Know Your Way Around the Philippines

Ever have the thought of visiting the gorgeous land but still in doubt, as you know so little about it? Well, glad that we got you covered. Sit tight and read closely, as we will spill all the things you need to know about this country.

About the Philippines

Before hopping on your journey, let’s know about its geographical state first. That way, you will know what the weather is like, and thus easier to decide what to use and bring. We will also go through other information, such as the best time to visit this place, its popular destinations, and transportation methods. 

Historical Crash Course

The Philippines War

The Philippines, or earlier named Las Filipinas, were named after King Philip II of Spain by a Portuguese explorer sailing for Spain, Ferdinand Magellan, in 1521. By the 1830s, Spanish culture and thought had penetrated the Filipino culture which then led them to think about gaining liberation from Spain. After numerous attempts of independence, rebellions, to the execution of the well-known Filipino nationalist, Jose Rizal, the impetus to revolution became more apparent. On February 4, 1899, the Philippine War of Independence started and lasted for two years. After a myriad of bloodshed and terror, the Philippines was able to gain its independence on July 4, 1946, and has become an independent republic ever since. 

In line with the topic of history and naming, let’s talk about sobriquets. Having sobriquets for countries is not out of the ordinary. The USA is known as “The Melting Pot,” Japan is nicknamed “The Land of the Rising Sun,” and the Philippines is no exception. This nation is widely known as “The Pearl of the Orient Seas.” The original term for “The Pearl of the Orient Seas” sprang from Spanish— Perla del Mar de Oriente, derived from the idea of ​​Spanish Jesuit missionary, Fr. Juan J. Delgado, in 1751. This is possible due to the colonization of the Philippines in the 16 thcentury by the Spanish colony. Since then, it became even more popular as the national hero Dr. Jose Rizal used this term in his last poem “Mi ultimo adios” before he died in 1896. The renowned title was also proudly inserted in the 1960 revision of “Lupang Hinirang,” the Philippines national anthem. What is the reason behind the naming, you might ask? The answer is simple: the Philippines is the producer of pearls and the most important source of the Golden South Sea pearls.

the Pearl of Lao Tzu
Source: www.npr.org

Furthermore, the biggest pearl in the world was once obtained here. Weighing around 34 kilograms, 1 foot wide, and 2.2 feet long, this giant clam pearl easily beats the 6.4 kilogram Guinness Book of Record holder, the Pearl of Lao Tzu. The Filipinos should be really proud that their country is named after one of their greatest pride. 

Geography and Climate

The Philippines

The Philippines, also officially known as the Republic of Philippines, is an archipelagic island country located in Southeast Asia. In accordance with its geographical feature, there are about 7,640 islands within the region, which are broadly categorized under three main island groups: Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. Manila, as its capital city, is located on Luzon—the largest island in the country. Additionally, this country holds the title of being not only the 5th largest island country but also the 13th most populated country in the world, with a total of approximately 111,5 million people as of 2021. A quite astonishing accomplishment, don’t you think?

Being located near the equator means that this tropical and maritime nation only has two seasons: (1) the rainy season, which ranges from June to November, and (2) the dry season, which happens from December to May. Moreover, interestingly, the dry season itself can be subdivided into two categories: (1) the cool dry season, which lasts December until February, and (2) the hot dry season, March to May. 

Not to mention, with the presence of the sun almost all year round, the average temperature is around 26.6°C. On cooler days, the temperature will range at about 25.5°C, whereas the hottest could reach 28.3°C. 

Moreover, as it is geographically archipelagic, do expect to see a lot of beaches, bays, and even diving activities. Not only that, but this nation is also packed with numerous parks, mountain, and hill sceneries. The views will not disappoint you, nature lovers! Thus, to appropriately savor the tourist attractions here, make sure to toss away all your sweaters and furry jackets if you do not want to be drenched in sweat. Don’t forget your sunscreens as well! 

Best Time to Visit the Philippines

We recommended coming by during the December to March period. If you wish to be able to explore more during your visit, this is the golden time. The temperature is warm—not scorching hot, and yet far off from the wet weather. That way, you can have the freedom to go far and wide without the hassle of cloudy skies and rain!

As the cherry on top, you do want to witness the Filipino’s unique way of paying homage to their history throughout the course of your time here. After all, exploring a foreign country won’t be completed if you haven’t explored the cultures within. Filipinos love to hold grand events such as festivals to display their fun and intriguing culture. 

The following are a couple of events that have been regularly held and can be seen within the “golden time” stated above:

1. Sinulog Festival

Sinulog-Festival

A religious and traditional celebration in Cebu City that is held every third Sunday of January to honor the Santo Niño (Child Jesus). The religiosity of the activity is endearing in the eyes of the public, especially the tourists. There will be lots of exciting things to watch: costumes, dances, contests, even firework displays. Sounds fun, am I right?

2. Panagbenga Festival

Panagbenga-Festival

Starting at the beginning of February, this month-long festival in Baguio is one of the most famous festivals in the homeland of the Filipinos. This flower-filled festival reflects the history, traditions, and values of Baguio and the Cordilleras. Spot enormously beautiful flower-covered floats together with countless dancers using flower-inspired costumes throughout the event.

Popular Destinations

Still unknowledgeable with the land? Here are several popular regions that you might want to start your discovery with.

1. Manila City

Fort-Santiago

The nation’s capital city is crowded with gorgeously astonishing architectural sites and landmarks, for instance, Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, Manila Cathedral, and Casa Manila. To go to this location, you can set your destination at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. 

2. Cebu City

 Basilica del Santo Niño

The “Queen City of the South” is what this territory is called. This major center of culture and tourism is occupied with popular spots such as Basilica del Santo Niño, the Taoist Temple, Fort San Pedro, and Casa Gorordo Museum. Land on Mactan-Cebu International Airport if you wish to have a tour here. 

3. Baguio

Burnham-Park

As it is titled “The City of Pines,” you can find a diversity of parks and nature scattered throughout the area. Few of which are more popular amongst the others are Burnham Park, Mines View Observation Deck, Heritage Hill and Nature Park Garden, as well as Baguio Botanical Garden. Loakan Airport will be the choice of airport to use if this place interests you.

Transportation Method

Traveling to a whole new and unfamiliar place can be frightening and confusing at some point, especially if you have little knowledge of the commute options. But fear not, here is a brief guide that will help to navigate through this Southeast Asia country. 

1. Bus

bus

First and foremost is to use the bus. This highly popular public transportation can be classified into three different services: provincial buses, city buses, and P2P (Point-to-Point) buses. Particularly for the provincial and city buses, you won’t need to pay upon riding the bus as there will be a conductor who collects the fee once the passengers are seated. In addition, a pro tip is to prepare small bills to pay your trips on provincial and city types of buses and equip yourself with a beep card for P2P bus payment.

2. Train

train

Apart from that, the country also provides rail transportation, namely the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1, LRT Line 2, and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3. However, note that during weekday rush hours (7 AM to 9 AM; 5 PM to 9 PM), this line of transportation will be jam-packed. Therefore, avoid using the trains at those times and use other choices instead. This public transportation also uses the beep card for payments, or you may opt for the single journey cards as well. 

3. Taxi

taxi

Taxi is another possible option to be used. It is common in the streets and can be found easily. Even so, please be on the lookout for scammers. Remind the driver to turn the meter on and have a small or exact amount in hands to avoid being scammed.

4. Jeepney, Tricycle, and Motorcycle Taxi

jeepney

Want to experience something more local and unique to the culture of the Philippines? Try these three vehicles: jeepney, tricycle, and motorcycle taxi, or known as Habal-habal. Customize it to your needs; these alternatives will surely be a great way to explore the area from the locals’ point of view. Furthermore, one phrase that you will find useful during your journey by these means of transportations is Para po—in literal translation, it means “stop please.” Use it as you travel, or you might miss your stop.

Mouthwatering Cuisine in the Philippines

Filipino cuisine has been greatly known to have a wide range of diversity in terms of its flavor. Sweet, sour, salty, you name it. If one day you visit this land of goodness, remember to try these scrumptious foods. Guaranteed they will make your heart melt. 

Below are some of the must-haves:

1. Adobo

adobo

The nation’s staple cuisine. It is a chicken or pork stew marinated and cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, peppercorns, and bay leaves and usually served hot with some fluffy rice. If you wish to have the taste of the best adobo, come by to these restaurants and try it for yourselves: Café Adriatico (location: Manila, Quezon City, Pasay), Little Flower (location: Taguig, Makati, Mandaluyong), Via Mare (location: Makati, Muntinlupa, Quezon City, Mandaluyong, Taguig, Las Piñas, Pasig), and many more.

2. Sinigang

sinigang

The classic sour broth made with tamarind as its souring agent along with vegetables and the meat of your choice. Here are some of the best eateries to relish this dish: Romulo Café (location: Quezon City, Alabang, Makati), Corazon (location: Mandaluyong), Mamou (location: Taguig), and others. 

3. Lechon

lechon

The national dish that laymen might recognize as “suckling pig.” It is an entire young pig that had been fed only with the mother’s milk and roasted over charcoal for hours. Hukad Golden Cowrie (location: Pasay City), Zubuchon (location: Mandaluyong City), and Yobob Lechon (location: Quezon City) are some of the places where you can find the best lechon in the country. 

4. Halo-halo

halo-halo

This ultimate dessert of the nation literally means “mixed together” in Tagalog. Just imagine how good ice shavings mixed with evaporated milk and various small chunks of yummy goodies are. Heaven! This delicacy is surely suitable for the hot Philippines weather. Hit these restaurants for the amazing Halo-halo: Icebergs (location: Pasay), Aristocrat Restaurant (location: Manila), Milky Way of Malate (location: Taguig), and more. 

Shopping Spree in the Philippines

Travels and holidays are all about making memories. After being away from your home to explore the outside world for quite some time, you surely want to bring some things back as a keepsake of your incredible journey. Or perhaps, you might also want to take home a gift for your loved ones. Pasalubong, the term the Filipinos would refer to as—the tradition of bringing home gifts to loved ones from a place one has visited. If so, souvenirs are exactly what you need. 

And as every culture has its own uniqueness, you might want to search for gifts and tokens that are particularly exclusive from the country – the ones you will only find in the Philippines. 

The list can go on and on, but these are some of the recaps:

1. Sweets and snacks

Polvoron

Two types of items that are easy to bring, can effortlessly satisfy everyone, and can be a great Pasalubong—sweets and snacks! Try out dried mangoes, Polvoron, Otap, Tablea chocolate, Rosquillos, Piaya, Pastillas de Leche, Hopia, and even local coffee and jam. You can find these munchies nearly everywhere, ranging from street corners to large markets.

2. Traditional fabric

Pina dress 1
Source: wsimag.com

Piña is one of the loveliest textile materials produced in the Philippines. It can be said as one-of-a-kind as it is made from pineapple plants, the Spanish Red Pineapple to be exact, as the fibers are naturally fine and translucent. If you wish to have it, you can purchase one at Kumala Filipino, one of the souvenir shops in Metro Manila. 

3. Handicrafts

salakot

What can be more special than the ones handmade by the local craftsmen? Cute yet intricate accessories and crafts such as the toy jeepney display, Banig products, and the traditional Philippines Salakot can serve as a great keepsake. Having these objects in your house will definitely bring back fond memories of your tour.  

You are all set and done! We have gone through all the things you need to know before going, as well as the things you must try before leaving the Philippines. We hope that this article not only can help deepen your knowledge but also be a helpful guide for your upcoming trip. 

Now, all you have to do is book your flight and accommodation on Airpaz.com. Have a nice journey!

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