The Philippines are rapidly becoming an appealing holiday destination for many reasons: unique wildlife habitats, remote coastal vistas, energetic cities and tempting fusion cuisine. The people of the Philippines are also make this country an inviting prospect, as you are rarely made to feel like a tourist.
Kalesa with Tourists (photo courtesy of Sacha Chua)
Most of the population speaks English, so the language barrier that is found in a large number of other countries simply does not exist here. This said, along with searching for cheaper flights for your overseas trip, it pays to do a little research into the customs of this incredibly hospitable land.
Filipino Customs and Culture
The predominance of English speakers, the typical Western garb and extreme friendliness of the locals can fool some tourists into believing that Filipino culture is similar to Western culture. There are a number of differences to make note of however, to avoid any accidental rudeness!
The main thing to remember while in the Philippines is the concept of “getting along”. Instead of being demanding or berating somebody if something isn’t done to your satisfaction, take the person aside and ask them politely and quietly to remedy the situation.
When meeting a new person in the Philippines, it is customary to shake hands, but try to remain gentle and don’t use excessive force. Although a quick raise of the eyebrows is a common Filipino greeting, staring is considered rude. Women are also expected to be more modest than in the West. If somebody harangues you, rather smile and act distant than rebuff the encounter loudly or aggressively.
Filipino Dining Etiquette
Restaurant etiquette in the Philippines continues to reflect the quieter and more modest values of Filipinos. It is considered good manners to wait for the oldest man at the table to be served first, and only eat when he does so. Also, thanking the host after the meal is polite, and tipping is usually 10 – 15 per cent of the bill.
The Filipino people are so friendly that it’s quite common to be invited home for dinner. It is polite to remove your shoes when entering the house, and you will be shown where to sit, which is where you should remain, as most of the house is considered private.
The Philippines promise a unique cultural experience, and are well worth considering as a place to visit. Taking the time to learn the customs and culture of the people here will ensure you get much more out of your visit than a few holiday snaps, and who knows, you may well make some friends for life…
Image by Sacha Chua, used Creative Comms license