Eleven Facts About the Philippines You Might Not Know
1. The Philippines was named after a Spanish King
When Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos first came, he named the islands in honor of then Prince Felipe of Asturias as “Las Islas de Filipinas.”. Prince Felipe eventually became King Felipe II, and, during his reign, Spain reached their Golden Age. When the Americans came, they renamed is to “Philippines,” with “Philip” as the English equivalent for “Felipe.”
2. Philippines is the only Catholic country in Asia
Spain converted then Islamic tribes in the Philippines to Catholicism and was once the only Christian country in Asia prior to the rise of Christianity in South Korea.
3. Divorce remains illegal
With the Catholic Church’s grip on Philippine society, the country has a strong conservative stand on social issues like divorce and same-sex marriage. In fact, Philippines is the only country in the world that doesn’t allow divorce.
4. There are at least 120 languages and dialects
With more than 7,000 islands, Filipinos speak a lot of languages; up to 176 languages have been recorded, ranging from regional dialects to tribal languages. Though Filipino language is based in Tagalog, other widely spoken languages in the country includes Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Ilocano, and Kapampangan. Some words can have different meanings in other languages. For example, “langgam” is an ant in Tagalog, but it is a bird in Cebuano. Others translate to something vulgar in another regional language. For example, “sabot” means, “understand/comprehend” in Cebuano, but it means “pubic hair” in Hiligaynon. The same with the Cebuano word, “libog” (confused) is “lust” in Tagalog.
5. Filipinos smile for many reasons
Hospitality is one of the characteristics of the locals that draws its visitors. It easy for Filipinos to smile,but it doesn’t mean they are glad all the time. In fact, Filipinos also smile when they feel embarrassed or when they think you are dumb. So you might need to decipher the different kinds of Filipino smiles.
6. The People of the Philippines are some of the Most Polite in the World
Filipinos are warm, fun-loving people with a great sense of humour! This paired along with a good culture and respect for all the elders makes it one of the happiest countries in the world. In the Philippines, you can see every visitor being greeted as ma’am or sir and the children addressing them as “kuyas” and “ates”, for elder brother and sister respectively. This politeness and respect span over a wide range of situations, where even when asked for help, it would be surprising to find one single Filipino saying a direct harsh “no” to any request you make. They have separate lines for the elderly, pregnant women, or the disabled for various facilities such as the taxi stations, banks, and others. These guidelines are obeyed by all the citizens hence ensuring peace and harmony in the country.
7. Christmas in the Philippines Starts in September
The people of the Philippines celebrate Christmas not just as a day but as a holiday season that starts from the month as early as September! Christmas is the longest holiday in the Philippines and the people love to start shopping and decorations in September. The shopping bazaars and sites are crowded with people. An important practice from various of their religious customs is their night mass that happens for 9 straight days leading up to Christmas eve! So, if you are a fan of the Christmas holiday and are planning to travel to the Philippines, Christmas would be the best time.
8. Filipinos have a passion for boxing
Whenever world-famous Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao has a televised fight, it seems like a national holiday throughout the country due to the absence of cars on the road and even people in the mall. This is because Filipinos are glued to the television set, excitedly anticipating the win of Manny Pacquiao. The Philippine National Police has even reported that there is a drop in crime in Metro Manila each time Manny Pacquiao has a fight!
9. The Philippines are home to one of the longest subterranean rivers in the world
Before the discovery of a 10 km underground river in Mexico, Palawan’s Puerto Princesa Subterranean River was recognized as the longest subterranean river in the whole world. These astonishing geography fact continues drawing millions of tourists who come to marvel at the natural wonders of the subterranean river to Puerto Princesa each year.
10. 13 is an unlucky number
A great number of Filipinos think that the number 13 is a bad omen. As a result, they believe that 13 people should not sit at a table and the main entrance of a house shouldn’t fall on a number that is divisible by three. They also believe that it is bad to travel on Holy Thursday or Good Friday, as this increases the likelihood of accidents. It’s one of the most unusual facts about Filipinos, but many still believe these!
11. The Philippines boasts the world’s longest underground river
Located 75km north of Puerto Princesa, lies the longest underground river in the entire world. In 2011, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River was christened as one of the New7Wonders of Nature by UNESCO, cementing its status as a natural marvel. The Underground River Cave measures in at more than 24 km long and the part with the underground section of the Cabayugan River spans 8.2km. Travellers can visit Puerto Princesa River as part of a tour or independently.