are cheap, many destinations have excellent infrastructure, and the people are cheerful and friendly; perhaps the easiest way to recognize a Filipino abroad is to see who has the broadest smile.

The Philippines, however, received only 8 million visitors in 2018, just a fifth of Thailand's draw, despite a population 40% larger. Westerners form a minority of visitors; most tourists are from China, Korea and Japan. Insurgencies, crimes, and corruption are to blame, but the country is striving to be recognized again on the tourist trail.

Regions

Wikivoyage divides the country into four island groupings:

The Philippine government's administrative system uses three top-level regions: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. They treat Palawan as part of the Mimaropa region, administered under Luzon. Below that are 18 lower-level regions, 80 provinces, 120 cities and many rural municipalities. The lowest administrative level is the barangay — a rural district or an urban neighborhood — and addresses or directions in the Philippines often include the barangay name.

Cities

With a population around 100 million, the Philippine has many cities. Listed below are some of the most important cities for visitors.

  • 1 Metro Manila - the national capital, is one of the largest cities in the world and a place of huge contrasts, from ultra-modern buildings and affluent districts to slums plagued with garbage and crime; its pollution, traffic jams, and the scarcity of historical sights may discourage visitors, the smiling, stoical and resourceful people, and the staggering variety of culture and entertainment, are its saving grace.
  • 2 Bacolod - known as the "City of Smiles" because of the MassKara Festival (Máscara in Spanish) held annually on 19 October, it is one of the gateways to Negros Island and the home of the famous Bacolod Chicken Inasal.
  • 3 Baguio - Luzon's summer capital because of its cool weather, it boasts well-maintained parks and scenic areas, and is the home of the "Igorot", the indigenous peoples of the Cordilleras.
  • Cagayan de Oro - known as the "City of Golden Friendship", it is popular for white water rafting and is the gateway to Northern Mindanao.
  • 5 Cebu - the "Queen City of the South" was the first Spanish base in the Philippines and is a major center for commerce, industry, culture and tourism; Metro Cebu is the country's second largest urban area, after Metro Manila.
  • Davao - the largest city in the world in terms of land area, is known for its Durian fruit and for being the home of Mount Apo, the Philippines' tallest mountain.
  • 7 Tagbilaran - known as the site of the Sandugo (blood compact) between Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi and Rajah Sikatuna representing the people of Bohol.
  • Vigan - the capital of Ilocos Sur and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; its city center is the finest example of Spanish colonial architecture in the Philippines with well-preserved, cobbled streets.
  • 9 Zamboanga - known as "La Ciudad Latina de Asia" (Asia's Latin City), it is the melting pot between the Philippines' Christian and Muslim cultures, boasting old mosques, grand churches and historic colonial structures.

Other destinations

  • Banaue has 2,000-year-old rice terraces and called by Filipinos the eighth wonder of the world, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. People are fascinated at the immense work of the Igorots in making this.
  • 2 Batangas is the birthplace of scuba diving in the Philippines with world class dive sites and beaches. Its accessibility by road about 2 hours from Manila Airport makes it a popular destination. It is home to Taal Volcano and the Taal heritage town.
  • 3 Boracay is a 10-km-long island featuring white sands, one of the country's best-known resort areas.
  • El Nido has dozens of limestone islands that form a stunningly beautiful karst topography permeated by crystal-clear bays and lagoons, still relatively unspoiled by mass tourism
  • 5 Camarines Sur has beautiful coral reefs, and shorelines of black and white sands. Visit the Camarines Sur Watersport complex and go water skiing.
  • Donsol is the Whale Shark Capital of the world, dive and see whale sharks.
  • 7 Malapascua Island features a beautiful white sand shoreline and coral gardens.
  • Puerto Galera on Mindoro, a favorite getaway for people during Holy Week because of its white sand shorelines and its amazing flora.
  • Tagaytay, tired of the old scene of the noisy metropolis of Manila? Or missing the cool weather? Tagaytay provides a view of Taal Volcano.
  • 10 Panglao Island in Bohol Province, as resort island with fine beaches. The rest of the province has other attractions including the Chocolate Hills and wild tarsiers (tiny primates).

See also UNESCO_World_Heritage_List#Philippines.

Understand

With over 7,100 islands and 300,000 square kilometers (120,000 sq mi) of territory, the Philippines is the second largest archipelago, after nearby Indonesia. The islands are mostly volcanic in origin, covered with tropical rainforest and fertile soil, but much of the rainforest has been cut down. The terrain varies considerably, but many of the coasts have a lot of bays and headlands, and many of the larger islands have mountainous interiors. The coasts also have many coral reefs.

The climate is tropical, with constantly high humidity and high, stable temperatures, so prepare to change clothes frequently under the sweltering heat. Mountainous areas are the exception to the norm, rather temperate with mildly cool temperatures during the cool dry season from November to March. Frost forms on mountainous areas during the cool months, but there is no snowfall, as temperatures never drop below freezing and peaks do not rise above 4,000 meters (13,000 ft).

The population of the Philippines surpassed 100 million people in 2015, making the country the second largest in Southeast Asia, behind Indonesia, and the eighth largest in Asia, ahead of Japan. The population is concentrated in regions like Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and Cebu. Most of the population is along the coasts, and the mountain areas are more sparsely settled.

The Philippines has a diverse culture; you will find a unique blend of local customs, Chinese traditions, Hispanic religiosity, machismo and romance, and Western ideals and popular culture. The country is one of two Christian-majority nations in Asia (the other being East Timor).

The country has problems like crime, corruption, poverty, and internal conflicts. There is ongoing conflict between the Philippine government and Islamic separatists in Mindanao, and with communist rebels (New People's Army) elsewhere. These conflicts are confined to certain areas, though spillovers of hostilities into large cities have occurred. The red tape, bribery, and excessive patronage associated with Philippines' bureaucracy has been reduced, but some locals still distrust government. Crimes and illegal drugs are commonplace, but you are more likely to encounter them if you venture into rough areas. Western nations have discouraged travel to the country because of safety and security concerns.

Despite the first impressions of the Philippines as relatively economically developed, it remains a developing country struggling with income inequality and poverty. Most Filipinos struggle to live with as little as ?400–600 (about US$8-12 as of 2019) a day, whether it be a farmer or a salesperson or fast food crew. The sosyal (rich people) and nouveaux riches, on the other hand, will be seen cruising in their luxury cars, owning guarded mansions, and sending their children to private schools. Some people without work resort to racketeering or committing crime to earn a living. The capital, Metro Manila, is suffering from its notorious traffic jams, and slums can be found in many places, sometimes in stark contrast to skyscrapers in its business districts like Makati. Economic and political centralization, often called "Imperial Manila" by critics, remains the cause of the economic plight in many provinces and increased calls for regional self-determination. As with the rest of Southeast Asia, the Philippines is also blighted with uncontrolled development causing urban sprawl, lack of pedestrian- and wheelchair-friendly facilities in many locations, and uncollected garbage.

History

The first major wave of settlers in the Pacific crossed shallow seas and land bridges from mainland Asia starting around 70,000 BCE, and the oldest site so far found in the Philippines is Tabon Man on Palawan, about 45,000 BCE. These were Melanesian, ancestors of some Filipinos, most Papuans, and all Aboriginal Australians. Direct descendants of these people,the Negritos or Aetas, can still be found in Negros Oriental, northern Luzon, and other areas. Today they mostly live in the mountains, having been driven out of the prime coastal areas by later immigrants.

A few thousand years BCE, they were followed by Austronesian settlers travelling the same route but this time over sea in their impressive balangay boats. This word is where the name of the Filipino political institution the barangay came from. The Austronesian ethnolinguistic group includes Malays, Indonesians and Polynesians, and is spread as far as Hawaii, Easter Island, New Zealand and Madagascar. Its origins are a matter of scholarly controversy. One widely held theory has them coming from Taiwan, and travelling south to the Philippines. Other theories put their origins in mainland Southeast Asia or mainland China's Liangzhu Culture.

A large majority of Filipinos today are of Austronesian descent and linguists classify all the Filipino languages as members of the Austronesian family. However, having been a trading nation for thousands of years, a colony for several hundred, and a destination for tourists and retirees for decades, the country includes descendants of many other ethnic groups. The largest minority group are the Chinese, mainly Hokkien speakers whose family origins are in Fujian province. The Philippines has many religions, most introduced by various traders or invaders; the most important are Catholic Christianity and Sunni Islam.

Under Spanish rule

See also: Magellan-Elcano circumnavigation

When the explorer Ferdinand Magellan set foot on the island of Homonhon in 1521, he was the first European to reach the archipelago. His crew were treated to a feast by the welcoming islanders who wore elaborate tattoos. Magellan was Portuguese, but it was a Spanish Expedition which he led to the islands. Lapu-Lapu, a native chief of Mactan Island, fought a battle with Magellan; the natives won and Magellan was killed.

In 1565 an expedition under Miguel López de Legazpi arrived to claim the country as a Spanish colony. The colony was named for Crown Prince Philip II of Spain and most of the natives converted to Catholicism. Some Muslims in the south and various animistic mountain tribes, however, resisted Spanish conquest and Catholic conversion.

In the period of Spanish rule galleons brought large amounts of silver from Acapulco to Manila, and this had a large effect on trade across much of Asia. The Manila Galleon trade made contact with Mexico and the rest of the Americas. Mayans and Aztecs settled in the Philippines and introduced their cultures which were embraced by the Filipinos. The Philippines were heavily influenced by Mexico and Spain and the archipelago became "hispanicized". Filipinos and other Asians used the Manila Galleon trade to migrate to the West.

The longest revolt against Spanish colonization was led by Francisco Dagohoy in Bohol and this lasted for 85 years covering the period of 1744-1829. There were several other revolts; see Philippine Revolution for one and Mindanao#Understand for resistance by Muslims in the south. During Spanish rule, European powers such as the Dutch, Portuguese and British also tried to colonize the country; none succeeded.

The Philippines remained a Spanish colony for over 300 years until 1899 when it was ceded by Spain to the United States following the Spanish-American War.

American and Japanese occupation

The Filipinos declared independence in 1898 and resisted the American occupation for seven long, brutal years until surrender completed the occupation of the Philippines.

The war was quite controversial in the U.S., and famous writers weighed in on both sides. Rudyard Kipling, an Englishman born in India and very much in favour of Empire, urged America to "Take up the White Man's Burden" while Mark Twain wrote "the United States paid poor decrepit old Spain $20,000,000 for the Philippines. It was just a case of this country buying its way into good society ... like an American heiress buying a Duke or an Earl. Sounds well, but that's all."

The American presence remained until World War II when Japan invaded the Philippines. The retreating American General Douglas McArthur famously promised "I shall return", and did so later in the war. There is a monument on Leyte Island where he landed and various other wartime ruins or monuments around the country; Coron is famous for wreck diving because the U.S. Navy sank a number of Japanese ships there in 1944.

On 4 July 1946, the Philippines was granted independence by the US, becoming the first country in Asia to gain independence from a colonial power. The U.S. continued to maintain a significant military presence until the early 1990s, especially in the Subic Naval Base in Zambales and Clark Air Base in Angeles City. Both were quite important during the Vietnam War.

Post-independence era

Until the 1960s, the Philippines was widely considered to be the second most developed country in Asia after Japan. Several decades of misrule by the corrupt dictator Ferdinand Marcos then plunged the country into deep debt. Poverty became widespread and infrastructure for development was severely lacking. In 1986, the People Power uprising overthrew the Marcos government during so-called the EDSA Revolution. He was replaced by Corazon Aquino, widow of murdered opposition leader, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr.

In the late 20th century, corruption was one of the main problems of the country. The country suffered slightly in the 1997 Asian financial crisis; that led to a second EDSA revolt which overthrew President Joseph Estrada; the vice-president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (daughter of one of the former presidents), took his place. After her term ended in 2010, Benigno Aquino III (nicknamed "Noynoy" and "Pnoy"), son of Corazon and Benigno Aquino, Jr., was elected president.

In mid-2016, a new president was elected, Rodrigo Duterte. He had been mayor of Davao, and earned the nickname "the punisher" by cleaning up the gang warfare that plagued that city in the 1990s. Critics claim he did that largely by encouraging police and vigilantes to execute gang members without trial. In the presidential campaign, he vowed to clean up corruption and the drug trade (especially shabu, the local term for crystal methamphetamine, which is a serious problem in the country) and critics now accuse him of using similar tactics nationwide. Western media sources put the death toll around 1,000 a month since he became president, though the numbers are neither precise nor undisputed. On September 30, 2016, Duterte stated that he would like to emulate Hitler's Holocaust by exterminating 3 million drug users and dealers in the country, so it is safe to assume the killings will continue as long as he is in office. Despite much condemnation from the West, Duterte remains popular among Filipinos, many of whom are weary of having to deal with drug pushers and high violent crime rates on a daily basis, and appreciate Duterte's efforts to deal with those problems.

Things have been improving slowly on the economic front but the Philippines is still largely a poor country. An IMF report showed, as of 2009, 45% of the population was living on under US$2 a day. Growth in the Philippines is slow, but the country is hopeful about catching up with its neighbors. One of the major exports is labor; around 10% of Filipinos live abroad, either as immigrants or as contract workers, and remittances from those people account for over 10% of the nation's GDP.

People

From its long history of Western occupation, Filipino culture has evolved into a unique blend of East and West. The Filipino people are largely Austronesian in ethnic origin. However, many inhabitants, especially in the cities of Luzon and the Visayas, have Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and American mixtures. Those living in the provinces are mostly of Austronesian origin (known as "native"). Many Muslims in the Sulu archipelago near Borneo have Arab, Indian and Chinese mixtures. The four largest foreign minorities in the country are: Chinese, Koreans, Indians and the Japanese. Also of significance are Americans, Indonesians and Arabs. Spaniards and other Europeans form a very small proportion of the country's population.

Filipino traits are a confluence of many cultures. Filipinos are famous for the bayanihan or spirit of kinship and camaraderie taken from Austronesian forefathers. They observe very close family ties. Roman Catholicism comes from the Spaniards who were responsible for spreading the Christian faith across the archipelago. The Spaniards introduced Christianity and succeeded in converting the overwhelming majority of Filipinos; at least 80% are Catholic today. The Philippines is one of only two countries in Asia with a majority Roman Catholic population (the other being East Timor).

The genuine and pure expression of hospitality is an inherent trait in Filipinos, especially those who reside in the countryside who may appear very shy at first, but have a generous spirit, as seen in their smiles. Hospitality, a trait displayed by every Filipino, makes these people legendary in Southeast Asia. Guests will often be treated like royalty in Philippine households. This is most evident during fiestas when even virtual strangers are welcomed and allowed to partake of the feast that most, if not all, households have for the occasion. At times, this hospitality is taken to a fault. Some households spend their entire savings on their fiesta offerings and sometimes even run into debt just to have lavish food on their table. They spend the next year paying for these debts and preparing for the next fiesta. At any rate, seldom can you find such hospitable people who enjoy the company of their visitors. Perhaps due to their long association with Spain, Filipinos are emotional and passionate about life in a way that seems more Latin than Asian.

Filipinos lead the bunch of English-proficient Asian people today and English is considered as a second language. The American occupation was responsible for teaching the Filipino people the English language. While the official language is Filipino (which is basically a version of Tagalog) and there are 76-78 languages and 170 dialects in this archipelago, English is the second most widely-spoken language in the country. Around 3 million still speak Spanish, including Creole Spanish, Chavacano. Spanish has been reintroduced as a language of instruction at school level.

The geographical and cultural grouping of Filipinos is defined by region, where each group has a set of distinct traits and languages or dialects - the sturdy and frugal Ilocanos of the north, the industrious Tagalogs of the central plains, the loving and sweet Visayans from the central islands, and the colorful tribesmen and religious Muslims of Mindanao. Tribal communities or minorities are likewise scattered across the archipelago.

It may seem peculiar for tourists to notice the Latin flair in Filipino culture. Mainstream Philippine culture compared to the rest of Asia is quite Hispanic and westernized on the surface. But still, Filipinos are essentially Austronesian and many indigenous and pre-Hispanic attitudes and ways of thinking are still noticeable underneath a seemingly westernized veneer.

Politics

The government of the Philippines is largely based on the political system of the United States. The President of the Philippines is directly elected by the people, and serves as both the Head of State and Head of Government. The President is elected every six years, and can only run one term.

The political system follows a multi-party system, which is divided into three groups: major parties, minor parties ("partylists") and regional parties. The national political arena is dominated by nine political parties, with the center-left, federalist PDP-Laban (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan), the neoliberal Liberal Party, and the center-right United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) being the dominating ones since 2016. There are also minor parties in Congress and regional parties of less importance in the provinces. Most positions in the local government are also dominated by the major parties.

The legislature is a bicameral congress, which consists of a lower house known as the Kapulungan ng mga Kinatawan (House of Representatives), and an upper house known as the Senado (Senate). Both houses are elected directly by the people. The country is divided into constituencies for the election of the lower house, while the upper house is elected by the country as a whole based on proportional representation.

Politics is dominated by large, powerful families, where positions are passed from one family member to another, but this is slowly changing since the 2019 elections. Unfortunately, corruption remains rampant, especially through the padrino system, which is an open secret in the Philippine political arena. Padrino is often translated as "Godfather", and the system involves extensive patronage and nepotism. Political demonstrations are widespread, as in most democracies, and political violence is also a concern, especially during election periods when rival families clash, sometimes even to the point of killing each other.

Religion

The Spanish made Catholicism almost ubiquitous, the Church is still very influential, and the Philippines has been Asia's largest predominantly Christian and Catholic country for centuries. However, there has also been a substantial Muslim population for centuries, Protestant missionaries have been active and several Protestant denominations are now well established in the country, and there are a few followers of other Asian religions as well.

The Philippines is not only the largest Christian country in Asia but also the world's third largest Roman Catholic nation. The Roman Catholic faith remains the single biggest legacy of three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule. Catholicism is still taken quite seriously in the Philippines. Masses draw crowds, from the biggest cathedrals in the metropolis to the smallest parish chapels in the countryside. During Holy Week, most broadcast TV stations close down or operate only on limited hours and those that do operate broadcast religious programs.

The Catholic Church also exerts quite a bit of influence even on non-religious affairs such as affairs of state. Mores are changing slowly, however; Filipinos are now slowly accepting what were previously taboo issues in so far as Roman Catholic doctrine is concerned, such as artificial birth control, premarital sex, and the dissolution of marriage vows.

The biggest religious minority are Muslim Filipinos (Moros) who primarily live in Mindanao but also increasingly in cities such as Manila, Baguio or Cebu in the north and central parts of the country. The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) gives partial self-government to some of them. They account for around 5% of the population. Islam is the oldest continually practiced organized religion in the Philippines, with the first conversions made in the 12th century AD. Islam became such an important force that Manila at the time of the Spanish arrival in the 16th century was a Muslim city. Many aspects of this Islamic past are seen in certain cultural traits many mainstream Christian Filipinos still exhibit (such as eating and hygiene etiquette) and has added to the melting pot of Filipino culture. Terrorist attacks and violent confrontations between the Filipino army and splinter militant Islamic organizations such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have strained relations between Muslim and the non-Muslim Filipinos in the southern rural parts of the country. However, the Muslim Filipinos are much more liberal in their interpretations of Islam, and like the Muslims of Indonesia, are generally more relaxed regarding such issues as gender-segregation or the hijab (veil) than Muslims outside of Southeast Asia.

Indian Filipinos, Chinese Filipinos and Japanese Filipinos, who collectively account for 3% of the population, are mostly Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Shinto and Taoist. These populations have been in the country for centuries preceding Spanish rule, and many aspects of Buddhist and Hindu belief and culture permeate in the mainstream culture of Christian or Muslim Filipinos as well.

As with many things in the Philippines, religion is not as clear-cut and defined as official statistics suggest, and many Christians and Muslims also practice and believe in indigenous spiritual aspects (such as honoring natural deities and ancestor-worship, as well as the existence of magic and healers) that may in some cases contradict the orthodox rules of their religions.

Climate

The climate is tropical, and average temperatures range from 25°C (78°F) to 32°C (90°F), and humidity averages around 77 percent. While locations within 11 degrees from the equator may have just two seasons and while the traditional definition of a tropical climate is just two seasons, wet and dry, locals speak of three seasons:

  • The hot dry season (summer, March to May) are the hottest months. The country becomes muggy, with temperatures soaring as high as 40 °C (104 °F), and heat indices of 50–60 °C (122–140 °F) not uncommon, especially in inland locations in Luzon like Cabanatuan and Tuguegarao. The temperatures are very desirable for beach bumming and resort hopping, but not for visiting heritage locations, unless you can bear the heat and high humidity. Prices for flights, ferries, buses or accommodations skyrocket during this season, especially on Holy Week, and booking is difficult due to high demand.
  • The rainy season starts in June and extends through October with strong typhoons possible.
  • The cool dry season runs from November to February, with mid-January to end of February the coolest times. Temperatures are cooler in the mountains, but even lowland areas can experience temperatures below 20 °C (68 °F) when the northeast monsoon from Siberia is at full blast, so bring a sweater or light jacket at these times, especially when walking at night. This season is the best time to visit, with drier weather, but flights, boat and ferry trips, buses and accommodations tend to be expensive and difficult, especially during the Christmas and New Year season.

Seasons may not be clear-cut as much as before, and with the effects of climate change, Philippine weather can now be seen as changeable; overcast skies and higher-than-average rainfall are possible in the hot dry season, long periods of drought possible during June (when increased rainfall is already expected), and bone-chilling northeasterly winds dropping nighttime lows below 20 °C (68 °F) but never below 15 °C (59 °F) (unless you're in Baguio) possible on nights during the cold dry season. Provinces spanning two of the three varieties of the tropical climate (dry and wet, monsoon, and marine/equatorial), often crossed north-south by a mountain range can get sun and cloud or rain within the same day.

Locations exposed directly to the Pacific Ocean have frequent rainfall all year. This includes the popular Pagsanjan Falls south-east of Manila (though the falls will get you wet regardless). Baguio, branded as the summer capital of the Philippines, tends to be cooler due to its being located in mountainous regions with temperatures at night going below 20°C (68°F) . During summer, the country experiences droughts, sometimes with extreme conditions, from about March to May.

Holidays

The Philippines is a multicultural country having Christian, Muslim and Buddhist holidays in addition to secular holidays. The year is welcomed by New Year's Day on 1 January. Being a predominantly Catholic country means observing the traditional Catholic holidays of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday during Lent or months around March or April, Araw ng pagkabuhay or Easter Sunday is celebrated 3 days after Good Friday. Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor, Boy Scouts re-enact the march every 2 years in honor of this day that is also known as Bataan Day, they march as long as 10 km, the Bataan Death March was part of the Bataan Battle which was also part of the Battle of the Philippines. The Bataan Death March was a 60 km march and the people who participated in this march were captured, tortured and murdered. All Saints Day is on 1 Nov and All Souls Day on 2 Nov. In recognition of the Muslim Filipino community, the Islamic feast of Eid-Al-Fitr (known in the Philippines as Hari Raya Puasa) held after the holy fasting month of Ramadan, is also a national holiday. This day changes year by year, as it follows the Islamic lunar calendar. Chinese New Year is also celebrated by the Chinese Community but dates vary according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Secular holidays include Labor Day (1 May) and Independence Day (12 Jun). 30 Aug is declared National Heroes Day. Some holidays also commemorate national heroes such as Jose Rizal (30 Dec) and Andres Bonifacio (30 Nov) as well as Ninoy Aquino (21 Aug). Metro Manila is less congested during Holy Week as people tend to go to their hometowns to spend the holidays there. Holy week is also considered part of the super peak season for most beach resorts such as Boracay and the most popular ones tend to get overcrowded at this time. Due to its cool mountain weather, Baguio is also where a lot of people spend the Holy Week break. Christmas is ubiquitously celebrated on 25 Dec.

The most significant holiday seasons every year are Holy Week (Semana Santa), the three-day period including All Saints' Day (Undas, also a semestral vacation period for most schools) and Christmas and New Year. During these periods, the country takes a week off for locals to head home for the provinces. They are the times where Metro Manila and other metropolises has no traffic jams, yet the congestion moves to the provinces, with traffic snarls stretching kilometers at expressways being not uncommon, and finding flights, buses or boats being near-to-impossible.

Dates

  • New Year's Day: 1 January
  • Chinese New Year: varies (based on the Chinese lunar calendar)
  • Maundy Thursday: varies
  • Good Friday: varies
  • Easter Sunday: varies
  • Araw Ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor): 9 April
  • Labor Day: 1 May
  • Independence Day: 12 June
  • Ninoy Aquino Day: 21 August
  • National Heroes Day: Last Monday of August
  • All Saints Day: 1 November
  • All Souls Day: 2 November
  • Eid Ul Fitr (Hari Raya Puasa): varies according to lunar calendar
  • Eid Ul Adha: varies according to lunar calendar
  • Bonifacio Day: 30 November
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception: 8 December
  • Christmas Day: 25 December
  • Rizal Day: 30 December
  • Last Day of the Year: 31 December

Festivals

Time

The Philippines spans UTC time zone +8 (Philippine Standard Time or PST), which also covers Western Australia, central parts of Indonesia, Taiwan, all of China, Mongolia, and part of Russia (Siberia). As a tropical country where daylight hours are almost equal, the Philippines does not observe daylight savings time, except during some periods, especially during shortages of electricity. The 12-hour clock is commonly used in both written and spoken form, while the 24-hour clock is more commonly used in some modes of transport and other specialist fields, e.g. ferry and flight schedules use the 24-hour clock.

Culture

The culture of the Philippines is very diverse. There is the native Melanesian and Austronesian culture, which is most evident in language, ethnicity, native architecture, food and dances. There is also some influence from Arabia, China, India and Borneo. On top of that there is heavy colonial Hispanic influence from Mexico and Spain, such as in Religion, food, dance, language, festivals, architecture and ethnicity. Later influence from the U.S. can also be seen in the culture.

Books

Filipino literature is a mix of Indian sagas, folk tales, and traces of Western influence. Classical books are written in Spanish as well as in Tagalog, but to this day most of Filipino literature is written in English. The Philippines, thus, is a multi-cultural country with its roots stretching from Asia to Europe and to the Americas.

History, documentary
  • Red Revolution by Gregg R. Jones (ISBN 0813306442) - Documentary about the guerrilla movement; New People's Army (NPA), in the Philippines.
  • In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines by Stanley Karnow (ISBN 0345328167) - Shares the story of European and American colonization in the archipelago as well as the restoration of democracy after the overthrew of Marcos.
Literature
  • Noli Me Tangere by José Rizal
  • El Filibusterismo by José Rizal
  • Dekada '70 by Lualhati Bautista (ISBN 9711790238) - A story about a middle class Filipino family that struggled to fight with other Filipinos during the martial law during the time of Marcos.
  • The Day the Dancers Came by Bienvenido Santos
  • Amazing Archipelago by John-Eric Taburada

Film

The Filipino film industry is suffering because of its main rival, the Western film industry. In this 21st century only 40 films are produced each year; down from 200-300 films a year in the 1990s.

  • Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Festival
  • Cinemanila International Film Festival
  • Metro Manila Film Festival — held annually during the Christmas season, showcasing local films released during the festival month.

Music

Western culture has also permeated the music industry in the Philippines; many songs written by Filipinos are in English, but Filipino-language songs are slowly gaining popularity. American rock-n-roll as well, rap and hip-hop are heard and performed. Traditional Filipino songs such as kundiman (nostalgic/poetic songs) are still held dearly by the population but are slowly losing influence among the younger generations.

Check out pop and rock groups such as The Eraserheads, Spongecola, Parokya ni Edgar, Gary Valenciano, Side A and Apo Hiking Society.

Get in

Most tourists come via the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL IATA) in Metro Manila, but other opt to arrive via Clark International Airport (CRK IATA) or Mactan–Cebu International Airport (CEB IATA).

Visas

Nationals from most countries, including all ASEAN countries, can enter the Philippines without a visa for up to 30 days, or obtain a visa on arrival for up to 59 days, as long as they have a return or onward ticket as well as passports valid for a period of at least six months beyond the period of stay. Exceptions to this rule are as listed below:

If intending to stay beyond the duration of the 30-day visa, you may apply for a visa extension at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) which have offices in most main cities and at Manila and Cebu airports . Extensions are granted up to a maximum of six months per time. You can keep getting visa extensions up to a stay of 3 years, after which foreign nationals wishing to stay longer must go out of the Philippines and then come back to start anew, or apply for permanent resident status at home.

The 1st visa extension got within the Philippines at a BOI office is from 30 days up to 59 days and cost ?3130. The cost of a 29-day visa extension at Cebu airport is ?3000. You could also get a 59-day tourist visa from any Philippines Embassy around the world for US$30/40, but you must go to the embassy twice as the visa take 2-3 working days to get.

If you overstay, you must pay on departure a fine of ?1000 per month of overstay plus a ?2020 processing fee.

Airlines may refuse to let you check in if you only have a one-way ticket to the Philippines due to immigration requirements. Cebu Pacific Air will require a printed copy of an onwards "itinerary receipt" at check in. If you want to risk not having an onwards ticket, try to check in early to allow yourself time to buy a ticket at an Internet cafe or ticket desk in the airport if the airline refuses to check you in.

All visitors are given arrival and departure cards presented to immigration. Arrival cards are integrated into the customs declaration forms provided upon arrival as of 2019.

Long-term visitors and the Balikbayan program

If you intend to stay in the Philippines for the long term (i.e. applying for residence), you must register for an Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) card. ACR applicants will go through fingerprinting, photo identification, and submission of police clearance (not required for tourist visa holders). Foreigners retiring in the Philippines can apply for a retiree visa, but those planning to stay longer must apply for an immigrant visa and permanent residence, which requires at least US$10,000 (?600,000) deposited in a local bank and no criminal record. The Philippines regulates the number of immigrants to 50 persons per country, with exceptions outlined in local immigration legislation.

In addition, if you stay at any private residence (including apartments or condominium units), you must register your abode on the barangay of residence by obtaining a Barangay Certificate of Residence within 24 hours of your arrival, but this is not required for short-term travelers.

Under the "Balikbayan Program", former Filipino citizens who have been naturalized in a foreign country may enter the Philippines visa-free for up to one year. If eligible, you must prove your previous Philippine citizenship by presenting an old Philippine passport, birth certificate, or foreign naturalization documents. However, you may not have to present these documents to the immigration officer, as usually it is sufficient to speak a Filipino language, appear Filipino, and/or show the foreign passport if it indicates that you were born in the Philippines. If your Balikbayan status is granted, the immigration officer will annotate your passport for a one-year stay. Your spouse and children may also avail themselves of the Balikbayan privilege, as long as they enter and leave the Philippines together with you. If you choose to reside permanently, you can reacquire Filipino citizenship by taking the Philippine oath of allegiance, and your children (under 18), including illegitimate or adopted children, will automatically acquire Filipino citizenship.

Customs

Customs are mostly relaxed as with most of Southeast Asia, with the general restrictions on duty-free items: you can bring up to 1 litre (0.22 imp gal; 0.26 US gal) of alcohol, reasonable amounts of perfume, and 200 sticks (often one carton with 10 packs containing 20 sticks) of cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 g of tobacco. Travelers entering the country, including transiting passengers, are required to fill out a customs declaration form; declarations can be done in advance at the plane once it nears its final approach.

There are no limits on how much money can be brought in or out of the Philippines, but anti-money laundering and antiterrorism laws place limits on money you can import or export from the country without declaring. Money in excess of ?10,000, or any foreign currency equivalent to $10,000 (about ?500,000 in 2019) must be declared, along with authorization from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Checks above those amounts must be declared also.

The Philippines also has strict biosecurity and wildlife protection laws, intended to protect the local agricultural industry and biodiversity, and avoid the introduction of foreign diseases and pests. Any imported fruits, plant, meat and fish must be declared, and screened for diseases or pests by one of the agencies tied to the country's Department of Agriculture: Bureau of Animal Industries, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, or the Bureau of Plant Industries. Any food items must be declared as well, even if they are permitted. All products from threatened or endangered species are subject to confiscation and fines.

You must declare also any CDs, DVDs, and electronics (including cell phones) in your checked baggage; items in carry-ons are often rarely checked, but can be subject to random inspection. Importing pornography, dangerous drugs, pirated or counterfeit goods and hazardous chemical products is prohibited. If you intend to bring firearms for certain purposes, such as recreational shooting, expect going through paperwork to secure a Permit to Carry and additional permits.

Illegal drugs are heavily dealt with, and passengers cannot get away with it, even those only in transit. Possession of drug paraphernalia is also illegal. Offenders must expect hefty fines for carrying small amounts of drugs and paraphernalia or reclusión perpetua (40 years in prison) and deportation for larger amounts.

For a comprehensive guide on what and what not to bring on your baggage, see the Regulated/Restricted and Prohibited Importations at the Bureau of Customs website.

Philippine customs officers are fairly notorious for widespread corruption, but this is slowly changing; travelers cannot get away with not declaring any restricted items or contraband on checked baggage, with inspections using X-ray scanners and random checks using K-9 dogs. If you get caught, expect fines and a possible jail term (and at worse, deportation and being blacklisted by immigration).

By plane

Although the Philippines is an archipelago, most visitors arrive by plane. If you live in an area with a large Filipino population, check out travel agencies catering to overseas Filipinos which often have fares keener than those generally advertised.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia, are the three companies with the largest presence in the country; all offer both international and domestic flights. Many other airlines operate international flights to the Philippines, and there are several smaller domestic carriers including some that use seaplanes or helicopters to reach destinations without an airport.

If you plan to travel around the various islands, it may be best to get an open jaw ticket; this can save much time back-tracking. Most open-jaw ticket combinations fly into Manila and out of Cebu or vice versa. It might also be possible to get a ticket with a stopover; for example Silk Air fly Singapore-Davao-Cebu and it would be worth asking if you can have a few days in Davao without a change in fare.

Most visitors entering the Philippines will fly in through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) (MNL IATA) in Metro Manila. Traveling through Manila airport used to mean long delays, difficult transfers between terminals and sometimes corrupt officials. It has improved greatly, but some visitors still choose to avoid flying through Manila, There are two main alternatives:

  • Mactan-Cebu International Airport (CEB IATA) in Metro Cebu is the Philippines' second-busiest airport. It is in the center of the country, closer to destinations in the Visayas or Mindanao than Manila is.
  • Clark Airport (CRK IATA) in Angeles City 85 km north of Manila is a popular hub for low-cost carriers serving Manila, although a few full-service carriers serve the airport as well.

Manila and Cebu are the country's main hubs for domestic flights, and Clark has some as well. You can arrive at any of these airports and expect to reach more-or-less anywhere in the country reasonably easily.

Other airports around the country also have international flights.

  • Francisco Bangoy International Airport (DVO IATA) in Davao is served by Silk Air with flights to and from Singapore. and Cathay Pacific with flights to and from Hong Kong.
  • Kalibo International Airport (KLO IATA) in Kalibo, Aklan (near Boracay) Air Asia, has flights to Seoul & Busan South Korea. Scoot Air fly to Singapore. Cebu Pacific fly from Kalibo to Hong Kong and Seoul. Other airlines also have scheduled flights to Kalibo from points in South Korea, China and Taiwan.
  • Iloilo International Airport (ILO IATA) in Iloilo is served by Cebu Pacific, with flights to Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPS IATA) in Puerto Princesa, Palawan has direct flights to Taipei on Philippine Airlines and flights to several destinations in Malaysia.
  • Panglao Airport TAG IATA in Bohol

As of mid-2019, several other cities have new airports being planned or under construction, so the list is likely to become longer in the 2020s.

By boat

  • Weesam Express operates a regular ferry service which connects Zamboanga City, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi with Sandakan, Malaysia.
  • Aleson Shipping Lines also has a ferry from Zamboanga to Sandakan. Schedule departs Zamboanga every Monday and Thursday noon. Economy class ?2700 per way. Cabin ?3100 per way.

These routes may be dangerous; see warnings at Sulu Islands and Zamboanga Peninsula.

Get around

Addresses

If you take a taxi, jeepney or tricycle, ask for directions in advance. Street names do exist, but they tend to be rare outside major cities. Philippine addresses often include details of nearby landmarks (e.g. opposite the high school, near the church/police station/barangay hall, etc.) or the intersecting street (e.g. Rizal Ave. cor. Mabini St.). The usual address is very complicated to the uninitiated, and you will find the floor number, suite number, building name (if there is one), house number, street or road name, landmark details (in parentheses), sitio or purok (more common in the countryside), barangay (or district, in some very large cities), city or town, and province (ignored in Metro Manila, very large independent cities like Cebu, Davao, etc., and cities or towns sharing the name of the province where they are located, e.g. Surigao City, Batangas City).

Part of almost any Filipino address is the barangay (abbreviated as Brgy.), the lowest government unit of administration. The word may have come from balangay — the type of boat that Melanesian settlers arrived on — or from Spanish barrio, which it replaced as the official term in the 1970s. Some barangays are divided into sitios, a term used to refer to a community (sub-village) especially in rural areas where settlements are scattered in far flung communities. In urban areas, most barangays no longer have sitios but contiguous residential subdivisions or communities. Urban barangays play the role that neighbourhood or district would in another country, and tend to have small land area but large population. Rural barangays are about like counties or townships elsewhere, and often cover a large area.

If you are visiting someone in a private subdivision, know the subdivision name, sometimes coterminous with the barangay, and in newer subdivisions, the block and lot number over a street number. Filipinos will ask fellow locals, drivers, shop owners, or cops for the nearest landmark or building characteristics; doing the same will help you get around better. The same goes in rural areas, but you may give the name of the sitio/purok. Using online maps like Google Maps works well in large cities and even rural areas, but coverage can be very messy for multiples reasons, including the tendency to add landmark details to the address.

By plane

Since the Philippines is an archipelago, the easiest way to move between islands is by plane. Philippine Airlines (and its regional carrier, PAL Express), Cebu Pacific (and its regional carrier, Cebgo) and Philippines AirAsia have significant domestic operations, linking many major towns and cities. There are also several smaller carriers which serve resort destinations (such as Amanpulo in Palawan), as well as more remote destinations. While most cities are served by jet aircraft, some destinations are served by propeller-driven planes.

The route networks of most local airlines are heavily centered around Manila and Cebu: flying between domestic points usually entails having to transit one of those cities (sometimes both), although direct flights between other major cities are slowly being introduced. Reaching Sulu and Tawi-Tawi by air is a special case: travelers must fly through Zamboanga City.

A significant majority of domestic flights in the Philippines are operated by low-cost carriers and are consequently economy-only: PAL is the only airline to offer business class on domestic flights. This does not mean however that fares are affordable: domestic seat sales are a common feature throughout the year, and all major airlines regularly offer promo fares on their websites. However, fares increase significantly during major peak travel seasons (particularly during Christmas, Holy Week and Undas), and in places served by only one airline (such as Camiguin or Marinduque), fares also increase during major provincial or town fiestas. Flights are frequently full during peak travel season, so it is advisable to book well in advance. Local airlines have regular "seat sales", advertising cheap fares for flights to domestic destinations. However, some tickets booked during a seat sale may only be used on dates well after the duration of the sale (sometimes up to a year after the sale) and advertised fares usually exclude government taxes and fuel surcharges.

Passengers departing on domestic flights from Clark Airport must pay a ?150 terminal fee before entering the pre-departure area; all the other airports in the Philippines (including NAIA) have the fee included in the ticket.

Provide extra time at airports for landside security checks before the departures hall, where all bags are checked, and passengers or visitors must pass through a metal detector.

By train

See also: sleeper trains

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) operates two overnight intercity services on Luzon Island: the Bicol Express between Manila and Naga, Camarines Sur, and the Mayon Limited between Manila and Ligao in Albay. See the Luzon article for more information.

By car

Main article: Driving in the Philippines

Roads in the Philippines vary greatly in quality from the paved multi-lane expressways of Luzon to the narrow dirt roads of remote mountain areas, which may complicate travel by car. Most major roads have two lanes and are normally paved with asphalt or concrete, although multi-lane roads are common near major cities. Street layouts in most cities and towns have never changed since the Spanish colonial era, and roads there are often narrow, with lots of blind corners. Road atlases and maps are available at bookstores throughout the country, and are very helpful when driving, especially when driving alone.

Foreign driver's licenses are legally valid in the Philippines for up to 90 days after arrival, after which a Philippine driver's license is required. It may also be a good idea to carry your passport showing that your last entry into the Philippines was less than 91 days ago.

Vehicular traffic in the Philippines moves on the right, and the vast majority of road signs are in English, with a few in Filipino. Road signs are based on a mix of American and European standards. Road marking are usually white, the same as in most of Europe, save for the no-overtaking lines, that always uses yellow, like in most of the Americas. While most major highways have good signage and markings, it is less common in inner city and minor roads. Road sign theft is also a common problem even in the highways, and stolen signs can cause a fatal crash, especially at night.

By motorcycle

Motorcycles and scooters (either can be called moto in Filipino English) are extremely common in the country, mostly Japanese brands plus some Filipino brands such as Rusi. Most are in the 125?200cc range. They are available for rent (typically at around ?300 a day) in many cities and tourist areas, and it is common for long-term visitors to buy one.

Motorcycle riding here is not for the faint of heart and motorcyclists are fairly often killed, mainly because of dangerous driving habits like drunk driving or illegal overtaking. See Driving in the Philippines.

There is a national law requiring helmets, but it is not consistently enforced in all regions.

Motorcycle taxis are called habal-habal in Filipino English. National law prohibits them for safety reasons, but they are quite common in some areas nonetheless; for example they are almost the only transport on Samal. There are no meters; you have to negotiate a price, and some drivers may try to overcharge tourists or may feel they are entitled to something extra because you want to be the only passenger where they could carry two or even three Filipinos. If you have a choice, either a tricycle or a jeepney will usually be both safer and more comfortable.

In large cities, you can hail a habal-habal using apps like Angkas or GrabBike, but they are still illegal and best avoided.

By taxi

Taxis are generally available within the major cities but are usually not used for travel across the various provinces and regions. UV Express (shared taxis using white vans) usually ply provincial routes. You can also call reputable taxi companies that can arrange pickups and transfers as well as airport runs.

When hailing a taxi in the cities, ensure the meter is on and pay the metered fare. A tip of ?10 is acceptable. Also, make sure you have coins and small denomination bills, as the drivers often claim not to have change in an effort to obtain a larger tip, and in morning periods, many drivers only accept coins as payment (watch out for the ubiquitous Barya lang po sa umaga sign or sticker)! Moreover, don't be surprised if drivers want to bypass the meter during rush hour. Most taxis have the flag down rate of ?40 with each 300 meters cost ?3.50 while Yellow cab taxis are more expensive with a flag-down rate of ?70 with each 300 meters cost ?4 (April 2011).

You may book a taxi using GPS enabled mobile apps such as "Grab Taxi" and "Easy Taxi" for a small fee. This is better than hailing a cab because you can see the number of available taxis and their location via GPS. Once you have a confirmed taxi booking, the name, photo, plate number and telephone number will appear on your mobile device and you can communicate with your driver to let him know exactly where you are. This is available in Metro Manila and Cebu.

By bus

Apart from flying, buses are usually the way to go when it comes to traveling across the Philippines, at least from within the major islands. For interisland trips which entail ferry rides, an airline ticket, however, undercuts a bus trip significantly in cost, except where the island destination is reached only by one airline and/or the air fare is expensive.

City buses are only available in large metropolitan areas such as Metro Manila or Metro Cebu; for small or medium-sized cities or municipalities, jeepneys or the related multicab rule. City bus operators generally use long-distance coaches, but low-floor buses are slowly taking over. There is ordinarily a conductor who will punch or print the tickets and collect fares.

Provincial buses, or coaches, are widely available. Long-haul services, roughly beyond 4 hours or 200 km (120 mi), generally depart in the morning or late afternoon, and tickets must be booked at the bus station or a booking office. Shorter provincial routes generally have more frequent departures, from 30 minutes to a hour, tickets are purchased on board, and service is in overall, no-frills. Regardless of trip length, vendors selling mildly overpriced food and drinks enter buses at the terminal or at major stops.

For both city and provincial services, there are three basic classes:

  • Executive — Takes the most direct routes, and most used on long-haul trips or services that mostly travels through expressways. Vehicles all have air-conditioning. Legroom may be more generous. Some may have a toilet.
  • Standard air-conditioned (air-conditioned economy) — City buses and short-distance provincial operators often offer this class.
  • Ordinary (economy) — The slowest of the three types, they make more frequent stops, and are not air-conditioned. Windows are usually left open. Seats can be wooden or upholstered, and are narrower. Fares are 20% off the air-conditioned classes' fare.

The air conditioning can be harshly cool, so bring a light jacket, sweater or blanket to wrap yourself. Ordinary class buses have been phased out in some heavily plied provincial routes, but remain on some city bus routes around Manila and services to or within poorer provinces.

The Philippines has no state-owned bus company, or a national carrier like Greyhound in the U.S.; instead, there are many private bus companies which operate routes under a government franchise. Routes are generally served by one or more carriers, but fares are the same regardless of distance. Many bus companies, especially on heavily-plied routes, pay drivers based on passengers carried per trip, so dangerous driving habits are common because drivers are pressured to pick up the most passengers.

Fares are regulated, so you pay the same regardless of the carrier. City bus fares start at ?12 for the first 4 km, and increases in ?3 increments per added kilometer. Provincial fares start with ?8 for the first 4 km, and increases with ?2 per added kilometer, and it gets expensive on long-haul routes where there are surcharges for food stops, seaports and ferries (though both are increasingly integrated into the ticket price). On ordinary class buses, you save about 20% off the air-conditioned bus fare. A 20% discount is available to seniors and students if you present a valid ID. It's common to round the fare to the nearest ?5.

City and provincial buses often have a TV, audio system, or both (watch for the "Audio/Video" sticker on the bus windshield). On-board WiFi is increasily become available on buses, though speeds are highly variable and often slow. Front seats are allocated to people with disabilities, the elderly, pregnant women, or students, so you must swap seats as a courtesy. On a long-haul trip, you must do so even if your reserved ticket assigns you a front seat.

Rules on food and live animals vary by carrier, so check carefully. Food and beverages are generally allowed, but eating messy foods are discouraged, and some carriers ban them.

Bulky luggage are generally kept under the buses, but those in the poorer provinces may have a roof rack instead.

Outside of Mindanao, where most cities and towns will have a central bus station, bus stations tend to be scattered and divided between the bus companies, so transfers can be bothersome. This has been changing as municipal governments are investing in centralized bus stations.

By boat

Metro Manila

Get around Manila with Pasig's Pasig Ferry Service, waterbuses are available in stations around the historical river of Pasig. Fares range from ?25, ?35 and ?45. For students and youth fares are ?20 regardless of distance.

Inter-island trips

Next to buses and some times low-cost airlines, ships are the cheapest mode of transport when getting around the country as fares are as low as ?1000 if it's a trip lasting a day or two and ?200 if it's only a one-hour trip.

Ferry trips to other islands can take over 24 hours, depending on distance. Other major ferry companies include: 2Go Travel, Trans Asia Shipping Lines. Oceanjet is a reliable company offering fast ferries throughout the Visayas at affordable prices.

Schedule information is difficult to obtain - newspapers often contain pages with ads on certain days, but, believe it or not, most people rely on word of mouth. Boat services can be unreliable. Ferries can sometimes be delayed upto 48 hours because all the cargo and passengers has not yet boarded, or because of weather.

Cruises

Hans Christian Andersen Cruise will take you on a voyage through the Philippines. They take you to empty beaches, local fishing villages, diving and snorkeling. They offer a relaxed holiday atmosphere and you won’t have to worry about dress code.

By jeepney

Jeepneys are common throughout the country and are by far the most affordable way to get around most major urban areas. Beware of colorum (unfranchised) jeepneys. They are best avoided, but in some places, they are rather normal and more common. See #Stay safe.

In cities jeepneys generally run on fixed routes, have fixed fares depending on distance (often about ?10 for up to 4 km (2.5 mi) and an additional ?2.5 per km as of 2019), and will stop if you wave at them. Usually there are signs on the side of the vehicle indicating the route. Within Manila and other major cities, you will find multiple jeepneys per route so you rarely need to wait long to catch one. You might even face problems with drivers illegally "cutting trip", which is when you pay the full fare to your intended destination and you will be forced to alight midway on the route or somewhere near your destination due to a traffic jam, roadblock or lack of waiting passengers (many jeepney drivers are paid based on passengers carried per trip).

In the provinces, jeepneys also connect towns and cities. For these longer trips there are often discounts for seniors or students, though not usually on trips within a city. For a trip of a few kilometers from a city to a suburb or a few dozen kilometers to a nearby town jeepneys are often the best way to travel. For longer journeys, however, buses are more comfortable.

Jeepneys are often quite crowded and generally not very comfortable (especially if you are tall), there is usually little space inside for luggage (though most have a roof rack), there may be pickpockets, and you might encounter annoying behavior such as drivers smoking or passengers engaging in loud conversations, However every visitor should try them at least once since they are definitely part of a "Philippines experience". For a budget traveller, they will likely be one of the most used transport options.

The original Jeepneys were based on jeeps left behind by the Americans after World War II; Filipinos lengthened the body and added benches along the sides to seat more people. Today most new jeepneys are based on imported used vehicles, but many older ones are still running. Jeepneys typically have seating for about 20 people, but they often carry 30 or more with people in the aisle or on the running boards. A few passengers can sit up front with the driver; these are the best seats.

Some jeepneys have a conductor to collect the fares, but on others you pay the driver. It is fairly common for people sitting at the back to get other passengers to relay their money to the driver; this is easier if you have exact change. It is also common for passengers to clink coins against metal parts of the roof when they want off; the sound carries forward to the driver.

In some areas there are vehicles much like a jeepney, but built on a smaller chassis so they can carry only about a dozen passengers. Locals will usually call these multicabs.

By tricycle

Traysikels are tricycles, motorcycle-and-sidecar rigs; the motorcycles are typically Japanese machines in the 125-200cc range. The design seems to vary from region to region, but within a given town all the traysikels will be of the same type. In some places the sidecars seat four, in other places only two. In many areas, pedicab refers to a pedal-powered vehicle, either a bicycle-and-sidecar rig or a cycle rickshaw with two seats in back and the rider pedaling up front. In other areas, "pedicab" is used for motorized sidecar rigs as well.

In some of the smaller cities, these are the main means of transport within the town, and jeepneys are used only for journeys between towns. In a few areas tricycles are used for out-of-town journeys of up to about 25 km (15 miles) as well.

These may not be to the liking of most foreigners, as they are cramped and quite open to noise and weather. In most places they are shared vehicles; expect to ride along with other people going approximately the same way and to take the odd detour as the driver diverts to deliver a passenger at his or her destination.

Most fares in any town are ?10-80, depending mainly on the distance. Most fares are per person, but some are per tricycle. In some places the fare is legally regulated. Sometimes there are fixed fares. In more rural areas, rates are different. Sometimes, especially for longer runs, you will need to bargain over the fare, and some drivers will try to overcharge foreigners.

In general, most journeys are reasonably safe and pleasant, and quite cheap by foreign standards, but there can be problems. Some drivers may smoke while driving (despite smoking bans on public utility vehicles, including tricycles) or overcharge, and quite a few drive rather adventurously, frequently violating traffic rules, like illegal overtaking or ignoring tricycle prohibitions (primarily on heavily travelled highways). Some of the motorcycles are quite noisy, belch smoke or have inadequate headlights or tailights.

There is usually a luggage rack on the back. If you use it, make sure the driver ties your things down; otherwise they might be stolen or fly out when you hit a bump. Large or valuable luggage should ride in the passenger area; on tricycles with four-seat sidecars the front seat can be folded up to make room. You will usually have to pay extra for this, which is fair since the luggage prevents the driver taking more passengers.

You may find tricycles resembling auto rickshaws or tuk-tuks in some areas, especially in Mindanao (e.g. the motorelas of Cagayan de Oro); they have passengers sitting behind the driver instead of in a separate sidecar. Bajaj auto-rickshaws – some powered with compressed natural gas – can be sighted also in some areas; the downside is they can only carry 3 to 4 passengers (there is no extra seat for little kids or another passenger), but the upside is that they have higher headroom, less engine noise, and more comfortable seats. Electric trikes can be found at some areas, like in Manila.

Talk

See also: Filipino phrasebook, Cebuano phrasebook

The Philippines has two official languages: English and Filipino; both are used in education and most Filipinos speak at least some of both, though the levels in either vary quite widely. Filipino is a standardized version of the Tagalog language. Tagalog is the language spoken in the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila, and across much of southern and central Luzon.

In the northern provinces, Ilocano is the most common language used, while Kapampangan and Pangasinan are spoken in the Central Luzon plains. South of Metro Manila lies the Bicol Region, where Bicolano is the main local language.

The Visayas, forming the central section of the country, have their own language subgroup called the Visayan languages, which differ depending on the region. Cebuano is the most common Visayan language, and is mainly spoken in the islands of Cebu, Bohol and Negros (eastern part), and used to have more native speakers than Tagalog. The second most-common one is Hiligaynon (also known as Ilonggo), which is widely spoken in the islands of Panay, Guimaras and Negros (western part). Waray-Waray is the third most-common and is widely spoken in the Leyte-Samar islands.

On Mindanao, the main island of the south, the main local language is Cebuano, but a Spanish-based creole called Chavacano has a few million speakers in the region around Zamboanga.

All the Filipino languages are related to each other, and all are part of the Austronesian language group which also includes Malay, Indonesian, Javanese and various languages of the Pacific islands. A speaker of any of those will recognize some cognate words in any of the others, and some of the grammar is similar, but they are not mutually intelligible. Many Filipinos refer to the Philippine languages aside from Tagalog as "dialects", and they are considered as separate languages from both a linguistic and the traveler's viewpoint

Most Filipino languages have been heavily influenced by other languages, most notably Spanish during the Spanish colonial period; there are many Spanish loanwords and the writing system uses Spanish spelling conventions (e.g. Tanjay is pronounced about like English 'tan high'). Hence, many Filipinos can understand a little Spanish. English has also had an influence and has contributed many loanwords.

English is an official language of the Philippines and is a compulsory subject in all schools, so it is widely spoken in the larger cities and main tourist areas. However, it is usually not the first language for most locals. The use of English isn't as widespread anymore on radio and free-to-air TV as it once was with only three TV channels using it on a full-time basis. However almost all broadsheet newspapers still use English. Tourists won't have problems using English when making inquiries at commercial and government establishments. A few simple phrases in Tagalog or any widespread regional language will come in handy when travelling to rural places as English proficiency is limited there. Taglish is spoken nowadays by the urban youth but its use is discouraged by language educators due to its improper form. It is a mix of Tagalog and English, and an example is shown below:

Taglish: How are you na? Ok naman ako.
Tagalog: Kumusta ka na? Mabuti naman ako
English: How are you? I'm ok.

Spanish is no longer widely spoken, though many Spanish words survive in the local languages, and there are still around three million people who speak Spanish to varying degrees of fluency. A Spanish-based creole language known as Chavacano is spoken in Cavite and in Zamboanga. The government is trying to revive Spanish by providing Spanish in public schools as an optional language. Younger Spanish-Filipinos tend to speak Filipino languages and/or English as their primary language.

Other ethnic groups have brought new languages to the country, particularly in more urbanized areas like Manila. There are Chinese groups who migrated largely from Fujian province some time ago and typically can speak Hokkien rather than Mandarin or Cantonese. They also use 'Lan-ang'; a localized variant of Hokkien with influences from the native Philippine languages, particularly Tagalog and any Visayan language.

Many Filipinos speak multiple languages. You should not be surprised, for example, to meet someone who speaks one or more regional Philippine languages (perhaps Ilocano or Cebuano) plus English, Tagalog and one or two picked up during stints as an overseas contract worker.

See

The Philippines can give you the tropical island experience of your life. Its beautiful sandy beaches, warm climate, century old churches, magnificent mountain ranges, dense rain forests, rich culture and smiling people are some of the attractions that you can see and experience on this archipelago composed of 7,107 islands. You can experience the country's rich and unique culture in different ways like touring old Spanish churches, joining colorful fiestas (festivals) and by enjoying exotic and tasty cuisine. But perhaps the greatest way to experience Filipino culture is by riding a jeepney.

Historical and cultural attractions

Manila is the capital of the Philippines; it was established during the Spanish colonial era. Despite being a city with modern skyscrapers, Manila still has its rich historical and cultural heritage. Its old churches, colonial structures, neo-classical buildings and historical landmarks give this city its unique charm.

The Spanish began colonizing the Philippines in the 1560s and held it until the Americans took over in 1898. Almost every town in the country has a few fine old buildings from that period, at least a Catholic church. A few have much more than that, whole districts full of old buildings including the remains of Spanish fortifications:

  • Cebu City was the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines, and was the capital for a few years. Its Colon district has some of the country’s most important historical and heritage spots including Fort San Pedro and the Basilica of Santo Niño. The city's Sinulog Festival attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims; it is one of the country's most popular festivals.
  • Intramuros (Spanish for 'within the walls') is is the oldest district and historic core of Manila. Intramuros is home to Manila's finest and oldest structures such as the Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago. Despite being heavily damaged during World War II, Intramuros still has its Spanish colonial character.
  • Baguio is at a considerable elevation and was used as a summer capital to escape the heat of Manila.

Several towns have particularly fine collections of heritage buildings, including many heritage homes built for important Spaniards or for wealthy Filipino families. Many of these are still private homes and by no means all are open to the public, but some have become museums and others allow tours.

  • Vigan, in the Ilocos Region of northern Luzon, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a Spanish colonial town though also with considerable Chinese influence. It may make you feel like you are somewhere in Latin America or Mediterranean Europe.
  • Taal, in the Batangas region southwest of Manila, is the closest such town to the capital. It may be a convenient stop for those headed for the beaches of Puerto Galera, though it takes you off the direct route.
  • Silay is on Negros, near Bacolod.
  • Baclayon is on Bohol, near Tagbilaran.

Since the country was a Spanish colony for 300 years, Baroque churches can easily be found around the Philippines. These churches will look almost like those which you might see in Spain or elsewhere in Europe. Some of the most iconic in the country are:

  • San Agustin Church in Manila
  • Miag-ao Church in Iloilo
  • Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte
  • Santa Maria Church in Ilocos Sur

These churches were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the collective title Baroque Churches of the Philippines.

Beaches and islands

Beaches and diving are among the best-known tourist attractions of the country; with 7,107 islands there is certainly enough choice. Many beaches have bright white sand, but beige, gray, black or even pink sand are also found. Most of the diving is around coral reefs; many are reachable by just walking into the water, or on a day trip by boat from one of the resorts. A few such as Coron feature wreck diving and some such as Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park involve longer trips on live-aboard boats.

Boracay is the country's best-known beach resort area, has been rated one of the best islands in the world by several magazines, and attracts thousands of international and local travelers every year. It has powdery white sand beaches and azure waters, and is a highly-developed area offering a range of activities including scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, kitesurfing, cliff diving and parasailing. After all of these activities, you can indulge in a relaxing massage right on the white sand beach or at one of the spas

If you want to avoid crowded beaches, head to Palawan. The beaches in the province are less developed, uncrowded and are well-preserved. The coastal town of El Nido is one of the best destinations that Palawan and the Philippines can offer. Its pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, steep limestone cliffs, stunning islets and diving spots can compete with any of the best in the world.

Coron Island boasts hundreds of limestone formations topped with dense rainforests. It is also popular for its exquisite beaches and World War II shipwrecks. Rent a kayak to paddle around the islands to see the beautiful and well-preserved seascape of Coron.

Aside from Palawan, you can also try Bohol, an island province which is also home to majestic sandy beaches. One of Bohol's top beach destinations is Panglao Island, which is being promoted as an alternative destination to Boracay. The island offers a wide selection of both luxury and affordable resorts.

Mactan Island in Cebu; Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga; Pagudpud in Ilocos; Laiya Beach in Batangas and White Island in Camiguin are other popular beach destinations in the Philippines that are really worth visiting.

Landscapes

See also: National parks and protected areas of the Philippines

Sick of beaches? The Philippines has other offer stunning landscapes; aside from beautiful beaches, there are mountain ranges, dense jungles, majestic rice terraces, scenic lakes, picturesque waterfalls and hidden caves.

If we think of the Philippines, the usual things that goes into our mind are just group of islands with warm sunny days. The Cordillera Region is not the usual Philippine destination that we see on postcards and travel magazines. If you visit this mountainous region, take jackets and sweaters rather than just t-shirts, because this region is located in the cool highlands of the northern part of the country. Rice terraces are one of the most visited tourist attractions in the region, the world-famous Banaue Rice Terraces and Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras can be found here. These rice terraces were built almost 2000 years ago by ancient Filipinos and still maintain their beauty. Nearby is the town of Sagada in the Mountain Province. Known for its hanging coffins and limestone caves, this town is an ideal destination for backpackers.

Being a mountainous country, the Philippines offers countless choices of mountains for hikers and adventure seekers. The best mountain climbing destination in the country is the scenic Mount Apo in the Southern Philippines. Mount Apo is the highest mountain in the Philippines, and one of the most diverse areas; it is home to over 272 bird species, 111 of which are endemic to the area. The mountain also has four major lakes, these lakes are famous mountaineers camping site and a stopover towards the peak. Another popular mountain climbing destination is Mount Pinatubo in Tarlac. This mountain made global headlines as the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. Today, it is one of the country's top climbing destination due to it's canyons, 4x4 terrain and its scenic caldera lake.

Head to the island of Bohol to see the famous Chocolate Hills, and no they are not made out of chocolate, they are grass-covered limestone domes that turn brown during the dry season, hence their name. There are more than 1,268 hills scattered in the area. The Chocolate Hills are one of the most iconic and popular tourist spots in the country. Another destination which is popular in Bohol is the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella, it is a 7.4-hectare forest sanctuary where over 100 tarsiers roam freely, here you can have a chance to get up close to the Philippine Tarsier, one of the smallest primates in the world.

Learn

Martial arts

Eskrima or Kali is a Filipino martial art that emphasizes using swords and sticks; it has been showcased in films such as Equilibrium. There are many training centers around Metro Manila and some almost anywhere in the country.

Many other martial arts are also taught, but in any but a really large city only one or two will be available.

Tertiary education

Many foreigners such as Europeans, Chinese, Americans and Koreans go to university in the Philippines, partly because compared to other countries universities here are cheaper. The system is similar to the Americans system. Major institutions include University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, Ateneo de Manila University, Far Eastern University and Adamson University. Of these, the University of the Philippines is considered the most prestigious in the country. For American veterans, the VA will pay for courses at approved universities here.

Learning English

The Philippines is one of the largest centers for learning ESL (English as a Second Language) in Asia. Transport from Asian countries, living costs and tuition are all much lower than for the major English-speaking countries and the climate is pleasant.

There are many English learning centers around the country; many are in Metro Manila (especially Taguig City), Bacolod, and Cebu, but there are some in all the major cities and in some of the resort areas. There are some jobs for foreign teachers in these places, though they mostly use Filipino teachers and generally will not offer high salaries to foreigners. See Teaching English.

Do

  • Aerial sports - An annual Hot Air Balloon festival is held in January and February in Clark, Angeles in Pampanga. Hot air balloons are displayed, and there is skydiving, and other activities in January and February.
  • Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines, don't miss the PBA and UAAP basketball tournaments. A more Filipino experience is watching any of the paliga games held in barangays during the hot months, if you do bear the heat; streetball is also quite popular with Filipinos as well.
  • Bentosa and Hilot are Filipino alternative ways of healing, Bentosa is a method where a cup cover a tea light candle then it flames out and it drains out all the pain on the certain part of the body, Hilot is just the Filipino way of massaging.
  • Board sailing - Waves and winds work together making the country a haven for board sailors. Boracay, Subic Bay and Anilao in Batangas are the main destinations.
  • Casinos: Metro Manila has a wide collection of casinos and entertainment destinations. Explore the Resorts World Manila, the country's first luxurious casino integrated resort, and the newly opened Solaire Resorts and Casino. The Entertainment City will be home to four integrated casino resorts.
  • Caving - The archipelago has some unique cave systems. Sagada is one popular destination for caving.
  • Festivals - Each municipality, town, city and province has its own festival, either religious or in honor of the city or a historical reason.
See also: Festivals in the Philippines for more information.
  • Golf - Almost every province has a golf course.
  • Medical tourism - Most medical tourists come from America and Europe as health care here costs as much as 80% less than abroad. Most of the hospitals suggested for medical tourism are in Metro Manila. Alternative medicine is also popular with spas, faith healing and other fringe therapies widespread throughout the archipelago.
  • National parks - National parks number around 60-70, they include mountains and coral reefs.
  • Mountain biking - The archipelago has dozens of mountains and is ideal for mountain bikers. Destinations include Baguio, Davao, Iloilo, Banaue, Mount Apo and Guimaras.
  • Rock climbing - Apo Island, Atimonan, El Nido, Putting Bato, Wawa Gorge have the best sites in the archipelago for rock climbing.
  • Sea kayaking - Caramoan Islands in Camarines Sur, Palawan, Samar and Siargao are popular.
  • Spas are found near beaches, financial capitals, etc.
  • Trekking - Mountain ranges and peaks offer cool weather for trekking and it might give you a sight of the beautiful exotic flora and fauna of the country. Mt. Kanlaon and Mount Pulag are good trekking spots.
  • Visita iglesia - Church-visiting Catholic churches, holy sites, shrines, and basilicas. If you are religious try this, if you love art and architecture, churches are the best way to define what Filipino architecture.
  • Whitewater rafting - There is good whitewater rafting in Mindanao, both in the north around Cagayan de Oro and in the south near Davao.

Scuba diving

See Diving in the Philippines, Scuba diving and Snorkeling for more information

Scuba diving is spectacular in the Philippines. While there are many fine dive sites, including some in nearly every region of the country, two stand out as among the world's best:

  • Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a Philippines National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a large area of coral reef, mostly shallow water with a few small islets and a sensational range of marine life. It is generally reached on live-aboard boats operating from Puerto Princesa on Palawan.
  • Coron has excellent wreck diving because the US Navy sank about ten Japanese ships in shallow water there in 1944.

There is a great variety of dive sites and many have PADI-accredited diving schools where you can obtain your license. Costs (of both lessons and equipment) are likely to be cheaper than even in Thailand and Malaysia.

Work

Under Philippine law, any foreigner working must have an Alien Employment Permit issued by the Department of Labor. The paperwork is in general handled by the prospective employer and the employee picks up the relevant visa at a Philippine Embassy or Consulate. Working without a permit is not allowed, and doing so means you have no protection under labor laws. Furthermore, visas are checked upon departing the Philippines. Those who have overstayed without permission are subject to fines and, in certain cases, even jail.

It is possible for foreigners to earn casual money while staying in the Philippines, especially in Manila and other bigger cities in provinces. These may include temporary teaching in schools, colleges and other institutions, and working in bars and clubs. Temporary work may also be available as an extra on the set of a film or television series. Fluency in English is very important in jobs while knowledge of Filipino or Tagalog is not needed. The Philippines has overtaken India in the call center industry, and many international companies hire English fluent workers.

Most establishments pay monthly but informal jobs pay out variably either cash on hand or weekly.

Buy

Money

The Philippine peso (or piso), ISO code: PHP, is the official currency and is the only currency used for most transactions. It is usually denoted by the symbol "?" (or P, without the double strike, due to limitations of keyboards). Wikivoyage uses ? for pesos.

US dollars and euros may be accepted in some circumstances, but don't count on it.

Peso bills come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000. One peso is equivalent to 100 centavos and coins come in 1, 5, 10 and 25 centavo variants in addition to the 1, 5 and 10 peso coins. Older versions of banknotes have been demonetized since December 2016. The old notes have similar colors to their new counterparts, have the same people at the front (except for the 500-peso note which also features former President Aquino) but rather than historical sites at the back, the newer notes feature Filipino natural wonders and species unique to the country.

Travellers usually see ?20 and ?50 bills, and ?1, ?5 and ?10 coins as the most useful for common purchases. Centavo coins are nearly worthless: convenience stores, supermarkets and bus conductors are the few to hand them out as change. Shortchanging, usually by giving candies as change, was common due to the shortage of centavo coins, but it has been prohibited since 2017. Always have some coins in hand during morning hours; jeepney, taxi, and tricycle drivers, as well as some merchants follow the barya lang [po] sa umaga rule, insisting they need coins to give back as change later the day. Beware of fake high denomination notes: bills from ?100 and above are common targets by counterfeiters.

The Philippines is fundamentally a cash-only society. Some machines like coin-operated vending machines or coin laundries only accept ?5 coins while pisonet computers accept ?1. Machines selling drinks generally accept bills up to ?50 in value.

Currency conversion

Money changers are common in malls and tourist areas, but less so elsewhere. A rule of thumb is that the more currency you wish to exchange, the more favorable the rates can be. Banks are widely available to exchange currency but usually impose a minimum amount (usually around US$100), generally have worse rates than money changers, and are usually open only from 9AM to 3PM (sometimes 4:30PM) on weekdays. However, you can enjoy their air conditioning during a long wait. Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and Banco de Oro (BDO) have longer operating hours (sometimes as late as 7PM) in some locations.

Don't exchange money in stalls along the streets as some of them might be exchanging your money for counterfeit money. Contact Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines or BSP) if you suspect the money you've been given is counterfeit. Money changers do exist at department stores, supermarkets and hotels but the rates are highly unfavorable to customers and some will only exchange into pesos.

Banking

Having a Philippine bank account is useful for long-term travellers or permanent residents, but not for an ordinary tourist or business traveler. International banks like Citibank or HSBC are available in the country, but they tend to be only found in a few branches in large cities and opening a new account requires a huge deposit. The major local banks, like BDO, BPI or Metrobank, may be a better option. Banking in the Philippines involves some bureaucracy for foreigners; you must have a valid passport, an Alien Certificate of Registration card and proof of a Philippines address – most often the residency certificate you got from the barangay. Most bank staff can speak English well.

There are over 20,000 ATMs nationwide, most of which are connected to the local BancNet ATM network. Most banks will have at least one ATM on bank premises, while large banks like Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Banco de Oro (BDO) and Metrobank also have lots of off-site ATMs in shopping malls and other commercial buildings, mostly in the cities. In rural areas, often the only available ATMs are from Land Bank of the Philippines or the Philippine National Bank (PNB), the only banks with a presence in all Philippine provinces.

International networks like Plus and Cirrus are accessible with many ATMs, with Cirrus being more predominant, although many ATMs support both. Some banks also support other cards, including American Express, Diners Club, JCB and China UnionPay. Withdrawals are often limited to ?10,000 depending on the bank. Most local banks charge a usage fee of ?250 for using foreign cards. The best ATMs to withdraw money from are at one of the HSBC branches (eight in Metro Manila, and one each in Cebu City and Davao), where you can take out ?40000 per transaction with no usage fee.

Credit card holders can use Visa, MasterCard, American Express, UnionPay, Diners Club and JCB cards in many commercial locations in the Philippines, especially in the cities and in tourist areas, but merchants usually require a minimum purchase amount before they start accepting credit cards. Smaller merchants are usually cash-only. Credit cards are generally not accepted for government-related transactions, and in rural areas, credit card acceptance can range from limited to virtually non-existent.

Pay close attention when using ATMs, even when using ATMs on bank premises. While credit card fraud is uncommon in the Philippines, ATM tampering happens regularly. Obvious signs that an ATM has been tampered include loosely-installed keypads, larger-than-usual card slots, and wires or features that seem out of place. If you feel that the ATM you're using has been tampered, report this as soon as possible and use a different ATM.

Tipping

Tipping is not required in the Philippines, except when the customer wants to show appreciation for services rendered. However, tipping is becoming more common especially in service-oriented places (spa, salon). In some restaurants and hotels, "Service Charge" (8%-12%) is included in the bill when issued; thus, a customer has the option to give an additional tip or not. In taxis, it is common to add ?20-50 on top of the fare.

Costs

Travelling in Philippines is cheap (one of the least expensive places to visit in Asia and in the world.) For example a stay in a pension house, tourist inn or lodge can cost as little as ?300 a night for a fan room or ?500 a night for an air-conditioned room. A flight to Cebu from Manila and vice-versa will cost as little as ?999, while one from Manila to Davao can cost as little as ?1595. Transportation can cost as little as ?10 for the first 4 km (2.5 mi) in a jeepney. Provincial bus fares are around ?2 per km for an air-conditioned bus and 20% less for a non air-con bus.

Using the internet in an internet cafe ranges from ?1 per 5 minutes (?12 for a hour) on a pisonet to ?20 per hour on larger establishments, depending on the Internet café's location. A can of Coke costs as little as ?20 while a copy of the International Herald Tribune costs ?70 and Economist as little as ?160. In most restaurants, there is 12% Value Added Tax (VAT) usually included in the unit price but the service charge is often excluded and computed separately.

Shopping

See also: Shopping in the Philippines

Living in the Philippines is cheap and shopping in the country is also cheap compared to elsewhere in southeast Asia.

The country has a lot of shopping malls, from large to small and from modern to traditional; consumerism is part of Filipino culture. The four largest mall operators in the country are SM, Robinson's, CityMall and Ayala with locations across the archipelago. Most malls are open from 10AM to 9PM; they open as early as 8AM and close as late as 11PM during Christmas shopping season (mid-September to early January). Many close every Christmas, New Year, and Good Friday, with a few exceptions.

In major malls, department stores, supermarkets, and brand-name stores, the tag price normally includes value-added tax (VAT) and any applicable sales taxes. In bazaars and tiangges (markets), prices may be marked, but you can often bargain for a better price. It is common, especially for clothing, to get a better price if you buy two or more.

Supermarkets and convenience stores

Supermarkets in the Philippines are dominated by five large chains, generally owned by Filipino-Chinese companies:

  • SM Savemore & Walter Mart & Citi mall
  • Pure Gold and S & R
  • Robinsons
  • Rustans and Shopwise
  • Gaisano

Regional chains, and mom-and-pop supermarkets, which may have lower prices than the five major chains. can be found as well, especially at less developed areas of cities or in the countryside; see specific region or city pages for further details.

Chain convenience stores, often tied with a major retailer, are common in urban areas. They generally have a wide variety of products, usually a subset of products sold in a grocery store, and fast food, and services like cell phone load, money transfer, courier service and bills payment. They mostly operate round the clock; the few exceptions are locations inside malls.

Traditional, sari-sari stores (small corner stores) are common, especially in the rural areas and the barangays. These are mostly family-owned stores usually found beside a road, and sell items that can be bought in grocery stores or general merchandise stores. Sari-sari stores also provide cell phone loading in addition to selling products.

Eat

See also: Filipino cuisine

Filipino cuisine has developed from the different cultures that shaped its history; it is like Southeast Asian cuisine but with Spanish influences. Though its cuisine is not as renowned as many of its neighbours, such as that of Thailand and Vietnam, Filipino cooking is nonetheless distinct in that it is possibly the least spicy of all South East Asian cuisines. Don't make the mistake of thinking that Filipino food is bland, though. It is just that instead of spices, Filipino food depends more on garlic, onions and ginger to add flavor to dishes. Painstaking preparation and prolonged cooking time is also a characteristic of most Filipino dishes, and when done properly is often what brings out the flavor of the food, as opposed to a healthy dose of spices. As with the rest of Southeast Asia, rice is the staple food of the Philippines.

To experience how the Filipinos eat in a budget way, carinderias (eateries) and turo-turo (literally "point-point", which means you point at the food you want to eat in the buffet table) are some of the options. Mains cost less than US$1. Carinderias serve food cooked earlier and it may not always be the safest of options.

You'll be hard pressed to find a mall without the requisite American fast food chains. Filipino fast food chains that capture the essence of Filipino food compete strongly for Filipino taste buds however. Jollibee, Tapa King and Mang Inasal may be a safe place for the tourist to try the local fare.

Filipino streetfood is one of the best however it may not be as clean as the ones you find in Singapore. Streetfood vendors have been criticized because of their unhygienic practices and unhealthy options but praised by many especially the youth because of its affordability and taste. Streetfood is also found in malls.

Tropical fruits abound in the Philippines. Most of the countryside produce finds its way to the metro areas and can be easily bought in supermarkets.

Some Filipinos strictly use the serving spoon rule, believing that offering utensils or food that had come contact with someone's saliva is rude, disgusting, and will cause food to get stale quickly. Singing or having an argument while eating is considered rude, as they believe food is grasya/gracia or grace in English; food won't come to you if you keep disrespecting it. Filipinos usually say a prayer before food is served, furthermore wait till the host invites you to start eating. Also, it is rude to refuse food that the host offers or leave the dining table while someone is still eating.

Dietary restrictions

Vegetarians and vegans will find it difficult to find a Filipino dish which is wholly vegetarian as most of the Filipinos love to add meat in every single dish they eat. You can find some vegetarian restaurants in the Philippines, mostly lurking in the commercial, financial and provincial capitals, and most of them use tofu instead of meat. Nearly all towns have large markets with a fine selection of fruits and vegetables, mostly at good prices.

Muslims will find it hard to find Halal food outside predominantly Muslim areas in the Philippines. Hindus will find Indian restaurants which serve some vegetarian options in the most of the larger cities. Jews will also find it hard to find Kosher meals. However rabbis in the Philippines suggest some stores which sell Kosher food.

Drink

See also: Filipino cuisine

Due to the tropical climate of the Philippines, chilled drinks are popular. Stands selling chilled drinks and shakes are common especially in shopping malls.

Filipinos (except for observant Muslims) love to drink (and get drunk). Filipinos rarely consume alcohol by itself. They would normally have what is called as "pulutan" or bar chow alongside their drinks which is like the equivalent of tapas. Beer is perhaps the most common form of alcohol consumed in bars. Alcohol is extremely cheap in the Philippines, and one of the cheapest in the whole of Asia.

Sleep

Housing options for tourists include hotels, resorts, condotels, apartelles, motels, inns, bed-and-breakfasts, pension houses, and backpacker hostels.

Hotels and resorts are usually for the higher-end traveller, although rates--even for four-star establishments-- are not very high compared to other international destinations. Condotels are furnished condominium units rented out for long or short term stays, apartelles are set up for both short and long term stays. Pension houses, tourist inns and Lodging houses are usually more basic and economical from ?200 per night.

There is considerable variation in facilities offered. Cheaper places often have only fans instead of air conditioning, and no private toilet or shower. Even if you get a private shower, it may not have hot water, but this is not a big problem in a hot country. As elsewhere in Asia, bathtubs are rare both in private homes and in any but top-end hotels.

There are backpacker hostels all over the Philippines with dorm beds from ?200.

Stay safe

The Philippines has some of almost every woe known to humankind: extreme weather, earthquakes, volcanoes, civil strife, corruption and crime. Most common fears are crimes, corrupt cops and Islamic terrorists. However the country is, by and large, peaceful except for some regions experiencing low-level insurgencies.

Most governments discourage travel in Mindanao because of the ongoing ethno-religious strife (see warning box above), but it is irrelevant to other areas of the country (though terror attacks have happened in Luzon or Visayas); security has been heightened almost anywhere, like airport-style security procedures and increased police visibility, but it is best seen as a show of resiliency. You are more likely to be killed in a traffic accident or by tropical diseases than in a terrorist attack.

The Philippines is quite low-income: unskilled jobs generally pay US$100-200 a month and even many good jobs are under $500. More or less all travelers will be perceived as rich by local standards. This makes you a prime target for thieves, scammers, prostitutes and corrupt officials. Do not make it worse by displaying a Rolex, an iPhone and a Nikon or by pulling out a stack of 1000-peso notes when you pay a restaurant bill.

Crime

Petty crimes, like pickpocketing or bag-snatching, are common, especially in crowded areas. You should not flash your valuables (especially Apple iPods and iPhones) because that risks theft. Carry small change and don't flash large bills. Manila is not a place for violent robbery, but the dreaded budol-budol technique, where victims are hypnotized to follow the robbers' demands, is a common practice, but foreigners are rarely targeted. Being involved in a crime will also introduce you to the cumbersome system of Filipino compensation, where a bribe is required for a case to be filed, but they are slowly disappearing under anti-corruption campaigns. Women are advised to travel in large groups and must use caution when out at night. Do not enter alleyways and remote areas at night.

In the cities, smash-and-grab (locally basag-kotse) theft are also widespread, so do not leave any valuables inside the car, especially not on the dashboard.

Distraction theft is uncommon, but they happen; such cases often involve dropping a coin (laglag-barya), or intentionally sticking a piece of used chewing gum to a bus seat, both of which disorient the victim while an accomplice steals the victim's belongings.

Bag-snatching by motorcycle riders (especially those in riding-in-tandem), is common. Sometimes, they will pull the bag along with the person for a few meters. Be careful when carrying expensive bags, as it may catch the attention of snatchers. Avoid wearing jewelry, especially earrings or rings, when going into crowded areas.

Avoid getting into fights or confrontations with locals. Filipinos are generally smaller than Westerners, but getting outnumbered by a group of three or even a mob is absolute trouble. Police, despite being able to communicate in English by and large, will not intervene on behalf of a foreigner in an altercation with locals. Getting into a fight with locals is a common cause for foreigners to be deported from the Philippines. Also avoid raising your voice, which can be taken for anger and even make the other person violent; some simple arguments ended up with murder for causing the person to lose face and induce murderous rage (pagdidilim ng paningin). Drunken locals can get violent and run amok, and bar fights are not uncommon, especially with East Asians. Filipinos are generally peace-loving people; showing hiya (saving face, literally "shame") is better than getting into trouble.

Road travel

See also: Driving in the Philippines

Driving can be a dangerous experience for foreigners. The most common road accidents in the Philippines involve motorcycles and tricycles, especially on rural highways, and most deaths are due to reckless passing or impaired driving, either drunk or sleep-deprived. Roads vary in maintenance, and may be well paved to rutted or completely unsealed, especially in the underdeveloped provinces. Traffic law enforcement is being ramped up, however, with traffic cameras and no-contact apprehension to curb corruption.

You can reduce your chances of becoming a statistic: hire a car with driver instead of driving on your own, do a full vehicle check before long drives (if you self-drive), securely fasten helmets when driving motorbikes, check the safety record of bus operators, avoid overloaded jeepneys or tricycles, and don't be afraid to change buses, jeepneys or taxis if they seem unsafe.

Rules of the road do exist, but many locals ignore them happily. Corrupt traffic enforcers are reputed to pull over drivers to extort large bribes. Drunk or sleep-deprived driving, illegal parking, dangerous overtaking or swerving, and jaywalking, are all rife.

Beware of unlicensed/unfranchised (colorum) vehicles, especially tricycles, jeepneys and minivans, aside from the obvious risk of unfranchised taxis. Avoid them unless there is no legitimate alternative. Colorum vehicles are illegal, their safety is questionable, fares might not follow the regulated rate, and passengers cannot get government compensation in case of an accident. Franchised vehicles have a yellow and black license plate; colorum vehicles have a private vehicle license plate (white background and black lettering, or for older ones, green letters on a background featuring the sky, or a white background), or even fake franchised vehicle license plates. Unfranchised jeepneys and vans do not have marked routes or destination signs (you might need to ask the driver, conductor, or a passenger where they have headed to), and tend to be overloaded.

Corruption

The negative image of the government remains; corruption accusations are a staple of the free media. You might encounter corruption (kotong, as they are referred to colloquially) if you deal with the police or the Philippine bureaucracy. The situation has improved under the Duterte administration, but it remains a problem. Some officials can still be bribed, but with highly publicized anti-corruption campaigns, offering a bribe is now extremely risky.

Corruption at the airport remains, mostly at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Immigration officers might welcome you a "Merry Christmas", even as early as August, and then ask you for "gifts" or a tip, and on one scheme, immigration officials may say you cannot leave the country because you were issued a hold-departure order (for some crime you did not really commit), and security will then come and hold you at their office until you bribe them. This rarely happens to foreigners, but might happen with some returning Filipinos. It's easy to avoid by clarifying that a part of your name (especially the middle name) does not match those who are blacklisted.

Law enforcement are striving to improve their public image, but their negative reputation for bribery remains. Police officers or traffic aides are known to extort bribes, even from minor violations (like littering in public or minor traffic violations), and some foreigners have fallen victim to corrupt cops. Fines for minor infractions are very easy to get around, ranging from ?300-500, but cops may even ask for higher amounts, or threaten you to go to their station and talk to a superior. Police may even ask you a bribe them before filing a formal complaint, but things are slowly changing. Body cameras and more widespread video surveillance cameras are curbing street-level corruption, and thanks to the prevalence of smartphones and social media, you can grab one and video them, so you can have any evidence against if they do anything corrupt. If your car, bus, jeepney or tricycle stopped, it is the driver's responsibility; it is best not to get involved.

The bureaucracy is also plagued by corruption. Customs officials are often given grease payments (padulas) to allow the entry of common contraband like drugs and pirated goods, or undeclared items from fresh fruits to luxury cars, and some locals say it is easy to get a driver's license under the table without going through a formal examination by paying a tip (lagay). Fixers are commonplace in many government offices, and the issue of red tape is rife. Acting polite, asking for a receipt, and smiling will avoid any problems when dealing with the bureaucracy. It is also worth to call the civil service complaint hotline 8888 or writing a polite complaint letter to the officer's superior. Suggestion boxes are also available, so feel free to write any feedback about their service even if it is worse.

Carry your passport, or a photocopy of both the identification page and your visa, at all times as random checks are not uncommon.

Begging

Begging is a serious problem in many cities, and it is not uncommon to find some people begging for money in tourist locations. Basically, beggars can range from clearly disabled people, homeless, untidy-looking street vagrants, child beggars, to penniless people hopping on buses or jeepneys to solicit money; the last type is being commonly encountered when travelling at night.

Giving money to beggars is prohibited by law because of concerns of scams or human trafficking. You should watch out for a child begging in front of you or people hopping on buses or jeepneys offering envelopes to beg for money; child beggars are often abducted children used by criminal rings, and people presenting to be disabled or penniless (e.g. has a sick family member and needs money to pay the hospital bills, wants to go home and begs for money for a bus ticket back to their province) can be con artists or human trafficking victims. It is safer to ignore them, especially with people offerings envelopes for solicitations.

Female travellers

Women in the Philippines are generally given respect and protection, but Filipino society continues to maintain some conservative cultural aspects, and some Western customs can be unacceptable in the country. Unfortunately, crimes against women remain a social problem, and highly publicized rape cases continue to make their way into the local news. Foreign women are rarely hassled, but keeping one's street smarts is important.

  • Filipinos rarely show affection in public, and attitudes toward such behavior remain conservative. Holding hands is usually acceptable, but making out in public remains socially unacceptable, and is treated legally as a scandalous act, punishable with a fine of ?40,000 and up to 30 days in police custody. While it is rare for foreign couples to be arrested, it can still count as a criminal record that can affect any attempt to return to the country.
  • Watch out for gropers in crowded locations. Corridors and ordinary cars on trains are common places for groping incidents to happen, and unwary male travellers can be reported for accidentally groping women. Women are provided a separate car on commuter trains; in the LRT and MRT, it is the first car on one trainset.
  • Avoid taking unlicensed white taxis. There are the reports of drivers who spray chemicals on the air-conditioning and the passenger falling asleep, and awaking with her bag and other valuables stolen. There were reports of women being robbed and raped by taxi drivers who are driving a stolen taxi. Be sure that the taxi has a driver ID: when seeing something suspicious with a taxi or its driver, do not ride.
  • Street harassment is a problem in large cities. Watch out for men wolf-whistling, calling sexual names, or asking for phone numbers. Street harassment is illegal nationwide, but this don't guarantee you'll be safe.
  • Rape is less of a problem to foreign women, but remains a risk. While there are more highly publicized rapes of local women (including cases involving foreigners), women travelers should avoid dark areas, walk in groups, or wearing clothing that exposes a lot of skin. A few jurisdictions (e.g. Caloocan) have proposed or enacted ordinances discouraging or prohibiting women from wearing any exposing clothing in public.

The simplest advice is to observe Filipinas; in some areas they will be showing a lot of skin, but in others they will be covered. Foreign women need not go as far in either direction as the local lasses, but should go in the same direction.

Homosexuality

Despite prevailing conservative mores, the Philippines is very tolerant to homosexuals and is the most LGBT-tolerant nation in Asia. Some cities, municipalities and provinces have passed ordinances protecting homosexual people, but a few places, like the Muslim-majority city of Marawi, have ordinances punishing homosexuality. LGBT people will be fine in the country, but you should not be too indiscreet – a pair kissing in public may get stares or even verbal profanity. Country folk, Moros, and the elderly are more conservative and will condemn it, nevertheless, Filipinos have their warm hospitality, and violence against gays and lesbians is rare.

Sex and prostitution

Many Filipinas eagerly seek out well-off men, both Filipino and foreign, as boyfriends or husbands. Foreign men are nearly all rich by local standards and will usually find themselves much more in demand than they would be at home.

Prostitution is illegal in the Philippines, but it is a thriving business. Published estimates suggest the country has several hundred thousand prostitutes. By no means all of those are professionals; a woman in a typical low-paid job can roughly double her income by sleeping with one or two guys a week, and some do just that on most weekends.

There are periodic crackdowns on prostitution, and penalties are harsh for those who are arrested—large fines, possibly prison, and likely deportation with a ban on returning to the country. Corrupt cops may target foreigners in order to extract large bribes, and prostitutes have been known to set up their customers for such schemes or to scam their customers in other ways. Also, as anywhere, sexually transmitted diseases are a large risk.

The commonest form of prostitution establishment is usually called a girlie bar or bikini bar in the Philippines, but similar places in Thailand are called go-go bars and some travellers use that term here. It is also fairly common to visit these clubs just to enjoy the show, a lot of scantily-clad dancers who compete to catch customers' eyes.

Enforcement of laws against sexual abuse of children (Republic Act No. 7610), including child pornography, and against human trafficking is much more vigorous than enforcement of prostitution laws, and the penalties are harsher. For people arrested on those charges bail is rarely granted, and it is almost certain to be denied for foreigners, so even someone who eventually beats the charge will usually spend months in jail. As in any prison, child molesters can expect to get a hard time from other inmates and little help from guards.

The age of consent was only 12 as of late 2017, but there was a motion before Congress to raise it to 16. Anyone caught with someone younger than that (not necessarily caught having sex, just caught with them in a hotel room or other private place) will be charged with rape and should expect a stiff prison sentence, followed by deportation. Having sex with someone who is both under 18 and 10 years younger than you is also illegal and likely to bring jail and deportation.

Apart from Philippine law, there is another quite serious legal risk. Most Western countries have laws that prohibit child sex even outside the country; a child molester could be prosecuted at home for actions in the Philippines. In these cases, it is the rules of the prosecuting country that apply; for example, a tourist under 23 having sex with a 13-year-old might be legal under Philippine law, but a court back home is extremely unlikely to see it as acceptable.

For human trafficking, penalties range up to life imprisonment.

Drugs

The Philippines have a negative reputation for illegal drugs, and due to lax enforcement and less severe penalties (i.e. no death penalty), it has become a base for foreign illegal drug operations, most commonly involving ethnic Chinese escaping harsh drug laws in China or Taiwan. There is also a sizeable minority of other foreign nationalities involved in drugs in the Philippines, such as West Africans and Mexicans attempting to smuggle drugs even in transit.

Marijuana and shabu (crystal methamphetamine) are widely used in the country. However, they are also illegal and penalties are very harsh: you might well get a long prison sentence, followed by deportation. Even possession of drug paraphernalia, such as the small glass or steel tubes ("tooters") used to administer shabu, could get you arrested. Bail is rarely granted for drug offenses, almost never for trafficking or for possession of shabu, so even people who eventually beat the charge are likely to spend months in jail.

Authorities routinely raid drug dens and laboratories, especially those who produce or sell shabu. Under new (2016) President Duterte, shabu dealers (and sometimes users) are being shot in the streets without trial or even arrest; it's not clear to what extent other people involved in drugs may be at risk.

High-value party drugs, like ecstasy or designer drugs like "fly high", are common in the nightlife scenes in large cities like Manila and Cebu. Rave parties are also hotspots for party drugs and spiked drinks. Police treat such drugs harshly, and the effects of their use can be fatal.

Methamphetamine (shabu) is a powerful stimulant and a remarkably nasty substance, best avoided for many reasons. An overdose kills instantly and over-stimulation tends to burn out the body, especially the heart, so prolonged use can kill even without overdose. As the song says, "Speed kills!" Moreover the stuff is highly addictive. Also, the drug changes the personality of heavy users, giving them a pronounced tendency toward paranoia and aggressiveness.

Natural disasters

The Philippines has the most of natural disaster-related deaths in the world, with China in second place. Risks include typhoons, monsoon rains, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

Monsoon rains and floods

Heavy rainfall — caused by local thunderstorms, typhoons or the monsoon winds — is part of the Philippine climate. The densely populated cities are not safe from the effects of rainfall and strong winds. In some flood-prone areas, local governments have placed flood detection systems to help in evacuation of areas in case a flood is expected. In any area, the best sources of information are local media, city or provincial governments and local residents.

The southwest monsoon (habagat) between late May and early October causes most heavy rainfall, and floods are common at times, especially when a typhoon strengthens it. The northeast monsoon (amihan) in January to March can also bring heavy rain. Many vehicles may become stuck in floods worsened by high tide and clogged drainage.

Even during the southwest monsoon, the sun may still shine most of the time, but be it may be wise to bring an umbrella, especially when cumulonimbus clouds are seen to form. Consider dual-purpose items; a hat or umbrella can protect against the tropical sun as well as against rain.

Typhoons

Typhoons are fairly common, usually coming in off the Pacific, sweeping across parts of the country, then heading on toward mainland Asia. Heavy rain and strong winds, usually occurring together, can cause great damage, and secondary effects such as storm surges on the coast or landslides in the mountains can also be serious. Typhoons typically cover a wide area, affecting entire islands or large regions.

A typhoon has two names in the Philippines, one assigned by an international weather-watching agency and another by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration or PAGASA. For example, in 2013, the typhoon with strongest winds ever recorded at landfall, and the most destructive tropical storm in recent history, made landfall in Samar and devastated several other areas; it was known as "Typhoon Haiyan" internationally and "Typhoon Yolanda" in the Philippines.

Typhoons are a threat on land, but there are also risks at sea, where they can capsize a ship. Ships and ferries are not allowed to sail once Typhoon Warning Signal No. 2 is raised. When a typhoon is expected, err on the side of caution and cancel your trip.

Often flights are also cancelled because of high winds caused by typhoons. You may wish schedule connecting flights a few days apart so that if your first flight is cancelled you can take a later one and still make your connection.

Tornadoes

The Philippines also has tornadoes (ipo-ipo or buhawi), though they are not as frequent as in the United States. One may form without early warning, especially out of a simple thunderstorm. Some are waterspouts, formed at sea. Most houses and buildings in the Philippines are made from concrete, so severe damage is limited to peeled-off roofs, broken windows, and small debris. Makeshift structures are the most prone to damage, much like how they are very susceptible to typhoons.

Earthquakes and tsunamis

The Philippines lies in a geologically unstable area between the continental Eurasian Plate and the subducting Philippine Sea Plate, and is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. There is a high chance for any part of the Philippines to be struck by earthquakes.

Earthquakes (lindol) are frequent, but most of them are weak and rarely perceptible, and a few can even trigger tsunamis (explained further below). The last major one happened on October 2013, when a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the island of Bohol, destroying homes, toppling centuries-old churches, killed over 200, and also damaged some structures in neighboring Cebu province. Many buildings and structures are not designed to standards or retrofitted to withstand powerful tremors, and makeshift or substandard construction remains a problem.

Earthquakes may occur anywhere in the Philippines, but the area with the highest risk is Metro Manila and Southern Luzon, where the Valley Fault System is present. The West Valley Fault may move anytime and cause a magnitude 7.2 earthquake (called the "Big One") that can cause about 100,000 deaths and injuries. Routine earthquake drills are being performed in the areas surrounding the fault to ensure people in those areas are prepared in case disaster strikes.

Tsunamis are a major risk in coastal areas. Though rare, be prepared to evacuate coastal areas once a tsunami is about to strike. Most coastal areas are tsunami-prone areas, especially those found near undersea trenches that can trigger such.

Volcanoes

Volcanoes can be a danger in the Philippines, owing to its location in the Ring of Fire, and most areas are prone to volcanic eruptions. There are 50 volcanoes in the Philippines, and half of them are classified as active. The last high-profile eruption was Mount Pinatubo in 1991. It spewed out ash and lahar that affected millions in the surrounding provinces and caused a global drop in temperature. Mayon, in Albay, noted for its perfect cone, is one of several active volcanoes that pose a danger with its frequent eruption. Taal Volcano in Batangas, the smallest volcano in the world, is also dangerous when signs of impending eruption shows on its caldera lake.

The most active volcanoes are tourist destinations, and volcano safety rules apply when hiking of climbing those. When volcano warnings are raised, pay close attention to any scheduled trail closures and never attempt to go inside designated exclusion zones.

Civil conflict, political violence, demonstrations, and terrorism

The Philippines has been struggling with insurgent groups such as Islamic separatists in Mindanao and communists, under the New People's Army (NPA), throughout its history. Mindanao, until today, is still facing issues with separatist insurgents, and traveling there poses safety concerns, with martial law in force since the siege of Marawi. In particular, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao remains unsafe for travel, and all non-essential travel is discouraged. While most major cities in Mindanao (Davao City, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga City) are relatively safe, you must travel at your own risk, as travel insurance is not accepted even in those places in case you get arrested, mugged or hospitalized there anytime.

The political situation in the Philippines may become volatile in election periods, and protests and political violence can occur. Foreign tourists in such periods are strongly discouraged from joining political demonstrations, especially in those periods, and avoid areas where they occur.

Demonstrations and riots are another common occurrence. The Legarda-Mendiola intersection (commonly referred to as Mendiola Bridge) in Manila is noted as common site of most demonstrations, both historical and recent, for its proximity to the Malacañang, but other locations in the provinces are not safe from them. While police may tolerate peaceful demonstrations, in many cases, many end as violent clashes with authorities and there are some cases of brutality from anti-riot police. Check reports from the free press, avoid going to most demonstrations and get away from sites where they occur. National law prohibits foreigners from participating in public political activities, and your embassy will not provide any help if you get arrested or injured; plus, you will be deported to your home country.

Terrorism is not very common but several high-profile terror attacks, usually bombings, have occurred in the past, like the 2000 Rizal Day bombings, the 2004 SuperFerry bombing, the 2005 Valentine's Day bombings, and the 2016 Davao City night market bombing. Take caution when travelling where terror threats are raised, and best avoid travelling in such situations, especially in heavily-populated cities. Security measures, even when tightened, may still be breached by terrorists.

Bomb jokes are not tolerated, and it is an easy way to get into legal trouble in public, especially in public transport facilities. Making bomb jokes can end you up into 6 months imprisonment, and deportation. Avoid any of these jokes, and you'll be fine.

Firearms

As an American colonial legacy, the Philippines has a strong gun culture and the most permissive gun ownership laws in Asia, but that does not mean you can carry any gun freely into the country for any purpose. The Philippines has strict gun laws, that you must obtain a license to possess one, and the process involves background checks, such as criminal history and mental capacity. A Permit to Carry is also required when bringing a handgun or pistol. All firearms must be declared to customs upon entry and exit.

Stay healthy

Eating and drinking

Drink the readily available bottled water. Buko (young coconut) juice is also safe if they have not added local ice to it. Be wary of Buko juice vendors; some usually just add sugar to water. Buy and eat fruit that has not already been cut up. Cooked food from a carinderia (outdoor canteen) is okay if there is a fire under the pots and the food has been kept hot.

If you must drink tap water (it is usually served/contained in a small to medium plastic bag), water in ManilaCebu City and other major cities is usually OK, but it is recommended that you boil tap water for at least 5 minutes just to be safe. Elsewhere drink bottled water. There is always the risk of contracting amoebiasis when drinking tap water in the countryside. Also, this applies to ice that is usually put in beverages, as those sold on the street are often chopped from a block and transported on questionable conditions.

Bottled water is best purchased from within stores and sheltered eateries. Bottled water sold outside (by the roads) are more than likely used bottles filled with tap water, sealed then cooled.

Be careful of drinking pampalamig (cold drinks like sago't gulaman) as some vendors might be using magic sugar (sodium cyclamate), an artificial sweetener, which has been banned by the Philippine government because of its adverse effects on health such as higher risk of getting cancer. It has been used as an alternative to ordinary sugar as it is much cheaper; call 911 if you encounter such a situation.

Street food isn't so safe to consume in the Philippines; hygienic standards aren't enforced much. It is better to eat street food as well as pampalamig inside malls and shopping centers than in streets as stalls in malls and shopping centers have better enforcement of cleanliness.

Diseases

CDC advises that a risk of malaria exists only in non-urban areas below 600 meters on the islands of Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro and Palawan. The Visayas are free of Malaria. Chloroquine is no longer a recommended malaria preventative for anywhere in the Philippines due to strains resistant to this drug. In general malaria is not common in the Philippines compared to Africa and the rest of Southeast Asia, and around half of the c. 40,000 annual cases are in a couple of discrete locations.

Dengue fever is common in the Philippines and cases increase every year, so it is advisable to apply mosquito repellents and wear long sleeved clothes whenever possible. The only vaccine available, Dengvaxia, has been banned because of purported risks to children.

Measles was not common until a major outbreak occurred in early 2019. Travellers should have measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines, especially when bringing children with you.

Rabies is also common among street animals in the Philippines, so get a vaccination for rabies if you haven't already, and if you're traveling with children, vaccinate them as soon as possible as they are of high risk of getting rabies because they tend to play more with animals.

Hepatitis A and B and C are a high risk in the country. There are vaccines for A and B, recommended for all travellers; there is not yet (mid-2015) a vaccine against C. Avoid contact with other people's blood — shared needles or even personal care items like razors or toothbrushes — since that is the main means of transmission for both B and C.

Japanese encephalitis is common, and vaccination is recommended. Avoid swimming in fresh water areas where you will have high risks of getting schistosomiasis (unless they are chlorinated). Leptospirosis is often contracted from recreational water activities, such as kayaking, in contaminated water.

Tuberculosis is very common in the countryside, so try to avoid individuals who cough or look weak and be careful about staying too long in villages that may be high in contagious people.

Bring anti-diarrheal drugs with you, as unsanitary conditions present a high risk for traveler's diarrhea. Gatorade or other "sport drinks" might relieve you from fluid loss. Drink bottled liquids if you are unsure of the water, and always wash your hands.

Healthcare

The quality of healthcare in the Philippines varies widely. While modern hospitals and clinics with well-trained doctors are certainly available in the major cities, the quality of healthcare often leaves much to be desired in smaller cities and rural areas. While Filipino citizens are covered by a universal government-funded health insurance scheme, this scheme is not available to foreigners, and hospitals will often require you to make payment upfront before they will commence treatment. The vast majority of Filipino doctors and nurses are able to speak English, with many having received their training in the US, so communication is generally not an issue for English-speaking foreigners.

Public hospitals in the major cities are usually of a decent standard, though they may not be as comfortable as what Western expatriates are used to back home. Private hospitals, on the other hand, provide excellent standards of care, though you will be paying a steep premium for their services. Nevertheless, they are still reasonably priced by Western standards, so most expatriates opt for private healthcare whenever possible.

Sexually transmitted diseases

The Philippines has one of the lowest rates of HIV infection, and has one of the fastest growing number of cases worldwide. Although national HIV prevalence remains below 0.1%, there was a 174% increase in HIV incidence between 2010 and 2017.

Other sexually transmitted diseases are more common than HIV. There are social hygiene clinics (STD clinics) in most City Health offices in the Philippines.

Cope

Electricity

See also: Electrical systems

Most of the Philippines is 220 Volt 60 Hz with mixed usage of both the American and European styles of plug. Most outlets do not include a ground, and multi-standard outlets, usually permitting both American and European plugs, are common. Americans will usually need a step-down transformer, as 120 (or 110) volt appliances may be destroyed when plugged in a Philippine outlet, unless the outlet, usually of the duplex type, is marked to allow 110 volts. Europeans can plug their appliances in Philippine outlets, if it is "multi-standard" (except for British plugs, that will require an adaptor, that may or may not include a ground, unless the outlet is an "universal" type), but, in some places, outlets only allow US style plugs, that an adaptor is needed. It's also best to bring items that work universally such as electronics marked with a 100–240 V 50/60 Hz compatibility to avoid voltage concerns.

Downtown Baguio (northern Luzon) uses 110 V, and is also 60 Hz. This doesn't extend beyond the center of the city. The airport, for example, is 220 V. If staying in the Baguio area, always ask first! If your equipment is 100–127 V, merely crossing a street corner can cause it to be damaged or even catch fire. There are no signs in Baguio indicating where 110 V ends and 220 V begins.

During the dry season (March to May), blackouts (or locally, "brownouts") are mostly expected, especially in Mindanao whose power grid (separated from the interconnected Luzon and Visayas grids) relies primarily on hydroelectric power plants, though the situation is changing slowly, with many fossil fuel and renewable energy plants becoming common. The same situation is also expected in off-grid areas, which may rely on local generators, that may lack fuel supply to run them. Yet, expect that blackouts may still happen, especially when multiple power plants shut down for maintenance, or a typhoon or earthquake strikes. If on a hotel or any lodging, ask if they have a generator.

Television and video

Television and video in the Philippines uses NTSC (the American standard). The transition to digital broadcasting will bring the Japanese ISDB standard in by 2023. Region-coded DVDs are Region 3 (Southeast Asia), though virtually all Filipino movies are region-free. DVDs sold can be found in major shopping malls, but counterfeit DVDs with no region coding remain common, despite routine raids by anti-piracy agencies.

The major networks, ABS-CBN, GMA, and TV5, operate in Filipino, and compete for ratings making network wars part of Filipino culture. From the corner of the street to your hotel reservations desk, there would always be an argument which stations airs the best telenovelas (TV drama series). The three major stations air TV series to newscasts. ABS-CBN and GMA have regional stations who operate in their own major regional languages. There are also English-language TV channels, which are mostly available in cable TV, with a handful in free TV, such as CNN Philippines, ETC, Net25, and 2nd Avenue.

Most local broadcasters typically air only from 6AM to midnight, but many cable channels, especially international stations, air for 24 hours. During Holy Week, local broadcasting differs drastically between Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday, with different program schedules, which usually include religious programs, and some stations do not broadcast at all. Cable channels typically continues to air in regular programming in Holy Week.

Smoking

Filipinos like to smoke as a pastime, and also as a social activity (especially along with drinking alcohol or gambling), though smoking is heavily regulated or completely banned in some areas. Smoking is more common for men, but some women can be seen smoking. Menthol cigarettes, including those using a menthol capsule hidden on the filter end (like Marlboro Ice Blast, Pall Mall or Fortune Tribal Mint Splash), are available, and are popular with women smokers.

Cigarettes (sigarilyo, or colloquially, yosi) in the Philippines are mostly cheap. For example, Marlboro are about ?80 for a pack of twenty in a supermarket, ?100 in a bar or a convenience store as of early 2018. Local brands are cheaper (often ?50-60) and cigars are available as well. However, higher taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products are gradually making them more expensive. Many sari-sari stores also sell cigarettes by the stick, usually for ?4.

On the streets, people walking or standing with a lighted cigarette and groups of men, especially drivers, smoking while talking, are common sights. Despite laws regulating tobacco use, smoking is still common, especially outdoors. Smoking is prohibited in indoor public places, public transport, restaurants, gas stations, and even in bars, except for smoking areas. Smoking in places where smoking is prohibited or in a non-smoking area may bring a fine of up to ?5000. Smoking prevalence in the Philippines has been reduced to 25% as of 2018, but you can still spot people smoking just anywhere.

The smoking and vaping age is 18, and law prohibits sale of tobacco products to minors. Convenience stores and e-cigarette stores require customers to provide photo ID verification, but sari-sari stores usually allow children and youth to buy cigarettes. In some places, such as in Metro Manila, authorities may prohibit a store from selling cigarettes because of nearness to a no-smoking zone, and such stores have posters pasted in the storefront, usually saying Ang tindahang ito at bawal magtinda ng sigarilyo ("This store is prohibited from selling cigarettes.").

Streets are commonly littered with cigarette butts. Many garbage cans do not have ashtrays or butt trays, so you may be tempted to throw them on the sidewalk, the street, or on grass, which may present a fire hazard. Find a trash can marked to allow cigarette butts or bring a portable ashtray when smoking outside; most locals will tend to throw butts anywhere.

Smoking bans are imposed on several cities and municipalities, like in Davao City, where it is completely banned. Yet, enforcement of smoking bans are mostly not overseen. A nationwide smoking ban came into effect in May 2017, further restricting where people are able to smoke. Even smoking in sidewalks are being banned, and designated smoking areas are required to be a enclosed, ventilated, area. Despite the new regulation, open-air smoking areas and smoking on sidewalks are still prevalent. But on some areas, smoking in public has being decreasing as smokers start to fear that they will be fined.

Embassies and consulates

Many nations have embassies in Metro Manila and some have consulates in Metro Cebu or Davao as well.

Plastics

It is encouraged to bring a reusable bag when shopping. Regulations for food packaging and utensils vary by locality.

Funds transfer

Pawnshops are common in every city and town, but they are used more for funds transfer than for pawning or buying items. Both they and the numerous Western Union offices handle transfers both from overseas and within the country. Foreigners should beware of scammers who request a money transfer.

Potentially jarring behaviors

Foreigners unfamiliar with the culture and customs might find local behavior rather jarring. Filipinos share most of these behaviors with the Chinese, except for running amok and "Filipino time" (tardiness).

  • Aggressive drivers - This is a common problem in the roads, such as driving against the flow, speeding, using horns at most times, and driving without headlights. Road rage is commonplace, and simple disagreements between drivers might easily turn to heated arguments or violence.
  • Crowds - Filipino culture sees the concept of personal space as less important, and expect to get bumped in many crowded locations, whether it be on boarding a jeepney or walking through tiangges. Streets in the Philippines tend to be narrow and crowded with parked cars and roadside obstructions.
  • Cutting in line - Filipino culture respects the concept of lines (pila), but you might find locals cutting in line and pushing and bumping while everyone is waiting.
  • Drinking (see more at #Alcohol) - Perhaps with exceptions of Muslims, you will find many Filipinos drinking anytime and anywhere, though local ordinance have regulated where one may drink alcohol. Customs also differ. Drunk driving is common, especially at night.
  • Ignoring rules - Local ordinances, or sometimes, national laws, are generally disregarded. The same also goes with many house rules. This include jaywalking, and smoking in non-smoking areas.
  • Noise - People lean on car horns and play loud music on the radio or karaoke. Conversations tend to be loud, and heard by everyone around. Loudspeakers are widespread, from storefronts to churches.
  • Nose picking - It is socially acceptable to pick one's nose, and there are also crude humor surrounding this.
  • Reactions to foreigners - Some Filipinos stare at any foreigner they see, and they will be magnets for beggars and corrupt cops. Also, don't be surprised when someone talks about your race or country of origin, or someone may ask to take pictures, especially selfies, with you.
  • Running amok - Often described as similar to berserk, it is common for some people to run amok, even to the point of killing someone, especially when drunk, high, or extremely angered. Pagdidilim ng paningin is an idiom meaning "psychologically disturbing rage with murderous intent". Despite being treated as a mental illness nowadays, there remains a more lenient attitude on running amok, as some see as a way to save face, especially for men, so it is an obvious risk if you get into a fight with drunks.
  • Smoking (see more at #Smoking) Though the smoking rate is 25% as of 2018, smoking remains common anywhere. Enforcement of smoking bans in public locations differs by location, and enforcement varies. You might also encounter a jeepney or tricycle driver smoking within sight of a posted no-smoking sign.
  • Tardiness (see more at #Punctuality) - Filipino do not value punctuality, and it is socially acceptable to come late.

Most visitors will get used to these situations and see the good side of the people, but the best advice is do not take them seriously.

Respect

Except for peddlers, vagrants, touts, or the stereotypical pasaway, Filipinos are polite, especially towards older people, women, and authorities. Norms and customs incorporate both Asian and Western traditions, and by and large, Filipinos are better used to foreigners, but most locals, especially the elderly, care more about formalities ingrained in the local culture, so cross-cultural misunderstandings might arise.

Hiya (pronounced hee-YUH', "shame"), a concept which is more closer to saving face, is very important among Filipinos. Conflicts are best avoided, negative emotions are better expressed in a non-obvious manner, and shows of wealth are best avoided. Filipinos smile more frequently, and can mean more than happiness, yet, tread carefully, so not to infuriate someone.

Filipinos share the relaxed attitude on punctuality (Filipino time) common on Hispanics, which is jarring to travellers from countries where punctuality is valued. Being "fashionably late" is common, so as expecting any of your Filipino contacts to arrive 10 to 15 minutes late, but is not the case on business meetings. Coming late on class or a business meeting is considered rude anyway, but a 10 to 15-minute grace period is commonly used so you don't get any scolding or late slips, especially in places where perennial traffic snarls (e.g. Metro Manila) affect commute times.

Despite most Filipinos being more comfortable with foreigners, being stared is not uncommon, even in a large city, but this is a sign of curiosity. White travellers are more frequently stared upon, and are often called Amerikano ("American", or the mildly pejorative short form Kano, pronounced kuh-NOH', with a catch in the throat) or just puti (pooh-TEE, '"white"), even where the person is rather a white European.

Filipinos are more socially conservative over Westerners, so public displays of affection are mostly frowned upon, save for holding hands, which is common among local couples. While not uncommon, making out (paglalampungan) carries a social stigma, and doing it in public can be treated as a scandalous act under local law, with a fine and a month in a police cell. Foreign travellers are advised to show restraint so to avoid this legal risk or inflaming Filipino sensitivities. The risk of being jailed for making out or other overt public displays of affection is not unique to the country; the same precautions must be exercised also by travellers to South Asian countries, where overt displays of affection also carries the same stigma and risk.

A white man and a Filipino woman travelling together can draw more unwanted attention, especially in places like Angeles and Subic, mostly due to the stories of GIs involved in casual sex (or even worse, rape) with locals especially during the Vietnamese War or contemporarily, when visiting the country for joint military exercises.

The Philippines is the most LGBT-tolerant nation in Asia according to a Pew Research Center opinion poll and Filipinos are known to be hospitable toward gays. LGBT travellers are safe in the country, but they should not be too indiscreet: a pair displaying affection in public can stir locals, mostly involving verbal profanity. Cases of homophobic violence or gay bashing are rare, but do happen, especially on conservative families.

Most Filipinos describe themselves as of pure Austronesian blood, but many also self-declare to be mestizos generally of Chinese, American, or European ancestry. While race and ethnicity is less of an issue in the Philippines, as a rule of thumb by locals, privilege and power is often tied to race and ethnicity, so most of the influential Filipinos are of mestizo ancestry. Filipino society is very stratified, with social status being based on wealth and education, and everyday lives differ by class. There is a large gap between the rich and the poor, as well as enshrined stereotypes that prevail, and people, customs or behaviors of another social class may feel out of place in a location associated with a higher or lower classes. For example, a tourist or a rich person eating in a lower-class carinderia might expect curious stares from owners or other patrons, and a lowly person in a classy bar in Manila might get the same response or even refused service at worse. Nonetheless, Filipinos will show their hospitality, as long you save face.

Dress

Except for touristy locations and large cities, Filipinos are more modestly and conservatively dressed, and personal appearance is an important measure of respect. While revealing outfits are not uncommon, especially in cities or tourist hotspots, locals, especially women dress more modestly, but things are slowly changing, and it's not uncommon for local women to be more revealingly dressed in very informal situations, and even at home. Westerners can dress casually like at home, but it remains advisable not to wear anything too revealing, especially in places of worship, government offices and in more conservative locations.

You must remove your shoes when entering homes, but an exception is given to foreigners. If you see footwear placed outside the door, it is certain the family removes them when they enter their home. You don't have to remove your socks, though, but they may ask you to do so, as wearing them just makes your feet sweat more with the muggy climate.

Dress codes tend to be more strictly enforced, especially in places of worship, government offices, and educational institutions. By and large, it is often recommended to wear clothing that covers most of the limbs if you visit churches or deal with the local bureaucracy (e.g. for visa renewals).

A very brutal climate otherwise calls for more comfortable outfits, but always be aware of local sensitivities, unless you stay in a large city or a tourist hotspot where taboos are more relaxed. Shorts or miniskirts are also common among local women, and are often acceptable anywhere, but extremely short shorts that reveal much of the buttocks ("pekpek shorts") are much less appropriate, and some local jurisdictions (e.g. Caloocan) has began proscribing wearing such in public, despite much public outcry. Crop tops are not commonly worn by locals; women wearing them might be marked as rich people or tourists, and can even attract the attention of scammers and pickpockets in big cities.

Distressed denim clothing items are quite popular especially with local youth, but is only good in very informal situations; most locals, especially older people, wear the same, but without the tears. They are not either proscribed, but extremely ripped jeans is not fine either for most situations.

In business situations, men wear Western suits are common in large cities, but a button-up shirt, especially those based on the Barong Tagalog, are more common elsewhere, and a necktie is often omitted. Women often wear Western business attire.

At beaches and even inland resorts and water parks, most visitors go by swimwear, and being nude is very uncommon, except in locations off the beaten track. Nudity in general is a serious taboo nonetheless, so don't either think of skin-dipping in beaches frequented by locals so as not to create a public scandal and risking arrest. Toplessness is quite common for men in beaches, but some swim with their tops on, which is technically a violation of dress codes on beaches, but is not uncommon nonetheless; common reasons are to avoid sunburn or to be modestly looking among throngs of locals. If in doubt, ask if it's allowed.

Religion

While the Philippines is officially a secular state, Filipinos are noted for their religiosity; church attendance remains high, and religion plays an important part in everyday life. Filipinos respect the constitutional right to freedom of religion, and religious apparel are tolerated without comment. Agnosticism or atheism is very rare, and saying you don't believe in God is easily shrugged off with more or less overt attempts to proselytize or even debates about religion.

The most influential religion in the Philippines is Roman Catholicism, but Islam is a significant minority religion, concentrated in southern Mindanao. There are also other Christian denominations, including Iglesia ni Cristo, Ang Dating Daan, Jehovah's Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Baptist churches, and more; rural barangays can have a handful of them beside a Catholic chapel. Roman Catholic churches, cathedrals, basilicas and religious shrines, particularly those earthquake-proof Baroque churches built from the 18th century to the 19th century, are sights in their own right throughout the country. Most Catholics continue to attend Mass and join religious festivities, including the largest ones like the Feast of the Black Nazarene (January 9) and Feast of the Santo Niño, (every January 16). Filipino Catholics are very conservative, and they also sent missionaries to serve countries experiencing a shortage of priests. Locals may ask you to attend Mass or church service, but you can decline their offer without offending them.

Filipinos also observe ancestor worship. You may find a central altar on many homes, no matter how they are devoutly Christian or Muslim; if you see a portrait photo, it is of a deceased family member. Many Filipino Chinese homes usually have Buddha figures, Chinese lucky charms (particularly the beckoning cat figure), a feng shui symbol (bagua), and incense; for Catholic Chinese, they stand alongside images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

In the provinces, faith healers (albularyo) persists; country folk still believe in miracle cures, amulets and black magic. Beliefs in indigenous deities also persist, and are followed until today in a syncretic fashion.

Superstitions

Filipinos take many superstitions and associated taboos seriously, especially in regards to spirits, luck, and mythological creatures; many Filipinos, even those without Chinese ancestors, also observe Chinese cultural taboos, like fear of the number 4. Some country-specific examples include:

  • Eating chicken during New Year - A taboo by the Chinese, it is considered inauspicious to eat chicken during New Year, whether it be the Gregorian one or the Chinese one.
  • Nuno (goblins): It is important to say tabi po, nuno when passing near locations where nuno (goblins) lives; not doing so can cause sudden manifestation of unexplainable illnesses.
  • Usog: A greeting from a stranger to can bring unexplainable convulsions and fever, especially to a child; the curse is warded off by rubbing saliva to the child's abdomen.
  • Walking near large trees: Many people believe large trees, like banyans (balete) are inhabited by kapre (cigar-smoking giants); you can be haunted if you approach them.
  • Wedding gowns: A taboo by Hokkien Chinese, it is inauspicious for the bride to wear her wedding gown the day before the wedding, otherwise, it will not happen.

In addition, there are superstitions and taboos surrounding food and related actions, covered in #Eat.

Animal ethics and the environment

The Philippines has a thriving black market selling endangered species as pets or luxury souvenirs, and there are frequent raids on shops selling products from endangered species. Avoid buying rare pets, leather, feathers, dried sea creatures like starfish, fur and other products likely from illegal poachers. Customs take laws on endangered species seriously, and they may be confiscated at the airport.

Dog meat, especially asusena (a portmanteau of Tagalog aso and Spanish azucena) is best avoided for most reasons; you can find dog meat at restaurants in Benguet as traditional food by the Igorot people, but avoid it elsewhere. Slaughtered dogs may carry the deadly rabies virus, and can be a nasty experience if you get hospitalized.

It is also wise to avoid photo booths with animals, like snakes, as subjects, even in zoos. A tout will approach you, then you pose for a photo with the animal, an for after you pay an exorbitant fee. It is most likely the animal used is drugged and treated cruelly.

Respecting the environment is valued at most places in the country; carry your own trash, bring garbage bags when camping or picnicking, and practice recycling. The Philippines is one of the most biodiverse countries, but is also prone to the effects of climate change, so do your part.

Politics and sensitive issues

Most Filipinos are polarized on political lines, especially on their allegiance to any of the dominating national parties and associated coalitions (PDP-Laban and Liberal Party, as of 2019), and a turbulent history means Filipinos will be utterly sensitive toward politically tinged issues, but they can be free to bring this up with a hint of humor. Unless you know the person well, you should tread carefully if any sensitive issue is brought to a conversation, and keep anything politically charged to yourself.

  • Ferdinand Marcos and the Martial Law years is a very polarizing issue that continues to this day. While most of the generations after the People Power Revolution have criticized the Marcos era as dictatorship, censorship, and corruption, some older Filipinos are nostalgic of the Marcos regime, where the country is prosperous and stable, and prices of most goods are lower. Never assume most Filipinos think negatively because the present generation does.
  • Rodrigo Duterte's War on Drugs is another contemporary political issue best avoided by foreigners. Most Filipinos agree on Duterte's policy against drugs, but most vehemently oppose violent methods used when arresting or neutralizing drug suspects, and to make matters worse, you should avoid mentioning allegations of police involvement in executing drug suspects without trial, or the cases of teenagers or children being killed, as many see this as a ploy to discredit the Philippines in the international scene. Duterte's involvement in the Davao Death Squad during his term as mayor of Davao is also a sensitive issue, and is best avoided in conversation.
  • Avoid referring the sea west of the Philippines as "South China Sea", and use "West Philippine Sea" instead. China's claims on the Spratly Islands and relations with China is an emotional topic, despite the UN's International Court of Arbitration ruling in favor of the Philippines over China on the territorial dispute
  • US military based in the Philippines, as well as bad behavior by US military, is a touchy subject in areas where American soldiers were once based, especially during the Vietnam War years.
  • Never assume that the Philippines is a country where laws are easily ignored and the local law enforcement or bureaucracy is easily bribed, and watch out for the very common pasaway (scofflaw) stereotype commonly spread by some Filipinos, especially those who worked and lived overseas. Since the Philippines' society and government has recognized corruption and lax laws (and connected issues) as social and national issues that needs to be fixed, presuming local cops or public officials will bribe you, or saying you could just act like the local scofflaws is extremely disrespectful, and a lack of hiya, or in other words, a loss of face.

Also, take care when topics related to Philippine history. World War II is a national tragedy, in the same degree as in South Korea, with the Philippines becoming a Japanese puppet state and almost decimated during the liberation campaign from 1944 to 1945. Japanese war crimes during WWII, most notoriously the case of "comfort women", who were abducted from their families and forced to work as prostitutes, is best avoided as well; female war survivors continue to feel the unwillingness of Japan to apologize. Current relations with Japan, Japan's cultural exports and its development aid are a better topic for discussion.

Typhoon Haiyan (or locally, "Yolanda") is a national trauma and also a humanitarian disaster, especially in Eastern Visayas, so are other major similar calamities throughout the Philippines, aside from World War II. Always tread carefully, as many locals are still traumatized by those events and are trying to get over them. Locals are willing to share their experiences, but others would just try to forget it - don't push them.

Filipinos are also environmentalist without a doubt, and green politics is a sensitive topic as well. Any comment that can be construed to have environmental implications should be best avoided in conversation, especially in the provinces where locals are equally divided between favoring large-scale developments (especially fossil fuel power plants) or the protection or critical natural habitats.

Regionalism is less of an issue, but can be divisive. The relations between the Muslim minority and the rest of the country - the center of an low-level insurgency, is a sensitive issue in southern Mindanao, even to a threat to one's life, especially in rebel-held areas inland. Less talked upon, but still utterly sensitive is the relation of Cebu and the rest of the Philippines, mostly centering on notions of Tagalog domination on politics and economy, "Imperial Manila", and cultural identity and language politics, but Cebuanos and/or other Cebuano-speaking provinces don't have any intentions for independence anyway, at least in times where federalism is a hot topic. Other areas do have regionalist movements as well, but are not as prominent as those mentioned. Urban-rural relations is touchy as well; it is just disrespectful to condense the Philippines to Manila and its nearby provinces or unfairly comparing Manila and another province, or you'll draw regionalist sentiments, as if you are treating provincial folks under the promdi or hillbilly stereotype by urbanites.

Other

  • Avoid using the left hand when eating by hand. The left hand is traditionally reserved for unhygienic activities, but the taboo is virtually non-existent outside of food in most of the Philippines; however, it applies to everything on Muslims, so watch out if you head inland in Muslim-majority parts of Mindanao or eat in Muslim Filipino restaurants anywhere in the country.
  • Audibly blowing the nose is always rude, most certainly in a fine dining venue, but picking the nose is almost done de rigueur.
  • Like its East Asian neighbors, drinking is considered a communal activity, and it is also rude to pour your drink by yourself, even if you are just drinking one-on-one. It is generally expected anyone around you will fill your glass, even without you noticing.
  • On certain times, the national anthem is played on public announcement systems in public locations like malls and cinemas (before any film starts), and everyone is required to rise and place the right hand on the left chest. You should do the same, lest you can get arrested and fined. Ignorance on local laws is not a good excuse either.

Connect

Phone

  • Fire, Medical and Police Emergencies: 911 (formerly 117) by voice or text message. These calls are automatically routed to the nearest emergency call center.
  • Philippine Coast Guard Action Center: +63 2 527-3880
  • National Poison Control: +63 2 524-1078
  • Tourist hotline: +63 2 524-1728 and 524-1660
  • Directory assistance: 187 or 114 (fee applies)
  • Civil service complaint hotline: 8888

The international dialling prefix to make an overseas call from the Philippines is 00.

Phone numbers in the Philippines have the format +63 35 539-0605. The country code for the Philippines is 63. The next one, two or three digits are the area code, and the remaining 7 digits are the "local" part of the number that can be called from within that area without dialing the area code. You must dial "0" in front of the area code from outside that area code when still within the Philippines.

Most toll-free numbers cannot be called from outside Philippines but can be dialed using the format 1800-1855-0165 domestically.

The cheapest way to call to and from the Philippines is by using Internet telephony (VoIP). There are several licensed VoIP providers in the Philippines. One of the most popular is Vodini Telecom.

Mobile phones

Mobile numbers in the Philippines must always be dialed with all 11 digits (including a "0" prefixing the "8nn" or "9nn" within the Philippines), no matter where they are being called from. They can also be called within or outside the Philippines using the international format as listed in our Philippines articles

There are two major companies operating GSM 900/1800 networks: Globe and Smart. Your provider at home may have agreements with one of these providers so check with them before leaving home. Roaming may be quite expensive, but pre-paid SIM cards of these networks are easy to acquire and cost as little as ?30 and provide a cheaper alternative. If your unit is locked to your home service provider, cellphone repair shops in malls can unlock them for ?300 to ?2000. A complete pre-paid kit with phone and SIM can be purchased for as little as ?500. These phones are usually locked to a local network provider, and you would have to have it unlocked before leaving to use it elsewhere.

GSM mobile phones are in wide use all over the country. 3G technology is available through Globe and Smart, but is often not properly operational especially outside urban areas. The usual cost of an international long-distance call to the United States, Europe or other major countries is US$0.40 per minute. Local calls range from ?6.50 per minute for prepaid calls; you won't be charged for incoming calls. Text messages typically cost as little as ?1. International SMS costs ?15-25. Plans for unlimited call and SMS are offered by the networks are but are usually restricted to those made to parties within the same network.

Reloading (i.e. recharging or topping-up) pre-paid SIMs is a breeze. Electronic Load (E-Load) stations are everywhere from small corner stores to the large malls. You can purchase pre-paid cards which are available in denominations of ?100, ?300 and ?500.

Pay phones are very hard to find. Phone cards are usually sold by shops which sell cellphone pre-paid loads and cards. Phone cards of one company can not be used with the other company's card-operated phones.

Internet

See also: Internet access

Internet access at broadband speeds are plentiful in city malls, much less so outside the cities, but are growing at a rapid pace. Internet prices depend primarily on where you surf and the medium used (e.g. Wi-Fi or wired). Internet services offered by hotels and shopping malls are expensive and can go up to ?200/hour but neighborhood cafes can be as cheap as ?10/hour. Public Wi-Fi services in the Philippines provided by Airborneaccess.net and WiZ are likely to cost ?100 for up to an hour. An internet cafe chain in SM malls called "Netopia" has a land line internet connection for around ?20 an hour. Starbucks, Seattle's Best Coffee, and malls usually carry Wi-Fi service and some are free to use. The SM and Ayala chain of malls also offer free Wi-Fi anywhere in the mall. On several government-owned public areas, like parks, free Wi-Fi had been implemented, but signal strength fluctuates.

A mobile broadband modem with service by Globe, Smart or Sun starts at ?995. Mobile broadband signals vary depending on the available infrastructure. Smart has the largest network in the country, followed by Globe, and then Sun. It takes up to 24 hours for internet to be available on a new SIM card. Mobile broadband comes in postpaid and prepaid variants. Modems and subscriptions are available in the larger cities. Service can cost as little as ?20 an hour. Service is usually slower in the evening.

Cybercriminals may exploit public Wi-Fi networks to steal private information. Avoid using Wi-Fi to do online transactions, especially bank transactions. If it's unavoidable, remember to forget the public Wi-Fi network after using, so that cybercriminals will find it difficult to track you. Using a VPN is also advisable.

Internet cafes (locally called computer shops) are commonplace. Most new Internet cafés are called pisonet, and are common in residential settings. To use a computer in a pisonet internet café, you'll insert a ?1 coin on a slot in unit to get 5 minutes to use the Internet.

Mail

In order to send items via post, you must visit a post office and present your items to a teller as there are no postage boxes. Check out the Philippine Postal Corporation's (PHLPOST) website to find the post offices that serve your destination. Alternatively, you may be able to ask your hotel's staff to send your posts together with theirs, and in some provinces, some stationery stores also offer to sell postage stamps and receive posts.

Apart from the Philippine postal service, FedEx, UPS, and DHL courier services are also available. Local couriers such as LBC and Aboitiz are also available. Postal mail from abroad is often lost, so don't send anything valuable.

Newspapers

English newspapers are available throughout the Philippines and there are also some Japanese and Chinese language options. The Daily Tribune, Malaya, Manila Standard, Manila Bulletin, Business World, Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer and Visayan Daily Star are some of the English language newspapers, mostly broadsheets.

Tabloid newspapers are mostly local-language ones, usually Tagalog/Filipino (but may be another local language in regional tabloids), but a few are published in English, such as People's Journal and People's Journal Tonight (the latter, however, has some news written in Tagalog).

Some restaurants offer newspapers for free reading, but only within their premises. Most newspapers are mostly sold by street vendors, but on several places, like malls, those are sold on newsstands. On public markets, newspapers are typically sold in general merchandise stores along with common groceries.


Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and vicinity (see Advisory)

There is a serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnappings in this region. Since September 9, 2013, clashes have been occurring in parts of Zamboanga City between Philippine Armed Forces and the Moro National Liberation Front.

On August 24, 2013, the Government of the United Kingdom advised its citizens of a credible and imminent threat of abduction of foreigners in the province of Zamboanga del Norte. On August 31, the Embassy of the United States in Manila informed its citizens of an increased threat of violence toward and abduction of foreigners in the Zamboanga Peninsula. In early July, the United States embassy halted all staff travel to Davao City, Cotabato City and Zamboanga City until further notice.

Dozens of people have been killed or injured by bombings in (but not limited to) Cotabato, Kidapawan, Zamboanga CityGeneral Santos CityIligan City, Jolo, Isabela City and Davao City. On September 12, 2013, and October 10, 2013, the Embassy of the United States in Manila informed its citizens of a credible threat against foreigners in southern Mindanao. Public shopping malls and western-based cafés in the region are thought to have been monitored, as potential targets of interest, by individuals affiliated with extremist groups. On September 16, two bombs exploded in Davao City, one at SM City Davao Cinema and the other at Gaisano Mall Cinema. On August 5, a bomb exploded in Cotabato City, killing eight people and injuring more than 30 others. On July 26, a bomb attack in Cagayan de Oro City killed eight people and wounded 45. The threat of terrorist attacks remains high in major centres in the region.

A state of emergency was declared in Cotabato City and the provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat in November 2009 due to election-related violence. The state of emergency remains in effect.

Review your security situation and take appropriate precautions if you are visiting or living in this region, particularly when visiting places frequented by foreigners. 

Terrorism

The threat of terrorist activities exists, particularly in Mindanao. Westerners and Western interests could be targeted. Bomb attacks could occur at any time in Manila and other key cities, and could target places frequented by foreigners. Bombs have exploded on public transportation, at airports and port facilities, and in shopping malls, convention centres, places of worship and other public areas. Further explosions are possible anywhere in the country. Expect to be subject to frequent security checks at public and private facilities, including shopping malls and public transportation stations.

Bombings and crime-related shootings have occurred in Mindanao, Manila and other parts of the country. Explosive devices continue to be discovered by security authorities. Be vigilant and comply with all security procedures.

Kidnapping

Be alert to the danger of kidnap-for-ransom in the Philippines, particularly in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and surrounding areas (see Advisory). Kidnappings have occurred throughout the country, and some cases have resulted in the death of the victim. 

Crime

Both petty crime and violent crime, sometimes involving guns, are a serious concern, especially in urban areas. Avoid showing signs of affluence or carrying large sums of money, and keep valuables in safekeeping facilities. Criminal gangs are active in Manila, including the Makati central business district, and have drugged and robbed unsuspecting tourists. Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery. Do not accept transportation from strangers. Bystanders have been hit by stray gunfire during armed robberies and subsequent pursuit of the perpetrators by authorities. Avoid disturbances. Violent incidents may increase around election periods.

Demonstrations

Avoid protests, demonstrations, political rallies and large gatherings. These events can turn violent without notice. You could face detention and deportation if you attend a demonstration, even as an observer.

Transportation

Avoid travel outside urban areas and tourist centres after dark.

Driving conditions are poor. Roads are crowded and many drivers do not follow safe driving practices. Stay on national highways and paved roads.

Exercise caution when using public transportation, including buses and the light rail system, due to safety and security concerns. Incidents of taxi drivers using threats to extort money from passengers have been reported. Arrange to be met at airports, use hotel transportation or use the taxi booking services in arrival halls. Use officially marked taxis only and do not share them with strangers.

Ferry accidents are not uncommon due to overloading and poor maintenance of some vessels. Do not board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Piracy

Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.

Emergency services

Dial 117.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Japanese encephalitis

Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending time outdoors in rural areas) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Southeast Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, leptospirosis, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southeast Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In Southeastern Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, lymphatic filariasis, and malaria.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in Southeastern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Good medical care is available in major cities. Care is limited in rural and more remote areas and islands. Most hospitals will require a down payment of estimated fees at the time of admission and may require that progress payments be made during hospitalization.

Decompression chambers are located in Manila, Cebu, Batangas, Subic and Palawan.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Laws

Attending any protest, demonstration or political rally may lead to detention and deportation.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can face life imprisonment for certain drug-related crimes.

A lifetime sentence is also often imposed for rape.

Conviction for "swindling" or "bad debts" can result in sentences of up to 20 years.

Penalties for pedophile activity are strict. Under Philippine law, a child is defined as a person under the age of 18. Locals with children may befriend single male tourists and then accuse them of child abuse in order to extort money from them.

Foreigners are required to carry identification. A photocopy of the identification page of your passport is acceptable.

An International Driving Permit is recommended. However, apply for a local driving permit if you wish to remain in the Philippines for a lengthy period.

You may travel with over-the-counter medicines, but only in quantities sufficient for the duration of your stay. Bring a letter from your physician if you are carrying prescription drugs, stating the dosage and the condition for which you are receiving treatment. If you are travelling onward to another country, a separate quantity of prescription drugs should be sealed and declared again before departing the Philippines.

Money

The currency is the Philippine peso (PHP). Credit cards are accepted in major establishments. Credit card and bank card fraud is common. Pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others during payment processing. U.S. dollar traveller's cheques can sometimes be exchanged in certain banks and hotels. Verify with the issuing authority in Canada before purchasing them for use in the Philippines. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are available in larger cities.

Climate

Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)

Super Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) hit the central Philippines on November 8, 2013, causing severe damage in Leyte Province, Eastern Samar Province, Northern Samar Province, Samar Province, the northern portion of Cebu Province, and parts of Panay Island (including Northern Iloilo and Capiz). Transportation routes, medical services, electricity, telecommunications and sanitation systems, as well as water, food and fuel supplies have been heavily impacted in some areas.

A state of national calamity has been declared by Philippine authorities, as the storm caused thousands of deaths and injuries, and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. Damage to infrastructure is widespread and some regions remain inaccessible.

Although power and telecommunications have been re-established in many areas, it may take considerable time to be restored in all affected regions. You can obtain situational reports and other useful information from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

All commercial airports in the affected regions are operational; however Tacloban airport operations remain limited. If you choose to remain in or travel to affected areas, you should prepare to be self-sufficient and follow the advice of local authorities.

Typhoon and monsoon season

The typhoon and monsoon season extends from May to December, but storms can occur throughout the year. The Philippines experiences around 20 typhoons per year, usually between June and November. These storms can result in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and can hamper the provision of essential services. Heavy winds and rains make flash-flooding and landslides a significant threat. Telecommunications and transportation (air, sea and land) can also be affected. Avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities.

Flooding is frequent following heavy rains, even in central Manila. Be careful when moving around cities during extreme weather conditions as roads can quickly become flooded and impassable.

For local weather forecasts, consult the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH). Consult our Typhoons and monsoons page for more information.

Seismic and volcanic activity

The Philippines is located in an active seismic zone and is prone to volcanic activity and earthquakes. 

An earthquake of 7.2 on the Richter scale struck near Carmen, Bohol (Central Visayas) on October 15, 2013, resulting in significant damage to infrastructure and loss of life. The provinces of Cebu and Bohol have been declared ‘states of calamity’. Transportation routes and telecommunications services may be affected. Monitor local news, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities. 

Familiarize yourself with earthquake security measures in public and private buildings, and follow the advice of local authorities in the event of an earthquake. The Government of Canada provides helpful tips on what to do during an earthquake.

There are a number of active and potentially active volcanoes in the Philippines. Pay careful attention to all warnings issued, avoid restricted areas and follow the advice of local authorities in the event of an eruption. Consult the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology for current information on earthquakes and volcanoes.

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