Languages: Tagalog is the national language and the language of southern Luzon and Manila. Visaya is spoken by the people of the central islands, and numerous other languages are spoken by people throughout the country. English is the language of government and upper education. Most Filipinos speak English very well as they have heard it from childhood in music and television.
Race: Filipinos are a mix of Malay, Chinese, and other South East Asian people. The Spanish and Americans also had some influence in the genetic blend of the Philippines.
Religion: 95% Christian, 4% Muslim, 1% tribal
Government: Corrupt dictatorship in a thin guise of democracy. The USA still has a lot of political influence over the islands.
“The Philippine Star”:http://www.philstar.com
“The Manila Times”:http://www.manilatimes.net/
“PBS – Philippine Broadcasting Service “:http://www.pbs.gov.ph/ – government radio
“Radio Mindanao Network”:http://www.rmn.com.ph/ – FM and AM stations up and down the country
Getting to the Philippines
International flights usually come into Manila. A round trip ticket from the west coast of N. America costs about $700. Flights from Europe cost about $1000. Flights from mainland SE Asia are cheap. Air Asia has great deals from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It is possible to enter the Philippines via a boat from Borneo through the Sulu Archipelago. This is generally a smugglers route…
Most travelers can get 21 days when they arrive in the Philippines and though visas of 59 days can be arranged at any Philippine embassy, the initial 21 days stay can be extended for a further 38 days in major cities.
After that it’s still possible to get another 3 or 4 months, believe it or not, in Manila or Cebu city. After 6 months you can still stay but you’ll have to go through a lot of red tape first. And you really don’t want to be hanging out in Manila.
Weather and Climate:
The Philippines is generally hot and humid. The drier, “cooler” season in the north is between November – April and is the high season for tourism. The other half of the year is when the typhoons can roll in and heavy rain hits the islands. The mountains tend to be pretty cool and pleasant, averaging 70F pretty much year round.