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Member Country: PHILIPPINES


The Republic of the Philippines (Filipino: Republika ng Pilipinas), or the Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas), is a nation in Southeast Asia with Manila as its capital. It lies 1,210 km (750 mi) away from mainland Asia and consists of 7,107 islands called the Philippine Archipelago. It is also part of the Malay Archipelago. It is, with East Timor, one of the two predominantly Catholic nations in Southeast Asia and one of the most westernized, a unique blend of East and West. Spain and the United States have held the Philippine Islands as a colony for most of the last four centuries. While still predominantly an agricultural nation, the Philippines today is a premier destination for outsourcing, an exporter of electronics and agricultural products, and is a major source of exported labor. Remittances from overseas Filipinos form a significant portion of the country's gross national product.

The country's name originated with Ruy López de Villalobos naming both the islands of Samar and Leyte, Las Islas Filipinas after King Philip II of Spain during his failed expedition in 1543. The archipelago was known under various names such as Spanish East Indies, New Castille (Nueva Castilla), and the St. Lazarus Islands (Islas de San Lázaro). Ultimately, the name Filipinas came to refer to the entire archipelago.


History
Archeological and paleontological evidence, prove that Homo sapiens existed in Palawan probably about 50,000 years ago. These inhabitants are called the Tabon Man.

During the Iron Age, Austronesian-speaking migrants settled in the country from South China and Taiwan via land bridges. Soon after, Ethnic Chinese merchants arrived in the 8th century.

Ferdinand Magellan first set foot in the archipelago in 1521. After establishing friendly relations with some local chieftains and converting them to Christianity, Magellan got into a conflict with one of the chieftains still hostile to him, Lapu-Lapu. In the ensuing battle, the Spaniards were defeated and Magellan killed, but one of his ships was able to return to Spain and bring the news about this new land. On April 27, 1565, the Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi and 500 armed soldiers came to Cebu and established the first Spanish settlement on the islands.

Roman Catholic missionaries marched with soldiers from island to island, in search of native villages and people. The Spaniards soon established churches and forts, while searching for gold and spices. Roman Catholicism was introduced and embraced by the majority. Sporadic rebellions occurred from tribal groups in the highlands of north Luzon and coastal regions. Muslim belligerents maintained resistance in the southern islands of Mindanao. The Spanish military fought-off Chinese pirates, Japanese and Portuguese, Dutch and British forces, all of whom also had an interest in the Philippines.

The Philippines was ruled from New Spain (Mexico) until the opening of the Suez Canal and Mexican independence. A burgeoning Manila Galleon or Manila-Acapulco galleon trade began in the late 16th century.

Spanish rule on the Philippines was briefly interrupted when in 1762, British troops invaded and occupied the islands as a result of Spain's entry into the Seven Years' War. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 restored the Spanish rule and the British left the Philippines in 1764. The brief British occupation of the Philippines weakened Spain's grip to power.

In 1781, Governor José Basco y Vargas established the Economic Society of Friends of the Country. The Philippines was administered directly from Spain. Developments in and out of the country and the opening up of the Suez Canal in 1869, which helped cut travel time to Spain and helped bring new ideas to the Philippines. This prompted the rise of the ilustrados, or the enlightened Filipino upper class. Many young Filipinos were thus able to study in Europe.

Enlightened by the Propaganda Movement to the injustices of the Spanish colonial government and the frailocracy, they originally clamored for adequate representation to the Spanish Cortes and later for independence. José Rizal, the most celebrated intellectual (and radical ilustrado), whose novels Noli Me Tanggere (Touch Me Not) and El Filibusterismo (The Rebellion) (both are currently required academic reading at local secondary schools) was executed in 1896 for treason (See Sedition) as Rizal was implicated in the outbreak of the Revolution. The Katipunan, or the "Kataas-taasang Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga anak ng Inang Bayan" was founded by Andrés Bonifacio as its Supremo or leader. It was a secret society for the sole purpose of overthrowing Spanish rule in the Philippines. The Philippine Revolution broke out due to the confession of a Katipunero. The Katipunan, meanwhile, was split into two groups, Magdiwang led by Andrés Bonifacio, and Magdalo led by Emilio Aguinaldo. The revolution ended in a truce with the Pact of Biak na Bato, where the revolutionaries capitulated and agreed to exile themselves in Hong Kong.

The United States and Spain became involved in the Spanish-American war in 1898. Emilio Aguinaldo was then lured back to the Philippines with a supposed promise of independence similar to Cuba, which was fighting a war of independence. Thus, on June 12, 1898, with victory seemingly attainable, Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the revolutionaries, declared the independence of the Philippines in Kawit, Cavite. However, the Battle for Manila between Spain and the United States turned out to be a farce, which sought to exclude the Filipinos from the eventual occupation of Manila. Spain and the United States ignored the Filipino representative, Felipe Agoncillo, during their negotiations in the Treaty of Paris. Spain was forced in the negotiations to hand over Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico to the United States in exchange for US$20,000,000.00, which payment the United States later claimed to be a gift to Spain. The first Philippine Republic rebelled against the US occupation and this resulted in the Philippine-American War (1899-1913). It came under U.S. control and in 1935, its status was upgraded to that of a U.S. Commonwealth. Independence for the Philippines was finally granted on July 4, 1946, after the Japanese invasion and occupation of the islands during World War II.

The Philippines has faced some degree of economic and political instability after 1946. The restive Hukbalahaps, guerillas who fought against the Japanese during World War II, turned communistic in ideology. They organized clandestinely, mounted anti-government campaigns of sedition and open hostilities against government forces, and conducted terroristic activities, including kidnappings, massacres, assassinations, rapes and extortion. They threatened the countryside, and subsequently the capital, Quezon City, and Manila in the '50's. The Huk threat was eventually broken with the surrender of Luis Taruc, the Huk Supremo, to a young reporter named Benigno Aquino Jr. (later elected as Senator), and Secretary of Defense Ramón Magsaysay, who would eventually become president. The late '60's and early '70's saw the rise of student activism, and anti-American demonstrations. Furthermore, a Constitutional Convention composed of elected delegates drafted a new constitution to replace the 1935 Constitution in a referendum. This period was marred by civil unrest and exposés on corruption until the declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972. The new constitution was subsequently enforced through somewhat questionable means, as challenges were made in the Supreme Court on the propriety of its ratification. This eventually culminated in the resignation of Chief Justice Roberto Concepción. The situation appeared to ebb until the later years when the authoritarian regime of President Ferdinand E. Marcos became marred with unmitigated, pervasive corruption and despotism, at which time public outcry and dissidence resurged to new highs.

In 1986, Marcos, his family and some cronies left the Philippines and went to exile to Hawaii, as Corazon Aquino, widow of assassinated Sen. Benigno Aquino, assumed the reins of government in the aftermath of a hotly-contested "snap elections". While some cite a return to democracy and governmental reform in the Post-Marcos era, systemic government corruption, continuing civil unrest and the activity of Communist insurgency and Muslim separatist movements continue to hamper economic productivity in the country. The current presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been marred by severe graft and corruption, coup attempts, secessionist movements, economic quagmires, and an electoral crisis.

Politics and Government
The government of the Philippines is loosely patterned after the U.S. government. It is organized as a representative republic, where the President functions as head of state, the head of government, and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a term of 6 years, during which he or she appoints and presides over the cabinet. The bicameral legislature, the Congress, consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives; members of the former are nationally elected and those of the latter by district. There are 24 senators serving 6 years in the Senate (in staggered batches of 12 every 3 years, while the House of Representatives consist of no more than 250 congressmen each serving 3-year terms. The judiciary branch of the government is headed by the Supreme Court, which has a Chief Justice as its head and 14 Associate Justices, all of whom the President appoints from nominations submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.

The Philippines is a founding and active member of the United Nations (UN) since its inception on October 24, 1945 and is a founding and prominent member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an active player in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Latin Union and a member of the Group of 24. The Philippines is a major non-NATO ally of the United States, but also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The Philippines is currently in a dispute with the Republic of China (Taiwan), the People's Republic of China, Vietnam and Malaysia over the oil- and natural gas-rich Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, and with Malaysia over Sabah. The Sultan of Sulu, who received Sabah as a gift in 1703 after having helped the Sultan of Brunei defeat a rebellion, has given the Philippine Government power to reclaim his lost territory. To this day, the Sultan of Sulu's family still receives "rental" payments for Sabah from the Malaysian Government.

Geography
The Philippines constitutes an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total land area of approximately 300,000 km². It lies between 116° 40' and 126° 34' E. longitude, and 4° 40' and 21° 10' N. latitude, and is bordered on the east by the Philippine Sea, on the west by the South China Sea, and on the south by the Celebes Sea. The island of Borneo lies a few hundred kilometers to the southwest and Taiwan directly north. The Moluccas and Celebes are farther south, and on the eastern side of the Philippine Sea is Palau.

The islands are commonly divided into three major groups: Luzon (Regions I to V, NCR & CAR), Visayas (VI to VIII), and Mindanao (IX to XIII & ARMM). The busy port of Manila, on Luzon, is the country's capital and second-largest city after Quezon City.

The local climate is hot, humid, and tropical. The average yearly temperature is around 26.5°C. There are three recognized seasons: Tag-init or Tag-araw (the hot season or summer from March to May), Tag-ulan (the rainy season from June to November), and Taglamig (the cold season from December to February). The southwest monsoon (May-October) is known as the "Habagat" and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon (November-April) as the "Amihan".

Most of the mountainous islands used to be covered in tropical rainforests and are volcanic in origin. The highest point is Mount Apo on Mindanao at 2,954 m. Many volcanoes in the country, such as Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo ,and Taal Volcano are active. The country is also astride the typhoon belt of the Western Pacific and about 19 typhoons strike per year.

Lying on the northwestern fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activities. Some 20 earthquakes are registered daily in the Philippines, though they are too weak to be felt.

Administrative Divisions
The Philippines is divided into a hierarchy of local government units (LGUs) with the province as the primary unit. There are 79 provinces in the country. Provinces are further subdivided into cities and municipalities, which are in turn composed of barangays. The barangay is the smallest local government unit.

The Philippines is divided into 17 regions with all provinces grouped into one of 16 regions for administrative convenience. The National Capital Region however, is divided into four special districts.

Most government offices establish regional offices to serve the constituent provinces. The regions themselves do not possess a separate local government, with the exception of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which is autonomous.

Go to the articles on the regions and provinces to see a larger map showing the locations of the regions and provinces.

Regions

  • Ilocos Region (Region I)
  • Cagayan Valley (Region II)
  • Central Luzon (Region III)
  • CALABARZON (Region IV-A)
  • MIMAROPA (Region IV-B)
  • Bicol Region (Region V)
  • Western Visayas (Region VI)
  • Central Visayas (Region VII)
  • Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)
  • Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX)
  • Northern Mindanao (Region X)
  • Davao Region (Region XI)
  • SOCCSKSARGEN (Region XII)
  • Caraga (Region XIII)
  • Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)
  • Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)
  • National Capital Region (NCR) (Metro Manila)

Names are capitalized because they are acronyms, containing the names of the constituent provinces or cities (see Acronyms in the Philippines).
These regions formed the former Southern Tagalog region, or Region IV.

Economy
The Philippines is classified as a developing country. Although agricultural in nature, light industry and services have made great inroads into the country. The Philippines has a nominal GDP of 86,429, and ranked 46th out of 184 countries and 15th among Asian countries.

The country, often called as the New Tiger of Asia, experienced slow economic growth during the climax of the Asian financial crisis of 1998. This was coupled by rising prices, inflation, and poor weather conditions. Economic growth fell to 0.6% in 1998 from 5% in 1997, but recovered to about 3% in 1999 and 4% in 2000. The government has promised to continue its economic reforms to help match the pace of development in the newly industrialised countries of East Asia. Heavy debts (public debt at 77% of GDP), is hampering efforts to improve the economic situation. Budget allocation for servicing of debt is higher than the budget for education and defense combined.

The government's strategy for an economic revamp includes improving infrastructure, overhauling the tax system to bolster government revenues, furthering deregulation and privatisation of the economy, and increasing trade integration with the region. Prospects for the future depend heavily on the economic performance of the two major trading partners, the United States and Japan, and a more accountable administration and consistent government policies.

In recent years, numerous call centers and business process outsourcing (BPO) firms have migrated to the Philippines, generating thousands of jobs and improving their services with many clients, including Fortune 500 companies. The Philippines has one of the most vibrant BPO industries in Asia today. The Philippine peso was hailed by Forbes as Asia's best performing currency for 2005. A new expanded value added tax (E-VAT) law was instituted on November 1, 2005, a measure intended to cut the rising foreign debts of the Philippines and to improve government services such as education, health, social welfare, and road construction.

The Philippines is a member of the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, as well as other international economic associations, such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Colombo Plan, and the G-77.

Demographics
The Philippines is the world's twelfth most populous country, with a population of 86,241,697 as of 2005. Roughly two-thirds reside in the island of Luzon. Manila, the capital, is the eleventh most populous metropolitan area in the world. The educational system is efficient and based on the United States curriculum. The literacy rate is 95.9%, about equal for males and females. Life expectancy is 69.29 years, with 72.28 years for females and 66.44 years for males. Population growth per year is about 1.92%, with 26.3 births per 1000 people. In the 100 years since the 1903 Census, the population has grown by a factor of eleven. The country suffers from overpopulation due to a high birth rate.

The citizens of the Philippines are called Filipinos. According to current Philippine government statistics and genetic researches, the majority of all Filipinos are descendants of various Austronesian-speaking immigrants who arrived in successive waves over a thousand years ago, and of the various Southern Han Chinese groups who settled in the Philippines. Filipinos are divided into 12 major ethnolinguistic groups. Of these, the three most numerous are the Tagalogs, Cebuanos, and the Ilocanos. The Negritos or Aetas, also known as the aboriginal inhabitants of the Philippines, were largely displaced by the invading Austronesian-speaking migrants, and today number less than 30,000 people (0.03%). Mestizos, those of mixed race, form a tiny but economically and politically important minority. A recent genetic study by Stanford University, however, indicates that 3.6% of the population has at least some European ancestry. [1]

The three largest foreign minorities consist of the ethnic Chinese, Americans, and South Asians. The remaining foreign population consists of other smaller foreign nationality groups, including Spaniards, other Europeans, Mexicans and other Latin Americans, Arabs, Indonesians, Koreans, Japanese, and other Asian immigrants.

Because of the vast number of native ethnolinguistic groups, the Philippines is said to be one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Asia. In recent decades, the government has worked to make the country more culturally homogeneous. However, many are against these governmental activities, which are perceived as attempts by some ultra-nationalists to eradicate cultural diversity in place of a homogenous, Tagalog-dominated "nationalistic" Filipino identity. A recent manifestation of this can be seen in the complaints of many provinces that "Imperial Manila" dominates, oppresses, and exploits the people and resources of the rest of the country.

Languages
More than 170 languages are spoken; almost all of them belong to the Western Malayo-Polynesian language group of the Austronesian language family. According to the 1987 Constitution, Tagalog-based Filipino and English are the official languages.

There are 12 major native regional languages and are the auxiliary languages of their respective regions, each with over one million speakers: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Bikol, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao, and Tausug.

Religion
The Philippines is the fourth largest Roman Catholic country, the thirteenth largest Protestant country, the fortieth largest Islamic country, the seventh largest Hindu country, and the seventeenth largest Buddhist country.

About 94% of all Filipinos are Christians: 83% belong to the Roman Catholic Church while the other 9% belong to various Protestant denominations. Although Christianity is a major force in the culture of the Filipinos, many, however, still practice local traditions and rituals.

The Roman Catholic church exerts considerable influence in both governmental and non-governmental affairs, although a constitutional provision for the separation of Church and State exists. The Philippines currently has two cardinals, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and Jose Cardinal Sanchez. The late Jaime Cardinal Sin was a leading spiritual leader in the country and was an active participant in People Power I and People Power II. He died on June 21, 2005. Cardinal Vidal is the archbishop of Cebu. Cardinal Sanchez is the former Prefect of Congregation of the Clergy, Roman Curia. Gaudencio Borbon Rosales serves as the archbishop of Manila. The most famous cathedral is the huge Manila Cathedral.

Among the numerous Protestant and other Christian denominations are Seventh-day Adventists, United Church of Christ, United Methodist, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, Assemblies of God, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and Philippine (Southern) Baptist denominations. In addition, there are three churches established by local religious leaders: the Philippine Independent Church or "Aglipayan," the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), and the Ang Dating Daan. A majority of indigenous peoples, estimated to number between 12 and 16 million, reportedly are Christian. However, many indigenous groups mix elements of their native religions with Christian beliefs and practices.

It is to be noted, however, that the Philippine Independent Church was the religious arm of the revolution against Spain. While the revolutionary government under Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo confiscated all of the friar haciendas and other properties of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, the Aglipayans were allowed by the revolutionary government to take over the Roman Catholic parishes and churches. When the United States occupied the Philippines, however, the friar haciendas were returned to the Roman Catholic Church and were eventually purchased by the Insular Government which was set up by the United States. The parishes and churches taken over by the Aglipayans during the revolution were returned to the Roman Catholic Church.

5% of all Filipinos are Muslim. Most lowland Muslim Filipinos practice normative Islam, although the practices of some Mindanao's hilltribe Muslims reflect a fusion with Animism. The presence of radical Muslims has lead to significant terrorist activity in the country.

Culture
The foundation of the culture of the Philippines is based primarily on the various regional cultural traditions of the various indigenous groups, such as the Tagalogs, Ilokanos, Visayans, Bikolanos, and other. However, it has also been greatly influenced by Chinese, Malay, Spanish, and American cultures.

Each year, locals from around the archipelago hold major festivities known as Barrio Fiestas, which commemorate the patron saints of a town, village or regional district.

The Philippines has produced notable and revered international sporting figures. These include professional boxer Manny Pacquiao, 9-ball billiard champion Efren Reyes, Chess grandmaster Eugene Torre and bowler Paeng Nepumuceno.

The Philippines can also boast about its shopping malls, which are some of the largest in the world. The SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City is the third largest mall in the world. Other malls include those of Ayala Land.

Despite all these foreign influences, the Filipino character still remains intact. A testimony to living Filipino culture are the diesel-powered Jeepneys-- renovated relics of WWII, which are standard mode of public transportation in urban and rural areas (save for the superhighways which are dominated by public buses, taxi cabs, and now the MRT).

 

 
Republika ng Pilipinas
Republic of the Philippines
Flag of Philippines Coat of Arms of Philippines
Flag Coat of Arms


Anthem: Gba Majay Bma ("We Shall Love Burma")
Location of Philippines
Official languages Filipino (Tagalog), English1
Capital Manila
14°35'N 1210'E
Largest city Quezon City (population)
Davao City (area)
Government
- President
- Vice-President
Democratic Unitary Republic
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Noli de Castro

Independence
- Declared
- Recognized

Constitutions
- First Republic
- Commonwealth and
Third Republic
- Second Republic
- New Republic
- Current

From Spain and U.S.
June 12, 1898
July 4, 1946


January 21, 1899
May 14, 1935

1943-1945
January 17, 1973
March 25, 1986
Area
- Total
- % water

300,000km(71st)
0.6%
Population
- Total (2005)
- Density
87,857,473 (12th)
76,498,735

276/km² (27th)
GDP (PPP)
- Total
- Per capita
2005 estimate
$409,445 million (25th)
$4,770 (107th)
HDI (2003) 0.758 (84th) medium
Currency Philippine peso (piso) (PHP)
Time zone
Summer(DST)
UTC +8 (UTC+8)
not in use (UTC)
Internet TLD .ph
Calling code +63
1 Under the Constitution of 1987, the national language is Filipino while the official languages are Filipino and English.

The regional languages Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Bikol, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao, Tausug are the auxiliary official languages in their respective regions.

 
 

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