Philippines – General Information

300,000 square kilometers.
Manila (with about 12,000,000 inhabitants).
The Philippines lie off the southeast Asian coast between Taiwan and Borneo in the Pacific. They consist of 7107 islands and islets. Of these, 2773 have a name Only about 900 are inhabited and about 500 islands are larger than 1 sq km. The two largest islands, Luzón in the north and Mindanao in the south, account for 65% of the landmass. 60% of the population live here. Between Luzón and Mindanao lies the archipelago of Visayas.
Presidential republic since 1987. Constitution was introduced in 1987. Parliament consisting of two chambers: House of Representatives = 260 members and Senate = 24 members. Head of State: Maria Gloria Macaray Macapagal-Arroyo, since 2001. Independent since 1946, until 1898 Spanish colony.
The official language is Filipino. English is also widely spoken, as well as Spanish and Chinese. There are over 100 cultural and ethnic groups, each with its own language. In total there are 990 registered languages.
Before a trip you should take precautionary measures in time, so that the holiday becomes the holiday that one imagines. A properly equipped first-aid kit (at least drugs for diarrhea, fever, pain and bandages, patches, wound disinfection) and first aid knowledge are definitely recommended. Vaccinations against appropriate illnesses in the vacation country, for example the vaccinations against typhus, hepatitis A or hepatitis B are to be clarified with a specialist. Not to be forgotten are the vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria and polio.
Malaria occurrence
year-round, different risk in each country
average risk
in rural areas below 600 m of the following regions / islands: East of Luzon, parts of Mindanao, Palawan, Samar, Sulu archipelago, Mindoro Occidental
low risk
in the other parts of the country or islands and at altitudes over 600 m
are the urban areas as well as the islands Bohol, Catanduanes and Cebu.
84% Catholics. Potestants, Buddhists, Muslims, followers of the Independent Philippine Church and followers of natural religions.
local time
220 V (110 V in Baguio), 60 Hz. 110 V connections are available at most hotels. Flat and round two- and three-pole plugs are used.
The use of digital mobile phones is possible. International country code for the Philippines: 0063 Area code from the Phil. To Germany 0049, to Austria 0043, to Switzerland 0041.
1 Philippine Peso (P) = 100 Centavos
When visiting churches or mosques, shorts and too revealing clothing are offensive.
The German Embassy is located: 6th floor Solid Bank Building, 777 Paseo de Roxas, Makati, Metro Manila.
Nationals of countries with which the Philippines has diplomatic relations do not need a visa for their first 21 days. For a longer stay a tourist visa is needed.
Trade in endangered species
Set priorities for life. Avoid buying any kind of animal such as the giant clams. They are subject to a strict export ban under Philippine law and you also avoid inconvenience when entering your home country.
The crime rate is quite high in the big cities. Therefore never go alone through lonely streets at night, leaving jewelry and expensive watches in the safe. Always take only as much money as you want to spend on the corresponding occasion.
Agriculture employs a third of the working population and generates about a quarter of the gross domestic product. It denies about 25% of the export business. Around 90% of the land area is used for agriculture and forestry. Rice is the most important crop before maize and the coconut palm.

The Philippines was less affected by the Asian crisis than other countries in the region. Consistent deregulation and liberalization of the economy, as well as the privatization campaign initiated by the then Ramos government by state monopolies, had strengthened economic growth until the outbreak of the regional crisis. Nevertheless, there has been no sustained revival of growth forces so far.

A stable and growing economy is the main objective of Philippine economic policy. In 2001, gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 3.8% (2000: 3.9%). Above all, the service sector and investments in the privileged export and special economic zones have contributed to this. Agriculture – the main pillar of GDP at 20% in about 40% of the working population – recovered in the course of 2001. Production increased by 9%. This led u.a. The decline in imports of staple foods (rice) contributed to the stabilization of inflation despite the peso to USD exchange rate losses. This last amounted to 6.7% (6.9% in 2000).

Rising unemployment (about 12%) is still problematic with about 25% underemployment and the unequal distribution of income growth. External debt in the Philippines currently stands at $ 51 billion, with a slight upward trend.

Export products are dominated by the electronic industry (semiconductors) and the textile sector. Both branches generated 70% of export earnings. The main target markets for Philippine exports were the US (34%), Europe (15%), Japan (17%) and the ASEAN countries (19%). Due to the one-sidedness of the export share from the economic zones there is a strong dependence on world market prices.

Philippines – Climate

The Philippines is subject to two seasons: rainy season from June to October, dry season from November to May, which is also the best time to travel.

They offer the whole range of tropical or subtropical climate features.

It is generally warm, sometimes very hot with high humidity. In Manila, mean temperatures vary from 25 ° C during the cooler dry season (November to February) to over 35 ° C in the second half of the dry season (March to May).

On the coasts, the maritime climate ensures refreshment by switching from land and sea breezes.

In the mountains it can cool down to below 10 ° C at night.

In general, there are significant regional deviations. This mainly affects the precipitation, which sometimes falls outside of the rainy season.

Between July and November, typhoons cross the east and north of the country. Their foothills occasionally reach the Visayas and very rarely Palawan.

Philippines – Fauna

There are hundreds of different species of birds and mammals in the Philippines, as well as 200 different republics.

The Philippine species found exclusively on Palawan include the antitussive armadillo Pangolin, the miniature deer Pilandok – the smallest deer species in the world – and the Palawan bear cat, a species of marten.

Also abundant are freshwater and saltwater crocodiles, monitor lizards, snakes and other reptiles, as well as parrots, hornbills and colorful butterflies.

Among the less rare species unfortunately include the Nik Niks, pin-head-sized bloodsuckers that populate some beaches to myriads, usually between December and February occurring jellyfish whose strong venom stinging cells can cause painful burns of the skin.

In addition, there is the Anopheles mosquito, a malaria-transmitting mosquito species.

Philippines – Flora

Die Pflanzenwelt der Philippinen gilt mit rund 10 000 Arten von Bäumen, Sträuchern, Blumen und Farnen als eine der vielfältigsten der Welt.

Trotz der großflächigen Rodungen wird der Anteil der Wälder an der Gesamtfläche noch immer auf 30 bis 50% geschätzt.

Ausgedehnte Mangroven bestimmen weite Gebiete an den Küsten der Inseln.

Die Regenwälder auf den Philippinen, die besonders im Osten weit verbreitet waren, sind bis auf geringe Reste abgeholzt.

Ein vergleichsweise artenarmer Sekundärwald oder Grasland ist an ihre Stelle getreten.

In den zentralen und westlichen Inselregionen gibt es noch große Monsunwälder, die in höheren Lagen in Eichenmischwälder bzw. Nebelwälder übergehen.

Philippines – History

250000 years
ancient finds prove the existence of hominids in the Philippines
Since about 30,000
Homosapiens lives on Palawan for years.
13000 – 10000 BC Chr.
Aeta, short-lived, dark-skinned collectors and hunters from mainland Asia.
From about 4000 BC Chr.
Seafaring protomales from Inner Asia displace the Aeta, from the island coasts into the hinterland.
From about 300 BC Chr.
Enter Deutero- or Jungmalaien and introduce a higher culture.
7th-9th century AD
The southern Philippines come under the influence of the powerful Buddhist empire Sri Vijaya founded on Sumatra.
10th-11th c.
Chinese sailors set up trading bases in the Philippines
14th century
The Javanese kingdom of Majapahit extends its power to the Philippines.
The first Arab scholar, Makdum, reaches the Sulu Islands. In the south, Islam is spreading.
lands Ferdinand Magellan on Samar and Cebu.
The islands are named after King Philip II of Las Isla Felipinas.
Miguel Lopez de Legazpi takes possession of the Visayas. This begins the 333-year colonial rule of the Spaniards.
During the Seven Years War, the British managed to occupy Manila for two years.
Mexico, from where the Philippines was administered, becomes independent; the colony is now directly subordinated to Madrid.
the doctor and writer Dr. Josè Rizal the League Filipina, a reform movement that is more directed against the superiority of the Church than against the Spanish rule. He is banished to Mindanao.
the Katipunan Uprising breaks out. Rizal, although not involved, is arrested and executed in Manila. The uprising fails.
June 12, 1898
After Admiral Dewey took Manila in the Spanish-American War, Aquinaldo returns and proclaims the independence of the Philippines.
After the American’s savage war, William Taft becomes the first civil governor. As a result, the Americans are reforming the education system and gradually giving the Filipinos political self-government at the regional level.
recognizes President Roosevelt the new Philippine Constitution, Manuel L. Quezon becomes the first President of the Philippine Commonwealth.
General MacArther returns and conquers the islands occupied by the Japanese since 1941.
On July 4, 1946
is proclaimed the Independent Republic of the Philippines.
becomes Ferdinand E. Marcos sixth president of the Philippines. As a clever tactician, he achieved his re-election in 1969, which according to the constitution should also be his last.
Marcos imposed martial law. His “New Society” also makes him Prime Minister.
martial law is repealed, Marcos can again be elected president.
Opposition leader Benigno Aquino returns from exile and is shot dead on leaving the plane.
Aquino’s widow Corazon is contesting Marcos’ presidential elections in February. When Marcos announces his election victory, the people are closed behind Corazon. The peaceful people’s power movement finally expels the dictator into exile in Hawaii, where he dies in 1989.
Cory Aquino, as president of the Philippines, passes a new constitution.
Fidel Ramos, Minister of Defense under Aquino, is elected eighth president.
Ramos announces his catalog of measures “Philippines 2000”, which should bring the country political and social stability.
After 26 years of civil war between the Muslim rebels and the government, Ramos and rebel leader Misuari signs a peace agreement in September.
Joseph Estrada emerges from the presidential elections.
In February, the volcano “Mayon” breaks out after 7 years of rest again.
January 20, 2001
Swearing in of Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Philippines following the impeachment of President Estrada.
June 30, 2004
After a 7-week count Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is again sworn in as president. In her first speech, she calls for unity and reconciliation.

Philippines – Food & Drink

By default, there is only one side dish in the Philippines: Rice – in the morning, at noon and in the evening. Filipino food is often served only lukewarm in the simple restaurants. Unlike many other Asian countries, Filipino cuisine is generally not seasoned spicy.

An exception are the dishes of the region Bicol, or in the style of Bicol. All prices below are per portion without side dishes. As of May 2004, a portion of rice costs 5 pesos (8 cents) in the Eatery and 20 pesos (32 cents) in the restaurant.
Fish, mussels, snails, crabs
There is almost everywhere a wide range of fresh and saltwater fish, mussels and snails, shrimp and crabs. Lobsters and lobsters you get, except directly on the coast, only rarely. Unfortunately, outside of Manila, only a small part of this offer can be found in the restaurants.

Inexpensive are the carp-like Tilapia, as well as the Bangus, both common and bred freshwater fish. Frequently also offered are catfish (Hito), a kind of catfish, which survive for a long time outside of the water, and can even move over meadows and finally the Dalag (mudfish). Popular and more expensive sea fish such as lapu-lapu, fresh tuna, and blue marlin, the swordfish you get almost only in the better restaurants or on the coast. The same goes for shrimp, snails, clams and crabs.

Fish are offered grilled, fried and cooked, crabs and shrimps are usually still served in the shell. Sinigang na isda is sour-cooked fish with tamarind or tomatoes in broth and vegetables. Paksiv (pronounced “Packsiu”) cooked fish with onions, ginger and vinegar.
Sweet and sour fish
(Fish in sweet and sour sauce) is not only available in Chinese restaurants.
Rellino Bangus
is a delicately stuffed bangus.

Prices: in the Eatery from 50 peso (80 cents) per serving, in the restaurant from 100 peso. Sea fish is slightly more expensive than freshwater fish.
Pork, beef, water buffalo
Apart from the coast, pork dishes have unfortunately replaced the fish as a standard meal. Whoever can afford, eats pig: the fatter, the better. Pork is grilled or fried everywhere. A specialty of the country is Lechon, the Filipino suckling pig.

By the way, Filipinos eat guts – liver is more expensive here than filet! Beef and water buffalo do not play a big role; they are often tough, because usually only slightly older animals are slaughtered and processed without long hanging. Therefore, beef and buffalo are found mainly in the form of braised thin strips as “finger food” – small extra meal, e.g. at the ample coal mines.

Adobo: stewed pork with lots of garlic and soy sauce.

Igado: pork strips (filet, liver, kidneys, heart) with peas in tomato soy sauce.

Minudo: minced meat cooked in broth with potatoes as vegetables. Is, like everything else, eaten with rice as a side dish!

Estafado: Pork pieces with bones with tomato soy sauce and roasted potatoes as vegetables.

Mechado: pork, potato and carrot cubes and peas in ketchup sauce.

Milaga: cooked meat with mixed vegetables, in sour broth.

Meatballs: meatballs

Papaitan: meat goulash from cattle and water buffalo inns. Tastes bitter, because the bile is partially processed.
Actually only occurs as a chicken. There are plenty of ducks, but unfortunately only as egg suppliers, especially the notorious Balut: well-cooked, boiled duck eggs with embryo, which are sold everywhere on the streets. The dishes listed above: Adobo, Igado, Minudo, Estafado and Mechado are all in a version with chicken instead of pork. The name is simply preceded by “chicken”, so Chicken Adobo, Chicken Estafado, etc.

Chicken curry: one of our favorites, chicken in a delicious coconut curry sauce

Pinola: chicken stew with mixed vegetables and ginger
vegetable dishes
Pinakbet: mixed vegetables (eggplant, ampalaya, okra, paprika, pumpkin) with bagoong. Bagoong is fermented, salted fish or small shrimp as a spice. The smell is much worse than the taste, but Europeans rarely love the austere taste.

Amapalaya with egg: Bitter melon mixed in pieces with eggs and fried. Often with bacon strips. The taste of bitter melon takes some getting used to, but I like that, for example.

Kaari: White beans and bacon strips in tomato sauce. Delicious.

Talong: Eggplant, boiled with eggs or grilled.
noodle dishes
There are often in special, small Pansiterias. Cheap, large portions, filling, so eaten by students. Pasta with sauce and some vegetables, as a luxury version also with eggs or a little meat or liver in soy sauce.Pansit Canton – Philippine wheat noodles.

Pansit Bihon – Filipino rice noodles.
Lumpia Shanghai: Small spring rolls with minced meat filling

Lumpia Sariwa: Small spring rolls with vegetable fillingAso is fried dog, Abalin are fried and salted beetles of a certain kind and their larvae. Also grasshoppers and frogs are eaten. With the exception of Aso practically not available in restaurants.
Halo-Halo: A unique blend of canned fruit, crushed ice, sugar and sweet condensed milk. In summer at every street corner for 10 peso, in the restaurant 40 peso. Definitely refreshing.

Leche flan: egg pudding with caramel sauce
Frequently offered in buses and street vendors cost a few cents. Bibingka: Small rubbery cakes of coconut milk and sticky rice. Nothing for dentists.

Fishballs: fish balls made of fish and flour. Probably made from leftovers, so not very tasty.

Turon: banana pieces fried in dough. Tasty, sweet and cheap.

Empanadas: miscellaneous filled dumplingsBallout: the infamous hatched cooked duck eggs with embryo.
Not all restaurants offer alcohol because a separate license is required. Beer is mostly, wine only in more upscale restaurants. Spirits are often not offered even in the restaurants of hotels. Local beer is of very good quality and costs 40 (65 cents) peso per 0.3 liters in the restaurant and about 15 pesos in the store. A glass of coke costs in the restaurant 20 to 35 pesos.

Juices are often not available, and if so, expensive: at least 30 pesos. Local gin is dirt cheap and good – 0.7 liters of Ginebra San Miguel are available at the store for just 50 pesos (80 cents).

Cognac and rum from local production are only marginally more expensive. Good Spanish cognac (Fundador) is much cheaper than in Germany. For wine is with its own luxury tax occupied, which means that the bottle of wine is often more expensive here than in Germany.

Philippines – Accommodations

As a rule, even in touristically less developed regions of the Philippines, there are hardly any problems in getting a suitable overnight accommodation. In the main season from December to April, however, the cheaper hotels and guesthouses are heavily frequented by local tourists, so early reservations are advised. An early booking should be made especially during Christmas and Easter.

There are two or three tariff categories in the resorts, which can differ by up to 150-200%. Most expensive are the rooms for Christmas and Easter. High discounts are available in the low season from June to October. It is also common in all hotels (even in the top hotels) to negotiate the room rates, especially if you want to book a longer stay. For upper category accommodations, booking via a travel agency from Europe or on-site is recommended as discounts are severe.
As a rule, the hotels of the upper categories have western standard. All multi-star hotels have air-conditioned rooms with bath, WC, telephone and television. The top hotels often include various restaurants, bars, shops and exchange offices. Often they are also equipped with swimming pools, tennis courts and fitness center.

In the beach resorts there are hotels in the style typical of the country, which usually leave nothing to be desired. The grounds are often stylish and built with lush parks. The sports offer is extensive and includes diving, snorkeling, tennis, golf, horse riding, parasailing, water skiing and windsurfing. All upgraded hotels will be charged a 10% surcharge on VAT and service.
Pensions – Hostels
Even the simpler hotels and guesthouses have good facilities. Some small lodges hardly differ in quality from hotels of the star category, they usually offer a more pleasant atmosphere, which is often missing in the big tourist hotels. Usually run as a family business, guest houses often have clean, air-conditioned rooms, almost always with private baths and toilets.

Anyone who can do without an air conditioning system and uses a fan will find a wide range of low budget accommodation everywhere. Shower and toilet are in such hostels consistently communal facilities. As there is usually no bed linen provided, you should bring a linen sleeping bag.

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