OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of the Philippines
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Republic
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Filipino (based on Tagalog), English
MONEY: Philippine peso
AREA: About 115,831 square miles (300,000 square kilometers)
The country, named “Las Islas Felipinas” after King Philip II of Spain, fell prey to Spanish colonialism in 1565. The colonial rule lasted for three long centuries and ended after the Philippine Revolution of 1896. But independence, the most prized political ambition of modern times, was not forthcoming for it yet. It was ceded to the US in 1898 in the wake of the Spanish-American War, and it was only in 1946 that they saw the run of independence rise after the Japanese occupation in World War II. However, it was as late as in 1992 that the US finally closed its last military bases on the islands and left the Philippine soil for good. Manila is now the capital of the Philippines.
The Philippines is a country that belongs in Southeast Asia; it consists of 7, 107 islands called Archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean. The archipelago is around 800 kilometers (500 mi) from the Asian mainland and is in between Taiwan and Borneo. It’s in many Southeast Asian Countries water bodies.
Southeast Asian Countries water bodies:
South China Sea
The Philippine archipelago is divided into three island groups:
- Luzon- is where the capital city of the country is located and the most populous city in the Philippines by land, it is the 15th largest city in the world.
The Philippines is considered a Republic with an executive branch made up of a chief of state and a head of government – both of which are filled by the president. The legislative branch of government is made up of a bicameral Congress that consists of a Senate and House of Representatives. The judicial branch is made up of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the Sandigan-Bayan. The Philippines has 80 provinces and 120 charter cities for local administration.
PEOPLE & CULTURE
The Philippines is the only Christian nation in Asia. More than 85 percent of the people are Roman Catholic. The rosary is said in the home before or after dinner time, just before the family retires for the night. Children are introduced to the statue of “Mama Mary” at a very early age.
Protestant missionaries arrived in 1901 and followed the Catholic example of establishing hospitals, clinics, and private schools. The Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) is currently the most active missionary group.
Sunni Muslims constitute the largest non-Christian group. They live in Mindanao and the Sulu Islands but have migrated to other provinces. Muslim provinces celebrate Islamic religious holidays as legal holidays. Mosques are in large cities throughout the country. In smaller communities, Muslims gather in small buildings for services. Animism, a belief that natural objects have souls, is the oldest religion in the country, practiced by indigenous peoples in the mountains of Luzon.
The constitution guarantees freedom of religion. The disagreement between the Muslim population of the southern provinces and the federal government is not so much about religion as it is about political goals.
Non-Catholics do not object to Catholic symbols or prayer in public venues; each barangay has a patron saint. They celebrate saint’s day during fiesta that includes a religious ceremony. Large amounts of food are served at each house. Friends and relatives from other barangays are invited and go from house to house to enjoy the food. A talent show, beauty contest, and dance are part of the fun. Carnival rides and bingo games add to the festivities.