An archipelago of 7,107 islands, the Philippines stretches from the south of China to the northern tip of Borneo. The country has over a hundred ethnic groups and a mixture of foreign influences, which have molded a unique Filipino culture.
Before the Spanish explorers came, Indo-Malays and Chinese merchants had settled here. In 1521 the Spaniards, led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, discovered the islands. The Spanish conquistadors established a colonial government in Cebu in 1565. They transferred the seat of government to Manila in 1571 and proceeded to colonize the country. The Filipinos resisted and waged Asia's first nationalist revolution in 1896. On June 12, 1898, Emilio Aguinaldo declared the Philippines independent from Spain and proclaimed himself president. After ruling for 333 years, the Spaniards finally left in 1898 and were replaced by the Americans who continued to colonize the country for another 48 years. The Americans brought over their educational system, their legal system, and their democratic form of government. On July 4, 1946, the Americans finally recognized Philippine independence.
Considered as the third largest-English speaking country in the world, the Philippines has world-class facilities and services such as excellent accommodations, fine restaurants, modern shopping centers and communications services, efficient congress and exhibition organizers, and reliable tour operators.
Filipinos are hardworking, competent and highly-educated. These are the most compelling advantages the Philippines has over any other Asian country. With education as priority, literacy rate in the country is 94.6%. English is taught in all schools. Every year, 350,000 tertiary level graduates enrich the professional pool.
Strategic Business Location
The Philippines is located right in the heart of Asia - today the fastest growing region in the world. It is located within 4 hours flying time from major capitals of the region. Sited at the crossroads of eastern and western business, it is a critical entry point to over 500 million people in the ASEAN market and a gateway of international shipping and air lanes suited for European and American businesses.
Discover the best of sun, sea, sand and style in tropical setting teeming with the best of western amenities. The Philippines is second home to expatriates who enjoy the company of the warmest people in the region, the country's openness to varied cultures and a decidedly global outlook. Expats enjoy accessible and affordable luxuries - business centers, housing, schools, hospitals, shopping malls, hotels and restaurants, beach resorts, and recreation centers.
An archipelago like the Philippines offers diverse natural resources, from land to marine to mineral resources. It is also the biggest copper producer in Southeast Asia and among the top ten producers of gold in the world. It is also home to 2,145 fish species, four times more than those found in the Bahamas. The 7,107 islands boast beautiful beaches and breathtaking sceneries offering soothing leisure and relaxation spots for vacationers and tourists.
Low Cost of Doing Business
Wages are typically less than a fifth of that in the U.S. Local communication, electricity and housing costs are also 50% lower compared to U.S. rates. Foreign companies outsourcing programming and business processes to the Philippines estimate 30% to 40% business cost savings, 15% to 30% call center services and application systems and 35% to 50% software development.
Liberalized and Business-Friendly Economy
An open economy allows 100% foreign ownership in almost all sectors and supports a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) investment scheme that other Asian countries emulate. Government corporations are being privatized and the banking, insurance, shipping, telecommunications and power industries have been deregulated. Incentive packages include the corporate income tax, reduced to a current 32%, with companies in the Special Economic Zones subject to only 5% overall tax rates. Multinationals looking for regional headquarters are entitled to incentives such as tax exemptions and tax and duty-free importation of specific equipment and materials.
Unlimited Business Opportunities
As Asian economies integrate within the vast framework of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), the Philippines is the natural and most strategic location for firms that want access to the large ASEAN market and its vast trade opportunities. The Philippines has enhanced and primed up various areas for investors and offers a dynamic consumer market accustomed to an array of product choices created by a competitive domestic economy.
Developing Infrastructure for Global Growth
A well-developed communication, transportation, business and economic infrastructure links the three major island groupings. Highly accessible by air, water and cyberspace, the economic infrastructure is becoming more competitive with the liberalization of inter-island shipping and domestic aviation which has further improved facilities and services. The container terminals are suited to handle cargo traffic at the highest levels of efficiency communication provides redundant international connectivity 24/7 with fiber optic cable as primary backbone network and satellite as backup. Economic reforms emphasize regional growth, converting remote areas into business centers. The landmark BOT legislation allows private investors to build and operate infrastructure, then turn it over to the Philippine government after a set period of time.
All You Need and More
The Philippines offer state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities, adequate and uninterrupted power supply. There are ready-to-occupy offices and production facilities, computer security and building monitoring systems, as well as complete office services in specialized IT zones. With the government's focus on building up an IT-enabled economy, the Philippines is on its way to becoming the E-services Hub of Asia.
Manila, Cebu, Davao, Clark, Subic, and Laoag are the international gateways. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila is the premier gateway. It is served by more than 30 airlines, which fly to different cities around the world. Philippine Airlines, the country's flag carrier, links Manila to 24 cities in 13 countries. Major cruise liners call on the port of Manila.
The Philippines has a liberal policy in the entry of foreign nationals with or without visas, depending on their country of origin or place of residence. Nationals holding ordinary passports from the People's Republic of China are required to obtain visas to enter the Philippines. Visas and special permits may be obtained from Philippine missions abroad. Application forms may be downloaded from the websites of various Philippine embassies and consulates.
Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is 7 km. from the city center while the Manila Domestic Airport is one km. from the NAIA. The international airports have adequate traveler facilities: duty-free and souvenir shops, tourist information and assistance counters, hotel and travel agency representatives, car rental services, banks and automated teller machines, postal service, national and international direct dial telephone booths, medical clinics, and baggage deposit areas.
What to Wear
Light, casual clothes are recommended. Warmer garments are needed for mountain regions. When visiting churches and temples, propriety dictates that shorts and scanty clothing be avoided. Formal occasions require dinner jackets and ties (or the Philippine Barong Tagalog) for men and cocktail dresses or long gowns for women.
Tipping is expected for many services. The standard practice is 10% of the total bill. Tipping is optional on bills that already include a 10% service charge.
In Metro Manila, key cities and towns throughout the country, a wide selection of deluxe, standard, economy, and pension-type accommodations is available. In island destinations, there is a variety of resorts ranging from deluxe to special interest category. The Department of Tourism has a Homestay Program in several destinations outside Manila. The program offers visitors the comfort of modest homes and an insight into Philippine life. For information, contact the Tourist Information Center at Room 106, Department of Tourism Bldg., tel. nos. (+632) 5242384 / 5241703.
Filipino food is an exotic, tasteful blend of Oriental, European, and American culinary influences. There is a wide variety of fresh seafood and delectable fruits. First class restaurants offer gourmet specialties as well as Filipino cuisine.
Entertainment and Culture
Metro Manila is the center of entertainment and cultural activities. The premier venue for the performing arts, the Cultural Center of the Philippines features world-class performances by local and international guest artists. Museums located in Manila and in some parts of the country offer a glimpse of Philippine history and culture. Art galleries exhibit the works of the country's leading and promising visual artists.
Manila's nightlife is one of the most vibrant in Asia, reflecting the Filipinos' love for music. The hubs of nightlife activities are the Remedios Circle in Malate, Ayala Center and The Fort at Bonifacio Global City in Makati, Timog and Tomas Morato Avenues in Quezon City, and Eastwood in Libis, Quezon City. Nightclubs, music lounges, pubs, and sing-along bars feature Filipino bands and singers who are known for their great musical talent. Deluxe hotels offer a variety of live musical entertainment. Concerts and stage plays form part of the country's entertainment scene.
For visitors who want to try their luck at the gaming tables, there are casinos in Metro Manila and in the cities of Angeles, Olongapo, Tagaytay, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, and Laoag.
Visitors can choose from an exciting selection of great buys in a country known for export-quality items at reasonable prices: South Sea pearls, hand-woven cloth, terracotta, porcelain, coral and mother-of-pearl home accessories. Artifacts, pineapple fiber shirts, prehistoric jars, native handicrafts, and footwear are interesting items, too.
The Philippines also produces fine basketry, furniture, fresh and processed fruits, exquisitely crafted jewelry, and gift items made of shell, wood, and stone.
Big malls are located in Manila, Makati and EDSA, while handicraft, antique and curio shops abound at the Ermita District in Manila.
The country has international and national direct dial phone and facsimile services, mobile phone sites, Internet and e-mail facilities, and worldwide express delivery service. The postal system is efficient. Most national dailies are in English. Foreign publications are sold at major hotels, malls, and bookstores in Metro Manila and key cities. There are 6 national television stations which broadcast mainly in Filipino. Cable TV is available in many hotels in Manila and in many parts of the country.
Manila, the pioneer convention city in Asia, has played host to a number of prestigious international events. The Philippine International Convention Center is equipped with modern convention facilities and services. It can accommodate 4,000 delegates in its Plenary Hall and 5,700 persons in its Reception Hall. The World Trade Center near the PICC can hold huge exhibitions and events. Smaller meetings can be held in hotels and other establishments. Out-of-town hotels and resorts are alternative convention sites.
Hospitals in the country are equipped with modern facilities to meet any medical need. In some remote towns and cities, clinics and health centers provide emergency medical attention. Most hotels and resorts provide medical assistance. Hospitals are listed in the "Yellow Pages" of the local telephone directory.