THE PHILIPPINES

 The Philippines has the highest rate of discovery of new animal species with 16 new species of mammals discovered just in the last 10 years.

 The Philippines is named after King Philip II of Spain. Explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the Eastern Visayas Felipenas first, and the name was later applied to the entire archipelago. The country’s official name is the Republic of the Philippines.

 

 The world’s largest pearl was discovered by a Filipino diver in the Palawan Sea in 1934. Known as the “Pearl of Lao Tzu,” or “Pearl of Allah,” the gem weighs 14 pounds (6.35 kg) and measures 9.5 inches (24 cm) long and 5.5 inches (0.4 cm) in diameter. It has a value of over US$40 million. It is believed to be 600 years old.

 The Philippines is one of the world’s largest exporter of coconuts and tropical fruits, such as papaya and mangosteen.

 

 The Philippines is the only majority Christian nation in Asia. Eighty percent of its population identifies as Roman Catholic.

 

 The Philippines has a population of more than 100 million people, which makes it the 12th most populous country in the world. Its annual growth rate of around 2% makes it one of the fastest-growing countries in the world.

 

 Mt. Pinatubo in Luzon erupted on June 15, 1991, and created the largest mushroom cloud in the world. Its eruption ejected 10 billion metric tons of magma and 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere.

 

 The Philippine eagle or monkey-eating eagle is the largest of all eagles and was declared the national bird of the Philippines in 1985. It stands up to 3.3 feet (1 m) in height and has a wingspan of almost 7 feet (2 m). It is critically endangered; there may only be around 180–500 eagles remaining. Killing one is punishable by Philippine law by 12 years in jail and a heavy fine.

 

 The Philippines is the only country in the world whose flag is hoisted upside down when the country is at war.

 

 The Conus gloriamus, the rarest and most expensive seashell in the world, is one of the 12,000 species of seashells found in the Philippines. The first examples of these shells sold at auction for about US$5,000.

 

 The yo-yo had its beginnings as an ancient Filipino studded hunting weapon attached to a 20-foot rope. The modern yo-yo was invented by a Filipino American, and its name yóyo comes from the Filipino language Ilocano and means “come back.”

 

 The Philippines is home to the world’s longest snake, the Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus), which also happens to be the world’s longest reptile. It can grow to 28.5 feet (8.7 m).

 

 There are between 120 and 175 individual languages spoken in the Philippines, 171 of which are living while the other four no longer have any known speakers. English and Filipino, based on Tagalog, are the country’s two officially recognized languages.

 

 The Philippines is the second-largest archipelago in the world and is made up of 7,107 islands located in the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and the Luzon Strait.

 

 San Fernando, Pampanga in the Philippines is known as the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines” and is most famous for its parols (giant Christmas lanterns), which symbolize the star of Bethlehem and can rise 20 feet (6 m) in the air. Only about 10 giant parols are produced each year to compete in the Ligligan Parul (Giant Lantern Festival). Each parol costs around US$11,300 to $15,820 to build.

 

 The Taal Volcano on the Philippine island of Luzon is one of the world’s 17 Decade Volcanoes, which are volcanoes being specially monitored given their active state and explosive history. Taal is also located in a lake, which has another lake inside of it, with an even smaller island inside of that lake.

 The University of Santo Tomas was founded in Manila, Philippines, by Dominican monks in 1611. It is the world’s largest Catholic university in terms of population. Both it and the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, founded in 1595, are older than Harvard University, which was not founded until 1636.

 

 Over 11 million Filipinos work overseas, which constitutes about 11% of the entire population of the Philippines. Filipinos are the second-largest Asian-American group in the United States, next to the Chinese.

 

 The Mindanao Trench, which is near the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean, is the second deepest spot under the world’s oceans at 6.5 miles, or 34,440 feet (10,497 m). It was first explored by the German ship, Emden, in 1927.

 

 Filipinos observe the world’s longest Christmas season. It begins with the playing of carols in September and officially ends in January with the Feast of the Three Kings. As part of the festivities, they celebrate Simbang Gabi, or Night Mass, where Catholics attend nine services in a row leading up to Christmas Eve. If a person attends all nine masses, it is said their wish will be granted. Filipinos’ Christmas feasts are called Noche Buena and compare to America’s Thanksgiving.

 

 The Philippine capital city of Manila was named after the white-flowered mangrove plant, the Nilad, or Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea. It is a tree with white, star-shaped flowers but yields dark blue dye, which is why in other countries it is called the Indigo tree.

 

 Of the eight known species of giant clams in the world, seven are found in the Philippines.

 

 Manila, the capital of the Philippines is considered the world’s most densely populated city in the world. With a population of 1,660,714 and an area of just 24 square miles (38.55 square km), it has a population density of 55,446 people per square mile (43,079 people per square km).

 

 The Philippines is home to the world’s smallest hoofed animal, the Philippine mouse-deer. Locally known as the Pilandok (Tragulus nigricans), this creature stands about 15.8 inches (40 cm) tall at the shoulder level.[18]

 

 One of the most interesting and traditional Philippine dishes is balut, which is essentially a boiled, fertilized duck egg with a half-formed chick inside. It is said to be an aphrodisiac. Other unique dishes include camaro, which are field crickets cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar; papaitan, which is a goat or cow innards stew flavored with bile; Soup #5, which is a soup made out of bull testicles; and asocena, or dog meat.

 

 The Philippines is the world’s third-biggest geothermal producer after the United States with 18% of the country’s electricity needs being met by geothermal power.

 

 The jeepney is sometimes referred to as the “King of the Philippine roads.” It is a descendant of the Jeeps American troops drove in the Philippines during World War II. Second- and third-generation jeepneys have air conditioning units and closely resemble minibusses. They can carry up to 16 passengers.

 

 The traditional embroidered Filipino male garment, the barong Tagalog or baro, is woven from piña, pineapple plant fibers, or jusi, banana tree fibers, and worn on formal occasions.

 

 Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines. The Philippines Basketball Association (PBA) is the first and oldest league in Asia and the second oldest in the world after the United States’ National Basketball Association (NBA).

 The Philippines is considered the text capital of the world. Every day, 35 million Filipinos send about 450 million SMS messages. This is more than the total number of daily text messages sent in the U.S. and Europe combined.

 

 The Filipino national dish may very well be the adobo, which is a dark stew of chicken and/or pork cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, crushed garlic, bay leaf, and black peppercorns. In Spanish, adobo originally meant “sauce” or “seasoning.” The Filipino version is actually indigenous to the islands, dating back to a dish cooked long before Magellan’s arrival.

Source: Department of Tourism

©2019 by Philippine Embassy in the United Arab Emirates.