Traveling Luck for Philippines

Philippines is located in Southeastern Asia, archipelago between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam.

Land in Philippines is mostly mountains with narrow to extensive coastal lowlands.

Philippine land covers an area of 300000 square kilometers which is slightly larger than Arizona

As for the Philippine climate; tropical marine; northeast monsoon (November to April); southwest monsoon (May to October).

Filipino(s) speak two official languages - Filipino (based on Tagalog) and English; eight major dialects - Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinan.

Philippine National Map

Philippine Map

Regions of Philippines

The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; they were ceded to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel QUEZON was elected President and was tasked with preparing the country for independence after a 10-year transition. In 1942 the islands fell under Japanese occupation during WWII, and US forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control. On 4 July 1946 the Philippines attained their independence. The 20-year rule of Ferdinand MARCOS ended in 1986, when a widespread popular rebellion forced him into exile and installed Corazon AQUINO as president. Her presidency was hampered by several coup attempts, which prevented a return to full political stability and economic development. Fidel RAMOS was elected president in 1992 and his administration was marked by greater stability and progress on economic reforms. In 1992, the US closed its last military bases on the islands. Joseph ESTRADA was elected president in 1998, but was succeeded by his vice-president, Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, in January 2001 after ESTRADA's stormy impeachment trial on corruption charges broke down and widespread demonstrations led to his ouster. MACAPAGAL-ARROYO was elected to a six-year term in May 2004. The Philippine Government faces threats from armed communist insurgencies and from Muslim separatists in the south.


Philippines Country Profile

The Philippines was less severely affected by the Asian financial crisis of 1998 than its neighbors, aided in part by its high level of annual remittances from overseas workers, and no sustained runup in asset prices or foreign borrowing prior to the crisis. From a 0.6% decline in 1998, GDP expanded by 2.4% in 1999, and 4.4% in 2000, but slowed to 3.2% in 2001 in the context of a global economic slowdown, an export slump, and political and security concerns. GDP growth accelerated to about 5% between 2002 and 2005 reflecting the continued resilience of the service sector, and improved exports and agricultural output. Nonetheless, it will take a higher, sustained growth path to make appreciable progress in the alleviation of poverty given the Philippines' high annual population growth rate and unequal distribution of income. The Philippines also faces higher oil prices, higher interest rates on its dollar borrowings, and higher inflation. Fiscal constraints limit Manila's ability to finance infrastructure and social spending. The Philippines' consistently large budget deficit has produced a high debt level, and this situation has forced Manila to spend a large portion of the national government budget on debt service. Large unprofitable public enterprises, especially in the energy sector, contribute to the government's debt because of slow progress on privatization. Credit rating agencies have at times expressed concern about the Philippines' ability to service the debt, though central bank reserves appear adequate and large remittance inflows appear stable. The implementation of the expanded Value Added Tax (VAT) in November 2005 boosted confidence in the government's fiscal capacity and helped to strengthen the peso, which gained 5.7 percent year-on-year, making it East Asia's best performing currency in 2005. Investors and credit rating institutions will continue to look for effective implementation of the new VAT and continued improvement in the government's overall fiscal capacity in the coming year.

Philippine natural resources include timber, petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, salt, copper

the Philippine archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands; favorably located in relation to many of Southeast Asia's main water bodies: the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and Luzon Strait

Philippine religion is Roman Catholic 80.9%, Evangelical 2.8%, Iglesia ni Kristo 2.3%, Aglipayan 2%, other Christian 4.5%, Muslim 5%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.6%, none 0.1% (2000 census).

Natural hazards in Philippines include astride typhoon belt, usually affected by 15 and struck by five to six cyclonic storms per year; landslides; active volcanoes; destructive earthquakes; tsunamis.

Travel Advice on Philippines

Philippines

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary, Terrorism, Local Travel, Health and General sections.  We no longer advise against all travel to Cebu Province.

SUMMARY

  • We advise against all travel to Mindanao because of ongoing terrorist activity.  On 10 January 2007, three bombs exploded in various locations in Mindanao (General Santos City, Kidapawan City and Cotabato City), killing seven people and injuring at least 27 others.

  • We also advise against all travel to the Sulu archipelago including Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Jolo, where there are ongoing military and police operations against insurgent groups.

  • There is a high threat from terrorism throughout the Philippines.  Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out these attacks at any time and anywhere in the country.  Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets in public places including those frequented by foreigners.

  • There is a threat of kidnapping throughout the Philippines.  We continue to believe that terrorists and criminal elements plan to kidnap foreign tourists from islands and coastal areas in the southern Philippines - ie Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago.  Kidnappings from other parts of the Philippines cannot be discounted.  Boats travelling to and from offshore islands and dive sites are possible targets.

  • Penalties for illegal drug importation and use are severe.

  • You are required to show some identity if requested by police.  You are allowed to carry photocopies of the relevant pages of passports.

  • Around 50,000 British tourists visit the Philippines every year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The main type of incidents for which British nationals require consular assistance in the Philippines are replacing lost or stolen passports, running out of money or overstaying their visa.  You should be alert to the risk of street crime.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Political Situation

Philippines Country Profile.

A week long state of emergency declared by the President of the Philippines following the arrest of three people for an attempted coup, was lifted on 3 March 2006.  However, public protests remain likely.  You should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings of people.  There is often a rise in tensions and political unrest around Public Holidays, political events and important anniversaries.

Crime

There is a high incidence of street crime and robberies.  Sensible precautions might include: arranging to be met at the airport or using hotel transfer services; using a driver or taxis from a reputable source and avoiding displays of cash or jewellery.  Even well lit and busy city areas cannot be assumed to be safe.  You should beware of strangers offering drinks or confectionery: criminals intent on robbery may lace these to render the victim unconscious.
You should be particularly vigilant when travelling on public transport.  Armed hold-ups have occurred on jeepneys and buses in the Philippines, and have in some cases resulted in fatalities.  The roadworthiness of some of these vehicles is also a concern.

Local Travel

Include safety measures in all your travel plans.  Seek advice from local contacts, avoid travel off the beaten track and always leave travel plans with friends, colleagues or relatives.  Safety standards on buses and boats can be low.  You should take particular care during the rainy season when flash floods and landslides can occur.

Sea Safety

In addition to the threat from terrorism (see above) there is a high incidence of piracy and armed robbery against ships in and around Philippine waters.  Inter-island travel by small boats can also be dangerous as storms appear quickly.

You should be aware that maritime rescue services in the Philippines may not be as comprehensive as they might be in the UK.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

You should not get involved with drugs of any kind.  Penalties for illegal drug importation and use are severe.
Philippine law on paedophile activity is severe, and strictly enforced.  Severe penalties can be passed in child abuse or rape cases.  A child is defined in Philippine law as a person under the age of 18.  Entrapment may also occur where strangers with children have befriended single male tourists; allegations of abuse are then made in an attempt to extort money.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

British nationals may enter the Philippines without a visa for an initial period of 21 days, while a tourist visa from the nearest Philippine Embassy (Philippine Embassy in London) will allow an initial 59 day stay.  These periods may be extended, before they expire and for a fee, at the offices of the Bureau of Immigration.
Entry to the Philippines may be refused if your passport has less than six months validity or if you do not have an onward or return air ticket.  Overstaying without the proper authority is a serious matter and can lead to detention pending payment of outstanding fees and fines and voluntary deportation at your own expense.
Parents of children travelling unaccompanied to the Philippines must file an "affidavit of support" with the nearest Philippines Embassy or Bureau of Immigration.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some case, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact:  Philippine Embassy in London


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.  Medical treatment in the Philippines can be very expensive.
The extent of medical care varies across the Philippines, and may not meet the standards of care in the UK.  Although sufficient in major cities, medical care is limited in more remote areas.
Malaria, including malarial encephalitis, exists in parts of the Philippines.  The dengue fever mosquito is also found throughout the Philippines including Manila.  You should take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes.  More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets.  However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in the Philippines.
Rabies is endemic and can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated quickly.  The rabies virus is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals and transmitted to humans through bites, scratches or contact of saliva with broken skin and can be fatal once symptoms manifest themselves.  All travellers who have possibly been exposed to the rabies virus, whether by bites, scratches or other exposure, should seek medical advice without delay (even if pre-exposure vaccine was received).  This also applies to travellers in low risk areas in case other animal-transmitted infections are present, or the animal may have strayed across the border from an endemic country.  More information can be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre website at: http://www.nathnac.org.

You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health's website at:  DoH: Health Advice To Travellers
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
There have been no reported cases of Avian Influenza (also known as Bird Flu) in the Philippines during the current series of outbreaks.  But the World Health Organisation has confirmed cases elsewhere in the region.
You should read this advice in conjunction with:  Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet.
NATURAL DISASTERS
Typhoon Durian made landfall in central Luzon on 1 December 2006.  The Typhoon caused mudslides and there are reports of approximately 1000 people having being killed.  The typhoon season in the Philippines normally runs from July to November.  This is also the rainy season and flooding and landslides may occur.  You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation.  You can also access http://www.nhc.noaa.gov for updates.  Please also see Hurricanes for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a typhoon.
On 3 October 2006, the alert level for the Mount Mayon Volcano in Albay Province (south east Luzon) was lowered from three to two, indicating that a hazardous eruption from the volcano is remote.  However, the Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) around the summit of the volcano has been maintained at six kilometres and the general public have been advised to stay away from the area.

Both the Bulusan volcano in Sorsogon Province and Kanlaon volcano in Negros Oriental Province, are on Alert Level 1.  The general public is prohibited from entering the four-kilometre radius Permanent Danger Zones, which have been established around the volcanoes.  You should avoid the areas surrounding the volcanoes as sudden steam and ash explosions may occur.

The Philippines is in an earthquake zone.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help.
English is widely spoken in the Philippines, and most signs are in English.
You are required to show some identity if requested by the police.  You are allowed to carry photocopies of the relevant pages of passports.  You should store the originals in a safe place to avoid loss or theft.  You should leave details of travel plans, passport, credit cards with friends and family in the UK and enter next of kin details into your passport.
You should have insurance cover for unexpected losses such as cancelled flights, stolen cash, cards, passport or luggage.
If leaving the country by air you must pay a departure tax in cash in local currency.  This is expected to rise from 550 Pesos to 750 Pesos on 1 February 2007.
Residents and longer-term visitors should register with the British Embassy and renew this annually to help keep information up-to-date.
ATMs are available in Manila and other major cities.  Some machines accept major international credit or debit cards.  Retail outlets in urban areas usually accept payment by international credit card, though often add a service charge.  Banks do not always accept travellers' cheques, but it will help if you can show your receipt of purchase for the cheques.  Cash, in Pounds sterling or US dollars, can be exchanged for Philippine pesos in banks, hotels and some retail outlets.  Scottish and Northern Ireland bank notes are not generally accepted.  Buying foreign currency in the Philippines can be difficult.
You should re-confirm domestic flights not less than 72 hours before departure.  Check your international airline's policy on re-confirmation when you make your booking.