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Philippines is the less Oriental of the Oriental countries, a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. It was a Spanish colony during almost 350 years, from 1565 to 1898 and a colony of U.S.A. from 1899 to 1946. The Spanish (and Hispanic, via Mexico) influence is very evident, emphasized by the Catholic religion, enthusiastically practiced by the vast majority of the Philippine people.

Manila and its metropolitan area (Metro Manila) is the 11th most populous city in the world, with around 25 million inhabitants distributed among the old colonial city of Intramuros and the suburbs like Makati, the country’s financial centre. But to know a country is necessary to go away from the capital. Other 75 million people, in the rest of the country, survive in difficult conditions on agriculture (rice, etc.), fishing and small tourism (Philippines lacks of the prestige of its surrounding countries). Despite of that the Philippines keep their innocence and hospitality. The regions of Caraga, at the northeast of Mindanao Island, and Bicol, at the southeast of Luzon Island, can be representative of this land that the writer and pro-independence leader José Rizal called in 1896 “Perla del Mar de Oriente” (Pearl of the Oriental Sea).

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