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Posted on Thursday, 22nd March 2012 by All Philippines

Every sovereign nation, like the Philippines, evokes an image that radiates a convoluting symbolism that promotes its very existence in our world. These symbols are the lifeblood of the statehood and an important factor promoting unity and nationalism among its people.

The Philippines, throughout the course of history, have collected its share of symbols and images that helped defined the archipelago as a unified state.

One of the more famous symbols that represents the strength of the Philippines as one whole nation is also officially known as the ‘National Tree of the Philippines’ (Pambansang Puno ng Pilipinas) – Narra.

Philippine national tree narra

Narra, also known as Agaña (Scientific Name, Pterocarpus indicus) is classified as a type of red hardwood tree species which grows up to 33 meters high and 2 meters thick. The leaves produced by a Narra tree are mostly long and oblong shaped. The flowers of a Narra tree have that pleasant fragrant and sweet odor and are yellowish in color and blooms abundantly during its reproductive season (from February to May).

The Narra trees are usually found in the Philippine rainforests scattered all over the islands. It grows mostly on the lowland regions of the country but it is not endemic to the Philippines. There are also Narra trees found in other parts of the Southeast Asian region namely; Indonesia (known as Angsana or Sena), Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Cambodia (Tnug).

Narra trees are mostly utilized by Filipinos as a good source of timber wood. A seasoned Narra wood is valued for its durability and strength which is usually converted as floorings, ceilings, and foundations for building houses. It is also made into handicrafts, furnitures, and other wood based products by wood sculptors and craftsmen.

The flowers of a Narra tree are also a good source of honey for bees. Just like its flowers, the leaves of the Narra tree are also harvested due to its medicinal properties (cures toothaches, stomach aches, bladder problems, skin disease etc.).

Philippine national tree narra

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Posted on Friday, 16th March 2012 by All Philippines

If you found your way here because you are currently looking for some information on how the great Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, who served under the Kingdom of Spain, discovered the Philippines on March 16, 1521, but hates to read long diatribes of texts usually found on Philippine history books, then I’ve got a perfect alternative to learn this ‘groundbreaking period of Philippine history’ in an informative yet fun way. Just read along.

Famed Filipino singer and the Father of ‘Philippine novelty songs’, Yoyoy Villame (b. November 18, 1932 – d. May 18, 2007), whose real name was Roman Tesorio Villame, was a former public transport driver in his hometown of Bohol when he started to showcase his musical talents entertaining locals during fiestas, weddings, birthdays, baptismal, and even funerals. Together with his friends and co-workers, he founded the MBs Combo in 1965. Named after Meneses Butalid Liner Fleet (MB), the band, with Villame as lead singer and mandolin player, played mostly rondalla type tunes and folk genre.

When the MBs Combo began to achieve a significant popularity in Bohol and the nearby areas, due mostly to Villame’s musical talents and the natural gift of entertaining people, the president of the Meneses Butalid Liner Fleet responded by establishing Kinampay Records.

In 1972, Yoyoy Villame recorded his very first single, under the Kinampay Record Label, entitled ‘Magellan’. The song chronicles the history on how Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines in 1521. Historical yet funny and entertaining, Yoyoy Villame’s Magellan Song became a massive hit in Visayas and Mindanao.

70’s Philippine movie star Chiquito later brought Villame to Manila where he signed a recording contract for Vicor Records. In 1977, he recorded his breakthrough hit ‘Mag-exercise Tayo’, which gave him national recognition and catapulted him to superstardom. He later recorded the massive hit ‘Butsekik’ cementing his status in the pantheons of Philippine music as ‘one of the all time great Filipino singers’.

Yoyoy Villame later died of cardiac arrest in Manila in 2007. He was 74.

Here’s the popular song ‘Magellan’ by Yoyoy Villame. Enjoy.


(song lyrics)

By Yoyoy Villame

On March 16, 1521
When Philippines Was Discovered By Magellan
They Were Sailing Day And Night Across The Big Ocean
Until They Saw A Small Limasawa Island

Magellan Landed In Limasawa At Noon
The People Met Him Very Welcome On The Shore
They Did Not Understand The Speaking They Have Done
because Kastila Gid At Waray-Waray Man

When Magellan Landed In Cebu City
Rajah Humabon Met Him, They Were Very Happy
All People Were Baptized And Built The Church Of Christ
and That’s The Beginning Of Our Catholic Life

When Magellan Visited in Mactan
To Christianize Them Everyone
but Lapu-Lapu Met Him On The Shore
and Drive Magellan To Go Back Home

Then Magellan Got So Mad
ordered His Men To Camouflage
Mactan Island We Could Not Grab
’cause Lapu Lapu Is Very Hard?

Then The Battle Began at Dawn
Bolos And Spears Versus Guns And Cannons
when Magellan Was Hit On His Neck
He Stumble Down And Cried And Cried

Oh, Mother Mother I Am Sick
Call The Doctor Very Quick
Doctor, Doctor Shall I Die?
Tell My Mama Do Not Cry
Tell My Mama Do Not Cry
Tell My Mama Do Not Cry

That’s the End of Magellan
in the Island Of Mactan Long Time Ago
Ladies And Gentlemen

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Posted in Philippine Folk Songs, Philippine History | Comments (0)

Posted on Tuesday, 13th March 2012 by All Philippines

Who is the founding father of the Islam religion in the Philippines?

According to the books written on the subject, Islam was first introduced on Philippine shores via the Sulu archipelago.

In the late 19th century, a surviving old tarsila record (a record of genealogical lineage in Sulu) was given to author Najeeb M. Saleeby by Haji Buto Abdul Baqi, who served as Prime Minister to the last reigning political Sultan of SuluJamal ul-Karim II. Through this tarsila, Saleeby based his famous book entitled ‘History of Sulu’, published by the US colonial government in the Philippines in 1908.

The Saleeby book not only narrates the genealogical history of the Sulu Royal Sultanate, as well as its rise and fall from power, but also chronicles how the Islam faith, which today is one of the most dominant religion in the Southern Philippines, was introduced in the country through the islands of Sulu.

Before Islam was introduced in Sulu, the original inhabitants of the island, known as Buranun or Budanun (meaning mountaineers or hill people), practiced a modified Hindu based religion. A mass migration of sea nomadic tribes such as the Samal people and the Badjaos in the 14th century occupied most of the Sulu territory as well as Tawi-Tawi and dominated the entire archipelago’s population.

Around this time in 1380, Karim ul-Makhdum (Karim Makdum), a trader, a judge, and an Islam missionary from the Arabian Peninsula came to the island of Sulu via Malacca. Makhdum already cemented his influence to the inhabitants of Malacca by spreading the Islam faith, and most importantly, converting to the Islamic religion its leader – Sultan Mohammed Shah.

It is not stated in the book of Saleeby or any surviving tarilas of Sulu whether the Islam religion already was introduced in Sulu way before Makhdum arrived in 1380, but it is said that Makhdum’s influence to the people of Sulu was so great, that thousands of the native inhabitants of the islands embraced the Islam faith via his teachings and actions in the archipelago.

Makhdum later built the first and oldest mosque in the Philippines, the Sheik Karimal Makdum Mosque located in Tawi Tawi, which its remnants can still be found inside the new mosque structure constructed on the original location.

According to the Sulu tarsila records, Makhdum not only practices the Islam faith but also performs magic and ancient medical procedures which helps solidify his popularity and influence to the people of Sulu. Local folklore narrates that Makhdum can either fly or walk on the water and can bring people back from the dead.

Karim ul-Makhdum was later bestowed with the title Sharif, and was renamed as Sharif Awliya or Tuan Sharif Aulia. He later died in Sulu and was buried beside the Sheik Karimal Makdum Mosque he founded in the land.

The Islam faith which started in the shores of Sulu, later spreads its influence in the Philippine mainland, specifically in Mindanao.

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Posted on Monday, 12th March 2012 by All Philippines

To boost tourism and to promote a harmonious and productive relationship with one another, the respective governments and administrative bodies of each ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nation) member states have pledged a commitment for a travel proposal to allow every citizens of each member nation to enter its legal borders (land, sea, and air) without the need for pre-arrival travel visas and documents.

visa free Filipinos

Just like the present travel policy being implemented in the EU (European Union) region, the current 10 full member of the ASEAN group – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – vows to commit to this proposed visa free travel policy in the near future to supplement the booming tourism economy of the Southeast Asian region.

Since the Philippines is considered as one of the founding fathers and pillars of ASEAN, it is only fitting for the Philippine government to spearhead this proposed breakthrough travel guidelines for ASEAN members. At present, the current visa free travel programs for Filipinos who are using Philippine passports are listed in the -

Visa Free Travel for Filipinos with Philippine Passports (ASEAN member countries) charted below:

First Column: ASEAN countries

Second Column: Number of Days Filipinos are allowed to enter and stay Visa Free


14 days


21 days


30 days


30 days


30 days


30 days


30 days


21 days


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Posted in Philippine Travel Guide | Comments (1)