Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The Philippines constitutes an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total land area of approximately 300,000 square kilometres (116,000 square miles). It is located between 116° 40', and 126° 34' E. longitude and 4° 40' and 21° 10' N. latitude and borders the Philippine Sea on the east, the South China Sea on the west, and the Celebes Sea on the south. The island of Borneo is located a few hundred kilometres southwest and Taiwan is located directly to the north. The Moluccas and Sulawesi are located to the south-southwest and Palau is located to the east of the islands.

The Philippines is divided into three island groups: Luzon (Regions I to V, NCR and CAR), Visayas (VI to VIII), and Mindanao (IX to XIII and ARMM). The port of Manila, on Luzon, is the capital city and the second largest city after Quezon City.

Most of the mountainous islands were covered in tropical rainforest and are volcanic in origin. The highest mountain is Mount Apo, located in Mindanao measuring at 2,954 metres (9,692 ft) above sea level. There are many active volcanos such as the Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo and Taal Volcano. The islands are also located within the typhoon belt of the Western Pacific, and approximately 19 typhoons strike per year.

Located on the northwestern fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines have experienced frequent seismic and volcanic activities. Around 20 earthquakes are registered daily, though most are too weak to be felt. The last major earthquake was the 1990 Luzon earthquake.

The longest river is the Cagayan River in northern Luzon. Manila Bay is connected to Laguna de Bay by means of the Pasig River. Subic Bay, the Davao Gulf and the Moro Gulf are some of the important bays. Transversing the San Juanico Strait is the San Juanico Bridge that connects the islands of Samar, and Leyte.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Politics and government

he Philippines has a presidential, unitary form of government (with some modification, there is one autonomous region largely free from the national government), where the President functions as both head of state and head of government and is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a single six-year term, during which time she or he appoints and presides over the cabinet.

The bicameral Congress is composed of a Senate, serving as the upper house, with members elected to a six-year term, and a House of Representatives, serving as the lower house, with members elected to a three-year term. They are elected from both legislative districts and through sectoral representation.

The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, composed of a Chief Justice as its presiding officer and fourteen associate justices, all appointed by the Philippine President from nominations submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.

There have been attempts to change the government to a federal, unicameral or parliamentary government beginning in the term of Ramos up to the present administration.

Security and defense

The BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11) is the current flagship, and largest warship of the Armed Forces of the Philippines

Philippine defense is handled by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which is modeled after the United States armed forces and is composed of three branches: the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy (including the Marine Corps). Civilian security is handled by Philippine National Police under the DILG. In metropolitan areas, groups like the MMDA are in charge local issues, such as traffic.

In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the largest separatist organizations, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, are actively engaging the government, seeking more rights and better autonomy for their people. Militant organizations, such as the New People's Army and the Abu Sayyaf Group, have been roaming the provinces, however their presence has decreased in recent years due to successful security provided by the Philippine government.

The Philippines has been an ally of the United States since World War II. It has supported American policies during the Cold War, and has participated in the Korean and Vietnam wars as a result of the country's involvement with SEATO, a group that includes Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. After the start of the War on Terror, there has been additional support from the United States military. The country is currently working with the United States, through a visiting forces agreement, with the intention of ending the insurgency in the country. The Philippines also has a military agreement with Australia. Other important military allies include Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.

International relations

The Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C., United States.

The Philippines' international relations is focused on its ideals of democracy, peace and trade with other nations, as well as the well-being of the 11 million Overseas Filipinos living outside the country. It has aligned itself with several nations around the world including its Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific neighbors, the United States, the Middle East, the Vatican and other countries.

As a founding and active member of the United Nations, it has been elected several times into the Security Council and is an active participant in the Human Rights Council as well as in peacekeeping missions, particularly in East Timor. Aside from the United Nations, the country is also a founding and active member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) with the intention of strengthening relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors and promoting economic and cultural growth between member states. It has hosted several summits and is an active contributor on the direction, and policies of the bloc. The current relations it enjoys with other Southeast Asian states is in contrast with its relations with them before the 1970s when it was at war with Vietnam and was heavily disputing Sabah with Malaysia, although misunderstandings between these states continue to exist due to the Spratly Islands.

The Philippines values its relations with the United States, and has actively supported most of the other's policies with regards to foreign affairs As a Major non-NATO ally, the country supported the United States during the Cold War and the War on Terror. It has also committed itself to promote the American ideals of democracy. Despite this history of goodwill, controversy continues to exist between the relations of the two nations, with varying issues such as the Philipine-American War, the Bell Trade Act, the presence of U.S. military bases in Subic Bay and Clark, and the Visiting Forces Agreement. Japan is also treated as an ally due to the Official Development Assistance given to the people, although historical tensions exist due to the plight of comfort women.

Relations with Spain, Europe and Latin America remained positive due to shared interestes. Despite the threat of violence (such as domestic abuse and war) on Overseas Filipino Workers, particularly on domestic workers, relations with Middle Eastern countries (including Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) continue to be friendly as proven by the continuous employment of more than two million Overseas Filipinos living there. Recent foreign policy has been mostly about economic relations with its Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific neighbors.

The Philippines is a member of the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Latin Union, the Group of 24 and the Non-Aligned Movement. It is also seeking to strengthen relations with Islamic countries by campaigning for observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference.

Administrative divisions

Provinces and regions of the Philippines.

The Philippines is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. These are divided into 17 regions, 80 provinces, 120 cities, 1,511 municipalities and 42,008 barangays. In addition, the Section 2 of Republic Act No. 5446 asserts that the country has acquired islands from Sabah formerly (North Borneo).

Region Designation Regional center
Ilocos Region Region I San Fernando, La Union
Cagayan Valley Region II Tuguegarao, Cagayan
Central Luzon Region III San Fernando, Pampanga
CALABARZON Region IV-A Calamba City, Laguna
MIMAROPA Region IV-B Calapan, Oriental Mindoro
Bicol Region Region V Legazpi, Albay
Western Visayas Region VI Iloilo City
Central Visayas Region VII Cebu City
Eastern Visayas Region VIII Tacloban
Zamboanga Peninsula Region IX Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur
Northern Mindanao Region X Cagayan de Oro City
Davao Region Region XI Davao City
SOCCSKSARGEN Region XII Koronadal, South Cotabato
Caraga Region XIII Butuan
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao ARMM Cotabato City
Cordillera Administrative Region CAR Baguio
National Capital Region NCR Manila

Colonial Era

There was no unifying political state encompassing the entire Philippine archipelago. Instead, the region was dotted by numerous semi-autonomous barangays (villages) under the sovereignty of competing thalassocracies ruled by Datus, Rajahs or Sultans or by upland tribal societies ruled by chieftains. States: such as the Kingdom of Maynila and Namayan, the Dynasty of Tondo, the Confederation of Madyaas, the Rajahnates of Butuan and Cebu and the sultanates of Maguindanao and Sulu existed alongside the highland societies of the Ifugao and Mangyan.[25][26][27][28] Some of these regions were part of the Malayan empires of Srivijaya, Majapahit and Brunei.

A golden statuette of the Hindu-Buddhist goddess "Kinari" of the Rajahnate of Butuan.

In the year 900 the Dynasty of Tondo centered in Manila Bay flourished via an active trade with Chinese sea-traders in the area. Later serving as a smuggling nexus after the Chinese imposed restrictions on their foreign trade. During this time, the Lord-Minister, Jayadewa: presented a document of debt forgiveness to Lady Angkatan and her brother Bukah, the children of Namwaran. This is described in the Philippine's oldest known document "The Laguna Copperplate Inscription".

By year 1011 Rajah Sri Bata Shaja, the monarch of the Indianized Rajahnate of Butuan sent a trade envoy under ambassador Likan-shieh to the Chinese Imperial Court demanding equal diplomatic status with other states. The request being approved, opened up direct commercial links with the Rajahnate of Butuan and the Chinese Empire. Thereby diminishing the monopoly on Chinese trade by their rivals: the Dynasty of Tondo and the Champa civilization. Evidence for the existence of this Rajahnate is proven by the "Butuan Silver Paleograph".

By the 11th century several exiled datus of the collapsing empire of the Srivijaya led by Datu Puti led a mass migration to the central islands of the Philippines, fleeing from Rajah Makatunao of the island of Borneo. Upon reaching the island of Panay and purchasing the island from Negrito chieftain Marikudo, they established a confederation of polities and named it the Confederation of Madyaas centered in Aklan and they settled the surrounding islands of the Visayas. This confederation reached it's peak under Datu Padojinog and during his reign the confederations' hegemony extended over most of the islands of Visayas.

Flag of the Sulu sultanate.

In 1380, Karim ul' Makdum and Shari'ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab trader born in Johore, arrived in Sulu from Malacca and established the Sultanate of Sulu. At the end of the 15th Century Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuwan of Johor introduced Islam in the island of Mindanao and he subsequently married a local princess and established the Sultanate of Maguindanao. Islam had spread to other parts of the Visayas and Luzon by the 16th century.

However, during the reign of Sultan Bolkiah in 1485 to 1521, the Sultanate of Brunei decided to break the Dynasty of Tondo's monopoly in the China trade by attacking Tondo and establishing the state of Selurong (now Manila) as a Bruneian satellite-state. A new dynasty under the Islamized Rajah Salila was also established to challenge the House of Lakandula in Tondo. Islam was further strengthened by the arrival to the Philippines by traders and proselytizers from Malaysia and Indonesia.


The name Philippines was derived from King Philip II of Spain in the 16th century. Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos used the name Las Islas Filipinas, in honor of the Prince of Asturias (Spain) during his expedition to the islands, originally referring to the islands of Leyte and Samar. Despite the presence of other names, the name Filipinas was chosen as the name of the archipelago.

The official name of the Philippines changed throughout the course of its history. During the Philippine Revolution, it was officially called República Filipina or the Philippine Republic. From the period of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War, until the Commonwealth period, American colonial authorities referred to the country as the Philippine Islands, a translation of the original Spanish name. It was during the American period that the name Philippines began to appear, a name that has become its common name. The official name of the country is now Republic of the Philippines.


The Philippines officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a country in Southeast Asia with Manila as its capital city. It comprises 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean.

The Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country, with an estimated population of about 92 million people. Its national economy is the 47th largest in the world, with an estimated 2008 gross domestic product (GDP nominal) of over US$ 168.6 billion (nominal). It is estimated that there are about 11 million overseas Filipinos worldwide, equivalent to about 11% of the total population of the Philippines.

The Philippines was a former colony of Spain and the United States. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. Ecologically, the Philippines is one of the most diverse countries in the world.