Friday, May 29, 2009

The Philippines

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7,107 Islands
The Philippines, a democratic country in Southeast Asia that declared its independence from Spain on June 12, 1898 but only obtained its full sovereignty on July 4, 1946, has a total land area covering 300,000 square kilometers (115,830 sq. miles) and distributed in 7,107 islands. According to the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, 15,854,922 hectares or 53 percent of the country's total land area were forestlands while the remaining 14,145,078 hectares or 47 percent were alienable and disposable lands as of December 2000. The three major island groupings are Luzon (7 regions, 38 provinces), Visayas (3 regions, 16 provinces), and Mindanao (6 regions, 25 provinces).

World's 17th Largest Island
Luzon, with a total land area of 104,688 square kilometers is the world's 17th largest island (excluding continental masses of lands). Listed as the 19th largest island is Mindanao, with a land area of 94,631 square kilometers. The world's largest islands are Greenland (a Danish territory), with a total land area of 2.18 million square kilometers; New Guinea, 820,033 square kilometers; and Borneo, 743,107 square kilometers.

267,000 Square Kilometers of Coastal Waters
The coastal zones of the Philippines are composed of 11,000 square kilometers of land and 267,000 square kilometers of coastal waters.

41,960 Barangays
The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported that as of December 2001, the Philippines had 16 regions, 79 provinces, 114 cities, 1,496 municipalities and 41,960 barangays or villages. The newest province was Zamboanga Sibugay in western Mindanao while the newest city was Gapan in Nueva Ecija province. The most populated province as this was being written remained Cebu, with over 3 million residents while the least populated was Batanes, with less than 20,000 inhabitants. The largest province in terms of land area was Palawan, with 14,896 square kilometers while the smallest province was Batanes, with 209 square kilometers.

According to the Liga ng mga Barangay, the Philippines now has 41,960 barangays or villages. Each barangay in a municipality represents at least 2,000 people while each barangay in a highly urbanized city represents a minimum of 5,000 residents.

Metro Manila, 0.2 Percent of Land Area
Metro Manila, a conglomerate of 12 cities and five municipalities, has a total land area of 636 square kilometers and a population of over 10 million people, excluding transients or passing individuals. In proportion to the country's land size, the metropolis covers only 0.2 percent of the total land area of the Philippines but is the site of more than half of the country's largest companies. In 1999, Metro Manila contributed 34.7 percent to the country's gross domestic product (GDP); Southern Tagalog, 13.9 percent; Central Luzon, 8 percent; and the rest of the country, 43.4 percent.

200 Volcanoes
There are 200 volcanoes in the Philippines, 22 of them are said to be active. The archipelago also sits on the Philippine fault zone, a 1,300-kilometer active left-lateral strike-fault from Luzon to Mindanao. This is why earthquakes occur in the country.

20 Typhoons Each Year
Situated between latitude 21°25'N and 4°23'N and longitude 116°E and 127°E, the Philippines is a tropical country with an average year-round temperature of 27°C (82°F). The Philippine time is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus eight hours. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), about 20 typhoons visit the Philippines between June and October each year. In 1993, the Philippines had 32 typhoons, the highest in many years.

500 Dialects
According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), there are 78 language groupings and over 500 dialects in the Philippines. While Filipino is regarded as the national language, it was mainly based on Tagalog (from the local phrase taga-ilog meaning residents near the river) language. The main language of instruction is English and the country's laws are also recorded in this language. Filipinos are said to be the world's second largest English-speaking people, after the Americans. This, of course, is subject to debate since only a few Filipinos actually talk in English on the street.

The Filipinos

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81.2 Million Filipinos
The National Statistics Office (NSO) placed the Philippine population at 79.5 million at the start of 2002. This number is expected to grow by 1.7 million or over 2 percent annually to 81.2 million by the end of 2002. This makes the Philippines the world's 14th most populous country in the world behind China, with 1.3 billion people; India, 1 billion; United States, 288 million; Indonesia, 218 million; Brazil, 176 million; Pakistan, 149 million; Nigeria, 147 million; Russia, 143 million; Bangladesh, 136 million; Japan, 127 million; Mexico, 100 million; Germany 82 million; and Vietnam, over 81 million. About 93 percent of the Philippine population is Christian, while the rest belongs to Islam and other religions. In 1799, Spanish historians said there were only 1,502,574 people living in the Philippines.

Population To Double in 28 Years
The Makati Business Club said that with an annual population growth rate of 2.36 percent, the total number of Filipinos would climb from 80 million at present to 97 million by 2010 and double to 160 million in 28 years.

34 Million Voters
As of 1998, there were 34.2 million registered Filipino voters who were grouped into 174,420 polling precincts in the whole country.

Half A Million More Men
Contrary to popular beliefs that women were as twice as many as men in the Philippines, the NSO said there are in fact more men than women in the country. In its latest estimate for 2002, the NSO said there were some 40 million Filipino men and 39.5 million Filipino women, resulting in a population discrepancy in sex of half a million.

Women Live Longer
Life expectancy is estimated at 72.2 years for Filipino women and 66.9 years for Filipino men. Around 38 percent of the population is younger than 15 years old and 28 percent belongs to the 15 to 24 age bracket. Population experts claim it would take 25 years before the Philippine population reaches its peak.

More Single Men Than Single Women
In the 2000 population census, the National Statistics Office (NSO) said that nearly 53 percent of the 25 million single people in the Philippines were males while only 47 percent were females. However, around 76 percent of the 2.6 million widowed persons were females and only 24 percent were males.

Half of Women Use Contraceptives
In its Family Planning Survey in 2001, the NSO said about 49.8 percent of married Filipino women, aged 15 to 49 years old, was using contraceptives. The NSO concluded that women in poor households were less likely to practice family planning than those in higher income families in the same manner that women who lacked formal education were less likely to observe birth control practices than those who at least had some schooling.

Majority of Filipinos Oppose Divorce

A survey conducted by local poll firm Social Weather Stations (SWS) in the fourth quarter of 2002 showed that 50 percent of its 1,200 respondents nationwide were opposed to divorce while only 36 percent agreed that divorce "is usually the best solution when a couple can't seem to work out their marriage problems."

The same survey showed that 50 percent of the respondents disapproved of cohabitation before marriage while only 35 percent agreed with the statement "It's a good idea for a couple who intend to get married to live together first."

At the same time, 61 percent of the respondents agreed while only 19 percent disagreed with the statement "Married people are generally happier than unmarried people." Around 93 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement "Watching children grow up is life's greatest joy."

91 Percent Proud to Be Filipinos
In a survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) in November 2001, 57 percent of the 1,200 respondents said they were very proud to be Filipinos while 34 percent claimed they were proud of their national identity. Only 9 percent said they were not proud and 1 percent claimed they were not proud at all of becoming Filipinos. The respondents also cited the following qualities of the Filipinos: God-centered, industrious, faithful, has convictions, responsible, peaceful and law-abiding, and loving and caring.

Happiest People in Asia
Despite the many problems hounding the Philippines, Filipinos still consider themselves as among the happiest people in the world. Results of regional surveys conducted by MTV-Asia, ACNielsen and the Economist magazine have indicated that Filipinos are the happiest people in Asia.

But in the World Values Survey conducted by University of Michigan in 1998, the Philippines was ranked 12th among 54 countries in the world in terms of happiness index. Among Asian countries, it was ranked first. According to the survey, the top ten happiest nations in the world were Iceland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, Great Britain and Venezuela.

World's 5th Largest Christian Population
According to the book Top 10 of Everything, the Philippines had the world's 5th largest Christian population. As of 2000, the Philippines reportedly had 72.225 million Christians, comprising 93 percent of its total population then. Countries with larger Christian populations than the Philippines were the United States, Brazil, Mexico, and China. Most Filipinos remain Catholics. The Protestants comprise only 8 percent of the population although they were growing at a faster rate than any other religion in the country.

32,000 Evangelical Churches
The Philippine Council for Evangelical Churches said that it had around 32,000 member-churches in the 1990s, which were expected to have risen to 50,000 by the end of 2000. About 27,000 of these evangelical churches have been established only in the past 25 years. About 1,400 American Christian missionaries were in the Philippines to help propagate the Gospel.

97 Percent of Filipinos Believe in God
A survey, mentioned by the Economist magazine, showed that 97 percent of Filipinos believe in God while 65 percent feel extremely close to Him. "This is more than double the percentage of the two runners-up in the survey - America and Israel," the Economist said. (Source: The Economist)

562,808 Marriages
According to the NSO, 562,808 Filipino couples were married in 1997 alone. In the same year, 339,400 people died while 1,653,236 babies were born in the country.

412 Annulment Suits Every Week
As of 2002, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) said it was receiving 412 marriage annulment suits every week.

28,563 Died of Accidents
The Department of Health (DoH) reported that in 1997, 49,962 people died of heart diseases while 28,563 people died because of accidents. The other leading causes of death during that year were tuberculosis and pneumonia. The most common diseases in the country were diarrhea, pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza, hypertension and tuberculosis.

17,493 Government Positions
The Commission on Election (COMELEC) said that as of June 2002, there were 17,493 elective government positions in the country, with only about 15 percent held by women. The bureaucracy, however, had more women employees. As of 1997, there were 741,808 Filipino women working for the government, compared with only 636,836 men.

The Department of Labor and Employment said that in January 2001, the overall unemployment rate was higher among women at 10.3 percent compared with 9.4 percent among men. But if women were serving as heads of families, they were earning higher at P135,400 annually, compared with P121,003 received by men.

218 Congressmen
The head of government is President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who ascended to presidency via a military-backed people's revolt on January 21, 2001. She appointed Senator Teofisto Guingona as her vice-president.

The Philippine Congress has two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate has 24 seats while the House of Representatives has 218 members, five of whom are party list representatives.

The bureaucracy also employs 79 provincial governors and an equal number of vice governors, 114 city mayors and the same number of city vice mayors, 730 provincial board members, 1,496 municipal mayors and an equal number of town vice mayors, and 12,240 municipal councilors. The numbers exclude barangay officials. The next national elections will be held in May 2004.

30.2 Million Jobs
Of the 50.2 million people aged 15 years old and above, 35.052 million or 69.9 percent belong to the labor force. According to the National Statistics Office (NSO), there were 30.186 million Filipino workers as of April 2002, 11 million of whom were employed in the agriculture, forestry and fishery sector; 14.3 million in the services sector; and 4.82 million in the industrial sector.

1.2 Million Fishermen
In particular, 9.788 million were employed in agriculture, hunting and forestry; 1.237 million in fishing; 136,000 in mining and quarrying; 2.904 million in manufacturing; 114,000 in electricity, gas and water sector; and 1.67 million in construction.

301,000 Bankers
Some 1.445 million Filipinos were employed in government; 5.77 in wholesale, retail and repair; 2.104 million in transportation, storage and communication; 680,000 in hotels and restaurants; 913,000 in education; 301,000 in banks and financial institutions, 355,000 in hospitals and social institutions; 552,000 in real estate, renting and business activities; 877,000 in personal services; and 1.339 million in household services

14.7 Million Salary Earners
In terms of source of income, about 14.711 million Filipinos were salary-earners while 11.379 million others were self-employed. Another 4.096 million were considered unpaid family workers.

1.4 Million Professionals
In terms of occupation, there were 9.227 million laborers and unskilled workers; 6.17 million farmers, forestry workers and fishermen; 3.175 million officials of government institutions and executives, managers and supervisors of private companies; 3.107 million workers in retail and wholesale trade; 2.677 service workers and shop and market sales workers; 2.147 million plant and machine operators; 1.367 million professionals; 1.335 million clerks; 850,000 technicians and associate professionals; and 130,000 others in special occupations.

290,000 IT Professionals
According to the government, there were 290,000 professionals working for the country's information and technology (IT) sector as of 2002.

113,743 Policemen
As of 2002, the Philippine National Police had an authorized strength of 113,743 members, including 69 chief superintendents (one-star general); 11 police directors (two-star), 3 police deputy director-generals (three-star), and 1 police director-general (four-star).

330,000 New College Graduates
The Commission on Higher Education reported that as of 1998, there were 1,185 universities and colleges in the country serving more than 2 million students. In 1998, some 331,827 students graduated from college; 90,880 of them with a degree in Business Administration; 40,611 in Engineering; 36,181 in Medical Science; and 25,038 in Mathematics and Computer Science. They were supposed to join the labor force but not all of them ended up getting the jobs they have been trained for.

2 Million College Students
As of 1998, 2,067,965 students were enrolled in Philippine colleges and universities. These included 620,681 students who were enrolled in Business and related courses; 299,226 in Engineering; 316,293 in Education; and 166,329 in Mathematics and Computer Science. Students who were enrolled in two- or three-year technical or vocational courses were not included in the counting.

2,323 Foreign Students
According to the Commission on Higher Education, there were 2,323 foreign students enrolled in Philippine schools in the school year 2000-2001, down from 5,284 enrollees five years ago. Most of these foreign students were Americans, Koreans and Taiwanese.

17.3 Million Public School Students
According to Senator Ralph Recto, the public education system would be lacking some 49,212 teachers and 44,716 classrooms by 2003 to accommodate some 536,000 new students and fill the void in the previous years. Total enrollment in 36,234 public elementary schools and 4,422 public high schools is expected to reach 17.335 million students by 2003. There were only 375,952 public classrooms by the end of 2002.

12.7 Million Elementary School Students
As of 2001, some 12.7 million students were enrolled in elementary schools; 11.8 million of them in public schools and only 927,289 in private schools. Some 5.4 million students were enrolled in high schools; 4.2 million of them in public schools and 1.2 million in private schools.

440,000 Teachers
As of 2001, there were 331,827 elementary school teachers and 109,845 high school teachers.

7 Million Filipinos Abroad
According to the Philippine Senate, some 7 to 8 million Filipinos live and work abroad, 2.5 million of them in the United States. There were 105,000 Americans in the Philippines in 1999.

The Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration (POEA) said that in 2001 alone, 866,590 Filipinos left the country on legitimate working visas to work abroad. This translates to 2,374 Filipinos leaving the country each day. OFWs sent a total of US$6.23 billion in dollar remittances to the Philippines in 2001.

2.4 Million Filipino-Americans
According to the US Census 2000, there were 2.4 million Filipino Americans in the US, comprising the second largest Asian group next only to the Chinese Americans. However, there are some who say that the actual number of Filipino-Americans could exceed 3 million. More than 1 million Filipino Americans live in San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles in the west coast.

192,000 Tourists to the US
According to the US embassy in Manila, some 192,000 Filipinos visited the US on non-immigrant visas in 2001 alone. A number of Filipino tourists tried to stay there and find work but were deported back to the Philippines.

19 Percent of Filipinos Want to Migrate
A survey conducted by Pulse Asia in March and April 2002 showed that 19 percent of its 1,200 respondents wanted to migrate to another country because opportunities were lacking in the Philippines. The desire to migrate from the Philippines was stronger among upper classes. The survey said that 31 percent of its respondents belonging to ABC wanted to live in another country.

1.2 Million Passports Annually
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issues about 1.2 million passport booklets annually. In the first quarter of 2002, there was a shortage of passports because the number of Filipinos who went abroad for work suddenly surged. The POEA said that from around 2,300 in the previous quarters, the number of OFWs leaving the country each day surged to 2,700 in the first quarter of 2002. The DFA imposes a daily quota of 2,000 passports for individual applicants and 1,500 passports for travel agencies.

204,900 Seafarers
Of the total number of Filipinos who left the country on working visas in 2001, 661,639 were land-based workers while 204,951 were seafarers. Filipino seafarers man about 20 percent of international vessels in the world.

Top destinations of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are Saudi Arabia, which hired 190,732 Filipinos in 2001; Hong Kong, 113,583; Japan, 74,093; Singapore, 26,305; Kuwait, 21,956; and Italy, 21,641. Only 10,000 Filipinos were hired in the US but the number excluded 2.5 million Filipino immigrants who were already there.

2.7 Million Filipino Immigrants
A Commission of Overseas Filipinos study showed that there were 2.7 million Filipino immigrants around the world as of 2002. The figure includes 1.89 million immigrants in the US; 200,000 in Canada; 170,000 in Japan; and 70,000 in the United Kingdom.

51,031 Migrants in 2000
According to the Bureau of Immigration, 51,031 Filipinos migrated to other countries in the year 2000 alone. Of this number, 31,324 Filipinos went to the US; 8,245 to Canada; 6,468 to Japan; 2,298 to Australia; 522 to Germany; 174 to the United Kingdom; and 1,970 to other countries.

US$6.2 Billion Remittances
Dollar remittances sent by OFWs amounted to US$6.235 billion in 2001. About US$5.142 billion of the total amount was sent by land-based OFWs while US$1.093 billion came from Filipino seafarers. Some US$3.2 billion or over half of total remittances came from the United States. The figure excluded dollar remittances that were not sent through the regular banking system.

Richest in New York
According to the 1990 United States Census, the Filipino-Americans living in New York (perhaps the world's most prosperous city) had the highest median income among all ethnic groups. The census revealed that in 1990, there were 43,229 Filipino Americans in New York who had a median income of about US$45,000, surpassing those of European-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Afro-Americans.

15,000 Nurses in the UK
According to British Ambassador to the Philippines Paul Dimond, there were 15,000 Filipino nurses in the United Kingdom as of June 2002. The number is growing, he added. He also disclosed that the British embassy has issued 30,000 visas to Filipinos in 2001 alone, with an acceptance rate of 95 percent among applicants. About 300,000 Filipino nurses reportedly left the country to work abroad in 2001.

150,000 Entertainers in Japan
As of 1998, there were 150,000 Filipino women working as entertainers in Japan. Many of them were vulnerable to abuse and some driven to prostitution.

154,000 Household Maids in Hong Kong
According to The Economist magazine, Filipino women were serving as domestic helpers or "amahs" in 154,000 households in Hong Kong as of 1998. The report added that Filipino women comprised 40 percent of non-Chinese amahs in Hong Kong. Over half of Filipino amahs in Hong Kong have college degrees, and some even hold master's degree in education.

Filipino household maids are also present in Singapore, Taiwan, and the Middle East. Filipino caregivers are in the United States and Canada.

32,000 Teachers as Household Helps
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said that as many as 32,000 Filipino teachers had left their profession in the country to work as household maids and nannies abroad.

389,818 American Tourists
Data from the Department of Tourism showed that in 2001 around 1.671 million foreign travelers visited the country, 44 percent of whom went here for holiday, 25 percent to visit friends and relatives, 18 percent on business, and the rest to attend conventions and for other purposes.

By country of residence, the US topped the list, with 389,818 travelers accounting for 23 percent of all tourists. The US was followed by Japan with 343,021 travelers; South Korea, 205,788; Hong Kong, 134,254; Taiwan, 84,644; Australia, 68,253; United Kingdom, 59,100; Canada, 54,851; Singapore, 44,010; Germany, 40,286; Malaysia, 29,564; South Asian countries, 20,114; Middle East countries, 18,480; China, 14,533; Thailand, 14,472; France, 13,847; Netherlands, 13,422; Indonesia, 12,630; and Switzerland, 12,204.

Italy sent 8,962 visitors; New Zealand, 7,768; Denmark, 7,741; Sweden, 7,296; Norway, 6,589; Austria, 6,531; Spain, 5,614; Belgium, 5,432; South American countries, 3,083; Vietnam, 3,058; Guam, 2,746; Ireland, 2,306; Eastern European countries, 2,189; Finland, 2,009; Brunei, 1,783; and African countries, 1,631. The number of visitors from other countries was less than 1,000 each.

Average Age of Tourists - 40
Almost 55 percent of all foreign tourists in 2001 had visited the country in the past. Stating that they were in repeat visits were nearly 76 percent of all Singaporean, 69 percent of Australian, 67 percent of American and British, 64 percent of German and 57 percent of Japanese travelers.

Nearly 65 percent of the foreign visitors in 2001 were male and the rest female. Of the group, only Canada had more female visitors, accounting for 50.3 percent. Female visitors from Japan comprised only 19.7 percent while female American visitors accounted for 44.3 percent.

The average age of foreign tourists in the Philippines in 2001 was 40 years old. Visitors from the US had an average age of 45; Canada, 43; Australia, 42; UK, 42; Japan, 41; Germany, 41; Taiwan, 40; Singapore, 39; Hong Kong, 37; and Korea, 34.

By age group, foreign visitors aged under 15 years old in 2001 comprised 8.8 percent of the total; 15 to 19, 2.3 percent; 20 to 24, 4.2 percent; 25 to 34, 19.9 percent; 35 to 44, 24 percent; 45 to 54, 21.9 percent; 55 to 64, 11.1 percent; 65 and above, 6 percent. Others did not state their age.

About 64 percent of all foreign visitors were independent travelers and only 19 percent went on package tours. The rest did not state their travel arrangements. Only 2 percent of Singaporean; 4 percent of American, Canadian and Australian; 10 percent of German; 26 percent of Japanese; 33 percent of Taiwanese; 38 percent of Hong Kong; and 45 percent of Korean visitors went to the Philippines on package tours.

8 Percent of Tourists - Students
In terms of occupation, nearly 33 percent of the foreign visitors were engaged in professional, managerial and administrative services; 7 percent in clerical or sales services; 1 percent in military or public services; and 1 percent in industry sector. About 8 percent of the foreign visitors in 2001 were students; 4, percent housewives; and 3 percent, pensioners or retirees. Over 41 percent of the tourists did not state their occupation.

Only 31 percent of the foreign guests checked in at hotels, 12.5 percent rented houses or apartments, and 18 percent stayed with relatives and friends. A significant 38 percent of the tourists did not state their type of accommodation in the country.

Among top foreign visitors, about 39 percent of the American tourists stayed with relatives and friends, 15.6 percent rented houses and apartments, and only 9 percent stated that they checked in at hotels. About 36 percent did not state their type of accommodation. Like the American visitors, many Canadian, European and Australian tourists stayed with relatives and friends or rented houses and apartments.

11,784 Hotel Rooms in Metro Manila
In 2001, the average occupancy rate among DOT-endorsed hotels in Metro Manila was 55.85 percent. The 15 deluxe hotels had an average occupancy rate of 58.4 percent; six first class hotels, 54.3 percent; 32 standard hotels, 52.5 percent; and six economy hotels, 41.1 percent.

These DOT-endorsed hotels in Metro Manila had combined 11,784 rooms in 2001. In particular, deluxe hotels had a total of 6,874 rooms; first class hotels, 1,779 rooms; standard hotels, 2,770 rooms; and economy hotels; 361 rooms. Guests spent an average of 2.73 nights at these hotels.

Foreign backpackers could be classified among the 1.106 million independent travelers who came to the Philippines without package tours or among the 728,545 tourists who traveled for holiday. They were among the 439,855 travelers aged 15 to 35 years old or 139,590 foreign students and minors. They were also among the 208,418 foreign travelers who rented houses and apartments or 301,294 who stayed with relatives and friends.

The Philippine Economy

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World's 38th Freest Economy
A survey conducted by Canada-based Fraser Institute (FI) has tagged the Philippines, along with six other countries, as the world's 38th "freest economy", a term referring to the country's practice of free trade. The 2002 "Economic Freedom of the World" (EFW) survey gauged 123 countries' level of economic freedom or liberties enjoyed by foreigners and citizens to engage in trade or business. Among the factors measured were each country's observance of free trade, rule of law, property rights, freedom to trade and access to sound money.

The Philippines was ranked at 38th along with France, South Korea, Botswana and two other countries. On top of the list were Hong Kong, Singapore and the United States in that order. (Source: Businessworld)

40th Most Competitive Economy
In its 2002 World Competitiveness Year Book, Swiss agency Institute for Management Development (IMD) ranked the Philippines as the 40th most competitive economy in the world. The Philippines was ranked ahead of Indonesia but behind other East Asian countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, China and Thailand.

In a separate report also in 2002, the Philippines was ranked as 61st among 80 countries in the global growth competitiveness ranking of the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is a project of the US-based Harvard Business School.

The local partner of WEF is the Makati Business Club (MBC) while the local partner of IMD is the Makati-based Asian Institute of Management (AIM). These two organizations supplied most of the data used in the country's ranking based on the results of surveys conducted among businessmen and investors.

77th in Standard of Living
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has ranked the Philippines 77th among 173 countries in terms of human development index (HDI), a gauge of standard of living. The Philippines got a score of 0.754 in 2002, slightly up from 0.749 that it received in 2001. Norway topped the list with an HDI of 0.942 and was followed by Sweden, with 0.941 and Canada, 0.940. Singapore bested all East Asian countries with an HDI of 0.885. (Source: Businessworld)

Philippine GDP Expands 4.6 Percent in 2002
The Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) grew 4.6 percent YoY in 2002. The gross national product (GNP) - the sum of GDP and income from overseas, posted an even more impressive annual growth rate of 5.2 percent in 2002, powered by a 15.5 percent increase in net factor income from abroad (NFIA).

The population grew by 2.12 percent from 80.08 million in December 2001 to 81.78 million in December 2002, per capita GDP increased by 2.4 percent while per capita GNP moved up by 3 percent. The per capita PCE also increased by 1.7 percent YoY.

For 2002, GNP was estimated at P4.233 trillion (approx. US$79 billion) at current prices while GDP was valued at P3.977 trillion (approx. US$74 billion). Total services were valued at P2.127 trillion (US$40 billion) while total industrial output was placed at P1.258 trillion (US$23.5 billion). Combined output of agriculture, fishery and forestry was estimated at P592 billion (US$11 billion).

Real Growth, 1.3 Percent in 2001
According to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the three major segments of the Philippine economy - agriculture, industry and services - posted an average growth of 3.4 percent in 2001. However, real per capita income rose by only 1.3 percent as the Philippine population increased by about 2.1 percent.

GDP: P3.6 Trillion
In 2001 prices, the gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to P3.643 while the gross national product (GNP) reached P3.860 trillion. GNP is the sum of the GDP and earnings from abroad such as dollar remittances by overseas Filipino workers and income by Philippine companies in other countries. GDP is the total value of products and services produced in the country in a given year.

Personal Spending: P2.56 Trillion
Total output of agriculture, fishery and forestry sectors grossed P554.4 billion while industrial production amounted to P1.149 trillion. All services for the year were valued at P1.939 trillion. Total personal spending grossed P2.561 trillion while government expenses amounted to P444.5 billion.

Average Filipino Spent P33,590 in 2002
The average Filipino spent around P33,590 (US$630) at 2002 value, higher by 4.9 percent than P32,031 in 2001 (US$600). At constant value, the personal consumption expenditure (PCE) per capita grew by only 1.7 percent YoY in 2002. Constant value is based on 1985 prices and is not supposed to reflect inflationary trends. At current value, the PCE per capita accounted for around 65 percent of the GNP per capita estimated at P51,758 (US$977) and around 69 percent of the GDP per capita estimated at P48,635 (US$918) in 2002.

Per Capita Income: P45,490
Per capita income was valued at P45,490 while per capita GNP was placed at P48,205. The average Filipino spent P31,983 last year.

Budget Deficit Reaches P212.7 Billion in 2002
The country's budget deficit reached an all-time high of P212.7 billion, representing about 5.3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2002. In 2001, the national government incurred a budget gap of P147 billion or only 4 percent of the GDP. At current prices, the country's GDP is estimated at P3.6 to P3.8 trillion (around US$72 billion).

Data from the Bureau of Treasury show that government expenditures reached P778.7 billion while revenue collections amounted to only P566 billion in 2002.

In particular, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the government's main tax collection arm, missed its original target by P53.4 billion and collected only PP393.6 billion while the Bureau of Customs, which is in charge of tariff and import duties, missed its target by P18.9 billion and hauled in only P96.25 billion in 2002.

To fund the deficit, the government borrowed a total of PhP264.176 billion from domestic and foreign sources for the year. This was higher than the PhP111.807 billion in borrowings the government programmed for 2002.

For 2003, the government set the budget deficit ceiling at P147 billion or around 4.7 percent of the GDP.
Four Filipino Billionaires
While Filipinos had a per capita income of less than US$1,000, four of them were listed among the world's 497 billionaires (in US dollars) in 2001. Ironically, Finland and Austria, two European countries where per capita income exceeded US$24,000, had no representative in the billionaires' list.

Lucio Tan, Richest Filipino
In its latest list of world's billionaires, US-based Forbes Magazine identified the four Filipino billionaires as Lucio Tan, with a net worth of US$1.7 billion; Henry Sy, US$1.5 billion; George Ty, US$1.1 billion; and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and family, US$1 billion. The combined wealth of these Filipino billionaires amounted to about US$5.3 billion or almost 7 percent of the country's GDP of US$75.2 billion in 2001. The first three billionaires were immigrants from China while Ayala was a scion of an aristocratic Spanish clan.

Tan, 67, owns Asia Brewery, Fortune Tobacco, Philippine Airlines and Philippine National Bank while the 77-year-old Sy manages the SM shopping malls. Ty, 69, runs Metro Bank, the country's largest commercial bank while Ayala, 42, heads Ayala Corp., the largest conglomerate in the Philippines.

Other Billionaires
Other Filipinos who figured in previous billionaires' lists are John Gokongwei, a property and retail tycoon; Danding Cojuangco, chairman of San Miguel Corp.; the family of the late Tan Yu, a property mogul; and the Lopez family, which controls the country's power, water and broadcast utilities.

Richest Filipino Senator
Manuel Villar, a property magnate, was the richest Filipino senator while her wife Cynthia was the richest congresswoman in 2001. In their statement of assets and liabilities for 2001, the couple reported a net worth of P405 million. All 24 senators were in fact millionaires, with six of them reporting a net worth over P100 million and 21 declaring net assets over P10 million.

The second richest senator was Ralph Recto who reported a net worth of P228 million while the third wealthiest member of the Philippine Senate (12th Congress) was Ramon Magsaysay Jr. with a net worth of P113 million.

Magsaysay was followed by Teresa Aquino-Oreta with a net worth of P113 million; Robert Jaworski, P111 million; Loren Legarda-Leviste, P106 million; Renato Cayetano, P87.514 million; Ramon Revilla, P49 million; John Osmeña, P45 million; Sergio Osmeña III, P41 million; Luisa "Loi" Ejercito, P34 million; Vicente Sotto III, P29 million; Noli de Castro, P25 million; Rodolfo Biazon, P21 million; Edgardo Angara, P21 million; Panfilo Lacson, P21.6 million; Francis Pangilinan, P16 million; Aquilino Pimentel, P15 million; Robert Barbers, P12 million; Franklin Drilon, 11 million; and Joker Arroyo, P11 million.

Senator Juan Flavier, a former barrio doctor from Tondo, reported the lowest net worth of P2 million. The other two senators who reported a net worth below P10 million were Blas Ople, with P7 million and Gregorio Honasan, P7 million. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Filipino-Chinese and the Economy
The enterprising Filipino-Chinese traders now own and run most of the Philippines' largest corporations. In East Asia, over 80 percent of billionaires are Taipans or traders of Chinese lineage. In the Philippines, Filipino-Chinese traders hold a large portion of economic resources. While they comprise only two percent of the Philippine population, they control 50 to 60 percent of non-land share capital in the country. Here, they are the leaders in banking, airlines, property and retail industries.

228,786 Business Establishments
The NSO said that as of 1994, there were 228,786 business establishments in the country. Among these establishments were 207,158 micro enterprises or those that employed less than 10 workers. There were also 19,261 small-scale industries, employing 10 to 99 workers each and 1,165 medium-scale establishments, with 100 to 199 workers. Large businesses or those that employed 200 or more workers totaled only 1,202.

11 Million Housing Units
As of 1990, the country had 11,018,208 housing units. However, 1,830,118 or nearly 17 percent of these households had no toilets.

Gross International Reserves
As of November 2002, the country's gross international reserves (GIR) was placed at US$15.74 billion, slightly lower than US$15.945 billion recorded in October. The Central Bank predicted that the GIR would end between US$14 billion and US$15 billion by December.

Inflation Rate at 3.1 Percent in 2002
Prices of consumer products and services increased by 3.1 percent YoY in 2002, slower than the 6.1 percent registered in 2001.

P152 Billion Pension Fund
As of August 2002, the Social Security System, or the government-operated pension fund for all private employees, only has P152 billion in its treasury. Because of its dwindling fund, the government wants members' contribution increased to 9.4 percent of their monthly income from 8.4 percent.

US$61.7 Billion Foreign Trade
According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Philippines traded some US$61.701 billion worth of merchandise goods with the rest of the world in 2001. Total exports reached US$32.138 billion while imports amounted to US$29.550 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of US$2.6 billion.

Exports Reach US$35 Billion in 2002
The country's merchandise exports went up by 9 percent to US$35.061 billion in 2002 from US$32.150 billion in 2001. Last year's figure, however, was 7.9 percent lower than the all-time high of US$38.078 billion registered in 2000 and was comparable only to the US$35.037 billion in 1999.

Electronic Exports, 52.5 Percent
Electronic products comprised 52.5 percent of the total Philippine exports in 2001, down from 59.1 percent in 2001. Export receipts of electronic items plunged 25 percent to US$16.889 billion in 2001 from US$22.515 billion in 2000, as a result of poor demand in the American and Japanese markets.

Agriculture exports amounted to US$1.104 billion; garments exports, US$2.4 billion; and woodcraft and furniture exports, US$593.5 million. Exports of coconut oil reached US$417.6 million; banana exports, US$296.6 million; and aquaculture exports (shrimps and prawns), US$286.985 million.

Exports to US, 27.9 Percent
Exports to the US, accounting for 27.9 percent of the aggregate export revenues, amounted to US$8.974 billion while shipments to Japan, accounting for 15.7 percent of the total amount, grossed US$5.055 billion. Other major trading partners of the Philippines are the Netherlands, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Germany, China, United Kingdom and Thailand.

Agriculture Employs 11 Million
Agricultural products comprised only about 5 percent of the country's exports, with electronic products accounting for almost 52 percent of export receipts. While the agriculture sector employed 11 million Filipinos or 36.4 percent of the entire employed population estimated at 30.186 million workers as of April 2002, the sector contributed only 21 percent to the GDP in 2001.

World's Third Largest Banana Producer
The Philippines is considered as the world's third largest producer of bananas, after Costa Rica and Ecuador. Large plantations in southern Mindanao produce most bananas exported by the Philippines. Some 30,000 hectares in the region are planted to bananas.

The Philippines is also one of the largest producers of coconut, cassava, mango, pineapple, tilapia, tuna, shrimps, and prawns.

Fishery Output, 166,101 Metric Tons
The country's total agricultural output grossed P621.4 billion or only 21 percent of the country's GDP in 2001. In particular, crop production amounted to P322.5 billion at 2001 prices; livestock production, P106.4 billion; poultry production, P85.9 billion; and fishery production, P106.6 billion. In terms of volume, total fish production reached 166,101 metric tons in 2001.

790,000 Cubic Meters of Logs
The Forest Management Bureau (FMB) said that in the year 2000 alone, the Philippines produced 790,000 cubic meters of logs, 124,000 cubic meters of lumber, 230,000 cubic meters of plywood and 130,000 cubic meters of veneer.

36.5 Metric Tons of Gold
According to the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau, the Philippines produced 30.9 metric tons of gold and 27.5 metric tons of silver in the year 2001. In 1999, it produced 314 million bags of cement and 32.4 million cubic meters of sand and gravel. As of August 2002, there were 16 cement-producing companies in the Philippines.

Palay Output, 13.25 Million Metric Tons
In 2002, the Philippines produced 13.27 million metric tons of rice, up by 2.4 percent 12.95 million metric tons in 2001.

According to the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Philippines also produced 4.53 million metric tons of corn in 2001.

RP Imports 24 Million Bags of Rice
The Philippines, which remains largely rural and agricultural, has become the world's fourth largest importer of rice, after Indonesia, Nigeria and Iran. Citing a report of the US Department of Agriculture, Representative Satur Ocampo said the country imported about 1.18 million tons metric tons of rice in 2001 and a total of 1.2 million metric tons (24 million 50-kilogram bags) of rice in 2002.

Coconut Employs 3.4 Million People
According to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), the coconut industry employs 3.4 million Filipinos, who earn an average of P10,000 a year or P25 a day each. There are 3 million hectares planted to coconut palms, the second largest agricultural area after rice fields (4 million hectares). Coconut plantations form 74 percent of all commercial croplands in the country. The Philippines produces some 2.4 million metric tons (MT) of copra or coconut products annually. In terms of value, coconut products comprise 32.4 percent of all agricultural exports and 1.6 percent of the country's entire exports.

556,000 Sugar Farmers
Sugarcane is considered the largest non-cereal crop in the Philippines in terms of metric tons produced. According to the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), around 556,000 farmers and 25,000 sugar mill workers are employed in the local sugar industry. In 1999, the total size of sugar farms was 359,977 hectares, with total production of 1.53 million metric tons.

The Philippines supplies 13.5 percent of the US sugar requirements under a quota system. Ironically, the country could not even meet its own local demand. It has to import around 350,000 metric tons of sugar in order to meet its domestic demand of about 1.9 million tons annually. Filipinos consume 150,000 metric tons of raw sugar per month. The country produced about 28.24 million metric tons of sugarcane in 2001.

3.4 Million Carabaos
According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), there were 3.4 million carabaos, 3.3 million cattle, 5.2 million goats, 11 million pigs and 115.6 million chickens in the country as of January 2001.

800,000 Cattle Consumed
The BAS said that the Philippines produced 660,000 new cattle but consumed 800,000 in 2000. Only about 10,800 metric tons of milk and other dairy products were produced in the country in 2001.

300,120 Metric Tons of Eggs
The Philippines produced 246,200 metric tons of chicken eggs and 53,920 metric tons of duck eggs in 2001. As of January 2002, the country had an inventory of 125.25 million live chicken.

5.3 Million Hectares to Farmers
As of December 2001, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) claimed that the government has distributed some 5.3 million hectares of farmlands to farmers from their landlords since 1960s.

Irrigation Serves 5.2 Percent of Land
As of 1993, about 15,800 square kilometers or only 5.2 percent of the total land area had access to irrigation systems.

10,000 Bakeries
A local study by the Philippine Association of Flour Millers Inc. (PAMFIL) said that 85 percent of Filipinos prefer to eat bread instead of rice for breakfast. As the Philippines produces about 1.4 million metric tons of flour annually, the country sources wheat, the prime raw material for flour, from other countries. It imports about 2.4 million metric tons of wheat mostly from the United States.

There are more than 10,000 bakeries in the country whose products are broken down to the following: 50 percent for pan de sal or salt bread, 20 percent for loaf bread, and 30 percent for other varieties. In 1998, the average Filipino consumed 1.86 kilogram of flour. As of 2001, there were 14 flour millers, mostly large food manufacturers, in the country.

Personal Spending, 79 Percent
Personal spending accounted for 79 percent of the Philippine GDP in 2001. According to market research firm ACNielsen, the "A" and "B" markets accounted for only 15 percent of all grocery purchases in the Philippines; "D" and "E" markets, 46 percent; and "C" market, 39 percent.

53.5 Percent of Expenses for Food
In 2001, the average Filipinos allocated 53.5 percent of their total expenditure for food; 9.6 percent for household operations; 6.2 percent for transportation and communication; 4.6 percent for fuel, light and water; 3.5 percent for clothing and footwear; 2.9 percent for household furnishings; 2.3 percent for beverage; 2.3 percent for tobacco; and 15 percent for miscellaneous outlays.

3.7 Million Vehicles
Some 3.7 million vehicles were registered in the Land Transportation Office (LTO) as of December 2000. This number included 1.2 million utility vehicles; 700,000 cars; over 200,000 trucks; 30,000 buses; 1 million motorcycles; and 23,500 trailers. The LTO added that as of 2000, some 4 million licenses were granted to Filipino professional, non-professional and student drivers.

298,776 Water Vessels
As of 2000, there were 298,776 water vessels registered in the country; 289,729 of them domestic vessels and 9,047 foreign vessels.

85,587 New Vehicles Sold in 2002
Sales of newly manufactured land vehicles in the country increased by 11.6 percent to 85,587 units in 2002 from 76,670 units in 2001, largely because of the 38.7 percent surge in the number of Asian utility vehicles (AUVs) sold during the period. AUVs are ten-seater commercial vehicles manufactured by Japanese car firms and enjoy tax-free privileges.

In particular, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) said that the total sales of AUVs, accounting for 43.7 percent of combined industry sales, climbed to 37,377 units last year from 26,939 units in 2001. Sales of other commercial vehicles - vans, pickup, and light trucks - that account for 30.9 percent of the total, increased moderately by 1.7 percent to 26,482 units in 2002 from 26,047 units in 2001.

Total commercial vehicle sales, accounting for 74.6 percent of all sales, went up by 20.5 percent to 63,859 units in 2002 from 52,986 units in 2001. In sharp contrast, passenger car sales, accounting for 25.4 percent of industry sales, dropped 8.3 percent to 21,728 units in 2002 from 23,684 units in 2001.

Overall, some 388,613 vehicles were newly registered in 2000.

55,600 Jeepneys in Metro Manila
As of 2002, Metro Manila had 55,596 jeepneys, utility vehicles and FX taxis used as shuttle services; 52,932 motorcycles and tricycles; 11,086 commuter buses; 5,000 taxi cabs; 6,619 "for hire" trucks; and an estimated 883,699 private cars and vans.

Half of Farmers Own TV Sets
A survey conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) showed that 53.7 percent of agrarian reform farm households owned television sets and 37.9 percent had refrigerators. The percentage was relatively lower among farmers who are not beneficiaries of the government's agrarian reform program. The PIDS based its data on the responses of 1,800 farm households in different provinces. The government research agency concluded that farm households correlated ownership of refrigerator with being non-poor.

6 Million New Appliances
Data from the Philippine Electrical Electronics and Allied Industries Federation showed that sales of electronic appliances in the country dropped by 7.5 percent to 6,077,500 units in 2001 from 6,574,000 units in 2000.

883,100 Color TVs
In the year 2001, sold were 883,100 units of new color TVs; 43,700 units of VCRs; 10,600 units of VCD players; 302,100 units of music centers; 206,300 units of radio cassettes; 75,700 units of karaoke; 466,900 units of refrigerators; 570,600 units of washing machines; 371,900 air conditioning units; 247,100 units of rice cookers; 430,900 units of flat irons; and 1,298,500 units of electric fans.

248,460 New Computers
According to International PC market research firm Gartner Dataquest, about 248,460 units of personal computers (PCs) were sold in the Philippines in 2001.

No. 1 in IT Knowledge Jobs
The Meta Group, a leading information and technology (IT) research and consulting company in the United States, has ranked the Philippines as the world's most competitive country in the "knowledge jobs" category of Global New e-Economy Index. The "knowledge jobs" category covers the availability of qualified engineers, IT skills and senior management and the level of education enrollment in the countries surveyed.

Ironically, in a separate survey, the Philippines was ranked 58th among 75 countries in terms of networked readiness index (NRI), which gauges each country's capacity to exploit opportunities in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The ranking was prepared by Harvard University's Center for International Development in a paper entitled "The Global Information Technology Report 2001-2002: Readiness for the Networked World".

1.5 Million Internet Users
Industry experts claimed that there were between 1.5 million and 4.5 million Filipino Internet users as of August 2002. US market research firm ACNielsen, however, gave a more conservative estimate as it reported that as of the first quarter of 2002, there were 1.5 million Internet users in the country. Of this number, only 800,000 were surfing the web on a regular basis. Half of the Internet users in the country accessed the web in Metro Manila, 27 percent in other parts of Luzon, 13 percent in the Visayas and 10 percent in Mindanao.

Four out of five Internet users were aged 29 years old and below. The main access points of Internet were schools, offices, Internet cafes and homes. Filipinos accessed the web for the following top reasons: electronic mail, surfing and browsing, chatting, research, file download, games, shopping and advertising or promotion. Of the total Internet users, only 180,000 users had tried to shop online.

363 Government Websites
As of October 2002, the National Computer Center (NCC) said that 363 or almost 96 percent of the 379 national government agencies had their own websites, which provide basic information.

Using the criteria adopted by the United Nations and the American Society of Public Administration (UN-ASPA) Stages of E-government, the NCC classified 230 or 63 percent of Philippine national government offices in stage 1 or the emerging web presence stage; 87 or 24 percent in stage 2 or enhanced web presence stage; and 45 or 12 percent in stage 3 or interactive web presence stage. The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the government's main agency on revenue collection, was classified in stage 4 or the Transactional Web Presence Stage. The BIR has already introduced online filing and payment of income tax returns.

162 Electronic Firms
As of December 2001, the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. (SEIPI) was composed of 162 companies. Among its members were Intel, Fujitsu, Texas Instruments, Amcor Technologies, Hitachi, and Analog Devices.

12 Million Mobile Phone Subscribers
As of June 2002, there were at least 12 million mobile phone subscribers in the Philippines. Smart Communications, the wireless subsidiary of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) had a subscriber base of 6.6 million as of March 2002 while Globe Telecom had 5.4 million subscribers as of June 2002. The number of mobile phone subscribers is expected to double within the next three years. The Philippines is considered the "text capital of the world'' because of the popularity of short messaging service (SMS) in the country.

Smart claimed that the volume of text messages passing through its network reached 240 million daily as of 2001. This excluded text messages sent via the other networks.

4 Million Fixed Lines
According to Fitch Ratings, there were less than 4 million fixed telephone lines installed in the whole country in 2001. Only about 14 percent of Philippine households had fixed telephone lines as telecommunication companies refuse to invest in facilities in the provinces.

In comparison, there were 11.1 million subscribers to mobile phone networks, 91 percent of them on prepaid subscription in 2001.

571 Radio Stations
As of 2000, the country had 571 radio stations; 270 of them at the AM frequency, 252 at FM and 49 at SW. There were also 75 television stations as of December 2000.

1.8 Million Foreign Tourists
According to the Department of Tourism (DoT), some 1.797 million foreign visitors visited the Philippines in 2001, down from 1.992 million in 2000 and 2.2 million in 1999. In particular, the country received 447,921 tourists from North America (US and Canada); 790,793 from East Asia (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China); 199,345 from Europe; 80,002 from Australia and the Pacific; and 278,832 from other countries in 2001.

Average occupancy rate in Metro Manila hotels was placed at 55.8 percent. As of December 2001, Metro Manila had a combined 11,784 rooms in 59 hotels classified as deluxe, first class, standard, and economy. Average length of stay by each visitor in Metro Manila hotels was 2.73 nights.

8 Million Local Tourists
In 1996, some 8 million Filipinos spent P50 billion to visit different tourist spots in the country. (Source: Panorama)

Shopping Area: 3.36 Million Sq. M.
According to property consultancy firm Colliers Jardine Philippines, the total stock of retail space in Metro Manila was 3.36 million square meters, with an average vacancy rate of 13.7 percent at the end of 2001. Vacancy level at prime shopping malls like SM, Glorietta, Robinson's and Shangri La Plaza were below 5 percent.

29,223 Insurance Agents
Gross premium earnings of life insurance companies, as reported by Philippine Life Insurance Association (PLIA), amounted to P31.3 billion in 2001 while gross premium earnings of nonlife companies, as reported by the Insurance and Surety Association of the Philippines (ISAP), reached P17.3 billion.

As of 2000, total insured assets by life companies reached P1.016 trillion; admitted assets, P144.62 billion; cash and investment assets, P137.78 billion; legal reserves, P67 billion; and net worth, P50.55 billion. The number of licensed insurance agents was placed at 29,223 while the number of employees was put at 6,862.

Health Expenditure: P108 Billion
Healthcare spending in the Philippines was only 3.4 percent of the country's GNP in 1999, below the 5 percent minimum standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for developing countries. Total annual health expenditure in the country amounted to P108.3 billion in 1999 while per capita health expenditure was estimated at P1,449. Only about 13.5 percent of Filipinos had insurance coverage, according to the Insurance Commission.

1,712 Hospitals
The Department of Health said that as of the year 2000, there were 1,712 hospitals in the country, 1,089 of which were private institutions and 623 were government hospitals. These excluded 14,400 barangay health centers. As of 1999, there were 2,948 doctos, 2,027 dentists, 4,945 nurses and 16,173 midwives working for public hospitals and barangay centers. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), there were 909 Filipinos for every hospital bed in 1998 and 9,689 Filipinos for every physician in 1999.

Foreign Investments, US$858 Million
According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), foreign direct equity investments in the country amounted to US$857.8 million in 2001, or 39 percent lower than US$1.398 billion in 2000.

The ADB said that the Philippines had the third lowest gross domestic investments as a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the entire Asian region. The country's investment ratio to the GDP was placed at 16.6 percent in 2001, or only higher than that of Pakistan at 14.7 percent and Cambodia at 16.2 percent. China topped all East Asian economies with an investment ratio to the GDP of 36.3 percent.

OFWs Remitted US$40 Billion
According to Senator Francisco Pangilinan, the seven million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) worldwide have remitted over US$40 billion to the Philippines from 1991 to 2001. In 2002 alone, the Central Bank was expecting that dollar remittances from the OFW would climb to an all-time high of US$8 billion.

39 Ecozones
As of December 31, 2001, the Philippines had 4 public ecozones and 35 private ecozones supervised by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA). These excluded the Subic Bay Freeport, Clark Development Corp. and business zones administered by the Board of Investments.

The Philippines maintain these special economic zones to lure foreign capital by dangling fiscal perks and other incentives like a six-year income tax holiday. In the year 2000 alone, foreign and local firms were able to get as much as P15 billion in combined fiscal incentives, or almost a third of P45 billion total corporate tax collection during that year.

7,492 Banks
As of June 2002, there were 7,492 banks in the country. In particular, there were 44 head offices of commercial banks and 4,185 branches, 98 head offices of thrift banks and 1,251 branches, and 776 head offices of rural banks and 1,138 branches. These banks had combined assets of P3.33 trillion.

P1.6 Trillion Money Supply
The Central Bank reported that the country's money supply - M3 or domestic liquidity composed of money in circulation, demand deposits, peso savings, time deposits and deposit substitutes - reached P1.6 trillion as of October 2002.

3.5 Million Credit Cards
As of December 2002, the banking industry has already issued some 3.5 million to four million credit cards in the country, with total credit card transactions amounting to over P50 billion on a quarterly basis. There were about 15 major credit card companies accounting for over P100 billion in annual gross card billings at 30,000 or more retail and service establishments nationwide. The industry expects the number of establishments that accept credit cards to double by 2005. Among the top players are Citibank, which has issued over 500,000 cards; Bank of the Philippines Islands (BPI), 400,000; and Equitable PCI Bank, 400,000.

P319 Billion Stocks
According to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) the total value turnover at the Philippine stock market amounted to P319.11 billion in 2001 or 12 percent down from P357.66 billion in 2000.

1.13 Million Building Constructions
The National Statistics Office (NSO) reported that from 1977 to 1998, the total number of applications for building permits reached 1.13 million in the whole country. Some 287,051 or 25 percent of these applications were received from Metro Manila. Applications for residential type of construction accounted for more than 50 percent of the total number of applications.

In the first quarter of 2002 alone, the number of applications for building permits numbered 24,337 covering a total floor area of 3.656 million square meters. The average cost of residential building construction was valued at P6,587 per square meter in Metro Manila and P5,131 in the whole country while the average cost of non-residential building construction was estimated at P20,237 in Metro Manila and P12,791 in the whole Philippines.

Office Space Rent, Down 50 Percent
Colliers Jardine Philippines estimated the total office space stock at the Makati commercial business district (CBD) at 2.6 million square meters as of December 2001; Ortigas CBD, 876,000 square meters; and Alabang, 148,000 square meters.

The vacancy level was estimated at over 17 percent of the total office space stock. Colliers Jardine Philippines said the weighted average rent for an office space in Makati has dropped by nearly 50 percent to about P350 per square meter per month from P686 per square meter per month in 1997. Weighted capital value was placed at P40, 456 per square meter, or nearly 40 percent lower than its 1997 value.

P180,000 Per Sq. M. of Land
In 2001, the average land value in Makati was estimated at P180,000 per square meter while the value of land in Ortigas was placed at P80,000. These rates were almost 50 percent lower than their 1997 levels.

Advertising Expenses: US$1.4 Billion
US-based market research firm ACNielsen Media International said advertising expenditures in the Philippines amounted to P70 billion (US$1.4 billion) in 2001. Some P46.8 billion in ad spend was paid to television stations; P13 billion to radio stations; and P10 billion to newspapers and magazines. The figures excluded outdoor advertising expenses and internet-based expenditures.

29,055 Kilometers of Roads
As of 2000, the combined length of Philippine roads was 29,055 kilometers. Only 10,336 kilometers or 36 percent of these roads were concrete; 6,683, asphalt; and the rest, gravel and sand.

7,306 Bridges
The country has 7,306 bridges with a total length of 271.29 kilometers.

172 Airports
As of 2000, the country had 172 airports, 87 of them private. As of 1999, there were 1,592 ports in the whole archipelago.

479 Billion Cubic Meters of Freshwater
According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Philippines had a total of 479 billion cubic meters of annual renewable freshwater resources or 6,332 cubic meters of freshwater per capita in 2000. In 1995, it was estimated that the entire Philippine population withdrew some 55.42 billion cubic meters or 11.6 percent of the country's total freshwater resources. This translates to an annual freshwater withdrawal of 811 cubic meters per capita. Groundwater withdrawal per capita was estimated at 82.8 cubic meters, comprising nearly 10 percent of per capita freshwater withdrawal. The country's reservoir capacity amounted to only 2.2 percent of its of total freshwater resources.

As of 1995, Filipinos were using 8 percent of their freshwater resources for domestic purposes, 4 percent for industry, and 88 percent for irrigation. As of 2000, 92 percent of the country's urban population and 80 percent of the rural population had access to water supply while 92 percent of urban population and 71 percent of rural population had access to sanitation.

Only about 65 percent of the population actually had access to acceptable water facilities (public waterworks and tubed/piped deep well), with the rest sourcing their water from tubed/piped shallow well (8 percent), dug well (14 percent), spring lake, river rain, etc. (11 percent) and peddlers (2 percent). Only 42 percent of the population had access to public waterworks or community water systems. Of the figure, 23 percent had own piped connections while 19 percent was sharing connections.

245 Million Barrels of Fuel
According to the Department of Energy (DoE), the Philippines consumed 245.28 million barrels of fuel oil equivalent (MMBFOE) in 2001. In 1999, the country produced 40.745 billion kilowatt hour but consumed 37.893 billion kilowatt hour.

7,869 Megawatts of Electricity
At present, there is an oversupply of energy in the country, but Filipino consumers have to pay them in the form of purchased power cost adjustment (PPCA). While installed capacity totals 12,694 megawatts, the country's average daily power demand is only 7,869 megawatts.

For example, an ordinary Filipino home charged with P1,220 in monthly electricity bill actually paid P650 for the PPCA in April, 2002. The country's most profitable company was power producer Mirant Philippines Corp., a subsidiary of an Atlanta-based energy firm that registered a net income of P8.5 billion in 2001.

As of May 2002, the country's power rate was said to be the second most expensive in Asia. A subsequent reduction in PPCA charges eventually made the Philippines sixth in the list.

For the whole of 2001, the country consumed 46,119 million kilowatt hours (gigawatt hours), or 1.8 percent higher than 45,290 gigawatt hours consumed in 2000.

87 Percent of Barangays Have Electricity
Only 87 percent of 41,945 barangays or villages in the whole country have electricity. In its electrification program, the incumbent Arroyo government wants all barangays lighted with electricity by the year 2006.

Meralco Overcharged P28 Billion
On November 15, 2002, the Supreme Court ordered the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to refund its 3.1 million consumers over P28 billion in overcharged electricity bill since February 1994.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court's third division, composed of five justices, voted unanimously in favor of the government represented by the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB), which in 1998 claimed that Meralco overcharged its 3.1 million customers by an average of P0.167 per kilowatt-hour. A consumer organization estimated that Meralco owes each household about P3,574 in refund.

Meralco, a private company, now services some 3.4 million consumers in Metro Manila and parts of Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog. It buys electricity from the government-owned National Power Corp. (Napocor) and its two independent power producers.

In June 2002, an independent study submitted to Malacanang Palace reported that Meralco had been overcharging its 3.4 million customers in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces by as much as P0.408 per kilowatt-hour. Ironically, the government has a 25 percent stake in Meralco, which is controlled by the Lopez family.

Social Issues in the Philippines

More Trivia

Falling Income
The Philippine GDP per capita shrank to US$990 in 2000 from US$1,129 in 1997 while the GNP per capita contracted to US$1,033 from US$1,197. This was a result of the Asian financial crisis, which caught up with the Philippines in 1998.

After expanding 5.2 percent in 1997, the country's GDP backpedaled by 0.5 percent in 1998. It grew by only 3.4 percent in 1999 and 4 percent in 2000. With a high population growth rate of 2.3 percent annually, economic growth in 1999 and 2000 did little to improve the real per capita income of Filipinos.

Peso Drops 14 Times vs. US Dollar
According to Senator Ralph Recto, the country's per capita income has barely grown in the past 21 years. He said that the per capita income of P12,913 in 2001 is only P318 higher than P12,595 in 1980. "In today's pesos, the P318 increase in 21 years amounts to nothing at all." he said. Senator Recto also noted that the value of the peso has depreciated by as much as 1,373 percent against the dollar since 1960.

The Poor and the Rich
In its 2000 survey of family income and expenditure, the NSO said that the average income of the population's 10th decile, representing the richest 10 percent of the Filipinos, was 14 times higher than the average earnings of the first decile, representing the poorest 10 percent. Each decile was representing about 8 million Filipinos.

Poverty Threshold: P13,916
While the per capita income declined between 1997 and 2000, prices of consumer goods and services increased by almost 20 percent during the three-year period or over six percent annually. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) was forced to raise by 23 percent the national per capita poverty threshold to P13,916 in 2000 from P11,319 in 1997.

Unequal Regional Development
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) reported that Metro Manila's per capita gross regional domestic product (GRDP) in 2000 was more than twice that of the national average and more than five times that of Bicol region.

Data from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) showed that 11 of the country's 16 regions had a poverty incidence of over 30 percent as of 2000. The five other regions with lower poverty levels are all located in Luzon. The NSCB placed the poverty incidence in the country (the proportion of families with per capita incomes below the poverty threshold) at 28.4 percent in 2000, up from 28.1 percent in 1997. In terms of population, poverty incidence was estimated at 34 percent in 2000, also up from 33 percent in 1997.

The NSCB data showed that in 2000, the National Capital Region or Metro Manila had the lowest poverty incidence of 5.7 percent among families. It was followed by four other regions in Luzon, with Region 3 (Central Luzon) registering a poverty incidence of 17 percent; Region 4 (Southern Tagalog), 20.8 percent; Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), 24.8 percent; and Region 1 (Ilocos), 29.6 percent.

Two regions in Luzon - Region 5 (Bicol), the southernmost region in Luzon, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) - had a poverty incidence of over 30 percent. About 49 percent of families in Bicol were suffering from poverty while 31.1 percent of families in CAR were also in the same category.

All regions in the Visayas had over 30 percent of poverty incidence. Region 6 (Western Visayas) had a poverty incidence of 37.8 percent; Region 7 (Central Visayas), 32.3 percent; and Region 8 (Western Visayas), 37.8 percent.

All regions in Mindanao also had over 30 percent of poverty incidence. Region 9 (Western Mindanao) had a poverty incidence of 38.3 percent; Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), 32.9 percent; Region 11 (Southern Mindanao), 31.5 percent; Region 12 (Central Mindanao), 48.4 percent; Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), 57 percent; and Caraga, 42.9 percent.
32 Million Poor Filipinos
With the adjustment on poverty threshold, the number of Filipinos considered poor or affected by poverty incidence swell to 30 million or 39.4 percent of the population in 2000 from 36.8 percent in 1997. According to the Commission on Population (Popcom), the figure could have further climbed to 32 million or 40 percent of the population in 2002. In terms of number of families, poverty incidence affected 33.7 percent of all Filipino families in 2000 from only 31.8 percent in 1997.

5.1 Million Poor Families
The NSO reported that in 2000, poverty incidence affected 19.9 percent of families in urban areas and 46.9 percent in rural areas. Real number of poor families climbed to 5.1 million, 1.5 million of them in urban areas and 3.6 million in rural areas. Some 2.5 million families were living in subsistence level, meaning their income was not enough to buy their basic food requirements.

Poor and Near Poor, 58 Percent
In its 2001 report, the World Bank said 12.7 percent of Filipinos were "poor", a term it assigned to those who lived on less than US$1 a day while 45.9 percent were "near poor" or those who lived on less than US$2 a day.

A 2002 survey conducted by the local poll group Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that 58 percent of its 1,200 respondents had considered themselves poor. The survey, conducted on March 4 to 23, 2002, also disclosed that 52 percent of the respondents believed that their quality of life had deteriorated over the past 12 months while only 15 percent said otherwise.

Only 80 Percent Had Access to Safe Water
Access to safe drinking water dropped to 80 percent among Filipino families in 2002 from 81.4 percent in 1999, according to the Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO). In real figure, however, the number of families with access to safe drinking water climbed by 6.2 percent to 12.746 million in 2002 from 11.999 million in 1999 largely because of the 8 percent population growth during the three-year period.

86.1 Percent Had Toilets
The Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in 2002 showed that the percentage of Filipino families with access to sanitary toilet improved to 86.1 percent in 2002 from 85.8 percent in 1999. In real number, this translates to 13.713 million families with sanitary toilet in 2002, up from 12.662 million families three years earlier.

79 Percent Had Electricity
The Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in 2002 showed that around 12.581 million families or 79 percent of the total had electricity in 2002, up from only 10.809 million or 73.3 percent of all families in 1999.

72 Percent Had Strong Houses
The Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in 2002 showed that 11.497 million Filipino families or 72.2 percent of the total had their roofs made of strong materials and 9.888 million had their outer walls made of strong materials.

67 Percent Owned House and Lot
The Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in 2002 showed that 10.593 million Filipino families or 66.5 percent of the total had their own house and lot in 2002, with only 546,000 of them or 5.1 percent using the government's finance program to purchase their house and lot. Some 3.425 million families or 21.5 percent of the total had lands other than residence in 2002 while 376,000 families acquired lands through the government's Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Ibon: Poverty Affects 87.5 Percent
Ibon Foundation Inc., a research think-tank that was accused by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as leftist, reported that poverty incidence actually affected 13.4 million Filipino families or 87.5 percent of all families in the country. The independent research agency based its computation on data from the National Wage Commission. Ibon said that the daily cost of living for a family of six was P530 in Metro Manila and P435 in the whole country, as of April 2002.

16 Percent Experiences Hunger
A survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) in March 2001 showed that 16.1 percent of its respondents had experienced hunger at least once in the last three months. About 6 percent of the households surveyed also claimed that they were experiencing hunger often or always.

20 to 34 Percent of Filipinos Undernourished
About 20 to 34 percent of 74.2 million Filipinos in the period 1998 to 2000 was undernourished, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in its report entitled "The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2002." The situation in the Philippines was worse that those in Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam where only 5 to 19 percent of the population was undernourished.

Only less than 2.5 percent of population in Malaysia was undernourished while there was no record of similar problem in Singapore and Thailand. Only Cambodia, with 35 percent or more of its population being undernourished, was worse off than the Philippines.

The FAO reported that there are some 840 million undernourished people in the world today while the World Bank said about 1.2 billion people lived on less than US$1 per day. Some 25,000 people reportedly die of hunger and poverty each day. Measured annually, around six million children under the age of five are dying of hunger.

6 of 10 Policemen are Poor
A study concuted by the UP Variates and the CORPS Foundation in July 2002 showed that 32 percent of Metro Manila policemen claimed that their monthly income they took home were below the poverty threshold of P8,877 a month while nearly 90 percent admitted they had debts to government and private lending institutions. Nearly 50 percent had no bank savings.
1.391 Million Families with Working Children
Child labor remains a problem in the country. As of 2002, there were 1.391 million families or 12.8 percent of the total that had working children aged from five years old to 17 years old.

4 Million Children, Working
So critical was the poverty incidence in the country that many Filipino children had to find work in 2001. According to the NSO, 4 million out of the total 25 million Filipino children were working during the survey period from October 1, 2000 to September 30, 2001.

Most of these working children were male, aged 10 to 17 years old, unskilled and unpaid. They worked as farmers, fishermen, hunters, vendors, and factory workers. Some 221,000 children did heavy physical work; 1.1 million faced physical hazards; 942,000 suffered injuries at work; and 754,000 had work-related illnesses.

These figures were consistent with the findings of an international institution. According to the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef), some four million Filipino children were forced to work as of 2002 because their parents could not find jobs. Around 67 percent of these children were working in the agricultural sector and had to stop going to school. About 50 percent of the children were feeding their respective families.

15 Million Children, Malnourished
A 2002 study conducted by the Philippine Congress showed that about 15.6 million or more than 60 percent of the 25 million Filipino children (below 18 years old) were malnourished. In a separate study conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), three out of 10 Filipino pre-schoolers were found malnourished or underweight in 2001. In actual numbers, there were 3.7 million malnourished pre-school children.

RP Imported 24 Million Bags of Rice
The Philippines, which remains largely rural and agricultural, has become the world's fourth largest importer of rice, after Indonesia, Nigeria and Iran. Citing a report of the US Department of Agriculture, Representative Satur Ocampo said the country imported about 1.18 million tons metric tons of rice in 2001 and a total of 1.2 million metric tons (24 million 50-kilogram bags) of rice in 2002.

1.5 Million Street Children
The Philippines has one of the world's largest populations of street children. A 1996 report of the non-government movement End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT) showed that the Philippines had 1.5 million children living or working in the street of 65 cities. Metro Manila alone had at least 75,000 street children.

ECPAT claimed that many children in the street were working as pickpockets and beggars and that around 60,000 children were either sexually exploited or driven to prostitution. According to the Dangerous Drugs Board, 325,000 children were using illegal substance, particularly rugby.

About 100 million children in the world were said to be living in the street as of 1994.

2.8 Million Illiterate Filipinos
According to the Functional Literacy Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS) conducted in 2001, about 2.8 million Filipinos could not read and write while 7.4 million others are functionally illiterate. Functional illiteracy refers to the inability of a person to use his skills in reading, writing and counting to improve his life.

10.8 Million Unemployed, Underemployed
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said that as of April 2002, there were 4.866 million unemployed Filipinos accounting for 13.9 percent of the total labor force estimated at 35.052 million workers. About 5.922 million others or 19.6 percent of the labor force were also underemployed, meaning they had no regular sources of income.

26 Percent of College Graduates Unemployed
A study commissioned by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) in 2002 showed that 26.2 percent of college graduates aged 24 years old and below were unemployed. In comparison, only 13.6 percent of high school graduates and 9.1 percent of elementary dropouts were unemployed during the same period.

Workers, Only 30.6 Percent of Population
Measured against the whole population (80 million), those who were working at least 40 hours a week estimated at 24.264 million workers comprised only 30.5 percent of all people in the Philippines as of April 2002.

40 Percent of Voters Unaware of Rights
In June 2002, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), an independent Catholic organization, announced that almost 40 percent of their respondents composed of Filipino voters were unaware of their voting rights.

Prices Up by 6 Percent
According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), prices of goods and services moved up by over 6 percent in 2001. In particular, prices of fuel, light and water increased by an average of 11.5 percent, year-on-year in 2001. Rice in the Philippines reportedly costs three times as much as it does in Thailand.

Price of Medicine, Three Times as Much
Prices of eight common drugs in the country were three times as much as they were in India, according to the Department of Health (DoH). For example, a 20-milligram tablet of Adalat Retard or Nifedine 20 that cost over P34 in the Philippines in 2001 was only priced at about P5.74 in India in the same year.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has accused local pharmaceutical firms belonging to the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) of dictating prices of medicine in the country.

5 Million Housing Backlog
According to the National Housing Authority (NHA), some 5 million Filipino families were in need of permanent houses in the whole country.

3.4 Million Squatters
In its 2002 study, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has cited the need to improve the lives of some 3.4 million Filipinos living in the slums of Metro Manila.

3,521 Disabled Filipinos, Driving
As of October 2002, the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (NCWDP) disclosed that some 3,521 disabled Filipinos have licenses to drive vehicles. The number of disabled driver included 2,550 partially blind, 56 with impaired hearing and speech, 777 with impaired lower limbs and 138 with impaired upper limbs.

Philippine Justice System
According to the Supreme Court, about 45 percent of Philippine courts - regional trial courts, municipal courts, and municipal circuit trial courts - had no judges as of September 2002. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice said there was a 22 percent vacancy in positions of prosecutors in the whole country. Just how the courts administered justice with such a wide vacancy in positions of judges and prosecutors paints a picture of disillusionment among victims waiting impatiently for justice. The vacancy in these positions usually means delay in the implementation of justice, which in turn discourages people from actually filing cases in courts.

88 Signatures for Housing Permit
As of 2001, it took 88 signatures to get an approval to build a house in the Philippines. President Arroyo ordered that the number of signatures be trimmed to 45.

P35 Billion Lost to Project Anomalies
The chairman of the Committee on Appropriations at the lower chamber of Congress said the Philippine government lost P21 billion to graft and corruption stemming from scheming contracts entered into by senators and congressmen in 2001. The amount excluded money lost to corruption involving projects executed by other government officials.

Meanwhile, Senator Edgardo Angara said that around P35 billion is lost to graft and corruption in government infrastructure projects annually. Such anomalies come in the form of rigged public bidding, substandard work and cost padding. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

P21 Billion Lost to Procurement Process
The Philippine government has been losing some P21 billion to corrupt officials involved in the procurement process, the none-government organization Procurement Watch Inc. (PWI) reported. At the same time, a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that 15 percent of the cost of all government contracts is lost to corruption.

P104 Billion Pork Barrel
Aside from legislating laws, Filipinos senators and congressmen have made it their responsibility to distribute development projects in their respective districts. Each one of the 24 senators receives some P200 million in development funds annually while each one of about 218 congressmen receives P100 million in annual appropriations.

In total, all these development funds for legislators, collectively known as procurement budget or pork barrel, amount to P104 billion annually. According to House appropriations committee chairman Rolando Andaya Jr., some P21 billion or nearly 20 percent of this amount is pocketed by some legislators, other government officials and contractors each year. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

RP, Fourth Most Corrupt in Asia
In its 2002 survey, the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), which asked 1,000 foreign businessmen in 12 Asian countries, has ranked the Philippines as the fourth most corrupt country in Asia closely behind Indonesia, India and Vietnam. The Philippines received a score of 8.0 in the survey, on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 the best possible score for a country with no corruption. PERC said Singapore was the least corrupt in the region, with a score of 0.9.

In a separate survey also in 2002, Transparency International (TI) ranked the Philippines 77th among 102 countries in terms of fighting graft and corruption. The Philippines got a score of 2.6 in corruption perception index, with 10 the highest possible score for the country that has no corruption. Finland was ranked number 1, with a score of 9.7. Bangladesh was at the bottom of the list, with a score of 1.2.

P85 billion Ill-Gotten Wealth Recovered
In its claim as of 2002, the Presidential Commission on Good Government said that it has recovered a total of P85 billion in ill-gotten wealth since it was created in 1986.

2.8 Million Income Tax Payers
While there were 15 million salaried workers in the country in 2000, only 2.8 million actually paid income taxes. According to Senator Ralph Recto, of the total individual income tax returns filed in 2000, 1.953 million were by salaried workers (1.350 million of whom were government employees) and only 536,000 by businessmen and non-salaried professionals (like doctors and lawyers). In real amount, ordinary workers paid some P63.8 billion while non-salaried individuals, mostly businessmen and professionals, contributed only P7.3 billion for a total of P81.8 billion in individual income taxes.

The senator disclosed that about 56.2 percent of salaried and non-salaried workers in the country failed to settle their individual income taxes in 2000. Over the past 11 years, leakage from the individual income tax amounted to P608 billion. This was on top of the P610 billion that were lost to leakage in the value added tax (VAT) scheme.

US$205 Billion Tax Evasion
A study conducted by the research unit of US bank Morgan Stanley said that the Philippine government lost some US$205 billion in potential revenues from 1965 to 2001. The figure was computed based on the estimated annual tax leakage of US$7.6 billion or P380 billion. It was higher than the government's estimate. According to the Department of Finance (DoF), some P242 billion (US$4.65 billion) in potential government revenues is lost to tax evaders yearly. In its 1998 study, the Department of Finance said some P69.85 billion was lost because of leakage in the value-added tax, P59.33 billion in corporate income tax, P98.95 billion in personal income tax, P2.56 billion in excise tax, P6.4 billion in documentary stamp tax, P1.18 billion in interest withholding tax on bank deposits, P2.33 billion in fringe benefits tax, P1.5 billion in gross receipts tax, and P370 million in insurance tax.

P187 Billion Tax Incentives to Corporations
The government dangled some P187.2 billion tax incentives to the largest foreign and local companies in the country in 2001. These incentives came in the form of income tax holidays and duty-free importation of raw materials from other countries. Companies, which benefited from such tax incentives were those registered at Board of Investments (BOI), Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and other investment promotion agencies.

P147 Billion Budget Shortage
The country's fiscal deficit reached P147.03 billion (US$2.95 billion) or 4.1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) estimated at P3.6 trillion (US$72 billion) in 2001. While the government spent P710.8 billion, its total revenues amounted to only P563.73 billion. Public sector funding requirement (PSFR) reached P189 billion. Debt servicing or payments to interests of domestic and foreign borrowings reached P27.2 billion.

To augment its budget requirements in 2001, the government sourced 87 percent of its total financing from domestic funds and 13 percent from foreign loans and aid. The government relied heavily on fixed-rate Treasury bonds as it issued P208.42 billion worth of these short-term fixed-income securities.

The situation was worse in 20002. The government said the budget deficit would climb to P223 billion or 5.6 percent of the GDP by the end of the year. The original target was only 4 percent.

P781 Billion Government Budget
According to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the government has a total budget of P780.8 billion for 2002. Budget deficit is expected to reach at least P150 billion in 2002.

Of the 2002 budget, some P233.9 billion or 30 percent is to be poured into social services; P204.2 billion or 26 percent to debt interest payments; P158.9 billion or 21 percent to economic services; P136.1 billion or 18 percent to general services; and P41.5 billion or 5 percent to defense. Among government agencies, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) had the largest share of the pie at P103 billion while the Department of National Defense (DND) got P60.4 billion.

US$53.4 Billion Foreign Debt
The Central Bank said that as of March 2002, total foreign debt of the Philippines amounted to US$53.4 billion. Public debt was placed at P2.62 trillion as of June 2002.

US$45 Billion in Infrastructure Needs
According to the World Bank, the Philippines would need some US$35 billion to US$45 billion in fresh investments from the private sector to improve its infrastructures (roads, bridges, railways, telecommunication facilities, etc.) over the next ten years.

Two People's Revolts
Fourteen years after the historic "People Power Revolution" that ousted the Marcos dictatorial rule in 1986, two people's revolts rocked Metro Manila in the first half of 2001. This was followed by several attempts to repeat the ugly May 1 mob rebellion staged by supporters of deposed President Joseph Estrada. In the absence of a legal framework governing people's revolts, political stability became harder to establish.

Foreign Affairs Secretary and former Senator Blas Ople called for a "sober" examination of the people power phenomenon and warned that a fresh call to stage another revolution would threaten the country's political stability. In a Senate resolution, Senator Blas Ople urged the chamber to assess the merits of "people power" as an instrument of political change and its constitutional implications.

Episode of Turbulence
Even President Arroyo, who was a beneficiary of the January 2001 people's revolt, appealed for an end to what she called an episode of turbulence and threats. "In a living democracy, no group has the right to hold policy-making hostage by threatening to overthrow the executive on every issue of policy disagreement," she said.

34 Percent Says Democracy Works
The Filipino people were also dismayed. In a national survey conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Center for Leadership, Citizenry and Democracy in November 2001, only one of three Filipino respondents or 34 percent claimed they were satisfied with the way democracy works in the country. In contrast, about 42 percent of the respondents said otherwise. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Violent Elections
A manifestation of poor peace and order situation in the Philippines is the death of at least 87 people in the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) elections in July 2002. The police said another 45 individuals were injured in 183 violent confrontations among candidates and their henchmen. Ironically, the police described the situation as generally peaceful because fewer people died this year, compared with previous barangay elections. On July 15, the Filipino people elected 41,945 barangay chairmen, a similar number of youth leaders and 293,615 barangay council members.

25,000 Armed Rebels
There are two major insurgency movements in the Philippines, namely: the communist insurgency and the Muslim separatist movement. According to military estimates, there were 25,000 armed rebels as of the first quarter of 2002.

These included 11,930 communist guerillas, 12,500 active members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and hundreds more belonging to Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf, Abu Sufia and Pentagon groups.

347 Clashes with the Reds
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recorded 347 armed confrontations with the communist guerillas, resulting in the death of 189 rebels and 120 government soldiers in 2001.

Moro Leader in Prison
In November 2001, former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari who signed a peace pact with the government in 1996 broke the agreement and led another armed struggle along with his loyal supporters. He was facing sedition charges at a prison camp in Laguna province.

Muslim Extremists
The Abu Sayyaf (Bearers of the Sword) is a Muslim extremist group that was fighting for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao. Since 1994, it has burned a Christian town, beheaded a number of innocent civilians, abducted foreigners and planted bombs in crowded areas. The AFP claimed that it was able to reduce the Abu Sayyaf force from 4,000 in 1994 to 600 in June 2001 and to 60 in May 2002.

In April 2000, the group took 21 hostages, mostly European tourists from the Sipadan Island in Sabah, Malaysia and brought them to Sulu province in Mindanao. The hostages were freed four months later upon payment of US$20 million ransom by the Libyan government. On May 27, 2001, the Abu Sayyaf abducted an American couple along with another American and 17 Filipinos from a beach resort in Palawan province. The group had beheaded the other American but freed the Filipino hostages.

Some 1,000 American troops went to Mindanao to coordinate, advise and train Filipino soldiers in the rescue mission of the American couple. On June 7, 2002, American hostage Martin Burnham and Filipino nurse who was also taken by the group were killed during an encounter between the Muslim extremists and the pursuing Filipino troops in Zamboanga del Norte province. Gracia Burnham was wounded but survived.

Camp Abu Bakar Falls
The former Estrada administration declared an ugly all-out war against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in the year 2000. While the government was able to siege Camp Abu Bakar, the main camp of the MILF, the war resulted in numerous bombings in the south and Metro Manila. There were also summary executions of Filipino Christians in Mindanao.

On May 7, 2002, the Arroyo government and the MILF signed an interim peace agreement in Putrajaya, Malaysia. While the agreement called for the government's rehabilitation and development of areas devastated by the war in 2000, it did not call for the laying down of arms by the Muslim dissidents.

Cost of War: P100 Billion
The World Bank said the recurring armed conflict between government soldiers and Muslim fighters would cost southwestern Mindanao over P100 billion in the next 10 years in terms of lost or stagnant investments.

2 Million Unlicensed Guns
Around 2 million unlicensed guns were circulating in the Philippines on top of the 775,000 legally registered firearms. The figures were disclosed during the "Regional Seminar on Implementing the UN Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons" which was held in Quezon City in July 2002.

A statement issued during the seminar also claimed that the 2 million unlicensed firearms and light weapons, including pistols, rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers and shoulder-fired missiles, were responsible for the death of four million people in 46 major conflicts in the country in the 1990s.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the national police to intensify the campaign against loose firearms. Reports said there are about 328,329 loose firearms nationwide. In 2002, the national police confiscated 7,633 loose firearms. The Department of Interior and Local Government said that of the 12,000 firearms used in crimes in 2002, more than 10,000 of which were unlicensed.
37,254 Index Crimes
Some 37,254 index crimes were reported to the police in the year 2000 alone. The police claimed to have solved 32,445 or 87 percent of these cases. Index crimes refer to crimes committed against lives and properties.

P1.25 Billion Ransom
The Citizens Action Against Crime, a non-government organization, claimed that around 2,100 people, many of them Filipino-Chinese businessmen, have become victims of kidnap-for-ransom gangs in the Philippines and paid ransom amounting to about P1.25 billion from 1993 to 2002. The group added that in 2002 alone, kidnap victims paid a total ransom amounting to P211 million.

News reports said kidnap-for-ransom syndicates victimized over 240 individuals, including 20 foreigners in 2001. In the first half of 2002, another 80 individuals, including 30 foreigners, became victims of kidnapping. While Manila-based publications tagged the Philippines as the world's kidnap capital, the Philippine National Police (PNP) quickly denied this, claiming that Colombia owns the title.

1,877 Cars Stolen
The Philippine National Police (PNP) documented a total of 1,877 car theft cases in 2000.

Police data showed that a total of 2,219 vehicles were reported stolen in Metro Manila in 2002. This meant that six cars were stolen in the metropolis each day and 185 cars each month in 2002.

8 Rape Victims Per Day
Some 3,145 cases of rape were reported in the country in 2001. This translates to 8 cases of rape each day and one rape incident in every three hours during the year. The figure only covers rape incidents reported to the police. There were also 5,735 murder cases and 4,079 homicide incidents reported in the country in 2001 alone.

5,185 Sex Crimes Against Children
According to the Social Welfare and Development, there were a total of 5,185 sex crimes committed against children in the Philippines in 2000, and 3,980 cases in 2001. Sex crimes refer to rape, incest, and acts of lasciviousness.

143 Escapees
The Bureau of Jail Management reported that 143 prisoners escaped from their cells in 2000. Of these fugitives, 89 were recaptured.

25,000 Inmates
The Bureau of Corrections said that in 2002, it was holding 25,002 inmates, 16,134 of whom are at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP), which has a holding capacity of only 8,700.
314 Political Prisoners
As of December 2002, the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa was hosting 314 political prisoners.

239 Dismissed Cops in 2002
In the campaign against erring policemen, the national police reported that it dismissed from the service 239 commissioned and non-commissioned officers who were among the 4,447 policemen who were charged administratively for various offenses in 2002. The national police is encouraging the public to report crimes or ask for police assistance in case of emergency by sending a short messaging service (SMS) or text message to 2920.

P300 Billion Illegal Drug Industry
According to Interior and Local Government Secretary Joey Lina, the crime syndicates produce and trade P300-billion worth of illegal drugs in the country annually. The Dangerous Drugs Board also disclosed that some 1.8 million Filipinos are hooked on illegal drugs while 1.6 million others are casual users.

1.8 Million Drug Users
According to the International Narcotics Control Board, the use of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu has become "the most popular drug of abuse" in the Philippines. The Anti-Narcotics Group of the Philippine National Police disclosed that around 1.8 million of the 80 million Filipinos were regular drug users.

The agency also disclosed that about 70 percent of marijuana supply in the world might be coming from the Cordillera region in northern Luzon. It claimed that marijuana fields have been found among the 300,000 hectares of Cordillera farmlands in the past. In 1999, the police conducted 7,956 raids and arrested 11,004 individuals on drug-related cases.

55,000 Mail Order Brides to US
According to women's group Gabriela, about 55,000 Filipino women have entered the United States as mail order brides as of 1997. Another 20,000 mail order brides went to Australia.

15 Women Beaten Daily
As of 2002, militant women's group Gabriela said at least 15 women and six children are beaten up daily. In 2001, Gabriela recorded 5,668 cases of wife battering and 2,274 cases of maltreatment of children.

Two-Thirds of Young Workers Had Premarital Sex
A survey conducted by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) in 2002 showed that 30 percent of the country's young workforce claimed to be sexually active, with 10 percent of the single male respondents claiming to have casual sex. The study titled "Issues Affecting Young Filipino Workers" also showed that 37 percent of young males have had sex with more than one partner - usually with prostitutes - prior to marriage while two-thirds of married female and male workers said they had premarital sex with the people they eventually married.

In a separate report, a study conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute in the year 2000 showed that 23 percent of 16.5 million Filipinos aged between 15 and 24 have engaged in premarital sex.

According to the TUCP, about 6.5 million Filipino workers were belonging to the 15 to 24 year age group as of 2002.

400,000 Prostitutes
Despite the fact that prostitution is illegal in the country, women's group Gabriela said that around 400,000 Filipinos were working as prostitutes as of 1998.

100,000 Child Prostitutes
According to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), about 60,000 to 100,000 Filipino children were working as prostitutes as of 1997. Prostitution was present in 37 provinces then. The major child prostitution dens were found in Manila, Angeles City, Puerto Galera, Davao City and Cebu City. The Philippines has reportedly become a favorite destination of pedophiles from the US, Australia and Europe. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has documented 8,335 cases of child abuse from 1991 to 1996.

400,000 Abortions
A study released by the University of the Philippines Population Institute in February 2003 said that there were 400,000 cases of abortion in the country each year, despite the fact that abortion is illegal here.

Vagina Economy
While hundreds of surviving Filipino women are still demanding justice from the Japanese government for their travails in the hands of Japanese troops who held them as sex slaves during World War 2, thousands of young Filipino women are ironically asking the Philippine government to ease the rules in the deployment of entertainers to Japan.

One government agency that tried to screen the recruitment of young Filipino women as entertainers in Japan eventually found itself in deep controversy. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the country's main agency tasked to uplift standards of non-degree and non-formal skills training of Filipino workers, was under fire for allegedly delaying the issuance of certification to some 20,000 young Filipino women to work as entertainers or "overseas performing artists" in Japan in 2002.

The Philippine Association of Recruitment Agencies Deploying Artists (PARADA), the association of recruitment agencies deploying young Filipino women as entertainers in Japan accused TESDA director general Dante Liban of deliberately delaying the issuance of the so-called Artist Record Books (ARB) to 20,000 prospective overseas performing artists in 2002. Applicants need an ARB to get a visa from the Japanese embassy.

PARADA alleged that a group of people in TESDA were demanding P25,000 for an ARB from applicants who do not want to undergo testing. Without irregularity, the ARB is supposed to cost only P300. Because of the alleged irregularity in TESDA, PARADA claimed that 20,000 Filipino women lost the opportunity of earning US$800 a month in Japan. Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that deployment of Filipino entertainers to Japan slowed to 50,000 persons in 2002 from 70,000 in 2001.

But a group of Filipinos said that the single biggest controversy was not the delay in the issuance of ARBs to young Filipino women but the deployment of thousands of them to work as prostitutes or sex workers in other countries. Labor Undersecretary Lucila Lazo even went to the extent of calling it as "vagina economy".

There are around 180,000 Filipino entertainers in Japan sending US$200 million each year. Many of these women were vulnerable to abuse and some driven to prostitution by the Japanese Yakuza gang.

According to the Movement for Responsible Enterprise (MORE), a civic group of concerned Filipinos, the Philippine government provided cover to save Japan from the embarrassment of hosting Filipino prostitutes. "The government made them appear like performing artists, sent to Japan as entertainers," it added.

Filipino entertainers were eventually called "Japayuki", which was an original concoction made by Japanese media referring to young girls working as prostitutes. The Philippine government allows the deployment of Filipino women as young as 18 years old.

The civic group also called on religious and militant groups to join the campaign against the continued deployment of Filipino entertainers abroad. "Let us all destroy this national disgrace. Stop the trafficking of women. Our national honor is priceless. We must defend it at all cost, at all times," it said.
P8 Billion Annual Gambling Revenues
Gambling is a major social problem in the country. Not even the ouster of President Joseph Estrada from Malacanang Palace, on charges of receiving "jueteng" money from syndicates, could abate the problem. Jueteng is said to be a P40-billion business in the Philippines, annually.

While declaring "jueteng" as illegal, the government promotes other forms of gambling such as casino operations, lottery and recently text games. In May 2002 alone, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), the government agency tasked to collect gambling revenues, reported an income of P1.81 billion. For the whole of 2000, Pagcor reported a net income of P8 billion, the second largest amount earned by any Philippine company in that year.

Text Gambling
No one seems to be bothered by the growing trend of text gambling in the Philippines. Due to the popularity of short messaging service (SMS) or text messaging in the country, broadcast stations and telecommunication companies have connived to endorse the now hugely popular text games. Here, the participants, mostly television viewers or radio listeners, put their bet in the form of a text message worth P10 each for the chance to win large prizes. Although less pronounced as a form of gambling, text gambling is no different than other number games like lottery, jai alai or jueteng.

Companies Lose P3.5 Billion to Counterfeiting
According to the Brand Protection Association (BPA), a group of 15 multinational companies based in the country, their member companies lost P3.5 billion to makers and distributors of fake brand products in the first three quarters of 2002 alone. As a result, the government also lost P1.3 billion in potential revenues.

The BPA also disclosed that the government confiscated fake goods amounting to P2.4 billion in the first nine months of 2002 alone, up from P800 million in the whole of 1998. The BPA said that the counterfeiting and piracy problem is not limited to CD's, VCDs and computer softwares but also affects top brands of garments, bags, wallets, medicines, liquified petroleum gas (LPGs), batteries, lamps, bulbs and switches, brandy, vodka, cigarettes, soaps and shampoo, laser printer toner and ink cartridges, sofa beds, hacksaws, toys and electronic goods.

About 86 makers of product lines are said to be affected by counterfeits, which are boldly sold at formal distribution channels like shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets. "Not because these companies are in on it, but because they are also fooled," Mr. Wallace clarified. The BPA said that the fake drugs and smuggled medicines comprise 30 percent of total products in the pharmaceutical sector.

The lighting sector is burdened by a 5 to 15 percent penetration of fake products while about 63 percent of softwares sold in the country is considered pirated. Most of the fake products sold in the country, the BPA added, come from China.

P1.1 billion Smuggled Fuel
A study conducted by the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center (AIM-PC) suggested that some P1.1 billion worth of diesel fuel were smuggled into the country between 1999 and 2001. Some 300,000 liters or 2,000 barrels of diesel are reportedly smuggled and sold in the country each day. The policy think tank blamed several owners of barges and tankers/trucks; ship captains and seamen; past and present officials of oil firms; owners of depots and storehouses; and importers and owners of import terminals as responsible for the smuggling. The culprits reportedly got help from officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs, the Philippine Navy and the Coast Guard.

Alcohol, Most Abused Drug
Liquor is said to be the most abused substance in the Philippines and the world. While there remains to be a concrete study on the effects of alcoholism, many index crimes such as homicides, physical injuries and sex-related offenses are often associated with alcohol. Adding to these are the numerous accidents caused by drunk driving. Many Filipino families were also ruined by alcoholism, with young children exposed to the evils of their drunken fathers. Sadly, the government does not do anything about it.

San Miguel Corp., a beverage conglomerate that is the top seller of beer and gin, is also the country's largest corporation. In 1998 alone, the company sold 327.6 million bottles of beer.

1.25 Billion Liters of Beer
In 1995, Filipinos consumed 146,000 bottles of wine, making them the top wine drinkers in Asia. A more shocking report is that Filipinos consumed 1.25 billion liters or 3.9 billion bottles of beer in 1998 alone. In the year 2001, beverages comprised nearly 2.3 percent of the average Filipino's expenditures.

A 1994 survey conducted by the University of the Philippines showed that almost 5.3 million or 60 per cent of Filipino youths were drinking alcoholic beverages. Of the total, 4.2 million were males and 1.1 million, females. A conclusion was that there were more alcoholic drinkers than smokers among Filipino youths, who were starting to drink alcohol at the age of 16 or 17 years old.

21.6 Percent of Students Smoke
A global youth tobacco survey (GYTS) in the Philippines showed that as many as 21.6 percent of Filipino students were smoking cigarettes. The percentage was 32.6 percent among male students and 12.9 percent among female students. Some students believed that smoking would win them more friends and make them look cool. Tobacco comprised 2.4 percent of the average Filipino's expenditures in 2001.

6,100 Tons of Garbage Daily
According to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the metropolis produces some 6,100 tons of garbage daily. In 2001, the total volume of recyclable materials that ended up in junkshops and recycling plants reached 120,162 metric tons.

The Cost of Air Pollution
The World Bank has reported that air pollution in the Philippines results in a yearly loss of US$1.5 billion in medical treatment, lost wages, low productivity and deaths that severely impact the Filipinos' quality of life. The World Bank report also said that air pollution results in 2,000 deaths each year and causes US$1.5 billion in lost wages, medical treatment in the four metropolis of Baguio, Manila, Cebu and Davao The World Bank also said that the country needs US$500 million (P25 billion) to implement the Clean Air Act of 1999 over the next 10 years.

In its Philippines Environment Monitor 2002, the World Bank said the government spends US$400 million in health cost as a result of air pollution in four urban centers alone, namely: Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao and Baguio where about a quarter of the population lives. Such a health cost is said to be 0.6 percent of the country's gross national product.

The World Bank cited a 2001 survey showing that more than 72 percent of Metro Manila's residents were alarmed by air pollution and 73 percent said they were not aware that the government was doing anything to address it. The World Bank said air pollutants such as ozone and nitrogen oxides continue to spread.

In its study, the World Bank said fine particle emissions result in about 2,000 premature deaths and 9,000 cases of chronic bronchitis in the country's four largest urban areas annually. These emissions of pollutants were largely blamed on public buses, jeepneys, utility vehicles, trucks and motorcycles that continue to emit visible smoke despite the government's anti-smoke belching campaign. As of 2001, there were 3.9 million land vehicles in the country.

22 Million Filipinos Exposed to Tuberculosis
A World Bank report in 2002 said that around 22 million Filipinos were exposed to tuberculosis. Nearly 740 Filipinos are afflicted with tuberculosis, while 68 die of the disease each day. The report added that Filipinos spend a total of P160 billion to cure the disease each year.

578 AIDS Cases
The Department of Health has recorded 1,761 HIV-positive cases and 578 AIDS cases from January 1984 to September 2002. Most of these cases involved persons aged 20 to 39 years old. However, the US Central Intelligence Agency said that there were about 28,000 Filipinos infected with HIV or AIDS and that 1,200 of died in 1999 alone.

P30 Trillion for Reforestation
In January 2003, a study by the Green Tropics International (GTI) claimed that the Philippines would need P30 trillion to reforest country's denuded mountains in over 85 years.

2.7 Trips by Metro Manilans Each Day
Studies made by the Traffic and Engineering Center (TEC) of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) showed that as of 2002, Metro Manilans were making an average of 2.7 trips individually and 12 million trips collectively each day. Before this, a study by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 1999 showed that the Philippines was losing some P140 billion annually to traffic congestion. It said the national economy was directly losing P40 billion in the forms of gasoline and diesel fuel, man-hours, electricity, salaries of traffic aides and increased expenses for mobile phones. Indirectly, the country was losing P100 billion in the forms of lost business opportunities, depreciated value of real property and increased cause of health care due to air pollution.

Cost of Traffic Problem: US$3.6 Billion
The San Francisco-based Filipinas Magazine reported that traffic congestion costs the Philippine economy some US$3.6 billion annually. Citing a government study, the magazine said the traffic problem, particularly in Metro Manila, results in a US$1 billion loss to wasted gasoline and electricity, man-hours and hiring of traffic aides; and US$2.6 billion to missed business opportunities, reduced sales and investment disincentives. The study added that total loss would exceed US$36 billion in ten years. It noted that the average speed of a vehicle has slowed to 12.6 kilometers per hour today from 18 kilometers per hour ten years ago.

Get-Rich-Quick Schemes
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This was how the corporate watchdog Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) described the usual promise made by pseudo-investment firms in luring the public to invest substantial amount in their get-rich-quick schemes.

The SEC warned that pseudo-investment firms that are not registered with the government office have already duped many investors, including foreigners and Filipino-Americans. Some victims, who have placed investments ranging from P10,000 to P50 million, were not able to recover their money and its supposed interest.

The SEC has already issued cease-and-desist orders (CDOs) on the operations of several pseudo-investment firms that have been in operation without licenses. According to the corporate watchdog, some of these firms act as lending investors, investment firms, and financial companies that issue securities to the public. The companies promote their services by telephone calls, mails or personal visits and usually offer investors huge interest on every investment placed, without explaining the risks involved. They also require immediate investments.

The pseudo-investment firms give promise that a minimum investment of P10,000 to P100,000 would earn a monthly interest of 15 percent. Among the promotional gimmicks of these pseudo-investments firms are seminars that use the lines "You can become a millionaire in three years" and "You can turn your financial dreams into reality". Investors usually discover that they have been duped only when the checks issued to them bounced.

Pyramiding Scam
As of January 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the government corporate watchdog said that investment firms engaged in the so-called pyramiding operation have duped at least 2 million Filipinos of as much as P70 billion.

World's 4th Most Accident-Prone Country
According to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Philippines was the fourth most accident prone country in the world. The two institutions arrived at this conclusion after finding out that some 5,809,986 Filipinos were killed or injured as a result of disasters or man-made calamities over a ten-year period (1992-2001). Ahead of the Philippines in the accident list were China, India and Iran.

On a separate report, the Philippine National Red Cross said 31,835 Filipinos were killed and 94,369,462 others were affected by natural disasters and calamities in a span of 20 years. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Shallow Knowledge of History
Congressman Edmund Reyes of Marinduque province quoted an NFO-Trends survey showing that Filipino youth had a "very shallow appreciation" of the country's history and cultural heritage. The survey showed that only 37 percent of the 1,420 respondents aged 7 to 21 years old, were able to sing the National Anthem and only 28 percent could recite "Panatang Makabayan". When asked to name Filipino heroes, the respondents could only name up to two heroes.

A Day's Labor For A Burger
In 2001, the minimum daily wage in Metro Manila remained at P250, the highest among the country's 16 regions.

An office worker in Makati, who was hired on a contractual basis by a job placement agency, did not receive P250 by the end of a working day. After tax, social security and other deductions were made on top of the share deductions by the agency, the office worker went home with only P200.

However, he had to calculate his transportation and meal allowance that amounted to over P100. In other words, what was left in his pocket by the end of the day was less than P100. To treat himself after a hard day's work, he decided to stop by a popular fastfood restaurant.

He ordered a big burger, a large can of cola and French fries. He was billed P100. Before sleeping at night, he remembered that he had to buy a new pair of shoes. He reached for his pocket and found it empty.

Yet, he considered himself lucky because he was unmarried and was living with his parents who were giving him free breakfast every morning. He was lucky because he had no wife to support and no children to send to school. He was lucky because he was healthy and did not have to buy medicine.

Other people were not as lucky as he was. Many companies were not complying with the Minimum Wage Law and were giving their workers much less. About 4.9 million Filipinos had no jobs while 5.9 million others had no regular source of livelihood as of April 2002. He was lucky, after all.

Significant Updates

More Trivia

ROTC No Longer A Problem in Graduation
Here is a piece of good news to those who were not able to graduate because of a missing requirement in Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). Under a new law which was approved in February 2002, all male students who were not allowed to graduate from college despite completing all their academic units in 2001 or earlier could now apply for graduation.

Republic Act No. 9163 or the law creating the National Service Training Program (NSTP) suspends ROTC requirement "for those students who despite completing all their academic units as of the effectivity of this Act have not been allowed to graduate." The law took effect in February 2002.

Male students who have completed their academic units by 2001 or earlier could now follow up their application for graduation. The law is already being implemented by the Commission on Higher Education (CHR).

ASEAN Free Trade Starts January 2003
Do you know that starting January 1, 2003, the Philippines and the nine other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with a combined population of about 600 million people, would transform the region into a common market where products and services freely flow?

Aside from the Philippines, the other members of ASEAN are Brunei Darrusalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The common market of the region is called ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA).

By January 2003, these countries would begin implementing the so-called Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT), a gradual tariff reduction mechanism by which "tariffs on goods traded within the ASEAN region, which meet a 40 percent ASEAN content requirement, will be reduced to 0 to 5 percent by the year 2003 (2006 for Vietnam, and 2008 for Laos and Myanmar)". Excluded from these products are those under each country's sensitive list.

This would mean that most products from Thailand, Singapore or Malaysia would enter the country duty free. Imported items that are duty free are of course cheaper. If cheap imported products swarm across the country, local entrepreneurs would be forced to lower the prices of their products, to the benefit of the Filipino consumers.

The Philippines has to learn lessons from AFTA before it should stick to its commitments to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and World Trade Organization (WTO), which are larger market blocs.

Help the Children!
In the love of God, let us help the poor and sick children. Three out of 10 Filipino pre-schoolers are malnourished or underweight. In actual number, there are at least 3.7 million malnourished pre-school children in the Philippines.

In the love of God, let us help the poor and sick children. As of 1996, the Philippines had 1.5 million children living or working in the street of 65 cities. Metro Manila alone had at least 100,000 street children. Many of these children have been working as pickpockets, beggars and prostitutes.

In the love of God, let us help the poor and sick children. Many sick children die at the Philippine General Hospital each day. One physician said that they die, not because the doctors are unskilled or incompetent but "because these children are poor."

In the love of God, let us help the poor and sick children. We can do these by sharing our love with and contributing our support to at least two highly regarded institutions, namely: the Philippine General Hospital Department of Pediatrics and the Alay Pag-asa Foundation.

Send a text message to Dr. Philip Cruz of the Department of Pediatrics, Philippine General Hospital at Mobile Phone No. 63917 - 5304437 or deposit donations at Banco de Oro (Give a Life Account No. 043-0071418). Contact Numbers appeared at Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 6 issue.

Contact Alay Pag-Asa Christian Foundation Inc., No. 32 Arayat Street corner Road 1, Mandaluyong City 1550, Metro Manila or call Tel. No. (632) 532-3250; 532-6433 or write to Alay Pag-Asa P.O. Box 12911, Ortigas Center P.O. Pasig City 1605, Metro Manila, Philippines or email

In the love of God, let us help the children!

Mark 10:13-16

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God, like a little child will never enter it." And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.

Bible verses were quoted from the New International Version.

First in the Philippines

More Trivia

First Circumnavigator of the Globe
Although many historians considered him as the first circumnavigator of the globe, Ferdinand Magellan never completed his voyage around the planet. Magellan, a sea captain, commanded a fleet of five wooden Spanish ships with 241 men on board and embarked on what is now considered as "the greatest of all epics of human discovery". Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer who discovered America for Spain, traveled 8,000 miles aboard a Spanish ship across the Atlantic Ocean. But Magellan's men embarked on an expedition that brought them 42,000 miles around the planet.

The voyage began on September 20, 1519. Magellan and his three remaining ships reached the Philippines on March 17, 1521. On April 27, he was killed by the men of Lapulapu, chieftain of Mactan Island in the Philippines. Only one ship, the Trinidad, with 18 European crewmen led by Sebastian del Cano and four Malay crewmen (maybe Filipinos) completed the trip around the world and arrived in Seville, Spain in 1522.

First Landing
On March 16, 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in service of Spain landed at Samar.

First Mass
On March 31, 1521 (Easter Sunday) Spanish friar Pedro Valderama conducted the first Catholic mass in Limasawa, Leyte. Rajah Kolambu, who forged a blood compact of friendship with Magellan two days earlier, attended along with Rajah Siagu.

First Filipino Christians
On April 14, 1521, Rajah Humabon, Rajah Kolambu, and 400 other Filipino natives were baptized into Christianity during a ceremony administered by friar Pedro Valderamma.

First Filipino Priest
In 1590, Martin Lakandula was ordained as an Augustinian priest, becoming the first native Filipino to serve as a friar. In 1906, Jorge Barlin became the first Filipino bishop under the Roman Catholic Church. The first Filipino archbishop was Viviano Gorordo while the first Filipino cardinal was Rufino Cardinal Santos.

First Chair
It was said that Filipinos first used a chair in April 1521 when Ferdinand Magellan gave Rajah Humabon of Cebu a red velvet Spanish chair. According to Halupi, a book of essays on Philippine history, early Filipinos used to sit on the floor.

First Spanish Monument
Also on April 14, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan planted a huge cross in Cebu. It was here where friar Valderama baptized Rajah Humabon, Rajah Kolambu and 400 other Filipinos into Christianity.

First Battle
On April 14, 1521, the first battle between Filipinos and the European conquerors took place in Mactan, Cebu. Filipino chieftain Lapu-lapu defeated Magellan and his men. After Magellan was killed, Sebastian del Cano led his men back to Spain, completing their voyage around the planet.

First Religious Order
The Franciscans were the first Catholic religious order to establish their presence in the Philippines. The Franciscans came here in 1577; Jesuits, 1581; Dominicans, 1587; Recollects, 1606; Paulists, 1862; Sisters of Charity, 1862; Capuchins, 1886; and Benedictines, 1895.

First Spanish-Filipino Marriage
In 1585, Spanish soldier Pablo Alvarez married Nicolasa de Alvarez, a native of Lubao, Pampanga.

First Muslims
Makdum, Rajah Baguinda and Abu Bakar propagated Islam in the Philippines in the 15th Century.

First Spanish Governor General
Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who founded the first European settlement in Cebu City in 1565, is considered the first Spanish governor general in the Philippines. He founded the city of Manila and declared it the capital of the archipelago on June 3, 1571. The last Spanish governor general in the Philippines was Riego delos Rios in 1898.

First Archbishop
Domingo Salazar was the first archbishop of the Philippines, which was regarded as a single diocese in the 1580s.

First Filipina Directress
According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, Sor Candida Ocampo was the first and only Filipino who became a directress of an Spanish institution in the Philippines. In 1594, Ocampo, who was born in Camarines Sur, was appointed as the directress of Colegio de Santa Isabel.

First Cannon Maker
Even before the Spaniards came to the Philippines, Filipino natives had already learned the trick of making cannons, perhaps from Chinese traders. Historians claimed that Panday Pira who lived between 1483 and 1576 had devised the cannons which Muslim leader Rajah Sulayman used to protect Manila against the invading Spanish troops. Panday Pira was from Tarlac.

First Chinese Kingdom
After attacking Manila, Chinese conqueror Limahong established a kingdom near the mouth of Agno River in Pangasinan province on December 3, 1574. Agno was the seat of the old civilization. Historians have mentioned one Princess Urduja who ruled Pangasinan before the Spaniards came. In 1660, Filipino leader Malong attempted to establish another kingdom in Pangasinan.

First Revolt
The first attempt to rise against Spanish colonial rule was carried out by chieftains of Bulacan led by Esteban Taes in 1587. On October 26, 1588, Spanish authorities discovered a plot by Magat Salamat of Hagonoy who tried to enlist the support of his relatives in Borneo.

First Filipino in Exile
Felipe Salonga of Polo, Bulacan (now Valenzuela City) became the first Filipino who was put in exile by Spanish authorities for starting a revolt in Bulacan in 1587. He was exiled to Mexico.

First Mention of King of Tagalogs
New historical writings have mentioned the name of one Raha Matanda or Rajah Ache (Lakandula) who ruled over Tondo, a kingdom encompassing an area that now includes Bulacan, Metro Manila, Rizal and Quezon in the 16th Century. Rajah Matanda was the heir to his father's throne and was a grandson of Sultan Siripada I (Bolkeiah I) of Borneo. In 1643, Don Pedro Ladia of Borneo who claimed to be a descendant of Rajah Matanda started a revolt and called himself the king of the Tagalog. He was executed in Manila. Historians said that when the troops of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi attacked Manila in 1571, the men of Rajah Soliman - the king of Manila - rose up in resistance.

In 1847, Apolinario dela Cruz of Tayabas was considered king of the Tagalogs. Bernardo Carpio, a mythical giant character, was also regarded as a king of the Tagalogs. In the 1900s, the revolutionary government proclaimed Macario Sakay as the president of the Tagalog Republic.

First Chinese Revolt
On October 3, 1603, the Chinese rose in revolt in Manila and was driven away to San Pablo, Laguna where they made their last stand.

First Juan dela Cruz
A certain Pantaleon Perez led the Pangasinan revolt on November 3, 1762. Perez assumed the name Juan dela Cruz Palaris. It was mentioned that on November 11, 1849, most illiterate Filipinos during the administration of Spanish governor general Narciso Claveria y Zaldua were given the Christian surname dela Cruz. Our great ancestors, who could not read and write, drew a cross as their signature on documents and so were known for their dela Cruz surnames. In contrast, Filipino descendants of rajahs and noble men were given the option to keep their names. Among the clans, who were also exempted from forced labor and paying taxes under the Spanish rule, were the Lakandulas, Solimans, Gatmaitans, Gatbontons, Salongas, Layas, Lapiras, Macapagals, Salamats, Manuguits, Balinguits, Banals, Kalaws, among others.

First Filipino
The first man who used Filipino as a title of citizenship was Luis Rodriguez Varela, a Spaniard who was born in Manila. He preferred to be called El Conde Pilipino in 1795. (Source: Halupi)

First Map
The first Philippine map was drawn in 1734 by Nicolas dela Cruz and Francisco Suarez under the instruction of Jesuit historian Pedro Murillo Velarde. The original map was 27 inches wide and 42 inches long.

First Dutch Presence
On June 10, 1647, a Dutch fleet arrived in Manila Bay and later attacked Cavite province.

First British Presence
On October 4, 1762, British forces invaded Manila. They took possession of Intramuros until May 31, 1764.

First Filipino Printer
The Spaniards introduced the art of printing in the Philippines, almost half a century before the Americans learned how to use it. It is believed that the first book in the country was Doctrina Christiana en letra y lengua China, which was printed in 1593 by Juan de Vera, a Filipino-Chinese. In 1948, Fray Jose Gonzales of the Dominican Order discovered this book in the Vatican Library. Tomas Pinpin is regarded as the first Filipino printer. He was born in Abucay, Bataan but records about his birth were lost after the Dutch invaders destroyed the town of Abucay in 1646. Pinpin learned the art of printing from the Chinese artisans when he worked in the shop of Filipino-Chinese printer, Luis Beltran.

Among his works were Arte y Reglas de la Lengua Tagala (1610) and the Librong Pag-aaralan nang mga Tagalog nang Uicang Castila (1610) printed in Bataan. From 1609 to 1639, Pinpin printed more than a dozen titles. Other literary pieces, which appeared during this period were the poems of Pedro Bukaneg (1590-1626), Fernando Bagongbanta (1605), and Pedro Ossorio (1625). The art of modern printing was discovered by German scholar Johannes Gutenberg (1394-1468). The Chinese, however, are credited for having developed their own system of printing, hundreds of years before Gutenberg was born.

First Newspaper
In 1637, Tomas Pinpin published Successos Felices (Fortunate Events), a 14-page newsletter in Spanish that is now widely regarded as the first Philippine newsletter. On December 1, 1846, La Esperanza, the first daily newspaper, was published in the country. Other early newspapers were La Estrella (1847), Diario de Manila (1848) and Boletin Oficial de Filipinas (1852). The first provincial newspaper was El Eco de Vigan (1884), which was issued in Ilocos.

First Magazine and Journal
Seminario Filipino, the first religious magazine in the country, was first issued in 1843. Meanwhile, El Faro Juridico became the first professional journal in the country when it saw print in 1882.

First Guide Book
According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the first guidebook in the Philippines (Guia de Forasteros) was printed in 1834.

First Novel
According to literary expert Bievenido Lumbera, the first Filipino novel was Ninay, written by Pedro Paterno and published in 1880. Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere was published in 1887 while El Filibusterismo came out of the press in 1891. The first English novel written in English by a Filipino was Zoilo Galang's A Child of Sorrow.

First Woman Writer and Poet
According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the first Filipino poetess was Leona Florentino of Ilocos while the first Filipino woman writer was Rosario de Leon of Pampanga. The first Filipino woman novelist, Galang added, was Magalena Jalandoni from Visayas while the first Filipino woman who wrote an English novel was Felicidad Ocampo.

First Non-Catholic Marriage
The first non-Catholic marriage in Manila under the Spanish control took place in the early 19th Century when American Henry Sturgis, who arrived in the country in 1827, married Josephina Borras of Manila. They were wed aboard a British warship at the Manila harbor.

First Bakery
In 1631, the Spanish government established and operated the first bakery in Manila.

First Drugstore
Botica Boie is considered the first drugstore in the country, having been established by Dr. Lorenzo Negrao in 1830.

First Lighthouse
In 1846, the Farola was built at the mouth of Pasig River, becoming the first lighthouse in the country.

First Electric Lamp
The first electric lamp in the country is said to be the one designed by Ateneo students in 1878, 12 years before Thomas Houston Electric Co. installed Manila's first electric street lights.

First Botanical Garden
In 1858, Governor General Fernando Norzagaray ordered the establishment of the Botanical Garden. It can now be found beside the Manila City Hall.

First Waterworks
Manila had its first centralized water system in July 1882 following the completion of the Carriedo waterworks, whose reservoir was in Marikina.

First Railroad
In 1892, a railway connecting Manila and Dagupan was completed. It was operated by the Manila Railroad Company.

First Telephone System
The first telegraph line was opened in 1873 while the country's first telephone system was established in Manila in 1890. Electric lines were first installed in 1895.

First Mining Firm
In the early 19th Century, Johann Andreas Zobel founded the first iron and copper mining firm in Bulacan and Baguio. The first Zobel in the country was Jacobo Zobel Hinsch, a German who went to Manila in 1849. One of the Zobels - Jacobo Zobel Zangroniz latter married Trinidad Ayala de Roxas, an heir of the rich Ayala and Roxas families.

First Calendar
The first calendar with a Philippine almanac was first released in 1897. The first issue of the calendar was titled "La Sonrisa".

First Filipino Chemist
Johann Andreas Zobel also founded the first chemical laboratory in the country. Meanwhile, Anacleto del Rosario is considered as the first Filipino chemist.

First Philanthropist
Dona Margarita Roxas de Ayala, a daughter of Domingo Roxas, is considered as the first philanthropist in the country. She assumed the control of the family's Casa Roxas in 1843 and was one of the founders of La Concordia College.

First Social Club
The first social club was established in Manila in 1898. It was the Filipino Independiente, a circle of educated and rich Filipino nationalists. It succeeded Jose Rizal's La Liga Filipina, which was more of a movement.

World's First Steel Church
The steel church of San Sebastian, now Basilica Minore, is considered as the world's first-ever all-steel basilica. Designed by Don Genaro Palacios in 1883, this small, jewel box church was prefabricated in Belgium. The steel plates, weighing about 50,000 tons were brought to the Philippines in six ships. The walls were filled with mixed gravel, sand and cement to fortify the structure. Stained glass windows from France were later installed. The church, an earthquake-proof structure, was completed in 1891. There were arguments that French architect Gustavo Eiffel, who designed the Eiffel Tower of Paris and Statue of Liberty in New York, was also the one who designed the San Sebastian Church.

First Hotel
It is believed that Hotel del Oriente in Binondo, Manila was the first hotel built in the Philippines. The hotel was a two-story building with 83 rooms fronting the Plaza de Carlos III. It was a first-class hotel constructed in the 1850s just beside the famous landmark, La Insular Cigarette and Cigar Factory. The national hero - Jose Rizal - reportedly stayed at Room 22 of that hotel, facing the Binondo Church. Hotel del Oriente was among the crown jewels of the old Binondo (or Minondoc as it was earlier known) which was named after binundok. It was part of the Provincia de Tondo (now Manila) and was declared one of its districts in 1859.

Both Hotel del Oriente and La Insular were burned down during the Japanese Occupation. The Metrobank building now occupies the former site of the two buildings. The oldest surviving hotel in the country is the Manila Hotel, which was built in 1912. The world's first hotel was the Tremont, which opened in Boston in 1829. It had a dining room for 200 people, 12 public rooms and 120 bedrooms.

First Republic
Early Philippine republics were Kakarong de Sili republic in Pandi, Bulacan; Tejeros Convention in Malabon; and Biak na Bato republic in San Miguel, Bulacan. Historians, however, wrote that the first real Philippine republic was established in Malolos, Bulacan on January 21, 1899. Two days later, the First Philippine Republic was inaugurated while General Emilio Aguinaldo was declared its first president.

First President of Katipunan
It was Deodato Arellano who became the first president of the Katipunan, a revolutionary movement against Spanish rule in the Philippines.

First Vice President
Mariano Trias is considered as the first Filipino vice-president who assumed the post in 1897.

First Army Chief
General Artemio Ricarte served as the first captain general of the Philippine Army which was established by the Tejeros Convention on March 22, 1897. Ricarte was replaced by General Antonio Luna on January 22, 1899.

First Calendar
The first calendar with a Philippine almanac was first released in 1897. The first issue of the calendar was titled "La Sonrisa".

First Protestant Mission
The first Presbyterian mission arrived in the country in April 1899. American couple Dr. and Mrs. James Rodgers led the mission.

First Filipino Protestant Minister
Nicolas Zamora, a former Catholic priest, later became the first ordained protestant minister in the Philippines.

First Election
The first municipal election in the Philippines was held in Baliuag, Bulacan under the supervision of American military governor general Arthur MacArthur on May 6, 1899.

First Ice Cream Parlor
In December 1899, Clarke's Ice Cream Parlor became the first ice cream parlor in the Philippines when it opened its store at Plaza Moraga in Binondo, Manila. Metcalf Clarke owned it.

First Autonomous Region
Before the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) were formed in the 1980s, Panay Island used to have "Cantonal Republic of Negros". The Americans, however, abolished the republic and turned Negros into a regular province on April 30, 1901.

First American Civil Governor
The first American civil governor in the Philippines became the 27th president of the United States. William Howard Taft, who served in the Philippines from 1901 to 1903, was also the only man who became a US president (1909-1912) and then a Supreme Court chief justice (1921-1930). Known for his weight of over 300 pounds, Taft became a very notable person in the US and the Philippines. One of the largest road networks in Metro Manila, the Taft Avenue, was named after him. President McKinley sent him to head the Philippine Commission in 1900. His task was to form a civil government in a country disrupted by the Spanish-American War and the rebellion led by General Emilio Aguinaldo, whom local historians called the country's first president.

First Superintendent of Manila Schools
Dr. David Prescott Barrows, one of the passengers of American ship USAT Thomas, was appointed the first superintendent of schools for Manila and later the first director of the Bureau of Education. USAT Thomas was named after General George Henry Thomas, a hero of the Battle of Chickamauga during the American Civil War. American journalist Frederic Marquardt coined the term Thomasites to refer to American teachers who came to the Philippines aboard USAT Thomas in 1901. (Source: Panorama Magazine)

First Filipino Superintendent
Camilo Osias was the first Filipino division superintendent of schools. Osias later became a senator.

First American College
The Philippine Normal School (PNS) was the first college established in the country under the American government. PNS opened its campus to Filipino students in Manila on September 1, 1901. It became the Philippine Normal University on January 11, 1992.

First Concrete Building
According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the Kneedler Building was the first concrete office building in the Philippines.

First Filipino Chief Justice
In 1901, Cayetano Arrelano became the first Filipino chief justice of the court.

First Registered Professionals
A friend of Jose Rizal, Dr. Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, holds the distinction of being the first doctor to sign in the Book I of Registered Professionals on January 25, 1902. Pardo de Tavera, a scientist, was a part of the first Civil Government in the 1900s. Among the members of the Pharmacy profession, it was Dr. Leon Ma. Guerrero who appeared as the first registrant on the second earliest compiled Book I. The date was May 22, 1903. Guerrero is known in history books as the first among many Filipinos to put the Philippines on the scientific map of the world. In Book I of Dentistry, it was Dr. Wallace G. Skidmore who first registered on September 21, 1903. The Board of Dentistry was the first board of professionals created in 1899. The idea of organizing the boards of professionals came from the Americans who occupied the Philippines in 1899. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

First Inventor
In 1853, the Spanish colonial government awarded a gold medal to Candido Lopez Diaz, a Filipino who invented a machine for Manila hemp or abaka.

First Filipino Chemist
Johann Andreas Zobel also founded the first chemical laboratory in the country. Meanwhile, Anacleto del Rosario is considered as the first Filipino chemist.

First Dentist
Bonifacio Arevalo is widely considered as the first Filipino dentist. In 1908, he was the founding president of Sociedad Dental de Filipinas, the first dental organization in the country. In 1912, Colegio Dental del Liceo de Manila became the first dental school. The first woman dentist was Catalina Arevalo.

First Economist
According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the first Filipino economist was Gregorio Sanciangco.

First Pilot
Leoncio Malinas is considered as the first Filipino pilot. He first flew his plane on April 20, 1920.

First Accountants
Vicente Fabella is considered as the first Filipino certified public accountant (CPA) and Belen Enrile Gutierrez, the first woman CPA in the country.

First Cardiologist
The first Filipino cardiologist was Dr. Mariano Alimurung, who became an honorary member of the Mexican Society of Cardiology.

First West Point Graduate
Vicente Lim was the first Filipino who graduated from the prestigious West Point Academy, a military school in the United States.

First Female Professionals
Among Filipino women, it was Maria Francisco de Villacerna who became the first lawyer; Honoria Acosta-Sison, first physician; Catalina Arevalo, first dentist; Encarnacion Alzona, first historian; Celia Castillo, first sociologist; Filomena Francisco, first pharmacist; Belen Enrile Gutierrez, first CPA; Socorro Simuangco, first dermatologist; Carmen Concha, first film director and producer; Criselda J. Garcia-Bausa, first paleontologist; Felipe Landa Jocano, first anthropologist; and Ali Macawaris, first oceanographer.

A visitor of this website said that Elena Ruiz Causin of Cebu could be among the first female lawyers in the country.

First Railroad
The Manila-Dagupan Railroad was completed in 1901, becoming the country's first railway system.

First Automobile
In 1900, La Estrella del Norte shipped from France to the Philippines a "George Richard", the first ever automobile to have landed on the native soil. Its owner was one Dr. Miciano, a rich doctor. The first shipment of automobiles for sale in the country was in 1907, with Bachrach Motors, an affiliate of American firm Ford Motor Co. as the importer.

First Labor Union
Isabelo delos Reyes, a writer, established the Union Obrera Democratica, the first organized labor union in the country on February 2, 1902.

First Political Party
On November 6, 1902, Pedro Paterno, a writer, scholar and former prime minister of President Emilio Aguinaldo, founded the Liberal political party.

First Opera
In 1905, Magdapio, the first Filipino opera, was staged at Zorilla Theater. Pedro Paterno wrote the opera, which was set to the music of Bonus.

First Convention of Governors
For the first time on October 2, 1906, the governors of Philippine provinces met in a convention in Manila. Sergio Osmena presided the convention.

First General Elections
The country's first general elections were held on July 30, 1907 under the American government. The people elected the members of the First Philippine Assembly.

First Speaker
The first speaker of the Philippine Assembly, whose members were elected in 1907, was Sergio Osmena.

First Actor in Politics
Before Lito Lapid became governor of Pampanga and Bong Revilla assumed the governorship of Cavite, Jose Padilla Sr., a movie actor in the 1930s, had served as the provincial governor of Bulacan. The first actor who invaded the senate was Rogelio dela Rosa.

First Diplomats
Benito Legarda and Pablo Ocampo were the first Filipino resident commissioners to the Unites States.

First Labor Day
The first Labor Day in the Philippines was celebrated on May 1, 1913 during the first National Labor Congress in Manila.

First Film
The first Filipino-produced film, "La Vida de Rizal" was released in 1912. Jose Nepomuceno produced the first Filipino full-length film "Dalagang Bukid" in 1919.

First Actor in Politics
Before Lito Lapid became governor of Pampanga and Bong Revilla assumed the governorship of Cavite, Jose Padilla Sr., a movie actor in the 1930s, had served as the provincial governor of Bulacan. The first actor who invaded the senate was Rogelio dela Rosa.

First Movie Theater
Salon de Pertierra, the country's first movie theater, was built in Escolta, Manila in 1897. A short French film was first shown in the threater.

First Comic Stip
"Kenkoy" is considered as the first comic strip in the Philippines. Cartoonist Tony Velasquez first published the comic strip in 1929.

First TV Station
Alto Broadcasting System (ABS) Channel 3, the first television station in the country, went on the air in 1953.

First Woman Cabinet Officials
Sofira Reyes de Veyra served as "social secretary" under the Quezon and Roxas administrations. In 1941, former President Elpidio Quirino named Asuncion Arriola Perez as the secretary of the Bureau of Public Welfare.

First Woman Senator
Geronima Pecson was elected to senate in 1947, opening the doors for Filipino women who wanted to join national politics.

First Olympian
David Nepomuceno, a Filipino serving in the US Navy, was the first Filipino Olympian. A sprinter, Nepomuceno was the country's sole representative to the 1924 Olympics, which was held in Paris.

First Balagtasan
The first balagtasan, a local term for poetic debate in honor of Francisco Balagtas, took place in Manila on April 6, 1924. The first participants were Jose Corazon de Jesus and Florentino Collantes.

First International Opera Singer
Before Lea Salonga became famous in London, New York and Paris for her portrayal of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon, a Filipino woman had long gained international recognition in the world of theater. Jovita Fuentes became famous in Europe for her opera lead roles in Madama Butterfly, Turandot, La Boheme, Iris, Salome and Li Tae Pe in the 1930s.

First Grand Opera
Noli Me Tangere, an adaptation of Jose Rizal's first novel became the first Filipino full-length or grand opera in 1957.

First Woman Barber
In June 1927 issue of Philippine Free Press, Martina Lunud from Olongapo City was featured as "Manila's Lady Barber" who could also be the first professional woman barber. She had to find her niche in the male-dominated profession and worked for La Marina barbershop and People's barbershop in Sta. Cruz, Manila later. "This is not a girl's work, I think, but I have done my best to a certain extent, and my customers like my work," the Free Press quoted Lunud as saying. (Source: Ambeth Ocampo, Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Asia's First Airline
The Philippine Airlines (PAL), which was established in 1941, takes pride in being Asia's oldest commercial airline. However, huge financial losses forced its owner Lucio Tan to close the airline in September 2000. It resumed operations a few months later. The first commercial flight in the country was recorded on March 15, 1941 when a twin-engine Beech Model 18 owned by PAL carried five passengers from Manila to Baguio City in 45 minutes.

First Senate President
The country's first senate president was Manuel Quezon (1917-1935) under the US government. The senate has produced a number of presidents and political luminaries such as Manuel Roxas, Sergio Osmena, Claro M. Recto, Jose Laurel, Camilo Osias, Eulogio Rodriguez, Juan Sumulong, Quintin Paredes, Lorenzo Tanada, Jose Diokno, Benigno Aquino, Ferdinand Marcos, Arturo Tolentino, Gil Puyat, Jovito Salonga, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

First Female Justice
Cecilia Munoz Palma became the first woman to top the bar exam with a score of 92.6 percent in 1935. Palma also became the first female prosecutor in 1947, the first woman judge at the Court of First Instance in the 1950s, first female justice of the Supreme Court in 1973 and first female president of a constitutional commission in 1986.

First House Speaker Under Republic
Eugenio Perez of San Carlos, Pangasinan became the first speaker of the House of Representatives under the Republic in 1946. Among the laws passed during his tenure were the Magna Carta for Labor, the Minimum Wage Law, the Rural Bank Law and the Central Bank charter.

First Woman Cabinet Officials
Sofira Reyes de Veyra served as "social secretary" under the Quezon and Roxas administrations. In 1941, former President Elpidio Quirino named Asuncion Arriola Perez as the secretary of the Bureau of Public Welfare.

First Woman Senator
Geronima Pecson was elected to senate in 1947, opening the doors for Filipino women who wanted to join national politics.

First Woman Battalion Commander
Lt. Col. Ramona Palabrica-Go became the first woman battalion commander in the history of the male-dominated Philippine Army in January 2003. She was appointed as commander of the elite Aviation Battalion under the Light Armor Brigade based at Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija province. She was 45 years old and had three children at the time of appointment.

First National Celebration of June 12
The first national celebration of June 12 as Independence Day took place in 1962 under the Macapagal administration. Former President Diosdado Macapagal signed the law moving the celebration of the holiday from July 4 to June 12 on May 12, 1962. Quezon Representative Manuel Enverga was the one who proposed the law.

First US President To Visit Manila
US President Dwight Eisenhower became the first incumbent American president to have visited the Philippines when he arrived in Manila on June 14, 1960.

First National Artist
Fernando Amorsolo, a painter, was the first national artist declared by the Philippine government. The award was conferred on Amorsolo in April 1972, several days after his death.

First American Multinational Firm
Computer chips manufacturer Intel Philippines Mfg. Inc. claimed that it was the first American multinational company that established a branch in the Philippines in 1974. Today, the Philippine branch of Intel is one of the top exporters of semiconductor components in the country and contributes significantly to the cash flow of its mother company in the US, which is said to be the world's largest corporation in terms of gross income.

First Aeta Lawyer
At 26, Wayda Cosme became the first Aeta to become a lawyer when she passed the bar exam in 2001. Cosme, a law graduate from Harvadian Colleges in San Fernando City, Pampanga, works for the Clark Development Corp. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

First Woman President
In February 1986, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, widow of the late Senator Benigno Aquino, became the country's first woman president and the country's 11th president. In January 2001, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a daughter of the late President Diosdado Macapagal, became the 14th president of the Philippines and the second woman to assume the government's highest post.

First President in Prison
Deposed President Joseph Estrada, who lost the presidency to a military-backed people's revolt, was arrested on charges of plunder and corruption in April 2001. His arrest fomented the now infamous May 1 mob revolt that was suppressed by government forces. As this was being written, the trial of Estrada was still ongoing at the Sandiganbayan or the anti-graft court.

First Muslim Justice Secretary
In January 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed Simeon Datumanong, a Muslim, as the secretary of the Department of Justice, replacing Hernando Perez, who resigned on corruption charges.

First Award of Ancestral Domain
In what the Arroyo government described as a historic event and the first in the world, it awarded on July 20, 2002 a certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT) for the town of Bakun in Benguet province where some 17,000 Kankanaey and Bago people live. The title covers some 29,444 hectares of ancestral land.

Oldest in the Philippines

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Oldest Province
Aklan, originally known as Minuro it Akean, is considered as the oldest province in the country and believed to have been established as early as 1213 by settlers from Borneo. Its first ruler was Datu Dinagandan. In 1399, Kalantiaw grabbed the throne. In 1433, Kalantiaw III formulated a set of laws that is known today as the Code of Kalantiaw.

Oldest Town
Unisan, Quezon could be the oldest town in the Philippines. The people of Unisan claimed that their town is now 481 years old, having been established in 1521, the same year that Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines. All other towns in the country were established not earlier than 1565, when Spain formally occupied the Philippines as a colony.

A Malayan queen named Ladya reportedly founded Calilayan, the old name of the town. In 1876, Calilayan was renamed Unisan which was derived from the Latin word uni-sancti, meaning "holy saint". (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Oldest City
Cebu City is considered as the oldest city in the country, as this was the site of the earliest European settlement established by Spanish conqueror Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565.

Oldest Fort
The first Spanish settlement in the country, Villa del Santisimo Nombre de Jesus, was located inside Fort San Pedro in Cebu City. The fort's construction began in 1565.

Oldest Street
Calle Colon in Cebu City is considered as the oldest street in the country. Named after explorer Christopher Columbus, Calle Colon was first constructed in 1565 by men of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.

Oldest Stone Church
The Baclayon Church in Bohol is considered as the oldest stone church in the Philippines. But some historians disagree, claiming that San Agustin Church in Manila deserves the title.

Church historians claim that the cornerstones of San Agustin Church were laid as early as 1571, 25 years before Baclayon Church was built in 1596. But most people believe the title should be kept by the latter, since it is situated in the island first occupied by the troops of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the country's first Spanish governor general.
Bohol was where a friendship was sealed with blood between chieftain Rajah Sikatuna and Legazpi. The event is known today as ''The Blood Compact.''

Oldest Hospital
The San Lazaro Hospital could be the oldest hospital in the country. According to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the San Lazaro hospital was established in 1578; Enfermeria de Naga, 1583; and Hospital de San Juan de Dios, 1596.

Oldest Church Bell
The oldest church bell in the country is said to be the one found in Camalaniugan, Cagayan. That bell was reportedly forged in 1595.

Oldest Bridge
The Jones Bridge, formerly known as Puente de Espana, was first built in 1701. It was rebuilt by the Americans in 1916 and renamed after Atkinson Jones.

Oldest University
The University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu City is considered as the oldest school in the country and in Asia. Formerly known as the Colegio de San Ildefonso, it was founded by the Spanish Jesuits on August 1, 1595. This makes the Cebu-based university older than the University of Santo Tomas (1611) in Manila and Harvard University (1636) in the United States.

The University of Santo Tomas, however, contests this title. Formerly known as the Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Rosario, UST was the first school, which got a university status in 1645. USC became a university in 1948. UST also claimed that the original USC was closed in 1769 as a result of the expulsion of the Jesuits. It reopened in 1783 under a new name and ownership. But the USC officials stick to their claim. The university observed its 400th foundation day on August 21, 1995.

Oldest Vocational School
The Don Honorio Ventura College of Arts and Trades (DHVCAT) in Bacolor, Pampanga is said to be the oldest vocational school in Asia. Augustinian Friar Juan Zita and civic leader Don Felino Gil established the vocational school on November 4, 1861.

Oldest Company
Ayala Corp., one of the largest conglomerates in the country, is also the oldest existing company around. It was established in 1834 by sugar barons Domingo Roxas and Antonio de Ayala. It was later renamed as Casa Ayala, then as Ayala y Compania and recently as Ayala Corp.

Oldest Bank
In 1881, Domingo Roxas, an ancestor of the Ayala family, became one of the first directors of Banco Español-Filipino de Isabel II, which was founded by virtue of a royal decree issued by Queen Isabel II. The bank issued the country's first currency notes the following year. Considered as the first private commercial bank in the country, the bank came to be known as the Bank of Philippine Islands in 1912. The oldest savings bank was Monte de Piedad, which was established in 1882.

Oldest Military Supply Shop
The oldest military supply shop in the country was said to be Alfredo Roensch and Co.

Oldest Rizal Monument
What can be considered as the oldest Rizal monument in the country is a 20-foot metal structure standing at a park in Daet, Camarines Norte. Its construction reportedly began on December 30, 1898 and was finished in February 1899. In comparison, the Rizal monument at the former Luneta park was built in 1912.
Oldest Vice
The earliest vice among native Filipinos, according to historians, was the chewing of betelnut or "nganga". It was said that Filipinos had been chewing betelnut for 3,000 years.

Oldest Insurance Firm
Insular Life Insurance Company was established on November 26, 1910, becoming the oldest insurance agency in the country.

Oldest Epics
In a 1962 study, E. Arsenio Manuel said the country had at least 19 epics, which were passed to the present generation from our early ancestors through oral chanting. Among these so-called ethnoepics were 13 epics among pagan Filipinos, 2 among Christian Filipinos, and 4 among Muslim Filipinos. These included the Ilocano epic Lam-ang, Manuvu's Tuwaang, Sulod's Hinilawod and Maranaw's Bantugan.

Important Dates

More Trivia

January 1 - a holiday in the Philippines; revelry starts on the night of December 31.

January 20, 2001 - Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo replaced President Joseph Estrada via a military-backed people's revolt.

January 23, 1899 - The First Philippine Republic was inaugurated in Malolos.

February 5, 1899 - Emilio Aguinaldo, president of the First Philippine Republic, declared war against the United States.

February 17, 1872- Three Filipino priests - Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomez and Jacinto Zamora - were executed in Bagumbayan.

February 18, 1565 - Miguel Lopez de Legazpi landed in Samar; took possession of the island.

February 22-26, 1986 - Filipinos launched the so-called People Power revolution that led to the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos.

March 11, 1942 - General Douglas MacArthur fled from the Philippines; vowed to return.

March 16, 1521 - Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines; landed in Samar.

March 23, 1901 - President Emilio Aguinaldo surrendered to American forces in Palanan, Isabela; later took an allegiance to the Americans.

March 29, 1942 - Luis Taruk organized the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap), an underground guerilla movement.

March 31, 1521 - The first mass was held in Limasawa Island.

April 9, 1942 - Bataan fell to Japanese forces.

April 11, 1899 - By virtue of Treaty of Paris, Spain ceded the Philippines to the US; sold for US$20 million.

April 26, 1898 - The United States and Spain declared war against each other over the Philippines, Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico.

April 27, 1521 - Battle of Mactan; Magellan was killed by men of Lapu-Lapu.

April 30, 1937 - Filipino women won the right to vote during a plebiscite.

May 1, 1913 - The first Labor Day was celebrated in the country.

May 1, 2001 - Some 20,000 supporters of deposed President Joseph Estrada attacked Malacanang Palace in what is now known as the mob rebellion.

May 6, 1899 - The first municipal election was held in Baliuag, Bulacan under American supervision.

May 6, 1942 - American and Filipino forces in Corregidor Island surrendered to Japanese forces.

May 10, 1897 - Andres Bonifacio was executed at Mount Buntis in Maragondon, Cavite by men of Emilio Aguinaldo.

May 14, 1935 - Filipinos ratified the 1935 Constitution.

May 19, 1571 - Miguel Lopez de Legazpi defeated Raha Sulayman; claimed Manila for Spain.

June 10, 1647 - Dutch fleet attacked Cavite; later lost to Spaniards.

June 12, 1898 - Emilio Aguinaldo declared the Philippines' independence from Spain, its colonial master for 333 years.

June 19, 1861 - Jose Rizal was born in Calamba, Laguna.

July 4, 1901 - William Howard Taft became the first American civil governor in the country.

July 4, 1946 - The United States declared the independence of the Philippines.

August 8, 1967 - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) was established, with the Philippines as a founding member.

August 21, 1971 - A bomb explosion disrupted a meeting of Liberal Party politicians at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila.

August 21, 1983 - Benigno Aquino on his return from exile in the US was shot dead at the airport.

August 23, 1896 - The Katipuneros led by Andres Bonifacio met at Pugad Lawin in Balintawak and tore their cedulas, in defiance to Spanish authority.

August 23, 1901 - The US Ship Thomas, with 600 American teachers on board, arrived in Manila. These teachers were later called Thomasites.

August 25 - National Heroes Day

August 30, 1951 - The RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty was approved under the Quirino administration.

September 21, 1972 - President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law; lifted it on January 17, 1981.

September 29, 1901 - A US general ordered his troops to "shoot anything that moves" in what is now known as Balangiga massacre in Samar.

October 4, 1762 - British forces sieged Intramuros; Spaniard later reclaimed the walled city.

October 20, 1944 - General Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines via Palo, Leyte.

November 1 - a holiday; All Saint's Day

November 1, 1542 - Ruy Lopez de Villalobos named the archipelago Felipinas after King Felipe II of Spain.

November 1, 1897 - Emilio Aguinaldo and his supporters established the Biak na Bato Republic.

November 30, 1863 - Andres Bonifacio was born in Manila.

December 10, 1898 - The US and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris; the former acquired the Philippines from the latter for US$20 million.

December 10, 1941 - Japanese forces attacked Manila; occupied the city on January 2, 1942.

December 14, 1897 - The revolutionary government led by Emilio Aguinaldo signed a peace pact with the Spanish government. Aguinaldo went to Hong Kong.

December 25 - Christmas day

December 30, 1896 - Jose Rizal was executed in Bagumbayan.

December 30, 1937 - President Manuel L. Quezon declared Tagalog as the basis of the national language.

Philippine Presidents,

History of the Philippines

More Trivia

The Philippines, a group of over 7,000 islands with combined land area encompassing 300,000 square kilometres, grew into a nation under more than three centuries of Spanish conquest and 42 years of American rule. It is the first country outside the New World that closely witnessed the United States’ rise to power following the 1898 Spanish-American War.

Situated 800 kilometres southeast of mainland Asia, the archipelago, named after King Philip II of Spain, was discovered in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan, the same explorer who had discovered the Pacific Ocean in search of the so-called “Spice Islands” and is now widely considered the first navigator to have cruised around the planet.

Ironically, the Filipinos, after having been subdued for centuries by foreign colonizers as a result of Magellan’s voyage, would emerge as the best seafarers in the world, manning a third of all international vessels today. Some 7.8 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and Filipino migrants would help rebuild cities in many countries and bring back over US$10 billion in annual remittances to their families in the Philippines.

The country’s geographical location and long exposure to foreign influences has placed the Philippines on a unique cultural base in Asia. It is now the only predominantly Catholic country in the region, with 70 million out of its total population of 85 million (as of 2005) confessing to be Catholic. There are also large numbers of Protestants and Born-Again Christians in the country while the Muslim population is concentrated in southern Mindanao.

Early Trade
The first inhabitants of the Philippines were the Negritos who traveled from mainland Asia over a land bridge that is now underwater. Migrants from other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia later followed and established a Malayan culture that flourished before the Spaniards came. Chinese and Arab merchants helped establish markets at the community level.

A sultanate system, first established in the southern island of Sulu in the 14th century, is believed to have reached the islands of Luzon and Visayas, giving way to the rise of the Islamic faith. The Spaniards would later drive the Muslims to the south and establish Catholicism as the main religion in the north and central parts of the country.

Local villages, known as barangay, traded agricultural and fishery products with each other. The Igorot tribe in Northern Luzon carved the marvellous Banaue Rice Terraces from the mountains, a proof of their advanced agriculture technology. Communities near the shore exchanged goods with Chinese and Arab merchants, who came aboard large ships. These communities traded slaves, gold, beeswax, betel nuts, pearls, and shells for porcelain, silk, iron, tin and semi-precious stones.

The Philippine islands were a part of an extensive trade route used by Chinese merchants as early as the 10th century. By the time Magellan arrived in the islands, regular trade and cultural contact between Chinese traders and local chieftains were firmly instituted. Many Chinese merchants settled in the country and shared their crafts with the natives. Some historians claim that an Italian Franciscan priest, named Father Odorico, was actually the first European to have reached the Philippines in 1324 when his ship bound for China took refuge from a storm in Bolinao Island in northern part of Luzon.

Aside from the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Cordillera Mountains, early settlers did not leave any giant monument, and this is what makes conservative historians doubt the existence of the rich kingdoms in the country hundreds of years ago. However, it cannot be denied that early Filipinos were learned individuals who expressed their beliefs and sentiments in rich languages. According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), there are actually 78 language groupings and over 500 dialects in the Philippines.

Feudal Society
Magellan, who claimed the archipelago for Spain in 1521, died in a battle with a group of local warriors led by Lapu Lapu at Mactan Island. It was Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, in the fourth Spanish expedition, who named the territory as Filipinas after the heir to the Spanish throne in 1543. In 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi led an expedition to colonize the islands and by 1571, most parts of the archipelago came under Spanish rule.

The Spaniards established the colonial government first in Cebu in 1565 and then in Manila in 1571. Historians claim that University of San Carlos in Cebu and University of Sto. Tomas in Manila are the oldest universities teaching European type of education in Asia. Jesuit and Dominican priests established the two institutions.

Under Spanish rule, Catholicism became the dominant religion. Catholic friars not only lorded over the congregations; they enjoyed vast political and economic influence, which they eventually used to repress Filipino peasants’ uprisings in the largely feudal Philippine society at that time. The Spaniards also quelled a number of rebellions instigated by the Chinese migrants. The friars distributed lands to Spanish families, who later comprised the landowning class. To perpetuate their economic interests, this class would also rise to become the political elite that would remain in power to this day.

This gave way to the hacienda system in the Philippines, where cacique or landowners managed large tracts of lands tilled by peasant workers. Under the system, farmers were supposed to receive half of the harvest, but they usually ended up with much less because they had to pay for large interests on debt incurred from the cacique. This would be later corrected with a system of land reform, which, however, remains to be fully implemented to this day.

Galleon Trade
The Manila-Acapulco galleon trade became the major trading system between Asia and the Americas for nearly two centuries. Manila became a transhipment point of American silver to China. It was through this trade that the first Chinese silk and porcelain reached the shores of the New World. There were unverified claims that Filipinos helped build the city of Los Angeles in America. The Chinese and Filipinos would later become the two largest Asian migrant groups in the United States.

Coconut became the country’s top agricultural product, because of Spain’s huge need for charcoaled coconut shells used for the caulking of the galleons. In 1642, the colonial government issued an edict requiring each Filipino to plant 200 coconut trees all over the country. By 1910, coconut exports would account for a fifth of total Philippine exports and to this day, coconut oil remains the country’s top agricultural shipment.

The Galleon Trade lasted for about 200 years until 1815. It is during this period that rice and tropical fruits from the Philippines such as mango and banana made their way to Latin America. Beginning 1750, Spanish priests encouraged the development of plantations to grow abaca (hemp), tobacco, coffee and sugar. Sugar barons from the Visayas would later emerge as among the richest clans in the country.

From 1762 to 1764, the British briefly captured Manila during the Seven Years War. The treaty of Paris ended the British occupation and returned the colony to the hands of their original colonial masters.

Plantation Crops
In 1781, the Spanish governor established the tobacco monopoly in the Philippines, which would become a major source of revenue for the colonial government. From 1820 to 1870, the Philippines would be transformed to an agricultural export economy. Located on the oceanic trading routes connecting Asia to other parts of the world, the Philippines became a transhipment point of merchandise goods from all over Southeast Asia on their way to Europe.

The Philippines exported plantation crops such as sugar, abaca, other fibres, tobacco, coffee, and coconut products to China, Spain, United States, United Kingdom and British East Indies. In return, it imported textiles and rice.

Historians claim that Spain administered the Philippine affairs through Mexico. Spanish administrators in the country were actually reporting to the Viceroyalty of Mexico. After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, Madrid directly governed its only Asian colony and even allowed rich Filipinos to study in Europe. The Spanish rule gave way to the rise of a small but highly powerful elite class, which to this day, controls most of the Philippine economy. The elite families, which own large plantations, were able to send their children to Europe for education.

Foreign Investors
Investors from Spain, Germany, Britain and other European countries laid the groundwork for utility companies in steam navigation, cable, telegraphy, railroads and electricity in the country. They also invested heavily in rice and sugar milling, textile and banking. The local elite developed the brewing industry, which would become one of the most profitable sectors in the economy.

Although the educated Filipinos who studied in Europe shunned the use of force to topple the colonial government, their writings provoked nationalist sentiments among young men, who eventually formed a revolutionary movement against Spain. In 1896, the war between Spanish and Filipino soldiers escalated following the death of novelist Jose Rizal and rebel leader Andres Bonifacio. Emilio Aguinaldo, the new leader of the revolutionary forces, forged a pact with US Commodore George Dewey in Hong Kong to defeat the Spanish army.

American Colony
The Americans entered the scene because of its conflict with Spain over Cuba. With the outbreak of the Spanish-American war in the Pacific, the Philippines had to be taken by the US, lest other European countries such as Britain, France and Germany would fight for their next Southeast Asian colony. On June 12, 1898, Aguinaldo, first backed by American forces, declared the independence of Kawit, Cavite, the seat of the revolutionary Filipino government at that time, from Spanish rule. The Americans took possession of Manila on August 13, 1898.

While armed clashes with Spanish forces continued in other parts of the country, the Americans and the Spaniards were negotiating for the purchase of the Philippines for US$20 million. In the Treaty of Paris in 1898, Spain ceded the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam to the US.

Filipinos felt insulted at the fact that their country has been passed from one colonial master to another for only US$20 million. When the US, which had not conquered any country before, made known its intention to succeed Spain as the next colonizer of the Philippines, Aguinaldo and his men waged a revolutionary resistance that ended with his capture in March 1901. The American soldiers easily subdued the remaining factions of rebellion with the help of their powerful weapons and their divide-and-conquer tactic.

As an archipelago of 7,000 islands, the Philippines is home to different ethnic groups which do not speak the same language. The national government’s attempt to declare Tagalog (spoken in Central and Southern Luzon including Metro Manila) as the national language would not easily win the support of other regions.

The Philippine-American war took the lives of 4,234 American and 16,000 Filipino soldiers. The death toll was much higher on the civilian population, with as high as 200,000 casualties. Although local resistance persisted until 1903, the US ended its military rule on July 4, 1901.

American Way
Under American civilian rule, the Philippines was introduced to US-type of education, Protestant religion, and later to the concept of democracy. Placed under US control were most parts of the country, except in the southern portion of Mindanao where Muslim rebels held strong resistance.

William Howard Taft, the 27th US president, was the first American Civil Governor in the Philippines. Taft was praised for establishing a civil service system, creating a national legislature, suppressing prices, upgrading health standards, and sponsoring land reform and road building in the country.

In 1907, the First Philippine Assembly composed of educated and rich Filipinos with vast landholdings. Manuel L. Quezon, who represented the Philippines in the US Congress, lobbied for the passage of the Jones Law, which in 1916 abolished the Philippine Assembly to give way for a bicameral legislature made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

With the passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Act in 1934, Filipinos had their first taste of self-rule through the Philippine Commonwealth, a transitional government designed to prepare the Filipinos over a ten-year period for independence. By 1935, the Commonwealth was in place with Quezon as its first president. The Philippines also approved a new constitution in the same year.

The United States is credited for helping establish the Republic of the Philippines, the first democratic government in Asia. Economically, the Philippines was ahead of its Asian neighbours, who were still subjects of European colonial powers before the war.

Japanese Invasion
In December 1941, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the Philippines and drove the Commonwealth Government from Manila. While Quezon continued to head the government-in-exile until his death in New York in August 1944, the Japanese forces handpicked Jose P. Laurel, a graduate of Yale University and Tokyo International University, to head a new government under their control.

The Philippines was dragged into the war because of Japan’s military ambition to become the dominant force in Asia and the Pacific. Japan wanted to be the leader of an economic zone in East Asia, which would be the source of its raw materials. The US presence in the Philippines, known for its strategic location in Southeast Asia, was the largest threat to the Japanese forces, following the destruction of the American Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

While the American forces were regrouping in the United States, Filipino soldiers formed a guerrilla organization called Hukbalahap (People's Anti-Japanese Army). Some 30,000 guerrillas at that time engaged the Japanese army in intermittent clashes. The Hukbalahap would later adopt the communist ideology and rule in the countryside.

Meanwhile, Sergio Osmeña replaced Quezon as the head of the government-in-exile and joined General Douglas MacArthur in the liberation of Manila. General MacArthur returned to the Philippines via the island province of Leyte, along with 174,000 army and navy servicemen on October 20, 1944.

The liberation of Manila took almost 20 days from February 3 to 23, 1945 and the fierce battle destroyed much of the city, with its ruins now often compared to the ruins of Warsaw, Poland in Europe. The Japanese army, however, continued to fight in the provinces, until September 2, 1945 when General Yamashita, the Tiger of Malaya who was believed to have hidden vast amount of treasures during the war, surrendered in Baguio City.

It is estimated that the battle of Manila cost the lives of 1 million Filipinos, 300,000 Japanese and 60,000 Americans. The intensity of the US-Japan war would force the former to drop an atomic bomb in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and in Nagasaki three days later.

US Bases
By February 1945, Osmeña restored the Commonwealth in the Philippines but it was only on July 4, 1946 that the US granted the Philippines its independence, coinciding with the celebration of the Independence Day in America.

However, US military bases would remain in the country for the next 45 years. On March 14, 1947, Manila and Washington signed the Treaty of General Relation, which provided the US to construct military bases for a lease period of 99 years. In 1959, the agreement was amended to shorten the lease period until 1991, after which both sides were to renegotiate the contract.

When the US sought a ten-year extension of the lease period in 1991, the Philippine Senate, led by Senate President Jovito Salonga, rejected the proposal in a historic casting of vote on September 16, ending US military bases in the country.

With newfound freedom in 1946, Filipinos elected Manuel A. Roxas, leader of the Liberal Party and one of the seven members of the Constitutional Convention who drafted the 1935 Constitution, as the first president of the independent republic in April 1946. His presidency was focused on rebuilding the cities and municipalities torn by the war, redistributing lands as wealthy landowners returned to reclaim their estates, and confronting the Hukbalahap, which by this time was tagged as a socialist-communist organization. The economy grew at a rapid pace, immediately after the war.

Special Treatment
Close economic ties between Manila and Washington continued after the war on the back of agreements providing for preferential tariffs for American exports and special treatment for US investors in the Philippines. In the 1946 Philippine Trade Act, the Americans were granted duty-free access to the Philippine market and special rights to exploit the country’s natural resources. Because of the Trade Act, the Philippines suffered a huge trade deficit with the influx of American imports. In 1949, the Philippine government was forced to impose import controls, after getting the consent of Washington.

Roxas’ two-year presidency ended with his death, following a heart attack while delivering a speech at Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga province in April 1948. Vice president Elpidio Quirino succeeded Roxas as president and defeated Jose P. Laurel to keep his post in the 1949 presidential race. It was during Quirino’s term that the Minimum Wage Law was enacted and the Central Bank was established to stabilize the peso and consumer prices. The country’s gross national product grew by an average of 7.7 percent annually in the early 1960s, on the back of the double-digit increase in the manufacturing sector.

In the 1953 presidential election, Ramon Magsaysay, who had served as defense secretary under the Quirino administration, won by a landslide. The charismatic Magsaysay initiated peace talks with the Hukbalahap, which would later evolve into a communist organization. He became popular for opening the gates of Malacanang Palace to ordinary people. He died in a plane crash on Mount Manunggal in Cebu in March 1957, which to this day remains a mystery to many Filipinos.

While the standard of living in the Philippines was below that of the Western World, the country was often cited as the second richest economy in Asia, after Japan in the 1960s. However, ill-advised economic policies, poor governance and rapid population growth in the country would allow other Asian economies such as Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand and China not only to catch up with but to leave the Philippines behind in the race towards industrialization.

Filipino First
Vice President Carlos P. Garcia assumed the country’s top government post following the death of Magsaysay. Garcia was known for his First Filipino Policy and Austerity Program, which put the interests of Filipinos ahead those of foreigners. Under his austerity measures, he encouraged temperate spending, which resulted in less imports and more exports. His nationalist policies, however, perpetuated the business interests of the ruling elite in the country and did not encourage local businesses to be competitive. Garcia lost to his vice-president in the 1961 presidential poll. Protectionist policies allowed local manufacturers to control the economy from 1949 to 1962, discouraging them from becoming competitive.

Diosdado Macapagal, father of incumbent President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was the president from 1961 to 1965. Before he became president, he authored the land reform program as a legislator and was vice-president to Garcia. As president, Macapagal began a five-year socio-economic program by removing imports control and liberalizing foreign exchange. It was Macapagal who declared June 12 as the national Independence Day. In 1962, the Macapagal administration began devaluing the peso by half to around 3.90 to the US dollar.

Macapagal initiated a shift in investments from the light industries to chemicals, steel and industrial equipment. He was also one of the proponents of the MAPHILINDO, a trade bloc of three South East Asian countries – the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia. This bloc later expanded to what is now the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). By 1965, foreign capital was present in nearly a third of the country’s capital stock.

Martial Law
Ferdinand Marcos, the Senate president, defeated Macapagal in the presidential election to become the country’s tenth president in November 1965. A close ally of the United States, Marcos launched military campaigns against the insurgents including the communist Hukbalahap and Moro rebels in Mindanao. In August 1967, Manila hosted a summit that led to the creation of the ASEAN.

With his reelection in 1969, Marcos had to contend with worsening civil strife. An ideologist named Jose Ma. Sison founded the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, 1968. It was during the same year that University of the Philippines Nur Misuari founded the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the armed wing of Islamic resistance movement.

In June 1971, the government convened the Constitutional Convention to amend the Constitution. Ironically, Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972, following a series of bombings in Metro Manila, He abolished Congress, curtailed freedom of the press, imposed curfews, ordered the arrest of his political enemies, prohibited labour unions, and controlled the economy with the help of his cronies. Although his wife Imelda was credited for building some of the country’s finest monuments, she was criticized for personal extravagance, a form of which was maintaining a collection of 3,000 pairs of shoes.

Green Revolution
The so-called green revolution in the early 1970s, which introduced new farming technologies, enabled the Philippines to export rice to its neighbours. The International Rice Research Institute was established in Los Banos town, Laguna province where Thai, Vietnamese and other Asian researchers trained to develop their own rice production. Thailand would later become the world’s largest rice exporter and the Philippines one of the largest rice importers.

With the introduction of new farming technologies, the Philippines became heavily dependent on importer fertilizers, which are mostly fuel-based. The increase in world crude oil prices also pushed prices of fertilizers, to the detriment of Filipino farmers trying to adopt the modern technologies.

Chinese Tycoons
On June 9, 1975, the Marcos administration signed a joint communiqué with Communist China to restore official diplomatic relations. The Communiqué recognized that “there is but one China, of which Taiwan is an integral part. In return, China vowed not to interfere in the internal affairs of the Philippines and refrained from providing any substantial support to the Communist Party of the Philippines, the largest insurgent group in the country.

The largest success story in the Philippines actually involved Chinese merchants who left China in pursuit of business opportunities abroad. Unlike rich American investors, Chinese migrants came to the Philippines with little money but large determination that the country’s democratic society would help them become rich. True enough, they found goldmine in the Philippines. Today, the richest individuals in the Philippines have Chinese names, including billionaires such as Lucio Tan, Henry Sy, John Gokongwei, and George Ty. Together, they are the largest group of investors in the Philippines and control most of the largest companies in the country.

Overseas Workers
Under Martial Law, one man other than Marcos would singularly define labour relations in the Philippines and the role of the Filipino workers in the world. Labour Minister Blas Ople, a former journalist, authored the Labor Code on November 1, 1974 and launched the overseas employment program in 1976, which would send young and talented Filipinos who could not find work at home to other countries for dollar-earning jobs.

Ople obtained the permission of Marcos to deploy thousands of Filipino workers overseas to meet the growing need of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates for skilled workers and the rising demand for Filipino seamen in flag-of-convenience vessels. Hesitant at first, Marcos later conceded to the proposal, if only to tame the growing militancy building among the hearts of the young and intelligent Filipinos who could not find job opportunities in their own land.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) were established to intensify recruitment of Filipino workers. This would make the Philippines the third largest destination of dollar remittances in the world, next to the more populous countries of India and Mexico.

The Marcos administration also tried to court foreign investors, by committing guarantees against nationalization and imposing restrictions on trade-union activity. However, the blatant record of human rights abuses by the military under his administration was a big turnoff among foreigners. Under Martial law, the military and the police killed, abused, or arrested at least 10,000 Filipinos, including some of the brightest students and intellectuals. Many had disappeared without a trace.

While Marcos lifted martial law on January 17, 1981 in time for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Manila in February, he maintained most of his powers as a dictator. Benigno Aquino, an opposition senator living in asylum in the US, decided to return to Manila in 1983. His death, from assassins’ bullets at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport, sparked adverse sentiments against the Marcos administration.

As the economy stagnated under the Marcos administration because of a mix of bad economic policies, corruption and uncontrolled population growth, the government had to resort to foreign borrowing to finance the fiscal deficit. In October 1983, the Central Bank notified its creditors about its plan to default payment on debt amounting to US$24.6 billion. With the growing loss of confidence by the business community, the peso depreciated by as much as 21 percent in 1983. The gross domestic product shrank by 6.8 percent in 1984 and by 3.8 percent in 1985.

Emboldened by Marcos’ dipping popularity, the opposition gathered around Aquino’s widow, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, who would later challenge Marcos in the 1986 snap presidential election. When Batasang Pambansa (National Assembly) declared Marcos the winner amid allegations of widespread electoral fraud, protesters, buoyed by Manila archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, trooped to the streets.

Following the defection of Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces vice chief Fidel Ramos from Marcos, protesters began converging along EDSA near Ortigas Avenue, which would culminate in the ouster of Marcos from Malacanang Palace on February 25, 1986. The media called the bloodless uprising as the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution - something that political groups would later thought could be replicated time and again.

Democratic Rule
After Marcos, his family and his cronies fled from the Philippines, Aquino became president, organized a new government, freed the political prisoners and tried to restore democratic rule in the country. In February 1987, her government approved a new Constitution, which would later be subjected to heated debates over its restrictive provisions on foreign participation in the economy.

The 1987 Constitution restored the presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives and an independent judiciary headed by the Supreme Court chief justice. To avoid a replication of Marcos’ excesses, the Constitution limited the president’s stay in office to one six-year term. It also created the autonomous regions of Muslim Mindanao and Cordillera and put agrarian reform as the cornerstone of the government’s plan for social transformation.

A renegade faction in the Philippine military launched a series of coup attempts against the Aquino presidency. Perception of political instability dampened economic activities and refrained the economy from matching the large strides taken by its Asian neighbors in the 1980s and 1990s. By this time, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand have overtaken the Philippines in the race towards industrialization.

The Arroyo administration, while taking pride of having restored democracy, failed to bring the economy on track towards industrialization, and one of the factors singled out was the president’s political inexperience and lack of consistency in pushing for economic reforms. In the 1992 presidential election, Aquino endorsed the candidacy of her chosen successor – Defense Secretary Fidel Ramos.

In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo’s powerful eruption sent tons of ashes around the planet’s atmosphere. Subsequent lava/lahar flow buried several towns in Central Luzon and jolted the economy. The natural tragedy also forced American soldiers at Clark Field and Subic Bay to withdraw from their bases earlier than stipulated. The US turned over to the Philippine government the two bases with total assets amounting to US$1.3 billion. The Philippine government later transformed the two bases into special economic zones.

In 1992, Fidel Ramos was elected President. He began his term amid an energy crisis, which plunged the country literally into darkness. This he was able to resolve by inviting foreign investors to take part in the so-called build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme, where they would serve as independent power producers (IPPs) enjoying a lot of incentives and guaranteed market. While it brought light to Filipino households, the scheme would later translate to high electricity rates.

In 1995, the Ramos administration also had to contend with a rice shortage, as a result of low agricultural production and poorly managed importation program. Since then, the government has authorised the National Food Authority (NFA) to import rice at will in order to prepare for any shortage in domestic stock.

The Ramos presidency was also responsible for economic reforms such as privatisation of government assets, trade and banking liberalisation and deregulation, which would push annual trade growth at double-digit levels and draw in large-ticket foreign investments. By 1996, the Philippines was described as a newly industrialising economy along with the likes of Thailand and Malaysia.

It was also under the Ramos presidency that communism was legalised, and some leftist organisations would later join Congress as partylist groups. The government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) headed by Nur Misuari would sign a peace agreement that would establish a peace zone in southern Philippines. However, other militant rebel groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Abu Sayyaf would continue waging a war against the government for a Islamic state in the south.

What Ramos failed to accomplish is the amendment to the 1987 Constitution to remove the restriction on foreign ownership of land and public utilities, which limits maximum ownership to 40 percent. The opposition party accused him of trying to tinker with the charter to remove the six-year term limit of the president and in the process perpetuate his stay in power. In the end, he had to give up such attempt under the weight of public opinion.

Financial Crisis
With the outbreak of the Asian financial crisis, the Philippine economy contracted by 0.6 percent in 1998, the same year Joseph Estrada, a popular politician with links to the movie industry, became president. The economy actually grew although at a slower pace at 3.4 percent in 1999 and at 4 percent in 2000 even as the inflation and interest rates began to decline. In comparison, growth reached 5.2 percent under the Ramos presidency in 1997.

While Estrada got the backing of Filipino-Chinese businessmen by reducing the problem of kidnapping, he did not get the same support from other “elite” businessmen. Despite appointing top economists, Estrada, a former college dropout, could not convince the “high society” that he could resolve the country’s economic woes.

Ironically, what brought down the Estrada administration was not his economic policies, seen by many as not substantially different from those of Ramos, but the perception of wide corruption in his administration. In October 2000, a former ally implicated Estrada in illegal gambling payoffs and kickbacks. Reports that he has many wives housed in different mansions also got Estrada indifferent treatment from the Church, which was a force behind the 1986 People’s Power Revolution.

In December 2000, the House of Representatives impeached Estrada. The subsequent impeachment trial at the Senate was aborted when senators from the opposition party walked out of the courtroom, triggering street demonstrations reminiscent of the 1986 revolt. Within hours after the walkout, the crowd at EDSA grew into millions of anti-Estrada protesters. When political and military leaders withdrew their support from Estrada, Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide swore Vice President Gloria Mapacagal Arroyo as the next president on January 20, 2001.

Arroyo, a daughter of former President Diosdado Macapagal, came to Malacanang with a promise to clean the government of corrupt officials and bring down the number of poor Filipinos, which represents a third of the total population. In her first year in office, she faced numerous challenges starting with the May 1 rebellion, instigated by the Estrada camp to regain the presidency. The rebellion proved futile, as the highly politicised military and the police remained loyal to Arroyo.

She also had to contend with Muslim extremists, who began to target cities in their attacks. Following the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001, the Philippines was one of the first countries to express support for a US-led international campaign against terrorism.

On the economic front, Congress passed the liberalisation of the retail trade sector and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, which aims to privatise the state-owned National Power Corporation. The Arroyo administration also promoted business process outsourcing (BPO), information technology, tourism, and mining as key investment areas for foreign companies. Trade with other Asian countries was also given importance in view of the declining trade volume with the United States.

One particular industry, which has led economic growth since 2000 is telecommunications, although this proved to be a bane for other industries as Filipinos cut their expenditures on other items to buy mobile phones and pay for monthly network services. By 2005, it is estimated that half of the 85 million Filipinos would have mobile phones, a high penetration rate for a developing market.

Because of the global economic slump following the September 11 attacks, the GDP grew by merely 1.8 percent in 2001. Growth reached 4.3 percent in 2002 and 4.7 percent in 2003 even as the Arroyo administration confronted communist and Islamic insurgency problems and a shocking military coup in July 2003.

After surviving the coup, Arroyo won the May 2004 presidential election over Estrada’s close friend and popular actor Fernando Poe Jr. Economic growth reached 6.1 percent in 2004, the highest in 15 years, although this was negated by high inflation and uncontrolled unemployment rates which were more felt by the poor.

Fiscal Deficit
Pressed by economists to narrow the burgeoning fiscal deficit, President Arroyo urged Congress to pass a package of tax reform measures aimed at achieving a balanced budget by the end of her term in 2010. Because of a long history of budget deficits, the public debt hit more than 130 percent of the GDP in 2003 and has been rising since then. Different sectors, however, criticised the administration for passing a heavier burden of taxation on the people at a time crude oil prices were hovering at historic high levels and pushing prices of goods and services beyond the capacity of ordinary consumers.

By the second half of 2005, there were signs that the fiscal deficit was narrowing, even with the delay in the implementation of the Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) law, which raised by 2 percentage points the tax rate on consumer products and services to 12 percent and by 3 percentage points the corporate income tax to 35 percent. The new EVAT law, which was expanded to cover fuel and electricity, took effect on November 1, 2005.

New Constitution
As the popularity of President Arroyo dipped to the lowest level amid allegations that she bought her way to the presidency in the 2004 presidential elections, she was given an option to correct the loopholes in the political system by amending the 1987 Constitution. She formed a Consultative Commission to recommend charter amendments focusing on lifting all restrictions to foreign investments and paving the way for a shift in the form of government from a presidential, central system into a parliamentary, federal system.
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Labels: Economy, History, National, Social
Filipino Inventions
Solar powered Balut maker
The College of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology at the University of the Philippines-Los Banos has invented a solar "balut" maker. Engineer Fernando Paras Jr. said the machine, which covers an area of five square meters, is actually an incubator that can process duck eggs into embryonated eggs or balut for 15 to 17 days.

Traditionally, balut makers in Pateros have been using electricity for incubation. The new invention is a two-way solar-powered system, with the solar water heater serving as the primary heat source while the photovoltaic cells serve as the auxiliary heat source regulating the temperature inside the incubator. The machine can process up to 4,000 eggs at the same time. This can double the income of farmers.

SMS reader for the Blind
A group of four engineering students from the De La Salle University invented the SMS reader, a device that allows the blind to read and send text messages. The prototype is composed of a black box with a Braille display that mimics the interface of a mobile phone. A data cable is connected to a slot in the black box.

Narciso Mosuela of La Union province invented the "superkalan", a novelty stove that can be fired with anything that burns—wood, paper, dried dung and leaves, corn cobs, and coco shells. The body of this stove is made of aluminum alloy, with a cast iron heat intensifier. For his invention, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) bestowed on Mosuela the "best design award" for Third World country category in 1987.

Aside from the superkalan, Mr. Mosuela invented a functional rice thresher and other kitchen gadgets.

Anti-cancer cream
In November 2005, Filipino inventor Rolando dela Cruz won the gold medal for his "DeBCC" anti-cancer cream at the prestigious International Inventor's Forum in Nuremberg, Germany. The "DeBCC" cream, developed from cashew nuts and other local herbs, was chosen over 1,500 entries as the "most significant invention" of the year.

According to Mr. dela Cruz, the cream was a simple answer to basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common type of skin cancer worldwide. BCC affects around 800,000 Americans every year, according to the Skin Care Foundation. BCC also affects 500,000 Europeans and 190,000 Australians every year.

Mole Remover
In 2000, Rolando dela Cruz developed an ingenuous formula that could easily remove deeply grown moles or warts from the skin without leaving marks or hurting the patient. His formula was extracted from cashew nut (Annacardium occidentale), which is common in the Philippines. The formula won for dela Cruz a gold medal in International Invention, Innovation, Industrial Design and Technology Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur in September 2000. In March 1997, dela Cruz established RCC Amazing Touch International Inc., which runs clinics engaged "in a non-surgical removal of warts, moles and other skin growths, giving the skin renewed energy and vitality without painful and costly surgery."

Modular Housing System
Edgardo Vazquez won a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) gold medal in 1995 for developing a modular housing system. Such a system called Vazbuilt is reportedly capable of building within weeks a house with prefabricated materials that can withstand typhoons and earthquakes. Ironically, Vasquez is not getting enough support from the Philippine government to propagate his technology, which could help provide shelter to some five million Filipino families without their own homes. Vazquez is the national president of the Filipino Inventors Society.

Super Bunker Formula-L
In 1996, Rudy Lantano Sr., a scientist from the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST), won the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) gold medal for developing Super Bunker Formula-L, a revolutionary fuel half-composed of water. The mix burns faster and emits pollutants, 95 percent less than those released to the air by traditional fuel products. The inventor said his invention is a result of blending new ingredients and additives with ordinary oil products through agitation and mixing, which is a very safe process. The initial plan was to commercially produce two million liters of Alco-Diesel, two million liters of Lan-Gas and an unlimited quantity of Super Bunker Formula-L each day for customers in Luzon.

Natural Gas Vehicle
The Department of Energy (DOE) has developed a vehicle that runs on natural gas, whose rich deposits remain untapped under the Philippine seabed. The project's main objective is to look into the potential of natural gas as an alternative fuel to conventional petrol and diesel for the transport sector. The natural gas vehicle (NVG) has been road-tested in Isabela where an existing natural gas supply from the PNOC Gas Plant is located. Test runs have also been made in Cagayan, Ifugao and Mountain Province. The test vehicle used was the Isuzu Hi-Lander 4JA-1, direct injected diesel engine. The use of natural gas as a fuel is cheaper. On a gallon-equivalent basis, natural gas costs an average of 15 to 40 percent less than gasoline and diesel. There are over one million NVGs in the world today, according to the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles.

Lamp Fixing Invention
A Filipino inventor has developed a technology, which could revive a busted lamp (pundido) and give it more years of functional life than those of new ones. Acclaimed by the Filipino Inventors Society as timely and revolutionary, the Nutec system can prolong the life of fluorescent lamps up to seven years. Nutec was developed by New World Technology, headed by president Eric Ngo and chosen as the "Product of the Year" at the Worldbex 2000 Building and Construction Exposition held at the Manila Hotel. Engineer Benjamin S. Santos, national president of the Inventors Society, called Nutec a timely invention.

"Tubig Talino"
The Department of Science and Technology claimed that it has developed "Tubig Talino", an iodine-rich drinking water that treats micronutrient deficiencies responsible for goiter, mental and physical retardation, and birth defects. "Tubig Talino" is actually a mixture of 20 liters of water and 15 ml of "Water Plus + I2". Consumption of five glasses a day of this iodine fortification in drinking water is expected to provide 120 micrograms of iodine, which meets 100 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of a male adult.

Feminine Hygiene Product Inventor
Dr. Virgilio Malang won a gold medal for his invention "Psidium Guajava Effervescing Gynecological Insert", a silver medal for his "Patient Side-Turning Hospital Bed", and three bonze medals for his inventions "external vaginal cleanser", "light refracting earpick", and "broom's way of hanging" at the Seoul International Fair in held South Korea in December 2002. There were 385 inventions from 30 countries that joined the competitions.

Contrary to popular belief, there was no fish sauce or Patis yet during the Spanish occupation. Patis began to become a part of most Filipinos' diet only after the Japanese occupation. Here is an account of how an enterprising lady discovered the fermentation of Patis. Immediately after the war, the family of Ruperta David or Aling Tentay started a dried fish business. One day, Aling Tentay stored in jars some salted fish that turned into fragments even before they dried. While in jars, the fish fragments turned into a liquid substance that tasted like our Patis today. Thus the beginning of the thriving Patis business of Aling Tentay, which was officially registered in 1949 and is known today as Tentay Food and Sauces Inc. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

A Showcase of Ingenuity
Nothing perhaps has been associated with Filipino technology as much as the country's pride - jeepney. The word "jeep" evolved from the military designation, general-purpose or G.P., of a light vehicle first used by the Americans in World War II. Developed by the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, this vehicle was powered by a four-cylinder engine and was classified as a quarter-ton truck in carrying capacity. It had served as a command vehicle, reconnaissance car, and ammunition carrier.

The American soldiers brought these vehicles to the Philippines in the 1940s. After the war, these vehicles were left by the Americans and converted by the Filipinos into public utility vehicles. Employing artistic and indigenous designs, the Filipinos came up with a longer, well-decorated, techni-colored and sleeker vehicle, which they later called jeepney. From the standard military jeep, the body was extended to accommodate between 20 to 30 passengers. Modern jeepneys now sport very colorful and intricate paintings, fancy adornments, and metallic decors reflective of Filipino sentiments, values, and culture. The town of Las Pinas has been recognized as the jeepney-producing center in the country. Today, public utility jeepneys or PUJs serve as the primary means of transportation in most provinces. For this, the Philippines came to be known as the "land of the jeepneys".

Philippine World Records

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The Leaf Musician
He became famous around the world for his distinct talent. The Guinness Book of World Records has recognized Filipino National Artist Levi Celerio as the only man who could play beautiful music with a leaf.

Celerio appeared in "That's Incredible" and the Mel Griffin show where he played music with a leaf. The Guinness Book of World Records said: "The only leaf player in the world is in the Philippines". As a composer and lyricist, Celerio wrote more than 4,000 songs.

The Woman With 3,400 Shoes
Former First Lady Imelda Marcos was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the woman with the largest collection of shoes. Reports said that when the Marcos family fled to Hawaii during the People's Power Revolution in 1986, around 3,400 pairs of shoes were discovered in one room at Malacanang Palace. They were the First Lady's collection.

In 1987, Mrs. Marcos denied this and claimed she had only 1,060 pairs of shoes. The former First Lady has an eight-and-a-half inch footwear size. She said her having many shoes is not a symbol of extravagance but an expression of love and appreciation for Filipino-made shoes. Most of her shoes, she added, were bought from Marikina, the shoe capital of the Philippines. For this, Marikina City had acquired 200 pairs of the Marcos shoes and put them on display at the city's shoe museum.

Largest Loot in History
Much has been said about the late President Ferdinand Marcos being the world's richest man. While this title was not officially designated to Marcos, the late dictator, however, was known as the man who took away the largest loot in history. While deposed President Joseph Estrada faces plunder charges for allegedly amassing some US$82 million in kickbacks and payoffs during his 31-month stint at Malacanang Palace, Marcos had reportedly stolen billions of dollars. There were different versions of the fabled Marcos wealth.

The fabled Marcos wealth reportedly consists of billions of dollars and tons of gold bullions deposited in several banks in Switzerland. Government lawyers claimed that Marcos had used dummy foundations to hoard his wealth. Among such foundations that the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) had identified are Sandy, Xandy, Wintrop, and Rayby.

Former Senate President Jovito Salonga, who served as the first PCGG chairman under the Aquino administration said the agency had identified 51 Marcos bank accounts in Switzerland, 23 of which are in Credit Suisse; 3 at Swiss Bank Corporation in Fribourg; 15 in Swiss Bank Corporation in Geneva; 6 at Banque Paribas in Geneva; 3 at Hoffman in Zurich; and one each at Lombard Odeii and Trade Development Bank in Geneva.

According to former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez, the Marcos family still keeps some US$13.4 billion in deposits at the Union Bank of Switzerland under the account of Irene Marcos-Araneta, on top of a hoard of 1.241 tons of gold at an underground bunker at Kloten Airport in Zurich. Chavez also disclosed that former First Lady Imelda Marcos has 800,000 ounces of gold in unfrozen accounts in Switzerland.

Before this, Australian private investigator Reiner Jacobi, who served as a PCGG consultant in 1989, had unraveled the so-called Irene Araneta account and even went to the extent of claiming that the Marcoses had a US$250-billion gold hoard in Switzerland. The PCGG, however, described Jacobi's claims as exaggerated and too fantastic.

In October 1999, Filipino businessman Enriquez Zobel, a known crony of the late president told a Senate committee that the Marcos wealth could have swollen to US$100 billion in gold and dollar deposits, the bulk of which is deposited with the US Treasury. In his sworn testimony, Zobel said the Marcos wealth is distributed to gold deposits, dollar accounts, and real estate properties located in various parts of the world.

The Marcos gold deposits alone, Zobel said, may have reached US$35 billion. Zobel had also mentioned the US$13.4 billion Irene Marcos Araneta account at the Union Bank of Switzerland. The gold bars are allegedly kept in various banks in Portugal, Vatican City, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Solomon Island, and the US. Zobel said Marcos obtained the gold bars after the Liberation (1946) from the Yamashita treasure and from soldiers who sold their gold bars for only US$20 per bar. Another version was that of Rogelio Roxas who claimed that Marcos' men seized the real golden buddha from his house at Aurora Hills in Baguio City on April 5, 1971. The buddha reportedly costs billions of dollars.

In February 2001, the Philippine Daily Inquirer disclosed the alleged attempt of Irene Marcos Araneta to launder billions of dollars in deposits under the 885931 accounts from Union Bank of Switzerland to Deutsche Banks in Dusseldorf, Germany. Aside from the Marcos family and the Philippine government, the 9,539 victims of human rights under the Marcos regime have interest in the Marcos wealth.

World's Largest Shoes
In December 2002, the Guinness Book of World Records has recognized Marikina City for crafting the world's largest pair of shoes - each measuring 5.5 meters (18.2 feet) long, 2.25 meters (7.4 feet) wide and 1.83 meters (six feet) high. The materials for the P1.2 million pair of shoes could produce 250 pairs of regular shoes.

World's Largest Golf Event
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the biggest amateur golf tournament takes place in Baguio City, Philippines every year. Dubbed as the Fil-Am Golf Championship since 1949, the 72-hole golf tournament attracts close to 1,000 amateur golfers from all over the archipelago. The sites of the prestigious event are the challenging par-69, 5,001-yard Camp John Hay golf course and the par-61, 4,038-yard Baguio Country Club. Among the top contending teams in the event are the Canlubang, Southwoods, Calatagan, and Wack Wack.

World's Largest Synchronized Aerobics Exercises
On February 16, 2003, some 107,000 Filipinos joined a 30-minute aerobics exercise supervised by the Department of Health (DOH) at Rizal Park in Manila, which could be the largest synchronized exercise in the world. Thousands of people also gathered at different venues in Cebu City and Davao City to participate in the exercise simultaneous with the Manila event. The new record broke the previous Guinness Book of World Records set at a park in Guadalajara, Mexico by some 38,633 people who joined the massive aerobics exercises in June 1998.

World's Largest Lantern
On December 24, 2002, the city of San Fernando in Pampanga province switched on the world's largest Christmas lantern - a P5-million structure with 26.8 meters in diameter.

World's Fastest Reader
As a student at the Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, Maria Teresa Calderon became the world's fastest reader. She set the record of having read 80,000 words per hour.

Sili King
The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Eriberto Gonzales of Camalig, Albay as the fastest chili eater. In the Philippines, he is known as the "Sili King". Gonzales accomplished his feat in the "Sili-Eating Challenge 1999" in Bicol where he ate 350 pieces of sili in three minutes. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

World's Best Finance Minister
In 1997, Roberto de Ocampo who was serving in the Cabinet of former President Fidel Ramos, was recognized as the "World's Best Finance Minister" for overhauling the country's tax system through the Comprehensive Tax Reform Package.

World's Best Central Bank Governor
In October 2002, international magazine Global Finance named Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Rafael Carlos B. Buenaventura as one of the world's two best central bankers for "his remarkable skill in guiding" the Philippine economy under a trying year. The other central banker named was Reserve Bank of Austalia (RBA) Governor Ian MacFarlane.

World Young Business Achievers
In 1995, Joseph Donato Pangilinan, president of Manila Pearl, won the World Young Business Achiever Award (WYBA) in London. In 1997, Renato Pangilinan, chief executive officer of Juventus International won the Entrepreneurship Award in Newfoundland, Canada. In 1998, Andrew James Masigan, founder of Dimsum n' Dumpling won the Award of Excellence in Business Strategy.

World's Sweetest Fruit
What can be considered as the world's sweetest mango is produced in the island province of Guimaras. While other countries have different varieties of the tropical mango (Mangifera indica), none of them tastes like the superbly delicious Guimaras mango, which is a variety of the popular Carabao Mango (Manginera indica).

In 1995, the Guinness Book of World records listed the Carabao Mango as the sweetest fruit in the world. In the Philippines, mango ranks third among fruit crops in production, next to banana and pineapple. The country supplies mangoes to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and recently the United States. In 1995, the Philippines produced 432,322 metric tons of mangoes, with an average production of 6.35 metric tons per hectare and 250 kilograms per tree from a total production area of 68,056 hectares.

World's Largest Legal Tender
In 1998, during the Philippine Centennial celebration of independence, the Central Bank asked the Guinness Book of World Records to accredit its P100,000 commemorative bills, measuring 8 ½ inches wide and 14 inches long, as the world's largest legal tender. The commemorative bills were called Brobdingnagian bills.

World's Largest Bamboo Organ
The bamboo organ at St. Joseph Church in Las Pinas City is arguably the world's largest bamboo organ. The centuries-old musical instrument was constructed between 1792 and 1819. It has 174 bamboo pipes, 122 horizontal reeds of soft metal, a five-octave keyboard, and 22 stops arranged in vertical rows.

World's Largest City
The residents of Davao City claim they live in the world's largest city. They are talking about the land size of the city that covers 2,212 square kilometers. Most of these areas, however, are distributed as forests, coconut groves and rice fields. In comparison, New York, the largest city in the United States, has an area of only 787 square kilometers while the whole of Metro Manila covers only 636 square kilometers.

Davao City lies at the mouth of the Davao River near the head of Davao Gulf. It encompasses about 50 small ports in its commercial sphere. Davao has large banana plantations, whose produce are exported to Japan and other countries. The city also boasts of a modern international airport. Puerto Princesa City, a chartered city of Palawan province, is disputing Davao City's title. It claims to have a total land area of 2,539 square kilometers encompassing 66 barangays.

In terms of population and land area, the world's truly largest cities are Tokyo, Mexico City, Sao Paolo, New York City, Bombay, Shanghai and Los Angeles.

World's Largest Volume of Text Messages
Smart Communications, one of the two giant mobile phone networks in the country, claimed that the volume of text messages passing through its network reached 240 million daily as of 2001. This excluded text messages sent via the other networks. Such volume of text messages is said to be larger than those sent in the entire European continent during the same year.

World's Largest High School
The Rizal High School in Caniogan, Pasig City (eastern Metro Manila) is said to be the world's largest high school in terms of student population. The school has more than 20,000 students.

World's Longest Barbecue
On April 30, 2002, about 50,000 people participated in the "Kalutan ed Dagupan" festival in Dagupan City (Pangasinan province, Northern Luzon, Philippines) to help grill and partake of the 1,001-meter long barbecue, that broke the previous World Record of 613 meter-long barbecue grilled in Canchia, Peru on November 13, 1999.

The people of the city used hundreds of grills, each measuring 1.2-meter long, to cook the barbecue. The grills' total measure was about 800 meters long, enough to surpass the Peruvian record. The barbecue consisted of bangus (milkfish), pork, chicken, vegetables and cold cuts. A video footage was sent to the Guinness Book of World Records for validation. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

World's Largest Flower
In February 2002, an environmental organization discovered what could be one of the world's largest flowers in the 5,511-hectare Sibalom National Park in Antique province. Measuring about 22 inches in diameter, the endangered flower, locally named as "Uruy", (Rafflesia sp.) has no stem and leaves. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

World's Largest Salad
The residents of Baguio City took pride in having tossed what was believed to be the world's largest salad - a three-ton mix of assorted vegetables.

On September 29, 2002 during the Tossed Salad Festival in commemoration of the city's 93rd charter anniversary, 67 students and members of the Baguio Association of Hotels and Inns (Bahai) mixed 2,976 kilograms of lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers and other vegetables in a tin and wrought iron bowl measuring 20 feet long, 10 feet wide and 2 feet deep.

Some 13,657 people were able to partake of the P1.5 million mixtures. They paid P20 for each serving of the tossed salad with Thousand Island dressing and another take-out bowl of salad with a gourmet vinaigrette dressing consisting of apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

The city broke its own record set a year earlier. On September 16, 2001, a 917-kilogram of salad was able to feed 4,861 residents and tourists of Baguio City. On September 14, 2002, a religious group prepared a giant Caesar's salad that fed only 1,000 people in Salt Lake City, Utah.

World's Largest Durian Candy Bar
On March 15, 2002, 25 people in Davao City spent six hours to cook, mold and roll the world's largest durian candy bar - a 6-meter, 200-kilogram delicacy made of durian, a smelly but sweet fruit commonly associated with the name of the city. (Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

World's Longest Mat
The people of the agricultural town of Basey, Samar own the distinction of having weaved the world's longest mat, or "banig" in the local parlance. During the town's Banigan-Kawayan Festival on September 29, 2000, hundreds of people paraded the mat, which extended for more than a kilometer.

The one-meter wide mat has been weaved for several weeks by groups of people from the different barangays of Basey. While the mat was not submitted as an entry to the Guinness Book of World Records, Basey Mayor Wilfredo Estorninos described the feat as a source of pride for all Basaynons.

Each year, the town, which has weaving as its prime industry, comes to life when it celebrates outlandishly the feast of St. Michael, its patron saint. The highlight of the feast is the Banigan-Kawayan Festival, where the women of Basey weave a variety of intricately designed mats from sedge grass locally known as tikog (Fimbristylis milliacea). This tradition was handed down from many generations. The Church of Basey was built in 1864.

World's Largest Pearl
A Filipino diver discovered what is now described as the world's largest pearl in a giant Tridacna (mollusk) under the Palawan Sea in 1934. Known as the "Pearl of Lao-Tzu", the gem weighs 14 pounds and measures 9 ½ inches long and 5 ½ inches in diameter. As of May 1984, it was valued at US$42 million. It is believed to be 600 years old.

World's Largest Covered Coliseum
At the time it was completed in 1959, the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City was touted as the world's largest covered entertainment center. Otherwise known as the Big Dome, it has a floor area of 2,300 square meters and a seating capacity of 33,000 people.

One of the World's Best Hotels
In 1983, British magazine Executive Travel named Manila Hotel as one of the ten best in the world while Business Traveler, another British publication named it as one of the top ten business hotels in the world in 1986. In 1992, the Institutional Investor magazine called Manila Hotel as the world's best hotel and in 1993, the Vienna-based Treasury Publishing included it in the list of the most famous hotels in the world.

Among the many political luminaries and celebrities who have stayed at the Manila Hotel were Ernest Hemingway, General Douglas McArthur, Marlon Brando, Helen Keller, John Wayne, Rocky Marciano, Richard Nixon, Robert Kennedy, Emperor Akihito, John Rockefeller, Dwight Eisenhower, Neil Armstrong, Anatoly Karpov, Bob Hope, Henry Kissinger, Princess Margaret, Brooke Shields, John Denver, Bon Jovi, Ben Kingsley, Richard Attenborough, Julio Iglesias, Richard Cheney, Garri Kasparov, Sultan Bolkiah, Rod Stewart, Nick Price, Greg Norman, Arnold Parmer, Bill Clinton, Helmut Kohl, Nelson Mandela and Prince Charles. (Source: Panorama magazine)

One of the Best Banks
Global Finance, a financial magazine in the US, named the Bank of Philippine Islands, the oldest bank in the country, as the best domestic bank in emerging markets in 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001. Emerging markets refer to developing economies, mostly in Asia.

Asia's Best Business School
The Makati-based Asian Institute of Management (AIM) is richly considered as one of the top business schools in Asia. In the year 2001, it received the Beyond Grey Pinstripes Award for having MBA programs that integrate social, environmental and sustainability topics into business training. The award is a joint project of The Aspen Institute Initiative for Social Innovation through Business (Aspen ISIB) and World Resources Institute.

Influential Businesswoman
In its 2002 list, US-based Fortune Magazine ranked Teresita Sy-Coson, a daughter of Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. and executive vice president of SM Prime Holdings, as the world's 39th most influential woman in international business outside the United States. The SM Prime Holdings is a conglomerate engaged in retail, real state, manufacturing, banking and finance.

World's Second Most Devastated City
The late US President and General Dwight Eisenhower described Manila as the world's second most devastated city during World War II, next to Warsaw, Poland which was reduced to ruins by the Nazi's attack. Before he became president, Eisenhower served in the Philippines under General Douglas Macarthur from 1935 to 1939.

Second Largest Geothermal Power Source
As of 2002, the Philippines was producing about 1,765 megawatts of geothermal energy, making it the world's second largest geothermal power user after the United States. The Department of Energy said the country could edge out the US at the top by installing a new geothermal power plant with a 900-megawatt capacity.

World's Third Largest Banana Producer
The Philippines is considered as the world's third largest producer of bananas, after Costa Rica and Ecuador. Large plantations in southern Mindanao produce most bananas exported by the Philippines. Some 30,000 hectares in the region are planted to bananas.

The Philippines is also one of the largest producers of coconut, cassava, mango, pineapple, tilapia, tuna, shrimps, and prawns.

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