As an archipelago located in southeast Asia, the Philippines is comprised of 7,107 islands in the Pacific Ocean. With a total population of 90 million people, the Philippines is the 12th most populated country. Spanish used to be the official language of the country, but since 1973, English and Filipino have also been recognized. Although approximately one-hundred and eighty different languages and dialects are spoken among the islands.
The Philippines are home to some to the most amazing tourist attractions in the entire world. The Chocolate Hills are a great mystery. Legend states the hills were formed when two giants threw sand and stones at each other in a fight. When the fight was over, the two giants became friends and departed the island, leaving behind them the mess they made. Still other people believed that the hills are formed from exposed coral formations that are weathered from thousands of years. No matter what the history is, the 1,200 hills are a natural wonder because they are completely uniform in size and shape. Once the dry season ends, the hills which were once lush and green, turn a distinct shade of chocolate brown, hence the name Chocolate Hills.
While shopping in San Luis, many tourists find themselves veering off path to view the Casa Manila. It is a recreation of a 19th century Spanish politicians house, and is a three-story domicile. There is a breathtaking carriage entrance hall, a beautifully landscaped inner courtyard, and a grand staircase that makes for a majestic site in the foyer. Once inside the home, guests will notice the furniture and other accessories which date back to the 1800's. The home is one of the main tourist stops in Manila, and gives people a chance to step back in time.
The Coconut Palace was a $10 million project, built in 1981 for the visit of Pope John Paul. The project was the grand inspiration of former first lady Imelda Marcos. It was named the Coconut Palace, because 70% of the structure is made from the wood of coconut trees. If a tourist desires, they can make arrangements to stay at the Coconut Palace in one of seven suites, each one is named and decorated after a different region in the country.
For a lovely afternoon of sight-seeing, tourists can visit Paco Park. The park is in a circular shape, covered in stone and moss, with a small chapel located in the middle of the park. It was once a cemetery for Spanish aristocrats, but it was converted to a park in 1966.
Cebu is the oldest city in the Philippines, with casinos and five-star hotels located right on the ocean. It is home to Magellans Cross, which is a Christian cross planted by the Portuguese and Spanish and was ordered by Ferdinand Magellan. The cross is inside a small chapel next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino on Magellan Street. The Basilica was formerly known San Agustin Church, founded by Andres de Urdaneta, in 1565. There is also a small museum located inside that houses relics and artifacts representing the history of Christianity in Cebu. These two locations are very important religious attractions for Roman Catholics who visit the Philippines.
In the Philippines, the months of December through February have the cooler weather and the summer season is March through May. There are four types of climates found in the Philippines, dry, rainy, not very pronounced seasons and the country experiences an even distribution of rain. In the Philippines the average year round temperature is 80 øF, which is why it attracts over a million visitors per year.