Skip to main content
Select Source:




Republic of the Philippines

Republika ng Pilipinas


FLAG: The national flag consists of a white equilateral triangle at the hoist, with a blue stripe extending from its upper side and a red stripe extending from its lower side. Inside each angle of the triangle is a yellow five-pointed star, and in its center is a yellow sun with eight rays.

ANTHEM: Lupang Hinirang (also known as Bayang Magiliw [Nation Beloved] ).

MONETARY UNIT: The peso (p) is divided into 100 centavos. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 centavos and 1 and 2 pesos, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 pesos. p1 = $0.01815 (or $1 = p55.1) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard, but some local measures also are used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Freedom Day, 25 February; Labor Day, 1 May; Heroes' Day, 6 May; Independence Day (from Spain), 12 June; Thanksgiving, 21 September; All Saints' Day, 1 November; Bonifacio Day, 30 November; Christmas, 25 December; Rizal Day, 30 December; Last Day of the Year, 31 December. Movable religious holidays include Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

TIME: 8 pm = noon GMT.


The Republic of the Philippines consists of an archipelago of 7,107 islands situated se of mainland Asia and separated from it by the South China Sea. The total land area is approximately 300,000 sq km (115,831 sq mi), 67% of which is contained within the two largest islands: Luzon, 108,171 sq km (41,765 sq mi) and Mindanao, 99,078 sq km (38,254 sq mi). Other large islands include Samar, Negros, Palawan, Panay, Mindoro, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, and Masbate. Comparatively, the area occupied by the Philippines is slightly larger than the state of Arizona. The Philippines' length is 1,851 km (1,150 mi) ssennw, and its width is 1,062 km (660 mi) enewsw.

The Philippines is separated from Taiwan on the n by the Bashi Channel (forming part of the Luzon Strait) and from Sabah, Malaysia (northern Borneo), on the sw by the Balabac Strait (off Palawan) and the Sibutu Passage (off the Sulu Archipelago). Bordering seas include the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean on the e, the Celebes Sea on the S, the Sulu Sea on the sw, and the South China Sea on the w. The Philippines has a total coastline of 36,289 km (22,549 mi).

The Philippines claims the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea, as do China, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. About 1,000 Philippine marines were stationed in the Spratlys in 1983. The Philippines also has a claim on Sabah, dating back to 1670.

The Philippines' capital city, Manila, is located on the island of Luzon.


The topography is extremely varied, with volcanic mountain masses forming the cores of most of the larger islands. The range culminates in Mt. Pulog (elevation 2,928 m/9,606 ft) in northern Luzon and in Mt. Apo, the highest point in the Philippines (elevation 2,954 m/9,692 ft), in Mindanao. A number of volcanoes are active, and the islands have been subject to destructive earthquakes. On 16 July 1990, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake occurred on Luzon causing the death of 1,621 people; it was recorded as the strongest earthquake that year worldwide. A 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurred in Samar on 18 November 2003, causing structural damage to buildings and roads, but few injuries. Another 6.5 magnitude tremor occurred in Mindoro on 8 October 2004.

Lowlands are generally narrow coastal strips except for larger plains in Luzon (Cagayan Valley and Central Plains), Mindanao (Cotabato and Davao-Agusan valleys), and others in Negros and Panay. Rivers are short and generally seasonal in flow. Important ones are the Cagayan, Agno, Abra, Bicol, and Pampanga in Luzon and the Cotabato and Agusan in Mindanao. Flooding is a frequent hazard. The shores of many of the islands are embayed (Manila Bay is one of the finest harbors in East Asia); however, several islands lack adequate harbors and require offshore lightering for sea transport. The only two inland water bodies of significant size are Laguna de Bay in Luzon and Lake Sultan Alonto in Mindanao.


The Philippine Islands, in general, have a maritime tropical climate and, except in the higher mountains, temperatures remain warm, the annual average ranging from about 23° to 32°c (73 to 90°f) throughout the archipelago. Daily average temperatures in Manila range from a minimum of 21°c (70°f) to a maximum of 30°c (86°f) in January and from 24°c (75°f) to 33°c (91°f) in June. Annual normal relative humidity averages 80%. Rainfall and seasonality differ markedly throughout the islands, owing to varying exposures to the two major wind belts, northeast trades or monsoon (winter) and southwest monsoon (summer). Generally, the east coasts receive heavy winter rainfall and the west coasts heavy summer rainfall. Intermediate and southern locales receive lesser amounts more equally distributed. The average annual rainfall in the Philippines ranges from 96 to 406 cm (38 to 160 in).


The Philippines supports a rich and varied flora with close botanical connections to Indonesia and mainland Southeast Asia. Forests cover almost one-half of the land area and are typically tropical, with the dominant family, Dipterocarpaceae, representing 75% of the stands. The forest also has vines, epiphytes, and climbers. Open grasslands, ranging up to 2.4 m (8 ft) in height, occupy one-fourth of the land area; they are man-made, the aftermath of the slash-and-burn agricultural system, and most contain tropical savanna grasses that are nonnutritious and difficult to eradicate. The diverse flora includes 8,000 species of flowering plants, 1,000 kinds of ferns, and 800 species of orchids.

There are over 150 species of mammals, with common mammals including the wild hog, deer, wild carabao, monkey, civet cat, and various rodents. There are about 196 breeding species of birds, among the more numerous being the megapodes (turkey-like wildfowl), button quail, jungle fowl, peacock pheasant, dove, pigeon, parrot, and hornbill. Reptilian life is represented by 190 species; there are crocodiles and the larger snakes include the python and several varieties of cobra.


Primary responsibility for environmental protection rests with the National Pollution Control Commission (NPCC), under whose jurisdiction the National Environmental Protection Council (NEPC) serves to develop national environmental policies and the Environmental Center of the Philippines implements such policies at the regional and local levels.

Uncontrolled deforestation in watershed areas, with consequent soil erosion and silting of dams and rivers, constitutes a major environmental problem, together with rising levels of air and water pollution in Manila and other urban areas. The NPCC has established standards limiting automobile emissions but has lagged in regulating industrial air and water pollution. In 2000, carbon dioxide emissions totaled 77.5 million metric tons.

The nation has 479 cu km of renewable water resources, with 88% of the annual withdrawal used to support farming and 4% used for industrial activity. Pollution has also damaged the coastal mangrove swamps, which serve as important fish breeding grounds. Between the 1920s and 1990s, the Philippines lost 70% of its mangrove area. In 2000, about 19% of the total land area was forested. About 50% of the nation's coral reefs are rated dead or dying as a result of pollution and dynamiting by fishermen. The nation is also vulnerable to typhoons, earthquakes, floods, and volcanic activity.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 50 types of mammals, 70 species of birds, 8 types of reptiles, 48 species of amphibians, 49 species of fish, 3 types of mollusks, 16 species of other invertebrates, and 212 species of plants. Threatened species in the Philippines included the monkey-eating eagle, Philippine tarsier, tamarau, four species of turtle (green sea, hawksbill, olive ridley, and leatherback), Philippines crocodile, sinarapan, and two species of butterfly. The cebu warty pig, Panay flying fox, and Chapman's fruit bat have become extinct.


The population of Philippines in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 84,765,000, which placed it at number 12 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 4% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 35% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 101 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 2.3%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The projected population for the year 2025 was 115,675,000. The overall population density was 283 per sq km (732 per sq mi), but the population is unevenly distributed, being most densely concentrated in Luzon and the Visayan Sea islands.

The UN estimated that 48% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 2.70%. Metropolitan Manila, the capital, had a population of 10,352,000 in that year. Created in 1975, metropolitan Manila includes four citiesManila proper, Quezon City, Caloocan City, and Pasay Cityand 13 surrounding municipalities. Other major cities include Davao, Cebu, Zamboanga, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, and Iloilo.


The rapid growth of the Philippine population has led to considerable internal migration. On Luzon, frontier-like settlements have pushed into the more remote areas. The Mindoro and Palawan islands also have attracted numerous settlers, and hundreds of thousands of land-hungry Filipinos have relocated to less densely populated Mindanao. There also has been a massive movement to metropolitan Manila, especially from central Luzon. Emigration abroad is substantial. To reduce domestic unemployment, over 500,000 Philippine citizens were working abroad in the late 1980s and early 1990s, mainly in the Middle East, but also in Hong Kong and Singapore. Emigration to the United States particularly has been considerable: As of the 2000 US census, 1,369,070 Americans, or. 85% of US population, residing chiefly in California and Hawaii claimed only Filipino ancestry. In 2004, 143 Filipinos sought asylum in Canada.

As of 1998, there were still 1,589 asylum seekers from Vietnam in a Palawan camp, who were refused refugee status but allowed to stay pending a repatriation solution. Distinctions between Indochinese and other nationalities have been dropped, and all are now referred to as urban refugees. Many refugees became legal exiles while studying in the Philippines following political or military upheavals in their homelands; a majority have since married Filipino nationals. The number of migrants in 2000 was 160,000. As of 2004, the Philippines hosted 107 urban refugees, 44 asylum seekers, and 1,829 Vietnamese of concern as rejected cases. In 2005, the net migration rate was -1.49 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the emigration level as too high, but the immigration level as satisfactory. In 2003 remittances to the Philippines were $8 billion.


Filipinos of Malay (Malayan and Indonesian) stock constitute about 95.5% of the total population. They are divided into nine main ethnic groups: the Tagalog, Ilocanos, Pampanguenos, Pangasinans, and Bicolanos, all concentrated in Luzon; the Cebuanos, Boholanos, and Ilongos of the Visayas; and the Waray-Waray of the Visayas, Leyte, and Samar. The largest single group is the Tagalog, accounting for about 28% of the total population. The Cebuano is the next largest group, representing about 13% of the population. Numerous smaller ethnic groups inhabit the interior of the islands, including the Igorot of Luzon and the Bukidnon, Manobo, and Tiruray of Mindanao. There are small groups of Chinese and Muslims.


There are two official languages: Filipino (based on Tagalog), the national language adopted in 1946 and understood by a majority of Filipinos; and English, which is also widely spoken and understood. Spanish, introduced in the 16th century and an official language until 1973, is now spoken by only a small minority of the population. More than 80 indigenous languages and dialects (basically of Malay-Indonesian origin) are spoken. Besides Tagalog, which is spoken around Manila, the principal dialects include Cebuano (spoken in the Visayas), Ilocano (spoken in northern Luzon), and Panay-Hiligaynon. The teaching of Filipino is mandatory in public and private primary schools, and its use is encouraged by the government.


Most of the population (about 81%) belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Other Christian churches represent about 11.6% of the population and include such denominations as Seventh-Day Adventist, United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Assemblies of God, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and Philippine Baptist (associated with Southern Baptist). In addition, there are three churches established by Filipino religious leaders, the Independent Church of the Philippines, also called Aglipayan; the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ); and the Ang Dating Daan (an offshoot of the Church of Christ). Muslims represent about 5% of the population and are commonly called Moros by non-Muslims. They are concentrated in Mindanao and the Sulus. Most Muslims are Sunni. Buddhists make up less than 1% of the population. There are also small communities of Hindus and Jews. It is believed that a majority of the indigenous population includes elements of native religions within their practice of other faiths.

Freedom of religion and the separation of church and state is guaranteed by the constitution. In an effort to reduce tensions between Christians and Muslims in the southern islands and to answer Muslim autonomist demands, the government established an Office of Muslim Affairs in 1981 and allocated funds for Islamic legal training and for Muslim schools and cultural centers. Part of its role, as of 1999, involved coordinating the travel of pilgrims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and coordinating diplomatic ties with countries that have contributed to Mindanao's economic development and to the "peace process" with insurgent groups. The National Ecumenical Consultative Committee is a government-sponsored group that encourages interfaith dialogue. Certain Christian holidays are recognized as national holidays.


The total length of roadways in 2002 was 202,124 km (125,721 mi), of which only 19,202 km (11,944 mi) were paved. Luzon contains about one-half of the total road system, and the Visayas about one-third. There were 796,385 passenger cars and 1,774,300 commercial vehicles registered in 2003.

In 2004, the Philippine railroad system consisted of 897 km (557 mi) of common-carrier narrow gauge railroad track on Luzon and Panay. However, the system only plays a minor role in transportation, since only 492 km (306 mi) were in operation. As of 2004, there were 3,219 km (2,000 mi) of waterways, but their use is limited to vessels with a draft of less than 1.5 m (4.5 ft).

Water transportation is of paramount importance for inter-island and intra-island transportation. A small offshore fleet registered under the Philippine flag is engaged in international commerce, but most ocean freight is carried to and from the Philippines by ships of foreign registry. In 2005, the merchant fleet numbered 419 ships of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 4,524,259 GRT. There are 25 major ports. Manila is the busiest Philippine port in international shipping, followed by Cebu and Iloilo. Other ports and harbors include Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Guimaras Island, Iligan, Jolo, Legaspi, Masao, Puerto Princesa, San Fernando, Subic Bay, and Zamboanga.

In 2004 there were an estimated 255 airports. As of 2005 a total of 83 had paved runways, and there were also two heliports. Ninoy Aquino International Airport, formerly Manila International Airport, is the principal international air terminal. Five other airports serve international flights as well. Philippine Air Lines (PAL), the national airline, provides domestic and international flights. Under the Aquino government there were plans to sell PAL stock to the private sector. In 2003, about 6.467 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.


Evidence of human habitation dates back some 250,000 years. In more recent times, experts believe that the Negritos, who crossed then existing land bridges from Borneo and Sumatra some 30,000 years ago, settled the Philippine Islands. Successive waves of Malays, who arrived from the south, at first by land and later on boats called barangaysa name also applied to their communitiescame to outnumber the Negritos. By the 14th century, Arab traders made contact with the southern islands and introduced Islam to the local populace. Commercial and political ties also linked various enclaves in the archipelago with Indonesia, Southeast Asia, India, China, and Japan. Ferdinand Magellan, a Portugueseborn navigator sailing for Spain, made the European discovery of the Philippines on 15 March 1521 and landed on Cebu on 7 April, claiming the islands for Spain, but the Filipino chieftain Lapulapu killed Magellan in battle. The Spanish later named the islands in honor of King Philip II, and an invasion under Miguel Lopez de Legaspi began in 1565. The almost complete conversion of the natives to Christianity facilitated the Spanish conquest; by 1571, it was concluded, except for the Moro lands (Moro is the Spanish word for Moor). The Spanish gave this name to Muslim Filipinos, mostly inhabitants of southern and eastern Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, and Palawan. The Spanish administered the Philippines, as a province of New Spain, from Mexico. Trade became a monopoly of the Spanish government; galleons shipped Oriental goods to Manila, from there to Acapulco in Mexico, and from there to the mother country.

Although Spain governed the islands until the end of the 19th century, its rule was constantly threatened by the Portuguese, the Dutch, the English (who captured Manila in 1762, occupying it for the next two years), the Chinese, and the Filipinos themselves. After the 1820s, which brought the successful revolts of the Spanish colonies in the Americas, Filipinos openly agitated against the government trade monopoly, the exactions of the clergy, and the imposition of forced labor. This agitation brought a relaxation of government controls: the colonial government opened ports to world shipping, and the production of such typical Philippine exports as sugar, coconuts, and hemp began. Filipino aspirations for independence, suppressed by conservative Spanish rule, climaxed in the unsuccessful rebellion of 189698. Jose Rizal, the most revered Filipino patriot, was executed, but Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and his forces continued the war. During the Spanish-American War (1898), Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on 12 June. When the war ended, the United States acquired the Philippines from Spain for $20,000,000. US rule replaced that of the Spanish, but Philippine nationalists continued to fight for independence. In 1899, Gen. Aguinaldo became president of the revolutionary First Philippine Republic and continued guerrilla resistance in the mountains of northern Luzon until his capture in 1901, when he swore allegiance to the United States. Over the long term, the effect of US administration was to make the Philippines an appendage of the US economy, as a supplier of raw materials to and a buyer of finished goods from the American mainland. Politically, US governance of the Philippines was a divisive issue among Americans, and the degree of US control varied with the party in power and the US perception of its own security and economic interests in the Pacific. In the face of continued nationalist agitation for independence, the US Congress passed a series of bills that ensured a degree of Philippine autonomy. The Tydings-McDuffie Independence Law of 1934 instituted commonwealth government and further stipulated complete independence in 1944. In 1935, under a new constitution, Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina became the first elected president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.

On 8 December 1941, Japan invaded the Philippines, which then became the focal point of the most bitter and decisive battles fought in the Pacific during World War II. By May 1942, the Japanese had achieved full possession of the islands. US forces, led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, recaptured the Philippines in early 1945, following the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval engagement in history. In September 1945, Japan surrendered. On 4 July 1946, Manuel A. Roxas y Acuna became the first president of the new Republic of the Philippines. Both casualties and war damage wreaked on the Philippines were extensive, and rehabilitation was the major problem of the new state. Communist guerrillas, called Hukbalahaps, threatened the republic. Land reforms and military action by Ramon Magsaysay, the minister of national defense, countered the Huks revolutionary demands. Magsaysay was elected to the presidency in 1953 but died in an airplane crash in 1957. Carlos P. Garcia succeeded Magsaysay and then won election to the office in 1958. Diosdado Macapagal became president in November 1961. He was succeeded by Ferdinand Edralin Marcos following the 1965 elections. Marcos was reelected in 1969 with a record majority of 62%. The Marcos government brutally suppressed the renewed Hukbalahap insurgency, but armed opposition by Muslim elements, organized as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Maoist-oriented New People's Army (NPA), and by other groups gathered force in the early 1970s.

Unable under the 1935 constitution to run for a third term in 1973, President Marcos, on 23 September 1972, placed the entire country under martial law, charging that the nation was threatened by a "full-scale armed insurrection and rebellion." Marcos arrested many of his more vehement political opponents, some of whom remained in detention for several years. In January 1973, the Marcos administration introduced a new constitution, but many of its provisions remained in abeyance until 17 January 1981, when Marcos finally lifted martial law. During the intervening period, Marcos consolidated his control of the government through purges of opponents, promotion of favorites, and delegation of leadership of several key programsincluding the governorship of metropolitan Manila and the Ministry of Human Settlementsto his wife, Imelda Romualdez Marcos. Although Marcos made headway against the southern guerrillas, his human-rights abuses cost him the support of the powerful Roman Catholic Church, led by Jaime Cardinal Sin. Elections were held in April 1978 for an interim National Assembly to serve as the legislature until 1984, but local elections held in 1980 were widely boycotted. Pope John Paul II came to Manila in February 1981, and even though martial law was no longer in effect, he protested the violation of basic human rights. In June 1981, Marcos won reelection for a new six-year term as president under an amended constitution preserving most of the powers he had exercised under martial rule. New threats to the stability of the regime came in 1983 with the rising foreign debt, a stagnant economy, and the public uproar over the assassination on 21 August of Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. Aquino, a longtime critic of Marcos, was shot at the Manila airport as he returned from self-exile to lead the opposition in the 1984 legislative elections. The gunman was immediately killed, and 26 others suspected of conspiracy in the assassination were acquitted in December 1985 for lack of evidence. Public sympathy gave opposition parties 59 out of 183 elective seats in 1984.

In 1985, political pressures forced Marcos to call for an election in February 1986 in view of a widespread loss of confidence in the government. The Commission on Elections and the National Assembly, controlled by his own political party, proclaimed Marcos the winner. His opponent, Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, the widow of Benigno S. Aquino, claimed victory, however, and charged the ruling party with massive election fraud. The National Movement for Free Elections, the United States, and other international observers supported Aquino's charge. Accordingly, other countries withheld recognition of Marcos. On 21 February 1986, a military revolt grew into a popular rebellion, urged on by Jaime Cardinal Sin. US president Ronald Reagan gave Marcos an offer of asylum, which Reagan guaranteed only if Marcos left the Philippines without resistance. Marcos went into exile in Hawaii.

After Marcos

On 25 February 1986, Corazon Aquino assumed the presidency. Her government restored civil liberties, released political prisoners, and offered the NPA a six-month cease-fire, with negotiations on grievances, in exchange for giving up violence. Because Aquino came to power through the forced departure of an officially proclaimed president, the legality of her regime was suspect. Consequently, she operated under a transitional "freedom constitution" until 11 February 1987, when the electorate ratified a new constitution. On 11 May 1987 the first free elections in nearly two decades were held under the new constitution. More than 83% of eligible voters cast their ballots, 84 candidates ran for the 24 senate seats, and 1,899 candidates ran for the 200 house seats. There were 63 election-related killings. Old-line political families still controlled the system, as 169 House members out of the 200 elected either belonged to or were related to these families.

On 20 December 1987 one of the worst disasters in maritime history occurred when an overcrowded passenger ship collided with an oil tanker off Mindoro Island and at least 1,500 people perished. This delayed local elections until 18 January 1988. Nationwide 150,000 candidates ran for 16,000 positions as governor, vice governor, provincial board member, mayor, vice mayor, and town council member. In 1988 election-related violence killed more than 100 people. Members of the pro-government parties, a faction of the PDP-Laban and Lakas ng Bansa, formed a new organization, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) in June 1988. In March 1989 the thrice-postponed election for barangay officials was held, electing some 42,000 barangay captains. In August 1989 President Aquino signed a law giving limited autonomy to provinces where most Philippine Muslims lived: Mindanao, Palawan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi islands.

There were five coup attempts between the time Aquino took office and the end of 1987. This continuing succession of coup plots culminated in a large, bloody, well-financed attempt in December 1989. Led by Colonel Gregorio Honasan (who participated in the 1987 coup attempt, and was a close associate of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile) and involving more than 3,000 troops that targeted several bases; US air support helped to quelled this attempt. The Senate granted Aquino emergency powers for six months. President Aquino's administration lost international credibility with the appeal for US military support to quell the coup attempt. The authorities made arrests, but the Supreme Court ruled that Senator Juan Ponce Enrile could not be charged with murder, nullifying a criminal case against him. He was charged in a lower court with rebellion. In September 1990, 16 military members were convicted of the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino in 1983 and sentenced to life in prison.

Former president Ferdinand Marcos had appealed to Aquino to allow him to attend the funeral of his mother, as he had appealed several times to visit his mother while she was ill; Aquino denied each request. The Philippine government had traced at least $5 billion in deposits to Swiss bank accounts made by Marcos. Marcos attempted to negotiate his return to the Philippines, promising his support for Aquino and the return of $5 billion to the Philippines. Aquino also rejected his wife Imelda's plea for her husband's return. The Philippine government filed an antigraft civil suit for $22.6 billion against Marcos in 1987. Marcos and his wife, Imelda, were indicted in the United States, charged with the illegal transfer of $100 million in October 1988. On 28 September 1989 former President Ferdinand Marcos died in Honolulu. Aquino refused to allow his burial in the Philippines.

Under pressure from Communist rebels Aquino removed the US military bases from the Philippines in 1989. Three US servicemen were murdered outside Clark Air Force Base and the Communists took responsibility for the murders. A Communist guerrilla who admitted participating in the 21 April 1989 assassination of US Army Colonel James Row was arrested. In September 1989 US vice president Dan Quayle met with Aquino to discuss the renewal of the lease on US military bases. Prior to his arrival two American civilians working on the bases were killed; the government attributed these deaths to Communist guerrillas. The Communists continued to threaten US servicemen and local politicians. Anti-American demonstrations at Clark Air Base and in Manila led to clashes with the police and to injuries. The Communists continued their threats and two more US servicemen were killed near the Clark Air Base. In June of 1990 the Peace Corps removed 261 volunteers from the Philippines after Communist threats against them. In September 1990 Aquino said it was time to consider an "orderly withdrawal" of US forces from the Philippines.

Within a year the Philippines was pummeled with three major natural disasters. In July 1990 an earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale struck. The epicenter was 55 mi north of Manila and more than 1,600 people were killed. A super-typhoon devastated the central Visayas in November 1990. An even more destructive natural disaster occurred on 12 June 1991 when Mount Pinatubo in Zambales province, a volcano dormant for more than 500 years, violently erupted, causing the abandonment of Clark Air Base in Angeles City; 20,000 US military, their dependents, and civilian employees evacuated to the United States from Clark and the Subic Bay Naval Station.

The Philippine-American Cooperation Talks (PACT) reached agreement on military base and nonbase issues, but Philippine Senate refused to ratify the proposed treaty. On 6 January 1992 the Philippines government served notice of the termination of the US stay at Subic Naval Base in Zambales. After almost a century of US military presence, on 30 September 1992 the United States handed over Subic Naval Base to the Philippines. The Philippine government turned it into a free port, headed until 1998 by Dick Gordon.

Amnesty International (AI), the human rights organization, published a report in 1992 critical of the Aquino administration's assent to human rights violations perpetrated by the military; AI alleged that 550 extra judicial killings occurred during 198891. The military refuted the AI report citing its oversight of rebel activities.

In March 1991 President Aquino stated that Imelda Marcos could return to the Philippines, but that she faced charges that her husband stole $10 billion during his 20 years as president. Mrs. Marcos returned in November, after five years in Hawaii, to face civil and criminal charges, including tax fraud. In January 1992 Imelda Marcos announced that she would run for election in 1992; in the same month she was arrested, and then released, for failing to post bail on charges that she unlawfully maintained accounts in Switzerland. In September 1993 the government permitted the embalmed body of Ferdinand Marcos to return to the Philippines for burial near his home in northern Luzon. On 24 September 1993 Imelda Marcos was found guilty of participating in a deal that was "disadvantageous to the government" under the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act. She faced a maximum prison sentence of 24 years, but she remained free on bail while her appeal was considered.

In national and local elections held 11 May 1992, Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph E. Estrada were elected president and vice president, respectively. On 30 June 1992 Fidel Ramos succeeded Corazon Aquino as president of the Philippines with a plurality of 23.6%. Nearly 85% of eligible voters turned out to elect 17,205 officials at national, regional, and local levels. The election was relatively peaceful with only 52 election-related deaths reported. Rules required voters to write the names of the candidate they wanted for office. This, combined with the number of candidates, meant it was several weeks before the votes were completely tallied. Ramos, a Methodist and the Philippine's first non-Catholic president, considered the country's population growth rate as an obstacle to development. A rally of 300,000 Catholics led by Cardinal Sin took place in Manila in 1993 to protest the Ramos administration's birth control policies and the public health promotion of prophylactics to limit the spread of AIDS.

Domestic insurgency by the Muslim population continued throughout the 1980s. By the 1990s, however, internal divisions among the Muslims, reduced external support, military pressure, and government accommodations, including the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 1990 had greatly reduced the threat. In January 1994 the government signed a ceasefire agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front, ending 20 years of guerrilla war. Splinter groups among the Muslim population continue, however, to cause difficulties for both the MNLF and the government.

The last remaining communist insurgency in Asia was reduced temporarily by the Ramos government's peaceful signal, the 1992 Anti-Subversion Law, and the 1993 split in the ranks of the NPA that created a lull until issues related to the weakened leadership were resolved. The NPA returned to violent opposition sporadically throughout the 1990s, especially by the Revolutionary Proletarian Army, an offshoot of the NPA. The NPA significantly increased its use of children as armed combatants and noncombatants during this same time.

In January 1994 the congress passed a law restoring the death penalty for 13 crimes including treason, murder, kidnapping and corruption. Police reform was a particular goal of the legislation. This legislation was partly in response to a series of abductions of wealthy ethnic Chinese Filipinos abducted for ransom, in which the Philippine National Police were found to be involved.

Conflicting claims to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea are a source of tension between the Philippines and the People's Republic of China. In 1989 Chinese and Philippine warships exchanged gunfire in the vicinity of the Spratly Islands. The incident was resolved by diplomatic means. In June 1994 China protested an oil exploration permit granted to Vaalco Energy of the United States, and to Alcorn Petroleum and Minerals, its Philippine subsidiary. The Philippine response was to refer to a principle of "common exploration" and development of the Spratlys. China had employed this same principle when the Philippines had protested China's granting the United States permission to explore in the Spratlys in 1993. China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei all lay claim to all, or a portion, of the Spratly Islands. In June 1994 a 5-day conference on East Timor held in Manila ended with an agreement to establish a coalition for East Timor in the Philippines and proposed a peace plan based on the gradual withdrawal of Indonesian troops. But turmoil in the Spratlys did not end. In 1995, China briefly occupied Mischief Reef in a part of the islands claimed by the Philippines. In spring of 1997, Chinese warships were seen near Philippine-occupied islands in the chain. The two countries have also traded occupation of Scarborough Shoal, heightening tensions and prompting Manila to seek renewed American military presence. In May 1999 the Philippine Senate ratified a new Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, despite claims by opponents that the VFA would give the US military the opportunity to bring nuclear weapons, without declaration, into the Philippines, violating the Philippine constitution.

The issue of Filipino women forced to work abroad, long a controversy in the country's large impoverished class, came to a head in 1995. In March, Filipina domestic worker Flor Contemplacion was executed in Singapore for the murder of a maid and a child. Outraged Filipinos claimed the girl was framed; they filled the streets of Manila in protest. The crisis, the product of unemployment and underemployment forcing families to export their children to low-wage overseas jobs, culminated in Mr. Ramos's sacking of two cabinet ministers.

In January 1996, Philippines police uncovered and thwarted a plot by Islamic extremists to assassinate Pope John Paul II during his visit to Manila that month.

Muslim rebels in Mindanao continued their insurgencies against the government, raiding the trading town of Ipil in April 1996. The terrorists killed 57 people and burned the town's business district. The rebels also took part in the resurgence of kidnappings and bank robberies in Manila and Mindanao. More than 100 kidnappings were reported in 1996, many in which police officers were also suspected. A peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MNLF was signed on 2 September 1996, that ended the 24-year-old war in Mindanao. The agreement was signed by the government chief negotiator Manuel Yan, Nur Misuari, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, and Secretary General Hamid Algabid of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). Later, Misuari ran for and won the governorship of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARM) in the 9 September 1996 elections.

The Philippine economy suffered a harsh blow in 1995 when a typhoon ravaged the rice harvest, trebling the destruction of the rice acreage lost to the Mount Pinatubo eruption. But the economy rebounded in late 1995 and through 1996, buoyed by the government's massive infrastructure improvements and plans to develop former US military bases Subic Bay and Clark Air Force Base as tourist attractions and economic zones.

President Ramos introduced the Philippines 2000 movement, which was both a strategy and a movement; he called it the Filipino people's vision of development by the year 2000. As envisioned, the Philippines by the year 2000 would have a decent minimum of food, clothing, shelter, and dignity. The major goal of Philippines 2000 was to make the Philippines the next investment, trade, and tourism center in Asia and the Pacific. The Ramos administration achieved several of its economic goals but few of the social changes envisioned.

On 30 June 1998 the newly elected President, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, took office. The new Vice President was Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In November 2000, impeachment proceedings began against Estrada on allegations of corruption, betrayal of the public trust, and violation of the constitution. Estrada stepped down as president on 20 January 2001 after months of protests, and Arroyo was sworn in as president. Estrada in April 2001 was charged with taking more than us$80 million from state funds while in office; he was arrested and placed in custody. Arroyo faced a sluggish economy upon coming into office; the economy was still recovering from the 199798 Asian financial crisis. She initiated privatization and deregulation policies, especially in agriculture and the power-generating industry. On 30 December 2002, Arroyo declared she would not seek a second term in the 16 May 2004 presidential elections, so that she could focus on her economic reform agenda, restore peace and order, reduce corruption, and "heal political rifts." Despite this promise, she did participate in the 2004 presidential elections.

The separatist conflict on Mindanao had claimed more than 140,000 lives in three decades as of 2005. In March 2001, the 12,500-member Moro Islamic Liberation Front declared a ceasefire and declared it was ready to hold talks with the government. However, on 11 February 2003, more than 2,000 government soldiers advanced toward an MILF base near Pikit, attempting to disband a group of kidnappers known as the "Pentagon gang," which is on the list of US terrorist organizations. Approximately 135 MILF fighters were killed in three days of fighting. In January 2002, nearly 700 US troops, including 160 Special Forces soldiers, were sent to Mindanao to assess the military situation, provide military advice, and train the 7,000 Philippine soldiers pursuing the guerrillas of the Abu Sayyaf group operating in the southern islands of Basilan and Jolo. The Philippine constitution forbids foreign troops fighting on its territory.

Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the United States urged countries around the world to increase antiterrorist measures they might take. Southeast Asia was a primary focus of attention. In May 2002, the 10 members of ASEAN pledged to form a united antiterror front and to set up a strong regional security framework. The steps include introducing national laws to govern the arrest, investigation, prosecution, and extradition of suspects. As well, they agreed to exchange intelligence information and to establish joint training programs such as bomb detection and airport security.

The militant Islamic group Abu Sayyaf ("Bearer of the Sword") is one of several guerrilla organizations involved in a resurgence of violence in the Philippines since 2000. It split off from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1991 to pursue a more fundamentalist course against the government. Actions taken since the early 1990s include bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings of priests and businessmen. One of its goals is an independent Islamic state in Mindanao, but its activities have been linked to international terrorism as well, including ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, according to the US government. In May 2001, Abu Sayyaf kidnapped 20 people, including 3 Americans, demanding ransom. They beheaded one of the American captives, and held the othersa missionary couplehostage. In June 2002, Philippine commandos attempted to rescue the couple and a Filipino nurse being held with them. Two of the hostages were killed in a shootout, and one of the missionaries was freed. In August, Abu Sayyaf kidnapped six Filipino Jehovah's Witnesses and beheaded two of them. The group also claims responsibility for two bombings in Dabao City in 2003 which killed 38 people. In addition to Abu Sayyaf, a new Islamic insurgent group, Jemaah Islamiyah is believed to be training recruits in the southern Philippines, which is dedicated to the establishment of an Islamic theocracy in Southeast Asia. Financial links have been found between Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaeda.

The 2004 presidential elections were extremely close. Arroyo was able to retain the presidency with 40% of the vote to Fernando Poe Jr. with 37%. However, the Philippines continued to be plagued by accusations of corruption in the government, business arena and security forces. President Arroyo is credited with increasing economic (GDP) growth, 4.3% in 2002 to 4.7% in 2003 and to about 6% in 2004, but there are substantial criticisms levied against her government. Intense poverty remained a central problem in the Philippines as do counterinsurgency groups like the MNLF, Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiyah and the communist New People' s army. Steady unemployment contributes to the intense poverty with the 2005 rate exceeding 12%. Despite Arroyo's efforts, trafficking of women and children still remained a prominent issue.


Under the constitution of 11 February 1987 the Philippines is a democratic republican state. Executive power is vested in a president elected by popular vote for a six-year term, with no eligibility for reelection. The president is assisted by a vice president, elected for a six-year term, with eligibility for one immediate reelection, and a cabinet, which can include the vice president. Legislative power rests with a bicameral legislature. Congress consists of a senate, with 24 members elected for six-year terms (limited to two consecutive terms). Senators are chosen at large. Senators must be native-born Filipinos and at least 35 years old. A house of representatives is elected from single-member districts for three-year terms (limited to three consecutive terms). Districts are reapportioned within three years of each census. In 2004, 212 members were elected. Up to 52 more may be appointed by the president from "party lists" and "sectoral lists," but the constitution prohibits the house of representatives from having more than 250 members. Representatives must be native-born Filipinos and at least 25 years of age. Presidential and legislative elections are next scheduled for May 2007.


The first Philippine political party, established in 1900, was the Federal Party, which advocated peace and eventual statehood. Later, the Nationalist Party (NP) and the Democratic Party were established. They did not produce an actual two-party system, since the Nationalists retained exclusive control and the Democrats functioned as a "loyal opposition." However, following Japanese occupation and the granting of independence, an effective two-party system developed between the Liberal Party (LP) and the NP. The Progressive Party, formed in 1957 by adherents of Ramon Magsaysay, polled more than one million votes in the presidential election of 1958. In the elections of November 1965, Senator Ferdinand Marcos, the NP candidate, received 55% of the vote. In the 1969 election, he was elected to an unprecedented second term. All political activity was banned in 1972, following the imposition of martial law, and was not allowed to resume until a few months before the April 1978 elections for an interim National Assembly. The Marcos government's New Society Movement (Kilusan Bagong Lipunan-KBL) won that election and the 1980 and 1982 balloting for local officials, amid charges of electoral fraud and attempts by opposition groups to boycott the voting. The principal opposition party was the People's Power Movement-Fight (Lakas Ng Bayan-Laban), led by Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., until his assassination in 1983. This party joined with 11 other opposition parties in 1982 to form a coalition known as the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO). Following Aquino's murder, some 50 opposition groups, including the members of the UNIDO coalition, agreed to coordinate their anti-Marcos efforts. This coalition of opposition parties enabled Corazon Aquino to campaign against Marcos in 1986. In September 1986 the revolutionary left formed a legal political party to contest congressional elections. The Partido ng Bayan (Party of the Nation) allied with other left-leaning groups in an Alliance for New Politics. This unsuccessful attempt for electoral representation resulted in a return to guerrilla warfare on the part of the Communists.

After assuming the presidency, Aquino formally organized the People's Power Movement (Lakas Ng Bayan), the successor to her late husband's party. In the congressional elections of May 1987, Aquino's popularity gave her party a sweep in the polls, making it the major party in the country. Marcos's KBL was reduced to a minor party. Some of its members formed their own splinter groups, such as the Grand Alliance for Democracy (GAD), a coalition of parties seeking distance from Marcos. Others revived the LP and the NP, seeking renewed leadership. The left-wing People's Party (Partido Ng Bayan), which supports the political objectives of the NPA, was a minor party in the elections. In May 1989 Juan Ponce Enrile reestablished the Nacionalista Party. A new opposition party, the Filipino Party (Partido Pilipino), organized in 1991 as a vehicle for Aquino's estranged cousin Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco's presidential campaign. He ran third in the election, taking 18.1% of the vote, behind Miriam Defensor Santiago with 19.8% of the vote. On 30 June 1992 Fidel Ramos succeeded Corazon Aquino as president of the Philippines with a plurality of 23.6%. In September 1992 Ramos signed the Anti-Subversion Law signaling a peaceful resolution to more than 20 years of Communist insurgency, with the repeal of the antisubversion legislation in place since 1957. On 26 August 1994 Ramos announced a new political coalition that would produce the most powerful political group in the Philippines. Ramos' Lakas-National Union of Christian Democrats (Lakas/NUCD) teamed with the Democratic Filipino Struggle (Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Laban). Following the 1995 elections, the LDP controlled the Senate with 14 of the 24 members. The elections in 1998 changed the political landscape once more. In the Senate the newly created Laban Ng Masang Pilipino, led by presidential candidate, Joseph Estrada, captured 12 seats to the Lakas 5, PRP 2, LP 1, independents 3. The LAMP party also dominated the House of Representatives with 135 seats to the Lakas 37, LP 13, Aksyon Demokratiko 1, and 35 independents.

Political parties and their leaders in 2002 included: Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (New Society Movement), led by Imelda Marcos; Laban Ng Demokratikong Pilipino (Struggle of Filipino Democrats) or LDP, led by Eduardo Angara; Lakas, led by Jose De Venecia; Liberal Party or LP, led by Florencio Abad; Nacionalista Party, led by Jose Oliveros; National People's Coalition or NPC, led by Eduardo Cojuangco; PDP-Laban, led by Aquilino Pimentel; and the People's Reform Party or PRP, led by Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

The elections in 2004 again changed the political landscape dramatically. The senate became a majority Lakas with 7 seats, LP with 3 seats, KNP (coalition) with 3 seats, independents with 4 seats, others with 6 seats (there were 23 rather than 24 sitting senators because one senator was elected Vice President) Fourteen senators were pro-government, 9 were in opposition. Lakas also were a majority in the House of Representatives with 93 seats, NPC with 53, LP with 34, LDP with 11, and others with 20.


Under the constitutions of 1935, 1973, and 1987, the country has been divided into provinces, municipalities, and chartered cities, each enjoying a certain degree of local autonomy. Each of the 73 provinces and subprovinces elects a governor, a vice-governor, and two provincial board members for terms of six years. There are 61 chartered cities headed by a mayor and a vice-mayor. Chartered cities stand on their own, are not part of a province, do not elect provincial officials, and are not subject to provincial taxation, but have the power to levy their own taxes. Municipalities, of which each province is composed, are public corporations governed by municipal law. There are approximately 1,500 municipalities, and within each municipality are communities (barangays ), each with a citizens' assembly. There are about 42,000 barangays.

The 1987 constitution provides for special forms of government in the autonomous regions created in the Cordilleras in Luzon and the Muslim areas of Mindanao. Any region can become autonomous by a referendum. The Local Government Code of 1991 provided for a more responsive and accountable local-government structure. Local governments are to be given more powers, authority, responsibilities and resources through a system of decentralization.


Under the 1973 constitution, the Supreme Court, composed of a chief justice and 14 associate justices, was the highest judicial body of the state, with supervisory authority over the lower courts. The entire court system was revamped in 1981, with the creation of new regional courts of trials and of appeals. Justices at all levels were appointed by the president. Philippine courts functioned without juries. Delays in criminal cases were common, and detention periods in national security cases were long. Security cases arising during the period of martial law (197281) were tried in military courts. The 1987 constitution restored the system to what it had been in 1973. Despite the reinstitution of many procedural safeguards and guarantees, the slow pace of justice continues to be a major problem.

The national court system consists of four levels: local and regional trial courts; a national Court of Appeals divided into 17 divisions; the 15-member Supreme Court; and an informal local system for arbitrating or mediating certain disputes outside the formal court system. A Shariah (Islamic law) court system, with jurisdiction over domestic and contractual relations among Muslim citizens, operates in some Mindanao provinces. Supreme Court justices may hold office, on good behavior, until the age of 70.

The constitution calls for an independent judiciary and defendants in criminal cases are afforded the right to counsel. The legal system is based on both civil and common law. It is especially influenced by Spanish and Anglo-American laws. The Philippines accepts the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.

The government allows free press although several journalists have been killed in revenge for reporting on crimes committed by local authorities.

An informal local system for arbitrating or mediating certain problems operates outside the formal court system. There is no jury system. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have the right to confront witnesses, to present evidence and to appeal.

Issues affecting women, such as rape, domestic violence and sexual discrimination continued to be problematic although banned by law. Drug trafficking, forced labor and child prostitution continued to be problems for the law enforcement community.

The Philippines is a member of many international organizations including the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.


The Philippines' armed forces had 106,000 active personnel in 2005, with reserves of 131,000. The Army had 66,000 active personnel that included eight light infantry divisions and five engineer battalions. Equipment included 65 Scorpion light tanks, 85 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 370 armored personnel carriers, and more than 282 artillery pieces. The Navy had an estimated 24,000 personnel (including 7,500 Marines) and an aviation arm. Major naval units included 1 frigate and 58 patrol/coastal vessels. The naval aviation arm was outfitted with six fixed wing transport aircraft and four utility helicopters. The Air Force had an estimated strength of 16,000, with 21 combat capable aircraft that included 11 fighter aircraft. The service also had 25 assault helicopters. Paramilitary forces consisted of a Coast Guard, the 40,500-member Philippine National Police and the 40,000 reservist Citizen Armed Force Geographical Units. The defense budget in 2005 totaled $844 million.

The Philippines sent troops and observers to participate in UN missions in five countries.


The Philippines is a charter member of the United Nations, having joined on 24 October 1945, and belongs to ESCAP and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, ILO, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, the World Bank, IAEA, and the WHO. The Philippines is a member of ASEAN and led in the formation of the Asian Development Bank, which opened its headquarters in Manila in 1966. The nation is also a member of APEC, the Colombo Plan, G-24, G-77, and the WTO. It has observer status in the OAS

The Philippines is part of the Nonaligned Movement. The government has offered support to UN missions and operations in Kosovo (est. 1999), Liberia (est. 2003), East Timor (est. 2002), and Burundi (est. 2004), among others. In environmental cooperation, the Philippines is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, International Tropical Timber Agreements, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.


Efforts to transform the Philippine economy from a primarily agricultural producer of crops for subsistence and export to a more diversified growth economy led by manufactured exports commanding more favorable terms of trade like its Asian tiger neighbors have been repeatedly hindered by natural disasters and external economic shocks. In 199091 the islands suffered the triple blow of earthquake, super-typhoon, and volcanic eruption. In succession, there were the even more devastating typhoon of 1995, the Asian financial crisis of 1997, and the global economic slowdown of 2001. In 2005, 14.8% of GDP was in agriculture, 31.7% in industry, and 53.5% in services. In 2004, 36% of the labor force was engaged in agriculture, compared with 16% in industry and 48% in services.

The manufacturing sector, though expanded and diversified since political independence, depends on imported raw materials and cannot supply internal needs. Electronics and telecommunications exports, which grew by double digits in the 1990s and had accounted for at least 75% of export revenues in 1999, proved vulnerable to the worldwide slowdown in consumer demand in the recession of 2001, and the contraction by half in foreign investment as a result of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The Philippines has great potential as a tourist destination. However, since the early 1990s the tourist industry has, in addition to natural disasters and high fuel costs, been afflicted with political difficulties, particularly with the emergence of the Abu Sayyaf (Bearers of the Sword) Islamic fundamentalist group. Tourism receipts peaked in 1997 at close to $3 billion, but in 2000 were less than $2 billion.

Though the Philippine economy had a real GDP growth rate in 2001 of 3.4%, down from 4.8% in 2000, this positive showing was due primarily to a 4% growth in agriculture, and in spite of a 15% fall in exports, and 61.1% decline in its trade surplus (to $2.6 billion) compared to 2000. For the first three quarters of 2002, the government reported growth in all three sectors, with services leading at 5.1% increase over 2001, industry second, at 3.8% growth, and agriculture at 2.3%. The improvement in services is ascribed to liberalization and deregulation that have encouraged innovations in telecommunications, retail, transportation and financing. The Malampaya natural gas project is central to industrial performance, while agriculture suffered from adverse weather conditions.

Widespread unemployment and underemployment plague the labor market. In 2002, the unemployment rate was 10.3% and the underemployment rate was 15.9%. High rates of labor migration abroad provide some relief and accounts for a substantial portion of the country's foreign exchange earnings.

Throughout the 1990s the shortage of electric power was a notorious constraint on the economy. In Manila, the industrial hub, power outages lasted from four to six hours per day. In 2000, in its Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) the government set as a goal 100% electrification by 2004. Consumer price protection was provided by the Price Act of 1992 through the stabilization of the price of basic necessities and prime commodities and by measures against undue price increases during emergency situations. In 1993 the inflation rate continued to decline and real economic growth accelerated through the beginning of 1997, before the onset of the Asian financial crisis in August. As measured by the consumer price index (CPI), inflation peaked in 1998 at 9.7%, but had declined to 4.4% in 2000. There was an increase to 6.1% in 2001. Between 1993 and 1999, the Philippine government liberalized telecommunications, deregulated transportation, privatized water, and resolved the power crisis.

Real GDP growth averaged 3% from 1988 to 1998, peaking at 5.3% in 1997 and bottoming out in 1998 at 0.4%. From 1999 to 2002 real growth averaged close to 4%. Over the 200105 period, real GDP growth averaged 4.3%, and stood at 4.9% in 2005. GDP growth was forecast at 4.7% for 2006, but lower oil prices and higher global trade growth in 2007 were projected to allow GDP growth to accelerate to 5%. By year-end 2005, confidence in the Philippine economy had returned, as there had been a 70.5% year-on-year increase in FDI inflows into the country in January to August 2005.

The economy is marked by many disparitiesin ownership of assets, in income, in levels of technology in production, and in the geographic concentration of economic activity. The National Capital Region (NCR), centered on Manila, contains 14% of the population and produces one-third of GDP. Per capita income in the NCR, the richest region of the country, is roughly nine times that of the poorest region, the four provinces forming the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao. In 2000, the richest 10% of the population had an income 23 times that of the poorest 10%. Those living in poverty were estimated at 39.4% of the population in 2000, with the rate in rural areas standing at 46.9%. The poverty rate in the NCR was only 12.7%.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 the Philippines's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $451.3 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $5,100. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 4.7%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 7.9%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 14.8% of GDP, industry 31.7%, and services 53.5%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $7.880 billion or about $97 per capita and accounted for approximately 9.9% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $737 million or about $9 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.9% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Philippines totaled $55.18 billion or about $677 per capita based on a GDP of $79.3 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 3.7%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 37% of household consumption was spent on food, 11% on fuel, 1% on health care, and 14% on education. It was estimated that in 2001 about 40% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


The Philippines had a labor force estimated at 36.73 million in 2005. As of 2004, agriculture accounted for 36% of the nation's workforce, with 16% working in industry, and 48% in the services sector. In 2005, the unemployment rate was estimated at 12.2% of the workforce.

In May 1974, the government passed a new labor code that restructured the trade union movement on a one-industry, one-union basis. Most of the more than 3,700 trade unions are small; industrial unions have been united in the Philippines Trade Union Congress, and agricultural workers in the Federation of Free Farmers. Strikes are prohibited in such essential services as transportation, communications, and health care. In 2001, about 11% of the labor force was unionized, although only 2% were covered by collective bargaining agreements. While the right to strike and bargain are recognized by law, numerous instances of intimidation of union officials have been reported.

In 2002, the average legal daily minimum wage was $5.60 for nonagricultural workers. This does not provide a family with a decent living standard. Perhaps as many as one-fifth of businesses in the Philippines does not pay the minimum wage. Agricultural wages are even lower, at a minimum of $2.60 per day. The minimum working age is 15, although children even younger may work under the supervision of a parent or guardian. In practice, many children work in the informal economy, although serious efforts are being made by the government to reduce the number of children who are working.


About one-third of the total land area is classified as arable. Three-fourths of the cultivated area is devoted to subsistence crops and one-fourth to commercial crops, mainly for export. Farms tend to be small, and many areas are double-cropped. Soils are generally fertile, but 30% of the agricultural land is suffering erosion.

In 1973, the Marcos government began a land-reform program that undertook to transfer landowners to about half of the country's 900,000 tenant farmers. By February 1986, over one-half of the areaabout 600,000 hectares (1,482,600 acres)had not been distributed. The Aquino administration proposed a program in two stages: the first, covering 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) in 198789, involved previously undistributed land and other land held by the state; the second, covering 3.9 million hectares (9.6 million acres) in 199092, involved land cultivating sugar, coconuts, and fruits. A more detailed 199095 plan sought to increase productivity of small farms, maintain self-sufficiency in rice and corn production, and to increase the agricultural sector's role in the trade balance.

Roughly half the cultivated land is devoted to the two principal subsistence crops, palay (unhusked rice) and corn. Production of palay was 14,497,000 tons in 2004; long-term production has increased, mainly through the use of high-yielding hybrid seeds under a government development program begun in 1973. The Philippines attained self-sufficiency in rice in 1974 and became a net exporter of rice for the first time in 1977. A similar development plan was aimed at raising yields of corn, which is the chief food crop in areas unsuitable for rice-growing and is increasingly important as feed for use in the developing livestock and poultry industries. The Philippines has been self-sufficient in corn for human consumption since the late 1970s, but since production of animal feed lags behind the demand, imports are still necessary. Corn output in 2004 was 5,413,000 tons. Lesser crops include peanut, mango, cassava, camote, tomato, garlic, onion, cabbage, eggplant, calamansi, rubber, and cotton.

Commercial agriculture, dominated by large plantations, centers on coconuts and copra, sugarcane, tobacco, bananas, and pineapples. Coconuts are the most important export crop, accounting for 26% of world production; in 2004, 14,345,000 tons were produced. Copra production, in which the Philippines leads the world, rose from 1,470,000 tons in 1965 to an estimated 2,250,000 tons in 2004/05. As oil milling capacity rose, the domestic market for copra expanded, accounting for almost all of the output and leaving only marginal amounts for exportation. The government put a ban on copra exports in March 1983, but it was lifted in March 1986. Sugarcane production provided the country's single largest export item until 1978, when output and prices fell. Production was 28 million tons in 2004 (compared with an annual average of 31.5 million tons during 197981). Pineapple production rose to 1,759,000 tons in 2004; production of coffee was 101,000 tons, and 5,638,000 tons of bananas were produced that year. Other important cash crops in 2004 included mangos, 968,000 tons; tobacco, 48,000 tons; and rubber, 96,000 tons.


Animal husbandry never has been important, meat consumption being very low. The carabao, or water buffalo, are the principal draft animals, particularly in the rice paddies; hogs are the chief meat animals (except in Muslim sections). The Philippines is self-sufficient in pork and poultry, but imports of beef and dairy products are still necessary. In 2005 there were 12.1 million hogs, 6.5 million goats, 3.2 million buffaloes, 2.6 million head of cattle, and 136 million chickens. Meat production in 2005 included (in thousands of tons): pork, 1,100; chicken, 647; beef from cattle, 175; and goat, 35. Dairy production totaled 13,000 tons from cows in 2005; and eggs, 545,000 tons. The livestock and poultry sectors each contribute about 13% to the total value of agricultural production. In 2004, exports of livestock, meat, and skins were valued at nearly $7.6 million.


Fish is the primary source of protein in the Filipino diet. Some 2,000 species abound in Philippine waters. Despite more than a doubling in output since the 1960s, the fishing industry remains relatively undeveloped, and large quantities of fish are imported. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) cites the continued environmental degradation of Philippine waters as a major constraint on fish production. In 2003, the total domestic fish catch was 2,169,164 tons (11th in the world), and aquacultural production amounted to 459,615 tons. Exports of fish products in 2003 were valued at $428.2 million.

Six species are most important, according to BFAR, because each has yielded 100,000 tons per year or more since the mid-1980s. These species are: sardines, roundscad, frigate tuna, anchovies, milkfish, and tilapia. Indian mackerel, skipjack and yellowfin tuna, sea bass, red snapper, mullet, kawakawa, squid, and prawn are also plentiful. Principal commercial fishing grounds are off Palawan, north of Panay and Negros, and to the south and west of Mindanao. Subsistence fishing is conducted throughout the archipelago. Fish ponds, chiefly for cultivation of bangos or milkfish, are principally in the swampy coastal areas of western Panay and around Manila Bay. Pearl shells (including cultured pearls), sponges, sea cucumbers (trepang), shark fins, and sea turtles are exported.


Forests are an important economic resource in the Philippines. As of 2000, remaining forests occupy 5,789,000 hectares (14,300,000 acres), equivalent to 19.4% of the total Philippine land area. Major commercial forest reserves are located in Mindanao, Luzon, Samar, Negros, and Palawan. Areas devoted to industrial tree plantations in 2000 were estimated at 753,000 hectares (1,860,000 acres). Some 28,000 hectares (69,000 acres) were reforested in 2000, 21% by the private sector.

A series of devastating typhoons and the ensuing mudslides in central Luzon in December 2004 revealed the seriousness of both legal and illegal deforestation, prompting the government to review existing forestry laws. Applications to operate new sawmills have been suspended since 2003, as most sawmills had been utilizing illegally acquired logs. As a result, the output of logs, lumber, veneer, and plywood has been in decline since then.

Roundwood production in 2004 was estimated at 15.8 million cu m (557.7 million cu ft). Production of lumber in 2004 was estimated at 295,000 cu m (10.4 million cu ft); wood pulp, 175,000 tons; and plywood, 310,000 cu m (10.9 million cu ft). In the early 1980s, the Philippines was a significant exporter of tropical hardwood logs and lumber, but production fell by over 50% over the decade, leaving the country a net importer of tropical hardwood logs by 1990. The trade deficit for forest products was $518.4 million in 2004.

Among other forest products are bamboo, rattan, resins, tannin, and firewood.


The mining and quarrying sector continued to decline in importance, accounting for about 2% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) of $77.1 billion in 2002. Production for much of the last quarter of the 20th century was slowed by political instability, declining foreign investment, low international prices, high operation and production costs, labor problems, an inadequate mining law, and natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, tsunamis, typhoons, floods, and drought. Nevertheless, the Philippines ranked second in the Asia-Pacific region, after Indonesia, in terms of mineral prospectivity and resources. The Philippines reportedly had the world's largest source of refractory chromite, from Masinloc, and substantial resources of copper, gold, nickel, and silver. The production of chemicals and petroleum refining were leading industries in 2002.

Copper output was estimated at 20,414 metric tons (metal content) in 2003, up from 18,364 metric tons in 2002. Mined gold output was estimated at 37,840 kg in 2003, with mined nickel output estimated at 27,000 metric tons in 2003, up from 24,148 metric tons in 2002. The Philippines also produced sizable quantities of metallurgic chromite. Chromite ore production totaled an estimated 2,600 metric tons (gross weight) in 2003, up from 20,000 metric tons in 2002. Silver was also produced for export. The industrial mineral sector was dominated by the production of limestone, marble, and sand and gravel. In 2003, the Philippines also produced bentonite, hydraulic cement, clays (including red and white), feldspar, lime, perlite, phosphate rock, pyrite and pyrrhotite (including cuprous), marine salt, silica sand, stone (including dolomite, volcanic cinder, tuff, quartz), and sulfur. No guano phosphate was produced in 1999 and 2000, or in 2003.

Exploitation of the Philippines' potentially rich mineral resources has been stimulated somewhat by the Mining Act of 1995, which was designed to promote the mining industry to the international community and to provide incentives to ensure efficiency and economic viability for mining endeavors. The law also aimed to help the domestic mining industry regain its competitiveness by allowing companies (contractors) to obtain an exploration permit for a specific area for up to four years. For a viable deposit, the code provided four production agreementsproduction sharing, co-production, joint venture, or financial/technical assistancewith a duration of up to 50 years. A serious accident in 1996 involving spilled mine tailings from a copper mine on Marinduque led the government to freeze almost all applications for exploration licenses by foreign companies for one year. Through 2000, 59 exploration permits had been issued, and more than 400 applications were pending. The mining industry employed 400,000 people300,000 of them engaged in small-scale mining and panning activities, chiefly in artisanal gold workings.


The Philippines has modest reserves of oil, but more robust reserves of natural gas that could make the country a significant producer. The country is also the second-largest producer of geothermal power in the world.

As of 1 January 2004, the Philippines had proven oil reserves of 152 million barrels. In 2003, oil production averaged an estimated 26,000 barrels per day, of which 25,000 barrels per day consisted of crude oil. Domestic demand for petroleum products in 2003 however, far outstripped production, In that year, demand averaged an estimated 338,000 barrels per day, necessitating imports averaging an estimated 312,000 barrels per day. Crude oil refining capacity, as of 1 January 2004, was estimated at 333,000 barrels per day. However, as of October 2004, refineries in the Philippines were reported to be operating at 80% capacity. In 2004, refining in the country was dominated by three companies: Petron; Pilipinas Shell; and Caltex (Philippines), of which Petron is the largest. Petron's Limay, Bataan refinery can process 180,000 barrels per day of crude oil. Pilipinas Shell's refinery has a capacity of 153,000 barrels per day. Caltex (Philippines) closed its 6,000 barrel per day refining facility in late 2003, a year ahead of schedule, to make way for a storage and distribution facility.

The Philippines, as of 1 January 2004, had proven natural gas reserves estimated at 3.6 trillion cu ft. Of that amount, 2.6 trillion cu ft were contained in the Malampaya field, located in the South China Sea, off the island of Palawan. Plans by the Philippine government call for using the field's gas to fuel three power plants with a combined electric generating capacity of 2,700 MW and displacing 26 million barrels of oil. In 2002, domestic demand and output of natural gas were each estimated at 70.6 billion cu ft.

The Philippines had recoverable coal reserves estimated at 366 million short tons, as of 2002. In that same year, coal production was estimated at 1.9 million short tons, with demand placed at 5.7 million short tons. Imports in that same year came to 3.8 million short tons. However, coal's share of the Philippines' energy mix has been declining, due in large part to the development of new natural gas projects.

As of 1 January 2002, the Philippines had an electric generating capacity estimated at 13.4 million kW, of which geothermal energy contributed about 14.2% and conventional thermal-fired plants about 67%. Hydroelectric capacity accounted for around 18.7%. Total electrical output in 2002 was estimated at 45.6 billion kWh, of which 61.9% was from fossil fuels, 15.8% from hydropower, and the rest from geothermal sources. Geothermal energy, is produced on Luzon, Leyte, and Negros. Consumption of electricity in 2002 was estimated at 42.4 billion kWh. Large hydroelectric plants have been installed on the Agno and Angat rivers on Luzon and at María Cristina Falls on the Agusan River in Mindanao.


In 2001 employment in industry decreased by 86,000 since 2000, or by 1.8%, and its share of total employment declined 1.2%. In this same period there was a 7.4% increase in agricultural employment and a 0.6% increase in agriculture's share of the economy. These statistics reflect the setbacks the Philippines has encountered in its long-run strategy of converting to a more diversified economy with growth led by high value-added manufactured exports. These problems were aggravated by the global economic recession that began in 2001 and the aftershocks of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Over half of the value of Philippine exports in 2000 were accounted for by information technology (IT) products, which were particularly affected by the global recession.

Exports of electronics first surpassed food products and textiles in value in the late 1990s, as the government sought to shift from an economy based on agricultural produce and sweatshop factory output to an economy anchored by the assembly of computer chips and other electronic goods, many of them computer peripherals. Over 50 chip assemblers and computer components makers have invested in Philippine operations. Technology companies with major investments in the Philippines include Intel, Philips, Acer, Toshiba, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Cypress Semiconductor, and Amkor Technology. In a 1999 World Bank study, the Philippines was credited with one of the world's most technologically advanced export structures.

A promising development was a major natural gas discovery in the Malampaya field, formally inaugurated in 2001 with the completion of a 312 mile (504 km) sub-sea pipeline and the conversion of three power plants in Batangas to natural gas usage. In the Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) 200009 the government envisioned domestic energy production increasing to over 50% self-sufficiency from about 42% self-sufficiency in 2001. Oil production has not been promising: in 2001 only 2.3% of the oil consumed was produced in the Philippines. The Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power Project has shifted the government focus to an emphasis on the development of natural gas resources.

By value, the leading industries are textiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food processing, petroleum products, electrical machinery, electronics assembly, petroleum refining, and fishing, with significant production in transport equipment, nonmetallic mineral products, fabricated metal products, beverages, rubber products, paper and paper products, leather products, publishing and printing, furniture and fixtures, and tobacco. The industrial production growth rate in 2005 was 0.5%.

The industrialization strategy proposed by the government in 1981 stressed development of exports and the accelerated implementation of 11 major industrial projectsa copper smelter, a phosphate fertilizer plant, an aluminum smelter, a diesel-engine manufacturing plant, an expansion of the cement industry, a "cocochemical" complex (based on coconuts), an integrated pulp and paper mill, a petrochemical complex, heavy engineering industries, an integrated steel mill, and the production of "alcogas." The copper smelter, the phosphate fertilizer plant, and the "cocochemical" complex went into operation in 1985. Historically, manufacturing production has been geographically concentrated in the Metro Manila area and the adjoining regions of Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon. With the progress in electrification, this geographic concentration has begun to decrease. Most industrial output is concentrated in a relatively few large firms. Although small and medium-sized businesses account for about 80% of manufacturing employment, they account for only about 25% of the value-added in manufacturing. In 2005, industry accounted for 31.7% of GDP.


Leadership in formulating and implementing national science policy is exercised by the Department of Science and Technology. Special training in science is offered by the Philippine Science High School, whose graduates are eligible for further training through the department's scholarship program. The International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, founded by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations and US AID in 1960, conducts training programs in the cultivation, fertilization, and irrigation of hybrid rice seeds. The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture maintains genotype and information banks for agricultural research.

The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, founded in 1958, is located in Quezon City. The French Institute of Scientific Research for Development and Cooperation has an institute in Manila conducting research in molecular biology. In 1996, the Philippines had 68 universities and colleges offering courses on basic and applied sciences. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 14% of college and university enrollments. In the same period, research and development expenditures amounted to 0.22% of GNP. For the period 19902001 there were 156 scientists and engineers and 22 technicians engaged in research and development per million people. In 2002, high-tech exports were valued at $11.488 billion and accounted for 65% of manufactured exports.


The archipelagic structure of Philippine marketing requires the establishment of regional centers and adds considerably to distribution costs, foreign domination of much of marketing, direct government participation, and the proliferation of small firms. About 90% of all imported goods come through the Port of Manila. Makati City is the business center of the country and hosts a number of distribution centers, trading firms, commercial banks, and high-end retail establishments. Cebu City is the trading center of the south.

Small stores typify retail trade. Manila has major shopping centers and malls. Generally, sales are for cash or on open account. Retailing is conducted on a high markup, low-turnover basis. A law provides for price-tagging on retail items. Direct marketing, particularly of foreign name-brand products, has gained in popularity. English is the general language of commercial correspondence. Most advertising is local; the chief media are newspapers, radio, television, posters, billboards, and sound trucks.

Shops are usually open from 10 am to 8 pm, Monday through Saturday, but these hours can vary. Most department stores and supermarkets are open on Sunday. Banking hours are weekdays from 9 am to 3 pm. Office hours, and hours for the Philippine government are generally from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, with a one-hour lunch break from 12 to 1 pm. Some offices are open from 8 am to 12 pm on Saturday. Staggered hours, with up to three shifts, are common in the metropolitan Manila area.


The Philippines' traditional exports were primary commodities and raw materials. However, by 2000, machinery and transport equipment made up the majority of exports. In 2000, exports of electric machinery (mostly microcircuits, diodes, and transistors) accounted for 51% of total exports, and garments contributed 6.8% to the total value of exports. In 2000, the Philippines exported a majority of electronics, including microcircuits, transistors and valves (44%); automatic data processing equipment (12.2%); and telecommunications equipment (2.7%). Other exports included garments (6.8%), vegetable oil (1.2%), and fruits and nuts (1.1%). In 2000, machinery and electronics accounted for over three-fourths of all exports.

In 2004, the major exports were: electronic products (67.3% of all exports); semiconductors (47.1%); garments (5.5%); coconut oil (1.5%); and petroleum products (1%). Primary imports were: capital goods (38.1% of all imports); semi-processed raw materials (34%); parts for the manufacture of electronic equipment (15.4%); mineral fuels (11.7%); and chemicals (7.9%).

Japan and the United States continue to be the Philippines' primary trading partners. In percentage terms, for 2004, the Philippines' leading markets were: Japan (20.1% of all exports); the United States (17.9%); the Netherlands (9.1%); Hong Kong (7.9%); and China (6.7%). Leading suppliers included: Japan (19.8% of all imports); the United States (13.7%); China (7.7%); Singapore (7.4%); and Taiwan (7%).


Since World War II, the Philippines experienced frequent trade deficits, aggravated by inflationary pressures. Deficits were counterbalanced by US government expenditures, transfer of payments from abroad, official loans (US Export-Import Bank, IBRD, and private US banks), net inflow of private investment, tourist receipts, remittances from Filipino workers overseas, and contributions from the IMF.

In 1996, trade liberalization policies helped to push imports up by 22% while exports rose by only 18%. The result was a widening trade deficit that amounted to 13% of GDP. Foreign investment in the stock market and remittances from overseas workers helped to offset the deficit and avert a balance-of-payments crisis. In 1998, the Philippines recorded a trade surplus at about 2% of GNP in the current account due to high electronics exports and low imports due to the devaluation of the peso. This was the first surplus in 12 years.

Merchandise exports, in double digits through most of the 1990s, slowed to a single-digit growth pace in 2000, reflecting fewer export receipts from electronics and telecommunications parts and equipment. This decline was attributed by the electronics industry to weaker prices for maturing products and technologies, and to the decline in electronic industry investments from the 199497 boom years (when investment averaged $1.5 billion a year).

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 36,231.2 39,543.5 -3,312.3
United States 7,273.4 7,674.5 -401.1
Japan 5,768.9 8,070.6 -2,301.7
China, Hong Kong SAR 3,093.9 1,690.9 1,403.0
Netherlands 2,921.7 323.8 2,597.9
Other Asia nes 2,492.2 1,966.8 525.4
Malaysia 2,462.6 1,434.6 1,028.0
Singapore 2,431.1 2,694.7 -263.6
China 2,144.6 1,932.6 212.0
Korea, Republic of 1,313.5 2,516.4 -1,202.9
Thailand 1,234.0 1,453.4 -219.4
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account 3,347.0
     Balance on goods -1,253.0
         Imports -36,095.0
         Exports 34,842.0
     Balance on services -1,227.0
     Balance on income 5,215.0
     Current transfers 612.0
Capital Account 21.0
Financial Account -5,533.0
     Direct investment abroad -158.0
     Direct investment in Philippines 319.0
     Portfolio investment assets -1,586.0
     Portfolio investment liabilities 880.0
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets -13,307.0
     Other investment liabilities 8,319.0
Net Errors and Omissions 2,081.0
Reserves and Related Items 84.0
() data not available or not significant.

Between 1996, exports surged from $20.5 billion to $38.1 billion. Imports reached $38.6 billion in 1997, but by 2000 had dropped to $33.8 billion. The 1999 and 2000 trade surpluses were the first since 1973; during the intervening period, expensive mineral fuel imports had thrown the balance into a deficit. In 2004, exports totaled $38.8 billion and imports totaled $44.7 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $5.9 billion. The current account recorded a surplus of $2.2 billion in 2004, or 2.6% of GDP.

Traditionally, exports of primary products failed to balance imports, leading the government to restrict imports. Structural change accelerated in the 1970s, as the contribution of industry (including construction) to GDP rose from 29.5% in 1970 to 36.5% by 1980, primarily as a result of export-oriented industrialization promoted by the Marcos government. The Aquino assassination in August 1983 had immediate economic consequences for the Marcos government, as did the broader Third World Debt Crisis. Hundreds of millions of dollars in private capital fled the Philippines, leaving the country with insufficient foreign exchange reserves to meet its payments obligations. The government turned to the IMF and its creditor banks for assistance in rescheduling the nation's foreign debt, and an austerity program was set up during 198485. In December 1986, under IMF guidance, the Aquino government launched a privatization program with the establishment of the Assets Privatization Trust (APT). Monopolies established under the Marcos administration in coconuts, sugar, meat, grains, and fertilizer were dismantled and a ban on copra exports was lifted. All export taxes were abolished; and the government allowed free access to lower-cost or higher-quality imports as a means of improving the cost-competitiveness of domestic producers.

Many difficulties remained, however. The prices of commodity exports, such as sugar, copper, and coconut products, were still weak, while demand for nontraditional manufactured products, such as clothing and electronic components, failed to rise. The structural reforms produced an initial recovery between 1986 and 1989, but this was arrested by the series of natural disasters in 199091. In 1986, Aquino had also embarked on a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme, but its goals remain unfulfilled.

In the 1990s, the government concluded three additional financial arrangements with the IMFa stand-by agreement signed 20 February 1991 for about $240 million; an arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) signed 24 June 1994 for about $554 million, and a stand-by agreement signed 1 April 1998 for about $715 million. At the end of 2002, the Philippines owed over 140% of its quota to the Fund. Scheduled debt repayments to the IMF for 2003 were about $330 million, and outstanding loans and purchases are not due to be retired until at least 2007. The country also had five debt reschedulings in the period 1984 to 1991 with the Paris Clubfor official debt owed to aid donor countrieson which some payments are still owing.


The Philippine banking structure consists of the government-owned Central Bank of the Philippines (created in 1949), which acts as the government's fiscal agent and administers the monetary and banking system; and some 45 commercial banks, of which 17 are foreign-majority-owned. Other institutions include more than 111 thrift banks, 787 rural banks, 38 private development banks, 7 savings banks, and 10 investment houses, and two specialized government banks. The largest commercial bank, the Philippine National Bank (PNB), is a government institution with over 194 local offices and 12 overseas branches. It supplies about half the commercial credit, basically as agricultural loans. The government operates about 1,145 postal savings banks and the Development Bank of the Philippines, the Land Bank of the Philippines, and the Philippine Amanah Bank (for Mindanao). There are also 13 offshore banking units in the country, and 26 foreign bank representative offices. Total assets reached approximately $65 billion in March 2001, 39% of which belonged to the five largest banks. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $7.7 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $41.9 billion. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 8.298%.

Philippine stock exchanges are self-governing, although the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), established in 1936, has supervisory power over registrants. The country's two stock exchanges, Manila and Makati (both in the capital), were formally merged into the Philippines Stock Exchange (PSE) in March 1993. A computer link-up was effected a year later, although the two retained separate trading floors until November 1995. Only 220 companies were listed as of 1998. But the process of privatization is expected to push up listings, while domestic participation in the equity market is being specifically promoted by new regulations requiring that all initial public offerings reserve a 10% tranche for small investors. Before the Asian crisis, market capitalization of publicly listed companies had grown to $89 billion, or six times the amount of 1992. But in 1998, only 10 of the largest companies accounted for more than half of trading volume. In 2000, a financial scandal in which the SEC failed to regulate the market properly drove the stock market down by a quarter and destroyed investor confidence. In 2000, market capitalization was a mere 38% of the previous year, and only 12% of the peak level in 1996. As of 2004, a total of 233 companies were listed on the PSE, which had a market capitalization of $28.948 billion. In 2004, the PSE Composite Index rose 26.4% from the previous year to 1,822.8.


The Government Service Insurance System (GIS), a government organization set up in 1936, provides life, permanent disability, accident, old age pension, burial insurance and salary and real estate loan benefits. Compulsory third-party motor liability insurance went into effect on 1 January 1976. In addition, workers' compensation and personal accident insurance for workers abroad are compulsory. The Insurance Commission of the Department of Finance oversees the insurance industry.

Life and nonlife insurance companies provide coverage against theft, fire, marine loss, accident, embezzlement, third-party liability, and other risks. In 2003, a total of $1.192 billion in direct insurance premiums were written, of which life insurance premiums accounted for $702 million. In 2003, Malayan Insurance was the Philippines' top nonlife insurer, with gross written nonlife premiums of $60.5 million. In 2000 (the latest year for which data was available), the leading life insurer was Philam Life and General, with gross written life insurance premiums of $161.3 million.


The principal sources of revenue are income taxes, taxes on sales and business operations, and excise duties. Infrastructural improvements, defense expenditures, and debt service continue to lead among the categories of outlays. The government's commitment to fiscal balance resulted in a budget surplus for the first time in two decades in 1994. The surplus was achieved by higher taxes, privatization receipts, and expenditure cuts. The Philippines was not affected as severely by the Asian financial crisis of 1998 as many of its overseas neighbors, as a result of over $7 billion in remittances annually by workers overseas.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 the Philippines' central government took in revenues of approximately $12.3 billion and had expenditures of $15.7 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$3.3 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 77.4% of GDP. Total external debt was $67.62 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2003, the most recent year for which it had data, budgetary central government revenues were p628.71 billion and expenditures were p833.68 billion. The value of revenues was us$12 million and expenditures us$15 million, based on a market exchange rate for 2003 of us$1 = p54.203 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 54.2%; defense, 4.9%; public order and safety, 6.4%; economic affairs, 12.4%; housing and community amenities, 0.2%; health, 1.6%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.7%; education, 15.5%; and social protection, 4.1%.


The individual income tax consists of taxes on compensation income (from employment), business income, and passive income (interests, dividends, royalties, and prizes). As of 2005, personal income was taxed on a progressive scale with a top rate of 32%.

In 2000, the business income tax rate was lowered from 33% to 32%, where it stood as of 2005. For resident foreign corporations, after-tax profits remitted abroad to the head office are subject to a 15% tax. Corporations registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), the Board of Investment (BOI), the Bases Conversion Development Authority, or operating in independent special economic zones (ecozones), are eligible for special tax and customs incentives, exemptions and reductions designed to attract foreign, new, necessary and/or export-oriented foreign investment. The capital gains tax is 6% on real property; 5% on gains of p100,000 or less from the sale of stock not listed on the stock exchange, and 10% on gains over p100,000. Dividends are not subject to taxation if paid from one domestic corporation to another domestic corporation, or to resident foreign corporations. However, dividends paid to nonresident companies are generally subject to a 32% withholding tax, which can be reduced to 15%, under certain circumstances. Some cities, such as Manila, levy their own wholesale and retail sales taxes.

Taxes on transactions include a value-added tax (VAT) of 10%. For smaller businesses not registered with the VAT a percentage sales tax of 3% on quarterly sales is applied. Higher rates for activities

Revenue and Grants 628.71 100.0%
     Tax revenue 537.36 85.5%
     Social contributions
     Grants 1.2 0.2%
     Other revenue 90.15 14.3%
Expenditures 833.68 100.0%
     General public services 451.76 54.2%
     Defense 40.65 4.9%
     Public order and safety 53.5 6.4%
     Economic affairs 103.4 12.4%
     Environmental protection
     Housing and community amenities 1.75 0.2%
     Health 12.98 1.6%
     Recreational, culture, and religion 6.14 0.7%
     Education 129.6 15.5%
     Social protection 33.93 4.1%
() data not available or not significant.

involving issues of public morality: cockpits are taxed 18%, cabarets, 18% and jai-alai and racetracks, 30%.

Excise taxes are imposed on selected commodities such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, jewelry and petroleum products. In addition, the government levies a variety of other taxes, including mining and petroleum taxes, residence taxes, a head tax on immigrants above a certain age and staying beyond a certain period, document stamp taxes, donor (gift) taxes, estate taxes, and capital gains taxes. A document stamp tax is charged on stock certificates, proofs of indebtedness, proofs of ownership, etc.


The Philippines, under its commitments to ASEAN, must accelerate its tariff reductions as part of in its AFTA Common Preferential Tariff (CEPT) Inclusion List. The Philippines, as a member of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, is also committed to the establishment of free trade in the region and is expected to eliminate intra-regional barriers by 2020. The government developed a separate plan in 1996 to lower tariffs to no more than 3% on raw materials and 10% on finished products by January 2003, and a uniform 5% tariff rate by January 2004. There is also a value-added tax (VAT) of 10% on almost all imports and excise taxes are levied on alcohol and tobacco products, automobiles, and other luxury items.


Investments have been concentrated in manufactures for exports, utilities, mining, petroleum refining, and export-oriented agriculture, with accelerating interest in labor-intensive textiles, footwear, electronics, and other nontraditional export industries. Investment is affected by import controls, exchange controls, and equity controls that favor Filipino participation in foreign ventures. Attempts to liberalize the economy of the Philippines are fighting three centuries of entrenched interests. Filipino political science research points out the influence and effects of Spanish colonialism that delivered the control of politics and economics into the hands of a small number of families. In the name of nationalism these families legislated against foreign competition in the 1950s. Serious restructuring began in the wake of the Third World debt crisis and the turn to the IMF for assistance. The Omnibus Investments Code of 1987 generally limited foreign equity ownership to 40%, but allowed 100% foreign ownership in a "pioneer" priority industry identified in the annual Investment Priorities Plan (IPP). Special encouragement was given to pioneer manufacturing endeavors, export-oriented and labor-intensive industries, projects outside metropolitan Manila, and to joint ventures with a minimum of 60% Filipino capitalization. The structural reforms produced an initial recovery between 1986 and 1989, but this was arrested by the series of natural disasters in 199091.

The Foreign Investment Act of 1991 (FIA) further liberalized the investment climate of the Philippines. The FIA permits 100% foreign ownership, without prior BOI approval, of companies engaged in any activity not included in the foreign investment negative list. The foreign investment negative list is comprised of three categories where foreign investment is fully or partially restricted by the constitution or by specific laws. In all three categories foreign ownership is restricted to between zero and 40%. Restriction on setting up export processing zones has also been considerably relaxed. The development of special economic zones began with the transformation of the former US military bases into enterprise zones, the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) and the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) according to the Bases Conversion Act of 1992.

The Export Development Act of 1994 signaled the government's conversion from an import substitution model of industrial development to an export-led growth model, more in line with its Asian tiger neighbors. The banking and insurance sectors were also significantly liberalized by legislation in 1994. Since 1948 the four existing foreign banks had not been allowed to open branches. Under a 1994 law, each was allowed to open up to six new branches, plus up to 10 new foreign full-service banks could be licensed with up to six branches each. Insurance was opened to 100% foreign ownership but such that the higher the percent foreign ownership, the higher minimum capital requirements. Rural banking, however, continues to remain closed to foreign investment. The next year, in 1995, the Special Economic Zone Act, and separate laws for independent ecozones in Zoambanga and Cayagyu, established the framework for the collection of four government-managed ecozones and over 40 private ecozones, all with liberalized incentives to attract foreign investment. Amendments to the FIA in 1996 enhanced the investor-friendly framework, albeit leaving the country vulnerable to the rapid divestments of the Asian financial crisis the next year. With recovery, the government embarked on further reforms aimed at attracting foreign investors.

In May 2000, the General Banking Law (GBL), in addition to strengthening the supervisory role of the Bangko Sentral ng Philippines (BSP), allowed 100% ownership of distressed banks. Also in 2000, the Estrada administration opened the retail trade and grain milling businesses to foreign investment.

There remain, however, major restrictions on foreign investments in the Philippines besides the natural hindrances that this most disaster-prone of countries is liable to, not the least of which is the complexity and detail of the investment regime. Under the FIA, the government is obliged to promulgate a Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) consisting of a List A of foreign ownership limited by the constitution and specific laws, and a List B of foreign ownership limited for reasons of security, defense, risk to health and morals and protection of small and medium-scale enterprises.

In 2002 President Arroyo issued the Fifth FINL. On List A, by its terms, no foreign equity was to be allowed in the mass media except recording, nor in any of the licensed professions including law, medicine, accounting, engineering, environmental planning, interior design, teaching, and architecture. Small scale retail and mining, private security, utilization of marine resources, the operation of cockpits, and the manufacture of fireworks, are off-limits to foreigners, as are, on another level, the manufacture and stockpiling of nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weapons. Only a maximum of 20% ownership is allowed a private radio communications network; only up to 25% in employee recruitment industries, public works construction projects (though with important exceptions for infrastructure/development projects, and those built with foreign aid); only up to 30% in ad agencies; only up to 40% in natural resource extraction projects (though the president can authorize up to 100%), ownership of private lands, ownership of condominiums, educational institutions, public utilities, commercial deep sea fishing, government procurement contracts, adjustment companies, and rice and corn processing (with at least 60% divestment to Filipino citizens required after 30 years of operation); and only up to 60% in financial and investment houses. On the B list for 2002, foreign ownership was restricted to 40% in manufacture of firearms, ammunition, explosives, military ordnance, dangerous drugs, saunas, steambaths, massage parlors, all forms of gambling, local businesses not engaged in exporting with paid-in capital of less than $200,000 and local businesses that involved advanced technology or employed at least 50 persons with paid-in capital of less than $100,000.

In 2001, President Arroyo, a trained economist, launched a high profile campaign to attract foreign investment. Former president Fidel Ramos and four other senior government officials were appointed as envoys to promote trade and investment. Against strong nationalist opposition, her administration passed the Electric Power Industry Reform Act that required the National Power Corporation (NPC) to privatize at least 70% of its generating assets by 2004. NPCs transmission assets were fully privatized and opened up to the maximum 40% foreign ownership allowed for public utilities. 2001, in fact, turned out to be a banner year for foreign investment in the Philippines, which increased 171% to $3.4 billion (about $2 billion FDI and $1.4 billion portfolio investment), all the more remarkable because of the decline by 50% worldwide in foreign investments that year, and because of the Philippines' emergence as a front in the war on terrorism, thanks to the Abu Sayyaf organization and its close links to al-Qaeda. The Philippines' newly deregulated and privatized energy sector was the main draw, the center piece being the Malampaya natural gas project, which was officially inaugurated on 16 October 2001 following the completion of its 312-mile (504-km) undersea pipeline and the conversion of three power plants in Batangas to natural gas usage.

The Philippine government, despite its attempts to attract more foreign investment, has failed to invest in the infrastructure that is crucial to foreign and domestic investorsroads, communications, healthcare, and education. The government has been unable to address the issues of congestion and pollution in Manila. Nevertheless, in 2002 FDI increased to $1.7 billion, but dropped to $318 million in 2003. Nine-month FDI from January to September 2004 amounted to $330 million, which was an increase of 30.4% over the same period in 2003, but remained low when compared with previous years.


Beginning in 1972, the main tenets of the Marcos government's economic policies, as articulated through the National Economic Development Authority, included substantial development of infrastructure, particularly through the use of labor-intensive rather than capital-intensive (i.e., mechanized) methods, and a shift in export emphasis from raw materials to finished and semifinished commodities. The policies of the Aquino administration have stressed labor-intensive, small and medium-scale agricultural projects and extensive land reform. In addition, wealth believed to have been amassed by President Marcos was actively being pursued all over the world. Long-range planning has followed a series of economic plans, most of them covering five-year periods. The development program for 196770 aimed to increase the growth rate of per capita income from the 0.9% level in 196165 to 2.4%; to increase national income by 5.7% per year during the plan period, and to reduce the unemployment rate from 13% (1965) to 7.2% (1970). The government invested $3.5 billion in integrating the traditional and modern sectors of the economy. Marcos's first long-range plan following the 1972 declaration of martial law was a four-year (197477) infrastructure development program calling for 35% to be expended on transportation, 33% on energy and power, 20% on water resources, 10% on education, health, and welfare, and 2% on telecommunications. A 197478 plan, announced in late 1975, envisioned energy as the major focus of the new plan, with 34% of expenditures, followed by transportation, 30%; water resources, 23%; social programs, 7%; and other sectors, 6%. The goals of the 197882 plan included an 8% annual growth in GNP, rural development, tax incentives for export-oriented industries, continued self-sufficiency in grain crops despite rapid population growth, and accelerated development of highways, irrigation, and other infrastructure. The 198387 plan called for an annual expansion of 6.2% in GNP, improvement of the rural economy and living standards, and amelioration of hunger.

Under the Aquino administration the goals of the 198792 plan were self-sufficiency in food production, decentralization of power and decision making, job creation, and rural development. Economic performance for real growth fell far short of plan targets by 25% or more. Structural changes to provide a better investment climate were carried out. The Foreign Investment Act of 1991 liberalized the environment for foreign investment. An executive order issued in July 1991 reduced the number of tariff levels over five years and reduced the maximum duty rate from 50% to 30%. Quantitative restrictions were removed from all but a few products. The foreign exchange market was fully deregulated in 1992.

A new six-year medium-term development plan for 199398 was presented by the government in May 1993. The plan stressed people empowerment and international competitiveness within the framework of sustainable development. To do this, the government planned to disperse industries to regions outside the metropolitan Manila area. The plan also called for technological upgrading of production sectors, poverty alleviation, and human/social development. Over the six year period, agriculture's share of GDP was expected to decline from 23% to 19% of GDP while industry's share was to increase from 34% to 39%. The Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 1999 through 2004 focused on rural development, especially on the modernization of the agricultural sector. The MTPDP targeted agricultural growth from 2.6% to 3.4% during the plan's time-frame, as well as growth in the industrial and service sectors. The Philippines finished three years of IMF supervision in March 1998, only to be hit by the Asian financial crisis. Financial assistance continued in 1998 and 1999 through the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and Japan's Overseas Economic Cooperation Development Fund.

By 2006, the primary economic policy challenge confronting the government was to bring the public finances back into balance, allowing increased expenditure on areas such as infrastructure, education, and healthcare. The fiscal deficit had been pushed up due to poor tax administration, which saw revenue fall relative to GDP. The ballooning public debt is a problem, at 77.4% of GDP in 2005. Interest payments account for a third of all public spending. Nevertheless, the stock market in mid-2005 was at a five-year peak, and the peso was at its highest against the dollar since mid-2003. Applications for investment incentives had more than doubled in 2004 and were also high in 2005.

In the mid-2000s, the economies of Southeast Asia revolved around trade. In 2004, the region experienced a 6.3% GDP growth rate, largely due to a double-digit increase in exports. But looking solely to exports as a means to promote growth is risky: what is needed is a revival of domestic consumption, which would help insulate the region from the vagaries of the world economy. The only country where exports did not make a significant contribution to growth by 2005 was the Philippines, where almost all growth was attributable to domestic demand. Instead of being a mark of strength, however, this was a mark of economic weakness. Due to the billions of dollars of remittances that Filipinos working overseas send to their families back home, consumer spending in the Philippines is robust. However, the economy does not grow fast enough to provide jobs for those Filipinos who must find work overseas.


The Social insurance system covers employees up to age 60, including domestic workers and the self-employed. Membership for employers is compulsory. Benefits include compensation for confinement due to injury or illness, pensions for temporary incapacity, indemnities to families in case of death, old age pensions, and benefits to widows and orphans. Charges to cover the system are paid jointly by employers and employees and according to 29 wage classes. The government funds any deficit. Retirement is at age 60 for most workers. A medical care plan for employees provides hospital, surgical, medicinal, and medical-expense benefits to members and their dependents, as well as paid maternity leave.

A handful of women enjoy high prestige and visibility, but most women occupy traditional social roles and occupations. Unemployment rates are higher for women, and women continue to earn less than men. Sexual harassment in the workplace is widespread, and goes largely unreported because women are afraid of losing their jobs. Spousal abuse and violence remain serious concerns. The absence of divorce laws and lack of economic opportunity keep women in destructive relationships. The government has enacted various measures to safeguard the rights of children. Child prostitution, while illegal, is widespread and has contributed to the growing sex-tourism industry. Some human rights violations remain, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and disappearances.


In 2004, there were an estimated 116 physicians, 56 dentists, 442 nurses, and 179 midwives per 100,000 people. There were 1,663 hospitals, 562 of which were operated by the government and 1,101 in the private sector. Government-financed child health malnutrition and early education programs are already well established in the Philippines. These programs suffer from chronic underfunding in terms of inadequate equipment, numbers of field-level staff, and other operating expenses. Government hospitals had 46,388 beds and private hospitals had 35,309. In addition, there were 2,299 rural health units. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 3.6% of GDP.

Pulmonary infections (tuberculosis, pneumonia, bronchitis) are prevalent. Malnutrition remains a health problem despite government assistance in the form of Nutripaks (consisting of indigenous foods such as mung beans and powdered shrimp) that are made available for infants, children, and pregnant women. It was estimated that 32% of children under five years old were considered malnourished. Protein malnutrition, anemia, and vitamin A and iodine deficiencies are commonly found in children. The goiter rate was 6.9 per 100. Heart disease is the third most common cause of death in the Philippines.

During the 1980s, a nationwide primary health care program was implemented. As a result, community involvement in health services increased, the prevalence of communicable diseases decreased, and the nutritional state of the population improved. Obesity and hypertension are more common in the cities. Approximately 87% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 83% had adequate sanitation. Children up to one year of age were immunized against tuberculosis, 91%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 85%; polio, 86%; and measles, 96%. The rate for both DPT and measles was 79%.

The infant mortality rate declined from 78.4 per 1,000 live births in 1972 to 23.51 in 2005. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 26.9 and 6 per 1,000 people. Maternal mortality was 170 per 100,000 live births. In 2000, 47% of married women (ages 15 to 49) were using contraception. Average life expectancy was 69.91 years in 2005.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 9,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 500 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


Construction is largely undertaken by the private sector, with the support of government agencies. The Ministry of Human Settlements (MHS), created in 1978, sets housing programs in motion. Its first major program was the Bagong Lipunon Improvement of Sites and Services (BLISS), which undertook 445 projects involving 6,712 units housing 40,272 people. As with many programs begun during the Marcos administration, the projects became ridden with scandal.

More creditable was the Pag-IBIG fund, which was set up to promote savings for housing and provide easy-term housing loans, with contributions from individuals, banks, industries, and the government. By the end of 1985, p98 million in loans had been provided to 171,585 members. The Aquino administration offered tax exemptions to domestic corporations and partnerships with at least 300 employees that invest funds in housing. Over 5 million housing units were built in the period 198190.

At the 2000 census, there were 15,278,808 households in the Philippines with an average household size of 5 members. Most housing units are single-family detached homes. About 71% of all housing was owner occupied. Only about 27% of all households have their own community service-connected faucet for drinking water. A majority of households get their water from wells, river, lakes, and other bodies of water. Only 41% of all households had a privately used septic system.

Tens of thousands of barrios are scattered throughout the Philippines, each consisting of a double row of small cottages strung out along a single road. Each cottage is generally built on stilts and has a thatched roof, veranda, and small yard.


Education is free for primary school and compulsory for six years and is coeducational. English is the main medium of instruction, although Pilipino or the local vernacular is used for instruction in the lower primary grades. Primary school lasts for four years, followed by two years of intermediate school. Students may then move on to four years of secondary school. The academic year runs from June to March.

In 2001, about 33% of all five-year-olds were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 94% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 59% of age-eligible students; 54% for boys and 65% for girls. It is estimated that about 95.2% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 35:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 37:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 7% of primary school enrollment and 20.5% of secondary enrollment.

The University of the Philippines, in Quezon City, with branches in major islands, is the leading institution of higher learning. In addition, there are some 50 other universities, including the University of Santo Tomás, founded in 1611 and run by the Dominican friars. In 2003, about 30% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 92.6%.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3.1% of GDP, or 17.8% of total government expenditures.


The National Library in Manila has an estimated 1.2 million volumes. The Filipiniana and Asia Division contains over 100,000 Filipiniana books. Large libraries are in the universities, notably the University of the Philippines (948,000 volumes), the University of Santo Tomás (822,000), the University of the East (177,900), and the University of San Carlos. The International Rice Research Institute in Manila holds 160,000 volumes. There are over 940 public libraries across the country, with about 580 as city or municipal libraries.

The National Museum in Manila collects and exhibits materials and conducts research in anthropology, ethnography, archaeology, botany, geology, history, and maps. The University of Santo Tomás Museum contains an art gallery and archaeology and anthropology collections. Three relatively new museums in Manila exhibit primarily art: Lopez Memorial Museum (1960) exhibits Filipino painters; Metropolitan Museum (1976) exhibits a variety of art forms; and the Philippines Presidential Museum (1986) exhibits fine and decorative arts. The Ateneo Art Museum in Quezon City features post-World War II Philippine paintings, and there is a Mabini Shrine in Tonauan, featuring relics of Apolinaria Mabina, a leader of Philippine independence.


There are four nationwide telephone networks, including the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, run mainly by the private sector, with services concentrated in urban areas. Overseas communications operate via satellites and undersea cables. In 2003, there were an estimated 41 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 270 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Radio and television are operated by both government agencies and private concerns. Radio transmitting stations numbered over 700 in 2005, and there were 75 television stations in 2000. In 2003, there were an estimated 161 radios and 182 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 37 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribes. Also in 2003, there were 27.7 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 44 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 161 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

In 2002 there were about 50 major daily newspapers, as compared with six during the Marcos era. The leading dailies published in metropolitan Manila (with language of publication and estimated 2002 circulation) are: People Tonight (English/Filipino, 500,000), Abante (English/Filipino, 350,000), Ang Filipino Ngayon (Filipino, 286,450), Philippine Star (English, 275,000), Manila Bulletin (English, 265,000), Philippine Daily Inquirer (English, 250,000), Tempo (English/Filipino, 230,000), People's Journal (English/Filipino, 219,000), Manila Times (English, 194,000), Malaya (English, 175,000), and Balita (Filipino, 151,000).

Under martial law, censorship of the press, radio, and television was imposed by the Marcos government. Many reporters, editors, and publishers were arrested during this period. Censorship was revoked under the Aquino administration. However, there are reports of threats, assaults, and killings of journalists who report on illegal activities such as gambling, logging, prostitution, and the drug trade among powerful individuals or groups, especially outside Manila.


The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry has branches in metropolitan Manila and other important cities, and there are associations of producers and industrial firms in many areas. The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines based in Quezon City represents over 1.4 million people. There are many associations of persons active in such fields as agriculture, architecture, art, biology, chemistry, economics, library service, literature, engineering, medicine, nutrition, veterinary service, and the press. The multinational ASEAN Confederation of Employers is located in Makati City, with that office coordinated in part by the Employers' Confederation of the Philippines.

The Philippine Academy is the oldest and best-known scholarly organization. The National Research Council of the Philippines promotes research and education in physical and social sciences and the humanities. A number of professional associations also promote public research and education in specific fields, particularly those involved in medical research and healthcare, such as the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine National AIDS Council, and the Philippine Diabetes Association.

National youth organizations include the National Youth Parliament, League of Filipino Students, National Indigenous Youth, Junior Chamber, National Union of Students of the Philippines, Student Christian Federation of the Philippines, Young Christian Workers of The Philippines, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, and YMCA/YWCA. Sports associations are popular throughout the country. The International Bowling Federation is based in Pasig City.

There are several national organizations focusing on women's rights, including the Philippine Association of University Women and the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women. Kiwanis and Lion's Clubs have programs in the country. The Asian Volunteers' Network for Human Rights in the Philippines is based in Quezon City. International organizations with national chapters include CARE Philippines, Defence for Children International, UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity, Amnesty International, and the Red Cross.


The increase in tourism that followed the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos was dampened by the national disasters of the early 1990s. The tourism industry has since rebounded. Manila remains the chief tourist attraction. Other points of interest are the 2,000-year-old rice terraces north of Baguio; Vigan, the old Spanish capital; Cebu, the oldest city; numerous beaches and mountain wilderness areas; and homes formerly owned by the Marcoses. Basketball is the national sport, followed in popularity by baseball and football (soccer). Jai-alai is popular in Manila and Cebu. Cockfighting is legal and often televised. Each tourist must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket; no visa is required for stays of up to 21 days.

In 2003, about 1.9 million tourists arrived in the Philippines. Over 58% of the tourists arrived from East Asia and the Pacific; North Americans accounted for close to 25%. There were 21,409 hotel rooms with 42,818 beds and a 60% occupancy rate that year. Tourism expenditure receipts totaled $1.5 billion.

According to 2005 US Department of State estimates, the cost of staying in Manila was $199 per day.


Filipinos have made their most important marks in the political arena. Foremost are José Rizal (186196), a distinguished novelist, poet, physician, linguist, statesman, and national hero; Andrés Bonifacio (186397), the leader of the secret Katipunan movement against Spain; and Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy (18691964), the commander of the revolutionary forces and president of the revolutionary First Philippine Republic (1899). Notable Filipinos of the 20th century include Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina (18781944), the first Commonwealth president; Ramón Magsaysay (190757), a distinguished leader in the struggle with the Hukbalahaps; and Carlos Peña Rómulo (18991985), a Pulitzer Prizewinning author and diplomat and the president of the fourth UN General Assembly. Ferdinand Edralin Marcos (191789), who won distinction as a guerrilla fighter during the Japanese occupation, was the dominant political figure in the Philippines from his first election to the presidency in November 1965 to his ouster in February 1986. His wife, Imelda Romualdez Marcos (b.1929), emerged as a powerful force within her husband's government during the 1970s. Leading critics of the Marcos government during the late 1970s and early 1980s were Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. (193383) and Jaime Sin (19282005), who became the archbishop of Manila in 1974 and a cardinal in 1976. Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino (b.1933), the widow of Benigno, opposed Marcos for the presidency in February 1986 and took office when he went into exile in the same month. Fidel Valdez Ramos (b.1928) succeeded Corazon Aquino and governed from 1992 until 1998, when he was succeeded by Joseph Estrada (b.1937). Estrada led the country from 19982001; Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (b.1947) succeeded him in 2001.

Lorenzo Ruiz (fl.17th cent.) was canonized, along with 15 companion martyrs, as the first Filipino saint. Fernando M. Guerrero (18731929) was the greatest Philippine poet in Spanish. Two painters of note were Juan Luna y Novicio (185799) and Félix Resurrección Hidalgo y Padilla (18531913). Contemporary writers who have won recognition include Claro M. Recto (18901960), José García Villa (191497), and Carlos Bulosan (191456). José A. Estella (18701945) is the best-known Filipino composer. Filipino prizefighters have included two world champions, Pancho Villa (Francisco Guilledo, 190125) and Ceferino García (191081).


The Philippines has no territories or colonies.


Altbach, Philip G. and Toru Umakoshi (eds.). Asian Universities: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Challenges. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

Dolan, Ronald E. (ed.). Philippines: A Country Study. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1993.

Goldoftas, Barbara. Green Tiger: The Costs of Economic Decline in the Philippines. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Guillermo, Artemio R. and May Kyi Win. Historical Dictionary of the Philippines. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2005.

Leibo, Steven A. East and Southeast Asia, 2005. 38th ed. Harpers Ferry, W.Va.: Stryker-Post Publications, 2005.

Rodriguez, Socorro M. Philippine Science and Technology: Economic, Political and Social Events Shaping Their Development. Quezon City, Philippines: Giraffe Books, 1996.

Smith, Paul J. (ed.). Terrorism and Violence in Southeast Asia: Transnational Challenges to States and Regional Stability. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2005.

The University of the Philippines Cultural Dictionary for Filipinos. Edited by Thelma B. Kintanar. Quezon City, Philippines: University of Philippines Press and Anvil Publishing, 1996.

Vos, Rob. The Philippine Economy: East Asia's Stray Cat?: Structure, Finance, and Adjustment. New York: St. Martin's, 1996.

Women's Role in Philippine History: Selected Essays. 2nd ed. Quezon City, Philippines: University of Philippines, Center for Women's Studies, 1996.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Philippines." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Philippines." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . (July 9, 2018).

"Philippines." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

The Philippines


Republic of the Philippines

Major Cities:
Manila, Quezon City, Cebu City, Baguio, Davao City

Other Cities:
Bacolod, Batangas, Butuan, Iligan, Iloilo City, San Pablo, Zamboanga


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated August 1994. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


The Republic of the PHILIPPINES , though Asian, bears the imprint of European and American influence. Not only is the Philippines one of the largest English-speaking countries in the world, it is the only Christian country in Asia.

This Pacific island nation was under Spanish control for nearly 400 years after it was first visited in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan on his expedition around the world. The country eventually was named Islas Felipinas for the child who was to become King Philip II of Spain.

After close to a half-century of American rule, the Philippines gained its independence in 1946. The country made great strides in achieving a national identity and a political and strategic importance in Asia.

Because of the country's strategic importance, the U.S. had for many years maintained military bases there, mainly Clark Airbase and Subic Bay Naval Base. However, disagreements over the military treaty covering the bases led to a U.S. withdrawal of forces in 1992. The departure of U.S. troops poses questions about Philippine and Southeast Asian defense, as well as the future of the Philippine economy.



Metropolitan Manila, located on the main island of Luzon, is the capital and the major city along the coastal lowlands of Manila Bay and the Pasig River. The bay forms one of the largest and finest landlocked harbors in the Far East, and is Manila's outstanding feature. It is rimmed by distant mountains and islands, dotted by ships, and frequently framed by flamboyant sunsets. Roxas (formerly Dewey) Boulevard, which follows the shoreline for several miles, quickly becomes a familiar landmark. It is lined with modern office buildings, embassies, hotels, restaurants, the Philippine Cultural Center complex, and large apartment houses. This boulevard, along with the modern commercial and residential areas of suburban Makati, typifies the contrasts which exist in Manila: on one side of the street is a five-star hotel, on the other, a shanty town of squatters built on land reclaimed from Manila Bay.

The architectural styles of Manila manifest the influence of 400 years of Spanish domination, nearly 50 years of American rule, and modern trends developed in buildings erected or reconstructed since World War II.

The social habits of people in Manila are superficially Occidental and the society is cosmopolitan. Western clothes predominate, but there is some adherence to local traditional dress. The majority of Filipinos speak English.

Manila was established as a fortified colony by López de Legaspi in 1571, and was developed by Spanish missionaries. It became an important commercial center under Spanish rule. The city was taken by the English in 1762, but was recaptured for Spain two years later. The United States won control in the Battle of Manila Bay (August 1898), during the Spanish-American War. World War II took a heavy toll on the city, reducing to rubble much of the 16th-century Spanish architecture of the old walled city, Intramuros; only the Church of San Agustín was spared. The devastation wrought is considered second only to that of Warsaw. The Japanese, who had occupied the city from 1942, were ousted in 1945. Manila Cathedral, the seat of the Catholic archdiocese, was rebuilt in 1958, as was almost the entire city during the post-war years. Manila proper, known as the "Pearl of the Orient," is now a modern metropolis with a population of 1.6 million (2000 est.).

Most streets in the city are of concrete or asphalt, but many are constantly in a state of disrepair; side streets are often narrow and hazardous. Road surfaces deteriorate rapidly during the rainy season, and are marked by potholes of all sizes. Traffic is congested, especially during rush hours. Driving is not orderly. Air pollution is a continuing problem.

More that 150 American business concerns are located in Manila, and many more have agencies or representatives here. The oldest foreign-based American Chamber of Commerce has offices on the Paseo de Roxas, Manila's famous shoreline boulevard. The expatriate community includes more than 150,000 Chinese and a large number of Americans, Spaniards, Japanese, Indians, British, Germans, Swiss, and people of other nationalities. The tourist trade has increased in recent years but, still, fewer Americans stop in Manila than at other Far East spots. Most U.S. visitors here are on business.

Greater Manila's population, which includes Quezon City, Pasay City, Caloocan City, and Pasig, is estimated at almost ten million. Although the official capital of the Philippines is Quezon City, 13 miles from downtown Manila, its development remains in the planning stages and only a few government agencies are located here.


Cotton and other lightweight clothing is worn year round in the Philippines; however, woolen clothing, including topcoats, is needed for visits to Baguio or travel to Hong Kong, Tapei, or Tokyo during winter. Sweaters and shawls are useful in air-conditioned rooms and at night in the cooler months. Nylon clothing is usually too warm and uncomfortable during very hot months. Cotton or cotton/synthetic mixtures are recommended.

Manila is a style-conscious city, and the latest European and American fashions are followed. There are some variations in Cebu City but, in general, members of the diplomatic and business communities are well dressed.

Clothes wear out quickly because of the climate and frequent laundering. Shoes deteriorate more rapidly during the rainy season and because of poor sidewalk conditions. Unless you store clothing in air-conditioned rooms or dry closets, air it occasionally to prevent mildew.

Women find that cotton, cotton-blend, or linen dresses are worn and acceptable everywhere and, depending on style, are suitable for almost every occasion. Shorts and slacks should be worn only for sports or at home. Cocktail dresses of silks, brocades, laces, chiffons, and fine linen also are popular and comfortable. Dressmakers can make all types of women's clothing from the casual to haute couture ; prices and results vary accordingly. Ready-made women's shoes in sizes larger than 8 are difficult to find, but shoes can be made to order inexpensively.

Men wear tropical worsted and Palm Beach-type suits during the cooler months and, if they anticipate a full social schedule, will need black-tie attire. Washable suits are convenient and practical, but dry cleaning is readily available. Dacron and cotton blends are most useful. After arrival, most men enjoy the practical comfort of the Barong Tagalog, a traditional Filipino shirt. It is loose fitting, usually made of sheer material with embroidered collar, cuffs, and front, and is worn outside the trousers both day and evening.

White daytime shirts of porous summer-weight fabric are needed. Short-sleeved shirts are acceptable in offices, and cotton sport shirts are most useful for leisure hours. Long-sleeved shirts are needed in Baguio. Locally made men's shoes are not of the best quality and U.S. made shoes are quite expensive.

Children wear the same type of clothing in the Philippines as they do in the U.S. They spend much of their time out-of-doors, and need many changes of washable, durable, play clothes. Teenage styles generally follow American fads.

Any special dress considerations for children attending school in the Philippines can be easily met after arrival. Lightweight rainwear is a necessity for small children. Students attending Brent School in Baguio need warmer clothing than is called for in Manila.

Laundry is customarily done at home by the lavandera, in a household which employs more than one domestic, and by the all-around maid in a small or single-person household. Dry cleaning is available at prices comparable to those in the U.S., and quality is good.


Several large well-stocked supermarkets are in Manila and the suburban areas. Open markets throughout the country sell fresh fruits and vegetables; use caution when buying perishables since markets may not be refrigerated or sanitary.

Supplies & Services

The beauty salons and barbershops range from adequate to luxurious in Manila; in the other major cities, shops are simple and work is passable. Dressmaking, tailoring, shoe repair, and other personal services can be easily found and, on the whole, the work is satisfactory and the rates are reasonable.

Religious Activities

Catholics number more than 80% of the Philippine population, and have many churches in all localities. Catholic orders from Spain, Belgium, Canada, the U.S., and other countries are active here. In the capital, Protestant churches include the Union Church of Manila (nondenominational), Holy Trinity Anglican Episcopal, International Baptist, Lutheran, and Seventh Day Adventist. Manila also has a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a Unitarian congregation, and a Jewish Community Center. The Saturday newspapers list worship times and places.

Domestic Help

Employing household help is the norm rather than the exception in the Philippines, not only among foreigners but also middle-income and well-to-do families.

In Manila, competent household help is easy to find, although sometimes a short trial period is necessary before settling on someone suitable. Under proper supervision, domestics are clean, honest, loyal, cooperative, and good with children. Careful and patient instructions must be given, since their understanding of English cannot be taken for granted.

Filipino domestics are not covered under the national social security system. However, low-cost health insurance is available for domestics, and it is expected that the employer provide it. Local laws apply to, and provide for, such benefits as regular days off, payment of medical fees, adequate dismissal notice, etc. Complete physical examinations of prospective domestics and annual checkups are strongly recommended.


The International School, located in nearby Makati, is a nonsectarian, college-preparatory, and general academic day school for boys and girls of all nationalities from kindergarten through grade 12.

International, formerly called the American School, was founded in 1920 by American and British residents of Manila. It was incorporated as a private, independent institution, and is registered under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines on a nonprofit, non-stock basis. In 1970, the name was changed to reflect the increasing internationality of the student population.

Instruction is in English. The curriculum is that of U.S. general academic and college preparatory schools. Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Latin, and Pilipino are offered as foreign languages.

International is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and its credits are accepted by American colleges and universities. High school students may earn both U.S. and International Baccalaureate diplomas. Academic standards tend to be more rigorous than those in the U.S. The school participates in, and is a center for, several American testing programs: Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT), College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB), National Merit Scholarship Program (PSAT/NMSQT), and American College Test (ACT).

Students are encouraged to participate in the wide variety of sports and other extracurricular activities offered after class hours. International is a member of the Philippine Secondary School Athletic Association. There is active intramural competition.

Brent School of Manila was opened in August 1984. Its mother school is Brent School in Baguio City, which was founded in 1909. Located on the campus of the University of Life in Manila, this unit started with a population of 305 students enrolled in kindergarten to grade 10. An integral part of the original school in Baguio, it is doubly accredited with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Philippine Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities. Brent School-Manila is an international, coeducational, day school related to the Episcopal Church in the Philippines. Brent is a small academic community that provides an atmosphere of high academic standards, Christian values, and discipline. The primary aim is to meet the educational needs of the children of the international community from kindergarten to high school, and specifically to prepare students for admission to the leading colleges and universities of all nations.

The curriculum is American with British adaptations, and is designed to provide each student with background necessary for college life. Special requirements for Filipino students are also met. Small classes permit greater dialogue between faculty and students, and pursuit of individual ideas and interests of the students is facilitated.

Sports and extracurricular activities are offered, though on a smaller scale than the International School.

Several preschools are attended by American children in Manila. Concepts vary from Montessori to social learning. All of the preschools offer a variety of activities and instruction for the child. The schools often have small classes and offer a clean and stimulating environment. The general age for acceptance in preschool is around two-and-a-half years of age or diaper trained. There are a few exceptions to this rule.

Special Opportunities

The University of the Philippines (a half-hour drive from downtown Manila with various branches throughout the city) and the University of Santo Tomás are accredited with American colleges, especially for junior/senior level courses. Other private institutions of higher learning are also open to college-age students living in Manila. However, the Philippine system provides only 10 years (six elementary and four secondary) of preparation before college, and this must be taken into consideration prior to enrollment. Most American students choose to go to U.S. colleges because of this difference. Both discipline and scholastic requirements are less rigorous in Philippine universities, and libraries, laboratories, and other facilities are below the standards of American schools.

Very few programs are available for the handicapped child or for children with learning disorders.


The tropical weather of the Philippines provides almost year-round opportunities for touring and outdoor recreational activities. These are somewhat curtailed, however, in the heat of April and May, and during the rains and typhoons from July to September.

Sight-seeing in Manila is highly diversified. Within the city itself, there are interesting historical sites, ancient churches, a zoo, a botanical garden, beautiful parks, and a number of small but significant museums, such as the Museo and the Ayala. The Philippine National Museum, which was almost totally destroyed during World War II, once again features permanent exhibitions, mostly scientific in nature, and periodic exhibits of Philippine art and artifacts. The number of small galleries of local art, predominantly modern in trend, is increasing. The Art Association of the Philippines promotes an interest in the field through seminars, lectures, and exhibits of local works.

Malacanang Palace, former home of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, is now a museum, housing memorabilia from Malacanang's history as the center of Philippine government, and especially memorabilia of the Marcos era. Casa Manila, situated in the heart of Intramuros (meaning within the walls), is a model of a 19th-century upper-class urban home. Intramuros contains several other places of interest including two churches, Plaza Roma with its statue to the three martyred priests, and Fort Santiago, with the Rizal Museum. Intramuros itself is a unique combination of the Orient and the Occident: an Old World medieval fortress encircled by walls of oriental materials in a tropical land. Even in their crumbling state, the walls remain today as a monument, a relic of the Spanish era of Philippine history.

Opportunities for weekend and day trips which appeal to sightseers, hikers, picnickers, and camera enthusiasts are plentiful. It is necessary to travel a considerable distance from Manila Bay for safe, unpolluted swimming. Beach resort areas are increasing, however, with the building of modern hotels and restaurants. These areas are a two-to-four-hour drive from Manila.

The closest approach to big game in the Philippines is the wild carabao (water buffalo). Deer is next, with open season from January to May. Wild pig is found in almost every mountain region of the country. Snipe is the most popular game bird among hunters. The hunting season for jack snipe runs from September to February. Many varieties of migratory birds, plus dove, wild chicken, partridge, quail, and other game birds are plentiful.

Among the saltwater fish available are: sea bass; barracuda; Spanish mackerel; pompano; tuna, which includes bonitos, yellowfins, skip-jacks, albacores, and bluefins; the leather jacket; sergeant fish; and swordfish. Huge marlins have been caught in Philippine waters. Freshwater fish include the giant eel, the murrel, carp, gurami, tilapia, and catfish. Unfortunately, inaccessibility of the areas, restrictions on use of firearms, and lack of hotel accommodations impede hunting and fishing.

Nowhere in the world is there greater profusion or wider diversity of shells than in the Philippines. Because of the uniform warmth of the tropical currents that flow around the islands, shells here have richer colors and more imaginative patterns than in any other region. A great many of the world's rarest and most highly prized specimens of marine shells have either been picked up on Philippine beaches at low tide, trawled, or dredged from the surrounding waters of some of the islandsnotably Cebu, Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan, and Samar. The archipelago has been called a "mollusk paradise," and is reputedly the richest shell-collecting region in the world. Some coral forms are growing scarce, and it is illegal to export coral from the islands.

The following places of interest are usually visited at least once during an extended stay in the Philippines:

Tagaytay Ridge , about 35 miles, or an hour's drive, south of Manila. The ridge is 2,000 feet high and enjoys cool breezes throughout the year. It commands a dramatic view of rugged mountains and valleys, as well as of Lake Taal and Taal Volcano. This volcano is the lowest known in the world, and inside its crater is another lake which is again centered by a tiny peak. Few views equal the scenic beauty of Tagaytay Ridge. Overnight accommodations or meals can be obtained at the Taal Vista Lodge.

Pagsanjan Gorge and Rapids can be reached in a two-and-a-half-hour-drive from Manila. The trip up-river is made on a native banca (small dugout canoe) to Pagsanjan Falls through a gorge. The walls rise perpendicularly about 300 feet and are covered by luxuriant tropical growth. The return trip provides the excitement of shooting the rapids. The entire journey normally is made as a day's outing, with a picnic lunch at the falls or at one of the numerous lodges or restaurants along the river.

The Bamboo Organ at Las Pinas , a site about a 30-minute drive from Manila. This remarkable and unique organ, made of over 100 dry bamboo tubes in 1814, still has flute tones which have remained virtually unchanged in close to two centuries. The organ was completely renovated in Germany in 1975. Las Pinas Church, also renovated, is a perfect setting for this unique organ. An organist provides demonstrations. The annual Bamboo Organ Festival, held in February, features musicians from around the world.

Bataan and Corregidor , evoke memories of the gallant, but futile, stand of Philippine-American forces against the Japanese during World War II. Bataan is a peninsula jutting out to the China Sea, and can be visited by car in a day's outing. Corregidor, an island at the mouth of Manila Bay, can be reached by tour boat.

Los Baños , about a one-hour drive from Manila, and famous for its hot springs. The University of the Philippines' Colleges of Agriculture and Forestry and Forest Products Laboratory, and the International Rice Research Institutethe only such institute in Southeast Asiaare located here.

Baguio , a beautiful resort situated in the mountains at approximately 5,000 feet in altitude. It has a pleasantly cool climate all year, and is the most popular vacation spot in the Philippines, especially for families. Only 155 miles north of Manila, it can be reached by car in five hours or by plane in about one hour. During the rainy season, travel to and from Baguio is interrupted by landslides on the road and poor visibility at the airport.

Banaue Rice Terraces , north of Baguio, known locally as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The view presents an entire chain of mountains terraced to their highest peaks for the cultivation of rice. These terraces were carved out of the mountainsides by the Ifugao Indians thousands of years ago. Because of road conditions, tourists normally hire a car with an experienced driver for the seven-to eight-hour trip, driving to Bontoc or Banaue the first day, and returning to Baguio either the second or third day. Some break the trip to or from the terraces with an overnight stop at Mount Data Lodge, about a three-hour drive from Baguio, where a delightfully cool night can be spent at one of the Philippines' most modern guest houses. The Banaue Hotel has good accommodations.

Hundred Islands , which actually are 400 islands, islets, and rocks in Lingayen Gulf, and of particular interest to fishermen, skin divers, campers, and sightseers.

Mount Mayon , famous as the world's most nearly perfect volcanic cone. Rising 8,000 feet from the plain of Albay, it is near the city of Legaspi, which is accessible by car (a 10-hour drive), bus, or plane. To climb Mayon takes about three days, and the climb is not easy. The area of Bicol, which Mount Mayon "crowns," provides activities for everyone including beaches, adventure tours, caves, and shopping. Tiwi Hot Springs, 25 miles from Legaspi, is one of several thermal springs in the area.

The entire archipelago that comprises the Republic of the Philippines is full of private, rustic, white sandy beaches (such as Boracay) or classic, secluded, high-class beach resorts such as El Nido. For scuba divers, snorkelers, sailors, and just beach lovers, the Philippines offers an array of locations from which to choose.


Manila offers many opportunities for participation in sports. Facilities for golf, tennis, swimming, bowling, riding, scuba diving, basketball, softball, and sailing are available. Lessons, particularly in golf and tennis, can be obtained at reasonable fees.

Golf was introduced to the islands at the turn of this century, and has become one of the most popular sports. Several golf clubs and links in and around Manila attract players; there are practice driving ranges in the city.

The best known of the clubs is the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, with two 18-hole courses on a 320-acre estate. Wack Wack has hosted international championships and attracted outstanding golfers from around the world. In addition, the following clubs are conveniently located in and around Manila: Muni Golf Links, Capitol Hills Golf Club, Manila Golf Club, University of the Philippines Club, Intramuros Golf Course, and Alabang Golf and Country Club.

Several private clubs and hotels have pools for the use of members. Tennis and pelota (a cross between jai alai and racquetball) are popular in Manila, and courts for these sports are available at private clubs. Several modern bowling alleys also are in the Manila area.

The Manila Yacht Club welcomes foreigners interested in sailing. It sponsors active one-design and cruiser-class races, and a regular, international competition with the Hong Kong Yacht Club. Sailing lessons are offered. Boats cost much less than in the U.S.

Basketball, boxing, cockfights, horse racing, track meets, and jai alai (the Basque game somewhat similar to handball) are popular spectator sports. Visiting sports stars give occasional exhibitions. Equipment and appropriate sports attire are not always available on the local market.


Movies are popular among Filipinos, and several first-class, air-conditioned theaters exist, particularly in the new suburban areas. First-run American and European films may be seen, as well as Filipino, Japanese, and Chinese films. Movies do not have long runs, however, sometimes showing only for three days. Admission prices are reasonable.

The magnificent Cultural Center of the Philippines on Roxas Boulevard has a 2,000-seat auditorium and a smaller theater with 450 seats. The Folk Art Theater, used for concerts, bazaars, and pageants, is a covered, open-air building, where many local and foreign musical artists perform. The Cultural Center also includes the Philippine International Convention Center.

The Manila Symphony Society, with guest conductors, presents several concerts and at least one opera or operetta annually. A number of other active local orchestra groups and choral societies also perform.

The Bayanihan Dance Group, which has made several successful world tours, and several other folk dance and ballet groups present performances throughout the year.

The Thomas Jefferson Library (U.S.-sponsored) and the American Historical Collection (located in the U.S. Chancery Annex) have good libraries for public use. Private clubs maintain lending libraries. The public libraries, and those at various schools and universities, are seldom used by the foreign community.

Fiestas play an important role in Philippine life. They are a combination of religious symbolism and social life, and are held in the various barrios to commemorate feast days of patron saints and in remembrance of unusual local events. Almost all are based on Catholic tradition, but many also hark to earlier pre-Christian times. The fiestas are often colorful, lively, and spectacular. May is the height of the season for flowers, and numerous festivals are planned for that month.

The Philippines offers ample subject matter for photographers. Film is readily available on the local market. Printing and developing facilities for all types of film also are available locally.

Many good restaurants in all price ranges, serving Filipino, American, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Middle Eastern, Japanese, and continental food, are located in Manila. Prices vary depending on the restaurant, but are usually less than their equivalent in the U.S. Nightclubs and cocktail lounges abound, especially in the downtown areas.

The large American community provides many opportunities for social activities. In addition to school and church groups, memberships are available in several civic organizations, including the American Chamber of Commerce, Masonic Lodge and Shrine, Eastern Star, Elks, Fraternal Order of Eagles, American Association of the Philippines, Junior Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Toast-masters Club, YMCA, YWCA, and American Women's Club of the Philippines. Boy and Girl Scout chapters are active, as is the International Little League of Manila. All children have the opportunity to join school-sponsored programs.

Private clubs attract many Americans. Among these are the Manila Polo Club; the Manila Boat Club, on the Pasig River in Santa Ana; the Manila Yacht Club, with clubhouse and sheltered basin on Roxas Boulevard; the Manila Overseas Press Club; the Casino Español, with chiefly Spanish membership; Manila Club, primarily British; Manila Symphony Women's Auxiliary; the Manila Theater Guild; and the All Nations Women's Club.

Also, there are numerous charity and welfare organizations which welcome volunteer help.

Quezon City

Quezon City was the nation's capital from 1948 to 1976, and remains officially listed as such, but its development during those years was mainly in the planning stages, and only a few government agencies are located here. Thirteen miles from downtown Manila, the area formerly was a private estate named for Filipino statesman Manuel Luis Quezon.

Now grown to a center with over 2.2 million residents, Quezon City is the site of the main campus of the University of the Philippines, founded in 1908. Several theaters and concert halls are located here, among them Areneta Coliseum, Abelardo Hall and Guerrero Theatre (connected with the university), the British Council Center, and the Goethe Institute. Art exhibits are mounted in a number of galleries, and are an integral part of greater Manila's cultural life.

Quezon City bustles with business and recreational establishments. Although its proximity makes it a geographical extension of Manila proper, it retains a unique identity within the metropolitan area.

Cebu City

Cebu City, with a population of more than 700,000 (metropolitan population 1.7 million) boasts of having had the earliest sustained contact with the Western world. Cebu City was the initial seat of Philippine ChristendomFerdinand Magellan's cross, raised here in 1521, is among the many points of interest. Others include the Basilica of San Agustín, which houses an ancient religious relic, the image of Santo Niño; and the museum of the University of San Carlos, where precious artifacts from Cebu City and Mindanao are kept.

The city, commonly referred to only as Cebu, is on the island of the same name in the Visayas, those islands which comprise the Central Philippines between Luzon and Mindanao. Cebu Island is long (140 miles), narrow (22 miles at the widest point), and densely populated, with a central spine of craggy hills. The city itself is widespread and has a bustling, congested business district around the port. Because of the destruction during World War II, the once-Spanish character of Cebu City is a recollection which finds form only in some old houses down back streets, in the exteriors of several churches, and in an 18th-century triangular fort. Colo Street is the oldest street in the Philippines.

Although most of the city was rebuilt between 1945 and 1947, it suffers today from deterioration, since many buildings were hastily constructed of low-quality materials. A large part of Cebu City consists of narrow passageways lined with crowded, frame structures. However, the number of modern office buildings, wide avenues, and substantial contemporary houses is rapidly increasing. Traffic is a hectic mixture of "jeepneys," taxis, cars, motorcycles, horse carts, and motorized tricycles.

An increasing number of people are migrating into the city from elsewhere in Cebu province, and from the neighboring islands of Bohol and Leyte, in search of work. Large numbers of Chinese are engaged in wholesale and retail trade, and there is a small Indian community. The Cebuano version of the Visayan (or Bisayan) language is generally used; Visayan is also spoken in the rest of the central Visayas and in most of Mindanao. Almost everyone in Cebu City proper understands a certain amount of English; the better-educated and business people speak it well. Spanish and Chinese are still spoken by the mestizo (mixed blood) groups.

The Western community is loosely defined. Most foreign businesses have Filipino managers. The American business community is small. The largest single group of Americans is the Protestant missionaries. There are also some Catholic missionaries, medical and various students, spouses of Filipinos, and a sprinkling of Europeans and Asians.

Cebu City, about 10° north of the equator, is some 350 miles from Manila. The climate is hot and humid during the entire year, with rainfall less evenly distributed by season than it is in Manila. The hottest weather is generally from March through June. Nights are usually pleasant from August through February, with the daytime high temperature ranging between 85° and 94°F. Cebu City is considered to be just off the typhoon belt, but has occasionally been hit by storms of considerable force.

Religious Activities

Cebu City is a center for Protestant missionary activities, and English-language services are held by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (an amalgamation of Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and others), the Missouri-Synod Lutheran, several Baptist groups, the Philippine Independent Church (a separate Philippine church in communion with Episcopalians), a variety of evangelical groups, Mormons, and Seventh-Day Adventists. Cebu City also offers Catholic masses in both English and Visayan. In Baguio, there are regular English-language services provided by Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Christian Science, Lutheran, and United Church of Christ congregations. The latter is a united church staffed by Presbyterians and Evangelical United Brethren. Baptists and Lutherans sponsor many missionaries in and around Baguio.


Except for families with young children, schooling in Cebu City is cause for concern. A number of alternatives are available for elementary education. Most foreign children attend Cebu International School, a private institution founded by the American community in 1924. English instruction, using primarily American textbooks, is offered from kindergarten through grade 12. The staff is Filipino. Students coming from American schools can expect both scholastic and social adjustments. Tutors can be found for additional scholastic help, which is usually needed.

Several Catholic schools for boys and girls provide alternatives to International, but few foreign residents attend them. Admission is by competitive examination. Classes tend to be large, learning is by rote, and competition in all aspects of school life is intense. Although in the best of these schools most instruction is in English, Pilipino is increasingly used in the lower grades, and the general level of English appears to be diminishing. Elementary school comprises kindergarten through grade six, followed by four years of high school (no junior high). Most foreign students find that these schools do not meet their long-term needs. St. Teresa's College and the College of the Immaculate Conception are considered the best schools for girls. The top boys' school, Sacred Heart, a Jesuit institution, requires the study of Chinese at all levels.

High school alternatives are local Catholic schools, considerably more satisfactory for girls than for boys; correspondence courses; or boarding school. The only boarding school of international caliber in the Philippines is Brent School in Baguio. Tutors can be found to assist with correspondence courses. There are adequate nursery schools in Cebu City.

Special Opportunities

Cebu City has a number of colleges, universities, and "diploma mills." One of the better educational institutions in the Philippines, the University of San Carlos (which is older than Harvard), is operated by German, Dutch, and American priests of the Society of the Divine Word. Undergraduate and graduate courses are offered in a variety of subjects. The University of the Philippines has a small branch in Cebu City, although its current graduate offerings are mainly in the fields of business and commerce. Cebu City is a major center for medical education, and a number of Americans and other foreigners attend school here. St. Teresa's has a college department (comparable to a junior college/finishing school) which enrolls American girls upon successful completion of the Philippine College Entrance Examination.

Special education for handicapped children or those with learning disabilities is not available.


Although Cebu City experiences constant debilitating heat, outdoor activity is possible all year. Public sports and recreational facilities are extremely limited, so Americans rely on a variety of private clubs: the Cebu Country Club, Club Filipino, Montebello Hotel, Liloan Beach Club, and Casino Español.

There are two excellent private 18-hole golf courses at the edge of the city. Golf lessons are inexpensive. Three hotels have freshwater swimming pools, available for a membership fee. A number of small private tennis clubs, one or two of which have lighted courts, are available. Pelota is popular, and several clubs and private individuals have courts. Whites are worn for both tennis and pelota. Badminton is available at one club. The city has a number of bowling alleys (mostly duckpin). Local running clubs and other organizations sponsor races. Basketball is a popular spectator sport, and opportunities exist for playing in amateur leagues.

The seas around Cebu are clear, warm, and fish-laden. Beaches, mainly privately owned, are found both in Cebu City and Mactan, about a 45-minute drive.

Numerous coral islands and sand-bars are located in the straits between Cebu and Bohol. Scuba diving opportunities are unparalleled. Attractive sea shells can still be found, but commercial shell collectors are rapidly reducing the supply. Although the area is good for small boating, no docking facilities currently exist.

Other than an often-bouncy but scenic car ride around the circumference of Cebu Island (which would take about two days) or to Mactan Island, no land touring is available. Trips to nearby islands can be rewarding, although public facilities are not up to American standards. Shipping lines run regular services to Manila, as well as many neighboring ports. Some offer cabins, but most have only deck passage; the ships are crowded, dirty, and unsafe. Philippine Airlines offers service to many cities in the Visayas.


Entertainment possibilities are limited. Cebu City has about 20 movie theaters, of which only a few are acceptable. Most movies are in Tagalog, but some American films are shown. Eight to 10 restaurants serve reasonably good food, and there are a number of nightclubs or discos.

Cebu City has only one good public library, the United States Information Agency (USIA) facility. Among college libraries, only that at San Carlos University is adequate; it has a good Filipiniana collection. No children's collections, other than the small one at Cebu International School, are available. Although several stores carry reasonable selections of popular paperbacks, more serious reading matter or children's books are rarely available. Books deteriorate rapidly in this climate and anything of value should be brought to Cebu City with awareness of the risk involved. Local newspapers are inadequate for national or international news. While Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal is now available on the day of publication, the International Herald Tribune arrives one to three days after publication. Time and Newsweek may be bought at newsstands or hotels.

Four TV channels have frequent color broadcasts, with some American reruns. Shortwave radio reception is not always clear, but Voice of America (VOA), as well as Radio Australia and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), can be heard. Local radio programming is mostly disco and rock music, but several local FM-stereo stations broadcast more subdued music. Private satellite receivers are becoming popular among Filipinos.


Baguio, the "summer capital," is located about 155 miles north of Manila, in the hills of northern Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. The countryside here is mountainous and rugged, with scrub growth and pines covering the slopes. Scenery and a cool climate are Baguio's chief assets. The area, however, is subject to earthquakes. More than 1,600 people died during an earthquake on July 16, 1991.

Built primarily by the Americans in the early 1900s, Baguio is a modern and thriving small-town community which has become one of the foremost vacation spots of not only the Philippines, but also of the entire Far East. A large number of well-to-do Manilans and Philippine government officials have summer homes in Baguio. Schools, business firms, and other organizations maintain summer camps and homes here for their employees.

The main economic activity is tourism. The resident population of Baguio is over 250,000, but this figure triples during the tourist season. Poor squatters make up over 50% of the population; the rest are business representatives, retired families, school teachers, missionaries, and the wealthy who can afford to commute, for weekends and extended vacations, between Baguio and Manila or other large cities.

The foreign colony is small, consisting mainly of Spaniards, Indians, Chinese, and Americans. The small Chinese community is complete with its own school and churches.

The American/European colony consists of missionaries, business representatives, teachers, miners, and their families. The Voice of America's (VOA) Philippines Relay Station is located in Baguio. English is spoken well by 75% of the local population. It is estimated that more than 3,000 Americans visit Baguio each year.

The U.S. Embassy residence in Baguio was the site of surrender ceremonies, in September 1945, of General Yamashita to the American Forces.

Around the city, in mountain villages, live the Igorots (a generic term for various tribes). Igorots are mountain tribesmen with loyalty first to their own societies. They manage to eke a scanty subsistence from the mountainsides, and to supplement this by weaving and wood carving. Their native costumes (loin cloths and jackets for the men and bright-colored straight skirts and blouses for the women) are of interest to the foreign residents and tourists.

The Baguio business center consists of a central market, where local produce is sold, and many small shops and restaurants which line the four main streets. Around this area are found civic buildings; the impressive cathedral; lovely Burnham Park, named for the Chicago architect who designed the city; the St. Louis School of Silver; and the Easter School of Weaving.

Baguio is situated at an altitude of 4,600 feet above sea level. The climate varies between the dry and (very) wet seasons, each lasting about six months. The dry season begins in December and continues until June. Temperatures vary from the low 80s in the daytime to the 50s and 60s at night. This interval ends in June when the rains, which are light in May, become heavy. Baguio averages 176 inches of rainfall a year, with a record fall of 355 inches and a low of 99 inches. July and August are the rainiest months, averaging 42 inches each. The rains begin tapering off in September and are light in October and November.


Brent School, founded in 1909 under the auspices of the Episcopal Church, is the only doubly accredited, coeducational, nonsectarian, day and boarding school in Southeast Asia. Its accreditation is with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in the U.S. and with the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities. The campus offers an invigorating and healthful climate which is conducive to study year round.

Brent's curriculum is representative of the best practices to be found in public schools in the U.S. and abroad. The school provides a seminar approach to learning. There is individually guided education and close personal contact between students and faculty. An active creative and performing arts program is a feature of the school, and participation in individual and group sports is encouraged. In-depth cultural studies, curriculum-related field trips, and specialized brief courses contribute to an educational program combining the richness of Western heritage with the experience of life in an Asian culture.

Special Opportunities

Both Baguio Colleges Foundation and St. Louis University have junior college-level courses, but all credits are not transferable to American colleges, and educational standards are considered low. No adequate facilities for post-high school education are available except correspondence courses. A few facilities are available for learning the local language. Ilocano if the local dialect, but most Filipinos speak English. Private tutoring in Spanish is available. Many local residents speak Pilipino, which has been declared the national language in the Philippines.

Recreation and Entertainment

There are good beaches at Lingayen Gulf, 32 miles from Baguio, and at Poro Point, 36 miles away. Fishing is excellent at Hundred Islands, a three-to-four-hour drive from Baguio.

Burnham Park, the "Central Park" of Baguio, has sprawling lawns around a lagoon, and walks lined with agoho (Australian pine) and eucalyptus trees. Adults and children alike are attracted by boating facilities, a roller skating rink, an athletic bowl, well-shaded picnic grounds, bicycling, and scooter rides. A botanical garden with a natural area features a rich collection of Philippine flowers. A children's playground is a special attraction here.

The Crystal Caves are about 35 miles (one hour by car) from Baguio, and face the China Sea. This area is popular among visitors.

Americans patronize the two or three theaters in the city offering English-language movies, although they are screened somewhat later than U.S. showings.

No operettas, concerts, museums, or hobby club facilities are available. There are several local restaurants in Baguio, but some Americans prefer to eat only in their homes or at the Baguio Country Club, since unboiled water and unsanitary conditions may exist elsewhere.

Radio reception in Baguio is good. Direct television reception is good with an outside antenna. Four local VHF channels are on the air and a cable system is available in some parts of the city.

Baguio, with its scenic beauty, is a natural for photographers. The few local festivities, including parades and Igorot dances, as well as the festivals in the lowlands, provide interesting material for photographers. Color film can be processed in Manila, Hawaii, or Australia. Black-and-white film is processed in Baguio.

Almost all American contact with social activities are centered around the Baguio Country Club. Activities hosted at the country club and those sponsored by church and school organizations afford contact with Filipino residents, foreign nationals involved in mining, forestry, and missionary work, and Americans who have retired to Baguio.

Davao City

Davao City (officially, the City of Davao) lies on a channel leading from the Gulf of Davao on the Pacific side of Mindanao, the southernmost and second largest island in the Philippines. It is geographically one of the largest cities in the world, covering 98,785 acres (244,000 hectares), and comprising mostly agricultural land. The metropolitan population is about 1.2 million (850,000 in the city proper), making it the largest city on Mindanao, although most of the people live in rural districts and on farmlands.

Davao City was founded in 1849 and, during the first half of the 20th century, developed as a Japanese colony. It served as a Japanese naval base for more than three years during World War II.

Davao City's latitude (about 7° north of the equator) and sea-level altitude result in a year-round, hot, tropical climate somewhat relieved by almost constant sea/land breezes. The average annual rainfall is about 80 inches a year. The mean daily maximum temperature is 89°F, and the mean daily minimum, 73°F. Davao City is outside the typhoon belt.

The area and city are engaged primarily in large-scale production of copra, bananas and abaca, logging, and plywood manufacturing. The city is focused upon the support of these activities and is experiencing economic and population growth. In recent years, Davao City has become a trading center serving the gold mining activities underway in a nearby province.

Mindanao was the "frontier" of the Philippines, and it retains much of the spirit of a pioneering city. Davaowenos are predominantly Cebuano speakers, revealing the origins of a city whose farmers and business representatives migrated from the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines. The region also includes large numbers of migrants who came from Luzon as well as small groups of both Christian and Muslim ethnic tribes. A large and influential Chinese-Filipino community is part of Davao City's overall population profile. The city is experiencing a steady increase in its American community, which mostly comprises missionaries.


English-language instruction is available at one or two private schools for children in preschool and kindergarten. Westerners usually rely on two or three of the best local schools for elementary and high school instruction. Some Americans in the district rely upon home instruction, using the Calvert system, or send their children to either International School or one of the boarding schools in Baguio.

Recreation and Entertainment

Swimming at the nearby beaches or the Davao Insular Hotel, and golf at either of two courses, are the primary outdoor sports in Davao City. Tennis, hiking, and picnicking are also enjoyed. Some members of the American community own boats, and opportunities abound for deep-water fishing and skin diving off the nearby islands. Because of the lack of good highways, travel to other interesting areas and cities on the island must be done by air.

Davao City does not offer a variety of entertainment. Amateur dramatic groups present performances and American participation is welcomed. A few nightclubs provide a diversion. Several excellent restaurants serve American, Chinese, and Filipino food.

Social life for the American community centers around home, church, and civic groups, and includes contact with both Filipinos and foreign residents. Most Americans belong to at least one local club, such as the Davao Beach Club, Apo Golf and Country Club, or Rotary. Membership, by invitation, usually is easily arranged.


BACOLOD , the capital of Negros Occidental Province in the Visayan Islands, is a thriving, affluent city of 429,000 in the center of a vast sugar-producing area. It is a modern urban area, with shopping malls, commercial districts, and art centers. A university was established here in 1957. The popular Mambucal summer resort is nearby.

The seaport of BATANGAS is the capital of the province of the same name. Situated in southwestern Luzon, it is near the mouth of the Calumpan River, on the northwest coast of Batangas Bay. The city is connected with Manila, which is about 58 miles to the south, by road and coastal shipping. Batangas trades in corn, sugar, and coconuts. The population here exceeds 240,000.

BUTUAN , the capital of Agusan Province, is situated in the northeastern part of Mindanao on the Agusan River. It is a port and trading center for copra and abaca. Magellan first proclaimed Spanish sovereignty over the Philippines here in 1521. Butuan has a population of about 270,000.

ILIGAN lies on the southeast shore of Iligan Bay in Mindanao. It is the chief port on the north coast and the site of a tin plate mill. The city was the scene of uprising in the Philippine Revolution of 1896. The population is about 285,000.

ILOILO CITY , both a commercial and cultural center, is the capital of its eponymous province, and lies on the southeastern part of Iloilo Strait, in one of the most populous areas of the entire archipelago. It is officially the City of Iloilo but, like so many other places in the Philippines, the simpler version of its name is commonly used. Iloilo City is a prosperous manufacturing and commercial center which has been a port for foreign trade since 1855. A Spanish settlement, it was frequently raided during the 16th and 17th centuries by the Moros (Moors). Although it suffered during the Japanese occupation in World War II, most of its old churches and buildings from the Spanish era are still intact. Iloilo City's population is estimated at 366,000 (2000 est.).

Located 17 miles southwest of Santa Cruz on Luzon, SAN PABLO is the largest town in the province of Laguna. It became a city in 1940 and has an estimated population of 208,000. San Pablo is a major rail and highway center in a valley near several small crater lakes. Copra is shipped from here.

ZAMBOANGA is a noted port and trade center in the province of Zamboanga del Sur, on the western tip of Mindanao. It is set at the foot of a mountain range, and its pleasant tropical climate and beautiful parks have earned for it the apt description, "city of flowers." Established in 1635 as a Spanish stronghold, Fort Pilar, the town grew and flourished during the years before World War II, when the Philippines were under U.S. control. Today, the city has a population over 600,000. A decided Moros influence remains in the area, and the local market has a wide array of Muslim artifacts and textiles.


Geography and Climate

The Philippines comprise some 7,100 islands, of which only 880 are inhabited. The two major islands are Luzon to the north, and Mindanao to the south. These and the central Visayas group are represented by the three stars in the Philippine flag.

Although generally mountainous, with peaks up to almost 10,000 feet, the country has extensive fertile coastal and central plains and rolling uplands. Large, rich valleys, traversed by rivers, lie between mountain ranges. The Philippines has many volcanoes, some of them active. The spring 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo was one of history's major volcanic explosions and its resulting atmospheric effects had worldwide implications. The rugged and irregular coastline, some 21,600 miles long, provides numerous harbors of all sizes. In comparison, the coastline of the continental United States is only 12,000 miles in length.

The Philippines ranks fifth among the world's countries in ratio of forest to tableland. Interesting plant life is abundant throughout the islands. The sampaguita, a small, multi-petaled, and exceedingly fragrant blossom is the national flower. Orchids grow in profusionsome 1,000 varieties are known.

Many interesting species of animals and birds are found in the forests and mountains. The carabao, or water buffalo, is indigenous.

The Philippine climate is mostly hot and humid. Manila is situated at sea level on the island of Luzon, 15° north of the equator. Three seasons are defined: the hot, dry period from March through May, ending with violent thunderstorms and torrential rains; the wet season from June into November, with daily rains during July, August, and September; and the cool, dry interval from November to February. Manila has an annual mean temperature of 80°F. The average monthly maximum temperature ranges from to 86°F to 93°F, and the monthly minimum temperature from 69°F to 75°F. Average relative humidity spans a scale from 69% in April to 84% in August and September.

Typhoons, common in the Philippines during the rainy season, bring high winds and heavy rains. In November 1991, a typhoon, designated Thelma, hit an area about 340 miles southeast of Manila resulting in at least 6,500 deaths. Manila sometimes feels the full impact of these violent storms, although more often they miss the city because it is sheltered by mountains. In the rainy season, frequent floods cause delays in transportation and possible damage to automobiles. However, recent flood-control projects are alleviating this situation.

Minor earth tremors occur frequently. In 1969 and 1970, major earthquakes hit Manila, with some casualties and damage. In 1976, a devastating earthquake, followed by strong tidal waves, struck southwestern Mindanao. In January 1982, an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale battered northern Bicol Peninsula and, in August of the following year, another hit Iiocos Norte; both of these caused extensive loss of life and property damage. In 1991, an earthquake in Baguio claimed 1,600 lives.


The Philippines is inhabited by more than 80 million people of varying races, traditions, cultures, and religious beliefs who speak 87 different dialects. Culturally, the people are of three main classifications: the Christian group, comprising over 90% of the population, who inhabit the lowlands; the Muslims, comprising 4%, in the southern island of Mindanao and Sulu archipelago; and the third group, composed of the mountain peopleIgorot, Ifugao, Negrito, Mangyan, in the mountainous interiors of the islands. Some of the latter societies remain largely untouched by civilization.

The Philippines is a melting pot. The dominant race is Malay, but many Filipinos are of Chinese, Spanish, or American descent. About 83% of the people are Roman Catholic. The remaining 9% of the Christian element belong to the Philippine Independent Church (Aglipayan ), the indigenous Iglesia ni Christo, and various Protestant faiths.

Traditionally, Filipinos are noted for their friendliness and hospitality, but the past several years have witnessed a growing spirit of nationalism and some expression of anti-Americanism, particularly in Manila. However, the majority of Filipinos still welcome American friendship, and personal relationships develop more easily here than in most Asian nations.

The Filipinos have a natural reverence for women. Filipinos enjoy a status unmatched in other Oriental countries; at home and in the community, they share equal footing with Filipino men. Filipinos have strong family ties. Fiestas play a major role in their lives.

Although Tagalog is the predominant language, Pilipino (a mixture of Tagalog and other dialects) and English are the official languages. The latter is used in Manila for business, commerce, and higher education. Leading newspapers, magazines, and many television and radio programs are in English.

The use of Pilipino is increasing rapidly in schools and communications media. Nevertheless, Americans have no real language problems except, perhaps, when traveling in the more isolated areas of the country, where some knowledge of Tagalog is helpful. An adjustment becomes necessary to attune the American ear to the Filipino manner of speaking, with equivalent difficulty to be expected on the Filipino's part in understanding the American cadence.


The Philippines has experienced much governmental turmoil in recent years. After 20 years of President Ferdinand Marcos' authoritarian rule, Corazon Aquino was elected to the presidency in 1986. Aquino faced formidable problems, not the least of which was dealing with dissidents in the military and surviving six serious military coups. Some dissidents accused Aquino of catering to the elite of Philippine society and ignoring the poor. Several factors contributed to a sense of instability among the Filipino people: increasing economic problems, debate concerning U.S. use of military bases in the Philippines, and the perceived notion that Aquino was an indecisive and ineffective leader. Prevented by the constitution from running for a second term, Aquino backed the eventual winner, Fidel Ramos, who was elected to a six-year term in May 1992.

Ramos, however, had to deal with quite a bit of trouble concerning political corruption, a weak economy, and ongoing internal threats from Islamic extremists. He lost the election of 1998 to Joseph Estrada, his vice-president. Estrada eventually faced impeachment from charges of massive corruption and plunder. Amidst relatively peaceful rallies and demonstrations, Estrada stepped-down to be replace by his vice-president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in January 2001.

The Philippines changed from an American-style presidential system to a modified parliamentary system during and after President Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law from 1972 to 1981. However, after the election of Aquino, a new constitution was drafted and approved in a plebiscite in 1982. Under this constitution, an American-style presidential system was restored. The powers of the three branches of government (the president, the legislature, and the judiciary) are balanced with no one branch predominating.

Executive power is vested in the president who is elected by direct universal suffrage and is limited to one term of six years duration. The president appoints a Cabinet which oversees day to day affairs of the government. Legislative power resides in a 24 member Senate with members elected from a nationwide constituency, and the 250 member House of Representatives. Of the number 200 are elected from individual local constituencies and 50 appointed by the president. The judicial system consists of a 15 member Supreme Court and various lower courts.

Government in the Philippines is unitary, not federal. The central government supervises administrative details for the provinces, cities, and towns, but these local jurisdictions choose their own officials and manage most of their own affairs.

Administratively, the 72 provinces are divided into 12 regions. Metropolitan Manila, which includes the city proper, Quezon City, and other jurisdictions, has its own legal status. In the south, with its substantial concentrations of Muslim Filipinos, and in northern Luzon, with its substantial numbers of cultural minorities, the government is implementing a constitutionally mandated program of regional autonomy.

The flag of the Philippines consists of equal horizontal bands of blue and red; next to the staff is a golden sun with three stars on a white triangle.

Arts, Science, Education

The Philippines has over 40,000 public and private primary, intermediate, secondary, and collegiate schools. Among the institutions of higher education are the University of the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomás, and other nationally chartered centers of higher learning. The scope of private education is impressive171 government and 636 private colleges and universities. Although it is occasionally argued that some schools fall below the standards of learning elsewhere, the mere presence of so many schools is an achievement which few other developing nations can match. An educated electorate is part of the Filipino's concept of democracy. Until recent years, much of the intellectual and cultural life of the country revolved around the universities. Today, expanding libraries, museums, concert halls, book shops, and art galleries provide alternate experiences.

As the Far East's only predominantly Christian country, Western ideas and values have strongly influenced Philippine art. The art world is active and diversified. Folk-dance groups enjoy the same popularity as Western modern and classical ballet companies. Two symphony orchestras in Manila have concert seasons, and drama clubs (several with international membership) perform throughout the year. Exciting and venturesome examples of modern architecture are represented in some new buildings in the Manila area.

A large scientific community is active in the Philippines. The National Science Development Board has under its jurisdiction the National Institute of Science and Technology, the Nuclear Research Institute, the Coconut Research Institute, and the Textile Research Institute. The Nuclear Research Institute operates a one-megawatt reactor, producing isotopes for medical use, and carries on research in other areas.

Philippine scientists work with their counterparts from all over the world in the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, which has developed new strains of "miracle rice." Another important international project is the country's affiliation with INTELSAT through two PHILCOMSAT satellite earth stations. These installations at Tanay make it possible for the Philippines to carry direct telecasts worldwide events.

Commerce and Industry

The once-promising Philippine economy declined in the early 1990s due to a variety of factors. The shutdown of U.S. military operations resulted in the loss of thousands of civilian jobs, as well as more than one billion dollars that the bases injected into the economy. Prolonged drought and inadequate infrastructure also contributed to the country's stagnant economic growth. Growth resumed in 1993 and 1994, and inflation declined.

The economy retains many of its traditional characteristics. Almost 40% the labor force is employed in agriculture and many earn their living in the related activities of processing, transportation, and trade in agricultural products. Efforts are being made to encourage and decentralize industrial development, which is presently concentrated around Manila. In the south, Iligan City with its hydroelectric dam and steel complex, and Davao City and Cebu City are developing into industrial areas. Export-processing zones are located in Bataan, Cebu City, and Baguio, and others are planned in the provinces.

A large debt burden, and population pressure make agricultural development, industrial sector expansion, and increased export earnings critical to future development. Chief Philippine exports include coconut products, garments, and electronics. Key crops include rice and corn, primarily for domestic consumption; sugar, coconut products, abaca, pineapple, bananas, and forest products such as lumber, plywood, and veneer for export.

The private sector dominates the Philippine economy. Government economic agencies determine the policy framework within which the private sector functions and the principal directions of the economy through the Investment Priorities Plan. Economic nationalism is a potent force in the Philippines, and some government trade and investment policies reflect this sentiment. The public sector also has responsibility for much needed economic infrastructures, such as power generation, roads, and port and air terminal facilities.

A few wealthy families, which are now developing modern management practices, are very influential in the private sector. The Filipino-Chinese community is also a major force in businesses. Americans traditionally have been the principal foreign investors in the Philippines. But Japanese, European, and other Asian investments and financial interests have become increasingly important.

Unemployment in metropolitan Manila is about twice as high as in rural areas and underemployment throughout the country is a serious problem. Creating new jobs to reduce underemployment and provide employment for new workers is one of the Philippines most pressing problems. A competitive wage scale and a well-trained, English-speaking labor force are important attractions for employment-generating investment.

Trade unions have had a long history in the Philippines. However, unions are divided among a vast array of rival labor federations whose disunity seriously undermines the economic and political influence of the labor movement. The number of strikes has declined recently, but some unions pursue strikes for ideological more than economic reasons.


Travel by air to practically any part of the world can be arranged from Manila. American-flag cargo ships, with limited passenger capacity (usually 12), have infrequent trans-Pacific sailings from Taiwan to the U.S. west coast via Hong Kong and Japan but, for all practical purposes, surface travel between the U.S. and the Philippines is not convenient.

Airlines connecting Manila with other points in the Far East include Air France, China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), Korean Airlines, Northwest, Pakistan International, Philippine Airlines, Qantas, Sabena, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) Thai Airways International, Japan Airlines, and Air Egypt. Northwest has daily scheduled flights to the U.S.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) makes scheduled flights to cities and important towns throughout the country. It is possible to arrange a one-day round trip to some places.

Inter-island ships sail almost daily, with calls at major ports within the country. Although the accommodations cannot be considered first class, those traveling on the ships find their voyages adventurous and enjoyable. Ships are often crowded and overbooked; at times ship travel may be hazardous because safety regulations may be unenforced.

Modes of city transportation vary, but taxis are most commonly used by Americans who do not have personal vehicles. Many taxi companies and individual owners and operators provide service throughout the large cities and their suburbs. Mostly, small Japanese cars are used. Many taxis are old, dirty, poorly maintained, and driven recklessly; many do not have air conditioning. Street crime in Manila often involves taxis, so care should be taken when hailing one. The most reputable taxis are found in front of hotels and other large businesses and have meters that work; fares are reasonable. A small tip is usually given.

Bus service is available throughout Manila and suburban areas. Fares are cheap and schedules frequent. However, buses are seldom used by Americans, as they are considered neither safe nor comfortable by U.S. standards. Pickpockets are quite active on the buses here. Buses are also handled recklessly, and drivers often race from one street corner to another vying for passengers, and sometimes vary the established route.

"Jeepneys," colorful vehicles built on Jeep frames, are plentiful in Manila and suburban areas. They carry up to a dozen people and are frequently overcrowded. Fare is nominal to most points in Manila; this means of transportation, however, cannot be relied on to follow regular routes. Most vehicles have side curtains, but passengers should expect to get wet when it rains. Since "jeepneys" are preferable to city buses, Americans occasionally use them.

For an occasional "fun trip," there is the horse-drawn carretela or calesa. One should bargain with the driver (cochero ) to set the price of the trip. These horse-drawn vehicles are banned from the main thoroughfares of Manila, as they constitute a serious traffic hazard for motorized vehicles.

Two major highways lead out of Manila, one going north to Angeles and Baguio, and one heading south. Although the roads have four-lane sections near Manila, mainly they are two-lane highways.

Train travel is not recommended, considering the unsafe condition of roadbeds, substandard cleanliness of cars, and frequent pilferage of belongings.

Although it is possible to go to almost any point on Luzon Island by bus, few Americans do so for the same reasons as given for Manila city buses. Sarkies Bus Tours may be the exception. The company has clean, air-conditioned vehicles traveling regularly between Manila and several cities, including Baguio and Banaue.

Driving in the Philippines, as in most places where traffic is highly congested, requires considerable care and patience in order to avoid accidents. Some people find it desirable to employ a full-time chauffeur for this reason, and to ensure against the danger of pilferage or theft of an unattended car.


Although local telephone service is common in the Philippines, it is far from reliable. Storms, and even showers, disrupt the service, and telephone instruments often are unusable for no apparent reason. Frequently, repairs take an inordinate amount of time. Long-distance service to the U.S. is excellentwhen telephones are functioning properly. Some international connections are scheduled for certain hours of the day. Although not always dependable, service between Manila and all major Philippine cities is also available.

International telegraph and cable service is provided by several companies, including RCA, ETPI, and Globe Mackay. Mail leaves for, and arrives from, the U.S. via American-flag carriers seven days a week. Transit time is usually five to six days.

Radio and television programs in the Philippines resemble those in the U.S. They are commercial and highly competitive. Many are in English. Popular American series are carried in English on TV, but many locally produced shows are in Tagalog. Local news and public affairs programs are usually in English. Movies are also popular on television, both in English and Tagalog.

Currently, the Philippines has over 300 radio stations, with about 45 of these in the metro Manila area. Radio stations carry news, music, and commercials. Music varies from the classics to rock. Many Manila stations broadcast in FM stereo, featuring a wide variety of pop and classical music. Radio/TV stations carry international and U.S. news, but these reports are inclined to be sketchy and lacking in depth. Anyone interested in comprehensive information should have a short-wave receiver. A shortwave radio will pick up broadcasts from Voice of America (VOA), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and Radio Australia.

The Philippines has over 25 TV channels, about five of them (plus two cable channels) in the Manila area. All Manila stations are color-equipped. TV channel allocations are the same as those in the U.S.

Eight major English-language daily newspapers are printed in the Philippines. The Manila Bulletin is the largest of the three English national dailies. Other English newspapers and periodicals specialize in current business and trade affairs. The Asian Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune are available at newsstands and at major hotels.

More than 10 locally published weekly magazines are in English. Some have multi-interest, short articles (Focus Philippines and Panorama ) and others carry articles for a specific audience. Most pieces are light features on human interest and other apolitical subjects but, occasionally, there is in-depth analysis of current events.

The Far East editions of Time and Newsweek are available by subscription or direct purchase at local newsstands. A limited supply of most American magazines, four to six weeks late, and paperback books can be purchased at local newsstands.

Health and Medicine

For most medical and surgical problems, Manila's facilities are considered satisfactory. Makati Medical Center, a 300-bed hospital opened in November 1968, has modern equipment and facilities comparable to those in a large U.S. community hospital. Many of its staff physicians and surgeons are American-trained. Other good hospitals include Manila Medical Center, Manila Doctor's Hospital, and St. Luke's Hospital in neighboring Quezon City.

Since a large number of Filipino doctors and nurses have received advanced training in the U.S., most specialties are found. A few excellent expatriate doctors practice in Manila.

Despite the availability of U.S.-trained Filipino doctors and dentists in Manila, dental work and medical problems should be taken care of before departure for the Philippines.

There are several U.S.-trained physicians in Cebu City. For most illnesses and emergency medical problems, the facilities are considered adequate. Cebu Doctor's Hospital, opened in 1972, comes closest to meeting Western standards for cleanliness and equipment, and is preferred by most of the American community. Chong Hua and Perpetual Succour Hospitals are also acceptable. Routine dental care is available here, but orthodontic treatment and oral surgery must be done in Manila. If you use regular medication, arrange with a U.S. pharmacy to make routine shipments.

Several U.S.-trained physicians in Davao City are used extensively by the American population of that city. The Ricardo Limso Medical Center is where most of the recommended physicians admit patients. Although it does not have some of the more sophisticated equipment found in most American hospitals, the facility is considered adequate for many medical problems, including emergency surgery (e.g., appendectomy). Elective surgery or sophisticated diagnostic procedures should be performed elsewhere.

In general, common diseases may be treated in Baguio. The two hospitals considered adequate are Notre Dame de Lourdes and Pines City Doctor's Hospital. Treatment at better hospitals is recommended for illnesses requiring a prolonged hospitalization or major surgery.

The following general health advice refers to Manila, but actually applies to the entire Philippines:

The general level of sanitation is lower than that in the U.S., but is high in comparison with many other developing countries. An increase in the population of metropolitan Manila since the time of liberation has greatly overtaxed the water supply, sewage and garbage disposal, street cleaning, and utilities. Caution must be exercised regarding the municipal water supply. At times, particularly during the dry season, pressure is low in the mains, and water in certain areas of the city cannot be considered potable. Some of the residential villages have their own deep wells and pumps, and make it a practice to monitor the purity of their water. As a general precaution, however, water used for drinking and daily dental care should be boiled.

Some open sewers still exist in Manila, and practices in the area of waste disposal, food handling, and market sanitation in some areas may not be adequate from a public health standpoint. Manila continues its effort to improve hygienic conditions in the city, and to educate its people in public health and sanitation measures. However, the program has not reached all levels of society, and caution must be exercised. Cockroaches, ants, mosquitoes, fleas, termites, rats, and mice are quite common in the Philippines. They can be controlled through home efforts and the use of commercial exterminators.

Laws require the reporting of communicable diseases. There are isolation hospitals for the treatment of typhoid, cholera, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, etc. Incoming ships and airplanes, and their passengers, are subject to quarantine inspection.

Occasional gastrointestinal upsets and colds are almost unavoidable in the Philippines. Through normal precautions and care, it should be possible to avoid serious diseases such as cholera, typhoid, bacillary dysentery, and intestinal parasites. Inoculation against typhoid, tetanus-diphtheria, poliomyelitis, and cholera is advised. Susceptible children should be vaccinated against measles, mumps, hemophilus B, and rubella, following the usual recommended schedules.

Gamma globulin is available for hepatitis prophylaxis. Tuberculosis is common in the Philippines, and periodic skin tests are recommended. It is important that all household help and drivers have physical examinations at regular intervals.

While the areas in and around Manila, Baguio, and Cebu City are malaria-free, there is incidence of the disease in some of the rural, undeveloped parts of the country. Visitors traveling in these areas should take appropriate preventions. Chloroquine-resistant malaria may be encountered in some places.

Penicillinase-producing Neisseria gonorrhea (PPNG) is common here. This type of gonorrhea is resistant to penicillin and must be treated by other means.

Respiratory infections and irritations are also common because of atmospheric pollution and the vagaries of air conditioning.

Normal precaution must be taken in eating fresh fruits and vegetables. It is wise to eat local produce only after peeling, soaking, scrubbing, and cooking. A certain amount of salt in the daily diet is desirable.

Boiling for five minutes is the recommended method for sterilizing water. Bottled beverages sold here are usually plentiful and safe. In general, it is safer to drink bottled beverages or hot tea or coffee, rather than water, in public places. Powdered, reconstituted milk is widely used. Fresh milk and dairy products, other than Magnolia brand, are not always considered safe, even though pasteurized. Meats from local markets should be well cooked, and the freshness of fish determined before eating.

Many fine restaurants in Manila are patronized by Americans. These are quality establishments and may be patronized with reasonable confidence. However, it is not wise to eat raw food, especially raw seafood, even at the best places. Care should be taken in consuming local dairy products, and children should not be allowed to eat ice cream or other food bought from street peddlers. Ice is always suspect. It should also be noted that alcohol does not kill bacteria.

Visitors must remember to avoid overexertion and excessive fatigue. The tropical environment is enervating, and recovery from exercise may not be as prompt in the Philippines as in a temperate climate. Serious burns may follow relatively short exposure to the sun. Heat rash responds best to frequent cool showers, air-conditioned rooms, loose clothing, and all measures to reduce perspiration. Superficial skin infections are extremely common in the tropics. Even the smallest wound should be carefully cleaned with an antibiotic disinfectant and covered.

Most standard medicines are stocked in the larger pharmacies in major cities, although brand names may be different and unfamiliar. Many major multi-national drug companies have factories and representatives in the Philippines.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Feb. 25 Freedom Day

Apr. 9 Arawng Kagitingan (Valour Day)

Mar/Apr. Maundy Thursday*

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

May. Flores de Mayo*

May 1 Labor Day

June 12 Independence Day

Aug. (last Sun) National Heroes Day*

Sept. 21 Thanksgiving

Nov. 1 All Saints' Day

Nov.2 All Souls' Day

Nov. 30 Bonifacio Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 30 Rizal Day

Dec.31 Last Day of the Year



Passage, Customs & Duties

Several air routes are traveled from the U.S. west coast to the Philippines; the most commonly used are those via Honolulu and Guam to Manila, or via Seattle or Anchorage, through Tokyo to Manila.

Travel within the archipelago is possible by boat, plane, bus, or car. Few tourists rent a car to drive, as the road system is crowded and drivers are undisciplined. Driving off the national highways and paved roads is particularly dangerous, especially at night. To avoid overcrowded or unsafe transport, caution is urged in planning travel by older, inter-island ferryboats or other public conveyances.

U.S. citizens are allowed to enter the Philippines without a visa upon presentation of their U.S. passport, which must be valid for at least six months after entry, and a return ticket to the U.S. or onward ticket to another country. Upon arrival, immigration authorities will annotate the U.S. passport with an entry visa valid for 21 days. If you plan to stay longer than 21 days, you will have to apply for an extension at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, Magallanes Drive, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines. There are special requirements for the entry of unaccompanied minors. Additional information concerning entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of the Philippines, 1600 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 467-9300 or from the Philippines Consulates General in Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, or San Francisco.

U.S. citizens living in or visiting the Philippines are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, located at 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila City; tel. (63-2) 523-1001. The Consular American Citizen Services fax number is (63-2) 522-3242 and the ACS web page is

The U.S. Consular Agency in Cebu provides limited services for U.S. citizens. The Consular Agency address is: Third Floor, PCI Bank, Gorordo Avenue, Lahug, Cebu City; tel. (63-32) 231-1261.


A pet (animal or bird) may be brought to the Philippines if accompanied by a health certificate, documentation of rabies inoculation, import permit from the Philippine Bureau of Animal Industry, and certificate of tax exemption. The validation of an animal's health certificate by a Philippine embassy or consulate is not sufficient documentation to permit landing or free entry; the import permit and tax certificate are the only papers acknowledged by Philippine officials. Without proper clearance, the animal will be held at customs in quarantine.

Currency, Banking and Weights and Measures

The official currency unit is the peso, which is divided into 100 centavos.

Visitors should also be vigilant when using credit cards. One form of credit card fraud involves the illicit use of an electronic device to retrieve and record information, including the PIN, from the card's magnetic strip. The information is then used to make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam, never let your card out of your sight. Major problems have occurred at large department stores and some hotel restaurants.

The metric system of weights and measures is standard in the Philippines, but English units (pounds, gallons, and yards) often are used.

The time in the Philippines is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus eight.

Disaster Preparedness

The Philippines is a volcano-, typhoon-and earthquake-prone country. During the rainy season (May to November) there are typhoons and flash floods. Flooding can cause road delays and cut off bridges. Typhoons in the vicinity of the Philippines can interrupt air and sea links within the country. Volcanic activity is frequent, and periodically the Government of the Philippines announces alerts for specific volcanoes. Earthquakes can also occur throughout the country. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at


The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Agoncillo, Teodoro A. A Short History of the Philippines. New York: Mentor Books, 1969.

Bain, David Haward. Sitting in Darkness: Americans in the Philippines. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1984.

Bresnan, John. Crisis in the Philippines: The Marcos Era and Beyond. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.

Bunge, Frederica M. Philippines: A Country Study. Washington, DC: Foreign Areas Studies, 1984.

Cottrell, Alvin J. The Military Utility of the U.S. Facilities in the Philippines. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, 1980.

Domingo, Benjamin. The Making of Filipino Foreign Policy. Manila: Foreign Service Institute, 1983.

Elliott, Charles B. The Philippines to the End of the Commission Government: A Study in Tropical Democracy. New York: Green-wood Press, 1971.

Friend, Theodore. Between Two Empires: The Ordeal of the Philippines, 1929-1946. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1965.

Gleeck, Lewis E., Jr. The Manila Americans, 1901-1964. Manila: Carmelo & Bauermann, 1978.

Gowing, Peter, and Robert McAnnis, eds. The Muslim Filipinos. Manila: New Day Publishers, 1974.

Guthrie, George M. Six Perspectives on the Philippines. Manila: Bookmark, 1971.

Jones, Gregg R. Red Revolution: Inside the Philippine Guerilla Movement. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989.

Kessler, Richard J. U.S. Policy Toward the Philippines After Marcos. Muscatine: The Stanley Foundation, 1986.

Kim, Sung Yong. United States-Philippines Relations, 1946-1956. Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1968.

Lachica, Eduardo. The Huks: Philippine Agrarian Society in Revolt. New York: Praeger, 1971.

Lande, Carl H. Rebuilding a Nation: Philippine Challenges and American Policy. Washington, DC: Washington Institute Press, 1987.

Lansdale, Edward G. In The Midst of Wars: An American's Mission to Southeast Asia. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.

Loveday, Douglas F. The Role of U.S. Military Bases in the Philippine Economy. Santa Monica: Rand, 1971.

Manchester, William. American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964. Boston: Little, Brown, 1978.

McDonough, Lolita W. The U.S. Military Bases in the Philippines: Issues and Scenarios. Quezon City: International Studies Institute of the Philippines, 1986.

Miller, Stuart Creighton. Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1982.

Niksch, Larry A. Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in the Philippines. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 1985.

Owen, Norman G., et al. Compadre Colonialism: Philippine-American Relations, 1898-1946. Manila: Solidaridad Publishing House, 1971.

Owen, Norman G. The Philippine Economy and the United States: Studies in Past and Present Interactions. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, 1983.

Pringle, Robert. Indonesia and the Philippines: American Interests in Island Southeast Asia. New York: Columbia University Press, 1980.

Rosenberg, David A. Marcos and Martial Law in the Philippines. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1979.

Schultz, Duane. Hero of Bataan: The Story of General Jonathan M. Wainwright. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981.

Steinberg, David J. The Philippines, A Singular and a Plural Place. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1982.

Von Brevern, Mariles. Faces of Manila. Manila: Lyceum Press, 1985.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"The Philippines." Cities of the World. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"The Philippines." Cities of the World. . (July 9, 2018).

"The Philippines." Cities of the World. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of the Philippines
Region: Southeast Asia
Population: 81,159,644
Language(s): Pilipino, English
Literacy Rate: 94.6%
Academic Year: June-March
Number of Primary Schools: 38,631
Compulsory Schooling: 6 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 3.4%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 4,864
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 12,159,495
  Secondary: 4,979,795
  Higher: 2,022,106
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 114%
  Secondary: 77%
  Higher: 29%
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 35:1
  Secondary: 32:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 113%
  Secondary: 78%
  Higher: 33%

History & Background

The Republic of the Philippines consists of 7,107 tropical islands on the Western rim of the Pacific Ocean. Only 4,600 of the islands have been named and only 1,000 have been inhabited. Although the total area of the country is 300,000 square kilometers, the islands are 65 percent mountainous. The inhabited portions are densely populated.

The Philippines is the thirteenth most populated country in the world. The country's capital of Metro Manila has a population of well over ten million people. The Filipinos, are the strongest assets of the country. With the country's literacy rate at 95 percent, the Philippine manpower provides a large pool of English-speaking, well educated, and highly trainable workforce with recognized management, computer, and design skills. The Philippines came in first in a survey of Asian countries on literacy conducted by Asiaweek in 1996. In a similar survey of 46 countries, Filipino skilled workers ranked first while Filipino managers were ranked second among their counterparts. Analysts maintain that it will take other emerging countries of Southeast Asia, a generation to reach the educational advantage of the Filipinos especially for the production of high quality technological products. There are an estimated 4.5 million Filipinos working overseas. In 1997, they sent US$4.5 billion back home. These foreign remittances have helped the Philippines weather the Asian financial crisis better than other affected Asian countries.

Eleven languages and 87 dialects are spoken in the country. Of these 11 languages, 8 are derived from the Malay-Polynesian language family. No two of these are mutually comprehensible. The country has two official languages, Filipino (derived from Tagalog) and English.

As far back as 30,000 years ago, the Aetas (aboriginal people of the Philippines) arrived through land bridges that connected the archipelago to other landmasses. A 22,000-year-old fossil skullcap was discovered in the Tabon caves of Palawan by archeologist Robert Fox. A document dating back to 900 A.D. was discovered at Laguna, Philippines. Mention was made in the document of names of places that exist to the present.

Trade occurred between the tenth and the sixteenth centuries, mostly with the Chinese and Islamic people. These two groups have remained and continue to influence the Filipino culture, including the educational system.

As evidence of the high level of pre-Hispanic culture, native literature is illustrated by the Ilocano (language spoken in Northern Luzon) ballad-epic narrating the life and bravery of Lam-ang in his conquest of the various indigenous groups in the main island of Luzon. Education, of an informal type, was taught during the years prior to the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. An oral tradition was handed down from generation to generation, in the form of poetry, ballads, songs, and dances. Oral literature carried through the ages show an informal and unstructured form of education, including training. Songs, poetry, dances, whether they be religious, festive, heroic, folk, seasonal, or about harvest, love, or war, represent high aspects of a culture. Parents and tribal tutors most likely provided the oral tradition, instruction, and other vocational training.

On March 16, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan arrived and claimed the islands for Spain's king, Charles I. His claim was the forerunner of over three centuries of Spanish colonization of the Philippines.

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the inhabitants of the archipelago were literate and had their own system of writing that they used for communication. This writing system is often erroneously referred to as Alibata (the first three letters of the Maguindanao version of the Arabian alphabet: alif, ba, ta). It is more properly named Baybayin, which in Filipino means "to spell." Baybayin has seventeen basic symbols, three of which are vowel sounds. This writing system was used extensively by the inhabitants of the islands, as witnessed by the Spanish upon their arrival. Father Pedro Chirino, a Jesuit chronicler and historian for Miguel de Legazpi (an explorer and the first royal governor of the islands), reports in Relaciones de las Islas Filipinas that when he arrived in the islands in 1565, all the islanders, both men and women, were reading and writing. Another witness and recorder of this fact was Antonio Morga, the Senior Judge Advocate of the High Court of Justice and Commander of the galleon warship San Diego. He noted in Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas that almost all the natives, men and women alike, wrote in the Baybayin language and that there were few who did not write it excellently or correctly.

When the Spanish found that the islanders were educated and literate, the missionaries among them published several books to propagate the Catholic religion among the islanders. The Tagalog Doctrina Christiana (1593) and its Chinese version, based on the catechism teachings of Cardinal Bellarmino, were released a couple of months apart. In 1610, the first Filipino author Tomas Pinpin published a book in Baybayin entitled Librong pagaaralan nang mga Tagalog ng uicang Castila (Book for Tagalogs to Study the Castillian Language). Clearly, the title of the book indicates that education, whether formal or informal, was taking place during this period. In 1620, a fourth book was published. Father Francisco Lopez produced an Ilocano version of the Doctrina Cristiana (spelling changed from the 1593 version) using the Baybayin language. Between 1620 and 1895, this book was reprinted several times. The Baybayin language can still be observed since a form of it is still in use by two indigenous Filipino groups, the Mangyans of the island of Mindoro and the Tagbanuas in the island of Palawan.

The origins of the Baybayin language are unknown, but various theories abound. The Mainland Origin Hypothesis by Peter Belwood stipulates that the language originated from South China and Taiwan. The Island Origin Hypothesis by Wilhelm Solheim suggests that the language originated in the islands of northern Indonesia and Mindanao and then spread northwards. Another theory by David Diringer states that the language derived from Kavi or old Javanese. Fletcher Gardner suggests that the writings came directly from Indian priests who were familiar with the Brahms scripts.

During the entire period of Spanish rule, education was controlled by the Catholic Church. In the place of tribal tutors, Spanish friars and missionaries educated the natives through religion. Upon their arrival, their main goals were to govern the islands, obtain a foothold in the spice trade, and to convert indigenous populations to the Catholic faith. The early friars learned the Baybayin script to allow for better communication with the islanders, particularly in the religious aspect. Religious education then took place using this language. By royal decree the friars were required to teach the Spanish language to the natives, but this was not enforced. This suppression of literacy in the language of the administration kept the inhabitants in ignorance and in subservience for more than 300 years. From 1565 to 1863, there was no specific system of instruction. Worse still, the Baybayin script was replaced by the Roman alphabet since using this gave the indigenous people more leverage dealing with the local Spanish colonial administrators. The Baybayin script was neglected and was not used by succeeding generations.

The San Carlos University was founded in Cebu in 1595. It was initially called the Colegio de San Ildefonso. On April 28, 1611, the University of Santo Tomas was founded in Manila. These universities, along with secondary education schools, were used mainly for Spanish locals.

In 1863, some 342 years after Magellan first arrived in the Philippine islands, Spain promulgated the Education Decree, stipulating compulsory primary education in the Philippines. Education served mainly for catechism purposes. Spanish was used as the language of instruction. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, some 200,000 students (all levels) were in school.

Although secondary and higher education were made available to the local inhabitants by virtue of the 1863 Education Decree, it was only the ilustrados (wealthy locals) who could afford to send their children to study. Some of them even ventured to Europe to complete their studies. This access to higher education and exposure to the liberal trends in Europe crystallized the idea of fighting for independence in the minds of the ilustrados. The education of the ilustrados indirectly fuelled the nationalist spirit of the locals toward a reform movement, and consequently a revolution against Spain.

The Education Decree of 1863 provided for two parts: first, the establishment of at least two free primary schools, one for boys and another for girls, in each town under the control of the municipal government; and second, the creation of a normal school to train men as teachers, supervised by the Jesuits. The teaching of Spanish was compulsory. On June 12, 1898, the revolutionary movement headed by Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain. Even before the Philippine islands were ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris, the revolutionaries had already drafted the main principles of the Malolos Constitution written mainly by Apolinario Mabini in his Constitution Program for the Republic published in July 1898. The Malolos Constitution mandated a free and compulsory system of elementary education. Three other schools of higher learning were established by this constitution: The Burgos Institute of Malolos; the Military Academy of Malolos; and the Literary University of the Philippines. Tagalog was the language used and taught at all levels during the revolution.

On December 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris was signed. It stipulated that the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico be ceded to the United States in exchange for the sum of US$20 million. The people of the Phillipines were not consulted regarding this matter and were outraged. The brutal Philippine-American war ensued. Approximately 250,000 Filipinos died in the war in less than three years. Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans on March 23, 1901, and swore allegiance to the United States.

The first decade of American rule in the Philippines witnessed a marked improvement in education. The First Philippine Commission, also known as the Schurman Commission (created on January 20, 1899), was appointed by President McKinley of the United States. Schurman, previously the president of Cornell University, recommended a system of free public elementary schools as a major component of his report to the president. The Second Philippine Commission (the Taft Commission) on March 16, 1900, enforced this recommendation. Under the leadership of William Howard Taft, free primary education became the method by which locals were instructed of their duties as citizens. English became the language of instruction since most of the teachers were non-commissioned American military officers and military chaplains. From September 1900 to August 1902, the Taft Commission issued 499 laws, one of those being Act No. 74 which took effect on January 21, 1901. Through Act No. 74, a centralized public school system was installed under the Department of Public Instruction.

The creation of a public school system resulted in a shortage of instructors. The Taft Commission, through the Secretary of Public Instruction authorized the importation of teachers from the United States. More than one thousand American educators arrived in the Philippines from 1901 to 1902. Most of them arrived in the ship S.S. Thomas, thus their reputation as Thomasites. This marked a blossoming of education from only about 150,000 students enrolled in 1901 to about one million in primary schools after two decades. This total raised to over two million students in all levels by 1941. The Department of Public Instruction also created the Philippine Normal School to train more teachers. In 1902, the Second Philippine Commission also established a high school system supported by provincial governments. Other institutions of learning were established: special education; marine institute; school of arts and trades; agricultural; and commerce schools.

America's democratic emphasis on public, nonreligious education of the masses was quite a contrast to the Spanish educating only the elite in a system completely under the control of the Catholic Church. Education, the American way, became instilled into the Filipinos as a chance for upward social mobility. For the Filipino, earning a diploma ensures a good job and acceptance in society with a chance for a better future. Despite the initial friction between the mostly Protestant American teachers and the Catholic Filipinos, the American system of education prevailed. All through this tumultuous period, the institutions of learning created during the Spanish period (San Carlos University and the University of Santo Tomas) continued to offer degree programs. Act No. 1870 of the Philippine Legislature in 1908 established the first baccalaureate degree granting institution, the University of the Philippines. Like the other institutions of higher education in the Philippines, the organization of this university was European in style, but the language of instruction was English.

In 1916, during the governorship of Francis Harrison, the United States Congress passed the Second Organic Law, more frequently referred to as the Jones Act. This Act replaced the 1902 First Organic Law and was a reorganization act providing for rapid Filipinization of the government. The entire cabinet, other than the Department of Public Instruction, was composed of Filipinos. The legislative branch also came under Filipino control. Nine years after the Jones Law, a committee headed by Paul Monroe surveyed the state of education and found a very problematic and disappointing scenario. The problems included inadequate textbooks, poor budgetary/finance situations, a lack of trained educators, and high dropout and failure rates. In 1934, the U.S. Congress passed legislation for the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. It took effect in 1935. The new Commonwealth was provided with a transition period of ten years before full independence was achieved.

The Commonwealth government passed the Education Act of 1940, but this did not solve much of the problems still plaguing the Department of Public Instruction. As Filipino officials practiced self-governance, World War II suddenly ensued. The Japanese launched a surprise attack on the Philippines on December 8, 1941, merely ten hours after Pearl Harbor. On June 11, 1942, the Japanese Executive Commission issued Military Order No. 2, renaming the Department of Public Instruction into the Commission of Education, Health, and Public Welfare. In 1943, the Japanese-sponsored Philippine Republic created the Ministry of Education. The Japanese emphasized dignity of labor and love for work. Philippine History, Character Education, and the Filipino language were some of the classes permitted by the Japanese regime for Filipino students. Despite efforts by the Japanese to maintain public education, the education of the young Filipinos was disrupted by this war. In 1944, close to the end of the Japanese regime, the Ministry of Education, Health, and Public Welfare was again renamed to the Department of Public Instruction.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The Philippine traditional value of stressing the importance of education has been codified and incorporated into the constitutions and laws of the country. The first Philippine constitution, or the 1899 Constitution (also called the Malolos Constitution), expressly provided in Article 23 of Title IV that "public education shall be free and obligatory in all schools of the nation." Section 5 Article XIV of the 1935 Constitution, which was enacted for the Commonwealth government, stated that the "Government . . . shall provide at least free primary instruction, and citizenship training to adult citizens." The provision for free public elementary education was retained under the 1943 Constitution adopted by the Provisional government during World War II. This was carried over to the 1973 Constitution that took effect during the regime of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The 1987 Constitution took effect during the presidential term of Corazon Aquino. Several significant provisions on education were embodied in this constitution. Public elementary education was declared to be free and compulsory. Public high school and secondary education were also to be provided for free. Moreover, it was categorically stated in Section 5(5) of Article XIV that the "State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment."

The constitutional provisions on education are creditable considering that the various constitutions of the Philippines have been forged during times when the nation was on the verge of crucial political changes. When the 1899 Constitution was written, the Philippines was embroiled in the Philippine-American War. The 1935 Constitution was written when the Philippines was poised for independence from the United States of America. The 1943 Constitution occurred when Japan occupied the Philippines during World War II. By that time, the Filipinos were fighting for independence against a third foreign colonial power in less than fifty years. When the 1973 Constitution was declared ratified, the dictatorship of Marcos was in full swing. He and his cronies had engineered political and civil unrest to justify the declaration of Martial Law and the indefinite extension of his term in power. Marcos was ousted during the peaceful EDSA Revolution of 1986. The 1987 Constitution was drafted as the country struggled to recover from three decades of Marcos' economic plunder and dictatorship. Political stability has not gained an enduring foothold in the Philippines. The term of office of President Aquino was marked by several attempted coups d'état.

The next president, Fidel V. Ramos, forged peace with the Muslims in the Southern part of the country and brought economic growth. However, his accomplishments were curtailed by his successor, Joseph Estrada. Estrada was elected into the presidency by popular vote in 1998. Conflicts with the Muslims re-ignited after the Muslims kidnapped Filipino citizens and foreigners. Allegations of corruption on a massive scale were filed against Estrada in October 2000. Confidence in his leadership quickly eroded as government officials, prominent political leaders, the military, and his cabinet successively called for his resignation. The people again took to the streets in peaceful protest. In January 2001, he resigned his post and handed the reigns of government to his Vice-President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. An impeachment trial was ongoing when he resigned. Political instability dramatically and adversely affected education. Economic adversity quietly caused systemic educational instability.

Despite the categorical affirmation in the 1987 Constitution for the State to assign the highest budgetary priority to education, this was not followed. The economic plunder of the country by some of its leaders and their cohorts (both Filipino and foreign) left the Philippines with a huge foreign debt that amounted to over US$45 billion in 1997. Annual interest payments alone exceeded US$4.5 billion. Deficits in needed classrooms, textbooks, and salaried teacher positions have accumulated over the years. As of April 2000, the public education system had a deficiency of 37,000 classrooms, 10 million textbooks, 29,000 salaried teacher positions, and 2.6 million desks. These backlogs were not met and spilled over to the succeeding school years. Despite the desperate need for more textbooks, classrooms, teachers, and learning materials, debt servicing takes up the bulk of the fiscal budget every year.

Educational SystemAn Overview

Three government organizations handle education in the Philippines. These are the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). In 1999, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, which governs both public and private education in all levels, stated that its mission was "to provide quality basic education that is equitably accessible to all by the foundation for lifelong learning and service for the common good." The Department also stipulated its vision to "develop a highly competent, civic spirited, life-skilled, and God-loving Filipino youth who actively participate in and contribute towards the building of a humane, healthy and productive society." All these ambitions were embodied in the development strategy called "Philippines 2000."

The academic year in the Philippines is patterned after its wet/cool and dry/hot seasons. The hottest months of the year are from March to May, thus making them the "summer break." The wet season starts in June, which also marks the beginning of the academic school year. Beginning 1993, DECS increased the number of school days from 185 to 200. The school year ends during the first few weeks of March. The Philippines, a Catholic country, has a two- to three-week break during Christmas in December and a four- to five-day break at the start of November to celebrate the Day of the Saints and the Day of the Dead.

The language of instruction has been a much debated topic. For a country dispersed over 7,107 islands, with 11 languages and 87 dialects, colonized by Spain for more than 300 years, and educated by the Americans, the decision to pick a particular language of instruction has been very controversial. The languages used for instruction have switched from Spanish to Tagalog, to English to the local vernacular, including some Chinese languages, and Arabic, which is used in the southern part of the country.

According to an official publication of the U.S. Library of Congress, the Philippine census reported that during the 1990s a total of 65 percent of Filipinos understood English. During the last four decades of the twentieth century, education in all levels had vastly improved. In the compulsory elementary level, from 1965-1966, there were a total of 5.8 million students enrolled, 4.5 percent of which were in private institutions. In 1987-1988 these numbers grew to 9.6 million enrolled, 6.6 percent of which were in private schools. By school year 1999-2000, 12.6 million were enrolled with 7.1 percent in the private sector. This level is for grades 1 through 6ages 7 to 12. The various Philippine grade levels are referred to with cardinal numbers (one, two, three) rather than ordinal numbers (first, second, third). Secondary education is taught for 4 years from ages 13 to 16.

Primary and secondary schools are taught from Monday to Friday, starting at 7:30 A.M. The school day begins with a flag raising, national anthem, and pledge of allegiance. Students usually have an hour for lunch. School cafeterias are mostly non-existent and those that exist are largely inadequate. Students either go home for lunch or pack their lunch. Some parents, usually mothers, come to school to bring warm lunch for their children. Classes resume for the afternoon, until about 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. In some areas, due to lack of facilities, certain schools are forced to have double shifts, minimizing the hours children spend in school.

Access has been a problem for certain sectors of the population and DECS has made this the number one priority. In the secondary level for 1965-1966, approximately 1.17 million students were enrolled with 62.3 percent in the private sector. In 1987-1988, there was a total of 3.49 million students enrolled, 40.8 percent of whom were in private schools. By 1999-2000 there was an overall total of 5.1 million students, with 24 percent in private schools.

Higher education in the Philippines is strongly in the private sector. Most bachelor degrees are for four years. Students are usually from 17 to 20 years old. In 1985, the private sector of higher education was close to 80 percent of the student population. Of these institutions one-third are considered non-profit, while two-thirds function for monetary gain. This has lead to the reputation of certain schools as "diploma mills" and to the more serious problem of producing unqualified, unemployed, and underemployed graduates.

During the 1970s, there was a wide discrepancy in the literacy rates of the various regions of the country. The capital region of Metro Manila had a 95 percent literacy rate; the Central Luzon area had a 90 percent literacy rate while the Western portion of Mindanao had a 65 percent rate. Three principal indigenous languages in the Manila area are Cebuano in the Visayas, Tagalog and Ilocano in the northern portion of Luzon. In 1939 Philipino (which is based on the Tagalog language) was made the national language. Philipino later evolved to Filipino which is based on the languages used in the Philippines. English still remains the most important non-indigenous language used by media, higher education, private, primary and secondary schools, government administration, and business. Only a handful of families have maintained speaking in Spanish. The multiplicity of languages used in the Philippines has not affected its literacy rate of 94.6 percent, one of the highest in East Asia and the Pacific region.

Technology use is starting to gain momentum in the overall education of the Philippines. In 1999, there were 93 Internet Service Providers (ISP) in the country. By the beginning of 2001, the participation of nongovernmental organizations and the private sector in education was evident with the donation of 1,000 personal computers for use during school year 2001-2002 in 1,000 public high schools of 16 regions. The program, called One Thousand PCs, has four major components, namely: curriculum development with the creation of a one year course on computer education as a specialization in entrepreneurship; teacher training for recipient schools; courseware development through the creation of Information Technology materials; and the purchase of hardware from the private sector through the Adopt-A-School Program. The Department of Trade and Industry chaired this project.

Curricular development is under the jurisdiction of the DECS. Authority slowly trickled down to the municipal/local levels as the system shifted to decentralize decision-making and empower local schools. Despite these efforts, much of the important decisions, such as the purchase of all public school textbooks, is done by DECS.

Important curricular changes needed to respond to emerging student needs are limited due to budgetary constraints. Three tests are administered to students, the preparation for which must be addressed through further curricular development. These tests are the National Elementary Aptitude Test (NEAT), the National Secondary Aptitude Test (NSAT), and the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE).

The Philippine population grows at a rate of 2.07 percent per year. In July 2000, the estimated population was 81,159,644 people. About 37 percent of this population was from birth to 14-years-old. A 2 percent yearly population growth translates to about 1.6 million children born every year. This growth rate strains the resources of the educational system. During 1999-2000, a 2 percent increase in the number of students meant 8,000 more classrooms needed. The deficit was 29,000 since DECS was able to build only 6,000 new rooms for the year. More teachers required (total lack of 21,000 since the budget allowed for hiring only 4,700 new teachers) 400,000 more desks (of the 2.2 million needed, only 500,000 were purchased) and 10 million additional textbooks with a ratio of 2 students per book. To alleviate this strain, certain schools hold double sessions (one in the morning and another in the afternoon) in elementary schools. Some high schools even have triple sessions due to space and resource problems.

As for gender distribution in the elementary level, male and female students are almost equally represented, while there are more females students at the secondary and higher education level. In rural areas, men are expected to do work while women are allowed to pursue education. Males have a higher rate of failure, dropout, and repetition in both elementary and secondary levels.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Preprimary and primary educational matters are handled by the Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE), under DECS. Preprimary is available in the Philippines for children below the age of six. From age three to five, students first attend nursery school, and then they attend kindergarten. Most private schools offer these programs, particularly in religious schools. Several Montessori schools are available. The Philippine Education for All Assessment Report 2000, an independent evaluation of the education system from 1991 to 2000, stated that the preprimary services had reached only 19.5 percent of the 11.5 million children aged zero to six.

There was, however, an 82 percent increase in the number of public day-care centers from 1993 to 1999. This translates to 32,787 centers. These constructed daycare centers had been able to reach less than half of the 3.2 million who had to have preprimary care by the year 2000.

Six years of primary education is compulsory and is provided free of charge in public schools. In 1998, almost 30 percent of grade 1 entry-age children entered school, an increase of 10 percent since the equivalent rate in 1990 was 20 percent.

The Philippine Education for All Assessment Report of 2000 also stated that a "huge population of children were either over-aged or under-aged for grade one." Families were postponing the education of young children as girls were often asked to take care of younger siblings, and together with boys, help in livelihood.

The number one priority of BEE has been to make primary education accessible for all qualified students. This goal has been met successfully. Some 95 percent of children from ages six to twelve attend primary school. The Early Childhood Development Project (ECDP) is a six-year (1998-2004) joint project of three departments: DECS, the Department of Health, and the Department of Social Welfare. The program, aimed at children under six, shares responsibility for preparing a child for elementary education by providing an eight-week refresher course for grade one entrants in their first two-month-stay in school.

For the school year 2000-2001, DECS projects that 12.75 million students will enroll in primary school. In 1992-1993, there were 34,944 schools, of these 1,974 were private. There were 39,342 elementary schools in 1999-2000, a total of 3,555 of which were private schools serving 7.17 percent of the student body. The gross teacher-pupil ratio was 1:34. The percentage of students passing the NEAT was 76.54 percent.

From 1992 to 2000, the participation rate increased from 85.21 percent to 96.95 percent. Unfortunately dropout rates for the same years also increased from 6.65 percent to 9.38 percent. As of 2000, a total of 4,710 barangays (similar to communities) did not have an elementary school. Performance indicators, key indicators computed to evaluate the system's performance at various levels, show that participation rate has improved from 85.21 percent in 1992-1993 to 96.95 percent in 1999-2000. Completion rate for these same years increased from 66.59 percent to 68.06 percent.

The National Elementary Aptitude Test (NEAT) was first taken by primary students during the 1993-1994 school year, with 55 percent of students passing (50 percent or higher). By 1998-1999, the passing rate was 73.21 percent.

The main mission of the Bureau of Elementary Education is to provide access, progress, and quality in primary education. This body not only formulates key programs but also implements and supervises the varied projects that will eventually enable every citizen "to acquire basic preparation that will make him an enlightened, disciplined, nationalistic, self-reliant, God-loving, creative, versatile, and productive member of the national community." Filipino is used to teach such subjects as Work Education, Physical Education, Social Studies, Health Education, and Character Education. English is used in all mathematics and science classes.

For the school year 2000-2001, BEE had a number of projects and programs: the Multigrade Program in Philippine Education (MPPE) was designed to improve access to and provide quality elementary education through the opening of complete multigrade classes and completion of incomplete schools in remote barangays. MPPE projects included Multigrade Demo Schools Projects (MDSP), Pupil Learning Enhancement Program (PLEP), Little Red School House Project (LRSP), and the Integrated Curriculum for Multigrade Classes (IC-MG).

One of the projects was called the Early Childhood Development Project (ECDP). It outlined the broad policy directions for the State to pursue for Filipino children under six-years-old.

The Preschool Service Contracting Program was another program used by BEE. Preschool classes were organized in the 5th and 6th municipalities and urban poor areas, and were provided preschool experiences for 6 months by private preschool providers.

The SPED Personnel Enhancement Program offered short term summer/semester courses, seminar or training workshops, and national conferences done year round. This program was primarily aimed at honing the capabilities of regular and SPED teachers, administrators, supervisors, and other service providers.

The Resource Materials Development for Children with Special Needs (CSNs) was another important project. It dealt with the development and production of various resource and instructional materials, which included textbooks in braille and in large print, Handbook on Inclusive Education, Reference or Guide Materials for Teachers of Children with Learning Disabilities, Learning Competencies for the Gifted in Grades one to three, and Enrichment materials in six learning areas including Computer Education.

Another BEE program was called the Early Intervention Program for Children with Disabilities. This program focused on the training of SPED teachers and social workers as facilitators to provide parents and other community volunteers with knowledge and skills on educational intervention that should be given to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers under age 6 who are disabled or those with developmental delays.

Standards for Quality Elementary Education (SQEE) was another program utilized by BEE. It generated competency standards for the workforce in all levels of elementary education.

In response to the Social Reform Agenda (SRA) of the Philippine government, funded in part by loans from the World Bank, the Third Elementary Education Program (TEEP) was created. According to the World Bank (WB), TEEP would address areas of weakness in the primary education system such as decentralization of authority to local government units, increase the participation rate from nongovernmental organizations such as parents' associations, private business, and the community at large. The Philippines has not had a strong history of parental associations in the educational system set-up. Despite the great start of this project, the WB stated that caution was needed since the project had a "high-risk, high-reward approach." The BEE cited the main objectives of TEEP as being quality education, capacity for change, and maximizing community and local government roles.

The Social Reform Agenda of the Philippine Government had initially targeted twenty under-served provinces for TEEP, while the Presidential Commission to Fight Poverty added six more. Poverty in these provinces is more acute, with 60 percent of the population below the poverty level. The project will be implemented in 3 batches: Batch 1 (2000-2003), six pilot provinces, namely Ifugao, Benguet, Antique, Guimaras, Agusan del Sur, and Surigao del Sur; Batch 2 (2003-2006), eight provinces, namely Romblon, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Leyte, Biliran, Zamboanga del Sur, and North Cotabato; and Batch 3 (2000-2006), twelve provinces, namely, Abra, Mt. Province, Kalinga Apayao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, Batanes, Aurora, Capiz, Eastern Samar, and Basilan.

The TEEP's loan of funds from the World Bank (WB) was approved by its board in November 1996 and had a project span date starting July 2, 1997, until June 30, 2004. In 1998, the Quality Assurance Group Risk of the WB rated the project's progress as "non-risky" and the Operations Evaluation Department's Quality at Entry Rating was "highly satisfactory." Both its latest Development Objectives Supervision Rating and Latest Implementation Progress Supervision Rating were rated "satisfactory."

While 90 percent of Filipinos are Christian (83 percent Catholic), 5 percent of the population is Muslim (Moslem). The Muslim population is concentrated in the Southern island of Mindanao. The Mindanao Basic Education Development Project, which lasts from 2000 to 2007, is particularly geared to provide an educational system suited to the diverse culture and needs of the children and youth learners in Mindanao. English and Filipino are used as the media of instruction for primary school, beginning with the first grade. The local vernacular may be used as an auxiliary language of instruction, but must be used only when neither English nor Filipino could be used for full comprehension of certain concepts.

Secondary Education

Governance of the four-year high school education falls under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Secondary Education (BSE) of DECS. Although secondary education is provided free in public schools, participation rate has been inferior in comparison to primary education. In 1965-1966, there were 1,173,000 students in secondary education, a majority of which was in private schools (731,000 or 62.3 percent). In 1987-1988, there were 3,494,460 students with 1,404,387 or 40.8 percent in private schools. In 1992-1993, participation rate was 56.76 percent, with 5,757 total schools (2,285 private) and the total enrollment was 4,450,000 students (1,520,000 in private schools). There were 125,142 teachers (39,822 private). The gross teacher-student ratio was 1:36. The dropout rate was 7 percent. In 1993-1994, 75 municipalities had no high school facilities available. By 1999-2000, there were 5,160,000 students with 1,240,000 being in private schools. The teacher-student ratio was 1:35. By this time, only five municipalities did not have high school facilities. The National Secondary Aptitude test was first implemented in 1994-1995, where the passing rate was 77.32 percent. By 1998-1999, a total of 94.76 percent passed.

BSE has a Curriculum Development Division which coordinates and implements research projects on curriculum changes and innovations. There is also the Staff Development Division for the training and development of teachers, administrators, and staff of the bureau. The Population Education Unit is geared to provide high school students a better grasp of population related issues to enable them to make sound and responsible decisions.

In 1993, DECS formulated a Manual of Information on Secondary Education of the Philippines where it specifies its missions, goals, and functions. The secondary education mission statement was: "to determine a complete, adequate and integrated system of education, both formal and nonformal; to supervise and regulate appropriately all educational institutions; and to develop and promote culture and sports in order to prepare the present and the next generation for life." Briefly stated, it is four specific goals covering the areas of broad general education, training in middle level skills, developing for improving the quality of human life, and responding to the changing needs and conditions of the nation. The manual lists the functions of secondary education in three major aspects which are: formulation of policies, plans, and projects; the supervision of all public and private institutions; and the maintenance of a complete, adequate, and integrated system of education relevant to the goals of national development.

During the beginning of 2001, BSE had 12 active projects and a flagship 6-year program (SEDIP).

Adopt-a-school was a partnership between school and industry to maximize provisions of the resources to public schools. In February 2001, this program was able to procure one thousand PCs for one thousand facilities in sixteen regions nationwide along with provisions to train one teacher in each facility to use and implement technology applications to learning.

Balik-Paaralan sa (Out-of-School Adults (BP-OSA, Back-to-School for Out-of-School Adults) was another project of BSE. As of the beginning of 2001, there are 31 high schools serving some 1,381 adult students in this project.

Another project was Community Service and Public Safety Training (CS-PST). This curriculum relevance project was tested in six private and public schools in the underserved regions of Central Visayas and Southern Mindanao.

Government Assistance to Student and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) was a project utilized by BSE. It was a contract between government and private schools that allowed students who were unable to attend the free public secondary schools to enroll in private schools. In January 1999, there were 374,918 student beneficiaries in 1,122 participating schools for the Education Service Contracting and 162,966 recipients of Tuition Fee Supplements in 638 schools.

Home-Partnership Program (HPP), Population Education Program (PEP) and Population Education Information Network (POPEDIN) were inter-related programs dealing with the topics such as population education and the more delicate topic of adolescent reproductive health.

Another project of BSE was Indigenization/Localization of the Secondary Education Curriculum. This project dealt with the contextualization of the curriculum within the local culture.

Project Effective and Affordable Secondary Education (EASE) was a project that targeted students in disadvantaged situations who were unable to attend regular sessions. EASE provided a temporary study-at-home solution until the student was able to return to the formal classroom setting.

Another BSE project was the Revitalized Homeroom Guidance Program (RHGP). It was a counseling program where school staff members and teachers were given a week-long training to better match students in their aptitude and career interests.

School-Based Education was another project used by BSE. It was a form of self-evaluation by schools, which was initiated, planned, and administered by the principal and the teachers themselves.

Another project was the Self-Instructional Packages in the Social Reform Agenda Provinces. It provided materials to discourage students from dropping out due to poverty/illness. Teacher Training Programs was another BSE project. It was geared mostly to train teachers in science and technology.

Thinking Skills Development for Maximized Cognitive Performance (TSD-MCP) was a program that was initiated in six schools to research and develop steps to improve student cognitive and thinking skills.

In 1983-1984, DECS launched the Program for Decentralized Education (PRODED) for elementary education to modify the curriculum and put emphasis on science, technology, math, reading, and writing. As a follow-up to this, the New Secondary Education Curriculum (NSEC) was implemented in 1989 to replace the 1973 Revised Secondary Education Program (RSEP). NSEC is a major part of the Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP) to bring PRODED into the High School system, to improve quality of graduates, and to expand access to quality education. NSEC brings forth a student-centered, community-oriented style of education where Values Education is incorporated into the teaching of other subject areas.

The eight subject areas are English, Filipino, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science and Technology, Physical Education, Health, and Music (PEHM), Technology and Home Economics, and Values Education. Four years of secondary education is required by most of the higher institutions. Philippine secondary education is composed of academic and vocational curricula. A curriculum for secondary schools introduced in 1989 made Filipino the language of instruction for all subjects except mathematics and sciences. The mathematics curriculum was also changed by the 1993 NSEC. The 1973 Revised Secondary Education Program (RSEP) required that areas of mathematics be taught in yearlong discipline based subjects: Arithmetic in the first year, elementary algebra in the second year, geometry in the third year, and advanced algebra in the fourth year. The NSEC mandates that for each year level, portions of algebra, geometry and measurement, trigonometry, statistics, and consumer mathematics would be included. The level of difficulty increases for each year level. This process allots math subjects with 200 minutes per week, 40 minutes daily.

The programs RSEP, PROPED, NSEC, and SEDP all lead to the Secondary Education Development and Improvement Project SEDIP (2000-2006). SEDIP is similar to TEEP. The goal of the project is to improve equitable access to quality secondary education in poverty affected areas. The three main objectives in the areas of improvement of quality education are increased rates of participation, completion, and decentralization of management and decision making at the provincial level. The program involves the construction of new school buildings; improvement of school facilities; provision of textbooks, manuals and instructional aids; and extensive in-service training programs for teachers and school administrators. The total project cost is $170 million. DECS implemented the 1999 and 2000 Computerization Program, and this allowed 325 public secondary schools to become recipients of computer packages and teacher training.

Higher Education

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) works with DECS to regulate higher education in the Philippines. This organization was created through Republic Act No.7722, also known as the Higher Education Act of 1994, during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos. The commission's vision is the pursuit of a better quality of life for all through education. Most institutions of higher education are in the private sector and there is a large concentration of them in the metropolitan area of Manila. In 1965-1966, there were a total of 527,000 students (468,00 private) in 466 schools (440 private). In 1984-1985, this number more than tripled to 1.73 million students (1.34 million private) in 1,157 schools (838 private). Statistics from CHED show that by 1998, there were 1,495 schools (1,118 private). About 25 foreign nationalities and citizenships are represented amongst the higher education students. China, USA, and Thailand have the most representation.

Higher education programs are offered in the following fields (with the number of students for the years 1990 and 1995 in parenthesis): arts and sciences (187,313 and 226,111); teacher education (257,638 and 276,046); engineering and technology (228,757 and 275,695); medical and health (272,784 and 238,988); commerce (380,491 and 603,575); agriculture (50,006 and 72,656); law (14,581 and 13,983); religion (4,711 and 8,262); information technology (36,947 and 117,799); maritime (92,114 and 137,584); and criminology (24,297 and 47,273). Commerce is the most popular program. There has been a rapid increase, up to 218 percent, in the number of students taking information technology.

Since 1973, students are required to take the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), before they can begin higher education. This exam is administered during the fourth year of high school. A controversial issue regarding this exam is the use of English, which prejudices against students from rural and poor areas.

Tuition in private schools of higher education is higher than that of public schools although private tuition rates sometimes mean less expenditure per student as compared to public institutions. It has even been suggested to the Philippine government that they might save money by offering government scholarships for students to enroll in private schools.

During the school year 1989-1990, the four autonomous campuses and five regional units of the University of the Philippines initiated a program of socialized tuition and subsidies named Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP). During its first year, 44 percent of the 26,000 undergraduate students received free tuition. A tuition reduction or discount of 25 to 75 percent was given to another 22 percent. Living and book allowances are other forms of subsidy under this program and some 24 percent of undergraduate students received these.

Through CHED, various projects have been created to improve higher education, namely: National Higher Education Research Agenda (NHERA), Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program, 1996 CHED Computerization Program, and Centers of Excellence/Centers of Development.

During the 1980s and 1990s, higher education institutions were producing many graduates who were unable to find employment to match their educational skills. This lead to certain institutions being known as "diploma mills," earning profit for churning out jobless graduates or underemployed graduates. It also created a group of highly educated, discontented youth quick to criticize the administration. To prevent this situation from further deteriorating, two surveys were performed: Higher Education Labor Market Surveys I and II or HELMS I and II. These studies researched and surveyed the transition from school to work over a period of time, then made recommendations based on their findings.

With the Philippine economy unable to employ its graduates, these skilled workers looked overseas for employment. An exodus of professionals and skilled laborers ensued. This situation has been referred to as the "brain drain" of the Philippines. In 1996, the Philippine National Statistics Office reported that the majority of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) were in Asia/Middles East (78.8 percent). While definitely being a grave problem, it has had some positive effects. According to the US State Government Background Notes on the Philippines, the country's economy was less severely damaged by the Asian financial crisis of 1997 due to the considerable remittances from overseas workers, totaling approximately $5 billion annually.

Of the 650 institutions providing higher education in the country, 550 are private colleges, 35 are private universities, 25 are state colleges, and 7 are state universities. In 1987 there were 274 graduate schools (196 private) in the Philippines, most of which were located in Metro Manila. There were 44,427 students in the master's programs while 4,848 were in doctoral programs during 1985-1986. About 2 percent of all students in higher education were in the graduate level. For this same period 176 graduate programs were available in Metro Manila. These post-graduate programs were in the arts and sciences (81), agriculture, forestry, and fisheries (34), and teacher education (20).

Some 147 schools offered M.B.A.s while 141 institutions offered M.A.s in education. The highest number of doctoral students was in the field of education. The majority of faculty members teaching higher education have received either a B.S./B.A. degree or a master's degree. Only about 4 percent have their doctoral degrees, and most of them are at the University of the Philippines. Faculty development becomes a major issue since schools have difficulty recruiting highly qualified faculty members due to low salary levels. Colleges and universities usually lose their professors to industries that have better pay or to overseas employers who pay in dollars.

Higher education is slowly catching up with the information age as more institutions are going online. During the beginning of 2001, there were a number of institutions with their own Web sites. Various public and private sites have also surfaced to provide services to students in higher education. The notable ones are the Advanced Science and Technology Institute, Kodiko Online,, Education for Life Foundation,, FAPENET, Gurong Pahinugod,, and others. School budgetary problems limit the access of students to technology in the classroom.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS) administers, supervises, and regulates primary and secondary education. In 1994, the Commission for Higher Education (CHED) was established. It has supervision and regulatory powers over both public and private higher education institutions as well as degree-granting programs in all public and private postsecondary educational institutions.

The task of overseeing postsecondary technicalvocational education and the training and development of out-of-school youth and unemployed community adults used to be distributed among a few government agencies. These agencies were fused together in 1994 to create the Technical Education and Skills Authority (TESDA). The agencies concerned are the National Manpower and Youth Council of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Bureau of Technical and Vocational Education of DECS, and the Apprenticeship Program of the Bureau of Local Employment of the DOLE. They were put together to prevent overlapping functions and to provide a centralized agency to give national direction for the government programs concerning the technicalvocational education and training system of the country. The focus of TESDA is to realize the full participation of industry, labor, local government units and technicalvocational institutions in the country's skilled manpower development programs.

As compared to other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, the Philippine government expenditures for education is low considering the state's task of providing free education. In 1994, the Philippine government spent 2.7 percent of the gross domestic product to education compared with Malaysia's 5.4 percent and Thailand's 3.5 percent. The proportion of national government budget allocated to education has varied from a high of 31.53 percent in 1957 to a low of 7.61 percent in 1981. It stood at 15.5 percent in 1987 and at 14.0 percent in 1997. In 1997, debt service payment was 40 percent of the national budget.

The State's responsibility to provide education had been transferred to the local government units and the private sector through the processes of "devolution" and "decentralization." These processes provide a solution for the financially strapped government but it may worsen existing inequities where poorer and richer local government units will be duplicated in the educational units themselves. The disparities between the poor and the rich schools may be widened.

Filipino research on education is hampered by a scarcity of funds. The approach and scope has mostly been confined within the parameters of pragmatism. Research is conducted to find solutions to urgent problems. Sometimes, the research itself is skipped such as when computers were bought en masse by DECS and private schools. The hasty incorporation of computer education into the curricula had prompted the procurement of the computers. Unfortunately, training in technology use by teachers lags behind the procurement of expensive equipment.

DECS offers a Computer Literacy Program and a Distance Learning Program. On June 2000, a new method to upgrade teaching skills was introduced at the annual conference of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges. A master's degree can be earned primarily using Internet resources.

Nonformal Education

The mission of Nonformal Education (NFE) in the Philippines is to empower the Filipino with "desirable knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that will enable him/her to think critically and creatively, act innovatively and humanely in improving the quality of his/her life and that of his/her family, community and country." NFE aims to reduce the number of illiterate out-of-school youth and adults with need-based literacy programs, plus continue education through basic development projects. Activities that fall under this system of education range from vocational training to adult reading classes, from family planning sessions to cultural and leadership workshops for community leaders.

This branch of education is governed by the DECS Bureau of Nonformal Education(BNFE) and its history can be traced as far back as 1908 when ACT No. 1829 was created to provide for the delivery of civicoeducational lectures in towns and barrios. Six years later the act was amended to assign teachers in public schools to give the lectures. The New Commonwealth government passed Act No. 80 in 1936 to create the Office of Adult Education as part of the then Department of Instruction. A decade later, this branch was transformed into the Adult and Community Education Division of the Bureau of Public Schools. After the declaration of Martial Law, the Marcos government's Philippine Constitution of 1973 created the position of the Undersecretary of Nonformal Education.

The Education Act of 1982 created the Bureau of Continuing Education from the Office of Nonformal Education. The Aquino government after the People Power Revolution, enacted Executive Order No. 117 in 1987 to create the Bureau of Nonformal Education. Article 14, section 2(4) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution stated: "The state shall encourage nonformal, formal, indigenous learning systems, as well as self-learning, independent and out-of-school study programs, particularly those that respond to community needs; and provide adult citizens, the disabled and out-of school youth training in civics, vocational efficiency and other skills." Nonformal education, in this sense, is designed to extend, complement, and provide an alternative to the existing educational system. Human development thus becomes an important factor in alleviating poverty.

The National Statistics Office of the Philippines reported that in 1989, there were 3,000,000 school youths between the ages of 7 to 24. This increased to 3,800,000 by 1994. The highest percentage of these youths was from the Western Mindanao region. Out-of-school women outnumbered the men by 6.7 percent. On October 16, 1990, Proclamation No. 480 declared the period from 1990 to 1999 as the Decade of Education for All, with the goal of meeting the educational needs of the poor and under educated.

BNFE is divided into three divisions: the Literacy Division (LD), the Continuing Education Division (CED), and the Staff Development Division (SDD). The bureau outlines its functions as: serving the needs of those unable to avail of formal education; expanding access to educational opportunities; and providing opportunities for the acquisition of skills to ensure employability, efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness in the labor market. BNFE funds come from three main sources which are: the General Appropriations Act, loans from the Asian Development Bank, and funds from other international agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, ACCU, and elsewhere.

In 1995, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) was established to help regulate non-degree technical-vocational programs. TESDA was also in charge of skill orientation, training, and development of out-of-school youth and unemployed community adults.

Teaching Profession

The higher education system is not producing enough teachers to meet the expanding needs of the entire educational system of the country. In the academic year 1990-1991 DECS reported that there was not enough teachers. In elementary education they needed some 24,260 teachers, while secondary education lacked 22,450 teachers. These deficits were caused by the provision of free public secondary education. The mere 19,608 increase in students studying teacher education from 1990 to 1995 was not sufficient to fill the lack of teachers. As was stated in the overview, for school year 2000-2001 there was a lack of 29,000 teachers. The teaching career is not attracting students since it has a reputation for being an underpaid and unrewarding profession. Despite incentives from the government, more students are taking up commerce, perhaps due to the image of the business profession as a faster route to social mobility. Reports have also indicated the existence of corruption within the educational system and this greatly affects the morale of faculty and staff.

Recent studies have shown that not only is there a need for more teachers in the sciences and mathematics, but that present teachers in these two fields have to undergo further training and development. In 1989, the Philippines received a major grant from the Japanese government to begin construction of two new teacher retraining facilities in science education. These facilities are located in Baguio City and inside the University of the Philippines-Diliman campus.

In 1987 the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports sponsored the Task Force to Study State Higher Education. It recommended the identification and designation of certain campuses for teacher retraining. These campuses would serve as centers for advancement of education in designated special fields of teaching. The Task Force also recommended using actual public schools for practice teaching rather than university-based laboratory schools. This was done to promote the relationship between educational teaching programs and public schools.

The qualification to teach in elementary and preprimary schools is a bachelor's degree in elementary education. To teach secondary education, the teacher must have either a bachelor's degree in education which a major and a minor; an equivalent degree but also with a major and a minor; or a bachelor's degree in arts and/or sciences with at least 18 education units for teaching in high school.

Decentralization efforts in elementary and high school educational systems will require a more active role from principals, superintendents, and local community leaders. The TEEP and the SEDP programs are responsible for monitoring this transition process. Public institutions for higher education require that the teacher have at least an M.A. to be awarded the rank of Assistant Professor. Labor laws stipulate that faculty members become permanent (similar to tenured) after three years. The evaluation for this promotion is mostly based on performance, attendance, and tardiness. Extra-curricular activities such as publications, research, scholarship, and community services are rarely required. Since teaching is neither a lucrative nor a well-paying job, many professors in medicine, engineering, law, and business teach only on a part-time basis while maintaining other jobs within the industry. A DECS survey during the late 1980s showed 16 percent of total faculty members in public schools as part-time, while over 40 percent of the faculty in private schools were part-time.

In 1987, a study of 64 of the 78 State Colleges and Universities showed that of the 10,546 faculty members, 57 percent were women, 56 percent had only their B.S./B.A. degrees, about 33 percent had M.S./M.A. degrees, while 10 percent had their doctorates. This 10 percent rate goes down to 4 percent when private school faculty members are included. The decade from 1991 to 2000 marked a 400 percent increase in the salaries of public school teachers. However, the added expense cut into the funding for public elementary education, textbooks, educational materials, and facilities. The marked increase in teacher salaries only gave them a compensation package that is 1.2 times higher than the poverty threshold.


The Filipinos were literate even before they were colonized by Spain, the United States of America, and Japan. They may no longer be physically colonized but the ballooning economic debt, for which they may not have fully benefited, curtails their freedom. More than 32 percent of the population lives below poverty level as of 1997. Their innate desire for knowledge has been reinforced by the hope that good education can provide upward economic mobility. Steps for the realization of this hope has been codified into the constitution of the Philippines, which categorically states that the highest budgetary priority shall be given to education.

Faced with a lack of employment opportunities in their home country, at least 4.5 million of the well-educated labor force have sought and found work in other countries. They have sent their earnings back to their families and relatives in the Philippines. Overseas remittances in 1997 had amounted to US$4.5 billion. This amount, however, does not rebound for the benefit of education or the people of the country. Debt servicing in the form of interest payments for the same year amounted in excess of US$4.5 billion, which comprised the majority of the annual budget, at 40 percent. However, the ingrained resilience of the Filipinos has produced a population with 95 percent literacy despite adverse times. The over-populated country has turned the manpower section of the population into its biggest export and income-earner. The Filipinos may yet learn lessons from their economic bondage and realize that education can provide not only upward economic mobility but also economic empowerment.


Acuña, Jasmin E., et al., eds. The Language Issue in Education. Manila: Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, 1994.

Casal, Fr. Gabriel, Eusebio Dizon, Wilfredo Ronquillo, and Cecilio Salcedo, eds. The Earliest Filipinos. Hong Kong: Asia Publishing Company Ltd., 1998.

Cenoz, Jason, and Fred Genesee, eds. Beyond Bilingualism: Multilingualism and Multilingual Education. Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters Ltd., 1998.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Fact-book 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available from

Chua, Yvonne T. Robbed: An Investigation of Corruption in Philippine Education. Quezon City: Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 1999.

Clemente, Alejandro W. Philippine Education in the 21st Century. Quezon City: 1996.

Coloma, Sonny. "Vector: Enhancing: Competitiveness Through Investments in Education." BusinessWorld (Philippines), 16 June 2000. Available from

Cortes, Josefina R. Explorations in the Theory and Practice of Philippine Education, 1965-1993. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1993.

Dolan, Ronald E., ed. Philippines: A Country Study. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993.

Dy, Manuel B. Values in Philippine Culture and Education. Washington DC: Council for Research in Values & Philosophy, 1994.

Goodno, James B. The Philippines: Land of Broken Promises. London: Zed Book, 1991.

Gonzalez, FSC, Andrew. "The Future of Philippine Education: Trends, Issues and Challenges." Paper presented at the First Salesian Educator's Congress, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, 25 April 2000.

Patanne, E.P. The Philippines in the 6th to the 16th Centuries. San Juan, Manila: LSA Press, 1996.

Republic of the Philippines. Commission on Higher Education, 5 March 2001. Available from

Roces, Alfredo, and Grace Roces. Culture Shock! Philippines. Portland, OR: Graphic Arts Center, 1994.

Steinberg, David Joel. The Philippines: A Singular and a Plural Place. Boulder, Westview Press, 1990.

Sullivan, Margaret. The Philippines: Pacific Crossroads. New York, Dillon Press, 1993.

Sutaria, Minda C. et al., eds. Philippine Education: Visions and Perspectives. Metro Manila: National Book Store, 1989.

Swinerton, Nelson E. Philippine Higher Education: Toward the Twenty-First Century. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1991.

Task Force on Higher Education. The Philippine Higher Education in the 21st Century: Strategies for Excellence and Equity. Manila: The Task Force, 1995.

Zanini, Gianni. Philippines: From Crisis to Opportunity. Washington, DC: The World Bank, 1999.

Juanita Villena-Alvarez and Victoria Villena

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Philippines." World Education Encyclopedia. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Philippines." World Education Encyclopedia. . (July 9, 2018).

"Philippines." World Education Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Republic of the Philippines

Republika ng Pilipinas



Made up of about 7,100 islands, the Philippines is on the southeastern rim of Asia and is bordered by the Philippine Sea on the east, the South China Sea on the west, the Luzon Strait on the north, and the Celebes Sea on the south. Its land area, which is slightly larger than that of Arizona, measures 300,000 square kilometers (115,830 square miles), and its coastline is 36,289 kilometers (22,550 miles). The capital, Manila, is on the island of Luzon in the highly urbanized National Capital Region, which is made up of 12 other urban areas including the cities of Mandaluyong, Marikina, Pasig, Quezon, Kalookan, Valenzuela, Las Piñas, Makati, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, and Pasay. The main financial district is in Makati City.


The Philippine population has more than tripled since 1948, from 19 million to an official estimate of 81.16 million in 2000. From 1995 to 2000, and the annual population growth rate stood at 2.02 percent, slightly lower than in 1990 and one-third less than the growth rate of 3 percent during the 1960s.

The population of the Philippines is young, with people aged between 15-64 years making up 59 percent of the population, while those under 15 make up 37 percent of the population. Those aged 65 years and above make up only 4 percent of the population.

In January 2000, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) warned of the serious consequences of the booming Philippine population. It predicted the population will double by 2030 based on its 1999 growth rate of 2.3 percent, giving the Philippines "the equivalent of 58 percent of the current population of the United States [living] on 3 percent of its land area," a situation with "grave consequences" for the Philippine economy, society, and the environment.

The country is divided into 3 island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, known together as Luzviminda. These 3 groups are further subdivided into 16 regions. The 2000 National Census lists 61 chartered cities and 73 provinces in the Philippines, with the most populated regions in Luzon. Four out of ten persons in the Philippines lives in the National Capital Region and the adjoining regions of Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.


The Philippine economy has experienced repeated boom-and-bust cycles in the 5 decades since the nation achieved independence from the United States in 1946. In the 1950s and early 1960s its economy ranked as the second most progressive in Asia, next to that of Japan. After 1965, when Ferdinand E. Marcos became president, the nation experienced economic problems and social unrest, especially from the 1970s, when corruption and cronyism (the practice of appointing friends to well-paid posts regardless of their qualifications) took hold. In 1972, Marcos declared a state of emergency and placed the country under martial law to stifle unrest and control economic development. By his third term in 1981, democratic institutions in the country had severely eroded, foreign debt ballooned, and the country's economy plummeted. In less than 20 years, the Philippines had gone from relative prosperity to becoming the "sick man of Asia." In 1983, the leader of the political opposition, former senator Benigno Aquino, was assassinated upon his returned from exile in the United States.

Marcos was removed from office in 1986 through a peaceful "People Power" revolution in which millions of people demonstrated in the streets. Aquino's widow, Corazon, became president, and a new constitution was approved in 1987. Meanwhile, the GDP growth rate increased steadily from 3.5 percent in 1986 to 4.3 percent in 1987, peaking in 1988 at 6.7 percent. The Aquino administration endured many troubles, including 6 coup d'etat attempts, many natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, the Mt. Pinatubo eruption), and a power shortage problem that caused economic activities to stop. During this period, the Aquino administration passed various critical laws such as a liberal Foreign Investment Act, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, and the privatization of government corporations that brought the economy back to its feet.

Aquino's successor, Fidel Ramos, embarked on an ambitious development plan dubbed "Philippines 2000." Under the plan, several industries critical to economic development were privatized, such as electricity, telecommunications, banking, domestic shipping, and oil. The taxation system was reformed, and external debt was brought to more manageable levels by debt restructuring and sensible fiscal management. By 1996, GNP was growing at a rate of 7.2 percent and GDP at 5.2 percent. The annual inflation rate had dropped to 5.9 percent from its high of 9.1 percent in 1995. By the late 1990s, the Philippines' economic growth gained favorable comparisons with other Asian countries such as Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, and Malaysia.

The Philippine economy took a sharp downturn during the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Its fiscal deficit in 1998 reached P49.981 billion from a surplus of P1.564 billion in 1997. The peso depreciated (fell in value) to P40.89 per U.S. dollar from its previous rate of P29.47 to a dollar. The annual growth rate of the GNP fell to 0.1 percent in 1998 from 5.3 percent in 1997. Despite these setbacks, the Philippine economy fared better than that of some of its Asian neighbors, and other nations praised the Ramos administration for its "good housekeeping."

In 1998, Joseph Estrada was elected president. Even with its strong economic team, the Estrada administration failed to capitalize on the gains of the previous administration. His administration was severely criticized for cronyism, incompetence, and corruption, causing it to lose the confidence of foreign investors. Foreign investors' confidence was further damaged when, in his second year, Estrada was accused of exerting influence in an investigation of a friend's involvement in stock market manipulation. Social unrest brought about by numerous bombing threats, actual bombings, kidnappings, and other criminal activities contributed to the economy's troubles. Economic performance was also hurt by climatic disturbance that caused extremes of dry and wet weather. Toward the end of Estrada's administration, the fiscal deficit had doubled to more than P100 billion from a low of P49 billion in 1998. Despite such setbacks, the rate of GNP in 1999 increased to 3.6 percent from 0.1 percent in 1998, and the GDP posted a 3.2 percent growth rate, up from a low of-0.5 percent in 1998. Debt reached P2.1 trillion in 1999. Domestic debt amounted to P986.7 billion while foreign debt stood at US$52.2 billion. In January 2001 Estrada was removed from office by a second peaceful "People Power" revolution engineered primarily by youth, non-governmental organizations, and the business sector. President Estrada was the first Philippine president to be impeached by Congress, and his vice-president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, became the fourteenth President of the Republic.

The economy of the Philippines is hampered by huge foreign debt, a low savings rate, inefficient tax collection, inadequate infrastructure , especially outside major cities, and poor agricultural performance. The Philippine economy is vulnerable to oil-price increases, interest-rate shifts by the U.S. Federal Reserve, and the performance of international stock exchanges. Social factors that have a negative impact on the economy include a high crime rate, especially kidnappings and rape, pockets of Communist rebels in rural areas, threats from Muslim separatist movements, high rates of poverty and unemployment, and the government's inability to begin its land-distribution program. Environmental factors also damage economic development, including frequent typhoons and drought. Worker productivity is adversely affected by illnesses brought on by air and water pollution. In metropolitan Manila alone, the effect of pollution on health and labor productivity has been estimated to be equal to a loss of about 1 percent of gross national product annually.

Foreign aid, or official development assistance (ODA) funds, have contributed immensely to the development of the nation's economy. Through grants and loans extended by development agencies and international creditors, the government is able to finance infrastructure development (bridges, roads, highways, railways, transportation systems) and social programs (livelihood projects, training seminars, immunization programs, and environmental projects). Since the late 1990s, ODA funds have helped improve living conditions in the most depressed rural areas, especially in Mindanao, Southern Philippines, mostly via agricultural programs. In 1999 most funds were allocated to agricultural programs. About 95 percent of ODA assistance is distributed in loans, with the remainder in grants.


The government of the Republic of the Philippines is composed of 3 equal branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial, with checks and balances on each other.

The popularly elected president is the nation's highest executive official. The legislature is divided into 2 chambers, a Senate (upper chamber) of 24 members and a House of Representatives (lower chamber) of a maximum of 260 members. The Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice and 14 associate justices, is the highest judicial body, and acts as the final arbiter of the legal validity of any executive or legislative policy. In 1991 a Local Government Code was enacted that transferred some of national government powers to local government officials. Administratively, the country is divided into political subdivisions such as provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays (villages). Each political subdivision has its own local government, which enjoys a certain level of autonomy (self-governance) and is legally entitled to an equitable share of the national wealth called the Internal Revenue Allotment.

The country practices a multi-party system. Political parties are required to register with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to which they must present a constitution, by-laws, and platform. In practice, parties in the Philippines are very weak and merely exist to host individual political ambitions. Hence, it is not unusual for new political parties to crop up just weeks before election time and dissolve after the elections, with winning candidates merely transferring to the dominant party.

Elections in the Philippines are often swayed by patronage (support given by a moneyed or influential individual) and the personality of the candidate. In fact, it is unusual for candidates to discuss their platforms during campaign rallies since many of those who attend such rallies are usually more interested in watching the entertainers that accompany these candidates than the candidates themselves. In 2001, after the ouster of former president Joseph Estrada, formerly a well-known movie star, reformers called for an end to personality-oriented elections and for campaigns built around a relevant discussion of national issues.

The military plays a significant role in the economy by ensuring peace and order in the country, particularly in Mindanao, southern Philippines, where a long-term war against rebels continues to be waged. In special instances, military personnel are partnered with police personnel to patrol the cities and minimize urban crime. The navy also guards the country's coastal borders against poachers and illegal fishing vessels, which deplete the country's coastal resources.

The policies and programs of government are funded by various taxes imposed at the national and local levels, and by borrowing. Taxes are collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs. Domestic corporations, resident citizens, and resident aliens are taxed on their net income from all sources, worldwide, while resident foreign corporations are taxed on their Philippine net income. Government also generates funds from other offices, such as the Land Transportation Office, which collect taxes for specific government services. Other sources of revenue are derived from the sale of government corporations to the private sector , fees and service incomes of various government agencies, foreign grants, and proceeds from the sale of transferred, surrendered, and privatized assets.

Revenue earned by government is usually inadequate to finance its programs and activities. Bernardo Villegas, an economist at the University of Asia and the Pacific, explains that for a developing country like the Philippines to remedy this situation, the government must resort to borrowing money either from external or domestic sources, such as via treasury bills , notes, and bonds issued as collateral (property pledged by a borrower to guarantee the investment of a lender) for domestic loans. Foreign sources are used because there is no adequate, long-term source of capital in the country, a situation that is made worse by the country's low savings rate. Funds borrowed abroad are readily available and come with lower interest rates. International lending institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation are some of the country's foreign creditors. Borrowing has increased the national debt to P2.1 trillion. Domestic debt at the end of 1999 reached P986.7 billion, while foreign debt stood at US$52.2 billion.

In the past, the government has played an active role in influencing the country's economy, often to the displeasure of the business sector, which wants the economy left to market forces with minimal government intervention. Like many developing countries, the Philippines' economic policies include import substitution policies and the promotion of labor-intensive industries to support a burgeoning workforce. The government also exerts control over the economy through the regulation or prohibition of monopolies , the sourcing and formation of capital, the provision of private incentives, and through the regulation of strategic sectors that are vital to national interests.

Government in developing countries, such as the Philippines, must take charge of building strategic infrastructure, such as farm-to-market roads and bridges linking landlocked areas, to stimulate the exchange of goods and services between localities. It is also the govern-ment's function to protect natural resources from illegal exploitation.


The transport infrastructure includes 492 kilometers (306 miles) of working railroads and 199,950 kilometers (124,249 miles) of roads, of which 39,590 kilometers (24,601 miles) are paved. In the first quarter of 2000, infrastructure projects got the biggest share of official development assistance (ODA) loans, taking 66 percent of the $11.4 billion ODA package extended to the Philippines. Among the projects are plans to decongest traffic by expanding roads and building bridges and highway interchanges.

The Philippine archipelago has more than 1,490 ports that serve to connect its major islands. As of 1996, there were 566 registered cargo and container ships, and total cargo handled was estimated at 140.1 million tons. The busiest national port is in Manila. Ninety percent of the country's imports and more than 20 percent of its exports pass through its South Harbor and the Manila International Container Terminal. In February 2001 the Philippine Ports Authority earmarked US$122 million to upgrade port services here and in even other locations.

As of 1999, there were 266 registered airports and 5 domestic airlines operating in the Philippines. Beginning in 2000, the government and its private-sector partners speeded up the schedule for the construction and upgrading of at least 20 airports to enable them to meet world standards by 2004.

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Philippines 79 159 108 8.2 22 N/A 15.1 1.29 500
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
China N/A 333 272 40.0 19 1.6 8.9 0.50 8,900
Indonesia 24 156 136 N/A 5 0.9 8.2 0.76 900
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

In 1986 the country's economy was severely crippled by continuous power shortages that lasted more than 10 hours daily, paralyzing the manufacturing sector. In 1992 the Ramos administration took steps to resolve this problem by allowing private operators to build more power plants that substantially improved the country's power-generating capacity. By March 2000, 74 percent of the country's households had access to electric service, and dependence on oil-run power plants was reduced to 19 percent from a previous high of 80 percent. Power is now generated from several sources, including coal (38 percent), geothermal (27 percent), and hydro-electric (16 percent). The opening of the offshore Malampaya gas field in Palawan will further reduce dependence on foreign oil with its initial production rate of 145 billion cubic feet annually, which can be used to create 2,700 megawatts of power.

Under the Ramos administration, the monopolistic (one company in control) telecommunications industry was opened up to competition and by 2001 there were more than 50 firms offering service. Telephone density per 100 inhabitants nearly tripled during the 1990s, from 3 lines per 100 inhabitants in 1992 to 8 lines in 1998. In 1999 there were 1.9 million main lines in use and another 1.95 million cellular telephones, plus 93 Internet service providers. In September 2000, Globe Telecom and 7 other telecommunication carriers in the Asia-Pacific region agreed to create the C2C Cable Network, an under-sea fiber-optic-cable system, worth US$2 billion. Upon completion, the C2C network will be able to accommodate 90 million conversations simultaneously.

The Philippines has been recognized as the global capital for text messaging, a feature of digital mobile phones virtually ignored in other countries. This allows the user to type brief messages and send it to another mobile phone. Each day, more than 18 million text messages are transmitted in the country, twice as many as in all of Europe. However, high fees make this service still out of reach for most people.


In the Philippines, the 3 largest economic sectors are industry, service, and agriculture, in terms of contribution to GDP. In past years, the service sector has exhibited continuous growth. Agriculture, although still substantial, continues to decline. Estimates from 1997 reveal that agriculture contributed 20 percent to GDP, industry contributed 32 percent, and services dominated the economy with 48 percent of GDP.

In 1999 the rate of growth of the GDP stood at 3.2 percent. Economists blamed the sluggish growth on the lackluster performance of the industry sector, which grew by 0.5 percent. With the end of the dry spell brought about by El Niño weather conditions, the agriculture sector's performance rebounded and grew 6.6 percent, the highest rate in decades. Services grew by 3.9 percent that year because of the strong performance in retail .

Maximum economic growth for 1999 and 2000 was slowed by successive political crises in the Estrada administration that caused foreign and international lending agencies to lose confidence. In 2000 GDP posted a 3.9 percent positive growth rate, with industry growing 4 times faster than it did in 1999. Services continued its strong performance, with a 4.4 percent increase over its 1999 figures.


The Philippines is still primarily an agricultural country despite the plan to make it an industrialized economy by 2000. Most citizens still live in rural areas and support themselves through agriculture. The country's agriculture sector is made up of 4 sub-sectors: farming, fisheries, livestock, and forestry (the latter 2 sectors are very small), which together employ 39.8 percent of the labor force and contribute 20 percent of GDP.

The country's main agricultural crops are rice, corn, coconut, sugarcane, bananas, pineapple, coffee, mangoes, tobacco, and abaca (a banana-like plant). Secondary crops include peanut, cassava, camote (a type of rootcrop), garlic, onion, cabbage, eggplant, calamansi (a variety of lemon), rubber, and cotton. The year 1998 was a bad year for agriculture because of adverse weather conditions. Sector output shrank by 8.3 percent, but it posted growth the following year. Yet, hog farming and commercial fishing posted declines in their gross revenues in 1999. The sector is burdened with low productivity for most of its crops.

The Philippines exports its agricultural products around the world, including the United States, Japan, Europe, and ASEAN countries (members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Major export products are coconut oil and other coconut products, fruits and vegetables, bananas, and prawns (a type of shrimp). Other exports include the Cavendish banana, Cayenne pineapple, tuna, seaweed, and carrageenan. The value of coconut-product exports amounted to US$989 million in 1995 but declined to US$569 million by 2000. Imported agricultural products include unmilled wheat and meslin, oilcake and other soybean residues, malt and malt flour, urea, flour, meals and pellets of fish, soybeans and whey.

One of the most pressing concerns of the agricultural sector is the rampant conversion of agricultural land into golf courses, residential subdivisions, and industrial parks or resorts. In 1993 the nation was losing irrigated rice lands at a rate of 2,300 hectares per year. Small land-holders find it more profitable to sell their land to developers in exchange for cash, especially since they lack capital for seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and wages for hiring workers to plant and harvest the crops. Another concern is farmers' continued reliance on chemical-based fertilizers or pesticides that have destroyed soil productivity over time. In recent years however, farmers have been slowly turning to organic fertilizer, or at least to a combination of chemical and organic inputs.

Environmental damage is another major concern. Coral-reef destruction, pollution of coastal and marine resources, mangrove forest destruction, and siltation (the clogging of bodies of water with silt deposits) are significant problems.

The agriculture sector has not received adequate resources for the funding of critical programs or projects, such as the construction of efficient irrigation systems. According to the World Bank, the share of irrigated crop land in the Philippines averaged only about 19.5 percent in the mid-1990s, compared with 37.5 percent for China, 24.8 percent for Thailand, and 30.8 percent for Vietnam. In the late 1990s, the government attempted to modernize the agriculture sector with the Medium Term Agricultural Development Plan and the Agricultural Fisheries Modernization Act.

The fisheries sector is divided into 3 sub-sectors: commercial, municipal, and aquaculture (cultivation of the natural produce of bodies of water). In 1995, the Philippines contributed 2.2 million tons, or 2 percent of total world catch, ranking it twelfth among the top 80 fish-producing countries. In the same year, the country also earned the distinction of being the fourth biggest producer of seaweed and ninth biggest producer of world aquaculture products.

In 1999 the fisheries sector contributed P80.4 billion at current prices, or 16 percent of gross value added in agriculture. Total production in 1999 reached 2.7 million tons. Aquaculture contributed the most, with 949,000 tons, followed closely by commercial fishing with 948,000 tons, and municipal fisheries with 910,000 tons. Domestic demand for fish is substantial, with average yearly fish consumption at 36kg per person compared to a 12kg figure for consumption of meat and other food products.


In 2000 following the Asian economic slump of the late 1990s, industrial sectors (manufacturing, transportation, communication and storage, mining and quarrying) all posted positive growth rates, lifting the entire economy from the previous year's lackluster performance. Yet, the construction industry suffered because of the lack of long-term investments by the private sector. Although public construction grew by 15 percent from 1998 to 1999, private construction sank to 11 percent because of real estate oversupply. Mining and quarrying continued to suffer from low metal prices in the world market.

In the Philippines, small and medium enterprises make up 99 percent of all manufacturing companies. Revenue of the top 420 manufacturing firms increased by 9.9 percent in 1998. In 2000 manufacturing accounted for almost a quarter of the country's production. According to the Labor Department's January 2001 Labor Force Survey, 9.8 percent of all workers were employed in this sector.

The manufacturing sector produces the country's top export products such as semiconductors, electronics, machinery and transport equipment, and garments. Exports of electronics and semiconductors generated US$17.4 billion in 1998 and US$21.6 billion in 1999. Other chief imports of this sector include paper and paper products, textile yarn and fabrics, nonmetallic minerals, iron and steel, and metal products. Most of the large and medium manufacturing companies are in special export-processing zones or industrial parks. Some provinces have been specially designated to host these companies, such as the CALABARZON area which is made up of 4 provinces: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon.


According to the 2001 Labor Force Survey, employment in the service sector rose to 13.2 million in 2000, up from 12.7 million in 1999. The proportion of workers in the Philippines service sector increased accordingly, from 45.8 percent to 46.8 percent.


The Philippines has a variety of retail establishments scattered throughout the country, from small village-based general stores that supply all the needs of a small community to a web of specialized stores in the larger cities. The wholesale and retail sector was affected by the economic slowdown in 1998, so retailers and wholesalers tried to increase consumer spending with aggressive marketing campaigns, quarterly sales, and discount promotions. In 1999 revenue rose to P145.41 billion from a low of P138.64 in 1998. Around this time, the retail sector was opened to foreign competition by the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, which allows foreign retailers to conduct business and fully own enterprises as long as they meet certain capitalization (available funds) requirements.


According to the Department of Tourism (DOT), which works with other government agencies to improve infrastructure and guarantee peace and order in the country, the Philippines was the twelfth ranked tourist destination in Asia in 1997. In Southeast Asia, the Philippines ranked fifth, behind Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. In 1999, 2.17 million tourists visited the country, mostly from East Asia, followed by North America and Europe. These tourists spent $2.55 billion in the country. The country offers nearly 12,000 rooms in numerous hotels. To attract more tourists, as well as to encourage locals to travel to other areas of the country, the government implemented 5 major programs in 1999. Among these programs were the promotion of community-based tourism, the rehabilitation of the world-renowned Ifugao rice terraces, and the promotion of Manila as a multi-faceted destination. Also introduced were programs geared toward overseas workers and attracting expatriate (living abroad), third-and fourth-generation Filipinos to visit their homeland, and programs highlighting cultural artifacts and national heritage. The Philippines boasts some of the best scuba diving in the world, and its World War II sites are also major tourist attractions.


In the early 1990s, the monopoly of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) was abolished and the sector was opened to competition. Two telecommunications companies, Globe Communications and Smart Communications, are locked in battle over mobile-phone market share. By 1999, Globe was leading with 720,000 subscribers, but Smart followed closely behind. The call-center service business is thriving with the entry of foreign companies like America Online, Etelecare International, People Support, and Getronics. Although still in its infancy, the industry is expected to expand, aided by the availability of workers proficient in English, suitable facilities, and government incentives.



The growth and stability of the Philippine economy is dependent on foreign trade, particularly on the dollar revenue generated from export. For this reason, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has established an Export Development Council to oversee the growth of this sector as guided by the Philippine Export Development Plan. The plan uses a comprehensive approach in promoting Philippine exports to world markets. Another organization that assists the DTI in export promotion is the Center for International Trade Exposition Missions (CITEM), which assists Filipino exporters in marketing and promoting their products through regular trade fairs, trade missions, and other export-promotion programs and activities at home and abroad.

The primary trading partners of the Philippines have always been the United States and Japan, both former colonizers. Trade with these 2 countries has accounted for 50 to 60 percent of Philippine exports for the last 10 years. The Philippines also trades with Singapore, the

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Philippines
Exports Imports
1975 2.294 3.756
1980 5.741 8.295
1985 4.607 5.459
1990 8.068 13.041
1995 17.502 28.337
1998 27.783 30.705
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

Netherlands, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Germany, and Thailand.

Labor-intensive industrial manufacturers dominate the Philippine export scene. Electronics and semiconductors continue to lead the country's top-10 export products, generating US$1.74 billion in 1998 and US$2.16 billion in 1999. Officials of the Department of Science and Technology predict that earnings from electronic exports will reach US$4.7 billion by 2004. A 1997 government survey revealed that 75 percent of the 784 firms in the country's export-processing zones were electronics manufacturers, and that these firms account for 59 percent of the country's exports. Other important export products are machinery and transport equipment, garments and coconut products, furniture and fixtures, bananas, processed food and beverages, and textile yarns.

Trade officials have forecast that Philippine merchandise exports are likely to hit the US$50 billion mark by the end of 2001, up from $35 billion in 1999. Philippine foreign trade continues to increase every year. In 1998 and 1998, the Philippines posted positive export growth rates16.9 percent and 18.8 percentwhen those of other Asian countries were in decline.


Imports for 1999 were $30.7 billion. The country's top 10 imports are electronic components, telecommunications equipment and electrical machinery, mineral fuels and lubricants, industrial machinery and equipment, textile yarn and fabric, transport equipment, iron and steel, and organic and inorganic chemicals. The Philippines has attempted several strategies to correct the trade imbalance where imports exceed exports. These strategies range from exchange and import controls to raising tariffs for imported products. Despite these efforts, imports have continued to surpass exports for the last 30 years, except in 1973. This forces the government to borrow from international lending agencies to pay for the products that it imports, which are paid for in foreign currencies, commonly in U.S. dollars. These loans are compounded by interest, which further increases the national debt. Over the last 2 decades, this imbalance has been eased somewhat by the money sent by Filipinos working abroad to their families, estimated at US$6.8 million in 1999, a substantial rise over the US$4.5 million figure for 1998.

The major countries importing goods to the Philippines are the United States (22 percent), Japan (20 percent), South Korea (8 percent), Singapore (6 percent), Taiwan (5 percent), and Hong Kong (4 percent), according to 1998 estimates.


In the late 1950s, the exchange rate for the Philippine peso against the U.S. dollar was 2 to 1. Because the

Exchange rates: Philippines
Philippine pesos (P) per US$1
Jan 2001 50.969
2000 44.192
1999 39.089
1998 40.893
1997 29.471
1996 26.216
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

country's economy was undermined by flawed economic policies, innumerable political crises, and a ballooning foreign debt, the peso continued to weaken so that by 1972, the average exchange rate was P6.67 to $1 and, by 1982, at P8.54 to $1. By 1986, the peso had depreciated (lost its value) further and the average exchange rate was P20.39 to US$1, sinking to P40.8 during the 1997 Asian financial crisis. In 2000, at the height of the political crisis that hit the Estrada administration, the peso hit rock bottom at P55 to US$1. Immediately upon Estrada's ouster, the peso gained strength against the U.S. dollar and stabilized at the average exchange rate of P48.50 to a dollar.

In the late 1980s, the government began a series of financial reforms aimed at strengthening the banking sector. One of the most important was the restructuring and infusion of fresh capital to the nation's central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, which had become bankrupt following successive political and economic crises in the 1980s. Under the New Central Bank Act of 1993, the central bank was granted "increased fiscal and administrative autonomy (self-government) from other sectors of the government." The act also prohibits the Central Bank from engaging in development banking or financing.

The most important of the agencies overseeing the monetary policy of the Philippines are the Department of Finance, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines).

The Department of Finance is the government's central finance office, which manages and mobilizes resources to insure that government policies inspire confidence in foreign investors. This Department manages the bureaus of Internal Revenue, Customs, Treasury and Local Government Finance, and supervises the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation, charged with overseeing the stock market and guaranteeing bank deposits. The Department of Budget and Management is responsible for the formulation and implementation of the national budget and for the sound utilization of government funds to achieve the country's development goals. The re-organized Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas conducts monetary policy, issues currency, supervises lending to other banks and the government, manages foreign currency reserves, determines exchange rate policy, and provides other banking functions to the government.


There are 5 types of banks in the Philippines: universal banks (also called "expanded commercial banks"), commercial banks, thrift banks, rural banks, and government-owned banks. Thrift banks, which include savings and mortgage banks, private development banks, and stock and savings associations, service mainly the consumer retail market and small- and medium-size enterprises. The rural banking system services the needs of the agricultural sector, farmers, and rural cooperatives. There are 3 fully government-owned banks: the Land Bank of the Philippines, the Development Bank of the Philippines, and the Al Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines. The banking sector encountered great difficulty during the Asian financial crisis in 1997, but owing to past reforms, the financial condition of the Philippine banking system has been more stable compared to several of its neighboring countries, and major bank failures have been avoided.


The Manila Stock Exchange was established by American businessmen in 1927 after a gold boom. In order to protect its investors, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was set up in 1936, making it the oldest securities regulatory body in Asia. The Makati Stock Exchange was founded in 1956 by some Filipino brokers who felt dominated by the Americans. For many years, the 2 stock exchanges competed against each other for clients, but they merged in 1992 after a Supreme Court ruling. The newly merged stock exchanges commenced commercial operations in March 1994. Standard and Poor's estimated the market capitalization of the merged exchanges at US$48.105 million and trading value was at US$19.673 million.


Poverty remains a serious problem in the Philippines, which is the only populous country in East Asia in which the absolute number of people living on less than $1 a day remained constant over the 1981-1995 period, according to figures compiled by the World Bank. That body estimates that even if the Philippine economy posts a 6 to 8 percent growth through 2005, it will still not be possible to bring the poverty level below 15 percent. Economists believe that it may take some 20 years of continuous economic reforms and implementation of social programs before the country can match the single-digit poverty figures of its more wealthy neighbors. In general, widespread poverty in the country is a direct result

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Philippines 974 1,166 967 1,064 1,092
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
China 138 168 261 349 727
Indonesia 385 504 603 778 972
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

of inappropriate and unresponsive economic policies, mismanagement of resources, corruption, and failure of the government to implement anti-poverty programs.

Economic policies from the 1960s to the 1980s focused on a capital-intensive, import-substituting strategy, which bred inefficient industries and contributed to the neglect of the agricultural sector. Policies promoting industrialization favored the development of urban areas to the detriment of rural areas, most of which remained underdeveloped. At the outset, urban areas, especially Metro Manila, cornered major infrastructure and social projects, thereby attracting most of the investments and jobs in the manufacturing and industrial sectors. In contrast, living standards in the rural areas continued to decline, leaving most of the peasant communities to subsist on a hand-to-mouth existence.

Starting in the mid-1980s, policies adopted by the government moved toward a more open, market-friendly economy. However, as government continued to pursue industrialization, the country's foreign debt ballooned and most of the government's resources went for debt and interest payments. This greatly hindered the govern-ment's ability to finance infrastructure and social programs for the neglected sectors of the population.

The mid-1990s witnessed a significant increase in income inequality. Only the top 10 percent of the population increased its share of total income, while the remaining 90

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Philippines
Lowest 10% 2.3
Lowest 20% 5.4
Second 20% 8.8
Third 20% 13.2
Fourth 20% 20.3
Highest 20% 52.3
Highest 10% 36.6
Survey year: 1997
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Philippines 37 3 11 1 14 1 32
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
China N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Indonesia 47 3 6 5 14 3 22
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

percent lost income share. A 1997 government survey revealed that more than a third of the population (36.7 percent) lived below acceptable standards. Still, the incidence of extreme poverty had declined since 1985, when the comparable figure was 49.2 percent. In 1999, the National Statistics Office estimated that, of the 14.7 million families in the Philippines, the top 20 percent earned 14 times more (P502.1 billion) than the lowest 20 percent (P35.8 billion).

A survey by the National Statistics Office of income distribution in the period from 1991 to 1997 shows the combined earnings of 80 percent of Filipino families amounted to only 44 percent of total income in the country, while the top 10 percent of families owned 39.3 percent. In 1999, almost half (46.6 percent) of the total income, or P417.9 billion, came from wages and salaries, and about a quarter (23.5 percent), or P210.3 billion, from entrepreneurial activities.

Among the poorest Filipinos, most family income is derived from entrepreneurial activities such as selling food on street corners or collecting recyclable materials to sell at the junkyards. Those belonging to the higher income strata obtain a bigger share of their incomes from wages and salaries. Most of the poor are lowland landless agricultural workers, lowland small farm owners and cultivators, industrial wage laborers, hawkers , micro-entrepreneurs, and scavengers. Most poor Filipinos live in rural areas, where they are subject to the low productivity of agricultural employment. Urban poverty is caused by low household incomes and the internal migration of poor rural families to urban areas.

Due to inadequate access to community health centers, members of poor households are not able to maximize health services benefits, such as family planning, the lack of which results in larger families with more mal-nourished and uneducated children. The condition of the poor is made worse by lack of housing, clean water and electricity, especially in the urban areas.

In 1987 Congress enacted the Cooperative Code of the Philippines in order to improve income opportunities, promote self-reliance, and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in the countryside. As of December 2000, there were 57,470 cooperatives (a collective organization owned and operated by the people drawing benefits from it) registered with the Cooperative Development Authority. In 1991, Congress enacted the Local Government Code, which expanded basic social services on the grass-roots level. The Social Reform Agenda (1993), formulated during the Ramos administration, is one of the government's most comprehensive development frameworks for combating poverty; its strategies aim at improving access to basic social services, increasing opportunities for employment, income generation, and self-reliance. The Estrada administration established the National Anti-Poverty Commission and allocated P2.5 billion for suitable programs.


Working conditions in the Philippines are closely related to one's social class. Those belonging to the upper class enjoy the best opportunities in terms of job satisfaction, facilities, advancement, and choice of career. Those from the middle class are usually able to land white-collar jobs with some room for advancement by capitalizing on education, company loyalty, and hard work. Those belonging to the lower class, due to their lack of education or capital, largely engage in poorly paid manual labor or blue-collar jobs, viewed as menial in Philippine society.

The unemployment rate in the Philippines rose to 10.1 percent in October 2000 during a political crisis provoked by President Estrada's impeachment trial on charges of graft (illegal or unfair gain) and corruption. The performance of the manufacturing industry sank to an historic low and investor confidence hit rock-bottom. Nearly 3 million Filipinos were unemployed and the unemployment rate in Metro Manila reached 17.8 percent.

The Department of Labor and Employment is the main agency making and implementing labor policies and government programs. Guidelines set by the Labor Code of the Philippines guarantee equal work opportunities to all, equal compensation for work of equal value, secure work tenure, overtime and vacation benefits, safe working conditions, the right to collective bargaining, and social-security benefits.


Beginning in the 1980s, lack of employment opportunities and inflation at home caused many Filipinos to seek employment in Europe, the Middle East, and neighboring countries in Southeast Asia through legal and illegal means. According to labor statistics released in January 2001, a total of 789,000 documented OFWs left to work abroad from January to November 2000 as information technology workers, engineers, seafarers, housekeepers, and nurses, among others. As of December 2000 labor statistics released by the Inter-Agency Committee on Tourism and Overseas Employment Statistics reveal that there are 7,383,122 Filipino professionals working abroad. Money sent home by the OFWs in 1999 amounted to US$6.8 million, a big jump from US$4.5 million in 1998. The social costs of this phenomenon were also substantial, for it caused the breakdown of the family unit, carrying with it attendant problems such as extramarital affairs and increased delinquency among unsupervised children. An equally disturbing problem was the rampant sexual and physical abuse of OFWs, especially women, and those victimized by illegal recruiters.


On one hand, economic growth has opened up more opportunities for women, particularly in export industries; on the other hand, women are first to be terminated when industries are forced to downsize. Since the Asian financial crisis in 1997, women have been forced to seek additional sources of income to supplement their meager take-home pay and are thus working longer hours than men. A 1998 study revealed that the number of women employed in the manufacturing sector had decreased by 12 percent, while those engaged in mining and quarrying increased by more than 16 percent.

A government agency, the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), is mandated to conduct gender consciousness-raising programs among government policymakers, planners, implementers, women in government, and non-government institutions. Through its initiative, the Philippine Development Plan for Women was formulated and adopted by the government. Another agency, the Bureau of Women and Young Workers, a subordinate agency of the Department of Labor and Employment, looks after the interests of working women and children. There are laws in place protecting women from gender discrimination and sexual harassment and establishing community day-care centers for children, but the implementation of these laws is not always strictly monitored.

Though the minimum age of employment is 18 years for hazardous jobs and 15 years for non-hazardous jobs, it is not unusual to see children engaged in some form of labor to contribute to their family's daily survival. A government survey in 1995 estimates that 3.6 million children, mostly boys aged 5 to 17 years, were engaged in some form of child labor. At least 1 in 10 of them is engaged in heavy physical work.


1521. In his search for the Moluccas, Ferdinand Magellan docks in the Philippines and is slain by native chieftain Lapu-Lapu in battle.

1543. Spanish conquistador Ruy Lopez de Villalobos names the islands Filipinas after Spain's Philip II.

1565. Miguel Lopes de Legazpe establishes his base in the province of Cebu and later moves it to Manila.

1575. Spain takes control of non-Islamic areas and monopolizes trade.

1896. Nationalist Jose Rizal is executed by the Spaniards. He is later honored as a national hero.

1898. Spain sells the Philippines to the United States for $20 million after a mock battle in Manila Bay.

1900. The United States establishes a commonwealth government and enacts a law that will grant the Philippines independence by 1944.

1935. Manuel L. Quezon is elected president and a new constitution is adopted.

1941. Japanese forces invade Luzon.

1942. Japanese forces conquer Manila as U.S. troops on the Bataan peninsula surrender to Gen. Yamashita.

1945. Japanese occupation ends. The Philippines joins the United Nations as a charter member.

1946. The Philippines gains independence from the United States on July 4, becoming an independent republic with Manuel Roxas as president.

1947. The Philippines and the United States sign a Military Bases Agreement.

1948. President Roxas dies and is succeeded in office by Elpidio Quirino.

1950S. The Communist Hukbalahap Movement collapses. The country rebuilds itself and earns the distinction of becoming the second most prosperous nation in Asia, next to Japan.

1953. Ramon Magsaysay is elected to the presidency as standard bearer of the Nacionalista Party.

1957. President Magsaysay dies in an air crash and is succeeded in office by Vice President Carlos P. Garcia.

1961. Vice President Diosdado Macapagal is elected president over incumbent Garcia.

1965. Ferdinand E. Marcos is elected president, defeating incumbent Macapagal.

1967. The Philippines joins the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

1969. President Marcos is re-elected and becomes the first president ever to be sworn in for a second time. The New People's Army is founded.

1972. President Marcos declares martial law in the guise of controlling a Communist rebellion. He orders the arrest of all opposition leaders, suspends the constitution, and dissolves the National Assembly. A new constitution is approved in a national referendum that proposes a return to a parliamentary form of government. President Marcos serves as president while Cesar Virata serves as prime minister. Muslim insurgency in the South intensifies.

1981. President Marcos ends 8 years of martial law and wins elections for a second 6-year term.

1983. Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr. returns from exile in the United States and is assassinated on his arrival at the Manila airport. Marcos calls for a quick election to quell domestic unrest and international pressure.

1986. Millions of Filipinos hold a peaceful "People Power" revolution protesting President Marcos's victory amidst charges of ballot tampering. Marcos and his family are exiled to Hawaii, and Corazon C. Aquino, wife of the slain Senator Aquino, assumes the presidency. A new constitution is soon ratified.

1989. Limited autonomy is granted to Muslim provinces. Dispute escalates with China over the Spratly Islands. Military stages a coup d'état.

1990. A destructive earthquake, measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale, kills more than 1,600 and destroys property amounting to hundreds of millions of pesos. Typhoons batter the Visayas region.

1991. Eruption of the volcano Mount Pinatubo, burying many towns under lava including the ones where 2 American bases, Clark Air Base and the Subic Naval Bay Station, were located.

1992. Fidel V. Ramos is elected president. He unveils his blueprint for development called Philippines 2000. The Philippine Senate votes against the continued presence of U.S. military bases in the country.

1990s. The Philippine economy registers positive growth. International agencies express optimism about the country's development and dubs the country as one of Asia's "tiger cub" economies.

1998. Joseph E. Estrada, running under a social-justice platform, wins the presidency by a wide margin. The Philippines' fiscal deficit balloons to P111.66 billion from a deficit of P11.14 billion in 1986.

2000. President Estrada becomes the first Philippine president to be impeached by Congress. After mass "People Power" demonstrations, vice president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo becomes the fourteenth President of the Republic.


The greatest task at hand for the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is to stimulate the economy to sustained growth and reduce poverty by ensuring that the benefits of development are evenly distributed. In order to achieve this, government must manage its huge budget deficit and the national debt, and both the private and public sectors must reduce unemployment by attracting more foreign investors or generating employment locally through entrepreneurship. The new president is an economist by training, and it is believed she can inspire confidence in investment. By 2001, forecasters were revising upward their predictions of GDP growth from 2.7 percent to 4 percent.

In May 2001, voters will elect 13 senators, 209 representatives, 53 party-list representatives, and 79 governors and vice-governors. The outcome of the elections is crucial to the political and economic stability of the country. Any perception of election irregularities such as vote-buying or cheating will diminish investor confidence. In fact, most foreign investors are postponing business decisions until the outcome of the elections is known. In addition, it is crucial that the candidates of the current administration win a majority of the positions in order to affirm its mandate and ensure the smooth passage of its priority bills in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Some of the existing problems that can cause destabilization are the remaining pockets of Communist insurgency, the continuing struggle by Muslim separatists, and the feeble, but divisive, attempts of the former president to regain the presidency. The precarious state of the country's environment and natural resources can also hurt political stability and economic growth. In 2000, the government was severely criticized for not being able to effectively address the crisis in waste management. Dozens of slum dwellers living near the Payatas dumpsite were buried alive under mountains of trash that collapsed on their houses after continuing rains. A temporary shutdown of the dumpsite resulted in the accumulation of uncollected garbage in Metro Manila and added to public perceptions of the government as incompetent and ineffective. The continuing degradation of the environment is negatively affecting health and livelihood. The heavily polluted air in Metro Manila is the primary cause of respiratory illnesses, which harms labor productivity. Water pollution disrupts marine-dependent livelihoods, as well as the country's source of food. Although initiatives for resource conservation and environmental protection have gone a long way, there is still much to be done in terms of strict implementation of the laws and instilling respect for the environment.


Philippines has no territories or colonies.


Aganon, Marie E. National Report, Philippines: Changing Labor Market and Women Employment. Tokyo: Asian Productivity Organization, 2000.

Asian Development Outlook 2000. New York: Oxford UniversityPress, 2000.

Austria, Edna Villencio et. al. Philippines: Asian Approach to Resource Conservation and Environmental Protection. Tokyo: Asian Productivity Organization, 2000.

Cabanilla, L.S. et. al. Measuring Sustainability, Efficiency and Equitability of Philippine Agriculture. Working Paper No. 98-05. Institute for Strategic Planning and Policy Studies, 1998.

Chew, Victor T. Southeast Asian Tax Handbook. InternationalBureau for Fiscal Documentation, 1996.

De Leon, Hector S. The Fundamentals of Taxation. 11th ed.Manila: Rex, 1993.

Department of Labor and Employment. <>. Accessed July 2001.

Department of Tourism. <>. AccessedJuly 2001.

Department of Trade and Industry. <>.Accessed July 2001.

Gonzales, Felix R. Updates on Philippine Fisheries. PhilippineChamber of Food and Agriculture, 2000.

Harrison, Matthew. Asia-Pacific Securities Markets. Hong Kong:Financial Times, 1997.

Hoorway, James. "Philippines, Asian Economic Survey." The Asian Wall Street Journal. 23 October 2000.

Hutchcroft, Paul D. "Sustaining Economic and Political Reform:The Challenges Ahead." The Philippines: New Directions in Domestic Policy and Foreign Relations. David G. Timberman, ed. Asia Society, 1998.

Lamberte, Mario B. The Philippines: Challenges for Sustaining the Economic Recovery. Discussion Paper Series No. 2000-02. Philippine Institute for Development Studies, January 2000.

Mana-Ay, Ambrocio. "Philippines." Rural Poverty Alleviation in Asia and the Pacific. Tokyo: Asian Productivity Organization, 1999.

Panganiban, Artemio V. "An Introduction to the SupremeCourt." Law. Vol. XXIV, No. 8, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, 1998.

Rodlauer, M. et. al. Philippines: Toward Sustainable and Rapid Growth. Occasional Paper 187. Washington: International Monetary Fund, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook, 2000. <>. Accessed December 2000.

Villegas, Bernardo M. Philippine Economic Prospects under the Estrada Administration. <>. Accessed December 2000.

Maria Cecilia T. Ubarra




Philippine peso (P). Paper money is printed in bills of 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20, and 10 pesos. There are coins of 5 and 1 pesos and 25, 10, and 5 centavos. There are 100 centavos in 1 peso.


Electronic equipment, machinery and transport equipment, garments, and coconut products.


Raw materials and intermediate goods, capital goods, consumer goods, and fuels.


US$282 billion (1999 est.).


Exports: US$34.8 billion (1999 est.). Imports: US$30.7 billion (1998 est.).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Philippines." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Philippines." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . (July 9, 2018).

"Philippines." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of the Philippines
Region (Map name): Southeast Asia
Population: 82,841,518
Language(s): two official languages Filipino and English
Literacy rate: 94.6%
Area: 300,000 sq km
GDP: 74,733 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 42
Total Circulation: 4,711,000
Circulation per 1,000: 99
Circulation per 1,000: 99
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 3,498 (Pesos millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 16.30
Number of Television Stations: 31
Number of Television Sets: 3,700,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 44.7
Number of Cable Subscribers: 990,360
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 13.1
Number of Radio Stations: 659
Number of Radio Receivers: 11,500,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 138.8
Number of Individuals with Computers: 1,480,000
Computers per 1,000: 17.9
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 2,000,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 24.1

Background & General Characteristics

The Republic of the Philippines was under Spanish rule begining March 16, 1521, when Ferdinand Magellan landed on the island of Cebu and claimed it for Spain. In 1565 the first permanent Spanish settlement was founded, and later the islands received their name from Philip II of Spain.

In effect, Spanish rule ended in 1898 when the U.S. Navy's Commodore George Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet anchored in Manila Bay. In December 1898 the United States and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris, handing control of the Philippines over to the United States. Although Filipinos revolted against American rule, the United States oversaw the islands until the Philippines was granted its independence on July 4, 1946.

The archipelago that is the Republic of the Philippines covers around 300,000 square kilometers, of which 298,170 square kilometers is land. The waters of the South China Sea to the west, Philippine Sea to the east, Luzon Strait to the north and Celebes Sea to the south lap against the nation's 36,289 kilometers of coastline. The terrain is primarily mountainous, with coastal lowlands varying from narrow to extensive. Natural resources include metals such as gold, silver, copper, nickel and cobalt, plus timber, petroleum and salt. About 46 percent of the land was made up of forests and woodlands, according to 1993 estimates. Manila, the capital, has almost 10 million residents in the metropolitan area and is located on the island of Luzon.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Philippines had an estimated population of almost 83 million, of which about 40 percent lived below the poverty level, according to 1997 government estimates. The top 10 percent of the population held 39 percent of the income, while the bottom 10 percent held a paltry 1.5 percent. The majority of the 48 million Filipinos in the workforce were employed in agriculture (almost 40 percent), with 19.4 percent working in government and social services, 17.7 percent in service, 9.8 percent in manufacturing, 5.8 percent in construction, and 7.5 percent in other industries, according to 1998 estimates.

Life expectancy in 2001 was estimated at about 65 years for men, and 71 years for women. The 1995 estimated literacy rate (defined as those age 15 and over who can read and write) was high, at 95 percent for men; 94 percent for women.

The overwhelming majority of Filipinos are Roman Catholic (83 percent), with Protestants (9 percent), Muslim (5 percent), and Buddhists and others making up the remaining 3 percent. English and Filipino, based on the Tagalog dialect, are the two official languages, with around 85 dialects also spoken. Tagalog, Cebuano and Ilocano are perhaps the most prevalent of the dialects.

The 1987 Constitution sets up a presidential system of government with a bicameral Congress (Kongreso) consisting of a 24-seat Senate (Senado) and a 204-seat House of Representatives (Kapulungan Ng Mga Kinatawan). The president can appoint additional members to the House of Representatives, although the constitution prohibits more than 250 representatives. The president appoints justices to the Supreme Court upon recommendation of the Judicial and Bar Council. The judiciary is independent.

Media Overview

Highs of the media's history in the islands include the Philippines' Constitution guaranteeing freedom of the press and the freedom of the press access to official documents. In contrast to these lofty ideals, the Philippines press from the time of its inception has faced American influence, confiscation of assets for those papers not among the ownership of a former leader, and mistrust of reporters due to shoddy reporting.

Newspapers were being published on board American ships as they first entered Manila Bay in 1898. The Bounding Billow was published on board Dewey's flag-ship, and other on-ship U.S. papers included the American Soldier, Freedom and the American, according to the Philippine Journalism Review. These early papers followed U.S. attempts to "civilize" the Filipinos. American journalists in the Philippines went so far as to characterize the natives as "little brown soldiers who enjoyed parading before the patient Americans," and as "a group of warlike tribes who will devour each other when American troops leave."

The Americans wasted no time in establishing a press system in the Philippines modeled on that of the one in place in the United States. The Manila Times published its first issue in October 1898, making it the first English-language newspaper in the islands. Newspapers published in the Philippines were under strong American influence and went so far as to champion the annexation of the islands by the United States. Among the newspapers taking this stance were La Democracia and Consolidacion Nacional. Among the papers holding out for independence were El Renacimiento, Muling Pagsilang, El Debate, La Opinion and Los Obreros.

Another influential newspaper was the Bulletin, which originally was established by H.G. Harris and Carson Taylor in 1900 as a shipping journal and to encourage shipping and commerce in the islands. The Bulletin used as its primary sources the news agencies Associated Press, United Press International and the Chicago Tribune Service. For its first three years the Bulletin was published free of charge; it became a full-fledged paper in 1912.

In 1917, Manuel Quezon purchased the Manila Times and held it for four years. Ownership changed hands a few times after that until the Times joined the press holdings of Alejandro Roces Sr. Among Roces' other newspapers at the time were Taliba, the Tribune and La Vanguardia.

Cable News, founded by Israel Putnam, was another renowned daily during the early part of the twentieth century. Later the paper joined with the American, and in 1920 the combined newspaper was purchased by Quezon.

Although founded on the principle of freedom of expression, newspapers in the Philippines were subjected to strict censorship by American military authorities, and later by American civilian administrators, according to the Philippine Journalism Review. Under Gen. Arthur McArthur, the military worked to keep propaganda against American forces out of the news as well as prevent communication between those opposing America's presence in the islands. Stories detailing resistance by Filipinos to American rule were suppressed, as well as stories that would help Filipinos learn what was happening beyond the Philippines' borders. Journalists were deported or imprisoned for exercising freedom of the press, and papers such as La Justicia, and the Cebuano newspaperEl Nueva Dia, were suspended many times for championing nationalistic views.

Historians say El Renacimiento was the only true independent newspaper during these dark days, and its light was later extinguished by a libel case brought against the paper by an American official.

English-language newspapers dominated the press in the early part of the century until then Senate President Manuel Quezon established the Philippines Herald to represent the Filipino viewpoint in the fight for independence. In August 1920, disgruntled former Manila Times journalists left their jobs and formed the backbone of the Herald. Early staff members included Narciso Ramos, Antonio Escoda, Bernardo Garcia and Jose P. Bautista names that would become among the most revered in the history of the Philippines' press.

The 1920s also saw the birth of English-language women's magazines, which were primarily the products of women's clubs. Women's Outlook was published 10 times a year and was the official publication of the Women's Club of Manila, according to the Philippine Journalism Review. Another prominent publication was Woman's World, the publication of the Philippine Association of University Women. In 1935 Woman's World joined Woman's Home Journal to become Woman's Home Journal World, and the combined magazine featured sections on food, fashion, beauty and gossip.

In April 1925, Alejandro Roces, who would also own the Manila Times and other papers, established theTribune. Under the editorial leadership of Mauro Mendez, the Tribune tackled topics such as the alleged misuse of government funds; a plan to potentially cut the jobs of about 2,000 low-income government employees in order to save money; the merits of English being the language of instruction in schools; and a proposal to hand members of the House of Parliament a large lump sum for travel allowances, postage, stationery and clerical help with no accounting for how the money was spent. Mendez later transferred to the Herald and his journalistic attacks continued, this time venturing into topics such as peasant unrest in the 1930s, women's suffrage and the threat of Communism.

After the Philippines were granted independence, newspapers threw off their shackles and proceeded to write about wrongdoing in high places. Their motives may have been pure, but they tended to use unsubstantiated or one-source stories. As time went on, elite families took over newspaper ownership in Manila.

In 1972 then-President Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law. He confiscated the assets of those newspapers not in his own coalition. Between 1972 and 1986, newspapers were under the rule of Marcos' friends, family members or others close to him. The press remained under these unfriendly conditions for 14 years.

The assassination of presidential hopeful Benigno ("Ninoy") Aquino Jr. in August 1983 united Filipinos, and eventually helped spur a return to a freer, more independent press. His growing unpopularity led Marcos to flee the country in 1986. After his departure the Commission on Good Government confiscated newspapers and their assets from Marcos' allies. The press rejoiced as it regained control; some newspapers were even returned to the families that had owned and operated them prior to Marcos' takeover.

By the early 1990s, there were about 30 daily papers of all sizes, types and political perspectives. News was offered by about a dozen English-language broadsheets, while around 14 tabloidsprimarily in Tagalog and Cebuanofeatured sensationalism as a staple. Papers were diverse, and four were published in Chinese.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, national newspapers numbered eight from a high of 22 in 1986, according to the World Press Review. Slightly more than 400 community newspapers, most weeklies or monthlies in English are found amid the nation's 7,100 islands. National dailies have circulations of between 10,000 and 400,000 while their provincial cousins have circulations between 500 and 45,000.

Grouped by circulation, there are about a dozen newspapers with a circulation between 100,000 and 300,000; about a dozen with a circulation between 50,000 and 100,000; three with circulation of between 25,000 and 50,000; one with circulation of between 10,000 and 25,000, and two with circulations below 10,000.

Publications are printed in a variety of languages. In English the three top are the Manila Bulletin (circulation of around 320,000), Philippines Star (222,900) and Philippines Inquirer (148,800). In Filipino they are People's Tonight (320,900), Pilipino Ngayaon (272,000) and Taliba (226,800). In Taglish, the top three are People's Journal (372,500), Headline Manila (105,100) and News Today (75,000). The top three Chinese papers are the World News (36,000), United Daily News (32,000) and China Times (30,000).

Economic Framework

The Philippines' economy is built primarily upon agriculture, light industry and services. About 40 percent of the population was living below the poverty line in 1997, according to U.S. government figures. The Philippines was making headway in growth and poverty reduction until the 1997 simultaneous shocks of an Asian financial crisis and the El Nino weather pattern. Growth domestic products (GDP) growth dropped to about -0.5 percent in 1998 from five percent in 1997, and then recovered to about three percent in 1999 and in 2000 to about four percent. In 2001 the Philippines' government hoped its GDP growth would hit a little more than three percent.

In an effort to keep pace with newly industrialized East Asian countries, the Philippine government has undertaken a strategy of improving infrastructure, boosting tax revenues through an overhauled tax system, a continued move toward deregulation and privatization of the economy, and increasing trade with regional nations.

Although estimates indicate poverty may have increased from 25.1 percent in 1997 to 27.8 percent in 1998, a recovery in 1999 is estimated to have reduced the rate to 26.3 percent. Further declines were expected in subsequent years.

Many believe the outlook for the future of the Philippine economy is good as recent administrations have opened up the economy through market-based policies and liberalization. Although the economy hit a few bumps amid scandals involving the Philippine Stock Exchange and ties between government officials and business, legislation in electronic commerce, banking reform and securities regulation is expected to improve the business climate.

Press Laws

Owing to American influence, much press ideals of the Philippines are based on those of the press in the United States. The Philippine Constitution, Article 3, states "no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances." Section 7 guarantees the right of the people "to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitation as may be provided by law."

In the wake of terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001, the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization hosted a conference on Terrorism and the Media in Manila in May 2002. A resolution crafted by participants said, in part, that any strategy to address the threat of terrorism "must promote greater respect for freedom of expression and of the media, rather than imposing restrictions on these fundamental rights." In addition, the media has "both the right and a duty" to report on terrorism in the interest of the public's right to know.

State-Press Relations

The Philippines' press was modeled after that of the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. In its early days, the Filipino press was under the control and censorship of American military authorities, and later, American administrators.

In the 1920s and 1930s the press was characterized by a "high degree of professionalism," according to the Philippine Journalism Review. Journalists analyzed public issues and encouraged open debate.

Despite the law and lofty ideals of total press freedom, the press was repressed during the reign of Ferdinand Marcos, particularly after he declared martial law in 1972 and confiscated newspaper assets. In more recent times the press is subject to pressure from newspaper owners as they try to protect their interests, according to the World Press Review. Community papers face feuding political clans, "patronage politics," and resistance to change.

In an early 2002 report on the state of the press, Professor Luis Teodoro, executive editor of the Philippine Journalism Review, pointed out a lack of government regulation does not necessarily equal a free press, according to the Philippine's Business World. Teodoro called press laws "fairly liberal," but pointed out that newspapers are primarily driven by commercial and political interests, which often are tied to government interests. Vital to those interests, Teodoro said, is government favor or disfavor. Despite these things, he said, there still "exists a core of practitioners who detest the political and ideological limits set by the existing system and who hunger for a relevant journalism that owes its allegiance first and foremostto the Filipino people."

Debate abounds concerning if a free press and free economy can co-exist with economic growth. In recent years business owners have blamed the Philippines' slowing economy on the free press and the growing democracy. When one prominent businessman said the press should be gagged "for the sake of the economy," his view was opposed by President Gloria Arroyo who said "the cure might be worse than the sickness."

Yet even Arroyo has tied the media's hands. On May 29, 2001, Arroyo slapped a blackout on the media regarding the conflict between the army and Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southwest portion of the Philippines. Using military secrets as her justification, Arroyo said it was important to keep secrets to "surprise the enemy," according to Reporters Without Borders. She also accused journalists who had interviewed the rebels of "antipatriotic" acts, although an official later said reporters were not forbidden from entering that area of the nation. The Philippines mediaperhaps surprisingly so for many journalistswas generally in favor with Arroyo's decision, as evidenced by editorials. An exception was Mindanao radio network Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), which said it would continue interviews with rebel leaders.

On June 6, 2001, the offices of the radio station dyHB were bombed. The blast wounded a guard and two passers-by when a wall around the building collapsed. The RMN station airs reports on organized crime, and the alleged complicity of police officers and soldiers in the area. However, the dyHB's managing editor said the attack was related to interviews with the rebel group after the government-imposed media blackout, according to Reporters Without Borders. Early police reports after the attack said the bomb used was of military origin.

Filipino journalists are not strangers to danger in the recent past. Since 1986 at least 39 journalists have been killed, according to information gathered by the International Press Institute. In 2001 three radio station employees were killed, placing the Philippines second only to Afghanistan for journalist deaths that year.

Among those killed in 2001 was Rolando Ureta, program director for dyKR radio station, an affiliate of Radio Mindanao. Ureta was shot on Jan. 3 while riding his motorcycle after airing his nightly program. Press reports after his murder told of his receiving death threats for his coverage of alleged political corruption and drug trafficking. On Feb. 24 DXID Radio commentator and Islamic Radio Broadcasting Network member Mohammad Yusop was shot and killed in the southern Philippines. On May 30 DXXL radio announcer Candelario Cayona was shot and killed. In 2000 he had angered police after airing interviews with members of Muslim extremist group.

On May 31, Joy Mortel, a reporter for the Mindoro Guardian, was shot several times and killed after an argument with two unidentified armed men in her home in Barangay Talabanhan, Occidental Mindoro Province. Although the motive for her killing is not clear, the police had not ruled out her journalism, which included the questioning of the finances of local cooperatives she had organized.

Another radio journalist was abducted in August 2001 and found blindfolded, dehydrated and badly beaten. The kidnappers allegedly were punishing him for reports on illegal logging, drug trafficking, and other criminal activities.

In August 2001, former President Joseph Estrada asked his lawyers sue the Daily Inquirer for publishing an interview with a soldier that implicated him and Senator Panfilo Lacson, chief of the national police, in a money laundering scandal. Before he was ousted from office, Estrada had asked his partisans to no longer buy advertising space in the Inquirer.

Yet the Philippines' press continues to expose wrongdoing. In 1989 nine Filipino journalists founded the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) as they realized that newspapers do not have the time, money or manpower to tackle investigations. PCIJ believes the media plays an important role in examining and strengthening democratic institutions, as well as be a catalyst for debate and consensus. To play its role, the media should provide citizens with the information necessary to make informed decisions.

PCIJ funds investigative pieces for both print and broadcast journalists, as well as puts out books and publishes an investigative reporting magazine. PCIJ organizes training seminars for journalists and provides training personnel for news organizations at home and in Southeast Asia. Over the past decade PCIJ has published almost 200 articles in Philippines print media, launched more than a dozen books and produced a handful of full-length documentaries.

A 13-person staff runs the PCIJ, and is headed by the executive director, who administers the day-to-day operations. The staff includes five journalists who write investigative reports and oversee components of the center's work. A researcher and librarian also are employed. Fellowships are offered to train and keep quality journalists in the Philippines, and fellowships are available for investigative reporting to full-time reporters, freelance journalists and academics.

PCIJ has gained clout in its less than 20 years of existence. When PCIJ reported on March 11, 1996, that the former health secretary was reportedly skimming off up to 40 percent on government contracts, he was forced to resign two weeks later. When in July 1995 PCIJ reported on the torture of two 12-year-old boys suspected of being involved in a kidnapping by the then-Presidential Anti-Crime Commission, the story was followed two days later by a probe of the incident. Charges were later filed against the commission. Other instances of PCIJ clout include a Senate investigation of the former house speaker for unpaid debts, and the resignation of a Supreme Court justice after a faked authorship of a legal decision in favor of a Philippines telecommunications giant.

However, the government has fought back. PCIJ wrote on Oct. 11, 1993, about an alleged presidential par-amour and her supposed influence on state affairs. Although only one newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, ran the story, three days later the Securities and Exchange Commission took over a disputed one-third of its shares.


Although the Philippines' Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, that ideal has been subject to various forms of censorship throughout the history of the nation. Perhaps the most glaring example of censorship although through use of libel lawstook place during the United States' time in the Philippines. The result of that case was the closing of a newspaper some considered legendary.

El Renacimiento was the lone independent newspaper in the early part of the twentieth century, along with its sister publication, Muling Pagsilang. El Renacimiento was sued for libel by then Secretary of the Interior Dean C. Worcester after the paper printed an editorial titled "Aves de Rapina" (Birds of Prey). Although Worcester was not identified by name and his office not mentioned, Worcester was allowed to prove through testimonial evidence that the editorial was aimed at him when it referred to a "vampire," "vulture" and "owl."

The Taft Commission's passing of strict libel laws in 1901 were so tightly enforced by the courts that criticizing a public official meant time in prison, and a fine so high (P3,000) it was considered a fortune for the times. When Worcester won his case, El Renacimiento 's publisher and editor were sentenced to jail (although in 1914 before they went to prison they were granted a full pardon by Governor General Francis Harrison) and El Renacimiento was closed.

As mentioned earlier, military officials under Gen. Arthur McArthur barred the Filipino press from printing articles against American forces, as well as stories thought to be communication between belligerents and their agents in other Asian countries. That censorship extended to not allowing stories which might alarm Americans on their home soil.

It took about two decades under the watchful Americans before Filipinos began to enjoy any sort of press freedom, according to the Philippine Journalism Review. Prior to that, Filipino journalists often were punished for stories seen as un-American. For satirizing Americans, Apolinario Mabini was among those imprisoned or banished, and publications such as La Justicia, and the Cebuano newspaper El Nueva Dia were suspended several times for their nationalistic views.

As mentioned earlier, in 2001 President Gloria Arroyo imposed a press blackout on the activities between the army and the rebel group Abu Sayyaf, and in August that same year, former President Joseph Estrada asked his lawyers to file suit against the Daily Inquirer for publishing an interview with a soldier implicating him and the chief of the national police in a money laundering scandal. The United States no longer controls the Philippines, but the threat of censorship has never left.

Broadcast Media

Since the Philippines are spread over a vast area and poverty is prevalent in outlying areas, radio is the more popular medium. Approximately 600 radio stations are found in the Philippines, of which 273 are AM, according to the Worldwide Press Review.

Television has cut into the popularity of newspapers, particularly in urban areas. Major television stations include ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp.; GMA Network Inc.; Radio Philippines Network; Allied Broadcasting Corp.; Interisland Broadcasting Corp.; and People's Television Network, Inc.

Electronic Media

The Internet is increasing its role in Philippine journalism, as many print publications offer an online version of their product, including the Philippine Journalism Review (, which is published by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility. A partial list of online publications includes the following: Balita News ( offers news from the Philippines News Agency, and is the homepage of the long-established Balita-L news digest; Bankaw News ( ), an online weekly featuring stories on Leyte, Samar and Biliran, plus opinions and features; Business World ), the online edition of Business Day ; Chinese Online Newspaper ( ), the Philippines' first Chinese online newspaper; Diaryo Pilipino ( ), based in Los Angeles, Calif., this is a weekly Filipino-American publication; Malaya ( ), the national newspaper covering news, sports, business, entertainment, living, travel and more. Other publications offer news of the Philippines to Filipinos no longer living in their homeland, such as Philippines Today ( ), which bills itself as the longest running, most widely read newspaper for Filipinos in Japan.

News Agencies

The Philippines has one news agency, the Philippine News Agency, which was established March 1, 1973, during the Marcos martial-law era. The Philippine News Agency calls itself on its Web site ) "The Biggest News Organization in the Philippines," and Philippines' first government-owned news agency.

Education and Training

Established in 1980, the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) in Manila is a non-stock, non-profit foundation for the management of communication and information for national development. Recently it has joined with other press organizations to present the Child-Friendly Newspaper and Journalist Awards, to honor those who serve as advocates for children's rights. It also offers graduate studies and online courses.

The University of the Philippines in Quezon City offers both bachelors' and masters' degrees in journalism and broadcast communication, among other communications offerings. The University of the Philippines Los Baños in Laguna offers degree programs in communications, including journalism.

The Philippines Press Institute (PPI) is a non-stock, nonprofit organization. Its principal aim, according to its Web site, is to promote ethical standards and provide opportunities for professional development of Filipino journalists. The institute was founded in 1964, went out of business for a period of years during the years of martial law, and reinstituted in 1987. It also represents the interests and concerns of the newspaper sector in the Philippines' media. Members include the major national and provincial daily and weekly newspapers, and news magazines. Membership is granted only by organizations, with individual memberships given only to honorary members and incorporators.

PPI organizes training and educational activities for the Filipino journalists, seeks to protect their rights and freedoms in their work, and creates opportunities for the development of journalists. PPI is governed by a 15-member Board of Trustees made up of editors and publishers from national and community publications.

PPI works in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF), and manages KAF's Annual Community Press Awards program for excellence in community journalism. PPI plans and implements regular seminars and workshops on writing and newspaper management, and coverage of special interest activities such as the environment, business and economy, health, science and technology, children's rights, women's issues and ethnic conflicts. PPI also publishes the Press Forum, a quarterly journal that chronicles events pertaining to the Philippines print media. It also publishes books and manuals by Filipino editors for journalists' use and for student reference.

Among its regular features, PPI conducts the "Newsmakers' Forum," an interaction between journalists and journalism students from the print and broadcast disciplines. It also presents "NewsMovies," full-length features concerning the media, journalists and their profession. PPI also has developed a Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct that sets parameters for journalists and sets the same ethical standards as similar codes for free presses around the world.


The Philippines' history in terms of a free press is a checkered past. In the beginning, the news was censored by the Americans. Later under the Americans, the Philippines press was open and free-wheeling before being reigned in when martial law was imposed under President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972. After Marcos fled in 1986, the press threw off its shackles and returned to its aggressive reporting methods.

While established under the ideals of a free press, the Filipino media has often suffered censorship and pressure from governments. Although many journalists from nearby nations might envy the freedom of the Philippines' press, as recent as 2001 Filipino journalists were killed for their aggressive stances. As further testimony of the back-and-forth fight for a free press, President Gloria Arroyo has said that a free press is the right of its practitioners and critical to the operation of a democratic society. Later that same year, Arroyo instituted the media blackout on reporting the actions of rebel forces.

Clearly the battle for a truly free press continues in the Philippines, although with dozens of publications, radio stations, broadcast entities and their staffs in operation, the Philippines appears to have one of the better media climates in Southeast Asia.

Significant Dates

  • October 1898: The Manila Times becomes the first continually published, English-language daily newspaper in the Philippines.
  • December 1898: The Philippines are ceded to the United States by Spain.
  • 1900: H.G. Harris establishes the Bulletin, first published as a shipping journal. It became a full-fledged newspaper in 1912.
  • August 1920: Disgruntled employees leave the Manila Times because they believe the paper is misrep-resenting the view of the Filipino people. They start the Philippines Herald in order to give the Filipino people a more representative voice.
  • July 4, 1946: The Philippines attain their independence after being occupied by Japan during World War II.
  • 1964: The Philippine Press Institute is founded to advance the professional development of the Filipino journalist.
  • 1965: Ferdinand Marcos comes to power.
  • 1972: Marcos establishes martial law and confiscates newspapers.
  • 1986: Marcos' regime is ousted through the efforts of "People Power." Marcos flees the country.
  • 1989: The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism is founded.
  • 2001: President Joseph Estrada declared by Supreme Court as "unfit to rule" in the face of mass resignations from his government.. The Supreme Court administers the Oath of Office to Vice President Gloria Arroyo.
  • January to August 2001: Three broadcast journalists are killed by unidentified gunmen, allegedly due to the fashion in which they approached reports exposing corruption and illegal activities among government agencies.


Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct. The Philippine Press Institute. Available from [email protected].

Consular Reports. The U.S. State Department. Available from

Country Study, the Philippines. The U.S. Library of Congress, 2002. Available from

Encanto, Georgina R. "The Philippine Press Before World War II." In Philippine Journalism Review. Available from

"The Manila Times Editorial Guidelines." In Manila Times. Available from

"The Philippines," 2002. Available from

"Philippines." Central Intelligence Agency. In The World Fact Book 2001. Available from

"The Philippines." In The World Press Freedom Review, 2001. Available from

"Philippines annual report 2002." Reporters Without Borders. Available from

Philippines Journalism Review, June 2002. Available from

"Resolution on Terrorism and Media." Southeast Asia Press Alliance, May 2, 2002. Available from

Sison, Marites N. "Philippines: Elusive Access to Information." In World Press Review, December 2001, vol. 48, no. 12. Available from

Brad Kadrich

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Philippines." World Press Encyclopedia. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Philippines." World Press Encyclopedia. . (July 9, 2018).

"Philippines." World Press Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Philippines, The

The Philippines (fĬl´əpēnz´), officially Republic of the Philippines, republic (2005 est. pop. 87,857,000), 115,830 sq mi (300,000 sq km), SW Pacific, in the Malay Archipelago off the SE Asia mainland. It comprises over 7,000 islands and rocks, of which only c.400 are permanently inhabited. The 11 largest islands—Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Palawan, Panay, Mindoro, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, and Masbate—contain about 95% of the total land area. The northernmost point of land, the islet of Y'Ami in the Batan Islands, is separated from Taiwan by the Bashi Channel (c.50 mi/80 km wide). Manila, on Luzon, is the capital, the largest city, and the heart of the country.


The Philippines extend 1,152 mi (1,855 km) from north to south, between Taiwan and Borneo, and 688 mi (1,108 km) from east to west, and are bounded by the Philippine Sea on the east, the Celebes Sea on the south, and the South China Sea on the west. They comprise three natural divisions—the northern, which includes Luzon and attendant islands; the central, occupied by the Visayan Islands and Palawan and Mindoro; and the southern, encompassing Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. In addition to Manila, other important centers are Quezon City, also on Luzon; Cebu, on Cebu Island; Iloilo, on Panay; Davao and Zamboanga, on Mindanao; and Jolo, on Jolo Island in the Sulu Archipelago.

The Philippines are chiefly of volcanic origin. Most of the larger islands are traversed by mountain ranges, with Mt. Apo (9,690 ft/2,954 m), on Mindanao, the highest peak. Narrow coastal plains, wide valleys, volcanoes, dense forests, and mineral and hot springs further characterize the larger islands. Earthquakes are common. Of the navigable rivers, Cagayan, on Luzon, is the largest; there are also large lakes on Luzon and Mindanao.

The Philippines are entirely within the tropical zone. Manila, with a mean daily temperature of 79.5°F (26. 4°C), is typical of the climate of the lowland areas—hot and humid. The highlands, however, have a bracing climate; e.g., Baguio, the summer capital, on Luzon, has a mean annual temperature of 64°F (17.8°C). The islands are subject to typhoons, whose torrential rains can cause devastating floods; 5,000 people died on Leyte in 1991 from such flooding, and several storms in 2004 and 2006 caused deadly flooding and great destruction.


The great majority of the people of the Philippines belong to the Malay group and are known as Filipinos. Other groups include the Negritos (negroid pygmies) and the Dumagats (similar to the Papuans of New Guinea), and there is a small Chinese minority. The Filipinos live mostly in the lowlands and constitute one of the largest Christian groups in Asia. Roman Catholicism is professed by over 80% of the population; 5% are Muslims (concentrated on Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago; see Moros); about 2% are Aglipayans, members of the Philippine Independent Church, a nationalistic offshoot of Catholicism (see Aglipay, Gregorio); and there are Protestant and Evangelical groups. The official languages are Pilipino, based on Tagalog, and English; however, some 70 native languages are also spoken.


With their tropical climate, heavy rainfall, and naturally fertile volcanic soil, the Philippines have a strong agricultural sector, which employs over a third of the population. Sugarcane, coconuts, rice, corn, bananas, cassava, pineapples, and mangoes are the most important crops, and tobacco and coffee are also grown. Carabao (water buffalo), pigs, chickens, goats, and ducks are widely raised, and there is dairy farming. Fishing is a common occupation; the Sulu Archipelago is noted for its pearls and mother-of-pearl.

The islands have one of the world's greatest stands of commercial timber. There are also mineral resources such as petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, copper, zinc, chromite, and iron ore. Nonmetallic minerals include rock asphalt, gypsum, asbestos, sulfur, and coal. Limestone, adobe, and marble are quarried.

Manufacturing is concentrated in metropolitan Manila, near the nation's prime port, but there has been considerable industrial growth on Cebu, Negros, and Mindanao. Garments, footwear, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and wood products are manufactured, and the assembly of electronics and automobiles is important. Other industries include food processing and petroleum refining. The former U.S. military base at Subic Bay was redeveloped in the 1990s as a free-trade zone.

The economy has nonetheless remained weak, and many Filipinos have sought employment overseas; remittances from an estimated 8 million Filipinos abroad, both contract workers and émigrés, are economically important. Chief exports are semiconductors, electronics, transportation equipment, clothing, copper, petroleum products, coconut oil, fruits, lumber and plywood, machinery, and sugar. The main imports are electronic products, mineral fuels, machinery, transportation equipment, iron and steel, textiles, grains, chemicals, and plastic. The chief trading partners are the United States, Japan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.


The Philippines is governed under the constitution of 1987. The president, who is both head of state and head of the government, is elected by popular vote for a single six-year term. There is a bicameral legislature, the Congress. Members of the 24-seat Senate are popularly elected for six-year terms. The House of Representatives consists of not more than 250 members, who are popularly elected for three-year terms. There is an independent judiciary headed by a supreme court. Administratively, the republic is divided into 79 provinces and 117 chartered cities.


Early History

The Negritos are believed to have migrated to the Philippines some 30,000 years ago from Borneo, Sumatra, and Malaya. The Malayans followed in successive waves. These people belonged to a primitive epoch of Malayan culture, which has apparently survived to this day among certain groups such as the Igorots. The Malayan tribes that came later had more highly developed material cultures.

In the 14th cent. Arab traders from Malay and Borneo introduced Islam into the southern islands and extended their influence as far north as Luzon. The first Europeans to visit (1521) the Philippines were those in the Spanish expedition around the world led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Other Spanish expeditions followed, including one from New Spain (Mexico) under López de Villalobos, who in 1542 named the islands for the infante Philip, later Philip II.

Spanish Control

The conquest of the Filipinos by Spain did not begin in earnest until 1564, when another expedition from New Spain, commanded by Miguel López de Legaspi, arrived. Spanish leadership was soon established over many small independent communities that previously had known no central rule. By 1571, when López de Legaspi established the Spanish city of Manila on the site of a Moro town he had conquered the year before, the Spanish foothold in the Philippines was secure, despite the opposition of the Portuguese, who were eager to maintain their monopoly on the trade of East Asia.

Manila repulsed the attack of the Chinese pirate Limahong in 1574. For centuries before the Spanish arrived the Chinese had traded with the Filipinos, but evidently none had settled permanently in the islands until after the conquest. Chinese trade and labor were of great importance in the early development of the Spanish colony, but the Chinese came to be feared and hated because of their increasing numbers, and in 1603 the Spanish murdered thousands of them (later, there were lesser massacres of the Chinese).

The Spanish governor, made a viceroy in 1589, ruled with the advice of the powerful royal audiencia. There were frequent uprisings by the Filipinos, who resented the encomienda system. By the end of the 16th cent. Manila had become a leading commercial center of East Asia, carrying on a flourishing trade with China, India, and the East Indies. The Philippines supplied some wealth (including gold) to Spain, and the richly laden galleons plying between the islands and New Spain were often attacked by English freebooters. There was also trouble from other quarters, and the period from 1600 to 1663 was marked by continual wars with the Dutch, who were laying the foundations of their rich empire in the East Indies, and with Moro pirates. One of the most difficult problems the Spanish faced was the subjugation of the Moros. Intermittent campaigns were conducted against them but without conclusive results until the middle of the 19th cent. As the power of the Spanish Empire waned, the Jesuit orders became more influential in the Philippines and acquired great amounts of property.

Revolution, War, and U.S. Control

It was the opposition to the power of the clergy that in large measure brought about the rising sentiment for independence. Spanish injustices, bigotry, and economic oppressions fed the movement, which was greatly inspired by the brilliant writings of José Rizal. In 1896 revolution began in the province of Cavite, and after the execution of Rizal that December, it spread throughout the major islands. The Filipino leader, Emilio Aguinaldo, achieved considerable success before a peace was patched up with Spain. The peace was short-lived, however, for neither side honored its agreements, and a new revolution was brewing when the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898.

After the U.S. naval victory in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, Commodore George Dewey supplied Aguinaldo with arms and urged him to rally the Filipinos against the Spanish. By the time U.S. land forces had arrived, the Filipinos had taken the entire island of Luzon, except for the old walled city of Manila, which they were besieging. The Filipinos had also declared their independence and established a republic under the first democratic constitution ever known in Asia. Their dreams of independence were crushed when the Philippines were transferred from Spain to the United States in the Treaty of Paris (1898), which closed the Spanish-American War.

In Feb., 1899, Aguinaldo led a new revolt, this time against U.S. rule. Defeated on the battlefield, the Filipinos turned to guerrilla warfare, and their subjugation became a mammoth project for the United States—one that cost far more money and took far more lives than the Spanish-American War. The insurrection was effectively ended with the capture (1901) of Aguinaldo by Gen. Frederick Funston, but the question of Philippine independence remained a burning issue in the politics of both the United States and the islands. The matter was complicated by the growing economic ties between the two countries. Although comparatively little American capital was invested in island industries, U.S. trade bulked larger and larger until the Philippines became almost entirely dependent upon the American market. Free trade, established by an act of 1909, was expanded in 1913.

When the Democrats came into power in 1913, measures were taken to effect a smooth transition to self-rule. The Philippine assembly already had a popularly elected lower house, and the Jones Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1916, provided for a popularly elected upper house as well, with power to approve all appointments made by the governor-general. It also gave the islands their first definite pledge of independence, although no specific date was set.

When the Republicans regained power in 1921, the trend toward bringing Filipinos into the government was reversed. Gen. Leonard Wood, who was appointed governor-general, largely supplanted Filipino activities with a semimilitary rule. However, the advent of the Great Depression in the United States in the 1930s and the first aggressive moves by Japan in Asia (1931) shifted U.S. sentiment sharply toward the granting of immediate independence to the Philippines.

The Commonwealth

The Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act, passed by Congress in 1932, provided for complete independence of the islands in 1945 after 10 years of self-government under U.S. supervision. The bill had been drawn up with the aid of a commission from the Philippines, but Manuel L. Quezon, the leader of the dominant Nationalist party, opposed it, partially because of its threat of American tariffs against Philippine products but principally because of the provisions leaving naval bases in U.S. hands. Under his influence, the Philippine legislature rejected the bill. The Tydings-McDuffie Independence Act (1934) closely resembled the Hare-Howes-Cutting-Act, but struck the provisions for American bases and carried a promise of further study to correct "imperfections or inequalities."

The Philippine legislature ratified the bill; a constitution, approved by President Roosevelt (Mar., 1935) was accepted by the Philippine people in a plebiscite (May); and Quezon was elected the first president (Sept.). When Quezon was inaugurated on Nov. 15, 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was formally established. Quezon was reelected in Nov., 1941. To develop defensive forces against possible aggression, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was brought to the islands as military adviser in 1935, and the following year he became field marshal of the Commonwealth army.

World War II

War came suddenly to the Philippines on Dec. 8 (Dec. 7, U.S. time), 1941, when Japan attacked without warning. Japanese troops invaded the islands in many places and launched a pincer drive on Manila. MacArthur's scattered defending forces (about 80,000 troops, four fifths of them Filipinos) were forced to withdraw to Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor Island, where they entrenched and tried to hold until the arrival of reinforcements, meanwhile guarding the entrance to Manila Bay and denying that important harbor to the Japanese. But no reinforcements were forthcoming. The Japanese occupied Manila on Jan. 2, 1942. MacArthur was ordered out by President Roosevelt and left for Australia on Mar. 11; Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright assumed command.

The besieged U.S.-Filipino army on Bataan finally crumbled on Apr. 9, 1942. Wainwright fought on from Corregidor with a garrison of about 11,000 men; he was overwhelmed on May 6, 1942. After his capitulation, the Japanese forced the surrender of all remaining defending units in the islands by threatening to use the captured Bataan and Corregidor troops as hostages. Many individual soldiers refused to surrender, however, and guerrilla resistance, organized and coordinated by U.S. and Philippine army officers, continued throughout the Japanese occupation.

Japan's efforts to win Filipino loyalty found expression in the establishment (Oct. 14, 1943) of a "Philippine Republic," with José P. Laurel, former supreme court justice, as president. But the people suffered greatly from Japanese brutality, and the puppet government gained little support. Meanwhile, President Quezon, who had escaped with other high officials before the country fell, set up a government-in-exile in Washington. When he died (Aug., 1944), Vice President Sergio Osmeña became president. Osmeña returned to the Philippines with the first liberation forces, which surprised the Japanese by landing (Oct. 20, 1944) at Leyte, in the heart of the islands, after months of U.S. air strikes against Mindanao. The Philippine government was established at Tacloban, Leyte, on Oct. 23.

The landing was followed (Oct. 23–26) by the greatest naval engagement in history, called variously the battle of Leyte Gulf and the second battle of the Philippine Sea. A great U.S. victory, it effectively destroyed the Japanese fleet and opened the way for the recovery of all the islands. Luzon was invaded (Jan., 1945), and Manila was taken in February. On July 5, 1945, MacArthur announced "All the Philippines are now liberated." The Japanese had suffered over 425,000 dead in the Philippines.

The Philippine congress met on June 9, 1945, for the first time since its election in 1941. It faced enormous problems. The land was devastated by war, the economy destroyed, the country torn by political warfare and guerrilla violence. Osmeña's leadership was challenged (Jan., 1946) when one wing (now the Liberal party) of the Nationalist party nominated for president Manuel Roxas, who defeated Osmeña in April.

The Republic of the Philippines

Manuel Roxas became the first president of the Republic of the Philippines when independence was granted, as scheduled, on July 4, 1946. In Mar., 1947, the Philippines and the United States signed a military assistance pact (since renewed) and the Philippines gave the United States a 99-year lease on designated military, naval, and air bases (a later agreement reduced the period to 25 years beginning 1967). The sudden death of President Roxas in Apr., 1948, elevated the vice president, Elpidio Quirino, to the presidency, and in a bitterly contested election in Nov., 1949, Quirino defeated José Laurel to win a four-year term of his own.

The enormous task of reconstructing the war-torn country was complicated by the activities in central Luzon of the Communist-dominated Hukbalahap guerrillas (Huks), who resorted to terror and violence in their efforts to achieve land reform and gain political power. They were largely brought under control (1954) after a vigorous attack launched by the minister of national defense, Ramón Magsaysay. The Huks continued to function, however, until 1970, and other Communist guerrilla groups have persisted in their opposition to the Philippine government. Magsaysay defeated Quirino in Nov., 1953, to win the presidency. He had promised sweeping economic changes, and he did make progress in land reform, opening new settlements outside crowded Luzon island. His death in an airplane crash in Mar., 1957, was a serious blow to national morale. Vice President Carlos P. García succeeded him and won a full term as president in the elections of Nov., 1957.

In foreign affairs, the Philippines maintained a firm anti-Communist policy and joined the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in 1954. There were difficulties with the United States over American military installations in the islands, and, despite formal recognition (1956) of full Philippine sovereignty over these bases, tensions increased until some of the bases were dismantled (1959) and the 99-year lease period was reduced. The United States rejected Philippine financial claims and proposed trade revisions.

Philippine opposition to García on issues of government corruption and anti-Americanism led, in June, 1959, to the union of the Liberal and Progressive parties, led by Vice President Diosdad Macapagal, the Liberal party leader, who succeeded García as president in the 1961 elections. Macapagal's administration was marked by efforts to combat the mounting inflation that had plagued the republic since its birth; by attempted alliances with neighboring countries; and by a territorial dispute with Britain over North Borneo (later Sabah), which Macapagal asserted had been leased and not sold to the British North Borneo Company in 1878.

Marcos and After

Ferdinand E. Marcos, who succeeded to the presidency after defeating Macapagal in the 1965 elections, inherited the territorial dispute over Sabah; in 1968 he approved a congressional bill annexing Sabah to the Philippines. Malaysia suspended diplomatic relations (Sabah had joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963), and the matter was referred to the United Nations. The Philippines became one of the founding countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967. The continuing need for land reform fostered a new Huk uprising in central Luzon, accompanied by mounting assassinations and acts of terror, and in 1969, Marcos began a major military campaign to subdue them. Civil war also threatened on Mindanao, where groups of Moros opposed Christian settlement. In Nov., 1969, Marcos won an unprecedented reelection, easily defeating Sergio Osmeña, Jr., but the election was accompanied by violence and charges of fraud, and Marcos's second term began with increasing civil disorder.

In Jan., 1970, some 2,000 demonstrators tried to storm Malcañang Palace, the presidential residence; riots erupted against the U.S. embassy. When Pope Paul VI visited Manila in Nov., 1970, an attempt was made on his life. In 1971, at a Liberal party rally, hand grenades were thrown at the speakers' platform, and several people were killed. President Marcos declared martial law in Sept., 1972, charging that a Communist rebellion threatened, and opposition to Marcos's government did swell the ranks of Communist guerrilla groups, which continued to grow into the mid-1980s and continued on a smaller scale into the 21st cent. The 1935 constitution was replaced (1973) by a new one that provided the president with direct powers. A plebiscite (July, 1973) gave Marcos the right to remain in office beyond the expiration (Dec., 1973) of his term. Meanwhile the fighting on Mindanao had spread to the Sulu Archipelago. By 1973 some 3,000 people had been killed and hundreds of villages burned. Throughout the 1970s poverty and governmental corruption increased, and Imelda Marcos, Ferdinand's wife, became more influential.

Martial law remained in force until 1981, when Marcos was reelected, amid accusations of electoral fraud. On Aug. 21, 1983, opposition leader Benigno Aquino was assassinated at Manila airport, which incited a new, more powerful wave of anti-Marcos dissent. After the Feb., 1986, presidential election, both Marcos and his opponent, Corazon Aquino (the widow of Benigno), declared themselves the winner, and charges of massive fraud and violence were leveled against the Marcos faction. Marcos's domestic and international support eroded, and he fled the country on Feb. 25, 1986, eventually obtaining asylum in the United States.

Aquino's government faced mounting problems, including coup attempts, significant economic difficulties, and pressure to rid the Philippines of the U.S. military presence (the last U.S. bases were evacuated in 1992). In 1990, in response to the demands of the Moros, a partially autonomous Muslim region was created in the far south. In 1992, Aquino declined to run for reelection and was succeeded by her former army chief of staff Fidel Ramos. He immediately launched an economic revitalization plan premised on three policies: government deregulation, increased private investment, and political solutions to the continuing insurgencies within the country. His political program was somethat successful, opening dialogues with the Communist and Muslim guerillas. Although Muslim unrest and violence continued into the 21st cent, the government signed a peace accord with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996, which led to an expansion of the autonomous region in 2001.

Several natural disasters, including the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on Luzon and a succession of severe typhoons, slowed the country's economic progress in the 1990s. The Philippines, however, escaped much of the economic turmoil seen in other East Asian nations in 1997 and 1998, in part by following a slower pace of development imposed by the International Monetary Fund. Joseph Marcelo Estrada, a former movie actor, was elected president in 1998, pledging to help the poor and develop the country's agricultural sector. In 1999 he announced plans to amend the constitution in order to remove protectionist provisions and attract more foreign investment.

Late in 2000, Estrada's presidency was buffetted by charges that he accepted millions of dollars in payoffs from illegal gambling operations. Although his support among the poor Filipino majority remained strong, many political, business, and church leaders called for him to resign. In Nov., 2000, Estrada was impeached by the house of representatives on charges of graft, but the senate, controlled by Estrada's allies, provoked a crisis (Jan., 2001) when it rejected examining the president's bank records. As demonstrations against Estrada mounted and members of his cabinet resigned, the supreme court stripped him of the presidency, and Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in as Estrada's successor. Estrada was indicted on charges of corruption in April, and his supporters attempted to storm the presidential palace in May. In Sept., 2007, he was convicted of corruption and sentenced to life imprisonment, but Estrada, who had been under house arrest since 2001, was pardoned the following month by President Macapagal-Arroyo.

A second Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), agreed to a cease-fire in June, 2001, but fighting with fundamentalist Islamic guerrillas continued, and there was a MNLF uprising on Jolo in November. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the U.S. government provided (2002) training and assistance to Philippine troops fighting the guerrillas. In 2003 fighting with the MILF again escalated, despite pledges by both sides that they would negotiate and exercise restraint; however, a truce was declared in July. In the same month several hundred soldiers were involved in a mutiny in Manila that the government claimed was part of a coup attempt.

Macapagal-Arroyo was elected president in her own right in May, 2004, but the balloting was marred by violence and irregularities as well as a tedious vote-counting process that was completed six weeks after the election. A series of four devastating storms during November and December killed as many as 1,000 in the country's north and east, particularly on Luzon. In early 2005 heavy fighting broke out on Mindanao between government forces and a splinter group of MILF rebels, and there was also fighting with a MNLF splinter group in Jolo.

In June, 2005, the president was beset by a vote-rigging charge based on a tape of a conversation she had with an election official. She denied the allegation while acknowledging that she had been recorded and apologizing for what she called a lapse in judgment, but the controversy combined with other scandals (including allegations that her husband and other family members had engaged in influence peddling and received bribes) to create a national crisis. Promising government reform, she asked (July) her cabinet to resign, and several cabinet members subsequently called on Macapagal-Arroyo to resign (as did Corazon Aquino). At the same time the supreme court suspended sales tax increases that had been enacted in May as part of a tax reform package designed to reduce the government's debt. In August and September the president survived an opposition move to impeach her when her opponents failed to muster the votes needed to force a trial in the senate.

In Feb., 2006, the government engaged in talks, regarded as a prelude to formal peace negotiations, with the MILF, and dicussions between the two sides continued in subsequent months. Late in the month, President Macapagal-Arroyo declared a weeklong state of emergency when a coup plot against her was discovered. Intended to coincide with the 20th anniversary celebrations of the 1986 demonstrations that brought down Ferdinand Marcos, the coup was said to have involved several army generals and left-wing legislators. The state of emergency was challenged in court and upheld after the fact, but the supreme court declared aspects of the emergency's enforcement unconstitutional.

In October the supreme court declared a move to revise the constitution through a "people's initiative," replacing the presidential system of government with a parliamentary one, unconstitutional, but the government only abandoned its attempt to revise the constitution in December after the Roman Catholic church attacked an attempt by the house of representatives to call a constituent assembly and by the opposition-dominated senate. In 2006 there was fierce fighting on Jolo between government forces and Islamic militants; it continued into 2007, and there were also clashes in Basilan and Mindanao.

In Jan., 2007, a government commission blamed many of the more than 800 deaths of activists during Macapagal-Arroyo's presidency on the military. The president promised action in response to the report, but the chief of the armed forces denounced the report as unfair and strained. Congressional elections in May, 2007, were marred by fraud allegations and by violence during the campaign; the voting left the opposition in control of the senate and Macapagal-Arroyo's allies in control of the house. In November there was a brief occupation of a Manila hotel by soldiers, many of whom had been involved in the 2003 mutiny. In Oct., 2007, the president's husband was implicated in a kickback scandal involving a Chinese company; the investigation continued into 2008, and prompted demonstrations by her opponents and calls for her to resign.

A peace agreement that would have expanded the area of Mindanao that was part of the Muslim autonomous region was reached in principle with the MILF in Nov., 2007. Attempts to finalize the agreement, however, collapsed in July, 2008, when Muslims accused the government of reopening settled issues; the agreement was also challenged in court by Filipinos opposed to it. In August significant fighting broke out between government forces and rebels that the MILF said were renegades; two months later the supreme court declared the agreement unconstitutional. Fighting in the region continued into 2009. A cease-fire was established in July, 2009, and peace talks resumed the following December.

Luzon was battered by several typhoons in Sept.–Oct, 2009; the Manila area and the mountainous north were most severely affected, and more than 900 persons died. In Nov., 2009, the country was stunned by the murder of the wife of an opposition candidate for the governorship of Maguindanao prov. and 57 people who joined her in a convoy as she went to register his candidacy; the governor, Andal Ampatuan, and his son were charged with rebellion and murder in relation to the slaughter and events after it.

The May, 2010, presidential election was won by Senator Benigno Aquino 3d, the son of the late President Corazon Aquino. The relatively inexperienced Aquino benefited from his mother's popularity and his own clean image, and handily defeated former President Estrada and other candidates. The voting was marred somewhat by irregularities, particularly in the S Philippines.

Talks in Feb., 2011, with Communist rebels led both sides to commit to a cease-fire and ongoing negotiations intended to reach a peace accord within 18 months. The rebels withdrew from the negotiations in November and the cease-fire ended; no significant talks the occurred until Dec., 2012. In Oct., 2011, there was significant fighting with Moro rebels in W Mindanao and on nearby Basilan. N Mindanao suffered from deadly flash flooding in Dec., 2011, after a typhoon struck; more than 1,200 were killed by the storm. A year later S and cental Mindanao were hit by a supertyphoon that led to similar flooding; more than 1,000 died. Since 2011 there have been increased tensions with China over disputed islands in the South China Sea; in early 2013 the Philippines notified China that it would seek arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In Oct., 2012, the government and the MILF reached a framework peace agreement that called for creating a new autonomous region to replace the existing one in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. MNLF rebels alienated by the MILF agreement launched significant attacks in Zamboanga and Basilan in Sept., 2013. The MILF negotiations led to a peace agreement in Mar., 2014, under which the new autonomous region, Bangsamoro, would be established by 2016 and would have somewhat enlarged territory and increased autonomy.

In May, 2013, congressional elections gave Aquino's supporters control of both houses. The islands of Bohol and Cebu, in the Visayan Islands, suffered significant damage from an earthquake in Oct., 2013. The following month parts of Leyte, Samar, and Cebu were devastated by a supertyphoon. The tropical storm, which also affected other islands, was the deadliest ever to hit the Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people. Parts of Samar also suffered significant damage from a supertyphoon in Dec., 2014.


See E. H. Blair and J. A. Robertson, ed., The Philippine Islands, 1493–1888 (55 vol., 1903–9; Vol. LIII, Bibliography); L. Morton, The Fall of the Philippines (1953); T. Friend, Between Two Empires: The Ordeal of the Philippines, 1929–1946 (1965); E. G. Maring and J. M. Maring, Historical and Cultural Dictionary of the Philippines (1973); B. D. Romulo, Inside the Palace: The Rise and Fall of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos (1987); S. Burton, Impossible Dream: The Marcoses, the Aquinos, and the Unfinished Revolution (1988); D. J. Steinberg, The Philippines (1988); D. Wurfel, Filipino Politics (1988); S. Karnow, In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines (1989); B. M. Linn, The U.S. Army and Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, 1899–1902 (1989).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Philippines, The." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Philippines, The." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (July 9, 2018).

"Philippines, The." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.




Leche Flan (Caramel Custard).................................... 102
Coconut Milk ............................................................ 105
Maja Blanco (Coconut Cake)..................................... 105
Adobong Hiponsa Gata (Shrimp Adobo) ................... 107
Tsokolate (Hot Chocolate)......................................... 108
Sinangag (Garlic Rice) ............................................... 108
Pansit Mami (Noodles In Broth) ................................ 110
Polvoron (Powdered Milk Candy).............................. 110


The Republic of the Philippines consists of a group of 7,107 islands situated southeast of mainland Asia and separated from it by the South China Sea. The two largest islands are Luzon (40,814 square miles/105,708 square kilometers), and Mindanao (36,906 square miles/95,586 square kilometers). Comparatively, the area occupied by the Philippines is slightly larger than the state of Arizona. The land is varied, with volcanic mountain masses forming the cores of most of the larger islands. A number of volcanoes are active, and the islands have been subject to destructive earthquakes. Lowlands are generally narrow coastal strips except for larger plains in Luzon and Mindanao. Forests cover almost one-half of the land area and are typically tropical, with vines and other climbing plants.

Pollution from industrial sources and mining operations is a significant environmental problem in the Philippines. Almost forty of the country's rivers contain high levels of toxic contaminants. About 23 percent of the nation's rural dwellers do not have pure water, while 93 percent of the city dwellers do not have pure water. Also threatened are the coastal mangrove swamps, which serve as important fish breeding grounds, and offshore corals, about 50 percent of which are rated dead or dying as a result of pollution and dynamiting by fishermen. The nation is also vulnerable to typhoons, earthquakes, floods, and volcanoes.


The Philippines' location between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean has made the islands a crossing point for migrating people all over the world. As a result, the Philippines is made up of a range of different people and ethnic groups. While there are many different dialects and languages, Tagalog is the national language. The people of the Philippines are called Filipino. Filipino cuisine reflects the blending of these wide and varied cultures.

Malays, from Malaysia, were among the first inhabitants of the Philippines over 20,000 years ago. They brought with them the knowledge of preparing hot chilies and the use of ginataan, or coconut milk, in sauces to balance the spiciness.

The Chinese established colonies in the Philippines between 1200 and 1300. They introduced pansit, or Chinese noodle dishes, and bean curds. Later came egg rolls, and soy sauce. Like the Chinese, the Filipinos consume a wide array of dipping sauces to accompany their dishes.

Spain occupied the Philippines for almost 400 years, beginning in 1521. This colonization had a major impact on Filipino cuisine. A majority of the dishes prepared in modern Philippines can be traced back to Spain. In fact, everyday Filipino dishes resemble Spanish cooking more than native meals. The Spaniards introduced a Mediterranean style of eating and preparing food. Techniques such as braising and sautéing, and meals cooked in olive oil, are examples. Spain also introduced cooking with seasonings, such as garlic, onions, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and vinegar.

The United States took control of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War in 1898, staying through World War II (19391945) until 1946. The U. S. military introduced goods shipped in from their country such as mayonnaise, hot dogs, hamburgers, and apple pies. Canned evaporated and condensed milk often replace the traditional buffalo milk used in desserts, such as flan (caramel custard). Nowhere else in Asian cuisine can cheese and canned tomato sauce be found in recipes. All of these foods are still favorites of the Filipinos and can be found almost anywhere in the country.

Leche Flan (Caramel Custard)

Caramel ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Caramel procedure

  1. Pour the water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the sugar and stir constantly over medium heat until sugar is melted and it forms the consistency of syrup.
  3. Pour the syrup evenly into any ovenware dish that is about 2 inches deep, such as a square brownie pan. Tilt the dish so the syrup coats all of the sides. Refrigerate while preparing the custard.

Custard ingredients

  • 12 eggs
  • 2 (13-ounce) cans evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites one at a time. Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. (Discard the egg whites or reserve them for another use.)
  2. Add the rest of the custard ingredients to the mixing bowl.
  3. Stir lightly when mixing to prevent bubbles or foam from forming. Remove the caramel-lined dish from the refrigerator and pour the custard mixture slowly into it.
  4. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  5. Cover the custard dish with aluminum foil. Set it into a large shallow pan (such as a cake pan). Pour water into the larger pan until it is about one-inch deep. This is called a water bath.
  6. Bake in oven for 1 hour, or until the custard is firm. Cool to eating temperature. May be served warm or chilled.

Serves 8 to 10.


Like other Southeast Asian cuisines, the Filipinos eat a lot of vegetables and rice. Similarly, they also eat many types of seafood, saving meat for more special occasions (often in the form of lechon, or whole roasted pig). The waters surrounding the Philippines islands provide over 2,000 species of fish. In addition, Filipinos have been farming fish in palaisdaan, or fishponds, using aquaculture (raising fish and shellfish in controlled conditions) for over 1,000 years. Patis, a clear, amber-colored fish sauce, is used in Filipino dishes as much as soy sauce is used in China.

For over 2,000 years, rice has been grown in the Philippines and is eaten almost daily. As of the twenty-first century, over twenty varieties of rice are cultivated, which are made into thousands of different cakes, noodles, and pancakes. Rice noodles are common in fast-food restaurants and stands, served heaping with a choice of different meats and vegetables. Noodles symbolize prosperity, long life, and good luck. Filipinos believe the longer the noodles, the better, so noodles are generally not broken or cut when a dish is being prepared.

Coconut Buying and Opening

To select a fresh coconut, shake it to feel the sloshing of liquid inside. A cracked or old coconut will be empty and dry.

Opening the coconut: Locate the brown eye-like spots at one end and pierce with a sharp point. Drain off the liquid. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the coconut in the oven on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the coconut and wrap in a clean kitchen towel. Carefully crack it open with a hammer. The coconut meat should be broken away carefully from the shell. If a portion is not broken easily away from the shell, return the coconut to the oven for a few minutes more.

Making Shredded Coconut

Once all of the meat is out of the shell, you can grate the meat with a small hand grater, shred the meat in a food processor, or with a sharp knife. One coconut makes about 4 cups of shredded coconut.

Since the weather in the Philippines is tropical, many types of fruit are grown. Pineapples, strawberries, cantaloupe, melon, kiwi, bananas, guapple (a cross between a guava and an apple) and coconut are just a few examples. Coconuts are plentiful and are used in and on everything. The coconut meat inside can be eaten, and the ginataang (milk from the meat) can be used in refreshing drinks or for sauces to cook fruits and vegetables in, such as adobong hipon sa gata (shrimp adobo in coconut milk). It can also be grated or baked into desserts and sweets, such as maja blanca (coconut cake).

Coconut Milk

Homemade coconut milk tastes its best when freshly made; even if it is refrigerated, it quickly loses its flavor.


  • 2 cups coconut meat, finely shredded (see instructions above; canned or frozen unsweetened, shredded coconut is available at most supermarkets.)
  • 8-inch square of cheesecloth (can be found in most supermarkets), surgical gauze, or 8-inch square of clean nylon stocking


  1. Fill a large saucepan halfway full of water and bring to a boil. Set aside 2 cups.
  2. If using a blender or food processor, add shredded coconut and boiling water and blend for 1 minute. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. If not using a blender or food processor, put shredded coconut in a mixing bowl and add the boiling water. Let set for 30 minutes.
  4. Strain coconut liquid (prepared by either method) through cheesecloth, gauze, or nylon into a medium-size bowl.
  5. Squeeze and twist cloth to remove all milk from the coconut meat.
  6. Repeat the process if more coconut milk is needed.

Maja Blanco (Coconut Cake)


  • 2 cups coconut, finely shredded (see how to use fresh coconut above) fresh, frozen, or canned, tightly packed into the measuring cup
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups coconut milk, fresh, frozen, or canned (unsweetened)
  • 3 eggs
  • Whipped topping for garnish


  1. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites one at a time.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  3. If using freshly grated unsweetened coconut, add about 3 Tablespoons of sugar to taste into a small bowl. No sugar is needed if packaged or canned sweetened coconut is used.
  4. Combine coconut and melted butter or margarine in medium mixing bowl.
  5. Using fingers, press mixture onto the bottom and sides of a pie pan, making a piecrust.
  6. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
  7. Put cornstarch and sugar in medium saucepan. Add water and mix well to dissolve cornstarch.
  8. Add coconut milk and egg yolks. Stir constantly over medium to high heat until mixture boils.
  9. Reduce heat to low and stir constantly until smooth and thick, about 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat and pour mixture into coconut piecrust.
  11. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate for about 3 hours to set.
  12. To serve, cut into wedges and add a scoop of whipped topping on top.

Serves 8.

While Filipinos use limited spices in their cuisine compared to other Asian nations, they love the taste of sour flavors, particularly vinegar. Meats and fish are commonly marinated in palm vinegar, which is half as strong as Western-style vinegar. Vinegar acts to preserve freshness. Since refrigeration is not nationally available, this marinating method, along with drying, salting, and fermenting are techniques used to preserve meats. Instead of adding strong flavors to their cooking, Filipinos use strong-tasting condiments to accompany their food.

The national dish of the Philippines is called adobo. Not only is this a national dish for the Filipinos, but it is also a style of cooking. This Spanish-influenced dish is like a stew, and involves marinating meat or seafood pieces in vinegar and spices, then browning them in their own juices. The sauce in adobo usually contains soy sauce, white vinegar, garlic, and peppercorns (or pepper) and is boiled with the meat. The vinegar preserves the meat, and adobo will keep for four or five days without refrigeration. This is considered an advantage in the tropical heat. Pork adobo is the most popular, for those who can afford it, but any type of meat or seafood can be used.

Adobong Hiponsa Gata (Shrimp Adobo in Coconut Milk)


  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
  • Patis (fish sauce, found in an Asian grocery store); soy sauce may be substituted
  • 1 pound fresh shrimps, unshelled (frozen unshelled shrimp may be substituted)
  • 2 cans (12-ounce each) coconut milk


  1. Make marinade: Place the vinegar, water, pepper, garlic and patis (or soy sauce) in a medium-size pot.
  2. Add the shrimp to the marinade and let stand for 1 hour.
  3. Put the pot over medium heat, and cook the shrimp, turning the shrimp often, until they have absorbed the marinade and the pot is almost dry.
  4. Pour in the coconut milk and continue simmering, allowing the mixture to thicken, stirring occasionally (about 20 minutes). Serve.

Serves 6.


Christian holidays are the most widely celebrated holidays in the Philippines. This is because Spain introduced the Catholic religion centuries ago when it occupied the Philippines. In the twenty-first century, about 90 percent of Filipinos are Roman Catholic Christians. The Philippines is the only Asian country that is primarily Christian. Filipinos claim to have one of the world's longest Christmas celebrations. Their celebration begins December 16 and lasts for three weeks. On Pasko Ng Bata, Christmas Day, families may gather to eat lumpia (spring rolls), and drink tsokolate (a native chocolate drink) and salabat (ginger tea).

Tsokolate (Hot Chocolate)


  • 1 pound chocolate (or 2 cups chocolate chips)
  • 6 cups milk
  • 6 eggs, separated


  1. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites one at a time and put the yolks in a medium mixing bowl. (Discard the egg whites or reserve them for another use.) Beat the yolks with a whisk.
  2. Cut chocolate bar into small pieces.
  3. Pour milk into saucepan and add chocolate. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted.
  4. Add the egg yolks to the saucepan. With a whisk, beat the whole mixture until foamy, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Filipino families meet to share a Christmas meal, but they save their Christmas feast for Epiphany. The holiday season ends with the Feast of the Epiphany, which is on the first Sunday in January. This is when families gather to eat pork lechon, which is a whole pig roasted outside over a spitfire of burning coals. Served with the pork are a garlic rice called sinangag and other rice dishes, such as bibingka (rice cake with salted eggs and fresh coconut meat) and suman (steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves). Vegetable dishes and assorted fruits, such as pineapples, bananas, persimmons (very tart fruit that looks similar to a tomato), and papayas, are eaten as well. Desserts, cookies, and cakes top off the huge feast, which can go on for several hours and then is followed by a long afternoon nap.

Sinangag (Garlic Rice)


  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 4 cups rice, cooked
  • 6 green onions, finely sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and fry for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add cooked rice, green onions, and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Heat through, about 5 minutes. Serve.

Makes 8 servings.


Filipino dishes are based more on distinctive tastes and textures than different courses. Instead of serving courses separately, they are all brought to the table at one time so the diners can enjoy all flavors and dishes together. Dining at a Filipino table is similar to eating at a buffet. Even the dessert is part of the buffet-style meal. The dessert provides a sweet balance to the salty and sour tastes that are part of a meal.

Unlike in much of the Western world, burping is not considered rude in the Philippines where it means you are full and enjoyed the meal. Sometimes a burp is followed with the expression, Ay, salamat, which means, "Ahh, thank you."

Anyone who visits a Filipino home, no matter what time of day, is offered food. If the guest interrupts a meal, which is common because most Filipinos eat five or more meals a day, they are invited to join the diners. Eating is so constant, in fact, that many Filipinos use "Kumain ka na?" ("Have you eaten yet?") as a general greeting to each other.

Before outside influences, Filipinos used their hands to eat. The traditional way of eating was to scoop up food from flat dishes with fingers of the right hand. Some upscale native restaurants in Manila, the country's capital, serve food this way. With Western influences and the introduction of knives, forks and spoons, Filipinos have adapted their ways. The fork and spoon are the two main utensils of choice. The fork is held with the left hand and the spoon in the right. The fork is used to spear and hold the piece of food while the spoon is used to cut or tear off small pieces.

Almusal (breakfast) is the first meal of the day, and usually consists of leftovers from the previous evening's dinner, like garlic fried rice and cured meat. Ginger tea is usually drunk. Ensaimada (fluffy, sugared, coiled buns), smoked fish, salted duck eggs, fried eggs, Chinese ham, Spanish sausages, and fresh mangos are just some of the foods that might be eaten.

For lunch, mongo (a stew of munggo mung beansand shrimp with olive oil and lime juice), caldereta (goat and potato stew), and ensaladang balasens, an eggplant salad, may be eaten. All of these dishes are typically accompanied by white rice. Most school students carry lunchboxes to school. In it, they would have a thermos with a sugary fruit drink, a large container of plain white rice, a small container with fried fish or chicken, and a small container of tomato sauce on the side. They would typically not take any fruit or vegetables. A student's lunch box also might contain a peanut butter sandwich for an afternoon snack.

For dinner, Filipinos will often go to a simple turo-turo restaurant. This literally means "point point," which is how they select their food. They may choose menudo (hearty pork and chickpea stew), or pansit (noodle) dishes, such as pansit mami (noodles in broth). If they decide to go a fancier restaurant, they might enjoy patang bawang, which are deep-fried pork knuckles with garlic and chilies, and maybe a wedge of American-style lemon meringue pie for dessert.

Pansit Mami (Noodles in Broth)


  • ¼ pound pork (not ground)
  • ¼ pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound rice noodles (found in an Asian market), or substitute flat, wide, egg noodles
  • 2 Tablespoons green onions, finely chopped


  1. In a medium pot, boil pork and chicken in water until tender. Season with a pinch of salt.
  2. Remove the meat from the water and allow to cool.
  3. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking stock (water used to cook the meat).
  4. Cut the pork and chicken into strips. Set aside.
  5. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium heat and sauté the garlic and onion for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the pork and chicken. Add the stock.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil, add the rice noodles or egg noodles, and simmer for 2 minutes until the noodles are tender. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  8. Serve immediately.

Serves 8 to 10.

Dessert is the highlight of a meal for many Filipinos. They consider stir-frying very easy compared to perfecting a dessert. In fact, a cook's reputation may be based on the skills needed to make dessert dishes. Popular desserts are candies, like polvoron, and cakes such as bibingka, made from rice flour and sprinkled with cheese and shredded coconut, which are eaten as snacks during the day.

Polvoron (Powdered Milk Candy)


  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • ¾ cup confectioners sugar
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup water, measured 1 Tablespoon at a time


  1. Place sifted flour in a saucepan and toast over medium heat until light brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. Add powdered milk, sugar, melted butter, and lemon or vanilla extract.
  3. Add water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the mixture holds together and can be molded into balls.
  4. With your hands, flatten into little cakes the size of a silver dollar.
  5. Wrap individually in wax paper.

Makes about 60 candies.

Merienda means snacktime in the Philippines. Merienda is a meal in itself for those who can afford it. Merienda is important to the Filipinos because they find the gap between lunch and dinner too long, and they need to take many breaks from the intense tropical heat. Lumpia (spring rolls), puto (little cupcakes made from ground rice), and panyo-panyo (tiny pastry envelopes filled with mango and banana jam) are a few merienda dishes. Anything can be served with the snack except steamed rice. Steamed rice constitutes a complete meal, which merienda is not considered.


About 22 percent of the population of the Philippines are classified as undernourished by the World Bank. This means they do not receive adequate nutrition in their diet. Of children under the age of five, about 30 percent are underweight, and nearly one-third are stunted (short for their age). Government-financed child health malnutrition programs are already well established in the Philippines; however, these programs lack significant funding and malnutrition continues to be a primary concern. Indigenous (native) foods such as mung beans and powdered shrimp are available for infants and children, but protein, iron, iodine, and Vitamin A remain deficient in their diets.

An increase in community involvement since the 1980s has helped to keep the population aware of the problems with malnourished children. Such awareness has led to a gradual improvement in health care for all Filipinos. As of 1996, a vast majority (91 percent) of those living in urban areas also had access to clean and safe water, as did 81 percent of those living in rural areas.



Fertig, Theresa Kryst. Christmas in the Philippines. Chicago: World Book, 1990.

Hyman, Gwenda L. Cuisines of Southeast Asia. Canada: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1993.

Jaffrey, Madhur. Far Eastern Cookery. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.

Osborne, Christine. Southeast Asian Food and Drink. New York: Bookwright, 1989.

Web Sites

Filipino Web. [Online] Available (accessed March 14, 2001).

Global Gourmet. [Online] Available (accessed March 14, 2001).

Tribo. [Online] Available (accessed March 14, 2001).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Philippines." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Philippines." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World. . (July 9, 2018).

"Philippines." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



PHILIPPINES. Discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, the Philippine Islands were occupied by Spain from 1565 to 1898. This occupation was continuous, other than for a brief partial occupation by Great Britain from 1762 to 1764. As a result of the Spanish-American War, possession of the islands was assumed by the United States in 1898.

The Colonial Years

Spanish occupation introduced Christianity and western ideas in general to the Filipino people, while restricting the influence of Islam, primarily in Mindanao and nearby regions. After the United States assumed control of the islands, there was a greater focus on educational, commercial, and agricultural development of the Philippines, along with the introduction of democratic principles. Agitation for independence, which began under Spanish rule, continued in the Philippines under American control.

American interest in the Philippines was largely the result of a desire to expand the nation's economic influence into the Pacific and Asia. When the closing of the frontier seemed imminent by the 1890s, many Americans looked to Asia and the Pacific as golden opportunities to expand American trade and avoid future economic depressions like those of the past twenty-five years. American ambitions for trade, investment opportunities, and territory in East Asia, particularly China, were threatened by competition among the other great powers—England, France, Russia, Germany, and Japan. The Philippines were attractive because they could provide a military and commercial base from which the United States could protect its interests in China. As American relations with Spain deteriorated over the crisis in Cuba, the McKinley Administration saw an opportunity to deal with the situations in Asia and the Caribbean simultaneously.

On 1 May 1898, following the outbreak of war with Spain, Commodore George Dewey destroyed the aging Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. An American expeditionary force arrived in Manila seven months later, and Spain formally surrendered the city. After an armistice in August 1898, peace negotiations in Paris resulted in a treaty in December 1898 that ceded the Philippines to the United States in return for $20 million.

The acquisition of the Philippines gave rise to a protracted and bitter debate. Expansion into the Caribbean fit neatly into American perceptions of being the preeminent power in the Western hemisphere, but assuming control of a large, heavily populated territory thousands of miles away was a different and disquieting challenge. McKinley publicly claimed he had been opposed to acquiring the islands, but a night of reflection and prayer supposedly led him to conclude there was no alternative but to keep them. McKinley understood the Philippines would give the United States an Asian presence and make it easier to guard American interests there. Even so, McKinley was reluctant to assume responsibility for governing the islands, since there was a strong Filipino revolutionary army that had been fighting the Spanish and planned to govern the country. The president authorized Philippine acquisition, however, because he was concerned that another great power might seize the islands; because of the need to protect American commercial interests in Asia; and because he was convinced that the Filipinos could not govern themselves. While imperialists such as Theodore Roosevelt applauded the decision and justified the move on the grounds that the United States had an obligation to teach the Filipinos self-government, others justified the action on the basis that the islands would be the American equivalent of Hong Kong, allowing the country to exploit trading opportunities throughout Asia and the East Indies. Many Republicans also recognized the political benefits of expansion, since it was a victorious war fought under a Republican administration.

But there was fierce opposition to acquisition of the Philippines. While the Senate debated ratification of the treaty, a strong anti-imperialist movement began to develop, which included some of the nation's most prominent citizens, including Andrew Carnegie and Mark Twain. One anti-imperialist argument centered on the morality of imperialism, suggesting that it was a violation of an American commitment to human freedom. Others opposed it on racial grounds, fearing the admission of "inferior" Asian races into America. Some voiced concerns about cheap labor and cheap sugar flooding the domestic market, and the resources the country would have to expend to defend the new territories. Nevertheless, the Senate ratified the Treaty of Paris on 6 February 1899, and the reelection of McKinley in 1900 seemed to indicate that the nation as a whole favored imperialism and the acquisition of the Philippines.

The country soon found itself embroiled in a much more difficult conflict than the one recently concluded with Spain. Filipino insurgents had been in rebellion against Spain before the Spanish-American War, and when the United States supplanted Spain, the revolutionaries directed their resistance against the new rulers. Generally ignored today, the Philippine War (1899–1901) was one of the bloodiest in American history. Some 200,000 American soldiers took part, and with 4,300 deaths, the United States suffered nearly ten times the fatalities of

the Spanish-American War. The number of Filipinos who were killed remains uncertain but estimates range upward of fifty thousand. Led by Emilio Aguinaldo, the rebels harassed the American occupation forces for more than three years. The guerrilla tactics used by the Filipinos prompted an increase in brutality on the part of American soldiers, who came to view the enemy as subhuman and who justified increasingly vicious and savage tactics to suppress the insurrection. Although the war continued into 1902, the capture of Aguinaldo in 1901 signaled the turning point. Aguinaldo encouraged his supporters to stop fighting and proclaimed his allegiance to the United States, causing the rebellion to begin losing momentum. Although some fighting continued over the next four or five years, the United States had secured the islands.

At first, the military assumed responsibility for governing the Philippines. Then, during the summer of 1901, administrative authority was transferred to William Howard Taft, the first civilian governor of the territory. Taft promptly announced the intention of the United States to prepare the Filipinos for independence, and he permitted a good deal of local autonomy during his term of service. Taft established the Philippines Commission to serve as a legislative body, and a program of education was begun as well. American soldiers served as teachers until trained teachers could arrive from the United States.

American rule brought the construction of roadways, sanitary facilities and schools. Commerce, trade, and agriculture were given additional attention, and, in August 1907, the United States created the Philippine Assembly. Filipinos were given a majority of seats on the Philippine Commission under President Woodrow Wilson and gained greater autonomy during the administration of Francis Burton Harrison, the governor general from 1913 to 1921. The Jones Act of 1916 permitted the establishment of an elective senate and house of representatives to replace the Philippine Commission and Assembly. In 1934, the Tydings-McDuffie Act mandated a ten-year transition to full independence for the Philippines.

As president, Theodore Roosevelt had referred to the Philippines as the Achilles heel of America in Asia and the Pacific, recognizing that the islands could be a tempting prize for another power such as Japan. With the Lansing-Ishii Agreement of 1917, the Wilson administration secured Japanese assurances that they had no ambitions regarding those islands. The Tydings-McDuffie Act, which promised the Philippines independence in ten years, can be further construed as an admission of American vulnerability there.

As population and economic pressures began to squeeze Japan in the late 1920s and early 1930s, that nation embarked on a program of expansion that led to war with China in 1937. That war had reached an impasse by 1941, leading the Japanese to decide on a southern strategy to secure the resources and markets of Southeast Asia and the East Indies. The United States had thus far given China limited support against Japan, but when Japan seized French Indochina in July 1941, the Roosevelt Administration placed a trade embargo on the Japanese. For the Japanese, this meant restoring good relations with the United States or proceeding with plans to secure the resources to the south. American efforts to get Japan out of China were unsuccessful, and the United States was unwilling to accept anything less. From The Japanese perspective, it seemed that the only option was to consider war with the United States. The location of the Philippine Islands further strengthened the possibility of war from Japan's point of view. The Philippines would make it easy for the United States to interdict shipments of vital raw materials from the East Indies. Therefore, to assure those materials would arrive safely in Japan, the Philippines would have to be taken as well, making war with the United States all the more unavoidable.

Ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese warplanes struck American air bases in Manila, destroying the small air force of General Douglas MacArthur while it was still on the ground. Perhaps more from ego than sensible military judgment, MacArthur fought the Japanese invaders with an inadequate army, suffering the loss of most of his forces. American and Filipino forces on Corregidor Island held out until 6 May 1942; the captured survivors were led on the infamous "death march" to prison camps. MacArthur, meanwhile, had escaped to Australia after promising to return to liberate the Philippines. Japan set up a puppet government in October 1943, with Jose Laurel as president.

In October 1944, MacArthur did return to the Philippines, along with 200,000 American troops. A combination of bad weather and fanatical Japanese defenders slowed the progress of the invasion, although the American navy decisively defeated the Japanese navy at Leyte Gulf. In February 1945, MacArthur fought a terribly destructive battle for Manila that cost the lives of more than a hundred thousand Filipino civilians. The Philippines were finally liberated on 5 July 1945.

Independence and the Struggle for Autonomy

One year later, 4 July 1946, the United States formally granted the Philippine Islands their independence, with Manuel Roxas as the new nation's first president. This was the first time an imperial power had ever voluntarily relinquished its possession of a colony. Independence, however, did not mean an end to Philippine dependence on the United States, nor was the U.S. willing to cut its ties completely. Concerned about the ability of the Philippines to recover from the ravages of the war, and with the growing exigencies of the Cold War, the United States soon incorporated the islands into its expanding military and economic fold. On 17 March 1947, the United States concluded an agreement with the Philippines that gave the United States leases on military bases there for ninety-nine years. The United States also monitored the Filipino government, often urging reforms that would end corruption and mismanagement. The Philippines would remain

an important location for American air force and naval bases until the early 1990s. American loans, foreign aid, and trade agreements helped support the Philippine economy. A security pact between the United States and the Philippines was signed on 30 August 1951.

The war in Vietnam and continued American presence in the Philippines led to anti-American protests and riots in Manila and elsewhere in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These contributed to the autocracy of Ferdinand Marcos, who, in his second term as president, declared martial law and established a dictatorship in 1972. Although American investments and economic interests in the islands had fallen behind those of the Japanese and Taiwanese, the importance of the American military bases there led the Nixon and Ford administrations to keep silent about the end of democracy in the Philippines.

Increasing criticism of the government in the mid-1970s led to greater repression by Marcos; the policy of the United States was to turn a blind eye in that direction. Unwilling to risk talks about the military bases, the administration of Jimmy Carter carefully avoided criticizing the human rights record of Marcos, despite killings by the Philippine military and the imprisonment of thousands. The Carter administration reached a new accord regarding American military bases with the Marcos regime in 1979, and American economic support continued as well.

Growing unrest in the Philippines created a problem for the Reagan administration. Despite Marcos's repressive regime, Reagan liked the Philippine leader personally, having met him first in 1969, and continued to support him because of the Cold War. But the 1983 assassination of Benigno Aquino, Marcos's chief political opponent, made it clear that American strategic and economic interests were in jeopardy. A significant American financial commitment remained in place, while strategic interests dictated keeping Clark Air Field and the Subic Bay Naval Station, both of which were under leases granted by Marcos and due to expire in 1991. Marcos was pressured to implement badly needed reforms, but the Filipino leader continued his repressive ways. This led to more protests, the revival of a communist insurgency by a Maoist group called the Nationalist People's Army, and renewed attacks by Muslim guerillas.

Marcos tried to win back American support by staging elections in February 1986, which he intended to control. The opposition candidate was Aquino's widow, Corazon, and her calls for reform drew widespread support. Relying on massive election fraud, Marcos claimed victory, which was at first upheld by the Reagan White House. But the fraudulent nature of the election was so obvious that the administration had to back off from its support of Marcos when it became evident that any attempt by Marcos to stay in power would result in civil war. Reagan began to urge Marcos to step aside. Marcos finally gave in to American pressure and fled to Hawaii on an American Air Force transport. Corazon Aquino became president of the Philippines.

Although she reestablished democratic institutions, Aquino could not solve the economic problems of her country. Nor could she win the support of the military and the Filipino elite, halt the rampant corruption, or stem the communist insurgency that had now spread to nearly every province. She did implement some political and economic reforms, survived more than a half dozen coup attempts, and supported the 1992 election of her successor, General Fidel Ramos, one of the early defectors from Marcos. Ramos attempted to revitalize the economy, eliminate corruption, and attract foreign investors.

American strategic influence in the Philippines began to diminish in the 1990s. American financial aid stopped almost completely, partly because of domestic economic woes in the first part of the decade. Clark Air Force Base was abandoned after it was destroyed by a volcanic eruption, and, when no agreement on acceptable financial compensation could be reached, the Philippine Senate refused to renew the lease on the naval base at Subic Bay. These actions gave the country greater autonomy, while reflecting its lessened importance in American foreign policy.

A twenty-four-year insurrection led by the Moro National Liberation Front came to an end in 1996, with the signing of a peace accord that would grant the movement greater independence in many of that island's provinces. However, a splinter group, the militant Moro Islamic Liberation Front, rejected the agreement and continued to resist the government.

Joseph Estrada, a popular, though politically inexperienced motion picture actor, replaced Ramos as president in 1996. Elected on promises that he would revive the economy, Estrada headed a corrupt administration. Impeached in 2000 and brought to trial on charges of taking bribes from gambling syndicates, Estrada and his supporters tried to block the prosecutor's access to his financial records in order to delay or end his trial. This led to mass demonstrations that forced Estrada to resign in January 2001. His successor, Gloria Arroyo, promised to wipe out poverty and corruption and refused to grant Estrada amnesty for his alleged crimes. The Arroyo regime struggled to establish its political qualifications, revitalize the country, and deal with Islamic rebel groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf separatists. Just one of many Muslim separatist groups that have been fighting for independence for thirty years or more in Mindanao, the group has been accused of associations with the Al Qaeda network. As of 2002, the Philippine army was still fighting these rebels with assistance from the United States.


Gleeck, Lewis Jr. General History of the Philippines: The American Half-Century. Quezon City, R.P.: Garcia. 1984.

Golay, Frank. Face of Empire: United States-Philippine Relations, 1898–1946. Madison, Wis.: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 1997.

Hahn, Emily. The Islands: America's Imperial Adventure in the Philippines. New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan. 1981.

Karnow, Stanley. In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines. New York: Ballantine, 1990.

McFerson, Hazel M. ed. Mixed Blessing: The Impact of the American Colonial Experience on Politics and Society in the Philippines. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. 2002.

Roth, Russell. Muddy Glory: America's "Indian Wars" in the Philippines, 1898–1935. West Hanover, Conn.: Christopher, 1981.

Stanley, Peter W. A Nation in the Making: The Philippines and the United States, 1899–1921. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974.

Welch, Richard E., Jr. Response to Imperialism: The United States and the Philippine-American War, 1899–1902. Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1979.


See alsoImperialism ; andvol. 9:Anti-imperialist League Platform .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Philippines." Dictionary of American History. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Philippines." Dictionary of American History. . (July 9, 2018).

"Philippines." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

The Philippines

The Philippines

Official name: Republic of the Philippines

Area: 300,000 square kilometers (115,800 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Apo (2,954 meters/9,692 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 8 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 1,851 kilometers (1,150 miles) from south-southeast to north-northwest, 1,062 kilometers (660 miles) from east-northeast to west-southwest

Land boundaries: None

Coastline: 36,289 kilometers (22,499 miles)

Territorial sea limits: Determined by treaty and irregular in shape, extending up to 185 kilometers (100 nautical miles) from shore in some locations


The Philippines is an archipelago in southeastern Asia, located between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. With an area of about 300,000 square kilometers (115,800 square miles), the country is slightly larger than the state of Arizona. The Philippines is divided into seventy-three provinces.


The Philippines has no outside territories or dependencies.


The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate with two seasons. From November through April, the northeast monsoon brings rain, and from May through October, the southwest monsoon brings cool, dry weather. The average temperature is 27°C (80°F) with a range between 23°C and 32°C (73°F and 90°F). Humidity averages 77 percent.

The annual average rainfall varies from 96 to 406 centimeters (38 to 106 inches). The northern islands are often heavily affected by seasonal typhoons, which cause destructive winds and flooding rains.


The very complex and volcanic origin of most of the Philippine islands is visible in their varied and rugged terrain. A number of the volcanoes are still active. Mountain ranges divide most of the island surfaces into narrow coastal strips and low-lying interior plains or valleys. The islands are subject to flooding and destructive earthquakes.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

All of the waters surrounding the Philippines are branches of the Pacific Ocean. The eastern coast of the Philippines faces the Philippine Sea, where the Philippine Trough (Emden Deep) plunges to 10,430 meters (34,219 feet). The northwest coast faces the South China Sea. The southwest surrounds the Sulu Sea on three sides. The Celebes (Sulawesi) Sea is in the south, between the island of Mindanao and the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The Bohol Sea is to the north of Mindanao. The Visayan Sea is encircled by Panay, Masbate, Cebu, Negros, and other islands. The Sibuyan Sea meets southern Luzon and eastern Mindoro. The Camotes Sea lies between Cebu, Leyte, and Bohol. The Samar Sea is between Samar and Masbate.

Sea Inlets and Straits

There are countless straits between the Philippine islands. Principal among them are the San Bernadino Strait and Verde Island Passage, both of which permit ocean travel across the northern part of the archipelago. The Surigao Strait allows travel between the Pacific and the Bohol Sea in the south. The Mindoro Strait lies between Mindoro and the Calamian Group of islands. A number of channels north of the country make up the Luzon Strait, separating that island from Taiwan.

Islands and Archipelagos

The Philippine Archipelago contains about 7,100 islands and extends over 1,609 kilometers (1,000 miles) from north to south. Only 154 of the islands exceed 13 square kilometers (5 square miles) in area. The two largest islands, Luzon in the north and Mindanao in the south, comprise about 65 percent of the total land area of the archipelago.

The largest of the Philippine islands, Luzon, has an area of 104,687 square kilometers (40,420 square miles). The main part of the island is roughly 402 kilometers (250 miles) in length and has a width from between 120 and 160 kilometers (75 and 100 miles).

Just south of Luzon lies Mindoro. This island is largely mountainous and has high peaks rising above 2,438 meters (8,000 feet). Coastal lowlands lie to the east and northeast of the mountain zone.

Southwest of Mindoro is the Calamian Group of islands, with the long, narrow island of Palawan beyond them. Over eleven hundred smaller islands and islets surround Palawan.

Over half of the islands that make up the country belong to the Visayan group, forming a rough circular pattern around the Visayan Sea. They include the seven large, populated islands of Masbate, Samar, Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Panay, and Negros, plus numerous islets. The long narrow island of Cebu is the site of the country's largest copper mine and also produces low-grade coal and limestone used for cement.

Mindanao, the second largest of the Philippine Islands, has an area of 94,630 square kilometers (36,537 square miles). In the east of the island, the Agusan River runs between two mountain ranges. To the southwest of those ridges, several rivers meet in the Cotabato Basin and mountain peaks lead to the Bukidnon-Lanao Plateau. West of the Plateau, the island narrows to an isthmus ten miles wide, from which the long Zamboanga Peninsula protrudes to the southwest. The peninsula is covered largely with mountains and possesses limited coastal lowlands.

Southwest of the Zamboanga Peninsula of Mindanao is the Sulu Archipelago, a string of smaller islands of volcanic and coral origin protruding from a submarine ridge. The Sulu Archipelago stretches for about 322 kilometers (200 miles) and has over eight hundred islands. Its three principal islands are Basilan, Jolo, and Tawi-Tawi.

Coastal Features

Lingayen Gulf indents Luzon's western coast. Further south is Manila Bay, which is surrounded by the Bataan Peninsula. The capital city of Manila is located on the eastern shore of Manila Bay. Tayabas Bay and Ragay Gulf surround the Bondoc Peninsula of Luzon's southern coastline. The southeastern extension of Luzon ends in the Sorsogon Peninsula. North of the peninsula on the east coast is Lamon Bay; further north are Dingalan Bay and Escarpada Point.

Mindanao's very irregular shape is characterized by a number of sizable gulfs and bays and several large peninsulas that give it an extremely long coastline. Mindanao's northernmost point is the Surigao Peninsula, with Butuan Bay to its west. Iligan Bay makes a deep indentation, creating a narrow isthmus that connects the large Zamboanga Peninsula to the rest of Mindanao. Sibuguey and Baganian Peninsulas protrude from the south coast of the Zamboanga Peninsula on Moro Gulf, with Pagadian Bay on the south of the isthmus and Illana Bay continuing the southwest coast. Sarangani Bay indents the coast just above its southernmost part, Tinaca Point. North of that point is Davao Gulf, defined by Cape San Agustin.

Among the Visayan Islands there are two large gulfs: Leyte in the southeast and Panay in the west.


The largest lake in the Philippines is the freshwater Laguna de Bay, located on Luzon, southeast of Manila Bay. It has a water surface of 922 square kilometers (356 square miles). Lake Taal, which has an active volcano in its center, lies a few miles to the southwest of Laguna de Bay. Other crater lakes are Lake Danao and Lake Balinsasayan in southeast Negros.

On Mindanao, atop the Bukidnon-Lanao Plateau, is Lake Sultan Alonto (formerly Lake Lanao). The second-largest lake in the country, it covers 347 square kilometers (134 square miles). The shallow Lake Buluan is in Mindanao, south of the Plateau. The lowland of Mindoro contains Lake Naujan, one of the country's larger lakes, home to many fish and bird species.


In general, the larger rivers of the Philippines are navigable for only short distances. Most main streams and their tributaries are subject to extensive and damaging floods during the heavy rainfall of typhoons and the monsoon seasons.

The Cagayan River is located in the Cagayan Valley of northern Luzon. It flows northward and empties into the sea at Aparri. A network of rivers and streams interlaces the low-lying Central Luzon Plain. Two of the plain's more important rivers are the Agno, which flows northward into Lingayen Gulf, and the Pampanga, which empties into Manila Bay. The short Pasig River flows through the city of Manila.

Two large rivers are found on Mindanao. The Agusan River is the longest in the country, with a length of 386 kilometers (240 miles). It flows northward through the Agusan Valley into the Bohol Sea. The Mindanao River and its tributaries drain the Cotabato Lowland, emptying into Moro Gulf.

On Palawan, the St. Paul Underground River is a popular destination for adventurous tourists. At its mouth lies a small bay connecting it to the ocean. Accessible only by canoe, the river flows through a large cavern inhabited by bats and filled with stalagtites.


There are no desert regions in the Philippines.


The Central Luzon Plain, barely above sea level, has extensive swamps along the north of Manila Bay and the Candaba Swamp.

The low Ragay Hills overlook Ragay Gulf on the Bicol Peninsula of southeastern Luzon. To the south on Samar, the terrain is broken up by rocky hills, which are 152 to 305 meters (500 to 1,000 feet) high. In central Bohol there is a 52-square-kilometer (20-square-mile) area known as the Chocolate Hills. There are 1,268 individual mounds in the Chocolate Hills, each one between 50 and 200 meters (164 and 656 feet) high; these hills are covered in grass, which turns brown in the dry season. Although their origin has not been determined; scientists speculate they were formed from eroded coral limestone. Hill areas also exist on Panay and nearby Guimaras, as well as on Masbate, Tablas, and Romblon.


There are four "Wetlands of International Importance" in the Philippines, as designated under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. These are: Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, which includes rare swamp forest and peat forest; Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, a shorebird habitat; Naujan Lake National Park; and Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park.

The mountain rice terraces of northern Luzon's Cordillera are an UNESCO World Heritage site. Built by the indigenous Ifugao people over the last two millennia, the terraces follow mountain contours over 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) high, creating an agricultural landscape that is both productive and harmonious with nature.

Savannahs, mixing grasslands and scrub woods, are found in Luzon's Cagayan Valley, and amid the hills of Mindoro, Negros, and Masbate, as well as on Panay, and on Mindanao's Bukidnon-Lanao Plateau.


All of the Philippine Islands are volcanic in origin. As a result, the country is very mountainous. The northern part of Luzon Island is extremely rugged. Luzon's highest peak, Mount Pulog, rises to 2,934 meters (9,626 feet). The island has three mountain ranges that run roughly parallel in a north-south direction. A range in the east, the Sierra Madre, runs so close to the island's eastern shore that there is hardly any coastal lowland. The valley of the Cagayan River separates this eastern range from a large mountain complex to the west, the Cordillera Central. On the west, the Zambales Mountains extend southward and terminate at Manila Bay. Southeastern Luzon consists of a large peninsula. It is a mountainous and volcanic area containing the active volcano, Mount Mayon (2,420 meters/7,941 feet).

The large island of Mindanao has five major mountain systems, some of which were formed by volcanic action. The eastern edge of Mindanao is highly mountainous; this region includes the Diuata Mountains, with several elevations above 1,828 meters (6,000 feet), and the southeastern ranges, which reach a high point of 2,804 meters (9,200 feet). In central Mindanao there is a broad mass of rugged mountain ranges, one of which bisects the island from north to south. This range contains Mount Apo (2,954 meters/9,692 feet), the highest peak in the country, which overlooks Davao Gulf.

Most of the islands are located on the Eurasian Tectonic Plate, but a major fault line extends along the eastern part of the archipelago, aligned over the boundary with the Philippine Plate. As part of the western-Pacific "Ring of Fire," the Philippines have thirty-seven volcanoes, of which eighteen are active.


Many of the Philippines's rivers have carved canyons through the mountains. Particularly deep canyons cut through the BukidnonLanao Plateau of Mindanao. Pagsanjan Gorge National Park, southeast of Manila on Luzon, is a river gorge with each of its steep faces towering to a height of 91 meters (300 feet).


The central mountain complex of Mindanao extends into the northwest corner of the island, terminating in the Bukidnon-Lanao Plateau. At approximately 609 meters (2,000 feet) in elevation, the plateau is interspersed with extinct volcanic peaks. On southeast Negros, the volcanic rock Tablas plateau rises 152 to 305 meters (500 to 1,000 feet.)


There are no major man-made structures affecting the geography of the Philippines.



Broad, Robin, and John Cavanagh. Plundering Paradise: The Struggle for the Environment in the Philippines. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

Davis, Leonard. The Philippines: People, Poverty, and Politics. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.

Olesky, Walter G. The Philippines. New York: Children's Press, 2000

Wernstedt, Frederick. The Philippine Island World. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.

Web Sites

VolcanoWorld: Tectonics and Volcanoes of the Philippines. (accessed April 28, 2003).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"The Philippines." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"The Philippines." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . (July 9, 2018).

"The Philippines." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Philippines, The

Philippines, the

Like other social formations of traditional Asia and Europe, Filipino society has, in the post-Cold War era, moved from being a predominantly agricultural society to a modern one. Economic transformations have brought new social changes as the concept of the traditional family continues to be reinvented and transformed. Globalization has created international employment opportunities for migrant workers, especially females, as increasing numbers of Filipinos are "sacrificing" themselves to work abroad to support their families back home. The function of the family changes when a husband and wife are separated for long periods of time. When the wife decides to work overseas and leaves her family behind, it changes the structure at home: Children are cared for by aunts and grandparents, and the husband's traditional role as breadwinner is threatened. Before discussing the dynamic and changing meaning of the concept of the Filipino family, it may be instructive to briefly look at some of the historical transformations that have occurred in Philippine society.

During several centuries of colonization by Spain and the United States, the Philippines produced crops and mined minerals for export and sale on the world market. Since gaining independence in 1946, it has experienced economic growth, decline, and recovery. In the 1960s, neighboring countries perceived it as a showcase for development. At that time, the Philippines had a newly burgeoning middle class and one of the highest literacy rates in the region. However, the economy began to go down when Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law (1972–1981) to prolong his power. Subsequently, the economy entered a period of some positive growth and recovery as Gross National Product (GNP) rates began to increase steadily. The GNP, however, is only a measure of improvements being made at the level of the infrastructure (e.g., increasing rates of electricity being used, new construction, improvements in transportation, increasing numbers of tourists). Consequently, changes in the GNP are not a clear indication that the quality of life for the majority of families has improved.

Politically, the Philippines has long been striving to institute a free and democratic way of life. It was one of the first nations to gain independence from colonial rule. It succeeded in overthrowing an authoritarian dictator (Ferdinand Marcos) in 1987, and it did this through an actively nonviolent people's power revolution. Again, the Philippines peacefully ousted an inept and corrupt president (Joseph Estrada) from office in 2001. Although traditional leading families and new military elites still hold and control powerful governmental posts, a fresh resurgence of people's movements continues from below, supported by nongovernment organizations, calling for a more equitable, just, and democratic society. In the face of these changing circumstances, the Filipino family has proved resilient.

The traditional regime of the Filipino family has been written about before (Mendez and Jocano 1974; Medina 1995; Miralao 1997). Filipinos trace their family relations bilaterally through the mothers' and fathers' lines. Relations between husbands and wives, and between men and women generally, tend to be more egalitarian in the Philippines than in many other cultures and societies. This may be because the Philippines was a matrilineal society before being colonized by Spain (1565–1898) and the United States (1898–1946). The precolonial family line was traced through the female side of the family, while males inherited their political titles and followings from their mother's brother. The close relationships between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and men and women in general, are typically filled with dignity, protectiveness, and respect. Although the male-centered colonization processes effected some significant changes in the traditional gender regime, Filipino women in comparison to their Euro-American counterparts have enjoyed a relatively high status that can be traced to these early beginnings.

According to Paz Policarpio Mendez and F. Landa Jocano (1974), the traditional Filipino family acknowledges the importance of both consanguineal (blood) and affinal (marriage) ties. Ritual kinship in terms of godparents is recognized as being special because it is embedded in the Filipino community, although the Spanish introduced the practice. Consanguineal or biological ties, however, remain by far the most important relations. The blood bond is so close that even distant relatives are recognized. Mendez and Jocano found that some rural Filipinos, when choosing friends and possible spouses, carefully examined genealogies to assess virtues and shortcomings because they believed that a person's hereditary character shows. Belen Medina (1995) found that blood bonds are so important, traditionally, that a person can be judged on the basis of who her or his relatives are. It follows that parents and children share an exceptionally strong and intimate bond. They give each other much mutual affection and respect. Children are taught by their parents to be gentle and deferential to elders, and this is carried on after they get married.

Gelia Castillo and Juanito Pua (1963, p. 116) classify the Filipino family as "residentially nuclear but functionally extended." This means that the household tends to be nuclear in form, but the family is extended in so far as relationships among members of the wider kin group are concerned. Members of the same kin group assist one another in times of need, and they participate in joint family activities even if they do not live together in the same household.

If the family living together in the same residential unit includes members other than a husband, wife, and their children, it is an extended family household. Many Filipino families living in the Philippines and abroad, such as in Canada or Southern California, actually live in extended family households. The family household may include grandparents, an unmarried aunt, an uncle, a cousin, a niece, or a nephew. Medina suggested that by the end of the twentieth century, the Filipino nuclear family household was more commonly found in the rural areas than in the cities. This is because it is quite expensive for a typical Filipino family or single person, starting a new life in the city, to rent, build, or purchase a home right away. It is much easier for a family to construct a dwelling made of light materials such as bamboo and other natural plants that are freely available in a barrio setting. These simple homes are considered by many educated Filipinos today to be elegant and environmentally attuned. This appreciation for traditional dwellings was not the case during the American colonial and postcolonial period when concrete homes with corrugated steel roofs were introduced to replace them. Also, in rural communities, kin members can build their household dwellings close to each other, which may not be possible in the city. Moreover, Filipinos who move away to study or work in cities, locally and abroad, tend to stay with their more affluent relatives, and this increases the size of the family household.

Virginia Miralao (1997) following Johan Gultang (1995) examines the transformation of Philippine society in relation to modernization theories that were first introduced by the sociologists Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. These evolutionary models posited that as societies modernize, social relationships become more impersonal and businesslike. At the same time, Durkheim and Weber characterized modern societies as being less religiously oriented and more scientifically grounded. Philippine society, however, does not work in accordance with Western-derived notions of modernization, although such models continue to dominate development circles. Although society is indeed becoming characterized by more impersonal relationships, popular religious and social movements for an alternative, holistic development paradigm are widespread and growing stronger. Moreover, the modern Filipino family continues to be close knit and centered on the family. Relationships among extended kin continue to be marked by reciprocal obligations and privileges even across great geographic distances.

Familism and personalism are all-pervasive in Philippine society. Filipinos typically try to make their friendships into family-like relationships that are mutually supportive. They prefer to have smooth interpersonal relationships with one another and go out of their way to create an atmosphere in which the people around them feel comfortable and accepted. Filipinos generally try to avoid confrontations and make use of indirect speech and mediators in situations of potential conflict. As elsewhere in Asia, there is a strong concept of face in the Philippines. This means that Filipinos are taught to be sensitive to other people's feelings and, generally, do not say words that may embarrass or shame a fellow human.

Filipino parents consider it their duty to provide for the material and educational needs of their children. Children, in turn, are expected to obey and respect their parents and to take care of their parents when they grow old. Also, older children, until they marry and have families of their own, are expected to help younger siblings with school, and to assist them in getting a job after graduation.

Beginning in the 1970s, the Philippine government implemented an overseas employment program to absorb the increasing numbers of Filipino workers. This has led to new conceptualizations of the Filipino family and changing gender roles, as many married females have decided to migrate abroad to work, and their husbands stay home to care for the children. Today, most Filipino families are maintaining and reproducing transnational household connections and networks. The Filipino family continues to be adaptive and functional in these new and changing circumstances.

See also:Asian-American Families; Familism; Godparents


castillo, g., and pua, j. (1963). "research notes on the contemporary filipino findings in a taglog area." university of the phillipines digest 2(3):29–30.

galtung, j. (1995). "anomie/atomie: on the impact of secularization/modernization on moral cohesion andsocial tissue." international journal of sociology and social policy 15(8–10).

medina, b. (1995). the filipino family, a text with selected readings. diliman, quezon city: the university of the philippines press.

mendez, p. p., and jocano, f. l. (1974). the filipino family, in its rural and urban orientation: two case studies. mendiola, manila: centro escolar university.

miralao, v. (1997). "the family, traditional values and sociocultural transformation of philippine society." philippine sociological review 45(1–4):189–215.

kathleen nadeau

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Philippines, The." International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Philippines, The." International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family. . (July 9, 2018).

"Philippines, The." International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

The Philippines


The powerful nations of Europe undertook a global project of imperialism and colonization in the late fifteenth century. Spain and Portugal, followed by other European states, used religion as a motivating force for economic expansion. As a result of Europe's conquests and attempted conquests, the Americas and large segments of Asia were eventually subjugated and annexed as European possessions or outposts. Following Columbus's expeditions to America, Cortés's conquest of Mexico in 1519, and Magellan's "discovery" of the Philippines in 1521, a series of unsuccessful Spanish attempts to colonize the Philippine archipelago took place. It was not until 1565 that the first permanent Spanish settlement succeeded under Miguel López de Legazpi, a minor Spanish official in Mexico. It remained part of the Spanish empire until 1898.

On 13 February 1565, an expedition set out from New Spain (Mexico), reaching Gamay Bay off Samar Island, then proceeding to touch at Leyte, Camiguin, Bohol, and finally Cebu on 27 April. In May 1571 the group of settlers moved to Manila. Thereupon, Juan de Salcedo conducted an expedition of conquest around Laguna de Bay and down the Cagayan River. Martín de Goiti and one hundred soldiers penetrated the center of the island of Luzon. After 1571, Manila became the center of Spanish colonization. The original Spanish incentives to occupy the Philippines were control of the spice trade and control of Pacific trade routes. However, the Philippines were too far from the spice routes, and other European powers never acknowledged Spanish hegemony in the Pacific Ocean.

The Spanish home government set up a jurisdiction that placed the Philippines under the rule of the viceroy of Mexico. Like the Americas, the archipelago had a governor-general, an audiencia ('advisors and court'), and a cabildo ('town council') for the city of Manila. In the areas outside of Manila, alcaldías ('provinces') were organized, with an alcalde mayor ('provincial governor') as head.

What proved to be the major cultural force in the archipelago were the religious orders. Augustinians, Jesuits, Dominicans, and Franciscans were the frontline representatives of Western culture who indoctrinated and converted local peoples. They were followed by the secular clergy, who gradually took over the task of ensuring that the new converts to Christianity did not "relapse." Although the archipelago consists of almost seven thousand islands, not all were inhabited or came under Spanish rule. The southernmost parts of the archipelago were Muslim and remained so throughout Spanish occupation. As Christianity was extended throughout the islands, the Western value system it represented was incorporated into the native Malay society.

Local income from the tribute taxes imposed by the Spaniards was so low that it soon became clear that the maintenance of the Philippine archipelago as a colony in the Pacific was a financial drain on the Spanish Empire, and retaining the colony as the only Christian outpost in Asia became the new motivating force. The economy of the islands was in the hands of the "Manila Galleon," merchants who loaded a large ship with Asian luxury items each year and sold them in Acapulco, Mexico. On its return the Manila Galleon carried silver pesos.

In the latter part of the eighteenth century, a concentrated effort was made to develop agriculture and mining under the Bourbon dynasty. In the nineteenth century the external trade of the islands grew considerably, sparked by capital growth, large-scale imports of raw materials, and a rising population. English and American vessels unloaded wines, copper, nails, oil, and other manufactured goods, and in return carried away hemp, sugar, tobacco, and rice.

Spain's long colonial rule produced deep-rooted changes in Philippine society. Christianity, foreign commerce, and new political and economic relations, as well as new concepts of land use and land distribution, affected native society profoundly.

See also Colonialism ; Dutch Colonies: The East Indies ; Magellan, Ferdinand ; Manila ; Pacific Ocean .


Cushner, Nicholas P. Spain in the Philippines: From Conquest to Revolution. Quezon City, Philippines, and Rutland, Vt., 1971.

Lyon, Eugene. "The Manila Galleon." National Geographic (January 1998).

Phelan, John Leddy. The Hispanization of the Philippines: Spanish Aims and Filipino Responses, 15651700. Madison, Wis., 1959.

Wickberg, Edgar. The Chinese in Philippine Life, 18501898. Manila, Philippines, 2000.

Nicholas P. Cushner

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"The Philippines." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"The Philippines." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . (July 9, 2018).

"The Philippines." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



The U.S. dominance of the university educational system in the Philippines in the early decades of the twentieth century meant that Filipino doctors looked to that country for its medical models. Several physicians studied in the United States and imbibed psychoanalytic theory from the American tradition.

One of the first was Virgilio Santiago, who completed his medical training at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines in 1949. This medical training led him to psychoanalytic training under Robert Waelder, a student of Freud's. He then went on to study at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. This was an unusual route to follow, since most psychiatrists were trained in the dominant organic school of psychiatry. In the 1950s psychoanalysis was strictly forbidden by the conservative Catholic clergy. Santiago was also discouraged by his colleagues from pursuing the field. Nonetheless, in a private practice he found a clientele among the expatriate population, and a small minority of Filipinos suffering from psychosis also consulted him. Santiago's general criticisms of the poor quality of Filipino health care suggest that the average Filipino was unsuited to psychoanalysis (Santiago, 1966).

Two other early pioneers were Baltazar Reyes and Rudolfo Varias. Reyes graduated from the University of the Philippines and then did postgraduate training at the Langley Porter Institute in California before returning to the Philippines to teach and research. Varias trained in classic psychoanalysis in New York. He returned to teach at the institute of public hygiene (now the College of Public Health). In the 1970s he returned to New York. His departure meant no further development of psychoanalytic psychotherapy at that time.

Not until the end of the 1960s, with the appearance of Lourdes Lapuz's A Study of Psychopathology (1969), was orthodox psychoanalytic theory again taken seriously. This groundbreaking book influenced a whole generation of psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors, who remodeled the original psychoanalytic theory in which they had been instructed to suit the Filipino cultural mold. As in other Asian cultures, people's social and cultural expectations led them to view the doctor as an authority figure, and this required a more interactive role of the analyst. This book was followed by Children of Oedipus (Lapuz, 1973), which deals more fully with these issues. In her succeeding works she dealt with marital counseling and couple and family therapy (Lapuz, 1979).

In spite of these developments, however, the modern mental-health system remains poorly understood in the Philippines because of the low level of medical awareness of the population and the prevalence of alternatives to modern medicine, be they indigenous forms of herbal healing or even cult healing practices. These factors, coupled with a poor health-insurance system and a social need for gainful employment, have reduced the need for formal institutes of psychoanalysis and explain why the Philippines at the moment has no training analysts practicing psychoanalysis. Freud's work has not made a big impact in this predominately Catholic culture, where even today, teaching human sexuality from the point of view of psychology has not gained much ground in the academic world. Sex education consists largely of lectures on population control.

Geoffrey H. Blowers


Estrada-Cristanto, T. (1997). Interview with Virgilio Santiago. November. Manila, Philippines. Unpublished.Lapuz, Lourdes. (1969). A study of psychopathology. Quezon City, Philippines: New Day Publications.

Lapuz, Lourdes. (1973). Children of Oedipus. Quezon City, Philippines: New Day Publications.

. (1979). Marriage counselling. Quezon City, Philippines: New Day Publications.

Santiago, Virgilio. (1966). Psychopathology of Sisa. Acta Medica Philippina, 2 (3), 140-145.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Philippines." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Philippines." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . (July 9, 2018).

"Philippines." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.




300,000sq km (115,300sq mi)



capital (population):

Manila (1,581,082)


Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Tagalog 30%, Cebuano 24%, Ilocano 10%, Hiligaynon Ilongo 9%, Bicol 6%, Samar-Leyte 4%


Filipino (Tagalog) and English (both official)


Christianity (Roman Catholic 84%, Philippine Independent Church or Aglipayan 6%, Protestant 4%), Islam 4%


Philippine peso = 100 centavos

Republic in the sw Pacific Ocean, se Asia. The Republic of the Philippines, in Southeast Asia, consists of more than 7000 islands, of which 1000 are inhabited. Luzon and Mindanao islands constitute more than 66% of land area. Luzon includes the capital, Manila, and the second-largest city, Quezon City. The islands are mainly mountainous with several active volcanoes, one of which is the highest peak, Mount Apo, at 2954m (9692ft). Narrow coastal plains give way to forested plateaux.

Climate and Vegetation

The Philippines has a tropical climate, with high annual temperatures. The dry season runs from December to April, but the rest of the year is wet. Much of the rainfall is due to typhoons. Mangrove swamps line many coasts. More than 33% of the land is forested. Much of the land is fertile.

History and Politics

Islam was introduced in the late 14th century. In 1521, the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan landed near Cebu. Spain began its conquest of the islands in 1565. In 1571, the Spanish founded Manila, and named the archipelago Filipinas, after Philip II. It became a vital trading centre, subject to frequent attack from pirates. In 1896, the Filipinos revolted against Spanish rule and declared independence. In the Spanish-American War (1898), the USA defeated the Spanish navy in Manila Bay. Filipinos seized Luzon. Manila was captured with US help. The USA gained control of the islands by the Treaty of Paris (1898). From 1899 to 1902, Filipinos fought against US control. The Commonwealth of the Philippines was established in 1935. Manuel Luis Quezon became the first president.

In 1941, the Japanese invaded, capturing Manila by 1942. US General MacArthur withdrew, and US forces retreated from Bataan. In 1944, the USA began to reclaim the islands. In 1946, the Philippines became an independent republic. The USA was granted a 99-year lease on military bases (subsequently reduced to 25 years from 1967). In 1965, Ferdinand Marcos became president. Marcos' response to mounting civil unrest was brutal. In 1972, he declared martial law. In 1981, Marcos was re-elected amid charges of electoral fraud. In 1983, the leader of the opposition, Benigno Aquino, was assassinated. His widow, Cory Aquino, succeeded him. Marcos claimed victory in 1986 elections, but faced charges of electoral fraud. Cory Aquino launched a campaign of civil disobedience. The USA withdrew its support for Marcos, who was forced into exile. Attempted military coups marred Aquino's presidency. In 1992, Fidel Ramos succeeded Aquino as president and the USA closed its military bases. In 1996, an agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front ended 24 years of rebellion on Mindanao, and saw the creation of a Muslim state. In 1998, the fragile cease-fire crumbled. In /May 1998, former Vice President Joseph Estrada succeeded Ramos. In 2001, a popular rising toppled Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became president.


The Philippines is a lower-middle-income developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$3800). Its economy escaped the worst of the regional economic crisis in 1998. Agriculture employs 45% of the workforce. It is the world's second-largest producer of rice and fourth-largest producer of bananas. Livestock-rearing, forestry, and fishing are important activities.

Political map

Physical map


Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Philippines." World Encyclopedia. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Philippines." World Encyclopedia. . (July 9, 2018).

"Philippines." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



An archipelago (island chain) consisting of some 7100 islands in southeast Asia, the Philippines became a territory of the United States by the Treaty of Paris (1898). Signed on December 10, the agreement ended the Spanish-American War (1898), which marked a determined U.S. interest in participating more fully in international affairs. One issue during the war was the matter of an independent Cuba. The peace treaty signed between Spain and the United States provided for Cuba's autonomy and granted the United States control of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands. Spain surrendered the last vestiges of its colonial empire; in exchange, the European country received $20 million in payment from the United States.

U.S. imperialists viewed the Philippines as "stepping stones" to mainland Asia, and they stressed the islands' strategic importance for the United States. Anti-imperialists argued that the annexation constituted the conquering of people against their will. While Americans debated the motives and the outcome of the expansion, soon after the Treaty of Paris was signed, the Philippines were embroiled in conflict. Filipinos, determined to achieve independence, revolted in an uprising lasting from 1899 to 1901. A civil government was established on the islands in 1901, and in November 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was officially established. The islands, however, continued to be the site of conflict in the following decade.

The United States struggled with Japan for control of the Philippines during World War II (19391945). Under General Douglas MacArthur (18801964), the United States established practical control of the islands during the last days of the war (July 1945). After the Japanese surrender, an independent government was established in the Philippines (July 1946), but the United States was granted a ninety-nine year lease of several Philippine military facilities. In the 1980s political upheaval in the island nation resulted in the revocation of the military leases. The United States withdrew its troops from the Philippines in the 1990s.

See also: Imperialism, Spanish-American War

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Philippines." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Philippines." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . (July 9, 2018).

"Philippines." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

The Philippines

The Philippines

Culture Name



Identification. The Republic of the Philippines was named the Filipinas to honor King Philip the Second of Spain in 1543. The Philippine Islands was the name used before independence.

Location and Geography. The Republic of the Philippines, a nation of 7,107 islands with a total area of 111,830 square miles (307,055 square kilometers), is located on the Pacific Rim of Southeast Asia. Two thousand of its islands are inhabited. Luzon, the largest island with one-third of the land and half the population, is in the north. Mindanao, the second largest island, is in the south. The Philippines are 1,152 miles (1,854 kilometers) long from north to south. The width is 688 miles (1,107 kilometers). There are no land boundaries; the country is bordered on the west by the South China Sea, on the east by the Philippine Sea, on the south by the Celebes Sea, and on the north by the Luzon Strait, which separates the country from its nearest neighbor, Taiwan. The closest nations to the south are Malaysia and Indonesia. Vietnam and China are the nearest neighbors on the mainland of Asia.

The islands are volcanic in origin. Mount Mayon in southern Luzon erupted in 2000. Mount Pinatubo in central Luzon erupted in 1991 and 1992. Both eruptions caused destruction of villages and farms and displaced thousands of people from their tribal homelands. Because the country is volcanic, the small islands have a mountainous center with coastal plains. Luzon has a broad central valley in the northern provinces along the Cagayan River and plains in the midlands near Manila, the capital. Mindanao and Panay also have central plains. Northern Luzon has two major mountain ranges: the Sierra Madres on the eastern coast and the Cordilleras in the center. The highest peak is Mount Apo in Mindanao at 9,689 feet (2,954 meters).

The weather is hot because of the country's closeness to the equator. The temperatures are constant except during typhoons. The dry season is from January to June; the wet season with monsoon rains is from July to December. Temperatures are cooler in November through January, dropping below 30 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit). The summer months of April and May have temperatures in excess of 39 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Typhoons occur from June through November.

Demography. The estimated population in July 2000 was eighty-one million. The average life expectancy is sixty-seven years. Four percent of the population is over age sixty-five. The most populous area is Metropolitan Manila, where eight million to ten million people live.

Linguistic Affiliation. The official languages are Filipino, which is based on Tagalog with words from other native languages, and English. Since only 55 percent of residents speak Filipino fluently, English is used in colleges, universities, the courts, and the government. The country's seventy to eighty dialects are derived from Malay languages. Three dialects are of national importance: Cebuano in the southern islands, Ilocano in the north, and Tagalog, the language of the National Capital Region. When Tagalog was chosen as the basis for a national language, Cebuanos refused to use Filipino. "Taglish," a mixture of Filipino and English, is becoming a standard language. Filipinos are proud that their country has the third largest number of English speakers in the world. Filipino English includes many Australian and British terms. It is a formal language that includes words no longer commonly used in American English. Spanish was taught as a compulsory language until 1968 but is seldom used today. Spanish numbers and some Spanish words are included in the dialects.

The dependence on English causes concern, but since Filipino does not have words for scientific or technological terms, English is likely to remain in common use.

Symbolism. National symbols have been emphasized since independence to create a sense of nationhood. The Philippine eagle, the second largest eagle in the world, is the national bird. Doctor Jose Rizal is the national hero. Rizal streets and statues of Rizal are found in most towns and cities. Several municipalities are named for Rizal. The most prominent symbol is the flag, which has a blue horizontal band, a red horizontal band, and a white field. The flag is flown with the blue band at the top in times of peace and the red band at the top in times of war. Flag ceremonies take place once a week at all governmental offices. Schools have a flag ceremony each morning. All traffic stops while the flag is being honored. The national anthem is sung, a national pledge is recited in Filipino, and the provincial hymn is sung.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Early inhabitants are believed to have reached the area over land bridges connecting the islands to Malaysia and China. The first people were the Negritos, who arrived twenty-five thousand years ago. Later immigrants came from Indonesia. After the land bridges disappeared, immigrants from Indo-China brought copper and bronze and built the rice terraces at Benaue in northern Luzon. The next wave came from Malaysia and is credited with developing agriculture and introducing carabao (water buffalo) as draft animals. Trade with China began in the first century c.e. Filipino ores and wood were traded for finished products.

In 1380, the "Propagation of Islam" began in the Sulu Islands and Mindanao, where Islam remains the major religion. The Muslim influence had spread as far north as Luzon when Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521 to claim the archipelago for Spain. Magellan was killed soon afterward when a local chief, Lapu-Lapu, refused to accept Spanish rule and Christianity. Miguel Lopez de Legazpi landed in the Philippines in 1564 and consolidated Spanish power, designating Manila as the capital in 1572. Roman Catholic religious orders began Christianizing the populace, but the Sulu Islands and Mindanao remained Muslim. The Spanish governed those areas through a treaty with the sultan of Mindanao. The Spanish did not attempt to conquer the deep mountain regions of far northern Luzon.

The occupation by Spain and the unifying factor of Catholicism were the first steps in creating a national identity. Filipinos became interested in attaining independence in the middle of the nineteenth century. In the 1890's, the novels of José Rizal, his exile to a remote island, and his execution by the Spaniards created a national martyr and a rallying point for groups seeking independence. Armed attacks and propaganda increased, with an initial success that waned as Spanish reinforcements arrived. The Spanish-American War of 1898 and the defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay led the Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo to declare independence from Spain. The United States paid twenty million dollars to the Spanish for the Philippines under the Treaty of Paris. Aguinaldo did not accept United States occupation and fought until the Filipino forces were defeated. In 1902, the Philippines became an American territory, with the future president William Howard Taft serving as the first territorial governor. Over the next two decades, American attitudes toward the Philippines changed and the islands were given commonwealth status in 1933. Independence was promised after twelve years, with the United States retaining rights to military bases.

The Japanese invaded the Philippines early in 1942 and ruled until 1944. Filipino forces continued to wage guerrilla warfare. The return of U.S. forces ended the Japanese occupation. After the war, plans for independence were resumed. The Republic of the Philippines became an independent nation on 4 July 1946.

The new nation had to recover economically from the destruction caused by World War II. Peasant groups wanted the huge land holdings encouraged by the Spanish and Americans broken apart. In 1955, Congress passed the first law to distribute land to farmers.

Ferdinand Marcos governed from 1965 to 1986, which was the longest period for one president. From 1972 to 1981, he ruled by martial law. Marcos was reelected in 1982, but a strong opposition movement emerged. When the leader of the opposition, Benigno Aquino, was murdered after his return from exile in the United States, his wife, Corazon Aquino, entered the presidential race in 1986. Marcos claimed victory but was accused of fraud. That accusation and the withdrawal of United States support for Marcos led to "People Power," a movement in which the residents of Manila protested the Marcos regime. The Filipino military supported Aquino, who was declared president, and the Marcos family went into exile in Hawaii.

The Aquino years saw the passage of a new constitution with term limits and the withdrawal of U.S. military forces in 1991, when the government did not grant a new lease for United States use of military bases.

Fidel Ramos, the first Protestant president, served from 1991 to 1998. Major problems included a fall in the value of the peso and the demands of Muslim groups in Mindanao for self-determination and/or independence. The government offered self-governance and additional funds, and the movement quieted.

Joseph "Erap" Estrada was elected for one six-year term in 1999. The demands of the Muslim rebels escalated, culminating with the kidnaping of twenty-nine people by the Abu Sayyaf group in April 2000. Late in the year 2000, impeachment proceedings were brought against Estrada, who was charged with financial corruption.

National Identity. Filipinos had little sense of national identity until the revolutionary period of the nineteenth century. The word "Filipino" did not refer to native people until the mid-nineteenth century. Before that period, the treatment of the islands as a single governmental unit by Spain and the conversion of the population to Catholicism were the unifying factors. As a desire for independence grew, a national flag was created, national heroes emerged, and a national anthem was written. A national language was designated in 1936. National costumes were established. The sense of a national identity is fragile, with true allegiance given to a kin group, a province, or a municipality.

Ethnic Relations. Ninety-five percent of the population is of Malay ancestry. The other identifiable group is of Chinese ancestry. Sino-Filipinos are envied for their success in business. They have maintained their own schools, which stress Chinese traditions.

Seventy to eighty language groups separate people along tribal lines. Approximately two million residents are designated as cultural minority groups protected by the government. The majority of those sixty ethnic groups live in the mountains of northern Luzon. People whose skin is darker are considered less capable, intelligent, and beautiful. Descendants of the Negritos tribe are regarded as inferior.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

The architecture of the islands shows Spanish influence. Spanish brick churches built during the colonial era dominate the towns. The churches are large and different from traditional construction. It is difficult to imagine how the indigenous population in the seventeenth century was able to build them. Seaports and government centers had a larger proportion of Spanish buildings with wide verandas and tiled roofs. Towns destroyed during the liberation campaign in World War II, especially in central and northern Luzon, were rebuilt using wood. Areas of Manila destroyed during World War II have been restored to their historical Spanish appearance. Newer buildings in Manila range from standard multistory offices to Western-style gated housing areas for the affluent, to tenements and shacks.

Traditional houses in rural areas are nipa huts constructed of bamboo and roofed with leaves from palm trees or corrugated metal. Cinder blocks are the most commonly building material used. The blocks are plastered and painted on the inside and outside when funds permit. Plasterers add decorative touches to the exterior. Older houses have a "dirty" open-air kitchen for food preparation. Newer, larger houses designate a room as a dirty kitchen in contrast to the "clean" kitchen, which has an eating area where utensils are stored. Enclosed kitchens provide a roof over the cook and keep dogs and chickens from wandering into the cooking area. The roof is pitched so that rain will run off. Middle-class houses and commercial buildings have tiled roofs.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Filipinos do not consider it a meal if rice is not served. Plain steamed rice is the basis of the diet. Three crops a year are harvested to provide enough rice for the population, and the government keeps surpluses stored for times of drought. Salt water and freshwater of fish and shellfish are eaten daily, served either fresh or salted. Fish, chicken and pork are usually fried, although people are becoming more health-conscious and often choose alternative methods of cooking. Garlic is added to food because it is considered healthful. Filipino food is not spicy. All food is cooked on gas burners or wood or charcoal fires and is allowed to get cold before it is eaten. Rice is cooked first, since it takes longer. When it is ready, rice will be placed on the table while the next items of the meal are prepared and served.

Table knives are not used. Forks and spoons are used for dining. The food is eaten from a spoon. The traditional method of placing food on a banana leaf and eating with one's hands is also used throughout the country. It is acceptable to eat food with one's hands at restaurants as well as in the home.

Breakfast is served at 6 a.m. and consists of food left over from the night before. It is not reheated. Eggs and sausage are served on special occasions. Small buns called pan de sol may be purchased from vendors early in the morning.

At midmorning and in the afternoon, people eat merienda. Since Filipinos are fond of sweet foods, a mixture of instant coffee, evaporated milk, and sugar may be served. Coca-Cola is very popular. Sweet rolls, doughnuts, or a noodle dish may be available. Lunch is a light meal with rice and one other dish, often a fish or meat stew. Fish, pork, or chicken is served at dinner with a soup made of lentils or vegetables. Fatty pork is a favorite. Portions of small cubes of browned pork fat are considered a special dish.

Fruits are abundant all year. Several kinds of banana are eaten, including red and green varieties. Mangoes, the national fruit, are sweet and juicy. A fruit salad with condensed milk and coconut milk is very popular on special occasions.

Vegetables are included as part of a soup or stew. Green beans and potatoes are commonly eaten foods. The leaves of camote, a sweet potato, are used as a salad and soup ingredient. Ube, a bland bright purple potato, is used as a colorful ingredient in cakes and ice cream. Halo-halo, which means "mixture," is a popular dessert that consists of layers of corn kernels, ice cream, small gelatin pieces, cornflakes and shaved ice. Patis, a very salty fish sauce, is placed on the table to be added to any of the dishes.

Fast food has become part of the culture, with national and international chains in many towns. All meals at fast-food restaurant include rice, although French fries also tend to be on the menu. Banana ketchup is preferred, although the international chains serve tomato ketchup. A national chain, Jollibee, has entered the U.S. market with a restaurant in California, where many Filipino immigrants live. The company plans to expand to other cities with Filipino populations.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Léchon, a suckling pig that has been roasted until the skin forms a hard brown crust, is served at important occasions. The inside is very fatty. Strips of the skin with attached fat are considered the best pieces. The importance of the host and the occasion are measured by the amount of léchon. served. Blood drained from the pig is used to make dinuguan

Sticky rice prepared with coconut milk and sugarcane syrup is wrapped in banana leaves. Glutinous rice is grown especially for use in this traditional dessert.

Gin and beer are available for men and are accompanied by balut, a duck egg with an embryo. Dog meat is a delicacy throughout the country. It is now illegal to sell dog meat at markets because cases of rabies have occurred when the brains were eaten.

Basic Economy. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing are the occupations of 40 percent of the thirty million people who are employed. Light manufacturing, construction, mining and the service industries provide the remainder of employment opportunities. The unemployment rate is over 9 percent. Fifty percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The Asian financial crisis resulted in a lack of jobs, and the drought period of the El Niño weather cycle has reduced the number of agricultural positions. It is not uncommon for people to "volunteer" as workers in the health care field in hopes of being chosen to work when a position becomes available. People work seven days a week and take additional jobs to maintain or improve their lifestyle or pay for a child's education. Eight hundred thousand citizens work overseas, primarily as merchant seamen, health care, household, or factory workers in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Over Seas Workers (OSWs) have a governmental agency that looks after their interests. Laws govern hours of work, insurance coverage, and vacation time, but workers may be exploited and mistreated. Recruitment centers are found in all large municipalities. OSWs send $7 billion home each year, providing 4 percent of the gross domestic product.

Land Tenure and Property. Nineteen percent of the land is arable and 46 percent consists of forests and woodlands. Deforestation by legal and illegal loggers with no tree replacement has reduced the number of trees. Large amounts of arable land remain in the hand of absentee landowners who were given land grants during the Spanish colonial period. Although land reform legislation has been passed, loopholes allow owners to retain possession. Those responsible for enacting and enforcing the legislation often come from the same families that own the land. Peasant groups such as the HUKs (People's Liberation Army, or Hukbong Magpapayang Bayan ) in the 1950s and the NPA (New People's Army) at the present time have resorted to guerrilla tactics to provide land for the poor. There is an ongoing demand to clear forests to provide farmland. The clearing technique is slash and burn. Environmentalists are concerned because timber is destroyed at random, eliminating the homes of endangered species of plants and animals.

Commercial Activities. The local market is a key factor in retail trade. Larger municipalities have daily markets, while smaller communities have markets once or twice a week. Trade at the market is conducted in a barter system. Suki relationships are established at the marketplace so that the buyer returns to the same vendor. Markets are divided into "dry" markets where clothing and household items are sold and "wet" markets where food is sold. Sari-sari establishments are small neighborhood stores. They are convenient since they have packaged products and are in the neighborhood, but no fresh foods are available there. In larger towns, supermarkets with fixed prices are adjacent to the market. Electronic equipment, furniture, and clothing have fixed prices and are sold in stores or at kiosks. Shopping malls are found in most provincial capitals. Malls with Western shops are found throughout metropolitan Manila.

Major Industries. Metropolitan Manila is the primary manufacturing area, with 10 percent of the population living there. Manila and the adjacent ports are the best equipped to ship manufactured goods. Manufacturing plants produce electrical and electronic components, chemicals, clothing, and machinery. The provinces produce processed foods, textiles, tobacco products, and construction materials. Manufacturing in the home continues to be common in remote areas.

Trade. Rice, bananas, cashews, pineapple, mangoes, and coconut products are the agricultural products exported to neighboring countries. Exported manufactured products include electronic equipment, machinery, and clothing. The United States, members of the European Union, and Japan are the major trading partners. Imports consists of consumer goods and fuel. The country has mineral and petroleum reserves that have not been developed because of the mountainous terrain and a lack of funding.

Transportation of products is difficult since the highway system beyond metropolitan Manila consists of two-lane roads that are under constant repair and sometimes are washed out by typhoons. Interisland shipping costs add to the expense of manufacturing. Congress, governmental agencies, and the financial community are attempting to find solutions to these problems. The rate of road construction is accelerating and a light rail system is planned. Filipino membership in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional trade organization, is an important factor in the development of trade policies.

Division of Labor. In rural areas, lack of mechanization causes the entire family to work in the rice fields. Planting rice seedlings, separating them, replanting, and changing water levels in the fields are done by hand and are labor-intensive. Crops such as tobacco, corn, and sugarcane demand full family participation for short periods during the planting and harvest seasons.

In the cities, traditional roles common to industrialized countries are followed. Men perform heavy physical tasks, while women work as clerks and teachers and in health care.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Filipinos believe in the need for social acceptance and feel that education can provide upward mobility. Color of skin, beauty, and money are the criteria that determine a person's social position. Light coloring is correlated with intelligence and a light-skinned attractive person will receive advancement before his or her colleagues. Family position and patron-client associations are useful in achieving success. Government officials, wealthy friends, and community leaders are sponsors at hundreds of weddings and baptisms each year. Those connections are of great importance.

There is a gap between the 2 percent of the population that is wealthy and the masses who live in poverty. The middle class feels too obligated to those in power to attempt to make societal changes.

The people of the Philippines enjoy watching professional basketball played by American professional teams and teams in Filipino professional leagues. Basketball courts are the only sport-site found in every barangay and school. Cockfights are a popular sport among men. Cocks have metal spurs attached to the leg just above the foot. The contest continues until one of the cocks is unable to continue fighting or runs away. Cuneta Astrodome in metropolitan Manila is used for both professional basketball and cockfights. Mah-jongg, a Chinese game played with tiles, is very popular, especially with women.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Money to buy consumer goods is an indicator of power. Wealthy people lead western lifestyles. They travel abroad frequently and pride themselves on the number of Westerners they have as friends. Since few people outside Manila have a family car, owning a vehicle is a clear statement of a high social level. Houses and furnishings show a person's social position. Upholstered furniture instead of the traditional wooden couches and beds, rows of electrical appliances that are never used and area rugs are all important.

Women above the poverty level have extensive wardrobes. Sending one's children to the best schools is the most important indicator of social position. The best schools often are private schools and are quite expensive.

Political Life

Government. The country has a republican form of government that was developed during the commonwealth period. It contains three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The first constitution, based on the United States Constitution, was written in 1935. When President Marcos declared martial law in 1972, that constitution was replaced by another one providing for a head of state, a prime minister, and a unicameral legislature. The president had the power to dissolve the legislature, appoint the prime minister, and declare himself prime minister. A new constitution was approved in a national referendum in 1987. It was similar to the 1935 constitution but included term limitations. The 221 members of the House may serve three consecutive three-year terms, which is also the case for provincial governors. The twenty-four senators, who are elected at large, may serve two consecutive six-year terms. The president serves one six-year term, but the vice president may serve two consecutive six-year terms. The president and vice president do not run on the same ticket and may be political opponents.

The seventy provinces have governors but no legislative bodies. Over sixty cities have been created by legislation. Cityhood is desirable since cities are funded separately from the provinces so that additional federal money comes into the area. Each province is divided into municipalities. The smallest unit of government is the barangay, which contains up to two hundred dwellings and an elementary school. The barangay captain distributes funds at the local level.

Leadership and Political Officials. Charges of corruption, graft, and cronyism are common among government officials at all levels. People accept cronyism and the diversion of a small percentage of funds as natural. Rewriting the constitution to eliminate term limits and establishing a strong two-party system are the reforms that are discussed most often. Politicians move from party to party as the needs of their constituencies dictate because the political parties have no ideologies.

Many of the people who are currently active in politics were politically active in the commonwealth era. Men of rank in the military also move into the political arena. Joseph Estrada, whose term as president is 19982004, entered the public eye as a popular film star. He then became the mayor of a large city and went on to become vice president in the Ramos administration. Previous presidents have had political or military backgrounds, with the exception of Corazon Aquino, the president from 1986 to 1992, who became politically active after her husband was assassinated.

Social Problems and Control. The formal system of law mirrors that of the United States. A police force, which has been part of the army since 1991, and a system of trials, appeals, and prisons are the components of the apparatus for dealing with crime. Theft is the most common crime. Because the Philippines has a cash economy, thieves and pick-pockets can easily gain access to thousands of pesos. Petty thieves are unlikely to be apprehended unless a theft is discovered immediately. Another common crime is murder, which often is committed under the influence of alcohol. Guns are readily available. Incest is punished severely if the victim is younger than fifteen years old. Capital punishment by lethal injection was restored during the Ramos administration. Six executions of men convicted of incest have taken place since 1998. Illicit drugs are found throughout the archipelago but are more common in the capital area and the tourist centers. Marijuana and hashish are exported.

An ongoing concern is the desire for autonomy among tribal groups. Mindanoao and the Cordilleras Autonomous Region, where indigenous groups are located, are allowed a greater degree of local control and receive additional funds from the government. Muslim Mindanao has a strong separatist movement. Terrorist groups have developed in support of the movement. In the year 2000, terrorists engaged in acts of kidnaping for ransom, a crime that is common in the country. The government deployed additional military forces to attack terrorist strongholds.

Military Activity. The armed forces consist of an army, a navy, a coast guard, and an air force. The army includes the Philippines National Police; the navy includes the marines. Military service is voluntary. Public respect for the military is high. Military expenditures account for 1.5 percent of the gross domestic product. Current military activity is focused on terrorist activity in Mindanao. The oil-rich Spratly Islands in the South China Sea are an area of concern that is monitored by the navy. The Spratlys belong to the Philippines but are claimed by several other countries, and the Chinese have unsuccessfully attempted to establish a base there. In 1998, the Philippines signed a visiting forces agreement that allows United States forces to enter the country to participate in joint training maneuvers.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Land reform has been a concern since independence. Spanish and American rule left arable land concentrated in the hands of 2 percent of the population and those owners will not give up their land without compensation. Attempts made to provide land, such as the resettlement of Christian farmers in Mindanao in the 1950s, have not provided enough land to resolve the problem. Until land reform takes place, poverty will be the nation's primary social problem. Eighty percent of the rural population and half the urban population live in poverty. Governmental organizations provide health clinics and medical services, aid in establishing micro businesses such as craft shops and small factories, and offer basic services for the disabled. The number of beggars increases in times of high unemployment. People consider it good luck to give money to a poor person, and so beggars manage to survive.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

While nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) work throughout the country to solve social problems, they are most visible in metropolitan Manila, where they work with squatters. The rural poor gravitate to urban areas, cannot find a place to live, and settle in public areas, riverbanks and garbage dumps. It is estimated that one of every four residents of metropolitan Manila is a squatter. Shanty towns are so large that in 2000, when rains from two successive typhoons made garbage dumps collapse, over two hundred people were buried alive as their homes were swept away. Nongovernmental organizations exert pressure on the government for land on which squatters can build permanent housing. Forced evictions are another target of NGOs, since an alternative place to live is not provided.

Volunteer agencies from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Japan work with NGOs and governmental agencies. Projects to help children and meet environmental needs are the focus of volunteer efforts. Volunteer agencies are supervised by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Traditional roles prevail in rural areas, where men cultivate the land but the entire family is involved in planting and harvesting the crops. Women work in gardens and care for the house and children as well as barnyard animals. In urban areas, men work in construction and machine upkeep and as drivers of passenger vehicles. Women work as teachers, clerks, owners of sari-sari stores, marketers of produce and health care providers. Occupational gender lines are blurred since men also work as nurses and teachers. In the professions, gender lines are less important. Women attorneys, doctors and lawyers are found in the provinces as well as in urban areas.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. While families desire male children, females are welcomed to supply help in the house and provide a home in the parents' old age. Women's rights to equality and to share the family inheritance with male siblings are firmly established and are not questioned. The oldest daughter is expected to become an OSW to provide money for the education of younger siblings and for the needs of aging family members. Women are the familial money managers. The wedding ceremony can include the gift of a coin from the groom to the bride to acknowledge this role.

Since personal relationships and wealth are considered the road to success, women have an equal opportunity to achieve. Winners of beauty pageants are likely to succeed in the business and professional world, especially if the pageant was at an international level.

Marriage, Family and Kinship

Marriage. Marriage is a civil ceremony that is conducted city offices. A religious ceremony also is performed. The ceremony is similar to those in the United States with the addition of sponsors. Principal sponsors are friends and relatives who have positions of influence in the community. The number of principal sponsors attests to the popularity and potential success of a couple. It also reduces a couple's expenses, since each principal sponsor is expected to contribute a substantial amount of cash. Members of the wedding party are secondary sponsors who do not have to provide funds.

Arranged marriages have not been part of Filipino life. However, men are expected to marry and if a man has not married by his late twenties, female relatives begin introducing him to potential brides. The median age for marriage is twenty-two. Young professionals wait until their late twenties to marry, and engagements of five to seven years are not uncommon. During this period, the couple becomes established in jobs, pays for the education of younger siblings, and acquires household items. A woman who reaches the age of thirty-two without marrying is considered past the age for marriage. Women believe that marriage to a wealthy man or a foreigner will guarantee happiness. Divorce is illegal, but annulment is available for the dissolution of a marriage. Reasons for annulment include physical incapacity, physical violence, or pressure to change one's religious or political beliefs. Interfaith marriages are rare.

Domestic Unit. The extended family is the most important societal unit, especially for women. Women's closest friendships come from within the family. Mothers and daughters who share a home make decisions concerning the home without conferring with male family members. One child remains in the family home to care for the parents and grandparents. This child, usually a daughter, is not necessarily unmarried. The home may include assorted children from the extended family, and single aunts and uncles. Several houses may be erected on the same lot to keep the family together. Childcare is shared. Fathers carry and play with children but are unlikely to change diapers. Grandparents who live in the home are the primary care givers for the children since both parents generally work. Preschool grandchildren who live in other communities may be brought home for their grandparents to raise. Indigent relatives live in the family circle and provide as household and childcare help. Young people may work their way through college by exchanging work for room and board. Family bonds are so close that nieces and nephews are referred to as one's own children and cousins are referred to as sisters and brothers. Unmarried adult women may legally adopt one of a sibling's children.

Inheritance. Inheritance laws are based on those in the United States. These laws provide that all children acknowledged by a father, whether born in or out of wedlock, share equally in the estate. Females share equally with males.

Kin Groups. Because of the closeness of the immediate family, all familial ties are recognized. Anyone who is remotely related is known as a cousin. Indigenous tribes live in clan groups. Marriage into another clan may mean that the individual is considered dead to his or her clan.

People have a strong sense of belonging to a place. A family that has lived in metropolitan Manila for two generations still regards a municipality or province as its home. New Year's Day, Easter, and All Saint's Day are the most important family holidays. Bus traffic from Manila to the provinces increases dramatically at these times, with hundreds of extra buses taking people home to their families.


Infant Care. Infants are raised by family members. Young children are sent to live with their grandparents or aunts for extended periods. People who live outside the country leave their children with the family for the preschool years.

Infants spend their waking time in someone's arms until they can walk. They are part of every activity and learn by observation. Someone will remain in the room with them when they sleep. Infant mortality is high, and so great care is taken of babies. Helpers and older sisters assist with the dayto-day care of babies.

Child Rearing and Education. Children are seldom alone in a system in which adults desire company and do not understand the need for privacy. Children have no pressure to become toilet trained or to learn to eat at the table. They are spoon fed or eat from a parent's plate until the age of six. They must learn respect for authority, obedience, and religious faith. Self-esteem is fostered. A child's first birthday is celebrated with a party.

Filipinos regard education as the path to upward mobility. Ninety percent of the population over ten years of age is literate. The Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) is the largest governmental department. Approximately twelve million elementary school pupils and five million secondary students attended school in 1999 and 2000. Education is compulsory until age twelve. Statistics indicate that children from the poorest 40 percent of the population do not attend school. Elementary education is a six-year program; secondary education is a four-year program. Pre-schools and kindergartens are seldom available in public schools but are in private schools. Children are grouped homogeneously by ability. First grade students begin being taught in Filipino; English is added after two months. In elementary and secondary schools, reading, science, and mathematics are taught in English while values, social studies, and health are taught in Filipino. Children learn some Filipino and English words from the media. "Linga franca" is an experimental approach in which students are taught in the native dialect and Filipino for the first two years and English in the third grade. This program came about as a response to concerns that English was being used more than were the native languages.

Elementary school, secondary school, and college students are required to wear uniforms. Girls wear pleated skirts and white blouses. Public school pupils wear dark blue skirts. Each private school has its own color. Boys wear white shirts and dark pants. Women teachers are given a government allowance to purchase four uniforms to wear Monday through Thursday. Men wear dark pants and a barong, a lightweight cotton shirt, or a polo shirt. Female teachers are addressed as ma'am (pronounced "mum"). Male teachers are addressed as sir. These titles are highly prized and are used by teachers in addressing one another.

Class sizes range from twenty to more than fifty in public schools. The goal is to keep class size below fifty. Pupils may have to share books and desks. Schools may lack electricity and have dirt floors or be flooded in the rainy season. The walls may not be painted. The Japanese, Chinese, and Australians have provided new classrooms, scientific supplies, and teacher training for the public schools. Private schools charge fees but have smaller class sizes. They have a reputation of providing a better education than do the public schools.

Computers are not readily available in elementary or secondary schools although DECS is stressing technology. President Estrada met with Bill Gates of Microsoft to procure computers and software for use in the schools.

Classrooms in both public and private schools have a picture of the Virgin Mary and the president at the front of the room. Grottoes to the Virgin Mary or a patron saint are found on school campuses. School days begin and end with prayer.

The school year runs from June to March to avoid the hot months of April and May. School starts at seven-thirty and ends at four-thirty with a break of one and a half hours for lunch. No meals are served at the school, although the parent-teacher association may run a stand that sells snacks for break time.

Dropping out is a serious concern. In 1999 and 2000, the high school dropout rate increased from 9 percent to 13 percent. The increase is attributed to the need to provide care for younger siblings or to get a job to enable the family to survive the high inflation and the currency devaluation that followed the Asian financial crisis. The DECS has a Non-Formal Education Division to meet the needs of out-of-school youth as well as the needs of uneducated adults. Programs include adult literacy, agriculture and farm training, occupational skills, and training in health and nutrition. Programs for at-risk youth are being added at the high school level. The Open High School System Act of 2000 is designed to provide distance learning via television for youths and uneducated adults.

Higher Education. A college degree is necessary to obtain positions that promise security and advancement. Approximately two million students attend colleges and universities. Each province has a state college system with several locations. The University of the Philippines, located in Manila, is a public university that is regarded as the best in the country. Private colleges are found in the major municipalities. The University of Santo Tomas in Manila is a private school that was established in 1611; it is the oldest site of higher education in the country. English is the primary language of instruction at the college level. Colleges and universities have large enrollments for advanced degrees since a four year degree may not be sufficient to work in the higher levels of government service.


People believe that it is one's duty to keep things operating smoothly. It is very important not to lose face. Being corrected or correcting another person in public is not considered acceptable behavior. People want to grant all requests, and so they often say yes when they mean no or maybe. Others understand when the request is not fulfilled because saying no might have caused the individual to lose face. When one is asked to join a family for a meal, the offer must be refused. If the invitation is extended a second time, it is permissible to accept. Time consciousness and time management are not important considerations. A planned meeting may take place later, much later, or never.

Filipinos walk hand in hand or arm in arm with relatives and friends of either sex as a sign of affection or friendship. Women are expected not to cross their legs or drink alcohol in public. Shorts are not common wear for women.

People pride themselves on hospitality. They readily go out of their way to help visitors or take them to their destination. It is of the highest importance to recognize the positions of others and use full titles and full names when introducing or referring to people. Non-verbal language, such as pointing to an object with one's lips, is a key element in communication. One greets friends by lifting the eyebrows. A longer lift can be used to ask a question.


Religious Beliefs. The Philippines is the only Christian nation in Asia. More than 85 percent of the people are Roman Catholic. The rosary is said in the home at 9 p.m., just before the family retires for the night. Children are introduced to the statue of "Mama Mary" at a very early age.

Protestant missionaries arrived in 1901 and followed the Catholic example of establishing hospitals, clinics, and private schools. The Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) is currently the most active missionary group.

Sunni Muslims constitute the largest non-Christian group. They live in Mindanao and the Sulu Islands but have migrated to other provinces. Muslim provinces celebrate Islamic religious holidays as legal holidays. Mosques are located in large cities throughout the country. In smaller communities, Muslims gather in small buildings for services. Animism, a belief that natural objects have souls, is the oldest religion in the country, practiced by indigenous peoples in the mountains of Luzon.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution. The disagreement between the Muslim population of the southern provinces and the federal government is not so much about religion as it is about political goals. Non-Catholics do not object to Catholic symbols or prayer in public venues.

Each barangay has a patron saint. The saint's day is celebrated by a fiesta that includes a religious ceremony. Large amounts of food are served at each house. Friends and relatives from other barangays are invited and go from house to house to enjoy the food. A talent show, beauty contest, and dance are part of the fun. Carnival rides and bingo games add to the festivities.

Religious Practitioners. Religious leaders are powerful figures. Business and political leaders court Cardinal Jaime Sin because of his influence with much of the population. Local priest and ministers are so highly respected that requests from them take on the power of mandates. A family considers having a son or daughter with a religious career as a high honor. Personal friendships with priests, ministers, and nuns are prized. Clerics take an active role in the secular world. An example is Brother Andrew Gonzales, the current secretary of DECS.

Faith healers cure illness by prayer or touch. "Psychic" healers operate without using scalpels or drawing blood. The several thousand healers are Christians. They believe that if they ask for a fee, their power will disappear. Patients are generous with gifts because healers are greatly respected.

Rituals and Holy Places. The major rituals are customary Christian or Muslim practices. Sites where miracles have taken place draw large crowds on Sundays and feast days. Easter is the most important Christian observance. On Easter weekend, the entire Christian area of the country is shut down from noon on Maundy Thursday until the morning of Black Saturday. International flights continue and hospitals are open, but national television broadcasts, church services, and shops and restaurants are closed and public transportation is sparse. People stay at home or go to church. Special events take place on Good Friday. There are religious processions such as a parade of the statues of saints throughout the community.

Death and the Afterlife. A twenty-four-hour vigil is held at the deceased person's home, and the body is escorted to the cemetery after the religious ceremony. The tradition is for mourners to walk behind the coffin. A mausoleum is built during the lifetime of the user. The size of the edifice indicates the position of the builder.

Mourning is worn for six weeks after the death of a family member. It may consists of a black pin worn on the blouse or shirt of the mourner or black clothing. Mourning is put aside after one year. A meal or party is provided for family members and close friends one year after the burial to commemorate recognize the memory of the deceased.

All Saint's Day (1 November) is a national holiday to honor the dead. Grave sites are cleared of debris and repaired. Families meet at the cemetery and stay throughout the twenty-four hours. Candles and flowers are placed on the graves. Food and memories are shared, and prayers are offered for the souls of the dead. When a family member visits a grave during the year, pebbles are placed on the grave to indicate that the deceased has been remembered.

Medicine and Health Care

Life expectancy is seventy years for females and sixty-four years for males. The Health Care Law of 1995 provides citizens with basic health care at no cost through subsidies. The working poor are given financial assistance when necessary. Children receive inoculations at no cost. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Philippines to be polio-free in 2000. It is the first nation in the world to be recognized for the elimination of polio.

Regional public hospitals provide service to everyone. People who live far away ride a bus for hours to reach the hospital. Funds for ambulances are raised by lotteries within each barangay or are provided by congressmen and are used only for the people who live in that area. Private hospitals are considered superior to public hospitals. Paying patients are not discharged from hospitals until the bill is paid in full. Patients have kasamas (companions) who remain with them during the hospital stay. Kasamas assist with nursing chores by giving baths, getting food trays, taking samples to the nurses' station and questioning the doctor. A bed but no food is provided for the kasama in the hospital room.

The infant mortality rate is 48.9 percent, and one-third of the children are malnourished. Over 13 percent of preschool and elementary school children are underweight. A government program provides nutritious food for impoverished pupils at the midmorning break. This is only offered to schools in the poorest areas. National test scores are examined to see if improvement has occurred. If the scores are better, the program is expanded.

The most prevalent health problem is "high blood" (hypertension). One in ten persons over the age of fifteen has high blood pressure. Tuberculosis is another health concern; The country has the fourth highest mortality rate in the world from that disease. Malaria and dengue fever are prevalent because there is no effective program for mosquito control. The number of deaths attributed to dengue increased in the late 1990s.

Herbal remedies are used alone or in conjunction with prescribed medications. A dog bite treated with antibiotics and rabies shots also may be treated with garlic applied to the puncture. The study of herbal remedies is part of the school health curriculum. Many elementary schools have herb gardens that are planted and cared for by the students.

Secular Celebrations

New Year's Day is more of a family holiday than Christmas. It is combined with Rizal Day on 30 December to provide time for people to go home to their province. Midnight on New Year's Eve brings an outburst of firecrackers and gunfire from randomly aimed firearms.

Other national secular holidays are Fall of Bataan Day, an observation of the Bataan Death March in 1942 on 9 April. Labor Day is celebrated on 1 May. Independence Day on 12 June celebrates freedom from Spanish rule. It is celebrated with fiestas, parades, and fireworks. Sino-Filipinos celebrate the Chinese New Year, which is not a national holiday, in January or February. In Manila, fireworks and parades take place throughout Chinatown. Muslims celebrate Islamic festivals.

Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. The government provides support for institutions such as the National Museum in Manila. Libraries exists in colleges and universities. The best collections are in Manila. Museums are located in provincial capitals and in Manila. The Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila is a center for the performing arts that opened in 1970. It is a multibuilding complex created under the direction of former first lady Imelda Marcos, who encouraged musicians to enter the international community and receive additional training. Nongovernmental organizations preserve the folk heritage of the indigenous groups.

Literature. Literature is based on the oral traditions of folklore, the influence of the church and Spanish and American literature. Filipino written literature became popular in the mid-nineteenth century as the middle class became educated. The greatest historical literature evolved from the independence movement. José Rizal electrified the country with his novels. During the early years of American control, literature was written in English. The English and American literature that was taught in the schools was a factor in the kind of writing that was produced. Writing in Filipino languages became more common in the late 1930s and during the Japanese occupation. Literature is now written in both Filipino and English. Textbooks contain national and world literature.

Graphic Arts. The Filipino Academy of Art, established in 1821, shows early art reflecting Spanish and religious themes. Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo were the first Filipino artists to win recognition in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. Contemporary artists use a variety of techniques and mediums to reflect social and political life. Crafts reflect the national culture. Each area of the country has specialties that range from the batik cotton prints of the Muslim areas to the wood carvings of the mountain provinces of Luzon. Baskets and mats are created from rattan. Textiles are woven by hand in cooperatives, storefronts, and homes. Banana and pineapple fiber cloth, cotton, and wool are woven into textiles. Furniture and decorative items are carved. Silver and shell crafts also are created

Sex and violence are major themes in films, which are often adaptations of American screen productions. American films are popular and readily available, and so high-quality Filipino films have been slow to develop.

Performance Arts. Drama before Spanish colonization was of a religious nature and was intended to persuade the deities to provide the necessities of life. The Spanish used drama to introduce the Catholic religion. Filipino themes in drama developed in the late nineteenth century as the independence movement evolved. Current themes are nationalistic and reflect daily life.

Dance is a mixture of Filipino and Spanish cultures. Professional dance troupes perform ballet, modern dance, and folk dance. Folk dances are performed at meetings and conferences and reflect a strong Spanish influence. Indigenous dances are used in historical pageants. An example is a bamboo dance relating a story about a bird moving among the reeds. People enjoy ballroom dancing for recreation. Dance instructors are available at parties to teach the waltz and the cha-cha.

Music performance begins in the home and at school. Amateur performances featuring song and dance occur at fiestas. Popular music tends to be American. Guitars are manufactured for export; folk instruments such as the nose flute also are constructed.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The physical sciences focus on the needs of the country. Aquaculture, the development of fish and shellfish farms in coastal areas, is a rapidly growing field. Centuries of fishing and dynamiting fish have changed the balance of nature. Hormonal research to stimulate the growth of fish and shellfish is a priority. Control of red tide, an infestation that makes shellfish unsafe to eat, is another area of concentration. Agricultural research and research into volcano and earthquake control are other areas of study. The development of geothermal and other energy sources is ongoing. Other environmental research areas of importance are waste resource management, water resource management, and forest management. The social sciences are focused on the needs of the country with the primary emphasis on resolving the problems of poverty and land reform.


Department of Education, Culture and Sports. Fact Sheet, 2000.

Europa World Factbook, 1999.

Goodno, James R. Philippines: The Land of Broken Promises, 1991.

Karnow, Stanley. In our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines, 1989.

Oleksy, Walter. The Philippines, 2000.

Peters, Jens. Philippines, 1997.

Roces, Alfredo. Culture Shock: Philippines, 1999.

Schirmer, Daniel B., ed. The Philippines: A History of Colonialism, 1987.

Sonneborn, Liz. The Philippines, 1988.

Sullivan, Margaret W. The Philippines: Pacific Crossroads, 1993.

Thompson, W. Scott. The Philippines in Crisis, 1992.

Timberman, David G. Philippines Today: The Challenge, 1996.

Tope, Lily Rose. Philippines, 1991.

U.S. Department of the Army. Philippines: A country study, 1991.

Web Sites

Country Watch Philippines, 2000,

National Statistics Office, Income and Employment Statistics. Annual Poverty Indication Survey, 1999,

U.S. Department of Health. Health Care Law of 1995, 1999,

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Philippines, 1998.

U.S. Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000,

U.S. Library of Congress. Philippines: A country study, 1999,

Sally E. Baringer

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"The Philippines." Countries and Their Cultures. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"The Philippines." Countries and Their Cultures. . (July 9, 2018).

"The Philippines." Countries and Their Cultures. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.




The people of the Philippines are called Filipinos. There are nine main ethnic groups: Tagalog, Ilocanos, Pampanguenos, Pangasinans, Bicolanos, Cebuanos, Boholanos, Hiligaynon (Ilongos), and Waray-Waray. The Hiligaynon and Ilocanos are covered in this chapter. Numerous smaller ethnic groups inhabit the interiors of the islands, including the Igorot of Luzon and the Bukidnon, Manobo, and Tiruray of Mindanao. There are dozens of hill tribes.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Philippines." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Philippines." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . (July 9, 2018).

"Philippines." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.