Philippines, The Archipelago

General Information


1. The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands covering a land area of 115,739 sq. m. (299,764 sq. km.). Main island groups are Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Capital is Manila. Time Zone is GMT + 8 hours.

2. March to May is hot and dry. June to October is rainy, November to February is cool. Average temperatures: 78°F / 25°C to 90°F / 32°C; humidity is 77%.

3. Final results of the latest Census of Population (POPCEN 2007) conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) placed the Philippine population at 88,574,614 persons as of August 1, 2007. Said results down to barangay level were made official with the signing by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Proclamation No. 1489 on April 16, 2008. (

4. Two official languages — Filipino and English. Filipino which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is also widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education.

5. Some 83% of Filipinos are Catholic. About 5% are Moslem. The rest are made up of smaller Christian denominations and Buddhist.



The Philippines was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. The name of the country was given by Ruy López de Villalobos during his expedition in 1543 when he called the islands of Samar and Leyte “Las Islas Filipinas” after King Philip II who was the reigning monarch of Spain at that time. The name later on came to refer to the entire archipelago.

The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world. It has a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese.

Spain’s colonization brought about the construction of Intramuros in 1571, a “Walled City” comprised of European buildings and churches, replicated in different parts of the archipelago.

The Philippines was held as a colony of Spain for more than 300 years. It declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898 with the hoisting of the Philippine flag by General Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite. But Spain ceded control of the islands to the United States by way of the Treaty of Paris..

In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States. Following the Philippine-American War, the United States brought widespread education to the islands. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous battle of Bataan and Corregidor which delayed Japanese advance and saved Australia.

They then waged a guerilla war against the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. The Philippines regained its independence after the 2nd World War on July 4, 1946.


Reference:  Government Portal of the Republic of the Philippines



The Government of the Philippines

The new Philippine Constitution was ratified in early 1987, signaling the country’s return to democracy.

Three branches of Philippine Government:

A.   Executive Branch

  1. President & Vice President ( note: the president is both the chief of state and head of government)
  2. The Cabinet (Secretaries/Head are appointed by the president with the consent of the Commission on Appointments)         
    1. Department of Agrarian Reform
    2. Department of Agriculture
    3. Department of Budget and Management
    4. Department of Education
    5. Department of Energy
    6. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
    7. Department of Finance
    8. Department of Foreign Affairs
    9. Department of the Interior and Local Government
    10. Department of Health
    11. Department of Justice
    12. Department of Labor and Employment
    13. Department of National Defense
    14. National Economic and Development Authority
    15. Office of the Press Secretary
    16. Department of Public Works and Highways
    17. Department of Science and Technology
    18. Department of Social Welfare and Development
    19. Department of Tourism
    20. Department of Trade & Industry
    21. Department of Transportation & Communications
    22. Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas

B.  Legislative Branch (Bicameral Congress or Kongreso)

    1. The Philippine Senate or Senado ng Pilipinas (24 Senators)
    2. House of Representatives or Kapulungan Ng Mga Kinatawan (Constitution prohibits the House of Representatives from having more than 250 members

C.  Judicial Branch

    1. Supreme Court of the Philippines (justices are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Judicial and Bar Council and serve until 70 years of age).
    2. Court of Appeals
    3. Sandiganbayan