The first people in the Philippines were hunter-gatherers. However, between 3,000 BC and 2,000 BC, people learned to farm. They grew rice and domesticated animals. From the tenth century AD, Filipinos traded with China. Then in 1521 Ferdinand Magellan landed in the Philippines and claimed the islands for Spain. The Philippines is named after King Philip II of Spain (1556-1598). It was a Spanish colony for over 300 years. Friars converted the Filipinos to Catholicism.
In the Philippines, the birth of sport diving is generally said to have taken place in Anilao, which is still a popular dive destination to this day. The pioneering Aquatropical Divers opened in 1966 and scuba tourism was born. That makes sport diving here one of the earliest founded anywhere on the globe. Since then, the sport has blossomed, expanding to areas like Puerto Galera and now pretty much all across the country. Divers used small traditional outriggers back then to get to the dive sites and many beach dive areas were found
Wartime Shipwrecks Abound
The WWII years and even earlier have left an undersea legacy that now benefits divers. Subic Bay, just north of Manila, is a popular wreck diving spot. The American WWII victim USS New York and many others, including remnants from Spanish Manila Galleon days, are covered in marine life. Following the exit of US troops after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, the bay is now open for exploration and hosts wreck divers, deep tech, and lots of training. Subic has provided shelter for ships for many decades. The first major naval base was the Spanish.
There’s a saying that the Philippines “has it all” and this is certainly true above the sea (as well as below). Northern terraced mountains give way to the steamy southern rainforest. In many parts of the country, rice fields sit in the shadow of volcanic cones (some are still active). Their past eruptions have created some extremely fertile regions making farming popular for nearly half of the Philippine land.
And the Philippines boasts over 7,000 islands (the official count is 7,107) and some stunning, coconut-covered atolls. 2,000 of the isles in the Philippines have inhabitants. In contrast, it is said 2,500 don’t have names. Luzon and Mindanao are the largest islands making up two-thirds of the country’s landmass. 66% of the country’s land is found on these two islands. In fact, most of the islands here were formed from past and current volcanic and tectonic activity
There are two seasons in the country, the wet season and the dry season, based upon the amount of rainfall. This is dependent as well on your location in the country. The average year-round temperature measured from all the weather stations in the Philippines, except Baguio City, is 26.6 °C (79.9 °F). Cooler days are usually felt in the month of January with temperature averaging at 25.5 °C (77.9 °F) and the warmest days, in the month of May with a mean of 28.3 °C (82.9 °F).
The dry season is November into June and this is considered the best time to visit for diving, although diving can be done year-round. In fact, during the rainy season in places like The Visayas, the sea flattens out and makes it easy to get to almost any site. The rains are dictated by the amihan (northeast monsoon) and the habit (southwest monsoon). The southwest monsoon sometimes brings winds with it and that can make some sites inaccessible, so check with your dive operator about his particular region and how it is affected.