23 Interesting Facts About The Philippines That Might Excite Or Shock You

23 Interesting Facts About The Philippines That Might Excite Or Shock You

If you have ever seen a bizarre sailboat with two outriggers in the picturesque backdrop, the snapshot has been made in the Philippines with a 99% probability. White sand, blue sky, spellbinding landscapes, all these characterize this archipelagic country located in Southeast Asia.

For a tourist, the Philippines may be the exact point on the map which might be called paradise in the general sense of the word. At the same time, for a researcher, this country might be fascinating from the perspective of its culture, history, and nature. Let's take a look at some curious and exciting facts about the Philippines.

How many islands are there?

An Island in the Philippines

As you know, the Philippines is an island country. But how many islands the Philippines contain? According to the last count [1], there are, in fact, 7,641 islands. The recent research of NAMRIA has revealed 534 new islands that have not been previously known. A curious fact, 5,000 islands of the total 7,641 have no name [2].


The Philippines have two official languages, eight major dialects, 76-78 major language groups, with more than 500 dialects [3]. At the same time, also worth noting that the Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world [4].


Over 4.7 million foreign tourists visited the Philippines in 2013 [5]. According to the official statistics [6], the tourists from Korea, China, and the USA spend the most money in the Philippines.


Though Manila is not included on the list of the most populated cities of the world, the capital of the Philippines heads the rating of the cities by population density [7]. Manila has more than 70 thousand residents per square kilometer of land [8]. The total population of the Philippines is 103,320,222 [9], as of 2016.

Coconut Production

The Philippines and Indonesia share the market of coconut production [10]. Previously, The Philippines were the leader of the industry. However, recently, Indonesia managed to dethrone The Philippines from the leading position. According to the current estimates, the Philippines produces 153,532,000 Tonnes of coconuts [11], while Indonesia, 183,000,000 Tonnes, respectively.

Natural disasters

According to the UN World Risk Index Report (2016) [12], the Philippines is in the 3d place in the list of natural disaster risk. Indeed, the country suffered from a countless number of typhoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and other natural disasters. [13]

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River

Puerto Princesa underground river

Photo credit: paweesit@flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Have you ever heard of the New7Wonders of Nature initiative, started in 2017? The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is in the list. The river flows towards the South China Sea. The cave, where the underground river flows, is more than 24 km (15 mi) long.

Living Amid Graves & Bones

A shocking fact, a lot of the Philippine residents have no home. As a result, they are forced to reside in the cemetery [14]. The vast majority of settlers are old folk and children. You might have been surprised, but the children may swim in an inflatable pool among tombstones, while the adults are playing a version of billiards. Of course, the reason for such a behavior is poverty.


Maybe you will not believe it, but Filipinos like to eat the developing bird embryos. They call this dish “Balut [15]” The difference between boiled egg and balut is evident. In fact, we also eat a bird embryo. However, unlike Filipinos, we prefer to cook the egg before protein and yolk turned into a fetus.

Taal Volcano

Taal Volcano

Taal is the world's smallest [16] active volcano located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Despite its size, Taal claimed around 5-6,000 lives during several disastrous eruptions. The tragic events happened because of closeness to populated areas.


Yo-yo is a toy which has been popular in the 1920s. There is a widespread misleading that the toy first appeared in the Philippines. These data are partly correct. In fact, the history of the yo-yo traced since 440 BC [17]. The toy was previously known as “bandalore [18].” However, it would be fair to note, that we know the modern Yo-yo thanks to Pedro Flores, a Filipino immigrant to the United States, who opened the Yo-yo Manufacturing Company in California [19]. But still, according to the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the word “yo-yo” presumably derived from the northern Philippine word “yóyo.”


A bizarre fact, divorce is strictly prohibited in the Philippines [20]. However, the locals struggle to legalize it. Nonetheless, a variety of reports appeared recently that the Philippines have become closer to the matter of allowing divorce [21].


Even though the word “gamecock” was first recorded in 1634 [22], Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan's chronicler had been witnessing cockfighting in 1521, in the kingdom of Taytay, the place currently known as Palawan, Philippines [23]. As a result, we may consider the Philippines as the birthplace of cockfighting. Indeed, this kind of “sport” is a popular pastime in the Philippines.

Ferdinand Magellan

As for Magellan, his expedition reached the Spice Islands in 1521. Unfortunately, the Philippines was the final destination of the prominent voyager since he has been killed by a local during the Battle of Mactan. By the way, a curious fact is that, close to the monument of Magellan, there is another statue of his killer, the local tribe leader.

The Name

Though Ferdinand Magellan was the one who discovered the Philippines, the country bears its name in honor of Prince Philip (later King Philip II) of Spain [24]. Also worth noting that the state was changing its name several times because of various wars, revolts, and coup d’etat.

Filipino healers

It's always a doubtful matter when it comes to alternative medicine. But the fact is that there is a group of healers in the Philippines who create wonders. There is no proof of their method. However, many people claim that the Filipino healers have assisted them with many diseases.

The technic looks bizarre and even may shock. The uniqueness of these healers is that they undertake complicated surgeon operations without medical equipment using only their bare hands. A healer penetrates inside the stomach of a patient and pulls out the “excess” viscera. Watch the video above to get acquainted with such a weird approach in medicine.

The hanging coffins of Sagada

Hanging Coffins

You might be shocked by a weird fact that the Filipino bury the dead in the hanging coffins [25]. This custom is also met in China, Indonesia, and Tibet. If you want to see such a bizarre picture, you may visit the Sagada town in the Philippines. The custom exists for two thousand years. In Sagada, you can see the unusual funerary structures of coffins hanging high above the earth on the rocks.


Sama Bajau people

Sama-Bajau [26] or Sea Gypsies is a tribe which lives a seaborne lifestyle in the Philippines. These people almost never go ashore and live in small wooden sailing vessels or the huts on stilts in the sea. These marine nomads live thanks to fishing. They exchange fish for fresh water, rice, and all other necessary goods. An interesting fact is that the Sama-Bajau people are excellent divers, who are capable of diving to a depth of 30 meters without any equipment.

Chocolate Hills of Bohol

Chocolate Hills of Bohol

Chocolate Hills [27] are a geological formation that located in the Bohol province of the Philippines. The total number of the hills is 1,268 [28]. Their height is from 30 meters to 120 meters. The hills are covered by the grass and have the cone shape. During the dry season, when the grass withers, the hills resemble giant chocolate kisses, whence the name.

The world's biggest pearl

The world's biggest pearl was discovered twelve years ago close to Palawan [29]. A local who took out this pearl from a shell was unaware of its value and kept it as a mascot thereby. The weight of this giant pearl is 34kg (nearly 75 pounds). By the way, the actual cost of the pearl exceeds $100 Million. The pearl discovered in the Philippines has no name; but its price is higher than those of the current “world’s largest” pearl, the Pearl of Allah, which is valued at $35 million. It was found in Palawan, Philippines, in 1934 as well. [30]

San Juanico Bridge

San Juanico Bridge

Photo credit: Rabosajr (CC BY-SA 3.0)

San Juanico Bridge is a unique bridge which connects Samar and Leyte. The total length of the bridge is 2.16 kilometers, which construction cost US$22 million [31]. Construction of the bridge lasted for four years and was completed in 1973. It was damaged by Typhoon Haiyan but quickly repaired within one month.

Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice Terraces

Banaue Rice Terraces is a system of irrigated rice terraces in the Philippines created two millennia ago [32]. However, according to the alternative opinion, the terraces were built much later [33]. In any case, the structure looks amazing and astonishing. By the way, to this day, the locals plant rice and vegetables on the terraces. According to a belief, the Ifugao people were the constructors of these rice terraces.



Photo credit: Nigel Goodman (CC BY 2.0)

There are a lot of devout Catholics in the Philippines who every Good Friday pass through the process of Crucifixion [34]. You were not mistaken; the devotees called “magdarame” are willingly crucified, in honor of Jesus Christ’s suffering. The event attracts a lot of spectators who watch all the preparatory actions as well as the rite itself. It’s worth noting that the officials condemn such a bloody ritual. However, the devotees believe that they might be closer to Jesus in such a way.

List of references:

  1. More islands, more fun in PH | CNN Philippines ?
  2. Namria ‘discovers’ 400 previously ‘unknown' PHL islands using IfSAR ?
  3. General Information | Department of Tourism Philippines ?
  4. History | Department of Tourism Philippines ?
  5. About The Philippines | National Government Portal ?
  6. Industry Performance For Travel And Tourism | Department of Tourism Philippines ?
  7. List of cities by population density | Wikipedia ?
  8. Philippine Population Density | Philippine Statistics Authority ?
  9. Philippine population | The World Bank ?
  10. Exporting fresh coconut to Europe | CBI ?
  11. The World Leaders In Coconut Production | World Atlas ?
  12. United Nations University ?
  13. Philippines: A country prone to natural disasters | Deutsche Welle ?
  14. Hard Life Among the Dead in the Philippines | The New York Times ?
  15. Balut — how to eat that fertilized duck egg of the Philippines | CNN Travel ?
  16. Taal Volcano, World's Smallest Active Volcano | CNN iReport ?
  17. Yo-yo | Wikipedia ?
  18. bandalore | Merriam-Webster ?
  19. Pedro Flores | National Yo-Yo // Web Archive ?
  20. Divorce Is Prohibited In The Philippines, But Moves Are Underway To Legalize It | National Public Radio ?
  21. Philippines moves closer to allowing divorce ?
  22. gamecock | Merriam-Webster ?
  23. Taytay, Palawan | Wikipedia ?
  24. About The Philippines | National Government Portal ?
  25. The hanging coffins of Sagada, Philippines ?
  26. Sama-Bajau | Wikipedia ?
  27. Chocolate Hills Natural Monument | UNESCO ?
  28. Chocolate Hills of Bohol ?
  29. 34kg pearl found in Philippines ‘is world's biggest' | BBC ?
  30. This $100 Million Pearl Is the Largest and Most Expensive in the World | Forbes ?
  31. San Juanico Bridge | Wikipedia ?
  32. Banaue rice terraces | Encyclopedia Britannica ?
  33. For Ifugao rice terraces, age should not matter | Inquirer.net ?
  34. The crux of the matter: The Filipinos crucified on Good Friday | CNN ?