Interesting, Unusual and Fun Facts About The Philippines

Many people aren’t aware that there are a lot of funny things deeply ingrained in the Filipino culture. Filipinos have a good sense of humour, so much so that they very well know how to laugh at themselves. The Philippines are also known for a number of other things: friendly locals, delicious food, amazing nightlife, beautiful tropical beaches, vibrant urban life, and much more.

In this article, we’re going to tell you facts about Philippine culture that you probably didn’t know about.

1. Filipinos love basketball.

It’s not unusual to see makeshift basketball hoops and courts even in the most remote and rural villages. Basketball is a way of life for Filipinos, mainly because it’s a team sport that is as popular as it is acceptable. The professional league is known as the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), which is also the second oldest in the world just after the NBA.

2. The Philippines is the world’s number 2 producer and exporter of coconuts

Around 19.5 million tons of coconuts are shipped off each year to countries such as Japan, Germany, China, and the United States, making coconuts one of the most important contributors to the local economy. Also referred to as the tree of life, coconut trees provide livelihoods for around a third of the Philippine population.

3. Filipinos are extremely sociable people

We mean – really sociably to the extend that their use of mobile phones for staying in touch with family and friends has earned the country the nickname of being the “texting capital of the world”. It’s one of the most unusual facts about Filipinos, but they will not hesitate to send a lot of text messages – they love it! It’s estimated that Filipinos send around 400 million text messages every day, which corresponds to 142 billion sentences a year. This number is more than the combined number of daily text messages sent in Europe and the United States together. And the number just continues to grow as more people gain access to mobile phones.

4. Filipinos love to eat

Who does not, you say? But in the Philippines have ‘official’ four meals a day. The locals’ love for dining is one of the facts about food that any visitor should know. After breakfast, it’s not uncommon to see Filipinos enjoying a mid-morning break of coffee and bread (locally known as pan de sal); followed by lunch, then a later afternoon snack or dessert known as merienda. Rice is also important in Filipino cuisine, so don’t be surprised if you see locals eating rice with every meal.

5. Guess the bird!

The national symbol of the Philippines is also the national bird: the incredible monkey-eating eagle, also known as the Philippine eagle. It is considered the largest among all eagles, and its wingspan can be as large as 7 feet wide. Sadly, the Philippine eagle is critically endangered and getting caught killing one may be punishable by a heavy fine and up to 12 years in prison. It is estimated that there are less than 500 of them left in the country.

6. Let’s sing!

Karaoke is an important part of Filipino culture. Karaoke bars are a popular social activity among Filipinos of all ages, but it’s also extremely common to see karaokes grace homes throughout the country. Whether one knows how to sing or not, karaoke is a well-loved activity that is also predominant among the rural and provincial areas. Karaoke is so popular all throughout the Philippines that even families who live in nipa or bamboo huts have karaoke equipment!

Another interesting tidbit about karaoke is that the very first karaoke machine in the world was actually build by a Japanese musician and inventor named Daisuke Inoue, although a Filipino inventor named Roberto del Rosario is responsible for patenting the machine. Del Rosario came up with the Karaoke Sing-Along System back in 1975.

7. Filipinos love their shopping malls.

Yes, we mean shopping malls, not just simply shopping. Visitors can probably tell that this is one of the fun facts about the Philippines with just one trip. Even if they don’t buy anything, locals love to hang out in shopping malls because they’re air-conditioned, so are a great way to stay cool despite the humidity outside. Additionally, three of the biggest shopping malls in the world are found in the Philippines: they are the SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, and SM North Edsa.

8. The Philippines are a great destination for buying pearls

Three of the largest pearls known in the world have been found in the Philippines. The biggest of all is the Pearl of Lao Tzu, found in Brooke’s Point, Palawan in 1934 by a Filipino diver. The Pearl of Lao Tzu is 9.45 inches in diameter, and weighs a shocking 14 pounds!

9. One of the most devastating volcanic eruptions ever happened in the Philippines

On June 15, 1991, the Philippines suffered one of the most devastating volcanic eruptions in the history of the world. Located just a few hours away from the capital of Manila, the blast of Mount Pinatubo was so powerful that it sent 10 billion metric tons of magma to the air. The blast caused global temperatures to change by 1 degree.

10. Jeepneys are a quintessential Filipino experience

Jeepneys are a form of transportation that is unique to the Philippines. It’s common to see many locals using jeepneys as their daily means of commuting in large cities around the country right alongside private cars, taxis, and large buses. The designated routes of jeepneys are painted along their windshield or their sides. They can accommodate up to 25 people and have open ventilation. Jeepneys are easily spotted thanks to their vibrant and flashy décor. Jeepneys were originally made from the thousands of military jeeps that the Americans left behind once World War II finished. The resourcefulness of Filipinos saw it as an opportunity to create efficient forms of transportation which are still widely used in present times. Today, jeepneys have become a symbol of Philippine culture and many foreigners purchase miniature versions to take back home as a souvenir.

11. Filipinos have a passion for boxing

Whenever world-famous Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao has a televised fight, it seems like a national holiday throughout the country due to the absence of cars on the road and even people in the mall. This is because Filipinos are glued to the television set, excitedly anticipating the win of Manny Pacquiao. The Philippine National Police has even reported that there is a drop in crime in Metro Manila each time Manny Pacquiao has a fight!

12. The Philippines are home to one of the longest subterranean rivers in the world

Before the discovery of a 10 km underground river in Mexico, Palawan’s Puerto Princesa Subterranean River was recognized as the longest subterranean river in the whole world. These astonishing geography fact continues drawing millions of tourists who come to marvel at the natural wonders of the subterranean river to Puerto Princesa each year.

13. Erythromycin was invented in the Philippines

Erythromycin, a well-known antibiotic in the global medical community, was invented by a Filipino named Dr. Abelardo Aguilar back in 1949. This is one of the important facts about the Philippines because erythromycin has saved millions of lives.

14. Jollibee is as popular in the Philippines as McDonald’s elsewhere

Jollibee is considered iconic in the Philippines. Jollibee is the fast-food equivalent of McDonald’s in the Philippines, a well-known chain that is loved so much that several branches have opened up abroad especially in locations popular with overseas foreign workers (OFW). Back in 1975, Jollibee started out as a humble ice cream parlor by a Filipino named Tony Tran. Over time, it evolved into a fast food chain known for delicious Filipino-style burgers, hotdogs, and spaghetti. Jollibee’s mascot, a bright red bee, is said to represent the Filipino spirit: always “jolly” and optimistic!

15. English is widely spoken

Getting the information you need when you’re traveling around the country is easy because English is widely spoken, even when it’s broken at best. Tagalog is the local language, although there are as many as 175 individual dialects that are spoken in different regions around the country. 171 of these are still in use, but the other four are already considered obsolete.

16. Many Tagalog words have Spanish origin

Because the Philippines was under Spanish rule for over 300 years, many of the Tagalog words used today are actually derived from the Spanish language. It’s estimated that around 20% of Tagalog words are actually Spanish. Common Tagalog words that are actually Spanish are: gwapo (handsome), kwento (story), pamilya (family), sapatos (shoes), and much more.

17. Filipinos like to be polite

One of the most important facts is that politeness is considered an art form in the Philippines. It’s common for locals to address foreigners as “sir” or “ma’am” no matter how old you are; while younger Filipinos refer to older men and women as “ate” (big sister) or “kuya” (big brother), even without relation. Pregnant women, the disabled, and the elderly also have their own special line at banks so that they can bypass the crowd.

18. Catholicism coexists peacefully with ancient beliefs here

Even though the Philippines are predominantly Catholic, Holy Week celebrations in the country get bloody and gory. This is because Catholic beliefs are already so intertwined with ancient customs, one of which is a tradition called penitensya which is a form of asking forgiveness from the gods by whipping oneself bloody. The act is meant to mimic the scene of Jesus’ suffering on the cross before his execution. What’s even more unusual is that penitents can also ask to be crucified on the cross voluntarily. It may seem like a gruesome ritual, but many foreigners enjoy observing the spectacle during Holy Week.

19. 13 is an unlucky number

A great number of Filipinos think that the number 13 is a bad omen. As a result, they believe that 13 people should not sit at a table and the main entrance of a house shouldn’t fall on a number that is divisible by three. They also believe that it is bad to travel on Holy Thursday or Good Friday, as this increases the likelihood of accidents. It’s one of the most unusual facts about Filipinos, but many still believe these!

20. The Philippines are considered a dangerous country for journalists

The Philippines is considered to be one of the most dangerous places for journalists, despite being a democratic country. The Philippines is third on the Impunity Index, which is used to gauge the number of journalist deaths in each population, ranked next to Iraq and Somalia. In 2017, the Philippines were included in the list of the top 5 most dangerous countries for journalists alongside other countries including Mexico, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

21. Christmas is the longest holiday in the Philippines

The Christmas season usually starts in September, as malls already play holiday songs and shopping bazaars begin to sprout throughout the city. Filipinos love celebrating Christmas so much that homes already have decors as early as September. Additionally, there are also several religious activities that Filipinos take part in throughout the Christmas season. These include the Night Mass, known locally as simbang gabi, which is when Filipinos attend mass services 9 days in a row leading up to Christmas Eve, all held at the crack of dawn. It is said that if Filipinos can make the sacrifice of attending the night mass, then their wish will be granted.