Friday, November 20, 2009

Geography & Facts of the Pilipinas

The Pilipinas nation is comprised of 7,107 islands that extend 1,143 miles from north to south in the Pacific, 621 miles southeast of the China coast and 7,330 west of mainland USA. Only about 2,000 of those islands are inhabited while only 500 are larger than one square kilometer. Basically, the country is divided into 3 main island groups: Luzon in the north third, the Visayas in the middle, and Mindanao in the southern third. According to the latest census (2000) The total population of the nation is 76.5-million with over half that number living in the Luzon island group and 12 Million living in the city of Manila, alone.Further, the country is divided into 72 provinces, 61 chartered cities, and thousands of small towns and communities called barengays. Throughout the island nation there are some 111 linguistic, cultural and racial groups. Although the national language is Filipino based on Tagalog -- the dialect of the Tagalog people of the Manila and South Luzon region -- there are another 70 languages and dialects belonging to the Malayo-Polynesian family of tongues spoken throughout the country. But English is the language of education and commerce and is taught from grade school through high school and college.

Our family lives in the Visayas region in the south-central [central Visayas] part of the country -- mostly a resort area renowned for its snorkeling & diving -- and our relatives all speak Visaysan among themselves. We will be moving to this same general area a year from this January [in January 2011]

In its history, the Philippines have been ruled-over and influenced by the Spanish for over 300 years and by the Americans for 48 years. There is also evidence of early Malay and Chinese influence. As a result of its varied history, Philippine people, cuisine, language, culture and customs are all a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and American and it is often joked that Filipinos are Malay in Family matters, Spanish in Love, Chinese in Business, and American in Ambition -- or that their culture is a result of over 300 years living in a convent and nearly 50 years of living in Hollywood!

The monetary unit of the Philippines is the piso, [peso] divided into 100 centavos. Foreign currency can be exchanged at any hotel, most large department stores and all malls, banks, and authorized money changing shops accredited by the Central Bank of the Philippines throughout most communities. International credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, Bank Master Cards, and American Express are all accepted in most major establishments. Currently, one US dollar [USD] can be exchanged for about 45 Philippine piso [PHP].

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Volcanos of the Philippines

There are over 200 identified ancient volcanic peaks in the Philippines, 37 of these are still considered potentially important which includes 21 determined to be active and the other 16 believed inactive. However, when Mount Pinatubo erupted on June 15, 1991, it had been dormant for over 500 years and was thought to be a "dead" volcano of little importance.

The following are the known active volcanic mountains of the Islands:

Mount Mayon Volcano: 2,462m. high, in Albay Province, is currently blowing steam & ash periodically as late as November, 2009 with lava flows the following December. Most recent lethal eruption was in Feb. 1993 killing 70. Its worst eruption was in Feb. 1814 killing 1,200 and caused a mud-flow that completely buried a barrio. A historic symbol of the Philippines, Mt. Myon is famous for having the world's most symmetrically perfect volcano cone.

Taal Volcano: S/E of Manila in Batangas Province, elevation of 600m, last erupted Sept. 28, 1965 but worst eruption was on Jan. 30, 1911 when it took the lives of 1,300. Taal is believed to be one of the most active volcanos in the world as well as the smallest in the world.

Mount Canlaon [or Kanlaon] Volcano: 2,435m. high, on the border of Negros Occidental & Negros Oriental Provinces. erupts often with numerous displays of steam & ash; Large ash eruption in July 1993; another on Aug. 12, 1966 killed 3 hikers and stranded about 40 others.
[This volcano is probably the closest to our family at 310 kms or about 193 miles to their southwest]

Mount Pinatubo: was 1,745m high, [now only 1,400m high] N/W of Manila in Zambales Province, erupted into one of the biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, killing 350.

Mount Ragang: [Sometimes called Mount Piapayungan or Blue Mountain] 2,815m high in Cotabato province, Mindanao. Last erupted July 1916.

Mount Bulusan: in Sorsogon province. 1,559m high. Flanked by 8-10 ancient volcanic peaks of various heights and a number of hot springs and hot springs resorts. Erupted on Jan. 16, 1916 ejecting mud & ash for 5 days and again in Oct. 1918 ejecting dust clouds & outpourings of lava. Last erupted on June 28, 1978 ejecting ash-laden steam clouds.

Mount Smith [or Mt. Babuyan]: Babuyan Island. Elevation of 688m, surrounded by 5 ancient volcanic peaks. Last major eruption was in 1924 but had a steam release in Feb. 2004.

Mount Hibok-Hibok: Camiguin Island, Camiguin province. 1,320m high surrounded by 6 other volcano peaks; last erupted on Dec. 5, 1951 without warning killing 2,000.

Mount Didicas: Babuyan Island Group. At an elevation of 228m today, it was a submarine volcano that first emerged from the sea in 1952 and last erupted on Jan 6-9, 1990.

Mount Babuyan Claro: Babuyan Island. Has an elevation of 843m, surrounded by 4 other ancient peaks. Last erupted in 1917.

Mount Camiguin de Babuyances: Babuyan Island Group. 712m high. Last major eruption came in 1857 with a phreatic ash & steam eruption but last activity occurred in 1991 with a sulfer cloud emission.

Mount Cagua: Cagayan province. 1,133m high. Last erupted in 1860 with a phreatic eruption but a sulferic cloud was emitted in 1907.

Mount Banahaw: Borders Quezon & Laguna provinces with an elevation of 2,158m. Banahaw is a mountain of legends & various occult sects. It is also a command center for the Communist New People's Army [NPA]. It is surrounded by 4 ancient volcanic peaks and 5 themal springs.

Mount Calayo [or Mt. Musuan de Calayo]: Valencia, Bukidnon province. at 646m last erupted on Nov. 13-16, 1976 after a series of earthquakes during the previous August.

Mount Iraya: Batanes province. With an elevation of 1,009m, its most recent volcanic activity was in 1998.

Mount Iriga [or Mt. Asog]: Camarines Sur province. Elevation of 1,196, no 18, 19 or 20th century eruptions.

Mount Biliran: Biliran province. Surrounded by 4 smaller active, dormant & extinct volcanos and 12 thermal hot springs & water falls but no major eruptions in this area during modern times. Then, on Sept. 26, 1939 seismic ativity on Mt. Biliran spewed forth an ashfall that caused a debris avalanche. No activity since.

Mount Bud Dajo: Jolo Island, Sulu province. elevation is 620m [2100 feet]. Last eruption was a 1897 phreatic blast.

Mount Matutum: Cotabato province. 2,293 high. Reportedly a volcanic eruption in 1911.

Mount Kalatungan [ or Mt. Catatungan]: Bukidnon province. 2,824m [9,265 feet] high. last eruption is unknown but volcano is classified as "potentially" active.

Mount Makaturing: Lanao del Sur province. 1,940m [6,365 feet] high. Last eruption was on March 18, 1882.