Journaling The Journey

Philippines – 19 Interesting Things and a Shocking One

Philippines 19 interesting things and 1 that shocked me

The Philippines is our 126th country out of the 197 that we want to visit on this planet. So many of our close friends are originally from the Philippines.

So, we have been dreaming about coming here! And for good reason. There is so much to explore on these islands. Especially the beaches with their crystal clear water.

During our travels here, we have gathered these 19 interesting and sometimes shocking things about this lovely country.

1. Philippines Has How Many Islands?!

Philippines Boracay
Boracay Station 3

There are 7,640 Islands in the Philippines!  Ok, so maybe this one you already knew. But did you know that only about 2,000 of these islands are inhabited? And the 5,640 remaining islands are not only uninhabited, but also unnamed on most international maps.

I bet they have stunning blue crystal clear water!

2. 175 Languanges

Wow, what?! There are 175 languages in the Philippines and 171 of them are actually being used. However approximately half of the overall population speaks English. The Philippines is actually considered the 5th largest English speaking nation in the world.

3. Volcanoes in the Philippines

There are approximately 300 volcanoes in the Philippines.  And 24 are currently active. Crazy, eh?  The top ones to visit are Mayon, Pinatubo, Taal, Apo.  There are some exciting ecotours to take you close enough to them to experience the rush.

4. Family, Food, Faith

Some of our closest friends around the world have ended up being from the Philippines.  We are very grateful for these people!  Through the years, our observation of the Filipino people’s focus are the 3 Fs.  Family, food and faith.

For each individual the order may change but the 3 are heavily intertwined. Since we are mentioning faith – the Philippines are the only Asian nation that is predominantly Christian.  86% of the  population is Roman Catholic.

5. Best Time to Go

Most of the Best Time to Go apps say December to February is the best time to be in the Philippines.  However, due to climate change these would not be the best time!  Many of the locals said that if one wants crystal blue water, no rain and blue skies, then the ideal time to come is in September and March through April.  However, if you wish to be here without the crowds (and in the best weather) then, early March and September are best.  We wish we knew, as it rained on us every single day in December.

6.Manila Airport Beware when Transitioning

Upon arriving in Manila (International Airport) we were connecting to Cebu.  There are actually 4 terminals in Manila and they are not close to one another.  The airport shuttle comes around infrequently and one must line up for a ticket to take it.  Due to the line up we missed the shuttle and the next one wasn’t coming for another few hours.   Next we tried to call a Grab.  30 minutes later the guy cancelled on us.  Obviously at this point we were getting close to our departure time and were a bit panicky.  So, we decided to get a cab.  Not so fast, one must first get in line for a piece of paper before getting in a cab.  Why?  We still don’t know.  The cabs are metered and there were at least 10 standing there waiting for each group to be “processed”.   For the 2 km between terminal 1 and 4 the fare was $11 USD.  This is partially due to the fact that the cabbie only gave us partial change and said, “Merry Christmas to me”.

7. Manila Traffic

The traffic in Manila (especially during the holidays) is atrocious.  As a matter of fact, Manila is the world’s 8th city with longest hours spent in traffic.  Not knowing, we once spent 3.5 hours in a Grab to only go 9 km.  I could have walked faster!

Once I knew that we were in the city and there were only 3 km left, I got out of the car and started walking.  I made it there before Rob and the luggage did.  The new metro system is quite good, however very overcrowded.

8. Sending Money Back

The population of the Philippines is a bit more than 113 million, yet over 2 million live abroad.  They work in other countries and send money (remittances) back to their family.  These remittances are almost 10% of the countries’ overall annual GDP (gross domestic product).

9. Biggest Export

The Philippines has a phenomenal nursing program and their biggest “export” is the nursing talent.  A quarter of all the world’s overseas nurses come from the Philippines, making it the largest supplier of nurses in the world. Not only that but in the U.S. almost one third of all foreign nurses are Filipino.

10. Food is Meaty

I know we mentioned that food is important for Filipino people.  And they love their food!  However as a vegan, I found it really difficult to survive here.  The fruit was great!  Yet, animal products are in everything!  Even vegetable dishes are cooked with butter and or some form of meat.

11. Dogs

Although the killing of dogs as livestock has been banned in the Philippines since 1998, the act still continues here and is actually thriving.

Unfortunately the dogs are placed in bags, where they slowly run out of oxygen.  It is a horrid way to die for the 290,000 or so dogs that go through this torture annually.  Soi Dog Foundation has done more here than any other organization to educate people and save the lives of dogs.

If you want to help sign a petition or contribute, the information is here.

As an aside, most Filipinos love dogs and would never eat their meat.  However, many are unaware of this practice – therefore education is key!

12. Home to the Longest Underground River

Located about 80 km north of Puerto Princesa in Palawan lies an underground river known as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.  You can even go on a tour of this river to see how it channels it’s way through caverns and flows directly underneath the St. Paul Mountain Range.   PRO TIP: Book your tour in advance as they book up quickly.

13. Shopping

Shopping in the Philippines is serious business.  And Manila has the 4th biggest mall in the world.  The SM Mall of Asia in Metro Manila, consists of four buildings interconnected by walkways. There is an IMAX theater with one of the biggest 3D screens in the world, an indoor tram and an olympic sized ice skating rink.  Even if you hate shopping – like Rob and I do, the mall is a way to get some exercise during all the rain here!

14. Text Capital of the World

Due to the large number of texts that are sent in the Philippines it is considered the Text Capital of the World“.  Honestly, in most shops that we would enter workers were on their phones.  I know that this is true for most  minimum wage workers in the world.  Yet, here it seemed to be amplified.

Everyone is always on their phones!

15. The Largest Pearl

The largest pearl in the world (75 lbswas discovered by a Philippino diver in the Palawan Sea!  It is said to be worth $100 million USD.

16. Karaoki Culture

The Philippines are only second for their love of Karaoke to Japan (where it was founded).  However Karaoke and overall singing are a huge part of the culture in the Philippines. Wherever we would go, people would be signing – either with a microphone or not.  On a bus, just walking down the street, etc., Don’t forget that Journey’s replacemenlead singer was found in Manila!

17. Ma’am

Ok, so the word Ma’am comes from the British and most colanized countries do use this word.  However no country uses it more than the Philippines.  I have been Ma’med 3-6 times in one sentence.

And at times folks get flustered and I would get a  Sir Ma’am combination, which would oddly make me feel better than the constant Ma’am. I kind of got used to it after a few days and took it less personaly.

18. Internet Speeds are Slow

Due to many reasons the internet speeds are quite slow in the Philippines.  They are considered the slowest in all of Southeast Asia and rank as the 100th in the world for speed.

19. Marcos Again?!

In 1986, then President Marcos (the leader of the Philippines who ruled for 20 years) was ousted with his family from the country.

Later, a Hawaii court found him liable for human rights violations. $2 billion was awarded from his estate to compensate more than 9,000 Filipinos who filed a lawsuit against him for torture, incarceration, extrajudicial killings and disappearances.

However, in 2022 all was forgotten and Marcos’ son was elected President.

Wrap Up

Philippines Manila Boracay Cebu
Boracay Station 1

There are so many interesting things about the Philippines!  We were amazed by the crystal clear water and amazing beaches in this lovely land.

Have you been to the Philippines?  What did you like the most?  Did our list surprise you at all?  How do you think this island nation compares to say, Koh Tao in Thailand or Pho Quoc in Vietnam?

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