The location of the Philippines in the Southeast Asian region became significant to Spain and to the United States. The country was one of the centres of trade in the Pacific Ocean. Even before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Philippines already enjoyed trade relations with China and its neighbours in Southeast Asia, which is now made up of Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. Because of the influx of both traders and travellers coming from the east and west, our culture was subjected to many influences. (Gotuaco et. Al. 1997)
The location of the Philippines in the Southeast Asian region also bears diplomatic and military significance. The country proved to be strategic for military installations of countries that were expanding their influence across Asia Pacific. An example is Subic Naval Base, a US military base created after the successful was with Spain in 1898. Along with Clark Air Base, it also served as an arsenal during the Vietnam War. It was also used as an airstrip for US fighter planes engaged in the war against Afghanistan and Iraq in Southwest Asia.
The Philippines is an archipelago. It is situated in the south eastern portion of Asia. Taiwan bounds the country on the north, on the west by South China Sea and Vietnam, on the east by Pacific Ocean, on the south by Celebes Sea and Indonesia, and on the southwest by Malaysia and Singapore. The distance from the north to the south is 1,840 kilometres and the widest area measures 1,000 kilometres. The farthest island to the north is Y’ami Isle in Batanes, while the Salauag Isle in Tawi-Tawi is the farthest to the south. Due to its central location in the Far East, the country has been tagged as the “Crossroads of the Pacific”.
The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands, although only 2,700 of them are name. There are 20 big islands which occupy 96% of the whole are of the country. Being an archipelago has posed some challenges in politics, culture, and the economy of the country. Aside from this, the challenges also involve issues on national unity and progress. (Luna 1991)
The Philippines archipelago is estimated to have an area of 300,000 square kilometres. Its size is almost the same as that of Pakistan, Japan, and Spain. However, the country is bigger than the United Kingdom, Cuba, North Korea, South Korea, and Greece.
If we try to locate the Philippines on the globe, we will find it near the equator. This is why the country has a tropical climate. The seasons are divided into two: the dry season and the wet season. The dry season is from December to May, while the wet season begins in June and last until November. However, these seasons may occur at different times depending on the changes in the environment.
Moreover, the Philippines is in the path of storms that originate from the regions of the Marianas and the Caroline Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Because of this, typhoons are frequent in the Luzon and Visayas islands. However, as Mindanao is located outside of the typhoon belt, typhoons are rare in these islands. There are an estimated 19 typhoons that pass through the country in each year.
There is hardly any difference in temperatures across the country from Batanes to Jolo. The temperatures in Northern Luzon go down during the month of January and go up around the month of May. In Sulu, the hottest month is August. The temperature in Cebu reaches 26.3 degrees Celsius in the month of February and reaches an average high of 29.37 degrees Celsius in May. Baguio has the coolest climate as it is located in the highlands.
Based on temperatures and periods of rainfall, our climate has three seasons:
- Hot and dry – March to May
- Hot with rainfall – June to November
- Cold and dry – December to February
The month of February is the coolest month, while the months of March and April are the hottest.