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Do and don't in the Philippines


Are you living in the Philippines? We need you to share your experience of the local customs :)

Is it difficult to adjust to the local customs in the Philippines?

Could you please share with us a list of the do's and don't's in the Philippines?

Thanks!

Here are some off the top of my head

Do's
Get to know Filipinos
Be understanding of way of life and ways things get done
Try to learn language
Think in peso mentality
Find a small group of friends you can trust

Don'ts
Don't flash money
Don't act better then locals
Don't be abusive
Don't scream or be loud around locals

As an expatriate living in the Philippines, I avoid political  discussions and debates with strangers regarding Philippine politics. Maybe it's just me, but even though I'm a permanent resident here, I consider myself a "guest", and it just seems rude to argue with one's "host" in these matters.

Now if a local wants to discuss or engage me in a debate about American politics, culture, etc. then bring it on.

xpatinphils you have it right. You will survive.

To add to DavaoBruce donts - never piss off a pinay
as for do's - never go anywhere alone without a pinay at least, Work on your sun tan, eat pork when invited to, learn to smile more. Above all relax, philippinos are a good breed.

Thanks, watever. I've been here 4 years, and it's worked so far.

Do Smile
Do be curtous
Do enjoy life
Do enjoy your family
Do travel the country
Do be humble
Do take time to sit under a coconut tree once in awhile
Do drink redhorse

Don't??????? if you are doing all the above their is no time or need to discuss the don't


Kaibigans
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Don't try to board the the Line 3 MRT  and Line 1 LRT at rush hour unless it's absolutely necessary.  The crush of people is unbelievable.

The do`s and dont`s are primarily common sense issues. In my experience getting someone local to deal with repairs etc. works out financially beneficial as nobody rips you off. But be aware of the fact if the person you send doesnt know what they are doing they are just as likely to be ripped off aswell.

Good manners go a long way aswell as treating Filipinos as equals too many people get a god complex and it may work for some time but when you really do need help you may find yourself standing alone.

Its an interesting topic and its a good way that you people (especially expats in Philippines) share your good and bad experiences etc. it will make a good picture of Dos and Don'ts.

I have a big list of pros and cons about the Philippines though, which I posted in this thread: 

happierabroad.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=7009

DO'S:
1. Try to learn basic Tagalog words.
2. When riding a cab, always tell the driver to put the meter on.
3. Get use to being in a BIG crowd, specially when you have a Filipina girlfriend.
4. To make sure that a Filipino waiter / waitress got your order right, always wait for him to repeat your orders if the don't you should ask them to repeat it before leaving your table.
5. Do add me in your network so you will find out more :-)


DONT'S:

1. Do not use your phone (texting and / or calling) while walking on the streets. (unless you are ready to purchase a new one :-) )
2. If you decide to go out drinking, remember not to give your full name, phone number and the place where you are currently staying to anybody ( i mean anybody - people you don't know may it be a drop dead gorgeous female, a fashionably dressed gay who's biceps might be bigger than yours, or a guy who might be offering business needing a financier etc, etc).If you cannot resist them, I recommend you take the damn creature with you or be the one to ask for their number so you can contact them in the near future.Come on, if you are 18 year old above, you should have known this by now, if not, you are welcome to send me a thank you note, lol!
4.. Be generous since you are more capable than your Filipino friend, employee, girlfriend, better half etc. but DO NOT allow other people take advantage of your finances.
5. Do not forget to contact me if you liked my post. I'll be happy to get connected.

There are many Filipinos out for a scam. Most are not.
DO treat Filipinos with respect.
BUT, treat them with the same respect they give you. As a human being you are entitled to this. Ignore them and walk away otherwise.
Most Filipinos see foreigners with money in theIr eyes, no matter how friendly they are to you, they just want your money. Even family members. Believe me. I know.
Argue if you may, but stand up for your dignity.
Filipinos do not show their anger in public. Remember a laughing Filipino is an angry filipino. They use laughter to mask their anger in an argument. 
Finally foreigners are treated well in the Philippines, but are discriminated against in many ways. Land ownership, freedom of expression, inheritance tax etc etc..

Luzvimpj,
In some ways your right and a lot has to do where you live. In Davao it is a city and a large population of Expats.
Not all Filipinos are out for your money. Yes, many think foreigners are rich and even poor foreigners live better then the average Filipino. As I write many times on my site, set your boundaries with family and friends. Show friendship in conversation and you will receive it in return.
Life here is difficult for us since the Filipino culture is many times opposite than Western culture. Talk and learn. I have written many articles on this subject. Visit my site and read.

Filipinos are easy to love. You give them something good, you will be returned with eternal favors.

DO rules
1. When you need to look for a place in the mall area, you can rely on asking the mall security guards for just about anything. They are the most knowledgeable about the area and are trustworthy. I just love the Greenbelt Mall! People are simply wonderful...
2. Put on casual clothes when you go out shopping, making sure that you have a belt bag or a purse for women that you can hang on to your shoulders across, making sure that it is in front of you all the time. Use your nice purse that you hang on one side of your shoulders on special occasions. Wear your most comfortable walking shoes when going to the malls. It gets really tiring at the end of the day.
3. When looking for a place to stay, specially if it is your first time to come here. Choose condos that are fully furnished.Preferred locations are Makati, Taguig and Alabang areas. If one is considering to apply for retirement visa, stay in Makati. Start first by going through the condo management so that you will get better service as if you are in a hotel. After you've familiarized yourself in the location, go online and locate for owners of condo units who are renting for short and long term leases. It is cheaper to rent directly from the condo unit owners even if they are being handled by agents.
4. For families who are planning to retire here, stay in a condo first, find time to look for the right house to rent for longer term or consider buying instead of wasting your money on rent. Trust me, I spent so much time looking for a house to rent only to realize that it is such a waste of money to rent. Why rent, when you can buy your own house! There is still a lot of affordable houses here. We are building our own house according to our standards.Energy efficient, self-sufficient...
5. If you want a good exchange rate for USD or other currencies. In SM Malls, they have their own foreign exchange. If you are in Greenbelt Makati or Greenhills, look for Czarina and Sanry's exchange.
6. Learn important tagalog words:
use this word when buying stuff from the flea markets: not in the MALLS :) "TAWAD" or TAWAD NA or DISKWENTO NA : discount: when you go to a flea market style areas, like Greenhills, always ask for at least 50% discount.
SALAMAT : Thank you
SAAN : Where
BAKIT: Why
KAILAN: When
ANO PO? OR ANO YON?: What? What is that?
GUTOM: hungry
BUSOG: full ( after eating a hearty meal)
HINDI: No
OO, or OPO: Yes> OPO is usually used to address a person older than you.
MAHAL KITA: I love you. ( use this appropriately)
MAHAL! - can be too expensive!
MAHAL :) can mean love....
7. Find a Filipino friend that is trustworthy and integrous. Find a Filipino family who can adopt you as one of their family members :) Filipinos love adopting people if you are good to deal with. Not adopting literally. More of treating one another like brothers and sisters. Better yet, get connected with a local church. For Christians, there a lot of good groups like Victory Church that has a number of services in Galleria, Ortigas and the Fort in Taguig and other areas, Jesus is Lord, the Anointed One, etc. Catholic church groups usually have what you call Charismatic communities. To name a few, Ang Ligaya Ng Panginoon Community, Bukas Loob Sa Diyos, etc.
8. In some restaurants, they will add service charge fees. So, always check the receipt. You are not required to give a 10-15% tip here. I usually give PHP100-200 whether I go to a restaurant, or have a massage, or have my nails done. I would usually add about PHP20-50 to taxi drivers as well. Always ask them to put down the meter. I only allow to pay a fix fee if I am traveling far in distance.
9. Always have some lose change, smaller bills like PHP5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200. This will prevent you from paying too much when someone will claim that they don't have change for your PHP500 or PHP1000 bills
10. Be adventurous in trying out the food! Filipinos are great cooks whether they are cooking authentic Filipino food or Thai, Malaysian, Chinese, Mediterranean...Suggested places to try: FILIPINO FOOD: Via Mare (you have to try their oyster bar), Kamayan, there are new ones that I still have to try. some cheaper ones but really good, are Binalot ( grilled food with java rice, eggs), Chicken Inasal or Chicken Bacolod, etc. try the grilled squid, fish, and any type of seafood and chicken!
If visiting Tagaytay, try Antonio's and Sonia's (fresh salad from their own gardens), and Bean Bag Cafe...
CHINESE: David's Tea house, Gloria Maris, cheaper but great, Hen Lin, Luk yuwen
MALAYSIA: Banana Leaf, Penang hill
GREEK: Cyma, try their specialty crab
Mediterranean Cafe
Italian:Itallianis
Australian: Outback red
Thai:
Japanese:
Vietnamese: Pho Hoa
Korean: Korean Restaurant
Have a great view of Manila Bay: go to Bay view restaurants near Manila Hotel
Inexpensive but freshly cooked/grilled seafood: go to Tiendesitas, Pasig

More to come .....

Here is an interesting article that gives an insight about the Filipino psyche.  Knowledge about what makes the typical Filipino "tick" can lessen the propensity for friction and increase the chances of genuine inter-cultural relationships:

myphilippineretirement.com/helpful-tips-for-philippine-retirees/understanding-the-filipinos

Thanks for post. I've responded to the article as well.

Let's have this simplified...

1. If your color is other than brown, you need to be extra careful with everything. And I mean everything.
2. Smile. Greet the locals. It couldn't hurt.
3. Respect religion, culture, laws, mores.
4. Don't spend like it's your last day on earth.
5. Go out and get a tan, haha.
6. Don't drink and drive, don't drink and walk, don't drink and swim, or just don't get plain drunk and ending up forgetting your name. You'll either be in small trouble or you go bigtime.
7. Don't buy women from the streets.
8. Be wary of beggars, their hands are probably in your pocket as soon as I finish this sentence.
9. Filipinos are generally warm and friendly. But you know how people from other countries are stereotyped, right?
10. We are just as scared of you than you are of us.
11. Make friends.
12. Enjoy the food.
13. Don't worry about traffic jams, it's NORMAL.
14. Okay, I think I wrote too much now...

Great advice, Sarrah.  I would also add be alert when when taking a taxi. Tell the driver where you're going before boarding. Many drivers will refuse to take you if they think the destination is too far. As soon as you're in the taxi, make sure that the driver activates the meter immediately. If he doesn't, chances are he will want to charge an outrageous flat rate instead.


After you've indicated your destination, if the driver hesitates before accepting you as a passenger chances are he will want to add a surcharge to the fare. Decide whether or not it's worth it. If,say, it's raining or taxis are far and few between where you're boarding, it may be best to roll with an additional P50 charge.     

Know in advance exactly how far your destination is and how to get there so you won't get fooled by an unexpected tour of the city.


Now maybe I've written too much...

xpatinphils :

Great advice, Sarrah.  I would also add be alert when when taking a taxi. Tell the driver where you're going before boarding. Many drivers will refuse to take you if they think the destination is too far. As soon as you're in the taxi, make sure that the driver activates the meter immediately. If he doesn't, chances are he will want to charge an outrageous flat rate instead.


After you've indicated your destination, if the driver hesitates before accepting you as a passenger chances are he will want to add a surcharge to the fare. Decide whether or not it's worth it. If,say, it's raining or taxis are far and few between where you're boarding, it may be best to roll with an additional P50 charge.     

Know in advance exactly how far your destination is and how to get there so you won't get fooled by an unexpected tour of the city.


Now maybe I've written too much...

Yes, "the golden meter" is always the way to go...Once, a taxi driver wants me to pay him 30 usd from the NAIA to Mall of Asia---and I am a Filipino!! But some of them are nice and honest, unfortunately, there's not too many of them out there.

So again, before boarding the taxi---check the license plate, tell him where you're going, make him turn on the meter and you're all set to paint the town red!

DavaoBruce :

Here are some off the top of my head

Do's
Get to know Filipinos
Be understanding of way of life and ways things get done
Try to learn language
Think in peso mentality
Find a small group of friends you can trust

Don'ts
Don't flash money
Don't act better then locals
Don't be abusive
Don't scream or be loud around locals

I pretty much agree with this. Learning the language goes a long way.  Courtesy as well.

Do's
Visit the beautiful islands
Smile
Make friends, I would suggest (girl) friends
Dont's
Don't get married to the first bar girl you meet
Don't get married at all
Don't make friends with locals, most of them will try to take advantage of you
Don't make friends with foreigners either, they will also try to take advantage of you
Don't live in Manila
Don't stay more than three months in the Philippines, otherwise you will get sucked into

very nice advice from south sea beauty, pinaymentor and sarrah - i just have one to add - treat everyone with respect, whether they are obviously very poor of whether they work in a bar

Refrain from boasting. If you have something to be proud about, keep it to yourself. Sooner or later it will likely manifest itself for the world to see anyway.

My suggestion is blend in with the locals, keep a low profile, stay cool, don't engaged in conversation/debate/arguement about the politics specially local politics.

leem

leem817 :

My suggestion is blend in with the locals, keep a low profile, stay cool, don't engaged in conversation/debate/arguement about the politics specially local politics.

leem

I couldn't have said it better.

DavaoBruce :

Here are some off the top of my head

Do's
Get to know Filipinos
Be understanding of way of life and ways things get done
Try to learn language
Think in peso mentality
Find a small group of friends you can trust

Don'ts
Don't flash money
Don't act better then locals
Don't be abusive
Don't scream or be loud around locals

Bruce :)

Don't buy perishable food from a street vendor. That goes for both the Philippines and the U.S. and probably many if not most places throughout the world.

I just saw a photo of President Aquino at a hot dog cart in New York. I appreciate his frugality in light of his predecessor's profligate spending in NYC restaurants, but he need not go to risky extremes just to prove a point.

The hot dog vendor in New York city is as common as going to a restaurant. These guys/gals are licensed and they must adhere to health regulations also. It would not be prudent for them to sell tainted food. They are a staple of the city. I know as I am originally a New Yorker that migrated to the Philippines :-)

Good to hear.  I just hope that clean bills of health as you've described are not for sale in NYC as they are in the Philippines.

Once again - avoid going out and especially travellin alone (filipino or at least one more expat is welcomed)
aviod using the word "stupid" in your talk - especially referring to the filipinos, dont swear!!

WOW! Members gave good posts!
Well I will try to give brief and nice share about the topic.
DO'S
     Learn Tagalog basic conversations.   
     Smile. don't give a damn smirk especially to drunk people 
     you may encounter.
     Always count your change after purchasing something.   
     Respect customs, traditions, and culture.
     Wear comfortable clothes, hot weather can't promise a day   
     without sweat.
DONT's
     Don't try to cross a road without pedestrian lane.Even if 
     you see local people trying to cheat death,use the overpass.
     Don't wear jewelries nor large sum of cash when you're
     staying late outside.
     Don't wear revealing clothes/mini skirt/short shorts unless
     you are trying to attract every guys around.

Hello to All,

To sum it all up.

Love your neighbors as you love yourself.

Trust this would be much simple to follow.


God bless you all.

August Bugash

Be careful crossing the street.  If a driver blinks his headlights while you are about to cross the street or in the middle of the street, it's not because he's checking if his headlights are working.  This is what he means by the gesture:

a. If you're about to cross the street, by blinking his headlights the driver is saying, "I'm not stopping / slowing down for you.  Get out of my way."  So, don't cross.

b. If you're already in the middle of the street, by blinking his headlights the driver is saying, "I'm not stopping / slowing down for you. Walk faster or run. I might even speed up to convince you to do so."

FilAmericanMom

That's a good one

There are many do's and don't's when in the Philippines.  But since the topic is about local customs, here's one that could get a foreigner confused:

Filipinos, especially women, sometimes point with their lips, instead of their hand or finger.  They might point with their lips to bring to your attention something that fell on the floor, to show you which direction to go, etc.  So if someone looks like she's puckering up for a kiss, think twice before kissing.  She might slap you in the face, if you misinterpret.  Maybe she's just pointing to something on your shoulder.

female_expat :

FilAmericanMom

That's a good one

I experience being "blinked" almost everyday.  I actually wrote a blog about this.  I could see someone getting seriously injured if he doesn't know about this practice.

FilAmericanMom :

Filipinos, especially women, sometimes point with their lips, instead of their hand or finger.  They might point with their lips to bring to your attention something that fell on the floor, to show you which direction to go, etc.  So if someone looks like she's puckering up for a kiss, think twice before kissing.  She might slap you in the face, if you misinterpret.  Maybe she's just pointing to something on your shoulder.

Actually, I think this custom is of Spanish origin and like many such meas of expression became part of the Philippine culture during Spain's occupation. I base my speculation on this origin on an acquaintance from El Salvador (which of course was also a Spanish colony). He also used that same "pucker"-pointing gesture. 

Speaking of gestures, another one that Filipinos use which might confuse foreigners is beckoning someone by motioning with the back of the hand, fingers pointed downward. To Americans, however,this same gesture signals rejection ("Go away).

send your wife  or  brother in law  in to hardware  to get  price  for  materials, you hide

Hi

  I have been here for two years now, married a Filipina, have a four month old baby, and now live on Leyte.

Best advice given to me was to "always expect the unexpected".

That means that things often to not go as they are supposed to go in this country. Here are some tips.

1. Never act like an "Ugly American". Remain calm even during times you are frustrated or just plain angry

2. Never lend money

3. Do not compare life in your country to life here

4. Don't discuss corruption, every body knows the extent of corruption in this nation, so there is no need to rub it in

5.  Filipinos in general do not really like foreigners. As long as you are friendly and bring in money to the economy you are tolerated

6.  Don't go any where at night that is not a busy area with many other people

7.  Don't eat in roadside or street food vendors if you have a weak stomach. Few places use refrigeration and flies are all around

8. Few people really know English, so if you are caught in a situation where you need help, go to a hospital, a large hotel, or a travel agency

9. Police are usually very helpful to foreigners, but many do not speak English and are usually bad at giving directions

10.  The immigration service in this country can be tiresome if you are going to live here for a while. Know the nearest immigration office and do NOT wait until the last minute to up-date your visa.

11. Don't let anyone try to charge you extra money for doing any sort of government work. Politely refuse to pay the money and ask to talk with the department manager or department head. People who want to charge you extra fees are called FIXERS and what they do is illegal and the new president is trying to stop them.

12. There are clinics, hospital and dentists all around, but not all have the level of proficiency that you may need. Ask for recomendations from ex-pats, hotels and any business person you may know.

13.  Banks are often very crowded and very slow. So either get there early, or be prepared to wait or avoid them. ATM withdrawals are expensive here. Also credit cards are not well accepted here

14.  Be careful where ever you walk. The streets and sidewalks are often not flat and can led to a nasty fall if you are not paying attention.

15.  Stay away from any woman who even looks close to 18

16.  Even better hotels are often in need of repair. If you are unhappy with your room ask for another. Do not expect a refund if you leave a hotel because of its condition.

17.  Stores do NOT like customers to return any thing. Many have very strict and clear NO RETURN policys if you just dont like your purchase a day later.

18.  Using taxis without allowing the driver to drop the meter is not a good idea. Many times you would pay about the same using the meter as you would letting the driver GUESS how much it would cost and then putting the fare in his pocket

19.  Filipinos have surprisingly BAD manners. They will bump into you, push around you, step in front of you in a line, and at times even pull you out of their way. They do this even to the elderly, so there is not much to say. Don't get mad when it happens to you

20. The power just went out here so I had better finish this before the battery on my lap top runs out. Be careful, the Philippines is not a place to let your guard down.

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