Hello! This is Lara Titan from Manila, Philippines. And I am here as your guide to introduce my exotic and tropical country – the Philippines  to all of you. Hope my articles will help you know Filipinos better. smile

In this article we will discuss 7 interesting facts about the Philippines you more likely don't know.

Interesting facts about the Philippines

  1. English language in the Philippines
  2. Philippines – the world's main coconut producer
  3. King Philip II of Spain
  4. World leadership in text messages
  5. The world's largest known pearls
  6. Birth control in the Philippines
  7. Filipinos and white people

Fact 1: English language in the Philippines

According to the 2010 census, 90 million people in the Philippines speak English, making it the third largest English-speaking nation behind the U.S. and India.

This is due to the fact that we were colonized by the Americans for almost 50 years and teaching English to the local population was one of their priorities.

Foreigners studying English in the Philippines
Foreigners studying English at one of the country’s universities.
Majority of them are South Koreans who chose to study in the Philippines
mainly because of cheaper tuition fees

Fact 2: Philippines – the world's main coconut producer

The Philippines is the world’s leading producer of coconuts, having produced 19.5 million tons of the fruit in 2010.

In the Philippines we call the tree of coconut as the “Tree of Life” because almost every part of the coconut tree has use. For example, the fruit can be eaten as food and its juice can be a substitute to water (which is believed to have detoxifying capabilities), the coconut husk can be used as a floor shiner, the trunk of the tree can be used on a nipa hut (the Philippine traditional house) and the leaves can be used as a plate when eating or when dried can be woven into hats.

Coconut tree at Panglao Island
Coconut tree at Panglao Island

Fact 3: King Philip II of Spain

The name of the country  the Philippines – was named after King Philip II of Spain.

In 1543, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the archipelago Las Islas Filipinas in honor of Philip II of Spain or better known as “Felipe II” in Spain.

King Philip II
King Philip II

Fact 4: world leadership in text messages

In 2009, about 1.39 billion SMS messages were being sent in the Philippines daily. The country was one of the earliest adopters of text messaging, earning the moniker “text capital of the world”.

I remember a British friend of mine who visited in the Philippines six years ago. I told him about this information and he was not surprised at all. He told me “I think it is possible because everywhere I look there is always someone who is texting” :D But now I think it is less because since there are WiFi connections and data plans. More Filipinos are more into mobile applications these days such as Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.

World leadership in text messages

Fact 5: the world's largest known pearls

The three largest known pearls in the world were found in the Philippines.

The Pearl of Lao Tzu (also known as Pearl of Allah) is the largest known pearl in the world. It was found in Brookes Point, Palawan by a Filipino diver in 1934. The pearl, which measures 9.45 inches in diameter and weighs 6.4 kilograms (14 lbs), is a “clam pearl” or “Tridacna pearl” from a giant clam Tridacna gigas.

The world's largest known pearl

The “Palawan Princess”, considered as the world’s second largest pearl was also discovered off the coast in Palawan island. The pearl weighs 2.27 kilograms (5 lbs).

Though the Pearl of Lao Tzu is currently the officially recognized largest pearl ever discovered, the Pearl of the King, is said to be bigger measuring at 18 inches in diameter and weighing 9 kilograms. The Pearl of the King was also discovered off the Philippines coast.

Fact 6: birth control in the Philippines

Birth control just became legal in the Philippines in 2014.

The Philippines has one of the highest birth rates in the world. As a predominantly Catholic country the Catholic Church has a large influence in the society. Other than the fact that abortion is banned by the law, birth control just became legal in the country in 2014.

The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 which paved the way for the legalization of Birth control pills, IUDs, condoms and other forms of birth control was very controversial and was largely debated in the government before it was passed two years later. But with a long history of not planning families, it’s likely that there won’t be any real change anytime soon.

Birth control in the Philippines

Fact 7: Filipinos and white people

White people are gloried as attractive here. This is the case in many Asian countries, and the Philippines is no exception. In my country if you are a white person walking on the street people would just look at you especially if you are in a smaller city or town.

When I had a teaching internship in Indonesia I found out that there if you are white and you go to a tourist attraction for example, more often than not, local people would ask if you could pose for a picture with them. During my first few days I found that unbelievable. The same thing goes when you are tanned in a predominantly “white country”, then you are considered “exotic”.

In general, I think it is in the human nature that whatever you don’t have or in your immediate environment you tend to think that a particular feature is beautiful.

White people in the Philippines

© Lara Titan for 7mango. Manila, Philippines
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