The currency in the Philippines is the peso (PhP) and the centavo. 100 centavos = P1. Coin denominations are: 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos, P1, and P5. Bill denominations are 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1, 000 pesos.
Foreign currency may be exchanged at your hotel, and in most of the large department stores, banks and authorized money changing shops. Exchanging money anywhere else is illegal and the laws are strictly enforced.
Most large stores, restaurants, hotels and resorts accept major credit cards including American Express, Visas and MasterCard. Traveller’ s checks preferably American Express are accepted at hotels and large department stores. Personal checks drawn on foreign banks are generally not accepted. (http://dfa.gov.ph)
It is illegal for any incoming or outgoing passenger to bring in or out Philippine Pesos in excess of P10,000 (about US$2,200) without prior authority from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank). Any violation of this rule may lead to its seizure and civil penalties and/or criminal prosecution.
The transportation of foreign currency or monetary instruments is legal. However, the carrying of foreign currency in excess of US$10,000 or its equivalent in other foreign currencies must be declared to a Customs Officer or the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Violation of this rule may lead to seizure and sanctions, fines and/or penalties.
For more information about Bureau of Customs Passengers Guidelines, click here.
Upon Arrival in the Philippines: Visitors are allowed to bring in duty-free personal belongings, two cartons of cigarettes or two tins of pipe tobacco, and up to one liter of alcohol. Balikbayans or returning Filipino residents have separate rules and should check with the Embassy or Consulate in their home city.
Visitors should take precautions when traveling around Manila. Here are some useful advisories:
- Do not carry or display large amounts of cash.
- Use ATMs located inside the building to avoid being robbed.
- Do not leave your belongings unattended.
- Be cautious when in crowds and when commuting.
- Check how to get to your destination in advance because commuting can get a bit complicated.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 60 Hz. The Type A electrical plug (or flat blade attachment plug) is used. Universal adapters are recommended to ensure you can connect. In major hotel, 110 volts a/c may also be available.
The international access code for the Philippines is +63. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (for example, 001 for the United States). City/area codes are in use (for example, (0)2 for Manila).
The Philippines has two seasons only – the dry season and the wet season. Up to 20 typhoons visit the archipelago usually between the months of May to October, and the sun shines the rest of the year. However, climate change, and El Nino and La Nina phenomena have altered the seasons significantly.
November is a typically warm and humid month, with the temperature fluctuating from 27 to 30° Celsius. Please bring light clothing but to be sure, check out the weather forecast for week before you fly in.
What to Wear
People most everywhere dress for the weather. In the Philippines, casual attire during the day for women is light blouses and shorts. For men collared shirts worn over slacks. In the evening skirts are substituted for shorts and the shirts are tucked in.
For Men Only: Although our conference is business casual, and no ties are needed, if you want more formal wear there is a wonderful substitute. You may go to a department store and buy a Barong Tagalog, an embroidered shirt that is considered a formal dress. This costs more or less PhP1,000 (about US$30) and can be a nice souvenir.
Odds and Ends
The exotic jeepney is a post-war creation inspired by the GI jeeps that the American soldiers brought to the country in the 1940s. Enterprising Filipinos salvaged the surplus engines and came out with unique vehicles of art. The exotic jeepney is the Filipino version of the jitney, the taxi/minibus that travels along a fixed route, found in many countries.
Short distance and feeder trips could not be more exciting than via Philippine quick transports – the tricycle, a motorcycle with a sidecar, and the pedicab, a bicycle with a sidecar.
The highest mountain in the Philippines is Mt. Apo, a dormant volcano found in Mindanao, at 2,954 meters (9,689 feet). Mt. Pulog in Luzon is the second highest at 2,928 meters (9604 feet).
Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal could read and write at age 2. He grew up to speak more than 20 languages, including Latin, Greek, German, French, and Chinese. What were his last words? “Consumatum est!” (“It is done!”)
The largest city in the Philippines is Davao City. With an area of 2,211 sq. km., it is about three times the size of the national capital, Metro Manila. Cebu is the oldest Philippine city. Negros Occidental has the most cities among Philippine provinces.
Filipinos celebrate the world’s longest religious holiday. The Christmas season begins on September 1st, as chillier winds and Christmas carols start filling the air, and ends on the first week of January, during the Feast of the Three Kings. Paskuhan Village in the province of Pampanga is Asia’s only Christmas theme park and the third of its kind in the world.
The antibiotic erythromycin — used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections, such as respiratory tract infections, middle ear infections, and skin infections — was created by Filipino scientist Abelardo Aguilar, and has earned American drug giant Eli Lilly billions of dollars. Neither Aguilar nor the Philippine government received royalties.
The largest fish in the world, the Whale Shark, locally known as Butanding, regularly swims to the Philippine waters. The world’s shortest and lightest freshwater fish is the dwarf pygmy goby (Pandaka Pygmaea), a colorless and nearly transparent species found in the streams and lakes of Luzon. Males have an average length of 8.7 mm. and weigh 4-5 mg.
Of the 500 known coral species in the world, 488 are found in the Philippines.
Five of the eight species of marine turtles worldwide are reported to be found in the Philippines: the Green Turtle, Hawkbill, Leatherback, Olive Ridley, and Loggerhead.
A Filipino diver found the world’s largest pearl in a giant Tridacna (mollusk) in the Palawan Sea in 1934. Known as the “Pearl of Lao-Tzu”, the gem weighs 14 pounds and measures 9 1/2 inches long and 5 1/2 inches in diameter. As of May 1984, it was valued at US$42 million. It is believed to be 600 years old.
The Basilica of San Sebastian is the only steel church in Asia and was the second building to be made out of steel, next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The largest bell in Asia hangs at the belfry of the 221-year old Panay Church in Bohol province. It is 7 feet in diameter and 7 feet in height, and weighs 10.4 tons. Its tolling can be heard as far as 8 km. away. It was casted from 70 sacks of coins donated by the townspeople as a manifestation of faith and thanksgiving.
Camiguin province holds the distinction of having the most number of volcanoes per square kilometer than any other island on earth. It is also the only place in the Philippines, which has more volcanoes (7) than towns (5).
There are two official languages – Filipino and English. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is also widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education.
Eight (8) major dialects spoken by majority of the Filipinos: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense. Filipino is the native language, which is used nationally as the language of communication among ethnic groups.
Like any living language, Filipino is in a process of development through loans from Philippine languages and non-native languages for various situations, among speakers of different social backgrounds, and for topics for conversation and scholarly discourse. There are about 76 to 78 major language groups, with more than 500 dialects.
UNIT OF MEASURE
The Metric System is used in most trade and legal transactions.
Water supply in Metro Manila and in all the other major cities is potable and safe. Bottled purified water, spring water, or mineral water is also available in all hotels and resorts, and sold in all grocery stores.
TELEPHONE AND MOBILE PHONE
Mobile and land telephone service is accessible in most cities and regions of the Philippines. Public phones are plentiful so stack up one-peso coins to dial away. The major telecommunication companies in the country are:
- Bayantel (Bayan Telecommunications, Philippines)
- Globe Telecom
- PLDT – Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company.
- Smart (also offers mobile banking)
HOTLINES AND IMPORTANT NUMBERS:
Police & Fire: 757 or 116
Emergency No.: 501- 650 or 501- 728
Directory Assistance: 114
National Operator: 109
International Operator: 108
For other emergency numbers, please refer to Directory.
NOTE: It is advisable to always have the telephone number and the address of your embassy or consulate with you.
Most business establishments are open from 8 AM to 5 PM on weekdays, and from 8 AM to noon on Saturdays. Banks are open from 9 AM to 3 PM Monday to Friday. When banking in the Philippines, it is advisable to have your passport with you for identification.
Most shopping malls are open from 10 AM to 8 PM, and a few others, until 10 PM.
The post offices are open from 9 AM to 5 PM weekdays only. Stamps for postcards are frequently available from the Concierge Desk at most major hotels. The Philippines uses ZIP codes, please include them in addressing local mail.
NOTE: The Standard lunch hour is noon to 1 PM. Most business establishments and government offices are closed.
Local time is GMT plus 8 hours.
Business English is the language used. Sexual equality is more widespread in the Philippines than in other Asian countries. Make sure you have business cards.
The Anti-Smoking Law is enforced in most enclosed and public places, including the entire strip of EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue), the national road that straddles Metro Manila where the conference venue is located.
The Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 (Republic Act 9211) prohibits the carrying of any lighted tobacco product in public vehicles, schools, health centers, elevators, cinemas, malls and in places where fire hazards are present. Smoking is also banned in recreational facilities for minors. Fines imposed on violators of this section range from P500 to P10,000 (about USS12 to US$220).
Hotels, business establishments, and government offices have smoking areas, however.
An archipelago of 7,107 islands, the Philippines offers visitors countless of destinations adventures to see and experience. The country is blessed with a rich environment— lush forests, tropical islands, white sand beaches, lakes, rivers, mountains— and friendly, artistic, and hardworking people who are always happy to welcome visitors and friends. When you come for a visit, be sure to stay for a long time so that you can enjoy the different exciting experiences that the country has in store for you.
For detailed information, check out the government’s tourism department. Here are some of the treasures of the Philippines that you may like to check out:
- The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Banaue Rice Terraces; The well-preserved Spanish-style architecture in the historic town of Vigan, Ilocos Sur;
- The Baroque-style Philippine World Heritage site churches: the San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, the Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion Church in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur, San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila, and the Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo.
- The smallest active volcano in the world, Taal Volcano in Batangas.
- The volcano with the most perfect cone, Mt. Mayon in Legazpi, Albay.
- The unique land formation that is the Chocolate Hills in Bohol.
- The endemic Philippine fauna: Tamaraw, Tarsier, Philippine Eagle.
CHECK OUT THE BEACHES, TOO!
The Philippines is a tropical country with one of the longest coastlines in Asia at 36,289 kilometers. It has numerous beaches with fine powdery white sand and clean, clear, and cool blue waters.
Be sure to bask in the warm tropical sun and get the perfect tan that will be the envy of your friends back home. Top Philippine beach locations: Boracay Island, Aklan; El Nido, Palawan; Camiguin Island; Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte; Puerto Galera, Mindoro; Nasugbu and Lian in Batangas; Ternate in Cavite.
The Philippines is Asia’s Dive Capital. If you are a diving enthusiast— amateur or professional, or someone who is looking for an underwater experience of a lifetime, then you must go to the Philippines if only for the reason that the country has the highest density of coral species in the world.
Philippine seas are the most bio-diverse and marine-rich waters in the world and host a diverse species of aquatic resources.
Amateur divers can train and get their licenses at any of the diving training centers located in diving spots Anilao, Puerto Galera and Boracay, and once done with training, they can dive side-by-side with professional divers in the country’s other must-see diving spots:
- The UNESCO World Heritage Site Tubbataha Reef, location of some of the best wreck-diving sites in the world, and Coron — both in Palawan province
- Verde Island in Mindoro Oriental
- Apo Reef National Park in Mindoro Occidental, the largest atoll-like reef in the Philippines which includes 285 species of fish and 197 species of corals (featured in the SHEDD Aquarium permanent Philippine reef display in Chicago, Illinois, USA
- Apo Island Marine Reserve & Fish Sanctuary in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental
- Balicasag and Pamilacan Islands in Bohol
- Malapascua and Moalboal/Pescador Islands in Cebu
The Philippines offers a wide variety of sports adventures. Different locations cater to specific activities:
- Tee off at various golf courses around the country designed by some of the most famous golf celebrities in the world;
- Snorkel and interact with the “gentle giants”— the whale sharks— in Donsol, Sorsogon; Surf in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte, Baler, Aurora, Daet, Camarines Sur and in Catanduanes province;
- Climb the country’s highest peak at 9,689 feet- Mt. Apo- in Davao City, Davao;
- Trek Mt. Pinatubo or explore the Callao caves in Tuguegarao, Cagayan province
- Go white river rafting in Chico River or in Cagayan de Oro River;
- Try kayaking and canoeing at the Bacuit Archipelago and at the St. Paul Subterranean Cave both in Palawan;
- Windsurf in Lake Caliraya or in Taal Lake, Batangas;
- Kitesurf in Boracay, Aklan;
- Wakeboard in Pili, Camarines Sur.
MASSAGE AND SPA
There is nothing more relaxing than enjoying the traditional Filipino “healing” massage or touch therapy called Hilot. The soothing touch of this massage relaxes and heals tired muscles and aching joints. Try this and other spa treatments at the Nurture Spa in Tagaytay, Mandala Spa in Boracay, Sanctuario Spa in Manila, Chi Spa Village in Shangri-La Mactan, Cebu, and at The Farm at San Benito in Batangas.
FEAST ON FILIPINO FOOD
Be ready to put on a few extra pounds as you satisfy your cravings by indulging in a Filipino feast.
Dishes to try: Lechon, spit-roast whole pig served with liver sauce; Adobo, pork, chicken or a combination of both, marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic and stewed until tender; Kare-kare, meat and vegetables cooked with peanut sauce served with shrimp paste; Sinigang, pork, or seafood in tamarind soup; or the freshest seafood— fish, squid, shrimp, lobsters— grilled to perfection.
The more adventurous should try Balut or boiled duck eggs containing a partially formed embryo, and Dinuguan, the pork blood stew eaten with steamed rice or Puto, rice cakes. All around the country, there are restaurants offering different cuisines from American to Chinese, from Indian to Greek, from Japanese to French.
Shopping in the Philippines is an experience both in bargain and variety.
Most shopping places or malls in Manila, Makati, Cebu and Davao virtually have everything that you will need— from designer western brands to items specifically designed for the tourist market. Around the country, specifically in city centers, Tiangges or the Filipino version of flea markets abound offering quality items at bargain prices. In Manila shop at the third largest mall in the world Mall of Asia, Robinson Place, Balikbayan Handicrafts, Tutuban Center Mall and at the San Andres Market (for fresh fruits and other produce).
In Makati and surrounding areas, shop at Greenbelt, Glorietta, Landmark Department Store, Greenhills Shopping Center, Megamall, Shangri-La Mall and at Tiendesitas.
In Cebu, check out the Ayala Center, the Gaisano Malls, Robinson’s Place, SM City, and for native delicacies, fresh produce and fresh and dried seafood, go to the Carbon and Tabo-an Markets. In Davao, shop at Aldevinco Shopping Center (for fabrics, batik, carvings) Victoria Plaza, Gaisano Mall and at the New City Commercial Center department store.
An experience not to be missed in flea market-shopping in the Philippines is the ”bargaining” where shoppers can buy items with big discount, depending on charm and good bargaining skills.
Philippine culture is best experienced in events and activities that highlight what Filipinos are passionate about— faith, love for country, family, beautiful women, and celebrations.
Filipinos love to celebrate, and there is no better way of celebrating than by having festivals:
- Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan, January, the best and biggest in the country, it commemorates the feast of the Sto Nino with a weeklong street party. Groups of dancers dressed as the aboriginal Atis, representing different communities from the city participate in the festive weeklong street party that highlights during the feast of the patron saint;
- Pahiyas in Lucban, Quezon. May 15, the annual harvest festival and feast of San Isidro Labrador. Witness the colorful display of kiping and other thanksgiving offerings hung in the houses that line the street where the procession of the image of the patron saint will pass. Giant papier-mâché effigies join the parade to add to the spectacle of a celebration;
- Masskara Festival in Bacolod City, October, coinciding with the city’s charter day celebration, the festival features carnivals, fairs and a mardi gras-style parade by costumed and masked street dancers. There are as many festivals as there are towns in the Philippines and when you attend and enjoy a Filipino celebration, you come closer to understanding the culture of the people.
Other unique Philippine cultural events and activities include the cultural spectacle Santacruzan—a Maytime procession of beautiful Philippine maidens staged as a re-enactment of St. Helen’s quest for the Holy Cross; the awesome display of Filipino religiosity in the frenzied Black Nazarene procession during the Quiapo fiesta every January in Manila; the Holy Week rituals in San Fernando, Pampanga— proof of the Filipino’s and Philippine culture’s deep Catholic roots; and the displays (giant Christmas lanterns), rituals (dawn masses) and traditions (noche buena feasts) that mark the Filipinos’ celebration of Christmas.
There is an abundance of places to go to and enjoy a night out in the Philippines. Every major city offers nightlife activity hubs with restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs and karaoke bars all promising a good time of fun and entertainment.
In the country’s financial district Makati, there is the Greenbelt, Glorietta, The Fort, Jupiter St. and J. P. Rizal Street. In the city’s capital, Manila, nightlife is diverse.
There is something for everybody in Malate, and in the newly revitalized Roxas Boulevard and its Baywalk. Quezon City is a popular destination of locals as the club prices are a little lower than those in Makati. Most clubs are close to each other so common to bar hop.
Try the establishments along Timog and Tomas Morato Avenues and Quezon Boulevard, and in Eastwood City in Libis.
Outside Metro Manila, there are a number of popular places to go to. The nightlife of Subic in the province of Zambales, is known all over the world because of its history as a former rest and recreation center of the US Navy. The city is still teeming with nightlife activities as the Subic Free Trade Port is home to a lot of expatriates from other foreign countries as well and it is now a major Tourist hub. Foreign Navies still use the port as a rest and recreation spot every now and then. Check out Subic International Hotel and the Magsaysay Blvd.
Angeles City in Pampanga, formerly the home of the US Air force in the Pacific, is also known for its Angeles City nightlife stayed almost the same as a lot of retired US and Australian citizens decided to make Angeles City their second home. Establishments in Balibago are still popular.
The central Philippine city of Cebu is a popular destination among tourists because its nightlife is at par if not better than in Metro-Manila. Big development companies have opened up operations in the city as well as major club chain operators have set up their presence. Be sure to go to Ayala Mall and in the different establishments that abound Osmena Blvd.
The ultimate island-nightlife location in the Philippines is Boracay Island in the province of Aklan. The island is known for its carefree attitude, and the island is home to a lot of clubs and bars on the beach: Bazzura, Hey Jude, D’ Mall, and the Station 2 establishments.
ARTS AND ARTISTS
The Philippines is home to many world-class artists. On schedule, the Cultural Center of the Philippines showcases performances by the Ballet Philippines, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, and the Bayanihan Dance Troupe.
World-renowned artists Lea Salonga and Cecile Licad have occasional performances in big concert halls in Manila.
The Center of Arts in San Antonio (CASA) in San Miguel, Zambales, features violinist Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata and his Pundaquit talents.
Other groups that showcase the Filipino performing talents are Repertory Philippines, the Loboc Children’s Choir, and the Amazing Philippines Theatre.
In the Visual Arts, works of world-class Filipino masters Juan Luna, Felix Resurrection Hidalgo and Fabian de la Rosa, National Artists Fernando Amorsolo, Carlos Francisco, Victor Edades, Vicente Manansala, other Philippine painting greats and contemporary visual artists can be viewed at the Philippine National Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, the Ayala Museum and in some galleries and University museums around Metro Manila.
Colleges and universities in the Philippines are home to award-wining performance groups that have been recognized internationally for their artistry and excellence in the performing arts: Dulaang UP (student theatre group), the UP Concert Chorus, UP Singing Ambassadors of the University of the Philippines; Ateneo College Glee Club and the Ateneo Chamber Singers of the Ateneo de Manila University; the UST Singers and the Salinggawi Dance Troupe of the University of Santo Tomas.
All around the country in simple stages, live bands and professional singers perform in clubs and music halls showcasing Filipino talent in entertainment.
Filipino, the national language, and English are the languages of instruction Philippine schools. Most everyone in the Philippines has some to excellent proficiency in spoken and written English.
It is common to hear Filipinos say “Hi” or “Hello” to friends old and new.
Below are a few Filipino greetings that that could prove handy:
Magandang umaga po. (formal/polite) – Good morning
Magandang umaga. (informal) – Good morning
Magandang tanghali po. (formal/polite) – Good afternoon
Magandang tanghali. (informal) – Good noon
Magandang hapon po. (formal/polite) – Good afternoon
Magandang hapon. (informal) – Good afternoon
Magandang gabi po. (formal/polite) – Good evening
Magandang gabi. (informal) – Good evening
Kumusta po kayo? (formal/polite) – How are you?
Kumusta ka? (informal) – How are you?
Mabuti po naman. (formal/polite) – I’m fine
Mabuti naman. (informal) – I’m fine
Tuloy po kayo. (formal/polite) – Please, come in
Tuloy. (informal) – Please, come in
Salamat po. (formal/polite) – Thank you
Salamat. (informal) – Thank you
Maraming salamat po. (formal/polite) – Thank you very much
Maraming salamat. (informal) – Thank you very much
Wala pong anuman. (formal/polite) – You are welcome
Walang anuman. (informal) – You are welcome
Opo/oho. (formal/polite) – Yes
Oo (informal) – Yes
Hindi po/ho (formal/polite) – No
Hindi (informal) – No
Hindi ko po/ho alam. (formal/polite) – I don’t know
Hindi ko alam. (informal) – I don’t know
Anong oras na po? (formal/polite) – What time is it?
Anong oras na? (informal) – What time is it?
Saan po kayo papunta? (formal/polite) – Where are you going?
Saan ka papunta? (informal) – Where are you going?
Saan po kayo galing? (formal/polite) – Where did you come from?
Saan ka galing? (informal) – Where did you come from?
Ano po ang pangalan nila? (formal/polite) – What is your name?
Anong pangalan mo? (informal) – What is your name?
Ako po si ________ (formal/polite) – I am ______ (name).
Ako si _________ (informal) – I am ______ (name).
Ilang taon na po kayo? (formal/polite) – How old are you?
Ilang taon ka na? (informal) – How old are you?
Ako po ay _______ gulang na. (formal/polite) – I am _______ years old.
Ako ay _______ gulang na. (informal) – I am _______ years old.
Saan po kayo nakatira? (formal/polite) – Where do you live?
Saan ka nakatira? (informal) – Where do you live?
Taga saan po sila? (formal/polite) – Where are you from?
Taga saan ka? (informal) – Where are you from?
Kumain na po ba sila? (formal/polite) – Have you eaten yet?
Kumain ka na ba? (informal) – Have you eaten yet?
Magkano po ito? (formal) – How much is this please?
Magkano? (informal) – How much?
Ang mahal naman (informal) – It’s expensive
Mahal kita – I love you
Below is a list of Filipino words and phrases used in giving or asking for directions.
deretso – straight ahead
(sa) kanan – on the right
(sa) kaliwa – on the left
umikot – turn around
(sa) harap – in front
(sa) likod/likuran – at the back/behind
hilaga – north
silangan – east
kanluran – west
timog – south
(sa) itaas – on top
(sa) ibaba – below/at the bottom
(sa) ilalim – at the bottom
(sa) loob – inside
(sa) labas – outside
Below is a list of Filipino question words with their corresponding meanings and examples in English.
Ano? – What?
Alin? – Which?
Sino? – Who?
Saan? – Where?
Bakit? – Why?
Kailan? – When?
Paano?/Papaano? – How?
Magkano? – How much? (money)
Nasaan? – Where? (to look for something/somebody)