February 2 - Constitution Day in the Philippines

Posted on February 2, 2019

Since the Philippines proclaimed independence in 1898, the nation has adopted six different constitutions. Today's holiday celebrates the ratification of the current constitution on this date in 1987.

Like many other constitutions worldwide, this constitution shows influence from the U.S. Constitution (adopted in 1787 - two centuries before the Filipino constitution!) in many of its ideas, its Bill of Rights, and even in its use of similar phrases.

But of course there are many ways in which the Philippines - the country - is unique:

It's home to the smallest primates in the world, tarsiers.

You can dive through sunken Japanese ships wrecked during World War II while enjoying a huge variety of sea creatures.

Jeepneys were WWII U.S. military jeeps but for years afterwards have been used as colorful public transport. Now the government is hoping to phase them out to reduce pollution.

Mount Pinatubo, Taal, and Mayon are only three of 25 active volcanoes!

Above, the crater lake on top of Mount Pintabo. Looks peaceful, doesn't it?
Below, an eruption of Pintabo in 1991.

Above, Taal. Below, Mayon's 2006 eruption.

Smith Volcano

The nation has around 7,641 islands. (!) - Don't you love it when your research turns up a number like "around blah-blah number," but then it turns out that blah-blah number is incredibly specific. I mean, why not "around 7,640 islands"? I suppose that a few plant-covered chunks of rock are considered separate islands by some people and are considered just...well, just plant-covered chunks of rock, by others?

One of all of those islands, Palawan, has a UNESCO World Heritage Site: Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park.

Also, the island is pretty darned gorgeous and relatively unspoiled by tourism.

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is the historic town of Vigan. (Altogether, there are six such World Heritage Sites.)

The Philippines has quite a few really huge malls. I found one list of the 10 largest malls in the world, and two Filipino malls came in #4 and #7 - but two Filipino malls have much larger gross floor area and many more shops than those two! Confusing!

Another thing that is confusing is that most of the largest Filipino malls are called SM ___ [fill in the blank]. That's because SM Prime Holdings is the largest shopping retail operator in the nation. Last year this company was attempting to set the world record with THE largest mall in the world - but I'm not sure if they managed it!

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