Subject Material

The Philippines - Introduction

Published: 08.09.2010, Updated: 05.04.2017

Do you know that the woman who probably has the largest collection of shoes in the world, is a Filipina?

small islander. Flickr.comThe Philippines

What many people associate with the Philippines apart from Manilla furniture, is Imelda Marcos, the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos's wife, and her collection of shoes. When the couple eventually had to flee the country due to vast corruption and fraud, it stirred worldwide attention that their luggage contained 2,500 pair of shoes and 24 suitcases with diamonds and gold bars concealed in diapers. To this day the country's greatest challenge is to fight poverty.


The Philippines - an Island Realm

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

The Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country, with a population of about 90 million people. There are an additional 11 million ex-patriots, worldwide.The Roman Catholic Church has a strong position on the islands, but the Mindanao Island with its predominantly Muslim provinces is a huge exception. The majority of Filipinos are of Malaysian and Indonesian descent. However, the islands also inhabit Aboriginals such as the Aetas who traditionally live in the area around the volcano Pinatubo,  and various tribes of the Igorots, the mountain people. A wide variety of  ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands.


The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century and were ceded to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. When the islands fell under Japanese occupation during World War II, US forces and Filipinos fought together (during 1944 and 1945) to regain control. In 1946, the Republic of the Philippines attained its independence. Since then, the main focus of thPhilippines has been to return to full political stability and to strengthen economic development. In 1992, the US closed its last military bases on the islands.

English as a Lingua Franca

With so many languages and dialects, English has been and continues to be the unifying language in the Philippines. In fact, the country has the sixth largest English speaking population in the world. English is the language of the public schools (from fourth grade through college) and is the de facto national language of business, commerce, law, government, and often the mass media and popular entertainment. Although Filipinos most often use their native language at home and with family, they tend to switch to English when talking to friends and colleagues outside of the home. Therefore, it is considered the language of the elite with status, wealth, and authority.

Nature - Friend and Enemy

The islands are located within the typhoon belt of the Western Pacific, and approximately 19 typhoons strike per year! If that is not enough, the Philippine Islands experience frequent seismic, and volcanic activity. Most of the mountainous islands are covered in tropical rainforest, and are volcanic in origin. Around 20 earthquakes are registered daily, though most are too weak to be felt.

Ecologically, the Philippines is one of the most diverse countries in the world. It has fertile lands ideal for rice, coconut, mango and other native fruits, vast rainforests with diverse flora, and fauna, extensive coastlines, and rich mineral deposits.

All things considered, it is no wonder that the national anthem of the Philippines is called "Chosen Land".

Tasks and Activities


The Philippines - Multiple Choice 

Further Reading

Read a 16 year old Norwegian boy's blog from his first visit to the Philippines:

Andreas's Travel Blog 


Read about Eleonora Santo:

English in the Philippines 



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