Philippines

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The Philippines is an island nation located in Southeast Asia. Filipinos are mostly Austronesian descent, with significant minorities of those who have Chinese, American, Spanish, and Arab blood. The Philippines already qualifies as a New Industrialized country in South-East Asia, and one of the emerging market economies in the world. Most of the Philippines are relaxed, stable and relatively safe. The locals are exceptionally helpful and there are fantastic reefs and fish. On top of this, transport is cheap, the food is good, accommodation is plentiful and English is widely spoken.

Area: 300,000 sq km
Population: 99,900,177
Religion: Roman Catholic 80.9%, Muslim 5%, Evangelical 2.8%, Iglesia ni Kristo 2.3%, Aglipayan 2%, other Christian 4.5%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.6%, none 0.1%
Languages: Filipino (official; based on Tagalog) and English (official); eight major dialects – Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinan
Government type: republic
Capital: Manila
Currency: Peso

Background

The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; they were ceded to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel Quezon was elected president and was tasked with preparing the country for independence after a 10-year transition. In 1942 the islands fell under Japanese occupation during WWII, and US forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control. On 4 July 1946 the Republic of the Philippines attained its independence. Decades of Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines have led to a peace accord with one group and an ongoing cease-fire and peace talks with another.

Economy

The Philippines was less severely affected by the Asian financial crisis of 1998 than its neighbors, aided in part by its high level of annual remittances from overseas workers, no sustained run up in asset prices, and more moderate debt, prior to the crisis. Average GDP growth accelerated to about 5% between 2002 and 2006 reflecting the continued resilience of the service sector, and improved exports and agricultural output. The Philippines also faces higher oil prices, higher interest rates on its dollar borrowings, and higher inflation. Fiscal constraints limit Manila’s ability to finance infrastructure and social spending. The Philippines’ consistently large budget deficit has produced a high debt level, and this situation has forced Manila to spend a large portion of the national government budget on debt service. The implementation of the expanded Value Added Tax (VAT) in November 2005 boosted confidence in the government’s fiscal capacity and helped to strengthen the peso, making it East Asia’s best performing currency in 2005-06.

Geography

The Philippines constitutes an archipelago of 7,107 islands. The islands are commonly divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The busy port of Manila, on Luzon, is the national capital and second largest city after its suburb Quezon City. The local climate is hot, humid, and tropical. The average yearly temperature is around 26.5°C. There are three recognized seasons: the hot season or summer from March to May, the rainy season from June to November, and the cold season from December to February. Most of the mountainous islands used to be covered in tropical rain forest and are volcanic in origin. There are many active volcanoes and lying on the northwestern fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activities.

Culture

Filipino culture is a fusion of pre-Hispanic indigenous Austronesian civilizations of the Philippines mixed with Hispanic and American cultures. It has also been influenced by Chinese and Islamic cultures. The Hispanic influences in Filipino culture are largely derived from the culture of Spain and Mexico as a result of over three centuries of Spanish colonial rule. These Spanish influences are most evident in literature, folk music, folk dance, language, food, art and religion, such as Roman Catholic Church religious festivals. One of the most visible Spanish legacy is the prevalence of Spanish surnames, streets, towns and provinces. The use of English language in the Philippines is contemporaneous and is America’s visible legacy. There is also a wide influence of American Pop cultural trends, such as the love of fast-food, American pop music and movies. However, Original Pilipino Music (also known as OPM) and Philippine movies are also widely appreciated. Filipinos honor national heroes whose works and deeds contributed to the shaping of the Filipino nation. José Rizal is the most celebrated, a Spanish-speaking reformist visionary whose writings contributed greatly in nurturing a sense of national identity and awareness.

Education

Education in the Philippines has a similar system to that of the United States, as the Philippines was colonized by the Americans. Filipino children enter public school at about age four, starting from Nursery up to Kindergarten. At about seven years of age, children enter a ‘primary school’ (6 to 7 years). This is followed by secondary school (4 years). Students then sit for the College Entrance Examinations (CEE), after which they enter collegiate school (3 to 5 years). School year in the Philippines starts from June and ends in March with a two-month summer break from April to May, one week of semestral break (every last week of October), and a week or two of Christmas break.

The teaching medium in the vast majority of all local schools is English. Filipino is considered only as a second language, and is used only in the Makabayan subject. Outside of Manila, other languages such as Cebuano, Bicolano, and Waray, are also used in the teaching of Makabayan. International schools generally use English in all subjects.

Secondary education in the Philippines is largely based on the American schooling system. It consists of four levels. Secondary schooling is compartmentalized, meaning, each level focuses on a particular ‘theme or content’. Secondary school is often called simply as ‘High school’. The first year of High school includes five core subjects, namely, Algebra I, Integrated Science, English I, Filipino I, and Philippine History I. The second year of High school includes Geometry, Biology, English II, Filipino II, and Asian History. The third year of High school includes Trigonometry, Chemistry, American Literature, Filipino III, and World History, and the fourth year of High school has Calculus, Physics, World Literature, Filipino IV, and Economics. Other minor subjects include Health, Advanced Computer, Music, Arts, Technology and Home Economics, and Physical Education. As of now, there is no government-sponsored entrance examination for Tertiary schools, and all schools, public or private, administer their own College Entrance Examinations (CEE). After finishing secondary education, students have a choice of either continuing their education by taking two or three years of vocational courses, or going to college or university.

Technical/ Vocational school is school offering courses practically to enhance skills. They offer short program or two year – course on technology courses like automotive technology, electronic technology, nursing aide, hotel and restaurant management, computer technology, drafting ,etc. Upon graduation of these courses, students take a licensure examination from TESDA to obtain a certificate or diploma.

Tertiary schools in the Philippines are either colleges or universities. Colleges are tertiary institutions that typically offer one or a few specialized courses, for example, in Science or in Liberal Arts, whereas Universities are tertiary institutions housing several constituent colleges or institutes, each offering academic degree programs of a particular type (i.e., college of commerce, college of law, college of denstistry, college of education, etc.).

Tertiary schooling in the Philippines is more cosmopolitan, with thousands of international students enrolling here, the vast majority of which come from United States, South Korea, India, Pakistan, and other European countries like Sweden and Italy. The number of American nationals applying for tertiary education may be due to the fact that the Philippines itself has a large population of Americans. Most Korean students are transients, studying for the first two or three years in the Philippines to have a working knowledge of English, and then transferring abroad to the United States for degrees, but many still complete their tertiary education in the country.

Myanmar Connections

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Books
The costs required for books and other materials varies considerably between different universities and subjects, with the average being between 280 and 600 US$ per year.

Uniform
Undergraduate programs in the Philippines require a uniform at an average costs of 100 US$ per year.

Accommodation costs
Some students will live on campus others in private accommodation near the university. Costs will vary between 80 and 160 US$ per month.

Food and other general expenses
On average students will require 80 – 100 US$ per month for food and other general supplies.

Travel Expenses
One round trip ticket between Myanmar or Thailand and the Philippines costs approximately 400 – 600 US$ per student. It may be necessary to provide additional travel costs for students to travel to Yangon to secure all of the required documents, to travel from their accommodation to school on a daily basis and travel for research purposes.

Visas
Visas for the Philippines are covered at the current rate of 100 US$ per year. The total costs for one student on an English medium undergraduate course per year can therefore range from 1,100 USS to 7,000 US$.

List of universities selected based on high quality and/or connections to Myanmar: