5 Crazy Interesting Facts About The Philippines

Some countries receive too little recognition from the world as a consequence of being small. However, many of these countries have very interesting stories to tell and conceal great beauty, as well as great mysteries. One of them is the Philippines. Few people know, for instance, that the Philippines was the first Asian democratic state to join the United States in World War II, or that it is the only country in the world to change its flag depending on whether it is at peace or at war. That is right. In times of war, the color on top of the Filipino flag is red, whereas in times of peace, it is blue. Also, the Philippines is officially the world’s texting capital, outranking the United States and the entire European continent in terms of daily texting rates as its people send around 450 million texts every day. But this is only the beginning. Here are five shocking facts about this Asian country that set it apart both in history and in the modern days.

The Philippines Is A Dangerous Country For Journalists

Despite being one of the most democratic countries in the world, the Philippines is also acknowledged to be a great threat for journalists. In fact, it is the third most dangerous place for them, according to the Impunity index revealed by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which reflects the number of journalists whose murder cases have not been solved. Calculated at 0.580, a score which reflects a number of 55 journalists being murdered out of a total of 94 million inhabitants, this index is only lower than those of Iraq and Somalia. However, the backgrounds differ for Somalia is facing a civil war, whereas Iraq is insurgency-infected.

This high Impunity index has led to various security measures being taken, but, unfortunately, the situation does not appear to be improving much. According to some sources, three such murders were investigated last year alone, but to no avail, and it is possible that the number of murders that actually occurred was in fact higher. In other words, justice appears to be failing to this effect, which also reflects in the sad fact that the families of those executed during the Maguindanao Massacre back in 2009 are still seeking resolution. It should be noted that the Maguindanao Massacre is acknowledged as one of history’s most tragic mass murders on journalists.

Presidents Of The Philippines Have A History Of Shocking Backgrounds

The presidents of the Philippines have always proved to be very interesting study cases, often being involved in various scandals. Ferdinand Marcos, for instance, was romantically involved with Hollywood star Dovie Beams for two years between 1968 and 1970, a relationship which ended with the actress releasing tapes of the president moaning and murmuring during sex at a press conference after receiving several death threats. The response came in the form of serious accusations and nude photographs of the actress, which led to even more compromising erotic tapes being released.

President Jose P. Laurel was also involved in a scandal, fighting with a certain Exequiel Castillo over a girl at the age of eighteen. Apparently, Laurel had dated Concepcion for a year, who then got involved with Castillo. Laurel kissed her, Castillo picked up a fight and Laurel ended up indicted for attempted murder. However, he was acquitted on the grounds of not being the one who caused the fight.

Last but not least, Sergio Osmena, the oldest Filipino president, caused quite a stir when proven to be an illegitimate child. Born to 14-year-old Chinese JuanaSergio Osmena and Chinese immigrant Don Pedro Lee Gotiaoco, he kept his mother’s name to avoid conflicts with the Catholic society.

These occurrences are seconded by several attempts at the lives of various Filipino presidents or people related to them, which led to different outcomes including electric chair executions or personalities training to become sharp shooters after finding themselves in the middle of such situations.


Pugilist Manny Pacquiao Appears To Cause Lower Crime Activity In The Philippines

In a democratic country with a history of violence, crimes and war, it is only normal that any event or initiative that manages to cause significantly lower crime rates is much appreciated. In the Philippines, one such event is a Manny Pacquiao fight. The level of popularity pugilist Manny Pacquiao enjoys in his country is astounding, so much that any fight of his literally causes the country to freeze. All his fights are broadcast on big screens everywhere around the country and people are provided all necessary means to be able to watch them.

As probably expected, the pugilist is very popular among criminals too, who also cease their activity for the duration of the fights. In other words, the country’s criminal activity is temporarily lower or even non-existent. The same applies to insurgents. As a matter of fact, it has happened that government soldiers and Muslim rebels put their conflicts aside for the duration of a Pacquiao fight. It was back in 2011, when Pacquiao fought against Shane Mosley.

Manny Pacquiao’s fights have proved to have incredible effects on the Filipino population on countless occasions, not only causing the country’s criminal activity to drop, but also causing immense joy regardless of the existing context, however gloomy. His victory against Brandon Rios following the disaster caused by the Typhoon Haiyan is only one of the many examples.


The Filipinos Are One Of The World’s Happiest Nations

The fact is that Filipinos do not necessarily need a special occasion to manifest joy. Similarly to the French, who are well-known for their joy of life, aka “joie de vivre”, they seem to have a national psyche programmed to allow them to enjoy life and live it to the fullest regardless of their present context. And indeed their present is often times a gloomy one, one dominated by natural disasters, incredible poverty, government corruption and even violence. This explains why people could be seen playing basketball in the middle of a desolate scenery left behind by the Typhoon Haiyan or how they all managed to mobilize themselves to watch pugilist Manny Pacquiao’s fight against Brandon Rios after the same unfortunate event.

This unwavering positivity is a characteristic of their attitude toward not only the present, but the future as well, allowing them to regard sickness, unemployment or sheer misfortune as things that just happen to people and are bound to be followed by better times. And with such a national psyche, it would be quite illogical not to rank at the top of the list of the world’s happiest nations.


The Filipinos Celebrate A Gory Holy Week

The customs of the Philippines find their influences in a variety of areas and tend to characterize a nation of contrasts. Thus, at the opposite pole of the sheer optimism of the Filipinos as a nation, one can find customs such as the Gory Holy Week, which often leaves quite a mark on outsiders.

As the majority of Filipinos subscribe to the Catholic belief, the Holy Week is a major celebration in the Philippines. However, some people manifest themselves in ways that can be quite shocking as a consequence of the religious customs intertwining with the local ones. The so-called “penitensiya” is included among them. Adepts of this custom usually whip themselves until they bleed to reenact the suffering Jesus Christ experienced on the way to his execution. However, some of them choose to crucify themselves to remain faithful to the Biblical sequence of events till the very end. In fact, some people perform this ritual for years in a row.

The Gory Holy Week with its “penitensiya”, also known as the custom of asking for forgiveness, is officially recognized by the government of the Philippines and considered by tourists as one of the country’s main attractions. In this context, it is important to note that this is a voluntary ritual, so tourists often take advantage of this fact to also perform it and therefore be whipped and crucified in public upon their visits to the Philippines during the Gory Holy Week.

This is probably one of the most eloquent examples of how this small country manages to lure the world into its traditional customs and prove that it has a personality of its own that deserves to be discovered and recognized worldwide despite it being a small country. Although nowadays the Philippines is most often associated with unfortunate events or situations such as natural disasters or poverty, it has always had a lot to offer ever since its consolidation as a country. It has made a notable impact on the world’s history, an equally notable impact on its tourism and has sprinkled numerous exciting legends, mysteries, initiatives or simple facts everywhere in between, all of which deserve to be discovered and should put the Philippines on the map as one of the fascinating countries of the world.