Since gradeschool, we were taught that the number of islands that our Philippine Archipelago has depends on the tide: we have 7,107 islands during low tide while we only have 7,100 islands during high tide.
However, under Public International Law, we actually have 7,100 islands only. In his reviewer book on Public International Law, International Law legal luminary Atty. Ralph Sarmiento clarified:
“If asked how many islands does the Philippines have, do not reply with ‘high tide or low tide?!’ The number of islands does not change whether it’s high tide or low tide because an island is always above water at high tide.”
Atty. Sarmiento anchors his explanation on Art. 121 of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which defines “island” as a naturally formed mass of land, surrounded with waters, which is above water at high tide. In other words, the so-called seven islands of the Philippine Archipelago which appear during low tide cannot actually be considered as islands for they are submerged during high tide.
Kaya next time, whenever you will be asked again how many islands does Philippines have, just answer “7,100 islands”, no more, no less, until some of these islands would be submerged under water due to melting of the ice caps as a consequence of the rapid climate change caused by us. 😉