Comprised of three major geographic island regions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, the Philippines consists of around 7,641 unique islands. The Capital of the Philippines is Manila, located in central Luzon, in the National Capital Region (black region on map).
With a population of over 100 million, and an estimated 5,000,000 tourist visiting per year, the Philippines is one of the fastest growing countries in Asia.
“It’s more fun in the Philippines!”
It is now believed that the first humans to form tribes on the Philippine Islands began at least 67,000 years ago. These early tribes eventually developed into kingdoms, and independent barangays, who welcomed trade with the surrounding nations of what is now referred to as Asia and South East Asia.
Many will be familiar with the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, the first European to set foot in the Philippines in Eastern Samar on March 17th, 1521. Additionally, Spanish colonization in the Philippine Islands officially began upon Mexico’s Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s expedition to Cebu on February 13th, 1565. Eventually the majority of the Philippine Islands came under Spanish rule, sparking the Philippines first political system called Philippines Spanish colonial rule. This legal system was based on the Roman Catholic codes of law, and was governed my New Spain until Mexico gained it’s independence from Spain, eventually leading to governance directly from Spain. The Philippine Revolution against Spain began in 1896, and after the Philippines victory at the Battle of Manila Bay, the Philippines drafted it’s first Declaration of Independence forming it’s first Republic. In 1898 Spanish rule ended completely in the Philippine with Spain’s defeat in the Spanish American War. The Philippines then inherently became an official colony of the United States of America, putting an end to the Philippines revolution against Spain.
This new American colonization didn’t sit well with certain areas of the Philippines that were just at war with Spain over their independence. Naturally the Philippine American War ensued and eventually resulted in the defeat of the new Philippine Republic. After the war, in 1901, the United States installed an Insular Government to rule the new Philippines territory. In 1916, via the Jones Act, the U.S. formally promised the Philippines it’s independence. In 1935 the Philippine Commonwealth was established as a slow 10 year transition to full independence from the U.S. This process was delayed to do the events of World War Two, in-which Japan occupied the Philippines for three years. The U.S. led General MacArthur came to the aid of the Philippines and when Japan finally surrendered at the end of the war, the 1946 Treaty of Manila formally established the first independent Philippine Republic. The U.S. helped the Philippines rebuild much of it’s infrastructure after the war, and much that work (especially in Cebu) remains up to this day.
After surviving martial law in the late 1900’s, a permanent constitution was ratified and accepted in 1987. The new constitution was called the “Freedom Constitution,” and eliminated the presidential power to declare martial law, and created the Autonomous Regions in Mindanao. Since then the Philippines has held onto a very successful Democracy backed by it’s friends in the West. Today the Philippines has the 12th highest population, and is becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world thanks to its excellence in outsourcing. The only forces holding the Philippines back from it’s full potential has always been it’s susceptibility to natural disasters, and rumors of corruption within it’s local and federal governments. Lucky for future generations of Filipinos, change is already happening throughout the Philippine Islands.
For many generations many Filipino people have felt a feeling of despair, living day-to-day without leadership they could trust. Being faced with a choice of pursuing borderline-illegal professions, or leaving the country for a better life elsewhere, many chose to simply live in poverty. All this is about to change however, thanks to the recently elected Philippine President and highly acclaimed former may of Davo City, Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte has sparked a change in the Philippines that only a person of his moral character would have been able to accomplish. In just a matter of three weeks the iconic Philippine President Duterte has forced over 123,000 drug pushers to surrender to authorities, and total crime is already down 13%! Meanwhile the citizens of Manila are become motivated to clean up the city and follow the laws of the land. We are seeing street markets that were once so unorganized that it was previously impossible to drive though them, now they are become clean and clear for drivers. Even the weekly airport bullet scams at Ninoy Aquino International Airport have came to a grinding halt since Duterte took office. This new vision Filipinos have for their country is different this time, it’s different because they believe the corruption has finally ended. No longer will one good deed be over taken by two wrongs, no longer will citizens feel like they are not heard, or under appreciated, no matter what income level or religion they are.
While tourism remains a large chunk of the Philippines economy, the Philippines largest body of land Mindanao, and perhaps the most beautiful, remains largely underutilized by tourists. This do to the on-going war between the Philippine government and those who are seeking a separate state in the southern regions. As a result of these tensions, there have been numerous bombings, and hundreds of people kidnapped for ransom in the area since the early 1990’s. Between it’s commitment to ramp up it’s fight against Mindanao’s extremists, the new Philippine government is simultaneously working hard to pass the 17-year old proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law to bring peace and tourism back to the area. Many believe an independent Philippines will assist in ending the violence in Mindanao by removing ties to lingering perceived “bad blood” between certain groups in Mindanao and the West. The proud people of the Philippines have long wished to be an independent country (one only has to look as far as it’s many revolutions for confirmation of that) who answers to no one, and can provide for its self without the assistance of it’s allies. Do not worry however, this new direction for the Philippines does not mean that friendship and tourism from the West is no longer welcomed.
For generations tourists have enjoyed the Philippines for all it pros and perceived cons. Filipino’s have always been proud of their heritage, and have amazingly remained a peaceful people despite their troubles. Look no further then the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan that left thousands of Filipinos homeless in the Eastern Visayas for confirmation of the Filipino heart. The resiliency of the Filipino people is truly a remarkable thing to witness in person.
The Philippines today is still the same happy-go-lucky “it’s more fun in the Philippines” place it’s always been. The only difference is that the country is now safer, cleaner, efficient, and more self sufficient. The coming changes are not something to worry about, instead they are something to look forward to. There is no doubt that the beautiful Philippine Islands and it’s hospitable people, will be a top tourists destination for many decades to come! We encourage you to explore the Philippine Islands if you ever get the chance to visit South-East Asia. Remember to always be polite and tolerant when experiencing another culture, and don’t forget to say thank you for the hospitality you receive on your visit here with a #salamatphilippines on your favorite social media platforms, Salamat!