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Countries Information & Lifestyle
 Philippines Philippines

Country Information & Lifestyle

 One of the great treasures of Southeast Asia

One of the great treasures of Southeast Asia

The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands, the main groups being Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The capital is Manilla and with Quezon City and the surrounding cities forms the National Capital Region,(NCR) or as the sprawling conglomerate is locally known, 'Metro Manilla'.

The climate from March to May is hot and dry, from June to October rainy and from November to February cool. There are two official languages, English and Filipino, based on Tagalog, the national language and there are more than 111 dialects spoken.

From a long history of Western colonial rule interspersed with the visits of merchants and traders evolved a people of a unique island of east and west, both in appearance and culture, with the background of the people being Indonesian and Malay with Chinese and Spanish elements as well.

Divided geographically and culturally into regions each recognisable by its distinct traits and dialects, the sturdy and frugal llocanos of the north, the industrious Talalogs of the central plains, the carefree Visayans from the central islands and the colourful tribesmen and religious Muslims of Mindanao and tribal communities can be found scattered across the archipelago.

The Province of Palawan is always characterised by the natural wilderness and has more than 1,000 islands and is the fish basket of the Philippines. With some of the largest tracts of mangrove forest found anywhere (118,000 acres), Palawan has the world's longest underground river system accessible to man and can be found in the St Paul National Park.

The Palawan bear, neither cat nor bear, known in South East Asia as binturong, inhabits the island and north of Palawan Province in the Calmain Islands is a species of deer, the Calmain deer, found nowhere else on earth.

One of the most sparsely populated, least developed provinces, outside the capital, Puerto Princesa, private cars are uncommon and traffic in towns is almost solely consists of tricycles, with only two stretches of paved road.

On the island of Mindoro is the largest Philippine wild animal, the tamaraw, a species of buffalo similar to caraboa and the Philippines has one of the richest orchid flora in the world.

The ubiquitous jeepney is a post-war creation inspired by the GI jeeps that the American soldiers brought to the country in the 1940s, enterprising Filipinos salvaged the surplus engines and out came a unique means of transportation.

During the 15th century Spanish officials and nobles introduced the Kalesa, a horse-drawn carriage, as means of transportation and it is now seen on the streets of Manilla and other cities.

The Philippines has so much to offer it is impossible to give this beautiful country credit, in Bukidnon the Delmonte Pineapple Plantation is considered the biggest in the Far East and seahorses live in the Coral Triangle in coastal waters.

Street hawkers serve all kinds of delicious food and one of the specialities is PANCIT HABHAH or PANCIT LUCBAN made from rice flour and served on a banana leaf, eaten with fingers straight from the leaf, 'HABHAB' style. HALA-HALO meaning mix-mix, is made from rice flour, a mixture of sweetened fruits, beans, lavished with pinpig (crisp flattened rice flakes), sugar and milk, and topped with crushed ice and ice cream, uniquely Filipino and unforgettable.

Probably the most beautiful island is Boracay, with its famous white sand beach and January festival, the world-famous Kalibo Ati-Atihan, the Philippine Mardi Gras.

Siargao is a little-known surf paradise perched 448 km off the coast of Cebu, the teardrop shaped isle is relatively unknown except to the surfing community, for whom it is a mecca.

Compared to neighbouring Boracay, Siargao is a sleepy sibling. There are no direct international flights and volatile weather makes current airline timetables chaotic. But this will all change from 2015 as over the next three years the Sayak Airport is going to be improved and extended.

After arriving at the airport a jeepney will take you along a dirt track which is like stepping back in time. The dense palm jungle has basic stilt huts clinging to the road edge. Bambook frames hold up corrugated iron roofs which act as petrol stations. Carabao graze lazily in lush rice paddies.

The Philippines is a country so varied it would take a lifetime to see it all but at least you can experience some of this stunning country on one of your visits.

Purchasing a Property

The Right To Own Philippine Property

The general rule is that only Filipino citizens and corporations or partnerships, at least 60% Philippine owned are entitled to acquire land in the Philippines. As an exception to this rule, an alien acquisition of Philippine real estate is allowed in the following cases.

Acquisition before the 1935 constitution. Acquisition through hereditary succession if the foreign acquire is a legal heir. Purchase of not more than 40% interest as a whole in a condominium project. Purchase by a former natural born Filipino citizen subject to the limitations prescribed by law. Filipinos who are married to aliens retain their Filipino citizenship, unless by their act or omission they are deemed to have renounced their Filipino citizenship.

Foreigners Leasing Of Philippine Real Estate Property

Leasing land in the Philippines on a long term basis is an option for foreigners or foreign corporations with more than 40 percent foreign equity. Under the Investor's Lease Act of the Philippines a foreign national and or corporation may enter into a lease agreement with Filipino landowners for an initial period of up to 50 years renewable once for an additional 25 years.

Foreigners owning Houses in the Philippines

Foreigners owning a house or building in the Philippines is legal as long as the foreigner does not own the land on which the house is build.

Foreigners owning Condominiums & Townhouses in the Philippines

The Condominium Act of the Philippines, R.A. 4726, expressly allows foreigners to acquire condominium units and shares in condominium corporations up to not more than 40% of the total and outstanding capital stock of a Filipino owned or controlled condominium corporation. However, there are a very few single-detached homes or Townhouses in the Philippines with condominium titles. Most condominiums are high rise buildings.

Foreigners Leasing of the Philippine Real Estate Property

A foreign national and or corporation may enter into a lease agreement with Filipino landowners for an initial period of up to 50 years, and renewable for another 25 years. Or lease the property in your Philippine Corporation name for an unlimited period.

Filipinos & Former Filipino Citizens (Balikbayans) & OFW

Former natural-born Filipinos who are now naturalised citizens of another country can buy and register, under their own name, land in the Philippines but limited in land area. However, those who avail of the Dual Citizenship Law in the Philippines can buy as much as any other Filipino citizen.

Under Republic Act 9225 (Philippines Dual Citizenship Law of 2003), former Filipinos who became naturalised citizens of foreign countries are deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship, thus enabling them to enjoy all the rights and privileges of a Filipino regarding land ownership in the Philippines.

Foreigners Married to a Filipino Citizen

If holding a title as an individual, a typical situation would be that a foreigner married to a Filipino citizen would hold title in the Filipino spouse's name. The foreign spouse' act to buy the property. In the event of death of the Filipino spouse, the foreign spouse is allowed a reasonable amount of time to dispose of the property and collect the proceeds or the property will pass to any Filipino heirs and or relatives.

Former Natural-born Philippine Citizen now Naturalised American Citizen

Any natural-born Philippine citizen who has lost his Philippine citizenship may still own private land in the Philippines up to a maximum area of 5,000 square meters in the case of rural land.

In the case of married couples, the total area that both couples are allowed to purchase should not exceed the maximum area mentioned above.

Fees & Taxes

The expenses when transferring the real estate property title(TCT or Transfer Certificate of Title) to the new owner are shared between seller and purchaser and are standard practice in the Philippines, however both parties can mutually agree on other terms as long as it is done during the negotiation period(before signing of the "Deed of Sale").

The "Deed of Sale" is the document showing legal transfer of real estate property ownership. The "Deed of Sale" is then taken to the Registry of Deeds to be officially recorded.

Your Agent/Broker will usually do this for you without any additional payments but it is advisable to use an attorney conversant with Filipino law at all times.

Documents needed for the Transfer of Certificate to Title (TCT() are
Copies of the Deed of Absolute Sale
Latest tax declaration from the Bureau of Internal Revenue that the capital gains tax and documentary stamps have been paid.
Transfer tax.
Receipt of payment of the transfer and registration fees.

An adapted form of the "Torrens" system of land registration is used in the Philippines. The system was adapted top assure the buyer that if he buys land covered by an Original Certificate of Title(OCT) or the Transfer Certificate of Title(TCT) issued by the Registry of Deeds, the same will be absolute, indefeasible and imprescriptible.

The seller pays capital gains tax of 6% of the contract price and all other unpaid taxes due.

The seller pays the Agent/Broker's commission usually 3-5% of the selling price.

The buyer pays Documentary Stamp Tax of 1.5% of the contract price or zonal value or fair market value which ever is higher

Transfer tax of 0.5% of the contract price, or zonal value or fair market, which ever is higher.

Registration Fee of 0.25% of the contract price, zonal value or fair market value, which ever is higher.


To enter the Philippines you must have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your planned exit and an ongoing or return ticket leaving the Philippines. On production of these documents you will automatically be granted a Philippine visa for 21 days. Extensions can be obtained at any Bureau of Immigration office throughout the Philippines.

Many travel agents will process visa extensions and in addition to immigration fees, will charge US$10 to US20 for the service.

Extension are permitted for up to 24 months in total, unless approval in writing from the Commissioner is granted permitting up to 36 months total. After this time you need to depart, however returning after a few days in a neighbouring country is accepted and the process then starts afresh.

The first extension is for 38 days taking your stay to 59 days. After 59 days further extensions are available in 30 or 60 day increments. After six months you are required to secure an Emigration Clearance Certificate(ECC) prior to leaving the country. Getting an ECC is a simple process but you need to obtain this 14 days prior to departure and have your flight details confirmed and entered on the ECC.

Permanent Residency options are also available for those who choose to retire long term.

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