Describing The Philippines

The Republic of The Philippines is more often referred to as, simply, The Philippines. The archipelago of over 7,000 islands was named after King Philip II while he was Prince Philip and then heir to to the Spanish throne by Commander Ruy Lopez de Villalobos who was in charge of the fourth Spanish expedition to the islands. The Spanish ruled the Philippines for 356 years. After 1571 Spanish rule achieved the political unification of almost the whole of the country. The Spanish ruled the Philippines until the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898. Full independence from the U.S.A. was intended to occur in 1946. Japanese occupation during World War II delayed this but the Treaty of Manila established the Philippine Republic as an independent nation on 4th July 1946. Independence day was changed in 1961 to June 12th to avoid confusion and now 4th July is celebrated as a public holiday called Philippine Republic Day.

Currently it is the 1987 Constitution introduced after the Marcos regime ended which is in force. It Provides for a republican system of government with the separation of powers into three branches of government, executive, legislative and judicial. The creation of this constitution represents a determination to end and to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of any person or branch of government.

The major trading partners of the Philippines include the United States, Japan, China, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Germany, Taiwan, and Thailand. Whereas the country was predominantly an agrarian economy it is now very much a mixed industrial and agricultural importing and exporting part of Asia. It is not one of the “Asian Tiger” economies but is in the second tier of newly industrialized countries.

The country lies between 5°N and 20°N and 115°E and 130°E. It consists of some 7,107 islands many of which are uninhabited. The capital city is Manila but the most populous city is Quezon City with a total of over 3 million people. The population of Manila has been estimated at 1.71 million in 2014. It is bisected by the Pasig River and is 1300 kilometres from the Asian mainland. It is subject to earthquakes, being on the Pacific rim of fire, and typhoons, being on the Pacific typhoon belt. It is rated as the second riskiest capital city in which to live. There is evidence of human occupation of the area of Manila from as long ago as 3000 BC. The total population of the country is estimated at just over 100 million.

River and Road transport are both important but not so yet are the railways except for improving city passenger light rail trains.

In any multiple island nation air transport is always important especially where roads are not fully developed. In addition to many small airfields there are 71 major airports. Even so in 2012 the freight moved declined by about 6%. At Manila airport, where major improvements are being carried out, passenger numbers have increased each year over the past ten years and freight moved has remained steady. All parts of the Philippines are reasonably well connected to the rest of the world by air. Flight times to the United States of America are much longer than those from most other countries in Europe. Asian countries are, naturally, much closer as is Australia.

Telecommunication, telephone and internet services are, at best, adequate. Most internet services are provided by satellite technology. This has saved the country from having to lay many thousands of kilometres of cable.

The climate is typically tropical/equatorial with a "wet and dry" seasonal variation although this is not as clear cut as it is in, say, northern Australia. Other variations are caused by differing altitudes.

Tourism is a major contributor to the Philippine economy of about 6% of the G.D.P. In 2011. There is a great variety of attractions from the scenically rugged to fine white sand beaches, rain forest and interesting and spectacular flora and fauna. There are 35 national parks. There are also city "Bright light" attractions kown throughout the world.

The most popular sports in the Philippines are basketball, boxing, billiards, football, and volleyball. Athletics, weightlifting, aerobics, and martial arts are also popular. Also among others baseball, swimming, wrestling, underwater diving, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, cockfighting, horse racing, motor racing, rugby and jai alai are part of the varied sporting scene. In fact almost every sport is represented in the country, including cockfighting but not bull fighting in spite of the Spanish colonial history.

More details can be found via the links at the "Resources" tab on this site and in the book "How to Retire in the Philippines" by Les Johns. The book is available from this site.

Other Considerations

If you like what you have read and seen so far then the Philippines could be a good choice. Retirement visa options are different from the those available in many countries. The kinds of life styles available in the Philippines are many. There is the possibility of a tropical paradise close to the beaches, and a more temperate inland climate in Baguio in the north of Luzon Island and in Tagaytay near Manila.

One important point to remember is that the availability of goods and services diminishes rapidly as one moves from city to rural areas. Accepted normal western standards of living also deteriorate. This can be interesting for a short period to facilitate the appreciation of a particular place or area of great scenic beauty or rugged grandeur. One can tire of a lack of flushing toilets, a pail and tub “showering” system, no air-conditioning, a diet limited to local produce and less than comfortable transport - even over short distances. The generally happy, optimistic and hospitable people cannot compensate for more than a short period for such “western essential” facilities. These comments are from practical experience of the author although for only a short period in a distant province.

One vital fact about the Philippines is that Filipinos eat rice. That cannot be emphasized too often or too much. Filipinos eat rice, piled high on plates three times a day, with dishes of variously prepared pork, chicken, fish and vegetables into which handfuls of the white grain are dipped. To be sure many are poor and do not have the luxury of adequate nutrition but in the general course of events the local people whom most western retirees will encounter eat rice, often and in quantity. It is as well that most rice growing areas can produce three crops a year.

The links provided at the "Resources" tab on this site and the book "How to Retire in the Philippines" by Les Johns will save retirees much research time in their initial retirement destination investigations. The book can be purchased directly from this site.