• Do be security-conscious. Throughout
the islands, there’s an unusually high incidence of petty thievery, which
can ruin your vacation. Also, while most Filipinos are extremely friendly,
there are some who aren’t, so do not accept drinks or food from a stranger
(particularly in tourist areas), and keep an eye out on all your possessions.
• Bargain at markets, but never
at department stores or supermarkets (unless you like talking to annoyed
police and security guards).
• Be polite. Public displays of
anger generally won’t get you what you want (even if you are in the right).
• Do find out whether prices are
being quoted to you in U.S. dollars or Filipino pesos (especially with local
• Don’t be enticed to exchange
money on the street unless you enjoy watching con artists at work. Frequent
only licensed money changers (they have their own shops, and their license
on the window).
• Don’t be surprised at the slowness
of the postal service (it can take MONTHS to send a letter).
• Don’t be shocked by the number
of people who carry guns, especially in cities. You’ll even see signs asking
people to leave firearms outside before entering various premises. Because
guns are so common, you may find that you and your possessions are subject
to searches from time to time.
• Don’t be surprised by black-outs.
Power shortages in Manila or Cebu are not uncommon.
• Don’t expect to travel faster
than 45 mph/70 kph on the roads (and less in the cities).
Jeepneys, tricycles, carts, water buffalo and people share the roads as
• Don't let others buy you
drinks at the club ( you may get doped) keep your drink full.
Add a small tip for good restaurant service, even though a service charge
has already been tacked on the bill.
Always have loose change
say, P 20 or P 50 bills, and coins. These are for transferring buses when
the bus attendant does not have enough change. By the way, always clear
your tickets with him. Don’t take his word that you’ll be reimbursed or
get your change in the next bus. An elderly couple had to argue their way
all throughout their trip because of this.