"High tide or low tide?" was the reply given by Charlene Gonzales to a question asked at the finals of the Miss Universe pageant held in Manila in 1994. It's not clear whether the host realized that Gonzales was joking, so she then had to say that there are 7,107 islands at high tide, and 7,108 at low tide, which was not necessarily correct. Watch the interview on YouTube.
The official number, according to the Department of Tourism, is 7,107, which is what Filipinos have been taught for a long time. But don't go looking for a list of all these islands because many of them don't have names, and only a few hundred are inhabited. And yes, some are so small that they (dis)appear with the tides.
According to a map from the 1700s, "The Philippine Isles are computed to be 11000. They ware first discover'd by Magellan in 1520." There are obvious errors right there, but let's focus on the number of islands. Could it be that the mapmaker was wrong, just giving an estimate, repeating a figure handed down to him, or did the Philippines really have more islands then? Look carefully at the image above, and try to figure out where the "New Philippine Isles" might be today.
Note: The photo above was taken by this blograrian from a map on exhibit at the Boston Public Library, 21 July 2006.
Category: The Philippines