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Republic of the Philippines
Republika ng Pilipinas[lower-alpha 1]
Flag Coat of arms
"Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan at Makabansa"[1]
"For God, People, Nature, and Country"
Anthem: Lupang Hinirang
Chosen Land
Great Seal
Seal of the Philippines.svg
Dakilang Sagisag ng Pilipinas  (Tagalog)
Great Seal of the Philippines
Capital Manilaa
Largest city Quezon City
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Official languages
Recognised regional languages
Optional languagesb
Ethnic groups (2010[3])
Demonym Filipino (masculine)
Filipina (feminine)

Pinoy (colloquial masculine)
Pinay (colloquial feminine)

Philippine (English)
Government Unitary presidential constitutional republic
 •  President Rodrigo Duterte
 •  Vice President Leni Robredo
 •  Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III
 •  House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez
 •  Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno
Legislature Congress
 •  Upper house Senate
 •  Lower house House of Representatives
Formation of the republic e
 •  Independence from Spain declared June 12, 1898 
 •  Treaty of Paris (1898) / Spanish Cessionc December 10, 1898 
 •  Malolos Constitution / First Philippine Republic e January 21, 1899 
 •  Tydings–McDuffie Act March 24, 1934 
 •  Commonwealth of the Philippines May 14, 1935 
 •  Treaty of Manila / Independence from United States d July 4, 1946 
 •  Current constitution February 2, 1987 
 •  Total 300,000 km2 (72nd)
115,831 sq mi
 •  Water (%) 0.61[5] (inland waters)
 •  Land 298,170 km2
115,120 sq mi
 •  2015 census 100,981,437[6] (12th)
 •  Density 336.60/km2 (43rd)
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GDP (PPP) 2017 estimate
 •  Total $873.966 billion[7]
 •  Per capita $8,223[7]
GDP (nominal) 2017 estimate
 •  Total $348.593 billion[7]
 •  Per capita $3,280[7]
Gini (2012) 43.0[8]
medium · 44th
HDI (2015) Increase 0.682[9]
medium · 116th
Currency Peso (Filipino: piso) (₱) (PHP)
Time zone PST (UTC+8)
 •  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+8)
Date format
  • mm-dd-yyyy
  • dd-MMM-yyyy
Drives on the right[10]
Calling code +63
ISO 3166 code PH
Internet TLD .ph
a. ^ While Manila proper is designated as the nation's capital, the whole of Metro Manila is designated as the seat of government. This is because the said metropolitan area has many government agencies, corporations or companies, and institutions aside from the Malacanang Palace in the said capital city.[11]
b. ^ The 1987 Philippine constitution specifies "Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis."[12]
c. ^ Philippine revolutionaries declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898, but Spain ceded the islands to the United States for $20 million in the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898 which eventually led to the Philippine–American War.
d. ^ The United States of America recognized the independence of the Philippines on July 4, 1946, through the Treaty of Manila.[13] This date was chosen because it corresponds to the U.S. Independence Day, which was observed in the Philippines as Independence Day until May 12, 1962, when President Diosdado Macapagal issued Presidential Proclamation No. 28, shifting it to June 12, the date of Emilio Aguinaldo's proclamation.[14]
e. ^ In accordance with article 11 of the Revolutionary Government Decree of June 23, 1898, the Malolos Congress selected a commission to draw up a draft constitution on September 17, 1898. The commission was composed of Hipólito Magsalin, Basilio Teodoro, José Albert, Joaquín González, Gregorio Araneta, Pablo Ocampo, Aguedo Velarde, Higinio Benitez, Tomás del Rosario, José Alejandrino, Alberto Barretto, José Ma. de la Viña, José Luna, Antonio Luna, Mariano Abella, Juan Manday, Felipe Calderón, Arsenio Cruz and Felipe Buencamino.[15] They were all wealthy and well educated.[16]

The Philippines (Listeni/ˈfɪlpnz/; Filipino: Pilipinas [ˌpɪlɪˈpinɐs]), officially the Republic of the Philippines (Filipino: Republika ng Pilipinas), is a sovereign island country in Southeast Asia situated in the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of about 7,641 islands[17] that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila.[18] Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Vietnam to the west, Palau to the east and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south.

The Philippines' location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator makes the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons, but also endows it with abundant natural resources and some of the world's greatest biodiversity. The Philippines has an area of 300,000 square kilometers (115,831 sq mi),[19] and a population of approximately 100 million.[20][21] It is the eighth-most populated country in Asia and the 12th most populated country in the world. As of 2013, approximately 10 million additional Filipinos lived overseas,[22] comprising one of the world's largest diasporas. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. In prehistoric times, Negritos were some of the archipelago's earliest inhabitants. They were followed by successive waves of Austronesian peoples.[23] Exchanges with Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Islamic nations occurred. Then, various competing maritime states were established under the rule of Datus, Rajahs, Sultans or Lakans.

The arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in Homonhon, Eastern Samar in 1521 marked the beginning of Hispanic colonization. In 1543, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip II of Spain. With the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi from Mexico City, in 1565, the first Hispanic settlement in the archipelago was established.[24] The Philippines became part of the Spanish Empire for more than 300 years. This resulted in Roman Catholicism becoming the dominant religion. During this time, Manila became the western hub of the trans-Pacific trade connecting Asia with Acapulco in the Americas using Manila galleons.[25]

As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, there followed in quick succession the Philippine Revolution, which spawned the short-lived First Philippine Republic, followed by the bloody Philippine–American War of conquest by US military force.[26] Aside from the period of Japanese occupation, the United States retained sovereignty over the islands until after World War II, when the Philippines was recognized as an independent nation. Since then, the Philippines has often had a tumultuous experience with democracy, which included the overthrow of a dictatorship by a non-violent revolution.[27]

It is a founding member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the East Asia Summit. It also hosts the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank.[28] The Philippines is considered to be an emerging market and a newly industrialized country,[29] which has an economy transitioning from being one based on agriculture to one based more on services and manufacturing.[30]


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The Philippines was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain. Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos, during his expedition in 1542, named the islands of Leyte and Samar Felipinas after the then-Prince of Asturias. Eventually the name Las Islas Filipinas would be used to cover all the islands of the archipelago. Before that became commonplace, other names such as Islas del Poniente (Islands of the West) and Magellan's name for the islands San Lázaro were also used by the Spanish to refer to the islands.[31][32][33][34][35]

The official name of the Philippines has changed several times in the course of its history. During the Philippine Revolution, the Malolos Congress proclaimed the establishment of the República Filipina or the Philippine Republic. From the period of the Spanish–American War (1898) and the Philippine–American War (1899–1902) until the Commonwealth period (1935–46), American colonial authorities referred to the country as the Philippine Islands, a translation of the Spanish name.[26] From the 1898 Treaty of Paris, the name Philippines began to appear and it has since become the country's common name. Since the end of World War II, the official name of the country has been the Republic of the Philippines.[36]


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The Tabon Caves are the site of one of the oldest human remains known in the Philippines, the Tabon Man
The Banaue Rice Terraces where Ifugao/Igorot utilized terrace farming in the steep mountainous regions of northern Philippines over 2000 years ago.
The fine lines and complex design of the Manunggul Jar reflect the artistry of the early Filipinos.

The metatarsal of the Callao Man, reliably dated by uranium-series dating to 67,000 years ago is the oldest human remnant found in the archipelago to date.[37] This distinction previously belonged to the Tabon Man of Palawan, carbon-dated to around 26,500 years ago.[38][39] Negritos were also among the archipelago's earliest inhabitants, but their first settlement in the Philippines has not been reliably dated.[40]

There are several opposing theories regarding the origins of ancient Filipinos. F. Landa Jocano theorizes that the ancestors of the Filipinos evolved locally. Wilhelm Solheim's Island Origin Theory[41] postulates that the peopling of the archipelago transpired via trade networks originating in the Sundaland area around 48,000 to 5000 BC rather than by wide-scale migration. The Austronesian Expansion Theory explains that Malayo-Polynesians coming from Taiwan began migrating to the Philippines around 4000 BC, displacing earlier arrivals.[42]

The most widely accepted theory, based on linguistic and archeological evidence, is the "Out-of-Taiwan" model, which hypothesizes that Austronesians from Taiwan, who were themselves descended from the neolithic civilizations of the Yangtze river such as the Liangzhu culture,[43] began migrating to the Philippines around 4000 BC, displacing earlier arrivals.[42][44] During the neolithic period, a "jade culture" is said to have existed as evidenced by tens of thousands of exquisitely crafted jade artifacts found in the Philippines dated to 2000 BC.[45][46]

The jade is said to have originated nearby in Taiwan and is also found in many other areas in insular and mainland Southeast Asia. These artifacts are said to be evidence of long range communication between prehistoric Southeast Asian societies.[47] By 1000 BC the inhabitants of the archipelago had developed into four kinds of social groups: hunter-gatherer tribes, warrior societies, highland plutocracies, and port principalities.[48]

Precolonial epoch

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A pure gold ceremonial belt worn by Indianized royalty, found in archaeological digs at Butuan.
The Laguna Copperplate Inscription, c. 900 AD. The oldest historical record found in the Philippines, discovered at Lumban, Laguna.

Some of the societies scattered in the islands of what would later become the Philippines remained isolated but many evolved into states that developed substantial trade and contacts with the peoples of eastern, southern and southeastern Asia; including those from Brunei, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan as well as other Austronesian islands.[49][50]

The first millennium saw the rise of the port principalities and their growth into maritime states composed of autonomous barangays independent of or allied with larger nations which were either Malay Kedatuans led by Datus, tributary states to China ruled by Wangs or Indianized kingdoms governed by Rajahs.[51]

The Kedatuan of Madja-as was founded following a civil war in collapsing Srivijaya, wherein loyalists of the Malay datus of Srivijaya defied the invading Chola Dynasty and its puppet-Rajah, called Makatunao, and set up a guerrilla-state in the islands of the Visayas. Its founding datu, Puti, had purchased land for his new realms from the aboriginal Ati hero, Marikudo.[52]

Madja-as was founded on Panay island (named after the destroyed state of Pannai allied under Srivijaya which was located in Sumatra). Afterwards, the people of Madja-as often raided the port cities of southern China and warred with the Chinese navy.[53]

The Rajahnate of Cebu[54] was a neighbor of Madja-as in the Visayas led by Rajamuda Sri Lumay, a monarch with partial Tamil descent. This state grew wealthy by making use of the inter-island shipping within the archipelago.[55]

Meanwhile, the Rajahnate of Butuan in northeastern Mindanao attained prominence under the rule of Rajah Sri Bata Shaja,[50] who was from a Buddhist ruling-class governing a Hindu nation. This state became powerful due to the local goldsmith industry and it also had commercial ties and a diplomatic rivalry with the Champa civilization. Both the Rajahnates of Butuan and Cebu also maintained contact and had trade routes with Kutai, a Hindu country[56] in south Borneo established by Indian traders.[57]

The nation of Ma-i centered in Mindoro, was noted for its honesty and trust-worthiness in trade.[58] In northern Luzon, the Wangdom of Pangasinan under Wang Taymey, exported horses and silver to China, the Kingdom of Ryukyu and Japan.[59][60]

In Luzon, the Kingdom of Tondo was ruled over by the Lakandula dynasty and the kingdom grew wealthy via the exclusive distribution-rights of Chinese goods which they marketed in southeast Asia. This was granted to them by the Ming Dynasty.[61][62] The Yongle Emperor also instituted a Chinese governor on Luzon during Zheng He's voyages and appointed Ko Ch'a-lao to that position.[63][64]

Images from the Boxer Codex illustrating the ancient kadatuan or tumao' (noble class).
Left to right: (1) Visayan couple of Panay, (2) the Pintados ("The Tattooed"), another name for Visayans of Cebu and its surrounding islands according to the early Spanish explorers, (3) possibly a tumao (noble class) or timawa (warrior class) couple of the Pintados, and (4) a royal couple of the Visayans of Panay.

The 1300s saw the arrival and eventual spread of Islam in the Philippine archipelago. In 1380, Karim ul' Makdum and Shari'ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab trader born in Johore, arrived in Sulu from Malacca and established the Sultanate of Sulu by converting Sulu's rajah, Rajah Baguinda Ali and marrying his daughter.[65][66] At the end of the 15th century, Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuwan of Johor introduced Islam in the island of Mindanao and established the Sultanate of Maguindanao. The sultanate form of government extended further into Lanao.[67]

Around this time, the people of Luzon were collectively called Lucoes and they rose to prominence by participating in trading ventures and military campaigns in Myanmar, Malacca and East Timor[68][69][70] where they were employed as traders and mercenaries.[71][72][73]

Islam then started to spread out of Mindanao in the south and went into Luzon in the north. Manila in Luzon was Islamized during the reign of Sultan Bolkiah in 1485 to 1521. This was accomplished because the Bruneian Empire subjugated the Kingdom of Tondo by defeating Rajah Gambang and thereafter installing the Muslim rajah, Rajah Sulaiman I to the throne and by establishing the Bruneian puppet-state of the Kingdom of Maynila.[74][75][76][77] Sultan Bolkiah also married Laila Mecana, the daughter of Sulu Sultan Amir Ul-Ombra to expand Brunei's influence in both Luzon and Mindanao.[78] The Muslims then proceeded to wage wars and conduct slave-raids against the Visayans.[79] Participating in the Muslim raids, the Sultanate of Ternate consequently destroyed the Kedatuan of Dapitan in Bohol.[80]

Nevertheless, states like the animist Igorot, Malay Madja-as, Sinified Pangasinan, and Indianized Butuan still maintained their cultures. The rivalries between the datus, rajahs, wangs, sultans, and lakans eventually eased Spanish colonization. Furthermore, the islands were sparsely populated[81] due to consistent natural disasters[82] and inter-kingdom conflicts. Therefore, colonization was made easy and the small states of the archipelago quickly became incorporated into the Spanish Empire and were Hispanicized and Christianized.[83]

Colonial era

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A sketch of a Manila galleon used during the Manila-Acapulco Trade.

In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan's expedition arrived in the Philippines, claimed the islands for Spain and was then killed at the Battle of Mactan.[84] Colonization began when Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first Hispanic settlements in Cebu. After relocating to Panay island and consolidating a coalition of native Visayan allies, Hispanic soldiers and Latin-American mercenaries, the Spaniards then invaded Islamic Manila, therein they put down the Tondo Conspiracy and exiled the conspirators to Guam and Guerrero.[85] Under Spanish rule, they established Manila as the capital of the Spanish East Indies (1571).[86]

They also defeated the Chinese-warlord Limahong.[87][88] In response to the Islamic invasion of the Philippines, the Spanish then conducted the Castilian War which was aimed against the Sultanate of Brunei[89][90] and war was also waged against the Sultanate of Ternate and Tidore (in response to Ternatean slaving and piracy against Bohol and Butuan).[91] Fortifications were also set up in Taiwan and the Maluku islands. These were abandoned and the Spanish soldiers, along with the newly Christianized Papuan natives of the Moluccas, withdrew back to the Philippines in order to re-concentrate their military forces because of a threatened invasion by the Japan-born Ming-dynasty loyalist, Koxinga, ruler of the Kingdom of Tungning.[92] However, the planned invasion was aborted. Meanwhile, settlers were sent to the Pacific islands of Palau and the Marianas.[93]

Spanish rule eventually contributed significantly to bringing political unity to the fragmented states of the archipelago. From 1565 to 1821, the Philippines was governed as a territory of the Mexico-based Viceroyalty of New Spain and then was administered directly from Madrid after the Mexican War of Independence. The Manila galleons, the largest wooden ships ever built, were constructed in Bicol and Cavite.[94] The Manila galleons were accompanied with a large naval escort as it traveled to and from Manila and Acapulco.[95] The galleons sailed once or twice a year, between the 16th and 19th centuries.[96]

Trade introduced foodstuff such as maize, tomatoes, potatoes, chili peppers, chocolate and pineapples from Mexico and Peru. Within the Philippines, the Marquisate of Buglas was established and rule of it was awarded to Sebastian Elcano and his crew, the survivors of the first circumnavigation of the world, as well as his descendants. New towns were also created[88] and Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the lowland inhabitants to Christianity.[97] They also founded schools, a university, hospitals and churches which were built along the Earthquake Baroque architectural style.[98] The Spanish also decreed the introduction of free public schooling in 1863.[99] As a result of these policies the Philippine population increased exponentially.[100][101]

During its rule, the Spanish quelled various indigenous revolts. There were several external military challenges from Chinese and Japanese pirates, the Dutch, the English, the Portuguese and the Muslims of Southeast Asia. Those challengers were fought-off despite the hostile forces having encircled the Philippine archipelago in a crescent formed from Japan to Indonesia. British forces occupied Manila from 1762 to 1764 in an extension of the fighting of the Seven Years' War. Spanish rule was restored following the 1763 Treaty of Paris.[83][102][103] The Spanish–Moro conflict lasted for several hundred years. In the last quarter of the 19th century, Spain conquered portions of Mindanao and the Moro Muslims in the Sulu Sultanate formally recognized Spanish sovereignty.

In the 19th century, Philippine ports opened to world trade and shifts started occurring within Philippine society. Many Spaniards born in the Philippines (criollos)[104] and those of mixed ancestry (mestizos) became wealthy and an influx of Latin American settlers[105][106] opened up government positions traditionally held by Spaniards born in the Iberian Peninsula (peninsulares). The ideals of revolution also began to spread through the islands. Criollo dissatisfaction resulted in the 1872 Cavite Mutiny that was a precursor to the Philippine Revolution.[83][107][108][109]

Revolutionary sentiments were stoked in 1872 after three priests—Mariano Gómez, José Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora (collectively known as Gomburza)—were accused of sedition by colonial authorities and executed.[107][108] This would inspire a propaganda movement in Spain, organized by Marcelo H. del Pilar, José Rizal, and Mariano Ponce, lobbying for political reforms in the Philippines. Rizal was eventually executed on December 30, 1896, on charges of rebellion.[110] As attempts at reform met with resistance, Andrés Bonifacio in 1892 established the secret society called the Katipunan, who sought independence from Spain through armed revolt.[109]

Bonifacio and the Katipunan started the Philippine Revolution in 1896. A faction of the Katipunan, the Magdalo of Cavite province, eventually came to challenge Bonifacio's position as the leader of the revolution and Emilio Aguinaldo took over. In 1898, the Spanish–American War began in Cuba and reached the Philippines. Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898, and the First Philippine Republic was established in the Barasoain Church in the following year.[83]

U.S. soldiers battling with Moro fighters during the Philippine–American War, 1913

The islands were ceded by Spain to the United States as a result of the latter's victory in the Spanish–American War.[111] A compensation of US$20 million was paid to Spain according to the terms of the 1898 Treaty of Paris.[112] As it became increasingly clear the United States would not recognize the nascent First Philippine Republic, the Philippine–American War broke out, the First Republic was defeated, and the archipelago was administered under an Insular Government.[113] The war resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of combatants as well as a couple of hundred thousand civilians, mostly from a cholera epidemic.[113][114][115][116]

General Douglas MacArthur returns to the Philippines with President Sergio Osmeña during World War II in Palo, Leyte, October 1944.

The Americans then suppressed other rebellious sub-states: mainly, the waning Sultanate of Sulu, as well as the insurgent Tagalog Republic, the Cantonal Republic of Negros in the Visayas, and the Republic of Zamboanga in Mindanao.[117][118] During this era, a renaissance in Philippine culture occurred, with the expansion of Philippine cinema and literature.[119][120][121] Daniel Burnham built an architectural plan for Manila which would have transformed it into a modern city.[122] In 1935, the Philippines was granted Commonwealth status with Manuel Quezon as president. He designated a national language and introduced women's suffrage and land reform.[123][124] Plans for independence over the next decade were interrupted by World War II when the Japanese Empire invaded and the Second Philippine Republic of José P. Laurel was established as a collaborator state.

Many atrocities and war crimes were committed during the war such as the Bataan Death March and the Manila massacre that culminated during the Battle of Manila.[125] In 1944, Quezon died in exile in the United States and Sergio Osmeña succeeded him. The Allied Forces then employed a strategy of island hopping towards the Philippine Archipelago, in the process, retaking territory conquered by Imperial Japan.

From mid-1942 through mid-1944, the Filipino guerrilla resistance[126][127] had been supplied and encouraged by U.S. Navy submarines and a few parachute drops, so that the guerrillas could harass the Japanese Army and take control of the rural areas, jungles and mountains – thus, the Japanese empire only controlled 12 out of 48 provinces.[128] While remaining loyal to the United States, many Filipinos hoped and believed that liberation from the Japanese would bring them freedom and their already-promised independence.

Eventually, the largest naval battle in history, according to gross tonnage sunk, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, occurred when Allied forces started the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese Empire.[129][130] Allied troops defeated the Japanese in 1945. By the end of the war it is estimated that over a million Filipinos had died.[131][132][133]

Postcolonial period

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On October 11, 1945,[134] the Philippines became one of the founding members of the United Nations and the following year, on July 4, 1946, it became recognized by the United States as independent, during the presidency of Manuel Roxas.[5] Disgruntled remnants of the communist Hukbalahap[135] continued to roam the countryside but were put down by President Elpidio Quirino's successor Ramon Magsaysay.[136][137] Magsaysay's successor, Carlos P. Garcia, initiated the Filipino First Policy,[138] which was continued by Diosdado Macapagal, with celebration of Independence Day moved from July 4 to June 12, the date of Emilio Aguinaldo's declaration,[139][140] while furthering the claim on the eastern part of North Borneo.[141][142]

In 1965, Macapagal lost the presidential election to Ferdinand Marcos. Early in his presidency, Marcos initiated numerous infrastructure projects but was accused of massive corruption and embezzling billions of dollars in public funds.[143] Nearing the end of his term, Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972.[144] This period of his rule was characterized by political repression, censorship, and human rights violations but the US were steadfast in their support.[145] His wife Imelda continued to live a lavish lifestyle as the majority of Filipinos remained in poverty.[146]

On August 21, 1983, Marcos' chief rival, opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr., was assassinated on the tarmac at Manila International Airport. Marcos eventually called snap presidential elections in 1986.[147] Marcos was proclaimed the winner, but the results were widely regarded as fraudulent, leading to the People Power Revolution. Marcos and his allies fled to Hawaii and Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino was recognized as president.[147][148]

Contemporary history

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The return of democracy and government reforms beginning in 1986 were hampered by national debt, government corruption, coup attempts, disasters, a persistent communist insurgency,[149] and a military conflict with Moro separatists.[150] During Corazon Aquino's administration, U.S. forces withdrew from the Philippines, due to the rejection of the U.S. Bases Extension Treaty,[151][152] and leading to the official transfer of Clark Air Base in November 1991 and Subic Bay to the government in December 1992.[153][154] The administration also faced a series of natural disasters, including the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991.[155][156] After introducing a constitution that limited presidents to a single term, Aquino did not stand for re-election.

President Fidel V. Ramos salutes at the Pentagon with Secretary of Defense William Cohen and an honor guard during a State visit in 1998.
President Fidel Ramos salutes at the Pentagon with U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen during a State visit in 1998.

Aquino was succeeded by Fidel V. Ramos, who won the Philippine presidential election held in May 1992. During this period, the economy was known as the "Tiger Economy in Asia", with an average of 6% GDP growth rate.[157] However, the political stability and economic improvements, such as the peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front in 1996,[158] were overshadowed by the onset of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.[159][160] On his Presidency the death penalty was revived in the light of the Rape-slay case of Eileen Sarmienta and Allan Gomez in 1993 and the first person to be executed is Leo Echegaray in 1999.[161]

Ramos' successor, Joseph Estrada assumed office in June 1998 and managed to regain the economy from −0.6% growth to 3.4% by 1999 amidst the 1997 Asian financial crisis.[162][163][164] The government had announced a war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in March 2000 and neutralized the camps including the headquarters of the insurgents.[165][166] In the middle of ongoing conflict with the Abu Sayyaf,[167] accusations of alleged corruption, and a stalled impeachment process, Estrada's administration was overthrown by the 2001 EDSA Revolution and succeeded by his Vice President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on January 20, 2001.[168]

In Arroyo's 9-year administration, The economy experienced GDP growth from 4% in 2002 to 7% growth in 2007 with the completion of infrastructure projects like the LRT Line 2 in 2004[169] and managed to avoid the Great Recession.[170] Nevertheless, it was tied with graft and political scandals like the Hello Garci scandal pertaining to the alleged manipulation of votes in the 2004 presidential elections.[171][172][173][174] On November 23, 2009, the Maguindanao massacre led to the murder of 34 journalists.[175][176]

Benigno Aquino III won the 2010 national elections and served as the 15th President of the Philippines. He was the third youngest person to be elected president and the first to be a bachelor,[177] beginning with the 2010 Manila hostage crisis that caused deeply strained relations between Manila and Hong Kong for a time. During the previous years, The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed on October 15, 2012, as the first step of the creation of an autonomous political entity named Bangsamoro.[178] However, territorial disputes in eastern Sabah and the South China Sea have escalated.[179][180][181]

The economy performed well at 7.2% GDP growth, the second fastest in Asia.[182] Aquino signed the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, commonly known as K–12 program in May 15, 2013 aiming to enhance the educational system in the country.[183] On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck and heavily devastated the country, especially in the Visayas.[184][185] On April 28, 2014, when United States President Barack Obama visited the Philippines, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, was signed.[186][187][188] From January 15 to 19, 2015, Pope Francis stayed in the Philippines for an apostolic and state visit and paid visits to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).[189][190] On January 25, 2015, 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force were killed after a clash took place in Mamasapano, Maguindanao putting efforts to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law into law in an impasse.[191][192] On December 20, 2015, Pia Wurtzbach won the Miss Universe 2015, making her the third Filipino to win the Miss Universe title following Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margarita Moran in 1973.[193] On January 12, 2016, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement paving the way for the return of United States Armed Forces bases into the country.[194] On March 23, 2016, Diwata-1 was launched to the International Space Station (ISS), becoming the country's first micro-satellite and the first satellite to be built and designed by Filipinos.[195]

Rodrigo Duterte, the current President of the Philippines.

Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte of PDP–Laban won the 2016 presidential election becoming the first president from Mindanao.[196] Camarines Sur representative Leni Robredo won the vice presidency.[196] On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines in its case against China's claims in the South China Sea.[197] On August 1, 2016, the Duterte administration launches a 24-hour complaint office accessible to the public through a nationwide hotline, 8888, and change the nationwide emergency telephone number from 117 to 911.[198][199] After winning the Presidency, Duterte had urged, "If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful."[200] By March 2017, the death toll for the Philippine Drug War passed 8,000 people.[201]


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The Philippines has a democratic government in the form of a constitutional republic with a presidential system.[202] It is governed as a unitary state with the exception of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which is largely free from the national government. There have been attempts to change the government to a federal, unicameral, or parliamentary government since the Ramos administration.[203][204]

The President functions as both head of state and head of government and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote for a single six-year term, during which he or she appoints and presides over the cabinet.[205] The bicameral Congress is composed of the Senate, serving as the upper house, with members elected to a six-year term, and the House of Representatives, serving as the lower house, with members elected to a three-year term.[205]

Senators are elected at large while the representatives are elected from both legislative districts and through sectoral representation.[205] The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, composed of a Chief Justice as its presiding officer and fourteen associate justices, all of whom are appointed by the President from nominations submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.[205]

Foreign relations

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U.S. President Barack Obama meeting with President Benigno Aquino III during his state visit in Manila, 2014.
Trust rating of Seven countries, October 2016[206]
Country Much trust Undecided Little trust M-L
 United States 76 13 11 +65
 Australia 62 21 15 +47
 Japan 56 22 21 +35
 Norway 41 31 26 +16
 Netherlands 40 31 26 +14
 Republic of China 36 29 34 +2
 China 22 22 55 -33

The Philippines' international relations are based on trade with other nations and the well-being of the 10 million overseas Filipinos living outside the country.[207] As a founding and active member of the United Nations, the Philippines has been elected several times into the Security Council. Carlos P. Romulo was a former President of the United Nations General Assembly. The country is an active participant in the Human Rights Council as well as in peacekeeping missions, particularly in East Timor.[208][209][210]

In addition to membership in the United Nations, the Philippines is also a founding and active member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), an organization designed to strengthen relations and promote economic and cultural growth among states in the Southeast Asian region.[211] It has hosted several summits and is an active contributor to the direction and policies of the bloc.[212]

The Philippines values its relations with the United States.[207] It supported the United States during the Cold War and the War on Terror and is a major non-NATO ally. Despite this history of goodwill, controversies related to the presence of the now former U.S. military bases in Subic Bay and Clark and the current Visiting Forces Agreement have flared up from time to time.[207] Japan, the biggest contributor of official development assistance to the country,[213] is thought of as a friend. Although historical tensions still exist on issues such as the plight of comfort women, much of the animosity inspired by memories of World War II has faded.[214]

Relations with other nations are generally positive. Shared democratic values ease relations with Western and European countries while similar economic concerns help in relations with other developing countries. Historical ties and cultural similarities also serve as a bridge in relations with Spain.[215][216][217] Despite issues such as domestic abuse and war affecting overseas Filipino workers,[218][219] relations with Middle Eastern countries are friendly as seen in the continuous employment of more than two million overseas Filipinos living there.[220]

With communism no longer the threat it once was, once hostile relations in the 1950s between the Philippines and China have improved greatly. Issues involving Taiwan, the Spratly Islands, and concerns of expanding Chinese influence, however, still encourage a degree of caution.[214] Recent foreign policy has been mostly about economic relations with its Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific neighbors.[207]

The Philippines is an active member of the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Latin Union, the Group of 24, and the Non-Aligned Movement.[205] It is also seeking to strengthen relations with Islamic countries by campaigning for observer status in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.[221][222]


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The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are responsible for national security and consist of three branches: the Philippine Air Force, the Philippine Army, and the Philippine Navy (includes the Marine Corps).[223][224][225] The Armed Forces of the Philippines are a volunteer force.[226] Civilian security is handled by the Philippine National Police under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).[227][228]

In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the largest separatist organization, the Moro National Liberation Front, is now engaging the government politically. Other more militant groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the communist New People's Army, and the Abu Sayyaf have previously kidnapped foreigners for ransom, particularly on the southern island of Mindanao.[230][231][232][233] Their presence has decreased in recent years due to successful security provided by the Philippine government.[234][235] At 1.1 percent of GDP, the Philippines spent less on its military forces than the regional average. As of 2014 Malaysia and Thailand were estimated to spend 1.5%, China 2.1%, Vietnam 2.2% and South Korea 2.6%.[236][237]

The Philippines has been an ally of the United States since World War II. A mutual defense treaty between the two countries was signed in 1951. The Philippines supported American policies during the Cold War and participated in the Korean and Vietnam wars. It was a member of the now dissolved SEATO, a group that was intended to serve a role similar to NATO and that included Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[238] After the start of the War on Terror, the Philippines was part of the coalition that gave support to the United States in Iraq.[239]

Administrative divisions

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The Philippines is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. These are further divided into 18 regions, 81 provinces, 145 cities, 1,489 municipalities, and 42,036 barangays.[240] In addition, Section 2 of Republic Act No. 5446 asserts that the definition of the territorial sea around the Philippine archipelago does not affect the claim over the eastern part of Sabah.[241][242]

Administrative Regions Autonomous Region
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Cities and Municipalities
See: List of cities in the Philippines and List of cities and municipalities in the Philippines
See: Lists of barangays in Philippine provinces

Nueva Vizcaya Nueva Ecija Northern Samar Northern Samar Northern Samar Negros Oriental Negros Occidental Mountain Province Misamis Oriental Misamis Occidental Metro Manila Masbate Masbate Masbate Marinduque Maguindanao Leyte La Union Lanao del Sur Lanao del Norte Laguna Kalinga Isabela City Isabela Iloilo Iloilo Iloilo Ilocos Sur Ilocos Norte Ifugao Guimaras Eastern Samar Eastern Samar Dinagat Islands Davao Oriental Davao Oriental Davao Occidental Davao Occidental Davao Occidental Davao del Sur Davao del Norte Davao del Norte Davao del Norte Cotabato City Cotabato Compostela Valley Cebu Cebu Cebu Cebu Cebu Cebu Cebu Cavite Catanduanes Capiz Camarines Sur Camarines Sur Camarines Sur Camarines Norte Camiguin Cagayan Cagayan Cagayan Cagayan Cagayan Cagayan Cagayan Bulacan Bukidnon Bohol Bohol Bohol Biliran Biliran Benguet Batangas Batangas Batangas Batangas Batanes Batanes Batanes Bataan Basilan Aurora Apayao Antique Antique Antique Antique Albay Albay Albay Albay Aklan Agusan del Sur Agusan del Norte Abra Zamboanga Sibugay Zamboanga del Sur Zamboanga del Norte Zamboanga City Zamboanga City Zambales Samar Samar Samar Samar Tawi-Tawi Tawi-Tawi Tawi-Tawi Tawi-Tawi Tawi-Tawi Tawi-Tawi Tarlac Surigao del Sur Surigao del Sur Surigao del Norte Surigao del Norte Surigao del Norte Surigao del Norte Surigao del Norte Sulu Sulu Sulu Sulu Sulu Sulu Sulu Sulu Sultan Kudarat Southern Leyte Southern Leyte South Cotabato Sorsogon Siquijor Sarangani Sarangani Romblon Romblon Romblon Romblon Romblon Romblon Rizal Rizal Quirino Quezon Quezon Quezon Quezon Quezon Quezon Quezon Pangasinan Pangasinan Pampanga Palawan Palawan Palawan Palawan Palawan Palawan Palawan Palawan Palawan Palawan Palawan Palawan Palawan Palawan Oriental Mindoro Occidental Mindoro Occidental Mindoro Occidental Mindoro Occidental Mindoro Malaysia Malaysia Malaysia Malaysia Malaysia Malaysia Cordillera Administrative Region Ilocos Region Cagayan Valley Central Luzon Metro Manila Calabarzon Mimaropa Bicol Region Eastern Visayas Central Visayas Western Visayas Negros Island Region Zamboanga Peninsula Northern Mindanao Caraga Davao Region SOCCSKSARGEN Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Philippine Sea Sulu Sea South China Sea Celebes Sea Lake Buluan Dupulisan Bay Pagadian Bay Mayo Bay Pujada Bay Melgar Bay Taguite Bay Sindangan Bay Panguil Bay Dumanquilas Bay Dapa Channel Lake Mainit Pilar Bay Tolong Bay San Juanico Strait Janabatas Channel Ormoc Bay Carigara Bay Maqueda Bay Cabugao Bay Lake Buhi Lake Bato Panganiran Bay Lake Naujan Mompog Pass Bagac Bay Subic Bay Dingalan Bay Palanan Bay Divilacan Bay Dasol Bay Bangui Bay Gingoog Bay Bislig Bay Lianga Bay Lanuza Bay Luzon Strait (Batanes Islands) Luzon Strait (Babuyan Islands) Baler Bay Casiguran Sound Masbate Pass Ticao Pass Burias Pass San Pedro Bay Batangas Bay Balayan Bay San Bernardino Strait Sibutu Passage Lanao Lake Taal Lake Sarangani Strait Sarangani Bay Balintang Channel Babuyan Channel Dinagat Sound Surigao Strait Sogod Bay Canigao Channel Cebu Strait Macajalar Bay Butuan Bay Iligan Bay Sorsogon Bay Albay Gulf Lagonoy Gulf Lamon Bay Tayabas Bay Tablas Strait Laguna de Bay Linapacan Strait Mindoro Strait Cuyo East Pass Cuyo West Pass Guimaras Strait Iloilo Strait Panay Gulf Samar Sea Asid Gulf Ragay Gulf San Miguel Bay Polillo Strait Lingayen Gulf Leyte Gulf Bohol Sea Bohol Sea Bohol Sea Basilan Strait Sibuguey Bay Illana Bay Davao Gulf Moro Gulf Maligay Bay Sulu Sea Camotes Sea Camotes Sea Camotes Sea Camotes Sea Visayan Sea Visayan Sea Visayan Sea Visayan Sea Visayan Sea Visayan Sea Verde Island Passage Jintotolo Channel Manila Bay Manila Bay Manila Bay Sibuyan Sea Sibuyan Sea Sibuyan Sea Sibuyan Sea Sibuyan Sea Sibuyan Sea Sibuyan Sea Sibuyan Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea Tañon Strait Tañon Strait Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Celebes Sea Celebes Sea Celebes Sea Celebes Sea Celebes Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea Tañon Strait South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Sulu Sea Celebes Sea Celebes Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea Philippine Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea South China Sea Honda Bay Cabalian Bay Pagapas Bay Sigayan Bay Basiad Bay Maribojoc Bay Taytay Bay Calavite Passage Balabac StraitLabelled map of the Philippines - Provinces and Regions.png
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Administrative regions

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Regions in the Philippines are administrative divisions that serve primarily to organize the provinces of the country for administrative convenience. The Philippines is divided into 18 regions (17 administrative and 1 autonomous). Most government offices are established by region instead of individual provincial offices, usually (but not always) in the city designated as the regional center. As of 2015, CALABARZON was the most populated region while the National Capitol Region (NCR) the most densely populated.

10 Most Populous Regions of the Philippines (2015)[243]
Rank Regional Destination Region Name Area (km2) Population as of 2015 Population Density/km2  % of Population
1st Region IV CALABARZON 16,873.31 14,414,774 850 14.27%
2nd NCR National Capital Region 613.94 12,877,253 21,000 12.75%
3rd Region III Central Luzon 22,014.63 11,218,177 510 11.11%
4th Region VII Central Visayas 10,102.16 6,041,903 600 5.98%
5th Region V Bicol Region 18,155.82 5,796,989 320 5.74%
6th Region I Ilocos Region 16,873.31 5,026,128 390 4.98%
7th Region XI Davao Region 20,357.42 4,893,318 240 4.85%
8th Region X Northern Mindanao 20,496.02 4,689,302 230 4.64%
9th Region XII SOCCSKSARGEN 22,513.30 4,545,276 200 4.5%
10th Region VI Western Visayas 12,828.97 4,477,247 350 4.43%


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Topography of the Philippines

The Philippines is an archipelago composed of about 7,641 islands[244] with a total land area, including inland bodies of water, of 300,000 square kilometers (115,831 sq mi).[245] Its 36,289 kilometers (22,549 mi) of coastline makes it the country with the 5th longest coastline in the world.[205][246] It is located between 116° 40', and 126° 34' E longitude and 4° 40' and 21° 10' N latitude and is bordered by the Philippine Sea[247] to the east, the South China Sea[248] to the west, and the Celebes Sea[249] to the south. The island of Borneo[250] is located a few hundred kilometers southwest and Taiwan is located directly to the north. The Moluccas and Sulawesi are located to the south-southwest and Palau is located to the east of the islands.[205]

Most of the mountainous islands are covered in tropical rainforest and volcanic in origin. The highest mountain is Mount Apo. It measures up to 2,954 meters (9,692 ft) above sea level and is located on the island of Mindanao.[251][252] The Galathea Depth in the Philippine Trench is the deepest point in the country and the third deepest in the world. The trench is located in the Philippine Sea.[253]

The longest river is the Cagayan River in northern Luzon.[254] Manila Bay, upon the shore of which the capital city of Manila lies, is connected to Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines, by the Pasig River. Subic Bay, the Davao Gulf, and the Moro Gulf are other important bays. The San Juanico Strait separates the islands of Samar and Leyte but it is traversed by the San Juanico Bridge.[255]

Situated on the western fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity. The Benham Plateau to the east in the Philippine Sea is an undersea region active in tectonic subduction.[256] Around 20 earthquakes are registered daily, though most are too weak to be felt. The last major earthquake was the 1990 Luzon earthquake.[257]

There are many active volcanoes such as the Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo, and Taal Volcano. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century.[258] Not all notable geographic features are so violent or destructive. A more serene legacy of the geological disturbances is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, the area represents a habitat for biodiversity conservation, the site also contains a full mountain-to-the-sea ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia.[259]

Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, mineral deposits are abundant. The country is estimated to have the second-largest gold deposits after South Africa and one of the largest copper deposits in the world.[260] It is also rich in nickel, chromite, and zinc. Despite this, poor management, high population density, and environmental consciousness have resulted in these mineral resources remaining largely untapped.[260] Geothermal energy is a product of volcanic activity that the Philippines has harnessed more successfully. The Philippines is the world's second-biggest geothermal producer behind the United States, with 18% of the country's electricity needs being met by geothermal power.[261]


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Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta), one of the smallest primates
Moalboal Reef in Cebu.

The Philippines' rainforests and its extensive coastlines make it home to a diverse range of birds, plants, animals, and sea creatures.[262] It is one of the ten most biologically megadiverse countries.[263][264][265] Around 1,100 land vertebrate species can be found in the Philippines including over 100 mammal species and 170 bird species not thought to exist elsewhere.[266] The Philippines has among the highest rates of discovery in the world with sixteen new species of mammals discovered in the last ten years. Because of this, the rate of endemism for the Philippines has risen and likely will continue to rise.[267]

The Philippines lacks large predators, with the exception of snakes, such as pythons and cobras, saltwater crocodiles and birds of prey, such as the national bird, known as the Philippine eagle, which scientists suggest as the largest eagle in the world.[268][269] The largest crocodile in captivity, known locally as Lolong, was captured in the southern island of Mindanao.[270][271]

Other native animals include the palm civet cat, the dugong, the cloud rat and the Philippine tarsier associated with Bohol. With an estimated 13,500 plant species in the country, 3,200 of which are unique to the islands,[266] Philippine rainforests boast an array of flora, including many rare types of orchids and rafflesia.[272][273]

Philippine maritime waters encompass as much as 2,200,000 square kilometers (849,425 sq mi) producing unique and diverse marine life, an important part of the Coral Triangle.[241] The total number of corals and marine fish species was estimated at 500 and 2,400 respectively.[262][266] New records[274][275] and species discoveries[276][277][278] continuously increase these numbers underlining the uniqueness of the marine resources in the Philippines. The Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993. Philippine waters also sustain the cultivation of pearls, crabs, and seaweeds.[262][279]

Deforestation, often the result of illegal logging, is an acute problem in the Philippines. Forest cover declined from 70% of the Philippines's total land area in 1900 to about 18.3% in 1999.[280] Many species are endangered and scientists say that Southeast Asia, which the Philippines is part of, faces a catastrophic extinction rate of 20% by the end of the 21st century.[281] According to Conservation International, "the country is one of the few nations that is, in its entirety, both a hotspot and a megadiversity country, placing it among the top priority hotspots for global conservation."[272]


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Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) at peak intensity.

The Philippines has a tropical maritime climate that is usually hot and humid. There are three seasons: tag-init or tag-araw, the hot dry season or summer from March to May; tag-ulan, the rainy season from June to November; and tag-lamig, the cool dry season from December to February. The southwest monsoon (from May to October) is known as the Habagat, and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon (from November to April), the Amihan.[282] Temperatures usually range from 21 °C (70 °F) to 32 °C (90 °F) although it can get cooler or hotter depending on the season. The coolest month is January; the warmest is May.[205][283]

The average yearly temperature is around 26.6 °C (79.9 °F).[282] In considering temperature, location in terms of latitude and longitude is not a significant factor. Whether in the extreme north, south, east, or west of the country, temperatures at sea level tend to be in the same range. Altitude usually has more of an impact. The average annual temperature of Baguio at an elevation of 1,500 meters (4,900 ft) above sea level is 18.3 °C (64.9 °F), making it a popular destination during hot summers.[282]

Sitting astride the typhoon belt, most of the islands experience annual torrential rains and thunderstorms from July to October,[284] with around nineteen typhoons entering the Philippine area of responsibility in a typical year and eight or nine making landfall.[285][286][287] Annual rainfall measures as much as 5,000 millimeters (200 in) in the mountainous east coast section but less than 1,000 millimeters (39 in) in some of the sheltered valleys.[284] The wettest known tropical cyclone to impact the archipelago was the July 1911 cyclone, which dropped over 1,168 millimeters (46.0 in) of rainfall within a 24-hour period in Baguio.[288] Bagyo is the local term for a tropical cyclone in the Philippines.[288]


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Philippine Export Treemap in 2012.
A proportional representation of the Philippines' exports, 2012.

The Philippine economy is the 36th largest in the world, with an estimated 2016 gross domestic product (nominal) of $311.687 billion.[7] Primary exports include semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum products, coconut oil, and fruits.[5] Major trading partners include the United States, Japan, China, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Germany, Taiwan, and Thailand.[5] Its unit of currency is the Philippine peso (₱ or PHP).[289]

A newly industrialized country, the Philippine economy has been transitioning from one based upon agriculture to an economy with more emphasis upon services and manufacturing. Of the country's total labor force of around 40.813 Million,[5] the agricultural sector employs 30% of the labor force, and accounts for 14% of GDP. The industrial sector employs around 14% of the workforce and accounts for 30% of GDP. Meanwhile, the 47% of workers involved in the services sector are responsible for 56% of GDP.[291][292]

The unemployment rate as of 14 December 2014, stands at 6.0%.[293][294] Meanwhile, due to lower charges in basic necessities, the inflation rate eases to 3.7% in November.[295] Gross international reserves as of October 2013 are $83.201 billion.[296] The Debt-to-GDP ratio continues to decline to 38.1% as of March 2014[297][298] from a record high of 78% in 2004.[299] The country is a net importer[292] but it is also a creditor nation.[300]

After World War II, the Philippines was for a time regarded as the second wealthiest in East Asia, next only to Japan.[207][301][302] In the 1960s its economic performance started being overtaken. The economy stagnated under the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos as the regime spawned economic mismanagement and political volatility.[207][302] The country suffered from slow economic growth and bouts of economic recession. Only in the 1990s with a program of economic liberalization did the economy begin to recover.[207][302]

The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis affected the economy, resulting in a lingering decline of the value of the peso and falls in the stock market. The extent it was affected initially was not as severe as that of some of its Asian neighbors. This was largely due to the fiscal conservatism of the government, partly as a result of decades of monitoring and fiscal supervision from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in comparison to the massive spending of its neighbors on the rapid acceleration of economic growth.[158] There have been signs of progress since. In 2004, the economy experienced 6.4% GDP growth and 7.1% in 2007, its fastest pace of growth in three decades.[303][304] Average annual GDP growth per capita for the period 1966–2007 still stands at 1.45% in comparison to an average of 5.96% for the East Asia and the Pacific region as a whole. The daily income for 45% of the population of the Philippines remains less than $2.[305][306][307]

The economy is heavily reliant upon remittances from overseas filipinos, which surpass foreign direct investment as a source of foreign currency. Remittances peaked in 2010 at 10.4% of the national GDP, and were 8.6% in 2012 and in 2014, Philippines total worth of foreign exchange remittances was US$28 billion.[308][309] Regional development is uneven, with Luzon – Metro Manila in particular – gaining most of the new economic growth at the expense of the other regions,[310][311] although the government has taken steps to distribute economic growth by promoting investment in other areas of the country. Despite constraints, service industries such as tourism and business process outsourcing have been identified as areas with some of the best opportunities for growth for the country.[292][312]

Goldman Sachs includes the country in its list of the "Next Eleven" economies[313][314] but China and India have emerged as major economic competitors.[315] Goldman Sachs estimates that by the year 2050, it will be the 20th largest economy in the world.[316] HSBC also projects the Philippine economy to become the 16th largest economy in the world, 5th largest economy in Asia and the largest economy in the South East Asian region by 2050.[317][318][319] The Philippines is a member of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asian Development Bank which is headquartered in Mandaluyong, the Colombo Plan, the G-77 and the G-24 among other groups and institutions.[5]


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The North Luzon Expressway connects Metro Manila to the provinces of Central Luzon

The transportation infrastructure in the Philippines is relatively underdeveloped. This is partly due to the mountainous terrain and the scattered geography of the islands, but also the result of consistently low investment in infrastructure by successive governments. In 2013, about 3% of national GDP went towards infrastructure development – much lower than many of its neighbors.[320][321] There are 213,151 kilometers (132,446 mi) of roads in the Philippines, with only 25.56% of roads paved.[322]

Under President Benigno Aquino III's administration, various projects were initiated in an attempt to improve the country's infrastructure and transportation systems.[323] Buses, jeepneys, taxis, and motorized tricycles are commonly available in major cities and towns. In 2007, there were about 5.53 million registered motor vehicles with registrations increasing at an average annual rate of 4.55%.[324]

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines manages airports and implementation of policies regarding safe air travel[325][326] with 85 public airports operational as of 2014.[327] Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) serves the Greater Manila Area together with Clark International Airport. Philippine Airlines, Asia's oldest commercial airline still operating under its original name, and Cebu Pacific, the leading low-cost airline, are the major airlines serving most domestic and international destinations.[328][329][330]

A LRT-2 train at Santolan Station.

Expressways and highways are mostly located on the island of Luzon including the Pan-Philippine Highway, connecting the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao,[331][332] the North Luzon Expressway, South Luzon Expressway, and the Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway.[333][334][335][336][337][338]

Rail transport in the Philippines only plays a role in transporting passengers within Metro Manila. This area is served by three rapid transit lines: LRT-1, and LRT-2 and MRT-3.[339][340][341] In the past, railways served major parts of Luzon, and railroad services were available on the islands of Cebu and Negros. Railways were also used for agricultural purposes, especially in tobacco and sugar cane production. Rail freight transportation was almost non-existent as of 2014. A few transportation systems are under development: DOST-MIRDC and UP are implementing pre-feasibility studies on Automated Guideway Transit.[342][343][344] A so-called Hybrid Electric Road Train which is a long bi-articulated bus, was also being tested as of 2015.[345][346][347]

As an archipelago, inter-island travel using watercraft is often necessary.[348] The busiest seaports are Manila, Batangas, Subic, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga.[349] 2GO Travel and Sulpicio Lines serve Manila, with links to various cities and towns through passenger vessels. The 919-kilometer (571 mi) Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH), an integrated set of highway segments and ferry routes covering 17 cities was established in 2003.[350] The Pasig River Ferry Service serves the major rivers in Metro Manila, including the Pasig River and Marikina River having numerous stops in Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig and Marikina.[351][352]

Science and technology

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An IRRI researcher studying rice DNA under ultraviolet light.
An IRRI researcher studying rice DNA under ultraviolet light.

The Philippines has pursued efforts to improve the field of science and technology. The Department of Science and Technology is the governing agency responsible for the development of coordination of science- and technology-related projects in the Philippines.[353] The National Scientist of the Philippines award is given to individuals that have contributed to different field of science in the country. Notable Filipino scientists include Maria Orosa, a food technologist famous for her formulated food products like calamansi nip, soyalac and the banana ketchup,[354]

Fe del Mundo, a pediatrician whose pioneering work in pediatrics as an active medical practice spanned 8 decades,[355] Paulo Campos, a physician who was dubbed as "The Father of Nuclear Medicine in the Philippines" for his contributions in the field of nuclear medicine,[356] Ramon Barba, an inventor and horticulturist known for his method to induce more flowers in mango trees.[357]

Research organizations include the International Rice Research Institute, an international independent research and training organization established in 1960 with headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna,[358][359] focusing on the development of new rice varieties and rice crop management techniques to help farmers in the country improve their lives.[360] The Philippines bought its first satellite in 1996.[361] In 2016, the Philippines first micro-satellite, Diwata-1 was launched aboard the US Cygnus spacecraft.[362]


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The Philippines has a sophisticated cellular phone industry and a high concentration of users. Text messaging is a popular form of communication and, in 2007, the nation sent an average of one billion SMS messages per day. Over five million mobile phone users also use their phones as virtual wallets, making it a leader among developing nations in providing financial transactions over cellular networks.[363][364][365] The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company commonly known as PLDT is the leading telecommunications provider. It is also the largest company in the country.[363][366]

The National Telecommunications Commission is the agency responsible for the supervision, adjudication and control over all telecommunications services throughout the country.[367] There are approximately 383 AM and 659 FM radio stations and 297 television and 873 cable television stations.[368] On March 29, 1994, the country went live on the Internet via a 64 kbit/s connection from a router serviced by PLDT to a Sprint router in California.[369] Estimates for Internet penetration in the Philippines vary widely ranging from a low of 2.5 million to a high of 24 million people.[370][371] Social networking and watching videos are among the most frequent Internet activities.[372]


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View of white sand beaches of Boracay.
White sand beaches of Boracay.

The travel and tourism sector is a major contributor to the economy, contributing 7.1% to the Philippine GDP in 2013 [373] and providing 1,226,500 jobs or 3.2 percent of total employment.[374] 2,433,428 international visitors arrived from January to June 2014 up by 2.22% in the same period in 2013. South Korea, China, and Japan accounted for 58.78% while the Americas accounted for 19.28% and Europe 10.64%.[375] The Department of Tourism has responsibility for the management and promotion of the tourism sector.

The country's rich biodiversity is one of the main tourist attractions with its beaches, mountains, rainforests, islands and diving spots among the most popular tourist destinations. As an archipelago consisting of about 7,500 islands, the Philippines has numerous beaches, caves and other rock formations. Boracay has glaring white sand beaches and was named as the best island in the world by Travel + Leisure in 2012.[376] The Banaue Rice Terraces in Ifugao, the historic town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur, the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, Magellan's Cross in Cebu and the Tubbataha Reef in Visayas are other highlights.

Retirement destination

Many Americans, Europeans and Australians retire in the Philippines due to its beautiful beaches and low cost of living.[377]

Water supply and sanitation

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Among the achievements of the government in the Philippines are a high access to an improved water source of 92% in 2010; the creation of financially sustainable water service providers ("Water Districts") in small and medium towns with the continuous long-term support of a national agency (the "Local Water Utilities Administration" LWUA); and the improvement of access, service quality and efficiency in Manila through two high-profle water concessions awarded in 1997.[378]

The challenges include limited access to sanitation services, high pollution of water resources, often poor drinking water quality and poor service quality, a fragmentation of executive functions at the national level among numerous agencies, and a fragmentation of service provision at the local level into many small service providers.[378]

In 2015 it was reported by the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation by WHO and UNICEF that 74% of the population had access to improved sanitation and that "good progress" had been made.[379] The access to improved sanitation was reported to be similar for the urban and rural population.[379]


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Population density per province as of 2009 per square kilometer.

The population of the Philippines increased from 1990 to 2008 by approximately 28 million, a 45% growth in that time frame.[380] The first official census in the Philippines was carried out in 1877 and recorded a population of 5,567,685.[381]

It is estimated that half of the population resides on the island of Luzon. The 3.21% population growth rate between 1995 and 2000 decreased to an estimated 1.95% for the 2005–2010 period, but remains a contentious issue.[382][383] The population's median age is 22.7 years with 60.9% aged from 15 to 64 years old.[5] Life expectancy at birth is 71.94 years, 75.03 years for females and 68.99 years for males.[384] Poverty Incidence significantly dropped to 21.6% in 2015 from 25.2% in 2012.[385]

Since the liberalization of United States immigration laws in 1965, the number of people in the United States having Filipino ancestry has grown substantially. In 2007 there were an estimated[386][387] 12 million Filipinos living overseas.[388]

According to the official count the population of the Philippines hit 100 million at the time of midnight on July 27, 2014, making it the 12th country to reach this number.[21]


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Metro Manila is the most populous of the 3 defined metropolitan areas in the Philippines and the 11th most populous in the world. as of 2007, census data showed it had a population of 11,553,427, comprising 13% of the national population.[389] Including suburbs in the adjacent provinces (Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal) of Greater Manila, the population is around 21 million.[389][390]

Metro Manila's gross regional product was estimated as of 2009 to be 468.4 billion (at constant 1985 prices) and accounts for 33% of the nation's GDP.[391] In 2011 Manila ranked as the 28th wealthiest urban agglomeration in the world and the 2nd in Southeast Asia.[392]

Ethnic groups

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Dominant ethnic groups by province.

According to the 2000 census, 28.1% of Filipinos are Tagalog, 13.1% Cebuano, 9% Ilocano, 7.6% Visayans/Bisaya (excluding Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Waray), 7.5% Hiligaynon, 6% Bikol, 3.4% Waray, and 25.3% as "others",[5][393] which can be broken down further to yield more distinct non-tribal groups like the Moro, the Kapampangan, the Pangasinense, the Ibanag, and the Ivatan.[394] There are also indigenous peoples like the Igorot, the Lumad, the Mangyan, the Bajau, and the tribes of Palawan.[395]

Filipinos generally belong to several Asian ethnic groups classified linguistically as part of the Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian speaking people.[395] It is believed that thousands of years ago Austronesian-speaking Taiwanese aborigines migrated to the Philippines from Taiwan, bringing with them knowledge of agriculture and ocean-sailing, eventually displacing the earlier Negrito groups of the islands.[396] Negritos, such as the Aeta and the Ati, are considered among the earliest inhabitants of the islands.[397]

Being at the crossroads of the West and East, the Philippines is also home to migrants from places as diverse as China, Spain, Mexico, United States, India, South Korea, and Japan. Two important non-indigenous minorities are the Chinese and the Spaniards.

The Chinese, mostly descendants of immigrants from Fujian, China after 1898, number 2 million, although there are an estimated 27 percent of Filipinos who have partial Chinese ancestry,[398][399] stemming from precolonial and colonial Chinese migrants.[400] Intermarriage between the groups is evident in the major cities and urban areas.[401]

At least one-third of the population of Luzon (13.33% of the Filipino people) as well as a few old settlements in the Visayas and Zamboanga City at Mindanao, have partial Hispanic ancestry (from varying points of origin and ranging from Latin America[402] to Spain).[403] Recent genetic studies confirm this partial European[404][405] and Latin-American ancestry.[406]

Other important non-indigenous minorities include Indians, Anglo-Americans, Britons, and Japanese people. Descendants of mixed couples are known as mestizos.[407][not in citation given]


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Population by mother tongue (2010)
Language Speakers
Tagalog 24.44 % 24.44
Cebuano 21.35 % 21.35
Ilokano 8.77 % 8.77
Hiligaynon 8.44 % 8.44
Waray 3.97 % 3.97
Other local languages/dialects 26.09 % 26.09
Other foreign languages/dialects 0.09 % 0.09
Not reported/not stated 0.01 % 0.01
TOTAL 92,097,978
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[3]

Ethnologue lists 186 individual languages in the Philippines, 182 of which are living languages, while 4 no longer have any known speakers. Most native languages are part of the Philippine branch of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, which is itself a branch of the Austronesian language family.[395] The only language not classified as an Austronesian language is Chavacano which is a creole language of Spanish and is classified as a Romance language.[408]

Filipino and English are the official languages of the country.[12] Filipino is a standardized version of Tagalog, spoken mainly in Metro Manila and other urban regions. Both Filipino and English are used in government, education, print, broadcast media, and business. However, most people outside cities do not speak much English.[citation needed] In most towns, the local indigenous language is spoken. The Philippine constitution provides for the promotion of Spanish and Arabic on a voluntary and optional basis, although neither are used on as wide a scale as in the past.[12] Spanish, which was widely used as a lingua franca in the late nineteenth century, has since declined greatly in use, but is experiencing revival due to government promotions, while Arabic is mainly used in Islamic schools in Mindanao.[409] However, Spanish loanwords are still present today in many of the indigenous Philippine languages.[410]

Nineteen regional languages act as auxiliary official languages used as mediums of instruction: Aklanon, Bikol, Cebuano, Chavacano, Hiligaynon, Ibanag, Ilocano, Ivatan, Kapampangan, Kinaray-a, Maguindanao, Maranao, Pangasinan, Sambal, Surigaonon, Tagalog, Tausug, Waray, and Yakan.[2] Other indigenous languages such as, Cuyonon, Ifugao, Itbayat, Kalinga, Kamayo, Kankanaey, Masbateño, Romblomanon, Malay, and several Visayan languages are prevalent in their respective provinces.[411]

Languages not indigenous to the islands are also taught in select schools. Mandarin is used in Chinese schools catering to the Chinese Filipino community. Islamic schools in Mindanao teach Modern Standard Arabic in their curriculum.[412] French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish are taught with the help of foreign linguistic institutions.[413] The Department of Education began teaching the Malay languages of Indonesian and Malaysian in 2013.[414]


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A detail of Carlos V. Francisco's First Mass in the Philippines painting
Golden Mosque prayer hall

The Philippines is an officially secular state, although Christianity is the dominant faith.[415] Census data from 2010 found that about 80.58% of the population professed Catholicism.[4] Around 37% regularly attend Mass and 29% identify as very religious.[416][417] Protestants are 10.8%[418][419][not in citation given] of the total population, mostly endorsing Evangelical Protestant denominations that were introduced by American missionaries at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Philippine Independent Church is a notable independent Catholic denomination.[420][421][422] Iglesia ni Cristo is a notable Restorationist denomination in the country.[423][424]

Islam is the second largest religion. The Muslim population of the Philippines was reported as 5.57% of the total population according to census returns in 2010,[4] although a 2012 report by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos estimates it at 11%.[425] The majority of Muslims live in the Bangsamoro region.[426][427][428][429] Most practice Sunni Islam under the Shafi'i school.[430][431]

An unknown number of Filipinos are irreligious, but they may form as much as 10% of the population.[432][433] Catholicism's historic dominance is steadily declining, with about 9% of adherents considering leaving their church.[434]

An estimated 2% of the total population practice Philippine traditional religions, whose practices and folk beliefs are often syncretized with Christianity and Islam.[424][435] Buddhism is practiced by around 2% of the population, and is concentrated among Filipinos of Chinese descent.[424][430][435] The remaining population is divided between a number of religious groups, including Hindus, Jews, and Baha'is.[436]


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The façade of the Bonifacio Global City branch of St. Luke's Medical Center

There are an increasing number of private health providers and, as of 2009, 67.1% of healthcare came from private expenditures while 32.9% was from government. In 2013, total expenditures on the health sector was 3.8% of GDP, below the WHO target of 5%.[437] Health expenditure represented about 6.1% of total government spending. Per capita total expenditure at average exchange rate was USD52.[438] The budget allocation for Healthcare in 2010 was ₱28 billion (about USD597 million) or ₱310 ($7) per person[439] but had an increase in budget in 2014 with a record high in the collection of taxes from the House Bill 5727 (commonly known as Sin tax Bill).[440]

There are an estimated 90,370 physicians or 1 per every 833 people, 480,910 nurses, 43,220 dentists, and 1 hospital bed per every 769 people.[438] Retention of skilled practitioners is a problem. 70% of nursing graduates go overseas to work. The Philippines is the biggest supplier of nurses for export.[441]

In 2001 there were about 1,700 hospitals, of which about 40% were government-run and 60% private. Cardiovascular diseases account for more than 25% of all deaths. According to official estimates, 1,965 cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were reported in 2003, of which 636 had developed acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Despite the increase of HIV/AIDS cases from 12,000 in 2005[442] to 17,450 as of April 2014 with 5,965 people who were under anti-retroviral therapy,[443] the country is still a low-HIV-prevalence country with less than 0.1% of the adult population estimated to be HIV-positive.[444]


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The University of Santo Tomas, established in 1611, has the oldest extant university charter in Asia.

The Philippines has a simple literacy rate of 95.6%, with 95.1% for males and 96.1% for females. The Philippines has a functional literacy rate of 86.45%, with 84.2% for males and 88.7% for females in 2008.[445][446] Education spending accounts for 16.11% in the proposed 2015 national budget.[447][448]

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) lists 2,180 higher education institutions, 607 of which are public and 1,573 private.[449] Classes start in June and end in March. The majority of colleges and universities follow a semester calendar from June to October and November to March. There are a number of foreign schools with study programs.[205] A 6-year elementary and 4-year high school education is mandatory[450] with an additional two years being added in 2013.[451][452]

Several government agencies are involved with education. The Department of Education covers elementary, secondary, and nonformal education. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) administers the post-secondary middle-level education training and development. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) supervises the college and graduate academic programs and degrees as well as regulate standards in higher education.[453]

In 2004, madaris were mainstreamed in 16 regions nationwide, mainly in Muslim areas in Mindanao under the auspices and program of the Department of Education.[454] Public universities are all non-sectarian entities, and are further classified as State Universities and Colleges (SUC) or Local Colleges and Universities (LCU).[449] The University of the Philippines is the national university of the Philippines.[455]


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Philippine culture is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. The Philippines exhibits aspects found in other Asian countries with a Malay[456] heritage, yet its culture also displays a significant number of Spanish and American influences.

Traditional festivities known as barrio fiestas (district festivals) to commemorate the feast days of patron saints are common. These community celebrations are times for feasting, music, and dancing and the Moriones and Sinulog festivals are a couple of the most well-known.

Some traditions, however, are changing or gradually being forgotten due to modernization. The Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company has been lauded for preserving many of the various traditional folk dances found throughout the Philippines. They are famed for their iconic performances of Philippine dances such as the tinikling and singkil that both feature clashing bamboo poles.[457]


One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish names and surnames among Filipinos; a Spanish name and surname, however, does not necessarily denote Spanish ancestry. This peculiarity, unique among the people of Asia, came as a result of a colonial edict by Governor-General Narciso Clavería y Zaldua, which ordered the systematic distribution of family names and implementation of Hispanic nomenclature on the population.[458] The names of many streets, towns, and provinces are also in Spanish. Spanish architecture has left an imprint in the Philippines in the way many towns were designed around a central square or plaza mayor, but many of the buildings bearing its influence were demolished during World War II.[61] Some examples remain, mainly among the country's churches, government buildings, and universities. Four Philippine baroque churches are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the San Agustín Church in Manila, the Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Santa María) Church in Ilocos Sur, and the Santo Tomás de Villanueva Church in Iloilo.[459]

Vigan in Ilocos Sur is also known for the many Hispanic-style houses and buildings preserved there.[460] In Iloilo, a lot of the colonial edifices constructed during the American occupation in the country can still be seen. Commercial buildings, houses and churches in that era are abundant in the city and especially in Calle Real.[461]

However, certain areas of the country like Batanes have slight differences as both Spanish and Filipino ways of life assimilated differently due to the climate there and limestone and coral were used as building materials.[462] Idjangs or Ivatan castles were the primary shelter of the people prior to the Spanish conquest of the whole Philippines.[463]

The common use of the English language is an example of the American impact on Philippine society. It has contributed to the ready acceptance and influence of American pop cultural trends. This affinity is seen in Filipinos' love of fast food and American film and music. Fast food outlets are found on many street corners. American global fast food chain stalwarts have entered the market, but local fast food chains like Goldilocks and most notably Jollibee, the leading fast food chain in the country, have emerged and compete successfully against their foreign rivals.[464]