Boracay and Palawan Resorts



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Philippine history, many argue, did not begin with the coming of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Rather, it began in the 13th century when 10 datus from Borneo, each with a hundred of his kinsmen, landed in what is now known as Panay Island in the Visayas.

Yet it was Magellan and succeeding expeditions from Spain who put the Philippine archipelago on the map of the world. The intrepid Magellan was dubbed the discoverer of the Philippines after he landed in Homonhon Islet, near Samar, on March 17, 1521. He was later killed in Mactan Island of Cebu in clash with native warriors led by a chieftain named Lapu-lapu.

The Philippines was a prize catch for Spain which, at that time, was locked in a fierce struggle for world colonization with Portugal. The archipelago, named Felipinas for Spain's Philip II, was composed of 7,107  islands and islets spanning 1854 kilometers from north to south. The Philippines, also a window to the New World, stretched from China to the north and the Indonesian archipelago to the south . The northernmost tip of the country, Y'ami of the Batanes Island group, is 241 kilometers south of Taiwan while the southernmost tip, Sibutu of the Tawi-tawi group of islands, is just 14.4 kilometers north of Borneo.

The Philippines in fact is at a most strategic location making it a natural hub for commerce. Manila and Cebu are premiere centers of trade in the region. To the east is the vast Pacific Ocean and beyond it, the new World. To the west are the kingdoms of Indochina including Cambodia and Thailand while southwest is Malaysia.

There are three major geographical groups in the country: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The northern portion of the archipelago is composed of the largest island, Luzon. The Visayan region is made up of about 6,000 islands including Panay, Leyte, Samar, Cebu and Bohol. Mindanao is the second largest island and encompasses about 400 smaller islands.

Spanish colonizer succeeded in introducing Christianity in Luzon and Visayas but were unsuccessful in Mindanao, where Moslem staved off Spanish efforts.

Spanish rule lasted from the 16th century to the 19th century but was marked with a series of revolts.  When three Filipino priest were executed for nationalist activities, a group of reformist formed the Propaganda Movement that would later pave the way for the Philippine Revolution. A young doctor-writer named Jose Rizal was arrested and later executed by Spanish officials for his scathing criticisms of Spanish rule in the Philippines through two novel. Rizal, who was just 30 when he was executed, would later be recognized by historian as Asia's first nationalist. His contemporaries include Gandhi and Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

The Philippine Revolution was launched after Rizal's death and was led first by Andres Bonifacio and then later by Emilio Aguinaldo. Philippine independence was proclaimed on June 12, 1898 on the balcony of Aguinaldo's home in Cavite.

But as Spanish rule ended, so would American domination start. Unknown to Aguinaldo and the Filipinos, Spain ceded the archipelago to the US for $20 million. Thus, when American and Filipino forces laid siege on Intramuros, little did the Filipinos know that they would have new enemies. Intramuros surrendered by Filipinos were prevented by Americans from entering. This sowed the seeds of distrust that would eventually culminate in the Filipino-American War.

A new fight for independence was waged and this would last six years. The war ended in 1905 and the period of fighting was followed by decades of progress. In 1935, a Commonwealth government was established complete with a Constitution.

World War II broke out in 1941. Japan annexed the Philippines after heroic battle with Filipino-American forces making a stand in Bataan and Corrigidor. With the surrender, Filipinos took to the hills and waged a guerrilla war for four years. In 1945, US forces liberated the Philippines. On July 4, 1946, the US flag was lowered for the last time as the Philippines was finally granted independence.

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People. The Filipino is basically of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish and Arab blood. The Philippines has a population of 60 million, and it is hard to distinguish accurately the lines between stocks. From a long history of Western colonial rule interspersed with the visit of merchants and traders evolved a people of a unique blend of east and west, both in appearance and culture.

The Filipino character is actually a little bit of all the cultures put together. The bayanihan or spirit of kinship and camaraderie that Filipinos are famous for is said to be taken from Malay forefathers. The close family relations are said to have been inherited from the Chinese. The piousness comes, from the Spaniards who introduced Christianity in the 16th century. Hospitality is a common denominator in the Filipino character and this is what distinguishes the Filipino. Filipinos are probably one of the few, if not the only, English-proficient Oriental people today. Pilipino is the official national language, with English considered as the country's unofficial one.

The Filipinos are divided geographically and culturally into regions, and each regional group is recognizable by distinct traits and dialects - the sturdy and frugal Ilocanos of the north, the industrious Tagalogs of the central plains, the carefree Visayans from the central islands and the colorful tribesmen and religious Moslems of Mindanao. Tribal communities can be found scattered across the archipelago. All in all the Philippines has 111 dialects spoken, owing to the subdivisions of these basic regional and cultural groups.

Some 80 percent of the population is Catholic, Spain's lasting legacy. About 15 percent is Moslem and these people can be found basically in Mindanao. The rest of the population is made up mostly of smaller Christian denominations and Buddhists.

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7,107 Islands. The Philippines is an archipelago blessed with a wealth of natural resources, a rich history and unique culture. It's attractions are as many as they are diverse, with each island offering something different, something special to the most discerning visitor. White sand beaches, lush green forests, majestic mountain peaks, age-old structures, modern cities, and rustic countrysides - the list goes on and on.

The country is most popular for its beaches and deep waters teeming with a plethora of marine life. The Philippine waters have attracted a growing numbers of scuba divers all eager to discover the underwater treasures of the country. Most of the resorts are well-equipped with modern diving equipment and have in their staff professional diving instructors and guides. Facilities for water skiing, jet skiing, windsurfing, hobie cat sailing, island hopping, and other water sports are also available. Those who prefer to keep their feet dry can still view the magical coral world through glass-bottomed boats.

The Philippines is not only for sun, sea and sand lovers. The numerous attractions present a wide array of activities to choose from whether you are in the north or the south.

For the nature lover, there is a mountain climbing, birdwatching, cave exploration, and even photo safaris. History and culture buffs may learn more about the Philippines and its people when visiting the museums, centuries-old structures, monuments, and churches spread across the country. And for a taste of rural Philippine life, a tour of the farms in the provinces is highly recommended.

Golfers have also found their place in the sun here in the Philippines. The country boasts of challenging golf courses, some of which were designed by world-class course architects in the likes of Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and Gary Player.

Whatever your interests are, our islands have it.

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Metro Manila. Metro Manila evolved from its humble beginnings as a tiny tribal settlement at the mouth of a natural harbor into a bustling metropolis that is now the center of government, business, commerce and education.  It is composed of four cities and 13 municipalities, covering an area of 630 square kilometers. Manila is the country's capital and premier gateway to the country.

Metro Manila is a delightful mix of old and new:  age-old traditions and modern-day attractions; centuries-old buildings and gleaming high-rise structures; quaint street stalls and modern shopping malls; stately museums and discotheques and bars.

The Spanish colonizers moved the capital of the Philippines from Cebu of Manila in 1571. During that same year the Spaniards started building Intramuros, the Walled City, as the seat of Church and State.

History echoes within the walls of this fortress-complex and a tour of this landmark will provide the visitor a deeper understanding of Manila's rich heritage.

Among the more popular attractions in Intramuros are: Fort Santiago, the headquarters of Spanish military troops and prison to thousands of Filipinos including the country's national hero Dr. Jose Rizal; Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church, two of the oldest churches in the country filled with an extensive collection of religious artifacts; and Casa Manila, a reconstructed 19th century mansion replete with 16th to 19th century furniture and furnishings.

Outside of Intramuros is Rizal Park, a place of relaxation for Filipinos. Rizal Park is a wide expanse of manicured lawns and spouting fountains complete with an open air auditorium, Chinese and Japanese Gardens, a children's playground and a skating rink. The remains of Jose Rizal lie within the cornerstones of Rizal Monument.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines(CCP)Complex is the arts center of the country. It is the favored venue for ballet presentations, concerts, stage plays and other performances. Within the complex is Coconut Palace which is a living testament to the Filipino architectural genius. Almost the entire structure is made of materials from the coconut tree mixed with other indigenous materials. Also within the CCP Complex are the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) and the Philippine Center for International Trade and Exhibit (PHILCITE). While at the CCP Complex, visitors must not miss watching the spectacular sunset at Manila Bay.

Just 10 minutes away from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is a 32-acre theme park which showcase the country's diverse attractions and culture. Found in Nayong Pilipino(Philippine Village) are scaled-down replicas of Bicol's Mayon Volcano, the Banaue Rice Terraces, the Chocolate Hills of Bohol and Magellan's Cross of Cebu. Clusters of houses, their architecture reflective of six of the 13 regions in the country, form miniature villages.

Makati, the business district of Metro Manila, is characterized by modern high rise buildings, sprawling shopping malls, rows of gourmet restaurants and entertainment establishments and exclusive sports lubs.

In Makati Ayala Museum's dioramas depicting various periods in the history of the Philippines put visitors in a time warp across centuries of Filipino civilization.

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Dining and Entertainment. Succulent, exotic, tangy, spicy, sweet, sour, colorful and always a feast. Whether in a cramped sidewalk stall (kainan) or in a posh restaurant, dining in the Philippines is a guaranteed adventure. The wide array of cuisine - from native to Asian to continental - is matched only be the myriad choices of restaurants and eateries around town.

Philippine cuisine is a mirror of its culture, thus the variety in what is cooked and how it is cooked. Rice is the staple, although influences of foreign recipes have become a regular practice in food preparation. For instance, coconut milk or gata is still used often as ingredient, a gastronomic legacy from the Filipinos' Malay ancestors. Popular dishes like lumpia (rolls) and pancit (noodles) are Chinese. Even the lechon (roast pig), which is considered the country's most famous dish, has its origins in China. Spain's contribution to Philippine cuisine include adobo, mechado, menudo and pochero.

Because of its coastlines, the, Philippines boasts of seafood galore. In fact, most, if not all, restaurants offer seafood cooked one way or another. The most popular though is broiled (inihaw). Standard seafood dishes include shrimp, rock lobster, crab, oyster, squid, and fish. A delicious type of crustacean which looks like a cross between a crab and a crayfish, the curacha, is an attraction in itself in restaurants in Zamboanga while Davao has become synonymous with the inihaw na panga, tuna head split and broiled. To cap a sumptuous meal is a wide array of desserts, from the fresh fruits to baked delights. The sweet mango is almost always the first on the list of after dinner fares.

A wide choice of food establishments awaits the visitor whether it be in Metro Manila or in the various provinces in the country.

Entertainment often follows a good meal. Metro Manila bristles and bustles with nightlife and is often heralded as Asia's entertainment capital. There are nightly show bands dishing out bouncy numbers or soulful ballads. There is a wide range of music to choose from - pop, rock, jazz, even Broadway. Some entertainment establishments feature bands or singers that specialize in original Pilipino music (OPM) or have cultural show presentations featuring the traditional folk dances of the country.

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Tours and Transport. Getting around the Philippines is not a problem. Often, it is an advantage in itself. Philippine Airlines (PAL), the national flag carrier, has regular scheduled routes to about 45 points from Batanes in the north to Tawi-Tawi in the south. There are also several air charter companies operating in the country and these companies fly to select tourist destinations anywhere in the Philippines.

Aerolift Philippines, flies regularly to Caticlan, Aklan, the main drop-off point for Boracay Island, and to Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte. Aerolift has introduced a new service to Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya, which is an hour and a half by land to Banawe. Pacific Airways, Inc., another local airline, flies to Cuyo and Coron in Palawan and to three other destinations in the country.

There are about 47 airports being used by PAL and Pacific Airways and other air charter companies, although there are as many as 300 airports, all over the country.

The Philippines has three international airports - the Ninoy Aquino International Airport(NAIA), the Mactan International Airport and the Davao International Airport - with the NAIA as the main gateway. Manila is also served by the Manila Domestic Airport. Cebu and Davao are the hubs on the domestic network and travelers can jump off to other points in the Visayas and Mindanao from these airports. Airport shuttle service for these airports is provided by Nissan Car Lease Philippines.

Land transportation provides a leisurely, albeit longer, alternative to travel the various destinations especially in the main island of Luzon. There are 45 bus companies and 50 tour operators based in Metro Manila alone, and they offer scheduled runs using air-conditioned coaches and vans. Nissan Car Lease Philippines provides another alternative by offering reasonable car rental services.

There are several bus companies that operate a Manila-Davao run. The trip normally takes 36 hours with specified stops along the way.

For Visayas region, which is basically all islands, there are inter island shipping companies which maintain scheduled trips to regular points. From Manila, there are at least 10 shipping lines that offer comfortable amenities. Voyages from Manila to the Visayas often take about 18 to 20 hours, depending on the destinations. Ferry services are available to get from island to island.

For easier arrangements for transportation, it is best to consult tour operators. In Metro Manila, there are tour associations such as the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) and the Philippine Association of Tourist Transport Operators, who offer transportation. assistance. The two tour associations in Cebu are the Cebu tours and Travel Association (CTTA) and the Cebu Association of Tour operators (CATO).

Tour operators boast of complete transport facilities for whatever needs the travelers may have. More importantly, these operators maintain a high standard of quality service and experience to handle the task at hand.

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Shopping. Even the most seasoned shopper and bargain-hunter would find shopping in the Philippines a delightful surprise. Anywhere a traveler might wander - from the northernmost tip of Luzon to the southern bottom of Mindanao quality items can be bought for a bargain.

Philippine products include handicraft items such as carved statues and religious icons; household items such as the Tiffany lamps made of Capiz; jewelry made from gold, silver, brass and pearl; baskets, jars, vases. They include ready-to-wear dresses in the most modern fashions as well as knitwear and traditional clothes such as the Barong Tagalog, the national costume made cloth woven from banana fiber (jusi) or pineapple fiber (pina).

World-famous Philippine furniture made from bamboo, rattan or exquisitely carved wood can be priceless.  Other items include snake or crocodile skin leather products, antiques and shell products.

Department stores in all the major cities also carry an array of imported goods such as perfumery, clothes, jewelry, toys and electronic items, often at cheaper prices than in other countries.

Virtually everything in the Philippines can be bought in Metro Manila. Just along the Tourist Belt (on Mabini Street in Manila proper), a tourist can acquire a wide variety of items from rows of specialty shops. For incoming tourist wishing to go on a hassle-free-shopping expedition there is the duty-free Fiesta Shopping Complex near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

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Festivals. The Filipino are a people known to be industrious and hardworking. Yet there is another side to this. Filipinos are also fun-loving and this can be seen in the fiestas held throughout the country.

Philippine fiestas are a mixture of Christian commemoration, and folk elements, celebrated with great pomp and pageantry. There are many reasons why fiestas are held: as a form of thanksgiving, to pay homage to the town's patron saint, in celebration of a bountiful harvest, or a re-enactment of a historical event. Some of more popular fiestas are the Pahiyas of Lucban and Sariaya, Quezon, Feast of San Clemente of Angono in Rizal, Carabao-festival of Bulacan; Parada ng Lechon of Batangas, Ati-Atihan of Kalibo, Sinulog of Cebu, Masskara Festival of Bacolod Moriones Festival Marinduque Lanzones Festival Camiguin, and Santacruzan and Flores de Mayo which are celebrated nationwide.

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Conventions and Incentives. The Philippines lays claim to being the pioneer of the convention industry in the ASEAN region. It was the first in the region to host the lnternational Monetary Fund-World Bank annual meeting in 1976. The Philippines is a natural convention destination with its excellent facilities, experienced support services and a hospitable working environment. And with its rich culture and heritage, the Philippines also provides the perfect backdrop for incentive travel.

There are nine major convention sites in Metro Manila complemented by 15 de luxe and first class hotels located within the major business and commercial centers in the metropolis. The largest convention site, the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), has a multi-level plenary hall which can accommodate up to 4,000 people. There are 14 meeting rooms and even a press area. The holding of conventions is not limited to Metro Manila for there are more than 10 other convention destinations spread out from the northern to the southern parts of the country. Smaller business meetings may be held in the many hotels and resorts in the country.

The Philippines is also a perfect destination for incentive travelers. Filipino creativity and imaginative flair, spiced with the characteristic of love for fun, makes for theme tours that are sure to make the visitors' stay a memorable one. A number of incentive packages have been developed which highlight the various destinations and attractions of the Philippines.

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Links. For more information, please visit the web sites below:

Philippine Government Department of Tourism
Travel Information of Philippines
Lonely Planet - Destination: The Philippines

Courtesy: The Department of Tourism


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