Philippines - General Information
The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands covering a land area of 115,739 sq. m. (299,764 sq. km.). Main island groups are Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Capital is Manila. Time Zone is GMT + 8 hours.
The Philippines is an archipelago of 7107 islands located from Southern China to the Northern sweep the land of Borneo. More than one hundred ethnic minorities live in the country. Blending of foreign influences formed the original Filipino culture. Prior to arrival of the Spanish discoverers, Indo-Malaya and Chinese merchants settled down there. In 1521, Spaniards headed by Fernando Magellan discovered the islands. Spanish conquistadors formed their colonial government in Cebu in 1565. In 1571, they transfered their headquarters to Manila and continued colonization of the country. Filipinos rebelled and carried out the first nationalist revolution in Asia in 1896. On 12 June of the same year, Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence and became President. After 333 years of their rule, the Spanish left the country in 1898 and were replaced by Amercians, who stayed on for another 48 years. On 4 July 1946 the United Stated acknowledged the independence of the Philippines.
- Time Zone
GMT +8 hours.
- Getting There
Travel to the Philippines is easy using a number of airline service from Europe as Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Gulf Air, KLM, Thai Airways or Singapore Airlines. Manila and Cebu are the primary international gateways. Special charter flights can also operate using other international airports situated in Laoag, Subic, Clark and Davao. Philippine Airlines has the biggest domestic air network, but other carriers also fly to numerous local destinations at regular intervals. Some of these are Cebu Pacific Air, Asian Spirit, Seair, Laoag International Airlines and Air Philippines.
- Entry Regulation
Valid passport. Except for stateless persons and those from countries with which the Philippines has no diplomatic relations, all visitors may enter the country without visas and may stay for 21 days provided they have tickets for onward journey. Holders of Hongkong and Taiwan passports musth have special permits. Visas and special permits may be obtained from Philippine embassies and consulates.
- Health Regulation
A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travellers coming from infected areas.
- Airport Information
Airports and Facilities: Manila´s Ninoy Aquino International Airport /NAIA/ is 7 kms from city centre while the Manila Domestic Airport is 1 km from the NAIA. The international airports have adequate traveller facilities: duty-free and souvenir shops, meet and assist personnel at the tourist information and assistance counters, hotel and travel agency representatives, car rental services, banks and automated teller machines, postal service, national and international direct dial telephone booths, medical clinics and baggage deposit areas.
Baggage carts are available free of charge. Porter services are also free. Tipping is optional though traditional.
Visitors are advised to fill in the Baggage Declaration Form before disembarking to facilitate Customs examination. The following are allowed duty-free: reasonable quanitites of clothes, jewelry and toiletries, 4000 sticks of cigarettes or two tins of tobacco, two bottles of wine or spirits of not more than one litre each.
- Airports Transfers
Visitors are advised to avail of accredited fixed rate of metered taxis at the NAIA´s Arrival Area. At the Manila Domestic Airport, accredited transfer services are available on pre-paid coupon basis. Other airports are served by metered taxis. All airports have counters for hotel transport and car rental service.
- Airport Fees
P750 for international departure and P100 for local departure (paid in Philippine peso only). Departing passengers for international destinations are advised to check with airport or tourist information counters for prevailing departure fees that may change without notice.
- Duty Free Shopping
Duty-Free Philippines near the NAIA is the country´s largest duty-free outlet carrying quality imported items and select Philippine export products.
Hot and dry from March to May, rain season from June to October, relatively colder weather from November to February. Average temperatures 25-33 Celsius, humidity around 77%.
- What to wear
Light, causual clothes are recommended. Warmer garments are needed for mountain regions. When visiting churches and temples, propriety dictates that shorts and scanty clothes are avoided. Formal occasionns require dinner jackets and ties (or the Philippine barong tagalog) for men and coctail dresses or long gowns for women.
Unit of currency: Philippine Peso /PhP/ 1 100 centavos. Bank notes: P20, P50, P100, P500, P1000. Coins: 5c, 10c, 20c, P1,P5, P10.
Tipping is expected for many services. The standard is 10% of the total bill. Tipping is optional on bills that already include a 10% service charge.
- Local Transport
By air, Philippine Airlines, Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific provide daily services to major cities and towns. Asian Spirit, Laoag International Airlines and Seair service the missionary routes. There are also scheduled chartered flights to major domestic destinations serviced by smaller commuter planes.
By sea, inter-island ships connect Manila and Cebu to major ports. Ferry services connect the smaller islands. For the more adventurous, travelling from island to island may be done through negotiations for non-commercial outrigger fisher boats.
By land, regular bus services connect Manila to all major regions of the country. Metered and fixed rate taxis are widely available in key cities nationwide. Jeepneys and buses are inexpensive ways to get around most places. In Metro Manila, the fastest way of commuting is via the Light Railway Transit /the LRT presently operates 2 lines/ and the Metro Rail Transport /MRT - one line/.
Filipino is the national language. English is the business language and widely spoken.
In Metro Manila and in key cities and towns throughout the country, a wide seletion of deluxe, first class, standard, economy and pension type accommodations are available. In island destinations, a variety of resorts ranging from deluxe to special interest category are also available.
- Dining Out
Filipino food is an exotic, tasteful fusion of Oriental, European and American culinary influences with a wide variety of fresh seafood and delectable fruits. First-class resaurants offer gourmet specialities as well as Filipino cuisine.
- Entertainment and Culture
Metro Manila is the centre of entertainment and cultural acitivites. The premier venue for the performing arts, the Cultural Centre of the Philippines, features excellent performances by local and international guest artists. Museums located in Manila and in some parts of the country offer a glimpse of Philippine history and culture. Art galleries exhibit the works of the country´s leading and promising visual artists. Metro Manila´s nightlife is one of the most vibrant in Asia, reflective of the Filipinos´ inherent musical talent. The hubs of nightlife activities at the Remedios Circle in Malate, Ayala Centre and Fort Bonifacio Global City in Makati, Timog and Tomas Morato Avenues in Quezon City, Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong and Pasig Cities, and Eastwood in Libis, Quezon City, clubs, music lounges, pubs and sing-along bars feature Filipino bnds and singers known for their exceptional musical talent. Deluxe hotels offer a variety of live musical entertainment. Concerts and stage plays form part of the country´s entertainment scene. For visitors who wnat to try their luck at the gaming tables there are casinos in Metro Manila and in the cities of Angeles, Olongapo, Tagaytay, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod and Laoag.
Visitors can choose from an exciting selection of great buys in a country known for export-quality items at reasonable prices. South Sea pearls, hand-woven cloths, embroidered fineries, fashionable ready-to-wear and haute clothes, terracotta, and porcelain, coral and mother-of-pearl home accessories. Artcrafts, pineapple fiber shirts, pre-historic jars, native handicrafts, and footwear are interesting items, too. The Philipines also produces fine furniture, basketry, fresh and processed fruits, exquisitely crafted jewelry and gift items made of shell, wood and stone. Big Malls are located in major cities of Metro Manila, while handicrafts, antique and curio shops abound at the Ermita District in Manila and in other nearby towns.
- Business and Banking
Private and government offices are open either from 8 am to 5 pm or from 9 am to 6 pm. Some private companies hold office on Saturdays from 9am to 12 noon. Most shoppping malls, department stores and supermarkets are open from 10 am to 8 pm. There are 24-hour convenience stores and drugstores. Banks are open from 9 am to 3 pm, Mondays to Fridays with automated teller machines (ATM) operating 24 hours. International credit cards such as Visa, Dinners Club, Mastercard and American Express are accepted in major establishments.
220 volts, A. C. 60 cycles. Most hotels have 110 volts outlets.
Bottled water is available in many hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores.
- Communication Facilities
The country has international and national direct dial phone and fascimile service, mobile phone sites, internet and e-mail facilities and worldwide express delivery services. Most national dailies are in English. Foreign publications are sold at major hotels, malls and bookstores in Metro Manila and key cities. 7 national TV stations broadcast mainly in Filipino. Cable and TV are available in many hotels in Manila and in many parts of the country.
- Convention Facilities
Manila, the pioneer convention city in Asia, has played host to a number of prestigious international events. The Philippine International Convention Centre is equipped with modern convention facilities and services. It can accommodate 4,000 delegates in its Plenary Hall and 5,700 persons in its Reception Hall. The World Trade Centre near the PICC can hold huge exhibitions and events. Smaller meetings can be held in hotels and other establishments. Out-of-town hotels and resorts are alternative convention sites.
- Tour and Special Interest Activities
Tour packages, from day trips to 5-day program are special ways of discovering the Philippines and its wealth of culture. Special interest acitivities include golfing, game fishing diving, white-water rafting and other aquasports, trekking, spelunking and safari trips. For more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.wowphilippines.com.ph or the following offices in Europe:
Marie Venus Q. Tan, Officer-in-Charge/Tourism Attaché
Philippine Department of Tourism
Level 1, Kaiserhof Strasse 7
D-60313, Frankfurt Am Main
Work Phone (49) (69) 2089394
Fax Number (49) (69) 285127
Home Phone (49) (69) 56003898
Cell Phone (49) (173) 6665668
Domingo Ramon Enerio III, Tourism Attaché
Embassy of the Philippines
146 Cromwell Rd.
London SW7 4EF, United Kingdom
Work Phone (44) (20) 7835 1100
Fax Number (44) (20) 7835 1926
Home Phone (44) 20 7370 4008
Cell Phone (44) 777 972 6273
Czech Embassy to the Philippines
Rufino Pacific Tower, 30th Floor, 6784 Ayala Avenue, Makati City, Manila. email@example.com, www.mzv.cz/manila , phone 00632/8111155, fax 00632/8111020