I.  Introductory Questions

A.  What are the geographic features of the Philippines and where are they located?

B.  How is the population density distributed and how does that distribution affect the cultures?

C.  What are the monsoons and how do they affect the Filipino cultures?

II.  Introduction

Geography study the locations and distributions of features on the earth's surface.  These features may be the landmarks of human occupation or the properties of the natural environment, or both (Blij 1994: 2).

Geography plays a key role in the understanding of a culture.  The environment and physical geography shape a culture's traditions and daily activities.  In order to survive, a culture must adapt to its environment.  This lesson examines the geographical features of the Philippines in order for students to understand why a culture must adapt to its environment, and how these features can affect their location.

Part 1 of the lesson introduces the geography of the Philippines, by comparing the basic traits to those of the United States.   It also gives the students an opportunity to study the physical geography using an atlas.  Students will locate a number of geographical features, and cities on a map.   Students will be quizzed on the map they have compiled.

Part 2 of the lesson allows students to study the population density of the Philippines in comparison with that of the US.   This lesson helps students understand where people are located in the Philippines.

Part 3 of the lesson focuses on monsoons. The students will learn what a monsoon is and how monsoonal climatic changes affect peoples in the Philippines.

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III.  Objectives

A.  Cognitive Objectives

1.  To learn the location of the major geographical features of the Philippines.

2.  To understand how geographical features may (or may not) affect the location of cultures.

3.  To understand what a monsoon is, and how it affects the environment of this important Southeast Asian country.

B.  Attitudinal Objectives

1.  To appreciate another culture by comparing it to North American culture.

2.  To understand that climate affects all cultures and their daily lives.

C.  Psychomotor Objectives

1.  To learn how to read several types of maps.

2.  To see the connection between environment and culture.

3.  To analyze geographical features by comparisons.

4.  To organize information in order to be quizzed and then maintain information.

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IV.   Materials

Colored map for introduction to the region
Handout #1, Geographical Features of the Philippines, one per person
Handout #2, Blank map of Identification of Features, one per person
Handout #3, Map Quiz, one per person
Handout #4, Comparable Geographic Features, one per person
Map quiz answer sheet for teacher
Population density map of Southeast Asia, can be made into a transparency
Population density map of the United States, can be made into a transparency
A world map

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V.   Procedure

A.  Part 1

1.  Expain to the students that this lesson will introduce them to the Philippines.  Theywill be identifying features as well as comparing general facts to those of the US (or Chicago area, for example).

2.  Explain to the students that this project will involve some out-of-the-classroom work to construct a map of the Philippines.  Tell them you will be passing out a blank map, and they are required to locate specified features of the map.  These features can be found in an Atlas.   Also, explain that they will be quizzed on the map.

3.  Begin the lesson by showing the map of the world.  Point out the general location of the Philippines.  Show its relationship to China, India, Japan, and the US.  Then put up the map of the Philippines.  Point out the obvious features first, such as the surrounding waterways, mountain ranges, and the country's capital.

4.  Pass out the "Geographic Features" handout.  This will allow the students to follow along as well as visualize the numbers you want to compare.

5.  Point out the temperature difference between Manila, Baguio City, and Chicago.  Point out comparisons between land area and population.  This tropical climate allows for crop production like rice, sugar, bananas, coconut, and pineapple.  This is generally found in the lower attitudes. 

6.  Briefly explain the "Ring of Fire" is, and show that the Philippines lies on the western edge of that ring.   This results in many volcanic eruptions as well as earthquakes.  This implies that the mountains in the region are young, rugged, and also changing. The highest point is Mt. Apo, on the island of Mindanao, which is 9,690 ft. above sea level.

7.  Point out the area differences between the two countries.  Make a note that the Philippines is made up of over 7,100 islands, and that 92% of the total land area comes from the 11 largest islands.  This fact shows how small the other islands actually are.

8.  Lastly, read through the rest of the comparison chart, for those who need things spoken to them.

9.  After a reasonable amount of time, or about a week, administer the map quiz, to grade how well the students located the features as well as their map reading skills.

B.  Part 2

1.  Expain to the students that this lesson combines their knowledge of the map quiz information with the statistics.   This lesson will analyze how geography affects the location of people.   Looking at two types of population density maps will help students understand.

2.  Begin by explaining to the students how a population density is calculated.  This number is how many people there are in each square mile.   A general population density can be found by dividing the total number of people by the total square mile land area of the country.   The students have enough information to find the general population density of both the United States and the Philippines.  They may proceed with this project, if they need more examples to understand the concept.

3.   The next step would be to explain what each map shows.  The map of Southeast Asia uses a chropleth style map.   This shows the population density levels, where each level is represented by a different shade of red.  As population density decreases, the shade becomes lighter.

The other style of map, shown with the US map, is called a dot density map.  This style uses a dot to represent a specific density. Where that density occurs, a dot is placed.  Thus, where there are a lot of people, several dots will be placed.  In this specific case, one dot represents 10,000 people.

4.  Begin the explanation, by showing the US map.  Point out how sparse the population is in the mountainous regions.  It is also sparse in the desert southwest and cold northern plains.   In the US, like many other countries in the world, we tend to avoid harsh climates.   We locate in areas where the environment is easier to live in.  We also live where we have easy access to trade.  For example, the population is higher along the coasts and major water routes.

5.  As a contrast, put up the Southeast Asia map.  This map shows how the people have adapted to the land.   There are two cultures in the Philippines, one along the coasts, and a highland culture in the mountains.  Students can clearly see this by looking closely at this map.  In the highlands of Luzon, for example, there is a lower population density, but there still is a distinct population, unlike the US where the mountains are barren.

6.  In conclusion, hold a class discussion as to why the people of the US have basically used urbanization and cold-climate technology as adaptations to their environment, while many people in the tropical Philippines have adapted well to their environment in other ways.

Some points that could lead to further discussions:

a.  The US has an extensive roadway system that is very costly to build through the mountains.  The transportation network is vital to our society and communication.  So, without roads in the mountains, access to the larger society is more limited.

b.  The Philippines is an archipelagic country made up of islands.  Thus, it is smaller and surrounded by water.  An island environment traditionally has placed some limits on population mobility.  Many people even today have litte choice but to move into the fragile ecosystem of the highlands.  The US, in contrast, is a big and expansive country and people have lots of options as to where to live -- factors also influenced by the higher average income in the US. 

C.  Part 3

1.  This is a brief section that tells a non-technical definition of a monsoon.  Begin by asking the students if anyone can define a 'monsoon'.

2.  Explain to the students this definition.  A monsoon derives from the Arabic term, mansin, which means seasonal wind.  A monsoon climate is one that is dominated by seasonal winds that blow for half of the year in one direction and then reverse themselves.  In Southeast Asia, 'monsoon' refers to the wet season.  It is a long period or season of rains.   The monsoon supply the water that is critical for survival during dry season.   Rainfall is the dominant climatic variable in Sotuheast Asia, since tropical temperatures in the lowland equatorial region are fairly similar throughout the year.   Unless irrigation water from underground springs or rivers are available, the rice crop -- which sustains the region's population as a staple food -- is normally limited in the rainy season.

3.  Explain to the students how the Philippines is affected by the Asian monsoon.  It affects the western coastal regions from June to September, while the eastern coastal regions are affected between December and February.

4.  Because this is when the majority of the rain falls, agriculture is dependent on monsoon.   It is also the key to success of the highland forests, as well as human populations, as everyone must have drinking water.

5.  On average, Manila receives 81" of rain per yar, while the Luzon highlands, in particular, Baguio City, receives 164" of rain per year. 

6.  The success of a culture is dependent on these rains and every year they vary.  In some years, they may have a drought; and in others, the rain is an unstoppable torrent for days on end.  This is another way that some Filipino cultures have learned to adapt to its environment.   Filipinos have created a successful series of agricultural systems, some of which are geared to receiving rain only a few months of the year, while others receive heavy rain for long periods.

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    The Philippines   The United States
  Area   115,831 sq. mi.   3,618,770 sq. mi.
  Population   68,424,000 (1999 est)   260,341,000 (1999 est)
  Life Expectancy   66.13 years   76.13 years
  Literacy   94 percent   97 percent
  Official Name   Republic of the 
  United States of America
  Government Type   Republic/democratic   Federal/democratic
  Head of State   President Gloria
  Macapagal- Arroyo
  President George W. Bush
  Rice, sugar, coconut, 
  pineapple, tropical fruits
  and vegetables
  Wheat, corn, beef, pork,
  poultry, dairy products,
  forest products, other
  grains, fruits and
  Climate   Mostly tropical,
  in highlands
  Mostly temperate, tropical
  in Florida and Hawaii,
  arctic in Alaska, arid in
  Southwest, semi-arid in
  Great Plains
  Manila (Lowland) 80.2 F
  Baguio (Highland) 64.8 F
  Chicago (Temperate) 47.3 F
  Languages   Pilipino and English
  Cebuano, Ilocano
  English, Spanish (spoken
  by sizable minority)

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   Cities    Manila
   Quezon City
   Baguio City
   Davao City
   Zamboanga City
   Major Islands    Luzon

   Sulu Sea

   South China Sea
   Philippine Sea
   Celebes Sea
   Manila Bay
   Davao Bay
   Balabac Strait
   Other Features    Philippine Trench
   Sierra Madre Mountains
   Cordillera Central Mountains
   Mt. Apo

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Fill in the corresponding number for the listed feature on a blank map of the Philippines.

1.  Zamboanga ______

2.  Negros ________

3.  Sierra Madre ______

4.  Manila ________

5.  Quezon City _______

6.  South China Sea ______

7.  Panay ___________

8.  Cebu ____________

9.  Sulu Archipelago _________

10.  Davao __________

11.  Mt. Apo ___________

12.  Sulu Sea __________

13.  Baguio City _________

14.  Manila Bay _________

15.  Palawan _________

16.  Davao Bay __________

17.  Mindanao _______

18.  Cordillera Central _________

19.  Balabac Strait ____________

20.  Samar ____________

21.  Philippine Trench _________

22.  Celebes Sea __________

23.  Mindoro __________

24.  Philippine Sea _________

Bonus Question (Extra Credit -- Spelling counts!)

25.  What is the capital city of the Philippines?

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On the United States:



On the Philippines:

Dori, John T. and Richard D. Fisher, Jr., eds. US and Asia Statistical Handbook.  1998-1999 edition, p. 82.

Ulack, Richard and Gyula Pauer.  Atlas of Southeast Asia.  New York, 1989. pp. 62, 64.

Recommended References:

Blij, H. J. De and Peter O. Muller.  Geography: Realms, Religions, and Concepts.  Seventh ed.  New York: 1994. p. 2.

Ulack, Richard and Gyula Pauer.  Atlas of Southeast Asia.  New York: 1989.

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Map of Philippines

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