The Philippines

About the Philippines

History

The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. It has a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese. Spain's colonization brought about the construction of Intramuros in 1571, a \"Walled City\" comprised of European buildings and churches, replicated in different parts of the archipelago. In 1898, after 350 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos, with leaders like Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo, succeeded in winning their independence.

In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States. Following the Philippine-American War, the United States brought widespread education to the islands. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous battle of Bataan and Corregidor which delayed Japanese advance and saved Australia. They then waged a guerilla war against the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. The Philippines regained its independence in 1946.

A former colony of Spain and the United States, the Philippines (located in the western Pacific Ocean) is one of two predominantly Catholic countries in Asia.However, there are also large populations of people who practice Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.However, religion is simply not where diversity ends in the Philippines.The country is one of the most ethnically varied countries in the world, which is a reflection of its various cultural inheritances.Also, its distinction as the second largest archipelago in the world with over 7,000 islands (many of them lined with coral reefs) translates to a tapestry of ecological wonders.

Located in Southeastern Asia between the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea, the Philippines is known as the Pearl of the Orient.

Divided into three major islands, (Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao), the Philippine archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands. Considered one of the travel world’s best-kept secrets, the Philippines is well known for its world class beaches, dramatic water and land formations, and indigenous natural wonders.

With a population of about 84,619,000, the Philippines is one of the few English speaking Asian countries. Some even say that the real natural wonder of the Philippines is its outgoing and tourist-friendly people.

The Philippines truly is a spectacular tourist destination. Not only is it rich in culture and history, unspoiled tropical islands, and an extraordinarily diverse wildlife, it also caters to the more “worldly” traveler through its exciting night life, world-class shopping, and various recreational sporting activities, whether on land or water.

Medical Tourism Fame

The Philippines is one of the world's most popular medical tourism destinations, especially for people seeking cosmetic surgery, diagnostic testing and imaging, bariatric surgery, dental treatments, ophthalmology, and dermatology; all for a fraction of the cost in developed countries.

Medical specialists in the Philippines are among the best educated and trained, and highly skilled practitioners in Asia. Most have graduate medical training in the US, Singapore, Japan, Australia, or Europe. All communicate very well in English.

Beverly Hills CA based Beverly Hills Medical Group and their private medical facility is state of the art with highly trained Board Certified Surgeons and medical staff. Coupled with the uniquely Filipino style of caring and hospitality, traveling to the Philippines for medical procedures is a worthwhile experience.

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.

Population

There are a total of 76.5 million Filipinos as of the latest national census in May, 2000 Population growth is estimated at 2.36 percent annually. Luzon, the largest island group, accounts for more than half of the entire population.

Language

The official languages of the Philippines are English and Tagalog. Note that instruction at all Filipino universities are in English.

Eight (8) major dialects spoken by majority of the Filipinos: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense.

Filipino is that 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.

Climate

The weather in the Philippines is humid and tropical with constant sea breezes. The country has three distinct seasons: the cool and dry season (October to February), the hot and dry season (March to May), the rainy season (June to September), and the typhoon season (June to September). The warmest month is in May with an average temperature of 83oF (28oC) and the coldest month is January with an average temperature of 78oF (25.5oC).

Visa / Entrance Requirements

U.S. and Canadian citizens do not require a visa if staying in the Philippines for up to 21 days, however a passport (valid for 6 months beyond intended length of stay) is required.

Visitors with valid passports who come from countries that have diplomatic relationship with the Philippines can stay up to 21 days in the country without having to obtain a visa, provided that they have a ticket for exiting the country. Special permits are needed for Hong Kong and Taiwan passport holders, which may be obtained from Philippine embassies and consulates.

Airlines Servicing this Destination

The Philippines has many airports, but the ones that are most pertinent to medical tourism are Manila-Ninoy Aquino International (MNL) and Mactan-Cebu International (CEB).

The following airlines offer flights to the Philippines:

  • Northwest Airlines
  • Continental Airlines
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • KLM
  • Air France
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta
  • United Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • China Airlines
  • Korean Air

Hotels

For the budget traveler, a hostel room costs $7-$20 USD per person per night and 3 star hotels start at $42 USD per night for a double occupancy room in Manila and $22 in Cebu. With almost 2x’s more coastline than the U.S., the Philippines has many luxury beach resorts, spas, and villas. 5 star hotels range from $88 to $800 USD per night with the majority costing less than $200, and beach villas cost approximately $40 to $250+ USD per night, depending on the location and time of year.

Currency

The currency of the Philippines is the Peso (PHP).

The exchange rate of U.S. dollars to Filipino pesos is $1 USD dollar to 47.15 PHP (exchange rate subject to change).

Communicating Home

The international access code for the Philippines is 63.

The area code for Manila is 2.

The area code for Cebu is 32.

In order to call the Philippines from the U.S. or Canada you must dial 011 (exit code) then 63 (country code for the Philippines), then the area code (one or two digits), and then the phone number (seven digits). 

To call a cell phone in the Philippines from the U.S. and Canada you must dial 011 + 63 + phone number.

*phone number always begins with a 9

In order to call the U.S. from the Philippines you must dial 00 + 1 + area code + phone number

Cyber-cafes are widely available in major cities and towns.  Larger hotels and most private hospitals throughout the country offer Broadband Internet connection.

Emergency Telephone Numbers

U.S. Embassy in Manila: (63-2) 301-2000 extension 2555, 2246

Sightseeing

In terms of exquisite architecture, the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Monasterio de Santa Clara (both in Manila) are a must see.The Philippines still has remnants of its colonial past such as Fort Santiago and Intramuros in which the latter is an European-style medieval fortified city and both are located in Manilla.Cebu is home to the oldest fort in the Philippines: Fort San Pedro.

If nature is more your game then you will be in awe with both Manila and the less populated and virginal islands.Ninoy Aquino Parks & Wildlife, Greenbelt, Rizal, and Paco parks are all located in Manila.If you want to get out of the city, but too far Taal Volcano and Lake are about 31 miles (50 km) south of Manila and is a highly rated site.Even farther from the city is Bohol, which is a premier destination for nature and wildlife lovers.It has coral lined beaches, and travelers can whale watch and swim with the dolphins.For beach bums, Boracay is popular for outdoor sports including jet-skiing, diving, snorkeling, kite surfing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and windsurfing.After a day of physical activity, be sure to soak in one of many refreshing and health building mineral hot springs.

Shopping

From open air markets to department stores and high fashion boutiques, Manila is not lacking in venues for the shopaholic. Like Hong Kong, the Philippines is known for its inexpensive but quality custom made suits. You can also buy already made suits and have them tailored and delivered to your hotel. After you have hung up your suit and have gone from the boardroom to the beach, purchase some shell crafts from the many beach stalls (be forewarned that certain shells are banned in some countries and if you are caught, they will be confiscated or in the worst case scenario you will be fined a hefty amount). Finally, no trip to the Philippines is complete without tasting Chocnut which (as the name suggests) is a combination of peanut and chocolate, and is very inexpensive.

Nightlife and the Arts

The Philippines has some of the most upscale bars and clubs as well as some of the seediest; and both Manila and Cebu are known for their trendy nightspots. Alchemy bar boasts three floors, European-style decor, and 2 dance floors. Ratsky boasts a classy ambiance and live music, and the Malate district, which is home to many bars, clubs, karaoke lounges, and restaurants, is frequented by everyone from yuppies to grungy teens and hipsters. If dancing the night away is not your idea of a good time, check out one of the many casinos in Manila.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines is a one stop shop for the artistic crowd. It houses four theaters, an integrated humanities museum, galleries, and a library. The Lopez Memorial Museum is an art museum and library, the National Museum of the Philippines has art, zoology, botany, geology, and anthropology exhibits, and the National Museum houses many different artifacts including jewelry, coins, and porcelain plates.

Almost all newspapers in the Philippines are in English.