Archeological and paleontological discoveries show that Homo sapiens existed in Palawan circa 50,000 BC. The aboriginal people of the Philippines, the Negritos, are an Australo-Melanesian people, which arrived in the Philippines at least 30,000 years ago.
The Austronesians, who originated from populations of Taiwanese aboriginals that migrated from mainland Asia approximately 6000 years ago, colonized the Philippine islands and eventually migrated to Indonesia, Malaysia and, soon after, to the Polynesian islands and Madagascar.
Islam was brought to the Philippines by traders and proselytizers from Malaysia and Indonesia. The Islamization of the Philippines is due to the strength of then-Muslim India. By the 13th century, Islam was established in the Sulu Archipelago and spread from there to Mindanao; it had reached the Manila area by 1565. Muslim converts established Islamic communities and states ruled by rajas or sultans. However, no Islamic state exercised sovereignty over much of the archipelago, and the indigenous maritime and agricultural societies ruled by datus or apos remained autonomous.
When Ferdinand Magellan landed 1521 on the island of Homahon, he took possession on behalf of King Philipps II and named it Felipinas – the Philippines. At this time, he knew a little about the wealth of these still unexplored fantastic islands. He also had no idea of the spectacular sunsets and the moderate climate which brought such a warm hearted and friendly people, who should be known later all over the world because of its friendly hospitality. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived, they found well developed settlements. Prior to this Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese. The Spaniards recognized the potential of these strategically well positioned islands and they established 1571 in Manila a colonial government, from where they controlled the country and the trade. Spain’s colonization brought the construction of Intamuros in 1571, a “Walled City” comprised of European buildings and churches, replicated in different parts of the archipelago. In 1898, after 350 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos, with leaders like Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo, succeeded in winning their independence.
CULTURE OF THE PHILIPPINES
The culture of the Philippines comprises a blend of traditional Filipino and Spanish Catholic traditions, with influences from America and other parts of Asia. The Filipinos are family oriented and often religious with an appreciation for art, fashion, music and food.
Filipinos are also hospitable people who love to have a good time. This often includes getting together to sing, dance, and eat. The annual calendar is packed with festivals, many of which combine costumes and rituals from the nation’s pre-Christian past with the Catholic beliefs and ideology of present day.
LANGUAGES IN THE PHILIPPINES
Filipino and English are the official languages of The Philippines. Filipino is also the national language of the country. Twenty-one languages are spoken regionally. These include Aklanon, Basian, Bikol, Cebuano, Chavacano, Hiligaynon, Ibanag, Ilocano, Ilonggo, Ivatan, Maranao, Tagalog, Kapampangan, Kinaray-a, Waray, Maguindanao, Pangasinan, Sambal, Surigaonon, Tausug, and Yakan. Chinese (various types), Arabic, Japanese, Spanish, Malay, Tamil, and Korean are some of the foreign languages spoken by the various immigrant populations of the Philippines.
The climate in the Philippines is generally characterized by 2 seasons: dry and wet. The dry season starts in March until early July and the temperature can reach as high as 32°C. It is locally referred to as summer vacation since most schools and universities have their break during this period. The white sand beaches of the islands of Boracay, El Nido and Puerto Galera have an almost 24-hour goings-on and party because of enormous number of local and foreign visitors at this time of the year. Since the Philippines is surrounded by water an average of 20 typhoons visit it every year. The wet season generally starts in July until early October. Some Filipinos find the rainy season quite appropriate especially after the hot summer since it produces a colder atmosphere. There are certain areas that are flooded during this time of the year.
The coldest period in the Philippines is from November to early January. The temperature can reach as low as 16°C and is very fitting for the Christmas holiday. If you find the Metro Manila weather a little hot you can always drop by the city of Baguio where the average temperature is at 15°C any time of the year. It also offers spectacular views of the Cordillera Mountains.