Born and raised in the Philippines, Hachero possesses an almost encyclopedic knowledge about the island nation. An archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, about 2,000 of which are populated, the Philippines consists of three main island groups, centered on the three largest islands: Luzon, Mindanao, and Visayas. Hachero points out that administrative and political demarcations also follow the geography of the three island groups. Altogether, the Philippines consists of 80 provinces, 138 cities, and 1,496 municipalities. Adding that there are more than 42,000 barangays—villages and hamlets that comprise the nation’s smallest administrative entities—Hachero notes that some barangays are neighborhoods or suburbs of larger communities.The nation’s capital of Manila is located on the largest island, Luzon, which Hachero explains is in the northernmost of the three island groups. This group is divided into eight of the nation’s 17 administrative regions. These administrative regions are not political in nature, Hachero relates, as they have no elected governments, but each contains one or more provinces, which are political. According to Hachero, about 46 million people live in the Luzon island group.The center island group, Visayas, is home to about 11 million people. Hachero explains that they live in three regions and 16 provinces, some of which may have been populated as early as 30,000 years ago. Today, according to Hachero, the largest city in the Visayas group is Cebu City. Mindanao, the southernmost of the Philippine island groups, boasts a population of about 21 million people, and its largest city is Davao City. Pointing out that while the Philippines is overwhelmingly Christian, Hachero notes that most of the nation’s Muslim population lives in Mindanao.Noting that the United States governed the Philippines from 1898 until 1946, Hachero points out that the Philippine government is patterned largely on that of the United States, with an executive branch, a bicameral legislative branch, and a judicial branch. Hachero clarifies that the legislative branch is called the Congress, as in the United States, with members of the Senate elected at large from the provinces and members of the House of Representatives popularly elected.
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