The first half of the year, from January to May, is the best time to visit the country. November to February is cool, while March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy, with the months between July and September characterized by typhoons. Average temperature is 78 degrees F/25 degrees C; average humidity is 77%. Some parts of the country such as Cebu, are warm and comfortable in all seasons and can be visited throughout the year.
For up-to-date weather information, visit the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Adminstration (PAGASA) website: www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph or call PAGASA 24-hour hotline (632)4338526.
· The exotic jeepney is a post-war creation inspired by the GI jeeps that the American soldiers brought to the country in the 1940s. Enterprising Filipinos salvaged the surplus engines and came out unique vehicles of art.
· Short distance and feeder trips could not be more exciting than via Philippine quick transports – the tricycle, a motorcycle with a sidecar, and the pedicab, a bicycle with a sidecar.
· The world’s longest underground river system accessible to man can be found at the St. Paul National Park in the province of Palawan.
· The largest Philippine wild animal, the tamaraw, is a species of the buffalo that is similar to the carabao. It is found only in the island of Mindoro.
· The highest mountain in the Philippines is Mt. Apo, a dormant volcano found in Mindanao, at 2,954 meters (9,689 feet). Mt. Pulog in Luzon is the second highest at 2,928 meters (9604 feet).
· Filipino bowler Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno was the first bowler to be elevated to the International Bowling Hall of Fame based in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. The Philippine Congress has named him “Greatest Filipino Athlete of All Time.”
· Philippine National Hero and writer Jose Rizal could read and write at age 2. He grew up to speak more than 20 languages, including Latin, Greek, German, French, and Chinese. What were his last words? “Consummatum est!” (“It is done!”)
· The largest city in the Philippines is Davao City. With an area of 2,211 sq. km., it is about three times the size of the national capital, Metro Manila.
· Cebu is the oldest Philippine city.
· Negros Occidental has the most cities among Philippine provinces.
· Filipinos celebrate the world’s longest religious holiday. The Christmas season begins on September 1st, as chillier winds and Christmas carols start filling the air, and ends on the first week of January, during the Feast of the Three Kings.
· Paskuhan Village in the province of Pampanga is Asia’s only Christmas theme park and the third of its kind in the world.
· The great Christmans lanterns of San Fernando, Pampanga can reach as big as 40 feet in diameter, using as many as 16,000 glowing bulbs.
· The exotic jeepney is the Filipino version of the jitney, the taxi/minibus that travels along a fixed route, found in many countries.
· The popular toy, the yoyo, was invented by 16th century hunters in the Philippines.
· The word “boondocks,” which is now a part of the English language, dictionary, and vocabulary, comes from the Tagalog word “bundok,” meaning “mountain.”
· The Philippines became the first Asian country to win FIVE major international beauty pageant crowns — two for Miss Universe, in 1969 and 1973, and three for Miss International, in 1965, 1970, and 1979.
· Diving paradise Anilao, in the province of Batangas, is the theme of a picture book that bagged the International Prize for Underwater Images at the 27th World Festival of Underwater Images in France in November 2000. “Anilao” book creators and Filipino scuba divers Scott Tuason and Eduardo Cu Unjieng defeated big names in underwater photography such as Jacques Mayol, Pascal Kobeh, Monique Walker, and Alessandro Tommasi.
· The biggest game preserve and wildlife sanctuary in the Philippines is located on Calauit Island in Palawan, which has the largest land area among the Philippine provinces.
· The antibiotic erythromycin — used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections, such as respiratory tract infections, middle ear infections, and skin infections — was created by Filipino scientist Abelardo Aguilar, and has earned American drug giant Eli Lilly billions of dollars. Neither Aguilar nor the Philippine government received royalties.
· Fernando Amorsolo was officially the first National Artist of the Philippines. He was given the distinction of National Artist for Painting in 1972.
· Philippines Herald war journalist Carlos P. Romulo was the first Asian to win a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism in 1942. He was also aide-de-camp to General Douglas MacArthur in World War II; Philippine resident commissioner in the U.S. Congress from 1944-46; and the first Asian to become UN President in 1949.
· The largest fish in the world, the Whale Shark, locally known as Butanding, regularly swims to the Philippine waters.
· The world’s shortest and lightest freshwater fish is the dwarf pygmy goby (Pandaka Pygmaea), a colorless and nearly transparent species found in the streams and lakes of Luzon. Males have an average length of 8.7 mm. and weigh 4-5 mg.
· On January 18, 1995, Pope John Paul II offered mass to an estimated 4 to 5 million people at Luneta Park, Manila, Philippines, making it to the Guiness Book of World Records for the Biggest Papal Crowd.
· The Philippine Madrigal Singers bagged the 1997 European Choral Grand Prix, the choral olympics of the world’s best choirs. The group, being the only Asian choir, bested five regional champions from all over Europe, earning them the title as the “world’s best choir.”
· There are 12,000 or so species of seashells in the Philippines. The Conus Gloriamaris or “Glory of the Sea” is the rarest and most expensive in the world.
· Of the 500 known coral species in the world, 488 are found in the Philippines.
· Of the eight species of marine turtles worldwide, five are reported to be found in the Philippines: the Green Turtle, Hawkbill, Leatherback, Olive Ridley, and Loggerhead.
· Of the eight known species of giant clams in the world, seven are found in the Philippines.
· The Basilica of San Sebastian is the only steel church in Asia and was the second building to be made out of steel, next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
· The largest bell in Asia hangs at the belfry of the 221-year old Panay Church. It is 7 feet in diameter and 7 feet in height, and weighs 10.4 tons. Its tolling can be heard as far as 8 km. away. It was casted from 70 sacks of coins donated by the townspeople as a manifestation of faith and thanksgiving.
· The World Cup, which was instituted in 1965, is contested annually by the national champions of the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ). The highest number of wins is 4, by Filipino bowler Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno: 1976, 1980, 1992, and 1996.
· Filipino Eriberto N. Gonzales Jr. consumed 350 chilis in 3 minutes at the annual Magayon Festival chili-eating contest held at Penaranda Park, Legazpi, Albay on May 27, 1999, making it to the Guiness Book of World Records for the most chilis eaten.
· The longest possible eclipse of the Sun is 7 min. 31 sec. The longest eclipse in recent times took place west of the Philippines on June 20, 1995, lasting for 7 min. 8 sec.
· Camiguin province holds the distinction of having the most number of volcanoes per square kilometer than any other island on earth. It is also the only place in the Philippines which has more volcanoes (7) than towns (5).
· The 900 sq m Relief Map of Mindanao in Dapitan City was personally done by Dr. Jose Rizal. It was used as a device for teaching history and geography to townsfolk.
· The Zamboanga Golf Course and Beach Park was founded in 1910 by Gov. John Pershing. It is one of the oldest golf courses in the Philippines.
· Isabela City is the youngest city in the region. It was only on March 5, 2001 that the Municipality of Isabela, Province of Basilan was converted into a component city Through RA 9023. On April 25, 2001, Isabeleños ratified the new status of Isabela.
· The Kinabayo is an exotic and colorful pageant re-enacting the Spanish-Moorish Wars, particularly the Battle of Covadonga where the Spanish forces under General Pelagio took their last stand against the Saracens. They were able to reverse the tide of war with the miraculous apparition of St. James, the Apostle. A Kinabayo Festival is celebrated every July in Dapitan City, attracting thousands of tourists to the city.
· The altar at the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Dipolog City was designed by Dr. Jose Rizal. The Cathedral was erected by the Spanish friars sometime in 1895, before Dipolog City became a municipality.
· The Rizal Shrine in Dapitan City is the original estate of Dr. Jose Rizal which he acquired by purchase during his exile in Dapitan from 1892 to 1896.
· RA 8973 signed by then President Joseph E. Estrada in February 2001 created the province of Zamboanga Sibugay. A total of sixteen municipalities compose this newest province in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
· Magat Dam is Asia’s biggest dam project at the time of its construction. It serves the primary function of power generation and irrigation.
· The Cagayan River or Rio Grande de Cagayan is the Philippines’ mightiest watercourse – the longest and widest river in the country. Small streams originating form Balete Pass, Cordillera, Caraballo and Sierra Madre Mountains meet other streams and rivers and flow to the Cagayan River.
· Magapit Suspension Bridge is the first of its kind in Asia. It spans the Cagayan River at Lallo and is 0.76 kilometers long. The hanging bridge links the first and second districts of Cagayan going towards the Ilocos Region via the scenic Patapat Road on the Ilocos Norte-Cagayan Inter-Provincial national highway.
· Angono Petroglyphs – This cultural heritage site dates back to circa 3000 B.C. and is the most ancient Filipino, or more aptly, prehistoric Filipino work of art. Besides being the country’s oldest “work of art” it also offers us an evocative glimpse into the life of our ancestors. The site has been included in the World Inventory of Rock Art under the auspices of UNESCO, ICCROM and ICOMOS and nominated as one of the “100 Most Endangered Sites of the World.
· PANCIT HABHAB (Lucban)-Made from rice flour, these local noodles acquired its name and developed its unique attraction by the way it is eaten. Otherwise known as Pancit Lucban, these noodles are hawked in the streets and served on a piece of banana leaf, sans fork or any other utensils. Thus, it is eaten straight from the leaf, licking permitted… “habhab”-style.
· Tagala – the Philippines first Filipino-Spanish dictionary which was printed in 1613, 25 years older than the first book printed in the United States.
· Mayon is the most beautiful mountain I have ever seen, the world-renowned Fujiyama (Mt. Fuji) of Japan sinking into perfect insignificance by comparison. British traveler-writer A. Henry Savage Landor
· Ilo-Ilo golf and country club is the oldest golf club in the Philippines. It was built at 1908 by Irish Engineers.
· Limasawa Island – where Ferdinand Magellan first landed in the Philippines which give way to the discovery of the Philippines and where the first mass was celebrated.
· San Juanico Strait – said to be the narrowest yet the most navigable strait in the world
· Calbiga Cave – The Philippines’ biggest karst formations and one of the largest in Asia, the 2,968-hectare cave system is composed of 12 caves with wide underground spaces, unique rock formations and sub-terranean watercourse.
· At the Immaculate Conception Cathedral can be found the only existing pipe organ in Mindanao. The 2nd largest pipe organ in the Phiippines. The huge instrument took 2 years to built and was brought over by sea from Germany in 23 crates.
· Cagayan de Oro City – “The City of Golden Friendship,” known for its warm people and old-fashioned hospitality
· Mt. Apo, the Philippines highest mountain at 10,311 feet above sea level, and considered as the “Grand-father of all Philippine Mountains”
· Lake Lanao is the second largest lake in the Philippines, probably the deepest in the country and is considered one of the major tropical lakes in Southeastern Asia. The lake is home of endemic cryprinids, the species found only in the lake and nowhere else in the world.
· Halo-Halo! Halo-halo literally means, “mix-mix”. And its is just that: a mixture of sweetened fruits and beans, lavished with pinipig (crisp flattened rice flakes), sugar and milk, topped by crushed ice and ice cream. You know its summertime when halo-halo stand start sprouting by the roadside and by the beach, all whipping up their heavenly concoctions of such a refreshingly divine dessert. You can make your own by selecting and mixing your ingredients to make a perfect Halo-Halo. Halo-Halo is uniquely, unforgettably Filipino!
· KALESA – The kalesa or karitela is a horse-driven carriage that was introduced during the 18th century. It was used by Spanish officials and the nobles as a means of transportation. The Ilustrados, the rich Filipinos who had their own businesses, used the kalesa not only for traveling but as a means a means of transporting their goods as well.
· BAKYA-Made primarily of lightwood (laniti and santol trees), it is sculpted with a slope and shaved to a smooth finish, then painted with floral designs or varnished to a high sheen. The upper portions, which are made of rubber or transparent plastic, are fastened to the sides by thumb nails called “clavitos”. The bakya industry prospered during the 1930s when the Filipinos began exporting these to the other countries.
· SORBETES-This sweet treat was concocted in the early 1920’s, a time where a single centavo could buy you almost anything. The process of this ice cream making and selling it in carts with colorful designs is still the same. Back in the old days, these ice cream dealers bred their own cows and milked them with their own hands to ensure the freshness and sanitation of the milk needed to make the “dirty ice cream”.
· Waling Waling Orchids – With some 800 to 1,000 species of orchids, the Philippines has one of the richest orchid floras in the world. Philippine orchids come in an amazing array of shapes, sizes and colors. Most grow only in old-growth forest, often on branches of huge trees dozens of meters above the forest floor.
Maria Teresa Calderon – A Filipina World champion speed reader as listed in the Guinness Book of World Records
In the Philippines, Filipinos were introduced to the English language in 1762 by British invaders, not Americans. Philippines is the world’s 3rd largest English-speaking nation, next to the USA and the UK.
· The Philippine Basketball Association is Asia’s premier and the world’s second oldest professional league.
· Philippine Airlines took to the skies on March 15, 1941, using a Beech Model 18 aircraft amid the specter of a global war. It became Asia’s first airline.
· The world’s largest pearl was discovered by a Filipino diver in a giant Tridacna (mollusk) under the Palawan Sea in 1934. Known as the “Pearl of Lao-Tzu”, the gem weighs 14 pounds and measures 9 1/2 inches long and 5 1/2 inches in diameter. As of May 1984, it was valued at US$42 million. It is believed to be 600 years old.
· Alto Broadcasting System (ABS) Channel 3, the first television station in the country, went on the air in 1953.
· The world’s second deepest spot underwater is in the Philippines. This spot, about 34,440 feet (10,497 meters) below the sea level, is known as the Philippine Deep or the Mindanao Trench. The Philippine Deep is in the floor of the Philippine Sea. The German ship Emden first plumbed the trench in 1927.
· The symbolic name for the Philippines, Juan dela Cruz, is not a Filipino invention? It was coined by R. McCulloch-Dick, a Scottish-born journalist working for the Manila Times in the early 1900s, after discovering it was the most common name in blotters.
· Lipa City in Batangas is dubbed as the “Rome of the Philippines” because of the number of seminaries, convents, monasteries, retreat houses, and a famous cathedral located in it.
· Compostela Valley is known to be laden with gold, thus earning the monicker “Golden Valley of Mindanao”
· Basilica of St. Martin de Tours in Taal, Batangas built by Augustinian Missionaries in 1572, is reputed to be the biggest catholic church in East Asia. It is so huge that it can house another big church
· Kibungan is known as the “Switzerland of Bengued” because of the frost during the cold months
· The Delmonte Pineapple Plantation in Bukidnon is considered to be the biggest in the far east
· Both Tridacna gigas, one of the world’s largest shells, and Pisidum, the world’s tiniest shell, can be found under Philippine waters. Tridacna gigas grows as large as one meter in length and weighs 600 pounds while Pisidum is less than 1 millimeter long. A shell called glory of the sea (Connus gloriamaris) is also found in the Philippines and considered as one of the most expensive shells in the world.
· Seahorses are small saltwater fish belonging to the Syngnathidae family (order Gasterosteiformes), which also includes pipefish and sea dragons. Most seahorse species, probably the most peculiar creatures in the water, live in the Coral Triangle. There are at least 50 known seahorse species in the world. They inhabit temperate and tropical waters but most of them are concentrated in the warm coastal waters of the Philippines.
· Donsol, a fishing town in Sorsogon province, serves as a sanctuary to a group of 40 whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), which are considered as the largest fish in the world. Locally known as “butanding”, whale sharks visit the waters of Donsol from November to May. They travel across the oceans but nowhere else have they been sighted in a larger group than in the waters of Sorsogon. They measure between 18 to 35 feet in length and weigh about 20 tons.
· The Philippines is home to some of the world’s most exotic birds.
One of the most endangered species is the exotic Kalangay or the Philippine cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia), which belongs to Psittacidae or the family of parrots. Some cockatoos can live up to 50 years. They are known for mimicking human voices. Most of them measure 33 centimeters in length and weigh 0.29 kilogram.
· Palawan bearcat is neither a bear nor a cat. Known in Southeast Asia as binturong, the bearcat is a species of its own, with population in the forests of Palawan, Borneo, Burma and Vietnam. It belongs to the family of Viverridae (civets). The Palawan bearcat has a long body and a pointed face leading to the nose. Its head and body measure 61 to 96 centimeters in combined length while its tail is almost as long. It weighs 9 to 14 kilograms and lives up to 20 years.
· Calamian Deer – Calamian Islands, north of Palawan province, keep a species of deer that cannot be found elsewhere. Scientists referred to the hog deer in the islands as Calamian deer in order to distinguish them from other hog deer in the world. An ordinary Calamian deer measures 105 to 115 centimeters in length and 60 to 65 centimeters high at the shoulder and weighs about 36 to 50 kilograms. It is said to have longer and darker legs, compared with other hog deer.
· World’s Smallest Hoofed Mammal – South of Palawan, lies the Balabac Island, home of the world’s smallest hoofed mammal – the Philippine mouse deer. Locally known as Pilandok (Tragalus nigricans), this ruminant stands only about 40 centimeters at the shoulder level.
· Flying Lemur – One of the most distinct creatures on Earth lives in the Philippines. It doesn’t have wings but it can glide across 100 meters of space in a single leap. Like the lemurs of Asia, it moves around at night. Its head resembles that of a dog while its body has similarities with the flying squirrel of Canada.
In Mindanao, people call it “kagwang”. Around the world, it is known as colugo or the flying lemur.
· Did you know that the first four cities of Metropolitan Manila are: Manila, Quezon, Pasay and Caloocan
· The flagpole located in Rizal Park, is where the starts of 0 kilometer reading in measuring all distances from Manila.
· Quezon City is the second biggest city in the Philippines.
· The Bonifacio Monument in Monumento, Caloocan City was designed by a noted Filipino sculptor Guillermo Tolentino
· In 1916, in the Philippines, an offensive style of passing the ball in a high trajectory to be struck by another player (the set and spike) were introduced. The Filipinos developed the “bomba” or kill, and called the hitter a “bomberino”. (source: http://volleyball.org/history.html)