The Philippines, is an archipelagic country located in Southeast Asia with Manila as its capital city. The Philippine archipelago comprises 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean. Modern Filipino culture, though primarily Asian, has many more influences from the Western world than other nearby Asian cultures who have been able to retain more of their core Asian identity. Most of these influences are a product of previous colonization and derived mainly from the cultures of Spain and the United States, with a secondary influence from Latin American cultures who were under Spain during the same period the Philippines was. The influence from the United States being so strong that the Philippines continues to integrate newer American cultural influences into it's culture even in this post-colonial period.
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Philippine tourism started to flourish in the 1970’s up to 1980's, but in the mid 1980’s, the growth of the Philippine tourism started to slow down. One of the major evidence of the slow growth is the average length of tourist stay of 8.9 days in 1988 down from 12.6 days. In 1987, this growth was slower compared to other countries in Southeast Asia. Signs of a faster growth showed up in the early 1990’s. About 1.2 million tourists visited the Philippines in 1992, which was a record high in the number of tourist visits since 1989. The tourism growth of the year of 1992 gave the Department of Tourism a reason to forecast a positive outlook for the future years. In 2000, the Philippines' tourist arrivals totalled 2.2 million. In 2003 it totalled 2,838,000 it grows almost 29%, And it is expected to grow as much as 3.4 million in 2007. In the first quarter of 2007, the tourist arrival in the Philippines grew as much as 20% in same period last year.
Famous tourist spots in the Philippines
- Intramuros is a walled city in Manila, built by the Spanish in the 1500’s. Originally, Manila‘s boundaries were the city walls. But due to the growing size of the city, newer buildings were built outside these walls. As of today, Intramuros contains museums, churches and an old fort.
- Manila's vibrant party scene rivals those of Shanghai and the nightlife is amongst the underrated in the world with the Filipinos penchant for parties and fiestas. Somewhere in the archipelago, there is at least one fiesta being celebrated 365 days a year (By Third Week of January - head off to Kalibo for the Asia's version of the Mardi Gras). Manila, Cebu and Boracay are the ground zero for parties - pool parties, yacht parties, rave and fashion events.
- Makati City is the modern face of Manila. It is the complete opposite of Intramuros. Major malls, business centers, hotels are situated in Makati City. Makati has a lot of high rise buildings, the Makati skyline is the best in the country.
- Aklan is one of the most visited provinces in the Philippines not only because of its beaches but also of its popular yearly colorful event which is the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo.
- Chocolate Hills are limestone hills that turn brown during the summer. Chocolate Hills are found in the island province of Bohol, which is also the home of one of the smallest primates in the world - the Philippine Tarsier.
- The Hanging Coffins of Sagada and the Banaue Rice Terraces are worth a visit in the Northern Philippines. The rice terraces were carved out of mountains thousands of years ago and by far the most extensive of its kind in the world (longer and bigger than those in Indonesia) with sophisticated irrigation and engineering that was unthinkable during the time it was built.
- Taal Volcano, one of the smallest active volcanoes in the world, sits on a lake and is just an hour away from Manila. The fresh cool air off the Tagaytay Ridge provides a spectacular view of the lake and the volcano. Visitors should confirm whether hiking to the crater is safe or not before attempting to do so.
- North of Manila, take the rough road and go to Mt. Pinatubo, the volcano which caused a massive eruption in 1991. Now you can marvel at the volcano up close and swim inside its crater. The last eruption was one of the biggest during the last century and lowered the global temperature by at least a degree.
- The Hundred Islands, also located in the Northern Philippines, is a group of more that 400 islets with coral reefs surrounding the islets. These islands are famous for their beaches and the coral reefs, which can be explored by snorkeling.
- About two thousand years ago, mountains in Northern Luzon were carved by indigenous people to form what is now the Banaue Rice Terraces. The rice terraces cover 4,000 square miles (10,000 km2) of mountainside. The Banaue Rice Terraces is a UNESCO world heritage and is said to be the 8th wonder of the world.
- The province of Palawan is an island in the South China Sea. Palawan has natural gas fields on the northeastern part of the island but the beautiful beaches around the island are still maintained.
- Boracay Island is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. The island boasts a 4-kilometer stretch of white sand beach, considered to be the best beach in Asia and one of the top ten beaches in the world.
- Surfing in the Philippines is comparable to the best in the world - with the world-famous cloud 9s off the island of Siargao facing the Philippine Trench in the Western Pacific as well as the surfing destinations of La Union and Zambales (facing South China Sea).
- The Philippines also boasts as one of the top three best diving destinations in the world the other two being Palau and the Maldives. The archipelago is also considered as one of the top biodiversity hotspots in the world, with the most number of species concentrated in one area. The best dive sites in the Philippines are located in Anilao, Boracay, Malapascua, Apo Island, Balicasag, Pamilacan, Tubbataha, Palawan, and Puerto Galera. Subic Bay, home of a former American naval base, is also known for World War II wreck dives.
1) Culture and customs of the Philippines By Paul A. Rodell