While we spent about 3 weeks in the Philippines, most of it was spent on a dive boat, so I can't say I gained a great insight on the country, but we still learned some things:
I should start by saying that the filipinos were all very nice to us. I even got the impression that we got treated better for being foreigners who bring in tourist money, but even generally I'd say the people were just all very chill and nice.
the country was occupied multiple times throughout its history, including a pretty ruthless Japanese occupation and exit where many civilians got killed when the Japanese left.
it tried to rebuild the best it could, but you can tell the toll those wars had on the country. It got a fair amount of US help
sadly there aren't many historical monuments left due to the amount of destruction during the wars.
after learning spanish, and Japanese for a short time, the population learned english under US (reasonably friendly) occupation, which is now a plus since most of the population speaks English well or very well. Not a bad thing as they otherwise had 100+ dialects which made it hard to communicate internally
a byproduct of the low cost of living and english speaking skills, many companies have call centers in the Philippines. The accent is much less obvious than the Indian one.
a remnant of that help are all those long transport jeeps that were left behind by the US and are now used as makeshift busses. Sadly this also stopped the country from developing a better public transportation system. Pretty much every time I saw one of them, they were packed to the brim and not meant to transport so many people (mostly in Manila).
traffic was all around terrible, although in some places it was abysmal instead
in Puerto Princessa, they mostly used trike bikes which while being motorbikes with a wheeled basket attached, could actually transport up to 5 people (not comfortably though). They were dirt cheap, 20 cents per kilometer, although the price for tourists was several times that but still too cheap to worry about.
regular cabs in Manilla will fairly often ask you where you are going and decline the ride if they think the traffic is going to suck, or give you a set price off the meter, likely because the meter does pay them enough for sitting in non moving traffic.
with all this traffic, congestion, and likely poor to no emission regulations, air pollution seemed bad, even if not China bad.
traffic is also so bad that people don't bother with seat belts, some cabs didn't have them in the rear. A few rare times I saw a driver put a seat belt on while entering an area (maybe of enforcement)
and you can watch TV while driving, because well, traffic doesn't move anyway so you might as well catch up on your TV shows
Security-wise, they had muslim extremist bombings too, like Indonesia, so virtually all buildings have security guards and makeshift searches, quite annoying.
That said, I found that in many places, as a tourist of not the wrong color (I assume), the searches were limited and they tried not to be airport-like,
but the airports do suck, they forbid any kind of lighter on your person, check in, or carry-on, not true of most of the rest of the world. Ok, a lighter could be dangerous even if you can light fires many other ways
more annoyingly, extension cords, you know, what you plug into a far away plug so that you can work with your laptop in the airport, and maybe plug 3 devices into one plug, Well, they are not allowed in carry on luggage. Hello? What?
Weather was hot and humid, unsurprisingly. At the same time, the water was quite warm too, at times at the exact temperature than the air (no kidding, I have 31C for both on some dives).
And that was it for the Philippines, good time was had.|