Cover Maligcong, Bontoc, Mountain Province, Philippines | Photo by Michael Rivera on Unsplash

To celebrate the 123rd Independence Day of the Philippines, Tatler lists interesting trivia that make up the Filipino culture.

Independence Day is a widely anticipated celebration in the Philippines. After 333 years of Spanish rule, our forefathers were finally able to embrace sovereignty and celebrate a culture that is truly ours. 

In this article, Tatler lists some of the things that make the Philippines unique. 

Read also: National Symbols Of The Philippines: A Quick Look In Time For The Independence Day

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The pre-colonial writing script of the Tagalogs in the Philippines is Baybayin, an alphabet with 17 symbols that represent 14 consonants (katinig) and 3 vowels (patinig); it was initially used to sign documents, write poetry, and communicate before we were introduced to the alphabet we know today. The word is derived from the word Baybay which means to spell. Baybayin was erroneously called Alibata when Professor Paul Versoza thought it was an alphabet that originated from the Arabs

There are other pre-colonial writing scripts in other parts of the Philippines. The Basahan of the Bicolanos, Badliut in the Visayas, Kurdita of the Ilocanos, Kulitan of the Kapampangans, the Hanunuo and Buhid scripts of the Mangyans, the script of Tagbanua, and the Jawi of the Tausugs.

Critiques believe that it will be hard to bring back Baybayin in the modern age. Some of their reasons include the inclusivity of the alphabet (Baybayin is used by the Tagalogs) and retrogression. 

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The 7,641 Islands of the Philippines

In 1994, Miss Universe Philippines Charlene Gonzales was asked how many islands there are in the Philippines. She answered this with another question: "high tide or low tide?" 

Technically speaking, an island has to be a "naturally formed piece of land surrounded by water at high tide". Located in the Pacific Ocean near the equator, the Philippines consists of 7,641 islands; about 2,000 of which are inhabited. 

Related: Hong Kong Hikes: The Best Trails On The Outlying Islands


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The Philippine Languages

If you have never met someone who speaks a language other than Filipino (Tagalog), then maybe it is time for you to explore the Philippines more. In the country, there are over 120 to 187 languages spoken in different areas. Of these numbers, four (Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon) are considered indigenous with an estimated nine million or more native speakers, while 10 (Waray, Bikol, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Maranao, Tausug, Maguindanao, Chavacano, Karay-a, Surigaonon) are languages with one million to three million native speakers.

Filipino, the standardised form of Tagalog is the country's national language.

More from Tatler: Philippine Independence Day: 5 Inspiring Filipino Biographies And Autobiographies To Read


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Lolong, the world's largest crocodile (in captivity) was found in the Philippines

In 2011, the world's eyes were on the Philippines after Lolong, a one-tonne, 6.17 metres crocodile was caught and caged in a pen at the southern Philippine town of Bunawan. Lolong was believed to be the biggest saltwater crocodile to have ever been caught.

A joint cooperation of the local government unit of Palawan, residents, and crocodile hunters hunted the 50-year-old Lolong over a period of three weeks. He was earlier suspected of eating a fisherman and a 12-year-old girl whose head was discovered in the area.

Lolong has died in his enclosure 17 months after captivity. Animal rights advocates pointed that the crocodile died earlier than he should have because of the conditions he was forced to live in. 


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The Nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites

There are many places with breathtaking views to see in the Philippines, among these are the nine world heritage sites recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The following are the nine UNESCO world heritage sites in the Philippines:

  • The Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary — Mindanao Island in the Davao Oriental Province
  • Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva —Miagao, Iloilo
  • Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion —Ilocos Sur
  • Paoay Church —Ilocos Norte
  • Church of San Agustin in Manila
  • Vigan
  • Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
  • Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
  • Banaue Rice Terraces —Philippine Cordilleras

Read also: Exploring Vigan: A Well-Preserved Spanish Colonial Town In The Philippines