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Local governments evacuated some 225,000 people ahead of the arrival overnight of Typhoon Kammuri, known locally as Tisoy, which weakened slightly and picked up speed as it moved across central parts of the archipelago.
Kammuri, the 20th typhoon to hit the country this year, brought winds of 150kmh and gusts of up to 205kmh, damaging some homes and structures and felling trees and signage in urban areas.
A 33-year-old man died after being electrocuted while attempting to fix his roof, a civil defence official in the Bicol region told local radio.
Some 499 flights were postponed and 100,000 people impacted by a rare precautionary closure of all four terminals at Manila's main airport for 12 hours until 11pm Tuesday (local time).
Air travel continued in unaffected areas of the country.
Pictures posted by social media users showed waves crashing against bulwarks, panels flying off roofs, trees on roads or being battered by strong winds.
Disaster agency spokesman Mark Timbal said good preparation had minimised the human impact so far.
"We've seen great improvement in local government management of preparations for disasters," he told news channel ANC.
"The pre-positioning of supplies was executed well before arrival of the storm."
Authorities warned of storm surges of up to three metres and floods and landslides from heavy winds and rain.
Government offices and schools were closed in Metropolitan Manila and affected areas and utilities firms appealed for patience ahead of anticipated power outages. The coastguard halted commercial sea travel in affected areas.
Worst hit was the airport in Legazpi City, where television footage showed structural damage and cables, lighting and panels hanging from the ceiling over departure areas.
Provincial governor Al Francis Bichara said it was important that a mandatory evacuation of tens of thousands of families had taken place.
"The wind was so terrible," he said. "Some of their houses were badly damaged."
The Philippines is hosting the Southeast Asian Games until Dec. 11 and organisers postponed several events until later in the competition, among them surfing, kayak, windsurfing, polo, sailing, skateboarding and canoeing.