When in the Philippines: Act like One of the Locals

When you backpack in the Philippines, especially in Manila, here are the things you can do to be one of the locals.

  • Ride a public jeepney.

  • When you ride a public jeepney and you’re somewhere in the middle and payment is passed to you, take it and pass it next to you until it reached the driver.
  • When you reached your destination, just shout “Para!”
  • If you’re more adventurous, cling to the bar outside of the back of the jeepney.
  • When talking to people older than you, use “po” after a phrase. It still is acceptable even if you’re using an English phrase like “Thank you po” or “How much po?”
  • Eat Philippines’ famous street foods like balut (developing duck egg), isaw (barbecued chicken intestines), banana cue, or fish balls. You can have a couple of them in less than a dollar. 
  • When you bumped into someone you know, just nod and smile. Sometimes you don’t need to say anything unless you haven’t seen each other in a long time.
  • If you’re smoking, buy a stick (not a pack) of cigarette when you see cigarette vendors in the street.
  • If you don’t have a lighter, borrow one from the people smoking near you.
  • Buy a peso of snack or junk food in a sari-sari store (variety store).
  • Sing using a videoke.
  • Play basketball on the streets. Of course, look for a basketball ring first.
  • If you’re a Catholic and you pass by in front of a church, do not forget to make a sign of the cross.
  • Eat a meal using your hands.
  • Eat rice every meal.
  • When you shop at a flea market, do not forget the art of haggling. Say the word “tawad po” which means “discount po.”

  • Drink instant or 3 in 1 coffee to start your day.
  • Use timba (pail) and tabo (dipper) instead of shower when taking a bath.
  • Eat Jollibee’s crispy chickenjoy. Most Filipinos prefer the thigh part so ask for it.


11 responses to “When in the Philippines: Act like One of the Locals

  1. Riding public transportation and learning its “etiquette” from the locals is a key factor to blend in.
    And of course you gotta eat street food.


  2. Great travel tips, this short list can go a long way. Today I’ve learnt something and I hope one day to use make use of these tips in the Philippines.


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