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PHILIPPINES


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Some Definitions and some Geographical, Historical and Cultural background on the PHILIPPINES:



DEFINITIONS:

The Philippines was named after the Crown Prince Philip II of Spain. He was reputed to be an extreme introvert, austere, humorless, and unpopular. Dubbed the "Spider of the Escorial" because he seldom left his palace, Philip II reigned over the vast Spanish empire handed down by his father, Charles V, and was a leading patron of Catholicism. He was elegant and slender and, in his youth, good-looking. Philip's reign, however, marked the decline of Spanish power, leading one historian to describe him as essentially mediocre and paralyzed by indecision. (From Bong Barrameda's Pinoy Trivia Vol. 2, Anvil Publishing, 1993).

The term Filipino originally referred to Spaniards and Spanish mestizos born in the Philippines. Espanoles-Filipinos was the term that these people called themselves. Later, the native indios and Chinese mestizos also called themselves Filipinos in the belief that education and wealth gave them the cloak of Spanish culture. (From Bong Barrameda's Pinoy Trivia Vol. 1, Anvil Publishing, 1993).

It is believed that the term Pinoy to mean Filipino originated from the early Filipinos who came to the United States. The Manongs (uncles) as the "oldtimers" were also known called themselves Pinoys to distinguish themselves from Filipinos living in the Philippines. (Contributed partly by Dawn Bohulano Mabalon whose family has been using the term Pinoy/Pinay since the 1920's.) [Definitions of Philippines, Filipino and Pinoy herein, are from the website http://www.tribo.org/history/history1.html]



GEOGRAPHICAL:

The Philippines is an archipelago in Southeastern Asia between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam. The approx. map coordinates are: 13 00 N, 122 00 E .

In area, the Philippines are a total of 300,000 sq km, of which the land is 298,170 sq km and the water is 1,830 sq km.

It is slightly larger than the United States' State of Arizona with no land boundaries with any other nation and 36,289 km of coastline (i.e. 22,554 miles).

The Philippines is made up of about Seven Thousand One Hundred (7,100) islands. Over time there have been various waves of immigration to the Philippines, from the Islands of Borneo, Sumatra and Sarawak (which is part of the Indonesian Republic). The eleven (11) largest islands comprise about 95% of the area and is home to about 95% of the population.

The Philippines Maritime claims, which are measured from the archipelagic baselines are:
Continental shelf: to the depth of exploitation.
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles.
Territorial sea: irregular polygon extending up to 100 nautical miles from the coastline as defined by the 1898 treaty. However, since the 1970s, the Philippines has also claimed a polygonal-shaped area in the South China Sea up to 285 nautical miles in breadth.

The climate is a tropical marine climate with a northeastern monsoon from November to April and a southwestern monsoon from May to October each year.

The terrain is mountainous for the most part with a narrow to wide low coastal area. The elevation extremes range from the Philippine sea low point of sea level to the top of Mount Apo which is 2,954 meters (i.e. 8,103 feet).

The land use of the Philippines, from a 1993 estimate, is: arable land: 19%; permanent crops: 12%; permanent pastures: 4%; forests and woodland: 46%; other: 19%. Irrigate land in the Philippines is 15,800 sq km (i.e. 25,422.2 sq. miles).
Primary natural resources of the Philippines are timber, petroleum, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, salt, copper.

The Philippines is in a typhoon belt. It is affected annually by about 15 typhoons and is struck by 5 or 6 storms each year with cyclonic proportions. The Philippines is also subject to landslides, active volcanoes, tsunamis and destructive earthquakes. The Philippines, like most of the Pacific Ocean island chains was created as a tectonic plate rode slowly over a hot spot (i.e. a weak spot in the ocean floor where the magma pours through, causing underwater volcanoes, which in turn as they build, break above the ocean level to create a new island.

The Philippines have a number of environmental problems facing them. These include the serious air pollution and water pollution problems of Manila, the largest city in the Philippines. The smog there is terrible (your curator has been there and seen this in February 2002--the "Jitney" buses pouring out smoke which under present U.S. law would not pass inspection by a long shot in many instances. There is also a good bit of soil erosion. The loss of tropical forest timber is also a grave cause of concern as is the increasing pollution of the coastal mangrove swamps, which as with other countries are important fish breeding places. To this end, the Philippines has joined in a number of international agreements, some signed and ratified and others only signed awaiting ratification, which may or may not come.

Our thanks for information provided by the web site www.geographic.org for a good part of the information in this section.



VERY BRIEF HISTORY:

Until recently, little was known of the earlier history of the Philippine Islands, i.e. prior to the arrival in 1521 of Portuguese-born Spanish explorer and navigator, Ferdinand Magellan. In more recent years, a good bit more of the history of the Philippines has been discovered.

Using intensive research of ancient Asian records and the more recent discoveries by archaeologists, at various sites in the Philippines, have aided in developing the history of the Philippines, before recorded history. It now appears that humans are ancient in the Philippines, having arrived about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.

The oldest human fossil remains, which are about 30,000 years old are found in Palaway, on the Western fringe of the archipelago. This makes these first human migrations to have taken place during the last Ice Age, in what is called the Pleistocene epoch. At that time, because the ice took up so much of the water from the oceans, there were land bridges between the Philippines and mainland Asia and Borneo.

The Philippine Islands were inhabited by various waves of immigrants over time. Therefore there are various different racial groups which have lived and do live upon the many Philippine Islands, which developed different domestic skills and interconnections with each other.

Archaeological findings indicate a plentiful pre-colonial culture in the Philippines which included goldsmithing, mining, ship building, weaving and agriculture, among others. Interchange with other Asian neighbors go back to at least 500 BC. At that time there were Hindu empires in Java and Sumatra, with whom the Philippine people had trade linkage contacts.

These trade links became the means by which some of the Philippines people adopted syllabic scripts which are still used by some indigenous groups in Palaway (see http://www.pinoyfirst.com/palawan/) and Mindoro. Trade ties with China were extensive by the 10th Century and the peak of trade with Arab traders was in the 12th Century. Islam was well established in Mindanao by the time the Spanish arrived. Islam had started to influence people as far North as Luzon.

The present existing health beliefs and practices in the Philippines are rooted back in the pre-colonial period. Skeletal remains from Archaeological sites in the Philippines show that the people in those ancient times had done ornamental dental work which was quite intricate and had used trephination (this is a boring into the skull of a person for a medical or healing ritual). There were and are today traditional medicinal practitioners who trace their roots back to the pre-colonial period.

When the Spanish arrived, the Philippine natives (called indios) had already reached varying levels of relationship, i.e. political, development. This included proto-feudal confederations, debt peonage (not slavery, but where a person owed a debt to another until they worked it off, for some given purpose, such as land purchase or use) and simple communal groups.

The Spanish upon arrival imposed a feudal system and in the process concentrated the Philippine population under their control into towns and estates. During the first two Centuries of Spanish occupation, the Spanish used the Philippines primarily to connect their China and Acapulco (Mexico) trade. Roman Catholicism allowed the retention of some pre-colonial elements of Philippine life and society, such as animism (worship of animals) while forcing the acceptance of the Spanish feudal aspects and their religion, Roman Catholicism's dogma, authoritarianism and the oppression of the patriarchy of Roman Catholicism.

The Spanish were never able to exert political control over the entire archipelago as the Muslims in the South and the indigenous Filipinos successfully resisted the Spanish influence. Even among the subjugated population groups, there were numerous revolts from time to time during the Spanish occupation of the Philippines.

In 1898 Commodore George Dewey, age 60 received a secret cable on February 25 from Asst. Sec. of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, ordering Commodore Dewey to proceed with his Asiatic squadron to Hong Kong, China and to prepare an attack on the Spanish squadron in the Philippines in the event of war between the United States and Spain. The battle of Manila Bay began at 5:40 A.M. on May 1, 1898 when Commodore Dewey said to the captain of his flagship "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley", which is now an often quoted expression meaning "go ahead with plans". By 12:30 P.M. on May 1, 1898, all 10 of the Spanish squadron ships had been destroyed with a loss of 381 men. The United States had suffered only 8 men slightly wounded and none killed. Commodore Dewey was promoted to Rear Admiral on May 11, 1898. A peace protocol was sign on August 12 and the Treaty of Paris formally ended the war on December 10, 1898. Spain withdrew to Cuba and ceded Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to the United States upon payment of $20,000.000.


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