Philippines Travel Guide

A Comprehensive Guide for Families Travelling to Philippines

The Philippines is an archipelago of more than seven thousand islands, divided by three major groups of islands - Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. As an archipelago, the Philippines is home to idyllic beaches and is often the main reason why tourists would come for a visit.

But there's more to discover in the Philippines than its beaches. If you are eager to visit this beautiful Southeast Asian country, here's what you need to know about the top places to visit in the Philippines and other things you need to know about the country.

About the Philippines and People

The Filipino culture and values make the Philippines different from the rest of the world. Although some of these cultures stem from the Chinese, Spanish, and Americans who colonized the country for many years, most are distinctly Filipino.

Filipinos Take Pride in their Families

Filipinos give importance to families. Whether you're an immediate family or from the third or fourth generation, you will be treated as a family member. Close familial relationships sometimes go beyond genetic connections or bloodlines so that close friends and neighbours are treated as part of the family.

Most children live with their parents until they get married. Others even choose to stay with their elderly parents even when they already have their own families. Parents often encourage their kids to have a close relationship with their uncles and aunts. They raise and encourage their children to continue to play an active role in the family. Because of the closeness of Filipinos to their families, gatherings are often large and loud.

Respect for Elders

Filipinos strongly value respect for the elderly. Young people are taught to respect their older family members and are encouraged to address them politely and with appropriate titles of respect. When addressing the elderly, Filipinos use catchphrases like "po" and "opo," to show respect. They also have a culture of "pagmamano," which requires them to raise the hands of their elders and bring them towards their foreheads as a sign of respect.

Showing respect is an essential part of Filipino culture. Politeness is a norm evident in the way they talk, even to strangers. You can expect a Filipino to be polite in talking to you, regardless of what they may actually think about you.

Most Filipinos Are Religious

Filipinos are known for their strong religious faith that even during challenging circumstances, their faith remains intact. When you visit a Filipino house, you'll find images of the cross and other religious paraphernalia displayed around the place. It has also become a tradition for Filipinos to attend church every Sunday. Others even twice or three times a week.

One thing that makes the Philippines unique among its neighbouring Southeast Asian countries is that most Filipinos are Christians. Christianity was introduced to the country as early as the 16th century with the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. More than 80% are Catholics, while the rest are Protestants, Muslims, etc. Even though the Catholic Church separated from the state in the 1990s, Catholicism still plays an essential role in the country's societal and political affairs.

Filipinos Are Known for their Resiliency

The Philippines is prone to disasters since it lies along the boundary of major tectonic plates and is in the middle of a typhoon belt. But despite the calamities and catastrophes, Filipinos always rise above these challenges. Instead of wallowing, they pick themselves up and move on with their lives.

The Filipino people have always been very resilient. There's this concept in the Filipino culture known as "Bayanihan," which encourages unity and cooperation in the community. This behaviour is most evident during challenging times, which further helps the Filipinos to face adversities.

Cheerful and Fun-loving Attitude

Filipinos, in general, have a cheerful and fun-loving attitude towards life. They know how to have fun and would often joke around with each other. In fact, they laugh even during difficult times, which is one of their coping mechanisms. But there are times when their sense of humour can be unconstructive and distractive towards other people.

If you find Filipinos always laughing, even in the presence of foreigners, don't take this as a sign that they are mocking you or making fun of you. They are just being cheerful, which is in their nature. Filipinos are typically optimistic and resilient despite being faced with challenges.

Filipinos Value Culture and Traditions

For most Filipinos, traditions and culture in their home are highly important. They would set aside a specific day for important events and celebrations, such as birthday parties, festivals, reunions, etc. At every gathering, you can expect a fest of sumptuous foods.

Filipinos will make sure to celebrate, even a simple event such as a graduation, birthday, or job promotion. The Philippines is also known to have the world's longest Christmas celebration. As early as September, Filipinos have already started hanging Christmas lights and decorating their homes for the coming holidays.

Filipinos Speak Good English

There are more than 70 major language groups in the Philippines, with more than 500 dialects. For 300 years, Spanish was the country's official language. It was when Spain ruled the Philippines, and this lasted until the 20th century. After the Americans occupied the country in the early 1900s, the Spanish language declined, and Filipinos started learning English.

In 1935, the Constitution of the Philippines declared English and Spanish as the official languages, and in 1939, Tagalog was named the country's national language. In 1959, it was renamed "Pilipino” and "Filipino" in 1973. The current constitution declared Filipino and English as the country’s joint official languages.

One of the good things about travelling to the Philippines is you won't have a hard time talking to the locals since most of them speak good English. Of course, this may not be the case in the remote mountainous areas, but more than half of the country's population speaks English, making it one of the largest English-speaking nations in the world.

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