The Philippine State
The Philippine state is not a federation but it is also not as centrally organized as many neighboring countries. Traditionally, many regions aim at more autonomy, a tendency that was revived after dictator Marcos left. Marcos had, to his own benefit, strengthened central state power to the loss of local and provincial units. Local political bosses regained some of their power after Cory Aquino became President.
The Philippines local government, which is under the general supervision of the President is composed of provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays. These local government units act as agents for the executive branch and represents the inhabitants under its jurisdiction. The Department of Local Government exercises its supervisory authority over municipalities through provinces and over barangays through cities and municipalities. The provincial governor supervises cities and municipalities under his jurisdiction, but large cities such as Cebu City in Cebu Province and Baguio City in Benguet Province, operate independently of the province. On the other hand, city and municipal mayors, assume control of the barangays.
In the Philippines, cities, municipalities and provinces are created by acts of Congress, while barangays are created by ordinance of provincial boards. The duties and powers of local government units are clearly defined and identified in the constitution.The Islands
The Country lies roughly between 5 and 22 degrees north latitude (as Hawaii) and between 117 and 128 degrees east longitude. It has a land area of 299,873 sqkm (115,781 sqmi) extending between Taiwan and Malaysian Borneo approximately 1,800km (1,125mi) and is about the size of the state of Nevada or Britain with a coastline longer than the US. Its islands are usually grouped as Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
The 11 largest islands are: Luzon (102,649 sqkm, 39,633 sqmi), Mindanao (91,028 sqkm, 35,146 sqmi), Samar (17,428 sqkm, 6,729 sqmi), Palawan (14,896 sqkm, 5,752 sqmi), Negros (13,328 sqkm, 5,146 sqmi), Panay (13,032 sqkm, 5,032 sqmi), Mindoro (10,245 sqkm, 3,955 sqmi), Leyte (8,003 sqkm, 3,090 sqmi), Cebu (5,088 sqkm, 1,965 sqmi), Bohol (4,117 sqkm, 1,590 sqmi), Masbate (4,048 sqkm, 1,563 sqmi).
The Philippines like many Pacific islands are the peaks of mountains whose base is on the ocean floor and is part of an island string extending from Siberia to Australia. The crust of the earth is made up of a number of movable plates and mountains are formed when one plate pushes under another.
The more than 7,000 islands are part of the Pacific rim of fire at the interface where the Pacific plate slides under the Asian plate. The friction of their movements against one another gives rise to volcanos as well as causing earthquakes and produces ocean trenches in waters off the east coast which are 10,497m (about 6 mi) deep at the deepest point.
Minor earthquakes are common in the Philippines. However, there is also a long history of major earthquakes which happen from time to time. that have cost the lives of thousands of people. The worst earthquakes of the last three decades occurred on August 2, 1968, August 17, 1976, and July 16, 1990. In August 1968, more than 200 people died in an earthquake that was particularly strong in central Luzon and Manila. The quake of August 1976 cost more than 2000 lives in the Southern Philippines. But most casualties were not victims of the earthquake itself but of a tidal wave (tsunami) which followed, sweeping coastal areas all around Mindanao to a height of more than 5m (about 15ft). The most recent earthquake, July 16, 1990 centered about 10km southeast of Cabanatuan City, killed more than 1,600 people and demolished Agoo, La Union, Baguio City and Dagupan City. The heaviest casualties were in Baguio and Cabanatuan Cities.
An politically influential earthquake occurred August 17, 1983. Actually, it was not very strong, and there were no fatalities but one of the few buildings which suffered cracks was a famous old church in Paoay, near the home of the then President Marcos. Therefore superstitious people and Christian fundamentalists took the earthquake as a heavenly sign against Marcos.
Certainly, fear of earthquakes would not be sufficient reason to avoid the Philippines. However, even after minor earthquakes, travel in mountainous areas is difficult because road connections are often interrupted by landslides.
The next biggest social frame after the family is the barrio (in rural areas) or the barangay (in administrative language). There are about 40,000 barangays in the Philippines - nearly 5,000 in Metro Manila alone, The word barangay is Malay in origin and meant about the number of people who could be carried in a large boat. Barrio is a word introduced by the Spaniards meaning ward. Barrio and barangay are used interchangeably and correspond roughly to the American precinct or the English parish. Each as a concept was implemented by the Marcos administration and kept thereafter.
The barangay is the smallest government unit in the Philippines, and each municipality or city is so sub-divided. It is the primary planning and action unit for government programs and projects. It is a forum for the collective opinion of a community.
A barangay is created by an ordinance passed by the Provincial Board and City Board, subject to the outcome of a plebiscite called for that purpose in a sityo or pook (part of a barangay, a place).
To qualify each barangay must have a basketball court (while not a legal requirement most residents would rather forgo some other part of the requirement, and indeed even places without a barangay designation will have a place to play or at least a basket for shooting practice), a chapel, a plaza, a health center (which must have a refrigerator to store anti-snake bite sera), a barangay hall and a school.
In addition to be a barangay, a sityo (sitio) must have a contiguous community with over 1,000 inhabitants. No barangay can be named after a living person nor can it be changed more than once every ten years. Although they are frequently named for saints Manila tends to simply use a number.
The barangay officials are the barangay captain and 6 other elected members. The barangay captain is the head of the barangay government who is obligated to enforce all laws and ordinances operative within the barangay. He represents the barangay and as such can negotiate, enter into a contract for and on behalf of the barangay, maintains public order and assists the mayor and the municipal board in the performance of their duties. He calls and presides over the meeting of the barangay council and the barangay assembly and votes to break a tie. He can appoint and remove barangay officers, approve vouchers for disbursement, enforce laws and look after the general welfare of the barangay.
The barangay council is the legislative body of the barangay which enacts barangay ordinances, provides for the construction of public work projects and facilities with the power of eminent domain, assists in the establishment and promotion of cooperative enterprises such as credit unions, submits requests for or accepts aid from municipal/city, provincial or national government agencies. It holds fund-raising activities, organizes community brigades and assemblies, and can establish non-formal education centers like day care centers.
Barangay courts were established in 1980. They are headed by the barangay captain who acts as a judge in out-of-court settlements of civil and criminal cases within the barangay.
The barangay captain receives a token salary but is held in high esteem by the community he serves. He is a combination of leader, squire, Justice of the peace, lawmaker and enforcer. The barangay captains elect a captain of captains who presides over meetings of the barangay captains and facilitates matters among barangays.
Luzon's east coast from its northeastern tip south to near Lucena has a mountain range, the Sierra Madre, 479km (300mi) in length extending through the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Aurora, Quezon and Laguna.
About 70km (44mi) from the west coast of Luzon another range, called the Central Mountains in the north and the Cordillera in the south, runs from the island's northwest tip 263km (164.5mi) south and then bends east to connect to the Sierra Madre. The range passes through the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Kalinga-Apayao, Mountain Province, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya.
Eight of the 11 larger islands have a coastal plain and a central range, e.g. Mindoro whose central range is 132km (82mi) long but some, e.g Masbate and Bohol lack central ranges and Panay's range is in the west.
The largest inland body of water in the Philippines is Laguna de Bay. It has an area of about 1,510sqkm (583sqmi) bounded by Metro Manila and the provinces of Rizal and Laguna. Since it is connected to Manila Bay by the Pasig River the water is brackish. The degree of salinity is determined by the amount of rain and the tides. A good portion of the surface is covered with fish pens.
Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur on Mindanao is the largest fresh water lake in The Country . It has an area of 376sqkm (145sqmi).Rivers
On Luzon, between the Sierra Madre range on the east coast and the central Cordillera range to the west there is a broad valley, Cagayan, 202km (126mi) in length and about 47km (29mi) wide, formed by the Cagayan river, 263km (164mi) long which runs north draining water from central Luzon into the Babuyan channel near Aparri.
The central plain north of Manila is about 174km (109mi) long and 66km (41mi) wide. It is nick-named the rice bowl and as the name indicates it is the major rice producing area of The Country .
Manila was established on a swamp and is on an isthmus almost at sea level between Laguna de Bay and Manila Bay which are connected by the Pasig river and its tributaries notably the San Juan and Marikina rivers.
The Pasig river is still important for barge traffic and at one time it was possible to take a boat up the Pasig and across Laguna Bay.
South of the Sierra Madre mountains is the Bicol plain which, though dotted with mountains, runs to the southern tip of Luzon.
Mountain ranges of Mindanao are more extensive and complex than those of Luzon. The majority of the land is hilly or mountainous but there are a number of broad valleys.
The Agusan river and its tributaries drain a valley northward 159km (100mi) long and 94km (59mi) at its widest point through the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur and Davao to empty into Butuan Bay, 197km from its headwaters near Mt. Kanpalili in Davao province..
Another major river basin and valley 108km (67.5mi) by 150km (94mi) is formed by the Mindanao river and its tributaries. The system from its origin in Mt. Sinalagas in north Bukidnon to its end is 254km (159mi) in length. Its mouth is near Cotabato City.
The heavy rainfall in the Philippines and other tropical areas leech the nutrients from the typically red or yellow colored soil, and the higher temperatures speed the decay of vegetable materials so that generally soils here have low fertility and fertilizers are required.
Exceptions to these general comments are broad river valleys and areas near volcanoes; volcanic ash and lava contribute to its fertility.
Only about one-fourth the land area of The Country is suitable for growing crops. The type of crop depends on climate and soil. Rice requires a clay type of soil so that water is at an even depth that will remain over the roots and lower parts of the stalk. However, rice also requires two weeks before harvest a dry soil with little rain. Therefore, a climate with both a rainy and dry season is needed.
Sandy soil which drains water rapidly is needed for root crops, corn and sugar cane.
Less than one half The Country is forest and the percentage decreases at a rapid rate annually causing increase in soil erosion. The cleared land reverts to a relatively tall cogon grass.
The principal minerals of the Philippines are low grade coal, copper, chromite, gold (the world's sixth largest producer), lead, manganese, mercury, silver, nickel, iron, salt, phosphate, sulfur, sand; gravel, and marble.
A few oil fields have been developed off the shores of Palawan.
The majority of energy used is from petroleum and approximately 95% of this petroleum is imported. A nuclear plant was built under the Marcos' government, however, it was decided by the present government to mothball it. Solar energy is used in enormous amounts to dry foods, rice, coffee beans, fish, and of course clothes.
(nz = near zero)
Coconut waste 7
Coconut oil nz
Methane, propane etc. 0.04
Solar water heater nz
Mindanao can easily be considered the most interesting of the Philippine islands. It is, however, not necessarily the most accommodating.What makes Mindanao so interesting are social features which are of a variety probably not found elsewhere on the globe on so limited a space. Mindanao is Christian, Muslim and animist; it is modern and Stone Age; it is communist and fascist; it is feudal, bourgeois, and proletarian; it is violent and peaceful; it is colonial and independent; it is realistic and crazy.
Those bored with western civilization can easily be cured in Mindanao. It's a reservation for all with a need to spice up their lives. They will get an impression there of the chaos life originates from, but if they are not careful they could also get a taste of how life ends.Definitely, Mindanao is a thrill, but definitely, too, Mindanao is also a risk. Probably, one can't take away the risk and keep the thrill.
Both, thrill and risk, come from people rather than nature. It's something like the Wild West. Of course, there are gold mining towns, as for example near Mount Diwata in the province of Davao. And of course, many people are armed, and shoot-outs are common. There are organized bandits and unscrupulous businessmen, and there are crazy preachers and religious fanatics.However, Mindanao has not only the Wild West ambiance of a pioneers' land but medieval Muslim life as well. There are areas where it is dangerous to be a Christian, and there are areas where even Filipinos, if they are government officials, move around only with a back-up of soldiers. And of course, Muslims when living a traditional way are armed, too. Wild West and Muslim Middle Ages are by far not enough to make a Mindanao. To complete the adventure that is Mindanao, it also takes a portion of piracy around the shores (for details please see the Sulu chapter), and it takes the many primitive tribes in the jungles of the island; not all of them are necessarily friendly when their living space is intruded upon by foreigners (for details on tribes, please see People). And last but not least, there is a political atmosphere created by various revolutionary bands roaming around in The Country side. Many of these revolutionaries are not very strong when it comes to ideology but they are good in solving their practical, especially financial problems. Mindanao owes its diversity mainly to the lack of ability on the part of the rulers in Manila to implement their order. It has always been like that. The Spanish who arrived as early as 1527 were never able to conquer the whole island. Anyway, they were only in second place among powers coming from the west and trying to export their social, economic and religious systems to east Asia. About a century before the Spanish, the Arabs arrived in western Mindanao and on the Sulu islands. It was always easier for those coming first to primitive societies to install their religion and social order. Parts of the Philippines, where the Spanish only met animists and chieftain forms of rule were easily conquered and evangelized. But in western Mindanao and the Sulu islands, Islam and a sultanate form of government were already established by Arab powers, and there was a lot of resistance to the Spanish.
Only along the northern coast and in Zamboanga were the Spanish able to establish their colonial order. Zamboanga, particularly, remained for centuries a Spanish enclave in a Muslim surrounding. Probably because the enemy was right at the doorstep, the population of Zamboanga, after being colonized, took on much more of the cultural values and forms of the Spanish than did other parts of The Country . The local non-Muslim dialect Chabacano, for example, contains many more Spanish idioms then any other Philippine dialect.
Zamboanga today is an explosive mixture of Christian Filipinos and Muslim Filipinos. A large contingent of Philippine military (more than 50% of the Philippine military are assigned to Mindanao) is trying to keep peace and order - with little success. Big gatherings of armed members of the Moro National Liberation Front, MNLF, take place even in Zamboanga City. Beginning of the 90's, both sides seem to have a quiet understanding to avoid armed confrontation at large, but accidentally or not, gunfights between MNLF forces and government troops do happen.
The situation in some areas of Mindanao which are purely Muslim populated is different from Zamboanga. Such an area for example is the province of Lanao del Sur. Among the Muslim inhabitants there are no conflicts based on different religious belief. But as there is not much interference from the national government, local power groups are often not very choosy in the means they use to compete among each other.
The center of Muslim culture in the Philippines is Marawi City, the capital of the province Lanao del Sur. Powerful factions there include the Dimaporo clan, the Alonto clan, the Lucman clan, and the faction of former governor Saisadem Pangarungan.In the provinces of South Cotabato and Maguindanao, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, MILF, is a power factor, whereas in western Mindanao and the Sulu islands, the MNLF is more dominant. In all purely or predominantly Muslim areas foreigners run into the danger of being kidnapped (details on the danger of being kidnapped below) The NPA on Mindanao basically respects the Muslims areas of influence and generally does not interfere in Muslim matters. The communist movement more than the Muslim secessionist movement seems to be interested in a tactical alliance against the Philippine state. However, there are some areas where Muslim factions as well as NPA groups operate, mainly in the provinces of Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte. Rural areas of Mindanao that have a strong NPA presence are Surigao, Davao and Zamboanga provinces. An exceptional position has been held by Davao for many years. The city, especially its depressed Agdao district, used to be completely ruled by the NPA. Until the middle of the 80's, the district was even nick-named Nicar-Agdao, suggesting that it was a kind of Nicaragua. However, shortly after Cory Aquino came to power, the anti-Communist, and many claim fascist, vigilante group Alsa Masa was created in Davao City. Within just a few months, the Alsa Masa drove the NPA completely out of Agdao and Davao City. The Alsa Masa has never been particularly concerned about respecting human rights when conducting their anti-insurgency operations. Nevertheless, former President Cory Aquino, a self-styled human rights champion, publicly supported the Alsa Masa during her visit to Davao on October 23, 1987, when she said: "I know you have succeeded in crushing the communists... We look up to you as the example in our fight against the communists." And indeed, according to the example set by the Alsa Masa, anti-Communist vigilante groups were organized throughout the archipelago.
An anti-Communist group of its own kind which also originated on Mindanao are the Tadtads. Actually, they are a religious sect calling themselves 'Sagrada Corazon Señor'. They are led by Sade Catili who claims to be a reincarnation of Jesus. They believe themselves to be 'soldiers of Christ' and regard killing of communists as a cultic act that includes the chopping apart of the victims' bodies. Probably there are even some cannibalistic rituals which they believe make their own bodies bulletproof.
Historical AutonomyIn spite of the fact that Spain had claimed from the early times of their colonial rule in the Philippines to own all of the archipelago, Muslim Mindanao had practically been fully independent until the middle of the 19th century. Only in the mid-19th century were the Muslims' war boats, the vintas, powered by sail and oars, overcome by the Spanish's new marine military technology. In the middle of the 19th century, Spain had bought steam-powered gunboats from London and achieved her first decisive victory against the Sultanate of Sulu that ruled much of western Mindanao in 1851.
In 1973, Misuari left The Country for Libya to solicit armed support from Muslim nations for the war in Mindanao. Eager to avoid military involvement of foreign powers, the Marcos government pursued an appeasement policy, agreeing to negotiations with the Muslims if only to gain time and confuse the situation.
On December 23, 1976, the Tripoli Agreement was agreed upon in the Libyan capital among three parties: the Marcos administration, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Organization of Islamic Conference. The Tripoli Agreement provided for full autonomy of the Muslim region in the southern Philippines, composed of 13 provinces. These provinces are Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Palawan.
President Marcos, on March 4, 1977, issued a decree creating the autonomous Bangsa Moro Islamic Government which gave autonomy to the 13 provinces and called for the withdrawal of all armed forces of the government. Regions 9 and 12 become autonomous but remained separated from each other.On August 17, 1977, a referendum was held in the 13 Muslim provinces, regarding their merger. The result of the referendum did not favor the merger, and therefore it was not implemented, a fact that violated the Tripoli Agreement. For the next few years, tension again built up between the Muslims of Mindanao and the Philippine state. Large contingents of the Philippine army and constabulary were deployed on Mindanao. However, as the communist insurgency became more threatening to the Philippine government, the military didn't pursue a particularly eager campaign against Muslim forces but concentrated on tracking down and fighting units of the NPA. After the fall of Marcos and his government, on April 9, 1986, the MNLF and the new Cory administration entered into a cease-fire agreement for Region 9. The agreement was called the Marawi City Joint Declaration. Region 9 combines the following provinces: Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Jolo and Palawan. However, the cease-fire only held for a few months. In the later part of the Aquino presidency, a kind of autonomy was formalized for parts of Muslim Mindanao through a so-called Organic Act for an Autonomous Muslim Mindanao. Plebiscites and elections on and for an autonomous region in Mindanao, however, showed that only a few Mindanao and Sulu provinces wanted to join the new administrative unit. In many Mindanao provinces, Muslims had become a minority and the Christian settlers that arrived just a few decades ago, as well as their Mindanao-born offspring, fear Muslim domination and voted against any special status for Mindanao or parts of Mindanao.
Furthermore, all radical secessionist organizations saw the autonomy the Philippine state was willing to grant Muslim Mindanao regions as a bogus measure, aimed only to distract larger parts of the Muslim population from pursuing real independence, a policy formerly also applied by Marcos.Muslim Violence Against Foreigners
In recent years, the Muslim separatist movement has partially disintegrated and partially sacrificed political endeavors for material pursuits. Many splinter groups and subordinate organizations of the mainstream Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) now just act to enforce their own power and economic interests. The three most important Muslim separatist organizations are the traditional MNLF under Nur Misuari, a moderate MNLF wing under Macabanton Abbas, and the Islamic fundamentalist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), led by Hashim Salamat. But among the Muslims, these three factions of the original MNLF are not the only armed groups. Power also grows out of the barrel of a gun for a number of traditional chiefs, majors, landlords and even governors who all maintain private armies of various sizes, and who seem to be constantly at war not only with the Philippine state but also among themselves.
In the last few years, Muslim groups were more threatening to the foreigners than the communists. They have often sown terror with disregard to those accidentally hit. Furthermore, in some Muslim areas, being a foreigner may be enough to attract armed action.
The chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front, Nur Misuari, was quoted with a blatant warning in the Daily Globe, August, 1989: "We cannot guarantee security to the foreigners seen in Mindanao and other nearby islands." The quote was from an interview with Misuari published in the Saudi Gazette. Misuari elaborated that the situation in the southern Philippines had become explosive after President Aquino had signed into law the Organic Act for an Autonomous Muslim Mindanao, as this Act was, as said above, regarded as a bogus measure. Misuari warned: "Investors and tourists should avoid entering the region."
Less than three months later, on November 9, 1989, and indeed in connection with the polls for the autonomous region, a convoy of foreign engineers working on a power plant in the province of Lanao del Sur was ambushed. Two Austrians, Gerhart Kremer, 48, and Akbar Tawadjo, 47, an Iranian who had become an Austrian citizen, were killed and nine other people seriously wounded. The nine people wounded included four more Austrians. The slain men were serving as consultants for the state-owned National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) which was at that time building a hydro-electric plant in the province. Their convoy was going from Iligan City to Marawi City when some 50 separatist rebels sprayed it with gunfire from M-16 and M-14 armalites and Russian-made AK-47 rifles. Grenade launchers such as M-203 were also used by the attackers.Sometimes it's hard to establish who among the many armed groups in Mindanao is responsible for a particular ambush. When Swiss Walter Berweger, the representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Davao, and his driver were ambushed and killed by unidentified gunmen outside the town of Buldon, Maguindanao, police said they had no suspects. The ambush had occurred in an area where, according to the Manila Standard of January 20, 1990, Moslem separatist rebels and several bandit groups operated. As was the case many times in the last few years, foreigners may be kidnapped by Muslim groups just to extort ransom. Political reasons for violent actions are then often only a pretense of the abductors in order to avoid the label of common criminals. Political pretense serves as a safeguard against police or military action because if police or military intervention looks politically motivated, it could stir up the Muslims. As an example, the abduction of Swiss tourist Hans Künzli may be cited. Künzli was kidnapped July 18, 1986 on Sta Cruz island off Zamboanga City by armed men under Alig Salih Sappari, in his own words commander of a politically motivated group. To extort ransom Künzli was kept for 77 days near the municipality of Luuk on Sulu island, at a place known all the time to law enforcement agencies of the Philippine state. But the military or police did not make moves to free Hans Künzli by armed force.
In an earlier case, German Hellmuth Herbst and US citizen John Robinow were kidnapped November 20, 1984 on Sulu Island. Upon petition of the German government, no military actions were undertaken against the kidnappers who were known. The two were released December 4, 1985, after more than one year of captivity in various rebel camps. Payment of ransom was officially denied.An Australian gold prospector, Louis Anton Bon, was kidnapped in northern Mindanao January 14, 1986, and later released under unknown circumstances. The correspondent of the German magazine 'Stern', Walter Unger, and his photographer, Jay Ursal were abducted in 1986 when they tried to reach the Tasadays to investigate whether this tribe really was a Stone Age discovery or a fraud. Walter Unger was released first but only to enable him to get enough money to ransom his colleague.
An American missionary, Brian Lawrence, was kidnapped July 12, 1986, from his residence inside the Mindanao State University in Marawi City, in the province Lanao del Sur. He was kept for 6 days until released by the kidnapers after negotiations through the then Lanao del Sur governor Princess Tarhata Alonto Lucman.
Two Swiss Red Cross workers, Jaquie Sudan and Alex Braunwalder, were abducted near Marawi City on May 7, 1987. Again, the abductors and the place where the victims were held, were known to authorities but no armed action was undertaken to free them. However, Braunwalder was released May 11, 1987, and Sudan May 27, 1987.Even as all these abductions were sorry events for the victims, the Muslim abductors have to be credited that ultimately all captives were released unharmed. To what extent ransom moneys were paid is not known in most cases. For the release of Hellmuth Herbst and John Robinow, 500,000 pesos, and for Hans Künzli, 2 million pesos were demanded. It is realistic to believe that there were some payments in most cases, even if it was not admitted publicly.
But there were indications already in 1988 that government forces wouldn't be willing any longer to pursue peaceful compromises with abductors in order not to endanger the lives of kidnap victims. When US couple David and Elpidia Stiffler were held by Muslim abductors in Mindanao and released after 17 days, the then Iligan area Army commander Col. Eduardo Resos denied that ransom in any form was paid and said the kidnapers agreed to free their captives because of various threats from the military, including launching rescue operations. Col. Resos was quoted in the Philippine Daily Inquirer of August 19, 1988, as saying: "We told the kidnapers that if they did not release (the Stifflers), we would also kidnap their relatives - their wives, their parents, their children... We told them we would burn their villages, burn their houses, massacre their people. If you do not like this to happen, then you help us and release the kidnap victims... If you do it diplomatically, nothing would happen. You need some psychological pressure. If you gave them (money), they would kidnap other foreigners whenever they came here."
There was some suspicion that the military indeed had adopted a hawks' strategy in handling hostage situations when in August 1989, a hostage drama in Davao was resolved violently. August 15, 1989, 16 inmates of the Davao Metropolitan District Command Jail had taken 5 hostages, among them Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill. The military later stormed the detention center held by the hostage takers. During the attack all 16 hostage takers and 5 hostages, including Jacqueline Hamill, were killed. The Manila Standard, in an editorial on August 17, 1989, criticized the authorities: "It is hard to believe that the forces involved in the incident could not have done in any other way. It would appear that lives could have been saved if the authorities had exercised greater prudence and patience."
In spite of the fact that Mindanao is the Philippine island with the fastest population growth in the archipelago, mainly because migrants from other islands still flock into Mindanao for the better economic opportunities, infrastructure deficiencies are nowhere in the Philippines as obvious as here. Data on the educational infrastructure in western Mindanao may serve to exemplify this situation.
As was reported in the Manila Bulletin of June 19, 1991, the DECS (Department of Education, Culture and Sports) regional director for western Mindanao and the Sulu islands, Dr. Juanito Bruno, had declared during a consultative conference of the Congressional Commission to Review and Assess Philippine Education (EDCOM), that in matters of education Western Mindanao is The Country 's "most depressed, deprived and undeserved" region.
Bruno reported that the region does not only have an acute shortage of teachers, classrooms, textbooks and instructional devices, but also many barangays (villages) without any primary and elementary schools. According to Dr. Bruno Western Mindanao is the most illiterate region in The Country . The illiteracy rate in region 9 (Western Mindanao and Sulu) is 65 percent, the lowest among the nation's 15 regions. It is 18 percent lower that the national literacy average. The DECS regional director said the lack of a sufficient educational infrastructure may be one of the reasons for the strength of the various rebel groups in the region. He said that the out-of-school youths have become easy prey for the recruiters of rebel groups like the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and New People's Army (NPA).
Mountains: Mt Pasian near Moncayo, Davao del Norte 1,652m (5,420ft); Mt Apo on the boundary of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato provinces 2,953m (9,689ft); Mt Galintan near Mati, Davao Oriental 1,738m (5,702ft); Mt Matutum near Tupi, South Cotabato 2,295m (7,530ft); Mt Talayan near Maganoy and Ampatuan towns of Maguindanao 1,226m (4,023ft); Mt Sinyop near Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat.Rivers: Mindanao river in Cotabato province and the Davao and Tagum rivers in Davao province.
Cities, Towns (Census of 1990; x1000):
Province Davao: Asuncion 55, Babak 25, Carmen 50, Compostela 54, Kapalong 66, Kaputian 24, Mabini 24, Maco 56, Maragusan 41, Mawab 28, Moncayo 58, Montevista 30, Nabunturan 53, New Bataan 40, New Corella 36, Panabo 110, Pantukan 46, Samal 20, San Vicente 36, Santo Tomas 68, Tagum 135.
Province Davao del Sur: Bansalan 47, Davao City 850, Digos 97, Don Marcelino 27, Hagonoy 39, Jose Abad Santos 45, Kiblawan 32, Magsaysay 39, Malalag 28, Malita 83, Matanao 41, Padada 21, Sta. Cruz 56, Santa Maria 40, Sarangani 15, Salop 25.
Province Davao Oriental: Baganga 38, Banaybanay 30, Boston 10, Caraga 29, Cateel 26, Gov. Generoso 40, Lupon 48, Manay 34, Mati 93, San Isidro 29, Tarragona 18.
Province South Cotabato: Alabel 41, Banga 60, Gen. Santos City 250, Glan 60, Kiamba 35, Koronadal 109, Lake Sebu 34, Maasim 27, Maitum 26, Malapatan 36, Malungon 58, Norala 36, Polomolok 89, Sto. Niño 30, Surallah 54, Tiboli 32, Tampakan 26, Tantangan 26, Tupi 43.
Province North Cotabato: Alamada 34, Aleosan 23, Antipas 18, Banisilan 27, Carmen 36, Kabacan 51, Kidapawan 74, Libungan 32, M'lang 69, Magpet 55, Makilala 55, Matalam 49, Midsayap 84, Pigkawayan 422, Pikit 51, Pres. Roxas 33, Tulunan 31.
Province Maguindanao: Ampatuan 26, Barira 17, Buldon 23, Buluan 53, Cotabato City 127, Datu Paglas 14, Datu Piang 53, Dinaig 52, Kabuntalan (Tumbao) 17, Maganoy 52, Matanog 15, Pagalungan 42, Parang 55, South Upi 20, Sultan Kudarat (Nuling) 72, Sultan sa Barongis (Lambayong) 30, Talayan 42, Upi 46.
Province Sultan Kudarat: Bagumbayan 37, Columbio 18, Esperanza 36, Isulan 56, Kalamansig 30, Lambayong (Mariano Marcos) 39, Lebak 52, Lutayan 30, Palimbang 34, Pres. Quirino 24, Sen. Ninoy Aquino 21, Tacurong 59.
Political Structure (Province, Population x1000, Area, Capital): Davao Oriental (395, 5165sqkm, 1995sqm, Mati), Davao (1055, 8130sqkm, 3139sqm, Tagum), Davao del Sur (1483, 6378sqkm, 2463sqm, Digos), North Cotabato (764, 6505sqkm, 2512sqm, Kidapawan), South Cotabato (1073, 7468sqkm, 2883sqm, Koronadal), Maguindanao (756, 5474sqkm, 2114sqm, Town of Sultan Kudarat), Sultan Kudarat (436, 4288sqkm, 1656sqm, Tacurong)
This city was formerly called Dadiangas. There are plantations of Dole and Standard Fruit in and around Polomolok, north of General Santos City. The city is busy with a lot of roaring tricycle traffic.
Public Market/Fish Market - Acharon Blvd; KCC Dept Store & Supermarket - J. Catolico Ave., Gaisano Dept Store & Supermarket - J. Catolico Ave., Robinson's Department Store & Supermarket - J. Catolico Ave.,
Gen. Santos City Hospital - Fernandez Blvd.; St Elizabeth Hospital - National Highway; Gensan Doctors' Hospital - National Highway; Socsargen County Hospital - Arradaza St., Lagao.; Mindanao Medical Center/ Hospital - Mabuhay Road; Puericulture Center Hospital - North Osmeña St; Auguis Clinic - Osmeña Ave.; Diagan's Hospital - Quezon Ave.
PIA/Information Center - Roxas Ave; City Hall - Osmeña St.; Philippine National Bank - Osmeña St. beside City Hall; Post Office - Roxas Ave., KCC Mall, and Gaisano; PT&T & RCPI - Acharon Blvd; Bayal Tel - Laurel East Ave.; Piltel - Biatiles St., Italtel - Makar, National Highway; SSS - Makar Highway; GSIS - Santiago Blvd
PAL Office - Acharon Blvd. Tel: 301-8522; Tambler Airport Term.; Yellow Bus Terminal - National Highway buses to Koronadal, Davao every 20 minutes!
A typical provincial city with very few activities after 22:00. Restaurants usually close at 21:00, discos around midnight. Military presence is strong, and many private persons are also armed.
This town is the jumping-off point for excursions to Lake Sebu; the town itself has little tourist attractions. B'laan Settlements
B'laan SettlementsThere are 95,000 B'laans, a tribal minority, in South Cotabato Province. Unlike the other indigenous cultural communities including the Manobos, Tibolis, Ubos and Kalagans as well as Muslim groups (Tausogs, Maguindanaos and Maranaos) who tended to cluster in a particular area, the B'laans are scattered in pockets all over the province. The majority farm and some make handicrafts and weave. Today they are on lands generally considered undesirable where they were pushed when their lands were opened to settlement in 1938 by President Manuel Quezon. The new settlers cleared lands for pasture and logged the virgin forests. The main dialect became Ilonggo (Hiligaynon) and ways of life changed drastically.
LAKE SEBUThe Country side around Lake Sebu (365 hectares) is exciting and for nature loving travelers definitely worth a trip. Due to an altitude of around 1000m, the climate is quite cool. Lake Sebu irrigates the fertile Allah Valley. Surallah near Lake Sebu is the main municipality of the Tiboli tribe which is famous for its metalwork. Tibolis make up the majority of the population while the rest are Ilonggo settlers. In Surallah no accommodation is available.
The road between Koronadal and Surallah is quite good. The last trip from Surallah back to Koronadal is at about 17:00. Jeepneys from Surallah to Lake Sebu leave during the day whenever one is full. This road to the lake is rough. Accommodation at the lake is available in the Municipal Guest House. It has 2 bedrooms for P 25, with kitchen; if occupied, private accommodation used to be provided by the mayor at the same charge.End of the 80's, a gold rush on Tiboli lands has made many of the tribes people rich. The Tiboli gold rush was and is centered in only 24 hectares of the entire 5,224-hectare civil reservation which is administered by the Office of Southern Cultural Communities. As Manuel Baliao reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer of June 29, 1991, only 35 of the 106 tunnels that have been dug had been fully operational at that time. Compared to the Mt Diwalwal gold rush site in Davao province, the Tiboli gold rush site is better administered although in both areas an effective presence of the proper government agencies is, according to Manuel Baliao, still to be desired. The difference in Tiboli is made by the chief of the Office of Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC) Tiboli Service Center and the mayor of Tiboli town, the brothers Dad and Mai Tuan, respectively. After the Tuans had been charged in newspaper reports of having taken control of the mining operations in Mafia fashion, Mayor Tuan declared towards Manuel Baliao: "I might grant that, but only in the sense that my brothers and I happen to hold influential positions that allow us to strong-arm the recalcitrants into obeying laws governing all aspects of the mining activities." Dad Tuan of the OSCC, a US-trained helicopter pilot, said: "We're public servants not mobsters. We want to maintain order and discipline here. Other than that, we don't meddle in the affairs of people who come here to conduct business. What you are seeing is free enterprise in motion." Aside from Dad and Mai Tuan, brother Fludi Tuan is president of the Tiboli Mining Development Association while another, Yani Tuan, heads the Tiboli Integrated Gold Buyers Association. Manuel Baliao reported that the gold rush, which peaked in mid-1989, enabled the town of Tiboli (an administrative creation encompassing Surallah and surrounding villages) to surpass all other South Cotabato towns in terms of total tax collection. In 1990, more than P4 million was generated. For 1989 and 1990, official estimates put the total gold production at 1,704 kilos valued at 3.4 billion pesos. Due to the absence of a Central Bank-authorized gold buying station in Tiboli, it is believed that the bulk of the high-grade Tiboli gold was cornered by illegal gold traders and smuggled out of The Country . The Gold Buyers Association under Yani Tuan has, according to own claims, been pestering the Central Bank branch in Davao to set up a buying station in Tiboli but to no avail. As was pointed out by Manuel Baliao, the boom has translated into some very interesting statistics. At least ten Tiboli families have become millionaires and hundreds more can now be classified as belonging to the economic upper middle class. A reported 50 percent drop in school enrollment in the town of Tiboli can be explained by the fact that more Tiboli families are now able to afford to send their children to better schools in the cities. Perhaps the single most important impact brought by the gold rush was that it has raised the social status of more Tibolis from dependency and servility to pride and dignity. Manuel Baliao quoted Mayor Tuan as saying: "For the first time, the Tibolis are able to fend for themselves without having to depend on dole-outs and assistance from the national government. Let our detractors, including those from the so-called cause-oriented groups, ponder that."
Contrary to allegations of critics, Tuan said according to Manuel Baliao, that the gold rush had not set in motion the unraveling of Tiboli culture: "The Tibolis will survive, flourish and glitter like the gold found beneath their land," said the acknowledged spiritual and political leader of the 80,000 Tiboli tribe's folks in South Cotabato Province.
The Philippines is a nation whose population has a high percentage of children and adolescents. For the school year 1988/1989, it was estimated 15.5 million students were enrolled. Of this number some 10 million were enrolled in elementary schools.
The Philippine educational system is patterned after the US system but somewhat modified. It is divided into four levels: elementary school, six years (grades 1 to 6); high school, four years; college with four, five, or six years (for a bachelor's degree); and graduate studies with up to six years (leading to a master's or doctorate degree). To proceed to a higher level of schooling, successful completion of the lower level is generally required.
Optionally after high school there are a number of specialized institutions offering additional training including computer schools, secretarial and business schools, tourism and driving schools as well as strictly vocational schools. The latter include the training of mechanics for air-conditioning, welding, auto repair etc.
At all levels there are both private and public institutions. On the elementary and high school levels, public schools predominate, but at college and graduate school levels, there are more private than public institutions. This is also true for specialty and vocational schools.
Public elementary and high schools are tuition free but there are expenses for materials, projects, uniforms and transportation which have to be borne by the parents. Because public schools are cheap, they lack basic equipment and instructional materials. Classes are also very large and sometimes the day is split between morning and afternoon sessions in order to accommodate the numbers of students.
Private elementary and high schools are often much better equipped but also are much more expensive as is the case in most countries. Most private elementary and high schools cost between 2,000 and 5,000 pesos per year for tuition and fees. The most exclusive can cost as much as 60,000 pesos per year.
Generally, provincial schools are of poorer quality than those of Manila and students who transfer from provincial schools to the capital often do not do well. Provincial students also do not get as much practice speaking or reading English and so are disadvantaged.
Traditionally the school year, except for international schools, begins in June and ends in March. However, some Philippine schools are beginning or contemplating a school year which would begin in September and end in June because of the conditions of streets and roads during the rainy season. This may prove to be a problem because of the extreme heat during the dry season from March to June.
School hours often fill the whole day, ranging from 7:00 to 17:00. And still there is homework. On weekends, military training may be required. From high school on, many institutions offer night classes from roughly 17:30 until about 21:30, but usually only in Manila or larger provincial cities. In night classes, high school, college, and university courses can be completed by extending years of schooling. Summer school sessions are available for remedial high school students and for special courses, e.g. computer studies, from April through May.
Rules governing wearing of uniforms are implemented at many schools. The rules are more strict for females than for males. At most institutions the students are required to wear an ID with their picture.
The medium of instruction in colleges and universities is almost exclusively English. Only subjects dealing with the Philippine National language, Filipino, are in that language. In high school, some English used to be used in all science subjects. Even in elementary school, many terms are English, e.g. in arithmetic. However, President Aquino issued an edict that at all levels Filipino should be given preference over English.
While the Philippines offers its youth a lot of schooling at all levels, it is generally agreed that the quality of education offered by Philippine schools is not as high as in the West. The only exceptions are expensive private schools. Panorama Magazine in an editorial in its issue of March 18, 1990 gave a particularly harsh verdict on the Philippine educational system: "A major product of the Philippines is ignorance. For decades now we have been producing a bumper crop of ignorant drop-outs and uneducated graduates... Philippine education is turning out low quality graduates who are not only unemployable but also lack the social consciousness, nationalism and commitment to their country's progress.'"
A unique characteristic of the Philippines is the fact that in this country women get more formal education than men. At the college level 55% of the students are female, while at the graduate level, the rate increases to 65%, and 75% of those who earn a degree in education are females.
It is common for the offspring of a wealthy family to study in the US. The former Minister of Defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, studied at Harvard, and so did the slain former opposition leader Benigno Aquino. Former president, Corazon Aquino, studied in New York.
There are several foreign schools operating in country, chiefly in Manila, catering mainly to the needs of students of expatriate families. These schools generally have foreign teachers. They make it possible for a foreign student to graduate in the same way as he could in his own home country, thus facilitating future education on his return. These schools frequently have a school year to match that of the home country.
Some foreign schools are:
Gen Luna, Makati, Tel 88-98-91
With some 1,700 students, the International School is the biggest foreign school in The Country . It follows the US education system, with 5 years elementary school, 3 years middle school and 4 years high school. After that a degree is earned permitting enrollment at US colleges. Some 80% of the students are foreigners, while Filipinos make up the rest . Among the foreigners, the biggest number are children of US expatriates. Other students are British or German. Of the teachers, half are foreign. Schooling costs some 77,000 pesos/year for elementary, and about 92,000 pesos/year for middle and high school.
Madrid St, Merville Park, Parañaque
The British school only provides elementary education, and in this, it follows the British model exactly. The school year begins early September and ends late June. All the teachers are from Commonwealth countries, as well as most of some 180 pupils aged 9 to 12. There are no more than 20 pupils per class. Charged is an entrance fee of 10,000 pesos, and after that, tuition fee of approximately 75,000 pesos/year.
Jose-Rizal-Schule Manila, University of Life
Meralco Avenue, Pasig, Tel 673-62-59
This German school is patterned after the German educational system. It extends to grade 10 after which the students may take the German examination "Mittlere Reife". The school currently has some 100 students. The teachers are almost exclusively German. The school fees are around 45,000 pesos/year.
8 Hernandez St, San Lorenzo Village, Makati, Tel 817-47-30
According to the French educational system, the French school offers 3 years kindergarten, 5 years primary education and 4 years secondary education. All teachers are from France or French speaking countries. In 1988, the school had some 80 students. Fees range from 22,500 to 63,800 pesos/year.
The Gross National Product, the total value of all economic achievements of the Philippines, is approximately 30 billion dollars annually.
Of this, approximately 40 percent is derived from services, 32 percent from industry and 28 percent from agriculture.
Of the value derived from industry three fourths stems from manufacturing, 15 percent from construction, and the rest from mining and utilities.
The Philippines yearly exports and imports products with a value of approximately five billion dollars. Exports are classified as traditional, which account for one third of all exports, or non-traditional, accounting for two third of the total exports.
Of the earnings from traditional exports, approximately 40 percent is from coconut products, 15 percent is from sugar, and almost 20 percent from logs and lumber. The rest mainly stems from minerals.
The main agricultural product of the Philippines, rice, is for local consumption not export. Rice accounts for approximately half of domestic agricultural output. Another fourth is corn. So, the exported agricultural products, coconut and sugar, together only make up approximately one fourth of the total harvest.
Among the non-traditional exports, electrical and electronic products make up one third. Garments are next in volume with approximately one fifth of the total non-traditional export products.
In imports, the biggest single expenditure is for petroleum which accounts for almost one third.
The total foreign debt of the Philippines is approximately 27 billion dollars, which makes an average per capital debt of 500 dollars, just equaling the per person gross national product for one year.
The basic unit of Philippine currency is the peso (Tagalog: piso). There are 100 centavos in 1 peso. As of July, 1990 the exchange rate is approximately 24.00 per dollar. There are coins of 1 centavo, 5 centavos, 10 centavos, 25 centavos, 50 centavos, 1 peso and 2 pesos, and bills of 2 pesos, 5 pesos, 10 pesos, 20 pesos, 50 pesos, 100 pesos and 500 pesos.
The saga of the sagging peso has been steady rather than startling. From a high of 2 pesos to the dollar following WWII the decline began when President Macapagal dropped controls in 1962 and within a year it was pegged at 3.89. By the end of the decade the guiding rate was 5.628 and two years later in September with the proclaimation of martial law the exchange rate was 6.78. In 1980 the peso was traded at 7.5. Two months after the assassination of Ninoy the official rate had plunged to 14 and on the black market above 20. When President Aquino took over in February 1986 the peso stood at 20.46. The peso topped 25.45 on the black market in August 1990 while the official stance is to destroy the black market and hold the overvalued peso. In 1991, the rate was about 28.
The financial heart of the Philippines is in Makati, a part of Metro Manila, within a triangle formed by Ayala Ave, Makati Ave, and Buendia Ave. Most Philippine branches of foreign banks as well as the main offices of Philippine banks and Philippine subsidiaries of foreign banks are located there.
Banks in the Philippines are faster than banks in India or most African countries but slower than those in Hong Kong, Europe, and the United States. Many bank transactions will take one-half to one hour.
The bank doors open throughout The Country at 9:00 and close at 15:00 with few exceptions. Banking days are Monday through Friday except for holidays and days when there are typhoons. Days between a Sunday and a holiday often are declared "special non-working holidays" on which banks also remain closed. More complicated bank matters, especially those involving transactions with other countries, should be done at a head office.
Safe deposit boxes are difficult to find in Manila as well as in the bigger cities throughout the archipelago. In Manila, the best chance may still be at the head office of the Philippine National Bank in Escolta. Deposit boxes usually are rented by the year. In addition to the rental advance, a key deposit must be paid.
Money may be exchanged at banks, at money changers or at hotels. The term money changer as used in this book applies only to those having a shop and a counter for their operations. Money should not be changed on the street, not only because it is illegal but also because one surely will be cheated.
Generally, the exchange rates are more advantageous at money changers than at banks and they often vary considerably not only from one money changer to another but also among banks, as every bank is free to set its own rates. The Philippine National Bank and the Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank have a reputation of giving the best rates among banks. However, these rates are generally still lower than rates of money changers. Changing money with money changers is also much faster than changing in banks because there are fewer formalities. But money changers do not issue Central Bank receipts which are required to change back an oversupply of pesos when leaving The Country . Furthermore, money changers can almost exclusively be found in the Ermita area of Manila, mostly along Mabini St. Money changers are uncommon in all other parts of the metropolis, and in the provinces.
The best foreign currency to carry is the US dollar. Other foreign currencies are traded at a slightly lower rate than their standing against the dollar would lead one to assume. Money changers pay less for small denominations: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 dollar bills. Compared to the 50 and 100 dollar bills, the difference can be as much as 10 percent. 100 dollar bills are the most sought after.
At money changers, exchange rates also vary slightly, depending on the time of exchange. Generally, rates are a bit lower before 9:30 and after 21:00 for lack of competition. Also on weekends and holidays, money changer rates drop slightly. The best days to change are often Thursday and Friday.
In the provinces, exchange of foreign money is often only possible at banks, and not at good rates. Therefore, it is common to change enough money in Manila before going to the provinces. When staying longer at one place in provinces, it is advisable to place money in a bank safe deposit box rather than in a savings account.
Travelers checks can be changed in Manila in most banks or with money changers. The rate for travelers checks is 5% to 10% lower than the rate for cash. Purchase receipts for the travelers checks as well as a passport are required for cashing. The checks are only accepted if signed at the counter of the bank or money changer. In the provinces, it can sometimes be difficult to change travelers checks. Many banking companies which accept travelers checks in Manila do not so in their provincial branches. In the provinces, the best place to change is a local Philippine National Bank or a Central Bank in larger cities.
Cash advances in dollars can be obtained with an American Express Card at American Express, and with a Visa Card at Bank of America. Cash advances in pesos can be obtained using a Visa or Master Card at any Equitable Bank branch, or with a Diner Card at Security Bank branches. Equitable Bank bills the withdrawal in dollars but gives pesos at a rate higher than it would for either cash or traveler checks. Equitable also adds a charge but no one can explain it and some card users claim they can get the charge refunded in their home country. A passport is required when withdrawing money with credit cards.
In Manila, there is an American Express branch in the PHILAM Life Bldg, on UN Ave across from the Pavilion Hotel, an Equitable Bank branch at the corner of Jorge Bocobo St. and UN Ave, and a Security Bank branch at the corner of UN Ave and Mabini St, Ermita.
Eurochecks are generally not accepted. The best places to get pesos for this guaranteed European checks is with branches of European banks. Also some Manila business establishments with European partners accept payment in Eurochecks.
Money remittances from abroad to Philippine banks may be either to given accounts or just in the name of the claimant.
Foreign currencies other than the US dollar, when remitted to the Philippines, cannot be directly converted into pesos but must first be converted into dollars based on the rate of exchange at its place of origin. The Philippine peso cannot be remitted from abroad as this currency is not accepted as hard money in international markets.
A telegraphic money transfer is the fastest way to have money sent from abroad. The money normally can be withdrawn in Manila within 3 to 5 days, counting from the time it was sent from abroad. If the order for the telegraphic money transfer is sent by mail which easily takes more than a week, no arrival of money can be expected in Manila for a half month.
Before ordering a telegraphic money transfer from abroad, one should contact the bank at which the money is supposed to be received. Some banks don't handle amounts under a certain limit whereas others may not have well established contacts. Reported irregularities are that banks have kept money they received for weeks or months before paying.
Local charges for the telegraphic remittance from a correspondent bank are a documentary stamp tax and a handling fee. Documentary tax ranges from 20 to 30 centavos per 200 pesos while the handling fee is about 1/4 of 1% of the amount remitted or a flat rate ranging from 20 to 30 pesos. However, a comparatively big charge is imposed on the sender of the money abroad, as he has to pay the telex fee which can be 20 to 50 dollars.
SWIFT is a more modern way of money transfer from abroad. The acronym stands for `Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication'. The SWIFT system functions through computers in those banks which are members. The member banks of SWIFT in the Philippines are: Philippine Commercial International Bank, Philippine National Bank, Bank of Philippine Island, Metrobank, United Coconut Planters Bank, Far East Bank and Trust Company, Allied Bank, Equitable Bank, Asian Development Bank.
SWIFT has a regional processing center in Metro Manila at the Telecom Plaza, Gil Puyat Ave Ext, Makati.
SWIFT is used in many international financial transactions such as money transfers and letters of credit. SWIFT charges at the place where the money is sent from, are about 20% lower than the charges for telegraphic money transfers.