Learn About the Philippines


The Philippines is officially the Republic of the Philippines located in Southeast Asia. The country includes roughly 7, 641 islands with an area of 120,000 square miles and approximately 100 million people.

It is the eighth-most populated country in Asia and the 12th most populated country in the world.

The capital city of the Philippines is Manila (1.8 million) and the most populous city is Quezon City (3 million). Find the Philippines on a map, or a globe. It is about 7,292 miles from Santa Clarita to Manila. An airplane flight from Los Angeles to Manila takes 14 1/2 hours.

There are more than 100 languages and dialects in the Philippines. The official language of the Philippines is Filipino, followed by English (used in government communications).


The flag of the Philippines is a rectangular flag with two equal stripes of royal blue and crimson red, with a white, equilateral triangle on the left. The flag’s length is twice its width.

In the center of the triangle is a golden-yellow sun with eight primary rays, representing a province with significant involvement in the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spain — Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Pampanga, Bataan, Laguna, Batangas and Nueva Ecija. At the corners of the triangle are five-pointed, golden-yellow stars, representing one of the country’s three main island groups — Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.


California is home to nearly 1.5 million Filipino-Americans. As of the 1980s, Filipinos have been the largest population of Asians in California. Twenty percent of the registered nurses in California are Filipino.

The Santa Clarita Valley is home to many Filipino-Americans. The Fil-Am Association of Santa Clarita Valley, Inc. (www.filamofscv.org) serves the Filipino-American community in the SCV by hosting numerous social and cultural events.


Filipino cuisine is diverse, with more than 100 distinct cuisines. Popular dishes can range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice or fish or chicken curry to complex paellas and cozidos of Iberian origin created for fiestas.

Favorite foods include whole roasted pig, longganisa (Philippine sausage), tapa (cured beef), adobo (chicken or pork braised in garlic, vinegar, oil and soy sauce), pork blood stew and meat stewed in tomato sauce.

The staple food in the Philippines is rice, as it is in most Asian countries. It is most often steamed and always served with meat, fish and vegetable dishes. Rice flour is used in making sweets, cakes and other pastries.

Sticky rice with cocoa, also called champorado, is also a common dish served with dried herring.

Tropical fruits are often used in cooking including plantains, guavas, mangoes, papayas and pineapples. Leafy green vegetables, such as water spinach, Chinese cabbage, Napa cabbage and vegetables, such as eggplants and yard-long beans, are also commonly used.

A collection of classic and modern Filipino recipes can be found at www.epicurious.com/recipes-menus/classic-and-modern-filipino-recipes-gallery. Spend a weekend making different recipes with your children to learn more about Filipino food.


The Portuguese reportedly visited the Philippines first, as early as 1511, but it was the Spanish, led by Ferdinand Magellan, who are credited with discovering the country in 1521 and claiming it for Spain.

Magellan was killed April 27, 1521, by a poison arrow during a skirmish on the island of Mactan in the Philippines.

In 1543, Ruy López de Villalobos named the islands of Leyte and Samar Las Islas Filipinas after Philip II of Spain.

The Philippines remained under Spanish rule until the Philippine Revolution of 1896. By December 1897, the revolution had resulted in a stalemate between the colonial government and rebels.

On April 25, 1898, the Spanish-American War began. On May 1, 1898, in the Battle of Manila Bay, the Asiatic Squadron of the U.S. Navy, led by Commodore George Dewey aboard the USS Olympia, decisively defeated the Spanish naval forces in the Philippines.

Later that year in December, the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the war and selling the Philippines to the United States for $20 million. It was the end of Spanish rule in the Philippines.

The following year on Feb. 4, the Philippine-American War began with the Battle of Manila between American forces and the new Philippine Republic. The war cost the lives of 4,234 American soldiers and an estimated 12,000 to 20,000 Philippine Republican Army soldiers.

The war ended in 1901 with the capture of the Philippine resistance leader.

The United States helped the Philippines create an independent government and the first election for president was held in 1935. The United States deemed full independence for the Philippines would be granted in 1946.

However, Japan launched a surprise attack on Clark Air Base in Pampanga on the morning of Dec. 8, 1941, just 10 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The occupation of the Philippines by Japan ended with the surrender of Japan in 1945. Approximately 10,000 U.S. soldiers were missing in action in the Philippines when the war ended, more than in any other country in the Pacific or European Theaters.

Elections were held in April 1946, with Manuel Roxas becoming the first president of the independent Republic of the Philippines.

Watch the films “The Great Raid” (2003) about the Battle for the Philippines and the documentary “The Battle of Manila” (2004).


The island of Boracay in the Philippines has become famous around the world for its beautiful white beaches. Tourists flock to the island because of its reputation as one of the most beautiful places in the world.

The Banaue Rice Terraces have been referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” The magnificent terraces are 2,000 years old and were carved into the mountains of Lfugao with the use of very few tools. The terraces are still used today for growing rice and vegetables.

The Mayon Volcano, an active volcano on the island of Luzon, is nicknamed “Perfect Cone” due to its symmetrical cone shape. The volcano is located in Mayon Volcano Natural Park.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park includes a complex cave system that includes a river that flows through the caves before flowing into the sea. The Puerto Princesa Underground River is considered to be one of the “Seven Wonders of Nature.”

The Chocolate Hills in the Bohol Province include 1,260 hills spread out over an area covering approximately 20 square miles. The small hills are covered in grass and as the dry season advances the grass turns from green to brown and starts to look like chocolate. The hills are an iconic landmark of the Philippines.

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