Dive Into The Colorful, Tropical Philippines

by Kayla Patterson

With more than 7,000 islands, and more than 92 million people speaking a variety of languages and adhering to a myriad of traditions, the Philippines has endless opportunity for cultural immersion. Many colleges and universities throughout the country offer courses for all kinds of subject areas. Study abroad in the Philippines, the “Pearl of the Orient,” and dive right into the Filipino way of life.

Flashy, fun Jeepneys of the Philippines

Flashy, fun Jeepneys symbolize the Filipino way of life 

Geography & Climate

Located in the western Pacific Ocean, the Philippines is a prominent part of Southeast Asia. The archipelago is surrounded by the Luzon Strait, the South China Sea, the Sulu Sea, the Celebes Sea, and the Philippine Sea. It is a short flight from many countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand. The country itself is divided into three regions: Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

Due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the Philippines can experience earthquakes and typhoons, though its tropical climate makes for some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Covered in rainforests, the islands are a mountainous landscape that is lush and green year-round. Many active and inactive volcanoes remain in and around the islands, which make for abundant mineral deposits. In fact, the Philippines has one of the largest copper deposits in the world, and the second-largest gold deposit on the planet. Trekking, mountain biking, climbing, and scuba diving are some of the more popular outdoor activities here. The Philippine islands are renowned for having some of the best scuba spots on earth.

Culture & People

Filipinos are known for their generosity, friendliness, and talent. Yes, talent. Filipinos are often very gifted singers, perhaps in part for their love of karaoke; you also will be hard-pressed to find a Filipino who can't dance well. Talent aside, Filipinos are truly some of the most gracious people you will ever meet. It is not uncommon for families to welcome you into their home and prepare a meal in your honor. Many study-abroad programs in the Philippines allow students to live in homestays, where they are regarded as an honored guest.

Filipino culture is diverse throughout the islands. It is described as a combination of Eastern and Western cultures, and displays Spanish, Asian, and American influences. Many traditions and holidays are also influenced by the nation's religion. More than 90 percent of the population is Christian, with the majority identifying with the Catholic Church.

Kalanggaman Island, just one of the pristine beaches you can visit in the Visayas region.

Kalanggaman Island, just one of the pristine beaches you can visit in the Visayas region.

Photo by Ian Delgado

Getting Around The Philippines

Wherever you study abroad in the Philippines, you'll want to take the time to explore your surroundings. Traveling between islands is best accomplished by air, at surprisingly affordable rates, but can also be done by boat or ferry. Within cities, there are a few common types of transportation. With the exception of some of the larger metropolitan cities, such as Manila, cars are less prominent than pedicabs, tricycles, and Jeepneys. Pedicabs usually travel short distances, as they are human-powered bicycles with sidecars, whereas tricycles will travel a bit farther since they are motorized bikes with sidecars. Jeepneys are best for longer distances, and are the Philippine equivalent of a public bus system. Jeepneys are open-air buses that were originally made from a surplus of U.S. military jeeps after WWII. They are famous for their flamboyant and unique decor and have become a symbol of Philippine culture.

Whether you study abroad in a big city or in a remote region of the Philippines, you are sure to get a cultural experience that will leave you with a deep appreciation for the Filipino way of life.