Philippine Trivia | Fun Things About The Philippines

News > Philippine Trivia | Fun Things About The Philippines

The Philippines is popular for its gorgeous natural landscapes — from crystal-clear beaches to the majestic Mayon Volcano. Manny Pacquiao, Philippine pride and one of the world’s most famous boxers, also hails from the nation. However, many are unaware of its rich and intriguing history and culture. From bizarre delicacies to complicated natural cave systems, behold some of the most interesting Philippine trivia!

Trivia #1: The Spanish Language Was The Philippines’ Official Language For Three Centuries

Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte Philippines
Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte, Philippines

Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines. However, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi was the one who spread Spanish culture throughout the region. His success made Spanish the official Philippine language from the 16th to the 19th century.

The Spanish greatly influenced Filipino culture. They even converted many Filipinos to Christianity. Filipinos spoke Spanish in government, economic, and educational fields. In addition, Filipinos started crafting music and arts in Spanish.

You see the prevalence of Spanish in the literature created by Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero. In his stories, he stirred the Filipinos’ love for their country. Subtle yet evocative, Rizal’s verses and prose gradually but firmly nurtured Filipino national pride.

The Father of Philippine Journalism, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, spoke, debated, and wrote in Spanish. While in Spain, he penned his first pamphlet, La Soberania Monacal en Filipinas (Friar Supremacy in the Philippines).

Baroque Spanish cathedrals, fortresses, and bahay na bato (stone houses) still stand in the Philippines. Intramuros shines as an example of Spanish impact on Philippine architecture.

The Spaniards’ 300-year rule over the Philippines ended in 1898, with support from the United States. Liberated, Filipinos finally expressed themselves in their own mother tongue, shunning the language of their former colonizers.

Presently, Tagalog and English are the main languages in the Philippines, not Spanish. However, in Zamboanga City, many people speak a Spanish-based Creole language called Chavacano. Although many Filipinos can’t speak or understand pure Spanish, many Spanish words have been incorporated into Tagalog and regional dialects.

Trivia #2: Manila Was The Most Devastated Allied Capital City In The Pacific Theater During World War II

Intramuros, Manila, Philippines after the Battle of Manila during WWII
Intramuros, Manila, Philippines after the Battle of Manila

The Battle of Manila took place from February 3 to March 3, 1945, during World War II. It was a major conflict in the Philippine campaign, fought by U.S. and Filipino forces against Japanese troops in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. Approximately 1,000 U.S. soldiers and 16,000 Filipino soldiers lost their lives. The battle also resulted in the death of at least 100,000 civilians and the complete devastation of the city.

It’s considered one of the most intense urban battles ever fought by American forces. With the huge amount of collateral damage and casualties, many historians put the destruction on Manila second only to Warsaw, Poland, during World War II. Overall, more than 17,000 American soldiers lost their lives in the Philippines during the war. Many were buried at the Manila American Cemetery in Taguig, a city near Manila.

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Taguig, Philippines
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Taguig, Philippines

Trivia #3: In The Philippines, Many Eat Fertilized Duck Embryo

In Thailand, locals view grasshoppers and crickets as street foods. South Koreans eat silkworm larvae and pig feet. In the Philippines, though, many love eating balut, a boiled or steamed duck embryo. Opening a balut shows you a duckling complete with tiny hairs and beaks.

According to myths, balut serves as a love potion — a strange but effective way to enhance sexual libido. Whether you believe that or not, consider yourself adventurous if you eat balut.

Trivia #4: The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a New 7 Wonders of Nature

The Philippines has six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, one of which is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. This natural wonder is recognized for its outstanding universal value, biodiversity, and geological significance. In 2012, UNESCO declared the park one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Here are some unique features:

  • Underground River: The park boasts a 5-mile-long (8.2 km) navigable underground river, making it one of the longest subterranean rivers globally. Visitors can explore this natural wonder by boat, marveling at its limestone formations and diverse ecosystem.
  • Biodiversity: The park is home to diverse flora and fauna, including endemic species such as the Palawan peacock-pheasant and the Palawan hornbill. The surrounding forests and limestone cliffs provide critical habitat for these unique creatures.
  • Stalactites and Stalagmites: Inside the cave, visitors encounter stunning formations of stalactites (hanging from the ceiling) and stalagmites (rising from the floor). These formations have evolved over millions of years and create an otherworldly atmosphere.
  • Cave Chambers: The underground river features several cave chambers, each with distinct characteristics. The Cathedral Cave stands out for its massive dome-like chamber, while the Stalactite Cave showcases intricate formations.
  • Abundant wildlife: The park hosts abundant wildlife, with over 30 species of mammals living in its forests. One of them is the long-tailed macaque monkey.

Trivia #5: The Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) Phenomenon

Some 86% of the Philippines’ population are Roman Catholics, the highest in Asia. However, another religious group has made its mark in the Philippines — the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) or INC. Founded by Félix Ysagun Manalo in 1914, the congregation experienced remarkable growth in the Philippines and beyond. Here are key points about its expansion:

  • Post-World War II Growth: After World War II, the INC expanded significantly. Manalo adopted the title of executive minister.
  • International Expansion: Manalo’s son, Eraño, continued the church’s expansion internationally. The INC’s first service outside the Philippines was held in Hawaii in 1968.
  • Current Membership: The INC now has millions of members in over 100 countries worldwide. Its influence extends beyond religious circles, impacting Philippine politics and society.

Traveling through the Philippines, you’ll see distinctive INC cathedrals with towering spires. These cathedrals are characterized by unique features like trapezoids and Gothic arches. The INC Main Temple in Quezon City is the largest place of worship in the Philippines.

However, many consider the creation of the Philippine Arena as INC’s biggest achievement. The arena in Bulacan province holds the Guinness World Record for the “largest mixed-use indoor theater.” With a maximum seating capacity of 55,000, this multipurpose arena stands out for its impressive size and versatility.

Although built by the INC, the organization dedicates the Philippine Arena to all Filipinos, regardless of their faith. The arena serves as the venue for various events, including religious gatherings, sports events, concerts, and more. It hosted the 2019 Southeast Asian Games and the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Trivia #6: Other Remarkable Achievements and Attractions

For our last Philippine trivia, we feature some of the remarkable achievements and attractions in the country:

  • The Philippine Eagle, also known as the “Monkey-Eating Eagle,” is the world’s largest eagle in length and wingspan. This majestic bird is native to the Philippines and primarily found in the rainforests of Mindanao, Leyte, and Samar. With a wingspan of up to 7 feet (2.2 meters) and a length of around 3.3 feet (1 meter), it’s an impressive and critically endangered species. The name “Monkey-Eating Eagle” comes from its diet, which includes monkeys and other small mammals.
  • The Philippines boasts some of the world’s largest shopping malls. Among them, SM North EDSA in Quezon City stands out. It was once the largest mall globally and is still one of the largest in total floor area. It’s a shopper’s paradise with countless shops, entertainment options, and dining venues.
  • The Philippines also has Asia’s largest church bell, the Santa Monica Parish Church Bell in Panay Island, Capiz. This massive bell, weighing approximately 10.4 metric tons (around 22,928 pounds), produces a deep, resonant sound and symbolizes faith and heritage in the region.
  • As mentioned earlier, the Philippine Arena, completed in 2014, is the world’s largest mixed-use indoor theater. Its initial design concept was inspired by the narra tree, the mother tree of the Philippines, and the root of the banyan tree.
  • The IKEA Pasay store in the Philippines is the largest IKEA store in the world. Opened in 2021, this sprawling home furnishings store covers approximately 65,000 square meters (approximately 700,000 square feet) and offers a wide range of furniture, decor, and Swedish meatballs for shoppers to explore.

FAQ | Philippine Trivia

Q1: What is the most popular beach destination in the Philippines?

The most popular beach destination in the Philippines is Boracay, known for its white sand beaches and vibrant nightlife. It attracts millions of tourists annually, making it one of the top tourist spots in the country.

Q2: What is the famous dessert made from carabao milk in the Philippines?

The famous dessert in the Philippines made from carabao milk is leche flan, a creamy and sweet custard pudding. It’s a classic Filipino dessert often served during special occasions and celebrations.

Q3: What is the highest mountain in the Philippines?

The highest mountain in the Philippines is Mount Apo, located in Davao City, which is 2,954 meters above sea level. It’s a popular destination for hikers and adventure seekers.

Q4: What is the coldest city in the Philippines?

The coldest city in the Philippines is Baguio, nestled in the mountainous Benguet region. Known as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines,” Baguio has an average annual temperature of 20.6°C (69.0°F). It typically registers the lowest temperature of 19.1°C (66.5°F) in January while posting the highest temperature of 21.6°C (70.9°F) in May. Its cool pine-laced air makes it a popular destination for both locals and tourists.

Q5: What is the famous Filipino dish made from fermented fish?

The famous Filipino dish made from fermented fish is bagoong, a strong-smelling and flavorful condiment often served with rice or used as an ingredient in various dishes. It’s a staple in many Filipino households.

Q6: What is the most popular mode of transportation in the Philippines?

The most popular mode of transportation in the Philippines is the jeepney, a colorful and ornately decorated vehicle that serves as a bus and taxi hybrid. It’s a cultural icon and a popular tourist attraction.

Don’t Just Read It — Experience the Philippines’ Charm Firsthand!

Interested to learn more about the Philippines? The in-depth Philippine Travel Guide and other Philippines pages categorized below might help. Check them out. Perhaps you can discover your own intriguing Philippine trivia along the way.

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