The Philippines is the only Christian country in Asia. The Philippines was ruled by Spain from 1565 till 1898. During Spanish-American War in 1898, Philippines fought on the side of the Americans. When Spanish were defeated in the war, the Philippines was declared independent in 1898. The Philippines has developed a mixed culture from the blending of foreign influences with native elements. The concept of a national language developed after the Spanish-American War in 1898 and Tagalog was declared the national language in 1936. But in 1973, Philipino is confirmed as the national language which is based on Tagalog but has linguistic elements of other Philippine languages. The major events held in the country include New Year’s Day which is celebrated with plenty of fireworks, the Black Nazarene Procession — the largest procession in the country which carries a life-size, Blackwood statue of Jesus through the streets of Quiapo in Manila. The procession happens again during Passion Week — the week following Palm Sunday at Easter. Ati-Atihan — the three-day celebration in Kalibo on Panay in the third week of January. Independence Day is

celebrated on June 12 with military parades.

The major attractions are Boracay Beaches — the famous white beaches of the island of Boracay, off the northwestern tip of Panay which appears in the Best Beaches of the World lists. Huge tower blocks crowding in Manila are a few examples of colonial architecture that survived the bombing of the city during WWII. The spectacular rice terraces around Banaue have been also described as the eight wonder of the world like a lot of other places. Carved out of the hillside 2000 to 3000 years ago, these remarkable terraces stretch like stepping-stones to the sky. The others are Chocolate Hills of Bohol in the Visayas, the volcanic crater Lake Taal, the burial caves of Sagada, the easygoing port town of Cebu City, where Magellan marked the beginning of Christianity in the Philippines by erecting a cross and 5,000 uninhabited islands to explore. The cuisine of Philippines is influenced by Chinese, Malay and Spanish. Popular morning and afternoon snacks are called merienda, and pulutan — small morsels served with alcoholic drinks. Barbecued sticks of meat or seafood are popular evening snacks. Standard dishes, always served with rice including meat and vegetables cooked with vinegar and garlic.