The Republic of the Philippines compromises of over 7,000 islands and rocks in the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea. It has a total area of 300,000 km2. The 11 largest islands-Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Palawan, Paney, Mindoro, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, and Masbate-contain about 95% of the total land area.
The Philippines were ceded from Spain to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. They attained their independence in 1946 after being occupied by the Japanese in World War II. The Philippines is governed under the constitution of 1987. The president, who is both chief of state and head of the government, is elected by popular vote for a six-year term.
The climate is tropical marine; northeast monsoon (November to April); southwest monsoon (May to October). The terrain is mostly mountainous with narrow to extensive coastal lowlands.
Natural resources are timber, crude oil, nickel, cobalt, silver, gold, salt, copper. Nonmetallic minerals include rock asphalt, gypsum, asbestos, sulfur, and coal. Limestone, adobe, and marble are quarried, and petroleum is mined.
The religion is 83% Roman Catholic, 9% Protestant, 5% Muslim, 3% Buddhist and other. The official national language is Philipino, a form of Tagalog. A considerable number of Filipinos speak English, the nation’s second language.
Although Sariaya is only two hours away from Manila, it is able to keep its charm and be reminiscent of the old Philippines molded by its colonial past. Sariaya, a town in the Quezon Province has a population of 116,000, is engaged mainly in coconut and vegetable farming. To the north of the town stands Mount Banahaw, which nurtures various natural resources to provide Sariaya with food, water and livelihood. To the south is the Tayabas bay which provides spectacular sunrises, which makes the beaches a popular place to visit.
Each year Sariaya celebrates the Agawan Festival, where townspeople decorate their houses with vegetables, which passersby grab or on Tagalog “aagawin”.
Sariaya is home to a 400-year-old Christian community, with a 250-year-old St Francis of Assisi church.
Between 1919 and 1930 , the town’s coconut industry prospered, many prominent
families in the area that made their wealth from their coconut plantations. These families built large mansions, some of which still stand today. The government has been in negotiations with the families to makes the mansions into museums.