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Philippines

Geography & Topography

Area: 299,764 square kms
Capital: Manila.

Largest City: Quezon City.

Population: 93,260,798 people.

Language: Filipino.

Currency: Philippine peso.

Religion: 90% Christians, 5-10% Muslim

 

History

 The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a republic in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam. The Republic consists of 7,107 islands. The largest islands are Luzon, Mindanao, and Samar. The islands are of volcanic origin, with the larger ones crossed by mountain ranges. The highest peak is Mount Apo on Mindanao. The Sulu Sea to the southwest lies between the country and the island of Borneo and the south of the Celebes Sea separates it from other islands of Indonesia. It is bounded on the east by the Philippine Sea. Its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and its tropical climate make the Philippines sensitive to earthquakes and typhoons but has also endowed the country with natural resources and rich biodiversity.

The Philippines’ aboriginal inhabitants arrived from the Asian mainland around 25,000 BC. They were followed by waves of Indonesian and Malayan settlers from 3000 BC onward. By the 14th century AD, extensive trade was being conducted with India, Indonesia, China, and Japan.

Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese navigator in the service of Spain, explored the Philippines in 1521. Twenty-one years later, a Spanish exploration party named the group of islands in honour of Prince Philip, who was later to become Philip II of Spain. Spain retained possession of the islands for the next 350 years.

The Philippines were ceded to the U.S. in 1899 by the Treaty of Paris after the Spanish-American War. Meanwhile, the Filipinos, led by Emilio Aguinaldo, had declared their independence. They initiated guerrilla warfare against U.S. troops that persisted until Aguinaldo’s capture in 1901. By 1902, peace was established except among the Islamic Moros on the southern island of Mindanao.

The first U.S. civilian governor-general was William Howard Taft. The Jones Law (1916) established a Philippine legislature composed of an elective Senate and House of Representatives. The Tydings-McDuffie Act (1934) provided for a transitional period until 1946, at which time the Philippines would become completely independent. Under a constitution approved by the people of the Philippines in 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines came into being with Manuel Quezon y Molina as president.

During the World War II, on the 8th of December 1941, the islands were invaded by Japanese troops. Following the fall of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s forces at Bataan and Corregidor, Quezon instituted a government-in-exile that he headed until his death in 1944. He was succeeded by Vice President Sergio Osmeña. U.S. forces under MacArthur reinvaded the Philippines in October 1944 and, after the liberation of Manila in February 1945, Osmeña re-established the government.

 Performing Arts

Music

The early music of the Philippines featured a mixture of Indigenous, Islamic and a variety of Asian sounds that flourished before the European and American colonization in the 16th and 20th centuries. Spanish settlers and Filipinos played a variety of musical instruments, including flutes, guitar, ukelele, violin, trumpets and drums. They performed songs and dances to celebrate festive  occasions. By the 21st century, many of the folk songs and dances have remained intact throughout the Philippines. Some of the groups that perform these folk songs and dances are the Bayanihan, Filipinescas, Barangay-Barrio, Hariraya, the Karilagan Ensemble, and groups associated with the guilds of Manila, and Fort Santiago theatres. Many Filipino musicians have risen in prominence such as the composer and conductor Antonio J. Molina, the composer Felipe P. de Leon, known for his nationalistic themes and the opera singer Jovita Fuentes.Modern day Philippine music features several styles. Most music genres are contemporary such as Filipino rock, Filipino hip hop and other musical styles. Some are traditional such as Filipino folk music.

Dance


Philippine folk dances include the Tinikling and Cariñosa. In the southern region of Mindanao, Singkil is a popular dance showcasing the story of a prince and princess in the forest. Bamboo poles are arranged in a tic-tac-toe pattern in which the dancers exploit every position of these clashing poles.

The Tinikling
The Tinikling dance is one of the most popular and well-known of traditional Philippine dances. The Tinikling is a pre-Spanish dance from the Philippines that involves two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground and against each other in coordination with one or more dancers who step over and in between the poles in a dance. The dance originated in Leyte among the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines as an imitation of the ‘tikling bird’ dodging bamboo traps set by rice farmers. The dance imitates the movement of the ‘tikling birds’ as they walk between grass stems, run over tree branches, or dodge bamboo traps set by rice farmers. Dancers imitate the ‘tikling bird’s’ legendary grace and speed by skilfully manoeuvring between large bamboo poles.

Cariñosa
Cariñosa is a Philippine dance of Hispanic origin from the Maria Clara suite of Philippine folk dances, where the fan or handkerchief plays an instrumental role as it places the couple in romance scenario. The dance was originated in the Panay Islands on the Visayan Islands and it was introduced by the Spaniards during their colonization of the Philippines. It is related to some of the Spanish dances like the bolero and the Mexican dance Jarabe Tapatio or the Mexican Hat Dance.

Interesting Facts

  • On the islands of Philippines, there are more than 200 volcanoes, though only a few are active.
  • Phillipines was the first Southeast Asian country to gain independence in 1946, following World War II.
  • With a population of about 90 million people, the Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world.
  • The karaoke was invented in the Philippines and not Japan. Karaoke means “singing without accompaniment” in Japanese and was invented by Roberto del Rosario. The invention of “Sing-Along-System” was later called karaoke.
  • The Philippines is regarded the “text capital of the world”. About 350 to 400 million SMS or text messages are sent daily by 35 million cell phone subscribers in the country, which is more than the total daily text messages sent in the U.S. and Europe, together.

The Filipino Community in Australia

More information about the Phillipines