A total of 7,107 islands make up the Philippines, but the bulk of the population lives on just 11 of them. These islands are very beautiful with their mountains, tropical jungles, beaches, waterfalls and underground rivers. The enormous range of cultures span tribal villages and modern metropolises. Every area of life here reflects a mix of Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and American influences as well as the indigenous foundation. Here are six things you may not know about the country:
1. If you go to a government school or work in a government office, your week starts with a flag raising ceremony.
At government offices and schools, every Monday morning there is a flag raising ceremony and every Friday afternoon a flag lowering ceremony. The national anthem is sung at both ceremonies. In state schools, the flag raising ceremony is the first thing to do on Monday mornings. There are strict rules about the observance of this ceremony:
Section 21. During the flag raising ceremony, the assembly shall stand in formation facing the flag. At the moment the first note of the anthem is heard, everyone in the premises shall come to attention; moving vehicles shall stop. All persons present shall place their right palms over their chests, those with hats shall uncover, while those in military, scouting, security guard, and citizens military training uniforms shall give salute prescribed by their regulations, which salute shall be completed upon the last note of the anthem.
The assembly shall sing the Philippine National Anthem, accompanied by a band, if available, and at the first note, the flag shall be raised briskly.
Interestingly, the Filipino flag is the only one in the world, which indicates whether the country is at peace or at war, depending on how it is flown. When the Philippines are at war, the flag is flown upside down, with the red strip at the top.
2. A popular dish includes pig’s head.
A popular dish in the Philippines is sisig. It consists of a pig’s head boiled, chopped up, grilled and seasoned with salt, pepper, vinegar or calamansi juice before being fried with chopped onions, various types of sili, and chicken livers. Traditionally, sisig is topped with a raw egg which is gently cooked by the sizzling plate’s residual heat. Apparently, the dish has not always included pig’s head. The story goes that this was part of the animal that wasn’t used in preparing meals for the US Air Force at Clark air base so locals bought the heads and made use of them. More on the history of the dish on the Fillipino site.
3. One of the cheapest forms of public transport in Manila is based on US army Jeeps.
These distinctive vehicles, known as ‘jeepneys’ are based on the American Jeeps left in the Philippines after World War II. The enterprising Fillipinos converted them into a form of public transport that can carry about 18 people each by adding about 6ft to the wheelbase and various decorations. They are typical of Manila and are still one of the cheapest ways to get around the city. It’s common to put religious slogans on jeepneys, like the one in the photo in Tacloban City. Their owners may reason that displaying a religious slogan could win favour with God. Many also put patron saints or statues of Mary on the dashboard to show their respect and solicit help in time of need.
4. The only majority Christian country in East Asia.
The Philippines is the only Christian majority nation in East Asia, with approximately 90% of the population being Christian, with 80% of those being Catholics.(CNN, 2012).This is largely due to the Spanish influence in the Philippines from the sixteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century, when the islands became a US colony in 1899. Today, 21,000 of a total of 42,000 barangay (the smallest administrative unit in the Philippines, generally a village or town district) still lack an evangelical, bible-believing church. 29 million people live in these areas.
5. Watch out for the volcanoes.
The Philippines sits on the Pacific ‘ring of fire’ where about 90% of the world’s volcanoes are situated. There are 23 active volcanoes in the Philippines. The amount of sulfur dioxide emitted by Mount Pinatubo during its eruption on Jun. 15, 1991, created a two-year haze of sulfuric acid all over the world. It caused global temperatures to drop by 0.5 °C (0.9 °F).
6. Karaoke is a popular pastime.
We often associate karaoke with the Japanese and, yes, the word does come from Japan. The first karaoke machine was also made in Japan. However, the Japanese inventor, Daisuke Inoue, failed to patent his design. A Filipino, Roberto del Rosario, successfully applied for a patent for a the Karaoke Sing Along System in 1975 and began marketing it in 1978. A karaoke machine can be found in most Filipino homes and while some countries have spelling bee programmes, in the Philippines a popular television series is the ‘Singing Bee’ with a variety of song based tests and challenges.
Find out more.
This month, across OMF we’re focusing on praying for the Philippines as part of The Task Unfinished. We’re also sharing some great stories about life in the Philippines which you can catch on the OMF International Facebook and Twitter pages. If you feel God is calling you to serve in the Philippines short or long term, discover more about our opportunities here.
Sisig from Prime Pacific, Wikimedia Commons.