In general, the Philippines have a maritime and tropical climate with relatively high humidity, warm temperature, abundant rainfall and gentle winds. Three main seasons describe the over-all climatic pattern. The wet or rainy season is from June to October, the cool dry season is from November to February and the hot dry season is from March to May. Within these broadly shared conditions, there are localized variations due to topographic features, air stream directions, and density of rainfall.
The Philippines, is situated geographically in the "Typhoon Belt", and is frequented by tropical storms. An average of 19 tropical weather disturbances of varying intensities visits the country every year.
The Philippine archipelago is located in the Southeast Asia region. It is composed of over 7,107 islands. As a whole, the total land area of the archipelago is about 300,439 square kilometers, and its coastline covers 17,465 kilometers. Three prominent bodies of water surround the archipelago: the Pacific Ocean on the east, the South China Sea on the west and north, and the Celebes Sea on the south. This position accounts for much of the variations in geographical, climatic and vegetation conditions in the country. The entire archipelago is divided into three major groups of islands: LUZON in the north, MINDANAO in the south and VISAYAS in the middle – surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Philippine Sea, the South China Sea, the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea.
Manila in Luzon, is the capital of the Philippines, it is the seat of the national government, education, arts and culture. It is where the nation’s trade, commerce and industry are concentrated. However, Cebu in the Visayas and Davao in Mindanao, in the recent past have emerged as viable centers of trade and commerce as well.
The country was settled by the Malay race with sorties of Chinese and Arab traders from the Middle East. The first “westerner” to visit was Ferdinand Magellan and thus was given the honor of having discovered the Philippines in 1521. He named the islands, “the Philippines”, in honor of Philip 11 of Spain. The Spaniards introduced Christianity and ruled the Philippines for almost 300 years.
In 1896, the martyrdom of Dr, Jose Rizal inspired a revolt against the Spanish regime. Through the leadership of General Emilio Aguinaldo, the Philippines declared independence in 1898.
The Americans came into rule in May 1, 1889, after destroying the Spanish fleet through the leadership of Admiral George Dewey.
On December 8, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor and, within a month, occupied Manila. With the leadership of General Douglas McArthur, the Americans liberated the Philippines from the Japanese occupation on July 5, 1945. The United States granted the Philippines its independence on July 4, 1947.
The constitution of the Commonwealth of the Philippines was enacted in 1935. Since the Philippines gained its independence, ten Presidents have governed the country. The current president is Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III.
Historically, the Filipinos have embraced two of the great religions of the world - Islam and Christianity. Islam was introduced during the 14th century shortly after the expansion of Arab commercial ventures in Southeast Asia. Today, it is limited mainly to the southernmost region (Mindanao) of the country. Christianity was introduced in the 16th century with the discovery of the Philippines by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. However, it did not become firmly established until the 17th century when the Spaniards decided to make the Philippines one of its colonies. The doctrinal teachings were based on Roman Catholicism. Today, the Philippines remain predominantly Christian.
There are 111 linguistic, cultural and tribal groups in the Philippines, speaking a total of about 70-dialects. The major linguistic groups are the following: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, Pangasinan and Maranao. While the Philippines have a national language called Tagalog, English remains the medium of communications in schools and in business communities. The Philippines is one of the largest English-speaking nations in the world. A minority also speaks Spanish and Chinese.
The country is divided into fourteen regions and each one is composed of several provinces and village or sub-provinces. Each region, and in some cases each province, has its own dialect totaling over 87 spoken throughout. "Tagalog" however, is the main national language spoken and understood in most provinces. English is also widely spoken and at times prostituted into what has locally been known as Pidgin English or Taglish. It is because of this regional diversity and the many dialects in these islands that Filipinos have the tendency to be very rationalistic in thought and practice, and thereby patronize their own region instead of the country in general.
Today, the country’s population is estimated to be 85 million. Approximately 14 million live in Metro Manila. Filipinos are basically of Malay origin with Chinese and Spanish ancestries.
Filipinos are essentially “family people”. They take care of their families and appreciate family responsibilities. In general, Filipinos are hospitable, patient, fun loving and industrious.