About the Host Country

The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a tropical country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. An archipelago of about 7,100 islands, the country has served as home to the Asian Development Bank Headquarters since 1966, located in Metro Manila, the country’s capital. Culture Languages There are two official languages: Filipino and English. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is also widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education. Clothing People in the Philippines dress for the weather. Casual attire during the day for women are light blouses and shorts. For men collared T- shirts worn over slacks. In the evening skirts are substituted for shorts and the T-shirts are tucked in. Casual clothing is acceptable inside churches and business offices. Dining establishments and hotels impose no dress code but shorts and slippers are deemed improper. For formal occasions, the traditional Barong Tagalog, the Philippine national costume for men, is just as suitable as the suit-and-tie. Business and Money Business hours Most businesses are open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays and 8:00 AM till noon Saturdays. Banks are open from 9:00 AM till 3:00 PM Mondays through Fridays. When banking in the Philippines, it is advisable to have your passport with you for identification. The post offices are open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays only. Stamps for postcards are frequently available from the Concierge Desk at most major hotels. The Philippines uses ZIP codes. Please include them in addressing local mail. The standard lunch hour is noon to 1:00 PM. Most businesses and government offices are closed. Business English is the language used. Sexual equality is more widespread in the Philippines than in other Asian countries. Make sure you have business cards.

Currency The currency in the Philippines is the Peso (PhP) and the Centavo. 100 centavos = P1. Coin denominations are: 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos, P1, and P5. Bill denominations are: 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1, 000 pesos. Foreign currency may be exchanged at your hotel, and in malls, banks and authorized money changing shops. Exchanging money anywhere else is illegal and the laws are strictly enforced. Most large stores, restaurants, hotels and resorts accept major credit cards including American Express, Visa and MasterCard. Traveler’s checks, preferably American Express, are accepted at hotels and large department stores. Personal checks drawn on foreign banks are generally not accepted. Water and Electricity Water Water supply in Metro Manila and in all the other major cities is considered potable. Bottled purified water, spring water or mineral water is often supplied by hotels and resorts, and sold in all grocery stores. Electricity The standard is 220 volts a/c, although 110 volts a/c is also available, especially in major hotels. Transportation and Communication Telephone and mobile phone services Telephone service is modern and you can direct dial anywhere in the world. Public phones are plentiful. Public phones require a minimum of two one-peso coins for a local call. Bayantel - Bayan Telecommunications, Philippines. Globe Telecom - One of the leading mobile phone companies in the Philippines. PLDT - Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company. Smart - One of the leading mobile phone companies in the Philippines. Some Important Telephone Numbers (24-Hour Hotlines): Police and Fire: 757 or 116 Emergency No.: 501- 650 or 501- 728 Directory Assistance: 114 National Operator: 109 International Operator: 108 For other emergency numbers, please refer to Directory. NOTE: It is advisable to always have the telephone number and the address of your embassy or consulate with you. Local land transport Within Metro Manila, the Light Railway Transit* (LRT), which stretches from Caloocan to Baclaran, provides a faster alternative to the regular jeepney. LRT 2* traverses five cities in Metro Manila (namely Pasig, Marikina, Quezon City, San Juan and Manila) along the major thoroughfares of Marcos Highway, Aurora Boulevard, Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard, Legarda and Recto Avenue. The Metro Railway Transit* (MRT) traverses the length of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) and connects North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Pasay City, passing through the major arteries of Makati's financial district.

Air-conditioned taxis provide the best means of transportation around the city, with a flag-down fare of PhP40 on the meter. An extra PhP3.50 will be added for every 500 meters. A vast majority of city buses also travel via EDSA while provincial bus lines have put up various terminals all across the country. The undisputed "King of the Philippine Roads" is the jeepney. Since it first emerged after the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, it has become a fixture in roads all over the country—so much so that it is now considered a symbol of national pride. Jeepneys are adorned with colorful designs that distinguish them from one another, with themes ranging from the serious to the outright silly, but all uniquely Filipino. Always bring loose change when taking public transport. Know the transport schedules. Some destinations are only being serviced intermittently, not to mention extreme weather conditions that will affect these schedules. For more information Visit the Department of Tourism website: www.tourism.gov.ph

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