GEOGRAPHY

The Philippines lie off the southeast coast of Asia between Taiwan and Borneo in the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea. They are composed of 7,107 islands and islets (7,108 at low tide), 2,773 of which are named. The two largest islands, Luzon in the north and Mindanao in the south, account for 65% of the total land area and contain 60% of the country’s population.

Country & population

The population in SBF is estimated at 3,000. Right next to SBF is Olongapo City with a population of approximately 200,000. The adjacent provinces to SBF, Bataan and Zambales, have populations of 491,459 and 569,266 respectively as of  1995. Region III or Central Luzon, encompassing the provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bataan, and Zambales, has a combined population of 6.9 million as of 1995.

Visa & Passports

As visa regulations are fairly fluid, tourists are advised to check with their nearest Philippines embassy for the latest visa requirements before finalising travel arrangements.

Standard tourist visas are issued on arrival and allow a maximum stay of 21 days. However, tourist visas for up to 59 days can typically be obtained from overseas Philippines embassies or consulates. If you arrange for a long-stay visa, make sure the customs official stamps your passport correctly or you may end up with a 21-day visa even though you applied for a longer stay.

All incoming visitors are required to have a passport with a minimum of six months validity. Visa extensions are relatively easy to obtain, and applications for extension can be submitted to any Bureau of Immigration. Express extensions are processed in one business day; otherwise, the process can take as long as a week.

Currency

The currency of the Philippines is the Peso (PHP), which is divided into 100 centavos. Major credit cards are widely accepted in the cities and tourist destinations. Banks do not always accept travelers cheques, but a receipt of purchase is useful. ATMs are available in the major cities. US dollars are widely accepted in Manila and other tourist areas and are the easiest currency
to exchange; otherwise Euros and Pounds Sterling can also be exchanged in banks and hotels. Banks open from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, but their ATMs are open 24 hours. It is best to carry pesos when travelling outside of major centers.
The official currency of the Philippines is the peso (sometimes spelled piso). Banknotes are issued in increments
of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 pesos. Smaller increments of pesos are also issued in coins. The peso is divided into 100 centavos.

Climate

Like the rest of the Philippines, the climate in SBF is tropical. There are two seasons: dry, from November to May, and wet, from June to October. The climate is without extremes. Average temperature is 80 degrees Farenheit or 26 degrees
Celsius.

Heath requirements

No special vaccination certificates are required, except by travellers entering the Philippines from an area infected with yellow fever. Recommended vaccinations include typhoid as there are frequent outbreaks of typhoid fever. There is a malaria risk in parts of the Philippines and visitors should seek medical advice before travelling; urban areas are generally considered risk-free. Dengue fever is a risk throughout the country; the best prevention is to avoid mosquito bites. Tap water is not safe to drink and ice in drinks should be avoided; cholera is a risk in the country and precautions are advised. Sea snakes can be highly venomous; travellers should be cautious in remote coastal waters, lakes and rivers, as anti-venom may not be readily available. Medical care is good in the major cities, although very expensive, however it is limited in the remoter areas. Comprehensive medical insurance is advised.

LANGUAGES

Filipino, based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is widely spoken, Spanish less so. There are over 111 cultural and racial groups, each with its own language or dialect; up to 988 languages have been recorded.

CAPITAL

Capital is Manila.

ELECTRICITY

220 volts (110 volts in Baguio) AC, 60Hz. 110 volts is available in most hotels. Flat and round two- and three-pin plugs are in use.