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Top 10 Fascinating Facts About the Philippines

Updated on March 13, 2016
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10. The Text Capital of the World

In 1995, the Short Message Service was introduced to Filipinos as a promotional gimmick but soon proved to be a useful substitute for telephone calls. At first, only the elderly and hearing impaired caught on. Since the service was free with subscription, it wasn’t long before the public enrolled as they saw a way to exploit the system to communicate freely without being charged. When businesses began to catch on and saw how they were losing money, users began getting charged one Peso for every message sent. At the time, this equated to less than half a penny in United States Currency. Since SMS’s proved to still be more economically affordable, the trend continued to grow and spread. According to 2009 statistics, about 80% of the Philippines population was subscribed to the service, and on average over 1.39 billion messages were being sent daily. The country became known as the unofficial “text capital of the world;” a title it maintained up until the early 2000’s.

9. The Flag

The flag of the Philippines has an adequate amount of symbolism behind it. Commonly referred to as the Three Stars and a Sun, it is adorned with a royal blue and scarlet red band, both of which are parallel to one another. The golden sun with eight rays that protrude from its center symbolize the countries first group of provinces which rebelled against Spain in 1896, sparking the Philippine Revolution. The three golden stars represent the three main islands: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. If the red band is displayed above the blue when hoisted, this indicates that the nation is in a state of war.

8. Inventions

Karaoke is a skillful pastime in which competitors and or amateur singers sing along with recorded music using a handheld microphone. Lyrics are displayed on screen along with changing colors and other visuals to help guide the singer along. To this day, a large number of Filipinos have this in common as a favorite pastime. Music from the 1960’s from artists such as The Beatles and Frank Sinatra had become favorites in the early days of karaoke. A Filipino named Roberto del Rosario, who currently resides as President of the Trebel Music Corporation, is credited with its invention in 1975, but this has been disputed by a Japanese musician named Daisuke Inoue, with little to come of the matter.

7. Biggest Shoes

The city of Marikina can be found on the island of Luzon. This somewhat touristy destination was given the title “Shoe Capital of the Philippines,” because of the fact that it is the largest footwear producer for the country. Sources estimate that around 70% of Filipino shoe production takes place here. The local Shoe Museum houses a wide assortment of dress and casual variants. Part of the famous shoe collection of former First Lady Imelda Marcos is exhibited as well, along with others belonging to celebrities and world leaders. What may strike you as most interesting about the town of Marikina is that it is where the world’s largest pair of wingtip shoes is on public display. They each measure 5.29 meters long or 17.3 feet, and 1.83 meters or 6 feet tall.

6. Philippine Cuisine

Adobo is arguably the most popular of all Filipino dishes. Unofficially, it is considered by many to be a meal that best represents the country. It is made by braising either pork or chicken in a sauce made out of pantry goods that include: vinegar, garlic, cooking oil, bay leaf, soy sauce, and peppercorns. This is generally served as a main course and most often on festive occasions or per request. When Spaniards colonized the Philippines in the late 16th and up through the 17th century, they encountered a cooking process which involved making stew out of vinegar. The original term for it has been lost to history, but it is because of this that they began calling it adobo, the Spanish word for seasoning or marinade. There are numerous variants to this simple dish and often change by the season. Cider vinegar is enjoyed primarily during the end of summer and up through the winter months, while brown sugar coated adobo is a more common meal around Christmas time.

5. Crucifixion Reenactments

The Philippines currently rank third as the most Catholic populated country, which consists of roughly 85% of the population. Holy Week is celebrated by the multitudes each year, but in a much more unusual way than most others are used to. In order to cleanse themselves even more of sin outside of confession, or for other religious reasons, penitents will whip themselves over the back or have someone else do it for them until bloody. This is done to reenact the same suffering Jesus endured before meeting the end of his earthly life. Some Filipinos take this to a new extent by opting to be crucified. Nails are driven through the participants hands and feet, and are mounted onto a cross, but then let down. Such an uncommon practice has attracted tourists because of its uniqueness. Some brave men even go as far as doing it year after year.

4. The Banaue Rice Terraces

The Banaue Rice Terraces are 2,000 year old ridges carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines. They are thought to have been made primarily by hand by ancestors of the indigenous people. This creation is often referred to as the “Filipino Eighth Wonder of the World.” Rice is grown in abundance here, even though it no longer has the appeal to farmers it once did, at an altitude of approximately 1,500 meters or 4,900 feet above sea level. To the delight of locals it was taken off the UNSCEO endangered list and is now properly cared for by locals.

3. Traditions

Maybe one of the most odd and horrifying monsters to come out of Filipino mythology is the “Matruculan”. This creature from the bowls of hell is said to impregnate a virgin and then later come to the home she resides at – depending if married or not – and murder her. He will proceed to cut open the abdomen and eat the fetus. As legend has it, to keep the mother and child out of harm’s way, you must swing a butterfly knife over the woman’s stomach while she is in labor. With this in mind, it makes you wonder what is truly more scary – an evil demon eating a baby before birth, or seeing someone dangling a razor sharp knife over someone about to give birth? Just remember, every country has its share of strange stories and this is not an accurate portrayal of Filipino life, this practice is so uncommon and more for the ‘fun of a good traumatizing story’ that it is not even heard of by many Filipinos.

2. Famous Filipinos

Tim Tebow is likely the most well known person to be born in the Philippines. His parents met at the University of Florida in the late 1960’s and were married in 1971. Four years later the family moved to the Philippines to work as Baptist missionaries and built a ministry. Tim’s wife, Pamela, discovered she was pregnant while still recovering from a coma, induced by amoebic dysentery. The fetus suffered a severe placental abruption limiting chances of survival. Doctors expected a stillbirth and advised an abortion which was turned down by his parents because of their religious beliefs. On August 14th 1987, Tebow was brought into this world alive and well in the town of Manila, the second largest Filipino city. He went on to have an exemplary professional football career in the States and has played on teams such as the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and New York Jets. Other famous Filipinos include professional boxer, Manny Pacquiao and YouTube sensation, Dominic Panganiban.

1. Down With Pepsi

When Pepsi-Cola ran its “Number Fever” promotion in 1992, they offered one million Philippine Pesos to whoever found the lucky number “349” under their bottle cap. Due to what they called a computer glitch, the number was mass produced which equated to thousands of winners. When the company found they were unable to pay their dues, some outraged locals rioted and others even bombed Pepsi’s Filipino bottling plant. Reports state that a women and her child were even killed by a grenade intended to cause damage to a Pepsi truck. High courts in the Philippines have continually turned requests for Pepsi to pay in full what some claim is owed to the people. For now, the matter is resolved but Pepsi’s reputation remains tarnished.

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