A Brief Introduction to the Philippines

Overview
The Philippines is a country with more than 7,000 islands. It is in the Pacific Ocean and about 100 kilometers southeast from Asia. Spain (1521-1898) and the United States (1898-1946), colonized (controlled) the country. The Philippines, South Korea, and East Timor are the only nations in East Asia where most people practice Christianity.
The Philippine Islands is surrounded on the east by the Philippine Sea, on the west by the South China Sea, and on the south by the Celebes Sea. Borneo island is a few hundred kilometers to the southwest and Taiwan is directly north. On the eastern side of the Philippine Sea is Palau.
Geography
The Philippines has 7,107 islands. Together there are about 300,000 square kilometers of land. The islands are in three groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Luzon is the largest island and Mindanao is the second largest. The Visayas are the group of islands in the central part of the Philippines. The busy port of Manila, on Luzon, is the country's capital and it is the second-largest city after Quezon City. In the Visayas, Cebu City is the largest city. In Mindanao, Davao City is the largest city.
The climate is hot, humid (there is a lot of water in the air), and tropical. The average temperature all year is around 26.5°Celsius. Filipinos usually say there are three seasons: Tag-init or Tag-araw (the hot season or summer from March to May), Tag-ulan (the rainy season from June to November), and Tag-lamig (the cold season from December to February).
The Philippines is in the Pacific Ring of Fire (zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions). Most of the mountainous islands had a lot of tropical rainforests a long time ago. They started as volcanoes. The highest place is Mount Apo on Mindanao at 2,954 m. Many volcanoes in the country, for example Mount Mayon, are active. The country also has about 19 typhoons per year.
Taal Volcano is an island within Taal Lake which sits in a ancient caldera. Located in Batangas Province, it's about 2 hours by bus going south from Manila. The jump-off point in Talisay. It's suitable for day trips and overnighters.
History
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. In 1898, after 350 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos, with leaders like Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo, succeeded in winning their independence.
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 in 1946.
People
The Filipino is basically of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish, and Arab blood. The Philippines has a population of 76.5 million as of May 2000, and it is hard to distinguish accurately the lines between stocks. From a long history of Western colonial rule, interspersed with the visits of merchants and traders, evolved a people of a unique blend of east and west, both in appearance and culture.The American occupation was responsible for teaching the Filipino people the English language. The Philippines is currently the third-largest English speaking country in the world.
Language
Filipino and English are the official languages of the Philippines, but more than 180 languages and dialects are spoken in the archipelago, almost all of them belonging to the Borneo-Philippines group of the Malayo-Polynesian language branch of the Austronesian language family.
 According to the 1987 Constitution, Filipino and English are both the official languages. Many Filipinos understand, write and speak English, Filipino and their respective regional languages.
 Both Spanish and Arabic are recognized as auxiliary languages in the Filipino Constitution, to be "promoted on a voluntary and optional basis". The use of Arabic is prevalent among Filipino Muslims and taught in madrasah (Muslim) schools.
Culture
Filipino culture is strongly influenced by both Western and Eastern traditions. It is a mix of native (Austronesian), Spanish, Mexican, American, Negrito and Chinese cultures.
Before the Spanish arrived, the Filipinos did not think of themselves as one people. The Spaniards came in 1565, and brought with them Spanish culture. They soon spread to the islands making forts and schools, preaching Christianity, and converting the native peoples to the Catholic religion. When the United States colonized the islands in 1898, the Americans brought with them their culture, which has the strongest influence up to now. This makes the Philippines the most Westernized country in eastern Asia.
Each year major festivities called barrio fiestas are held. They commemorate the Patron saints of the towns, villages and regional districts. The festivities includes church services, street parades, fire works, feastings, dance contests and cockfights.
Religion
Predominantly Christian.
Catholics - 82.9%
Protestants - 5.4%
Islam - 4.6%
Philippine Independent Church - 2.6%
Iglesia ni Cristo - 2.3%
Historically, the Filipinos have embraced two of the great religions of the world - Islam and Christianity. Islam was introduced during the 14th century shortly after the expansion of Arab commercial ventures in Southeast Asia. Today, it is limited to the southern region of the country.
Christianity was introduced as early as the 16th century with the coming of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.
Protestantism was introduced by the first Presbyterian and Methodist missionaries who arrived with the American soldiers in 1899.
Two Filipino independent churches were organized at the turn of the century and are prominent today. These are the Aglipay (Philippine Independent Church) and the Iglesia Ni Kristo (Church of Christ) founded in 1902 and 1914, respectively. Recently the Aglipay signed a covenant with the Anglican Church. The Iglesia ni Kristo has expanded its membership considerably. Its churches, with their unique towering architecture, are landmarks in almost all important towns, provincial capitals, and major cities. 
Metro Manila Skyline.
Metro Manila Skyline.
Cebu City Business Park.
Cebu City Business Park.
Manila Cathedral, officially the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, is mother church of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines.
Manila Cathedral, officially the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, is mother church of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines.