Philippines Sustainable Travel Guide
Located in Southeast Asia, the stunning country of the Philippines is found in the far west Pacific Ocean. With a population of over 100 million, this group of 7,107 islands spreading over 299,404 sq km, has seen an increase of tourism over the last decade. In 2014, approximately 4.7 million tourists visited the Philippines. There are a wide variety of ethnic groups in the Philippines, which is especially evident in their larger cities such as Manila and Quezon City. The greater Manila area is comprised of 16 cities that have a total population 25 million people and is typically a very busy area with a reputation of being somewhat disorganized and chaotic. However, there are of course many great attractions and sites to visit such as various churches and universities with a wonderful historical story behind them. Communicating while travelling should occur with ease since it is the 3rd largest English speaking country in the world. Of course they have Filipino dialects but most speak English.
Speaking of history, here is a little of the Philippine’s. In 1565 the Philippines was conquered by Spain. After a few revolutions, the Spanish - American War took place in 1898 in Manila where the Americans defeated Spain. In 1901 the Philippine - American War took place and subsequently the American era began. Then in 1941 Japan invaded, only to be attacked by the Americans in 1944 to reclaim the Philippines. In 1946 America granted the country its independence.
When travelling to the Philippines, be prepared for hot and humid weather. It is basically like this year round. Rain patterns differ throughout the year. June to October is rainy season, while the north-east trade winds bring very little rain from December to May. Be aware that Typhoons can happen any time from June to November. Also, beware of buying anything made of Ivory. Although popular, the illegal ivory trade is a problem and you may inadvertently contribute to it. The Philippines is also home to endangered species such as the regional cockatoo and crocodile. Other animals have been confiscated due to wildlife trafficking which is a problem that has grown exponentially since 2010. Between 2010 and 2013 the trafficking cases have grown by over 1600%!
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Don’t be surprised when locals ask you to have something to eat with them. As people, they are very conservative and hospitable and will insist that you have something to eat when visiting their households. They love to feed you and ask a lot of personal questions. That’s just part of their culture and not considered invasive or rude and is within proper etiquette. Along the etiquette lines, as a female it should be noted that bikinis are fine on the beach, but covering up in town is recommended. Shorts, a t-shirt and at least a sarong are considered good form.
Be sure to experience some Filipino cuisine while visiting. Many meals consist of some sort of seafood. Most of their food is salty and savory. Here are some local faves. Lechon (baby pork fat). Kare kare (Kare-kare is a Philippine stew made from a base of stewed oxtail, pork hocks, calves feet, pig feet, beef stew meat; and occasionally offal, or tripe). Sinigang (soup or stew characterized by its sour and savoury taste most often associated with tamarind). Kwek kwek (popular fried, grilled and boiled street food). Adobo (chicken feet that are declawed and marinated in vinegar and soy). Balut (a developing duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell), and green mangoes are dipped in a salty shrimp paste called bagoong.