Philippines – Do’s and Don’ts When Visiting
To most travelers, the Philippines isn’t as mysterious as other southeast Asian countries. Almost everyone speaks English, people follow a more Western fashion, and Christianity is practised by most Filipinos. These combined with the all-too-welcoming character of Filipinos may create a false assumption among tourists that they have already mastered the Filipino culture and etiquette.
However, in the long run, tourists might soon discover a more complex and interesting behaviour among Filipinos. Not bothering to know the Philippine culture before you travel to the country might present problems along the way. Here, we’ve gathered some of the do’s and don’ts to remember every time you deal with Pinoys.
Filipinos are very particular with courtesy and respect. If you’re unsure, remember that addressing people with “Ma’am” or “Sir” is the best way to go. Travelers are also encouraged to use familial words to break the ice. You can use “Tito” (uncle) and “Tita” for those who are more senior than you. Don’t forget to include and use “po” (example: “Thank you po”) — the word indicates respect and using it would definitely earn you warm smiles.
Filipinos are among the most friendly people in the world. One thing travelers easily notice about the Philippines is the bright disposition of its people. Filipinos are extra friendly to foreign travelers, so if you get a big smile, be friendly, too — it goes a long way.
Always Say Thank You
Filipinos are always very eager to please people — especially foreigners. Filipinos tend to go the extra mile when dealing with visitors. One of the best ways to show appreciation is to simply say thank you. Squeezing in a small tip as a token of thanks is a great idea, too.
Reciprocate a Friendly Gesture
Locals love to greet people — stranger or not — as a way of welcoming and showing appreciation for your visit. Reciprocate a friendly gesture. Doing this will make the locals like you more.
Don’t Be Too Flashy
Scammers and pickpockets are always on the lookout for tourists with flashy items. Tourists are encouraged to secure their belongings and keep anything that could attract thieves. Only use them in an environment you can consider safe and not on the busy streets.
Don’t Lose Patience
Travel problems, traffic, and communication barriers can easily test your patience. Instead of losing your temper, find quick solutions like opting for faster modes of transportation or finding someone who could translate for you. Locals are usually cold towards hot-tempered tourists.
Don’t Say No to Food
Filipinos are hospitable people. One of the ways they show this is to always offer and present you with food — yes, even if they are still complete strangers. The best way to thank them is to eat the food proffered. However, if you really couldn’t eat the meal, try to refuse in a gracious manner. Instead of saying “No” outright, graciously thank them for the effort, and explain why you couldn’t eat the offered food.
Don’t Walk The Streets Unaccompanied
Generally, the Filipinos are warm-hearted and kind, but there are also opportunistic individuals everywhere. Err on the side of safety. Don’t go out alone especially when it’s already late.
Make your Philippine trip a pleasant, memorable experience by making more friends than enemies. And you’re already covered by taking note of these do’s and don’ts for the duration of your trip.