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Monday, 6 August 2018

6 Things Tourists Should Never Do in the Philippines, Ever

6 Things Tourists Should Never Do in the Philippines, Ever

Traveling, more than just an exciting, Instagram-worthy experience, is one you will always learn from. But there are simply some things that are more than helpful to learn beforehand. These are the things that will save you from the possibility of outright insulting someone or ending up on the wrong side of town. Here’s what not to do when visiting the Philippines.

1. Don’t insult the country or its people

First and foremost, it should go without saying that you shouldn’t insult your host country, but the Philippines is a bit of a special case. Filipinos are proud of anything and everything Filipino (this is why “Filipino Pride” is a thing), so to say anything that could offend them or the country could be a huge blunder. They tend to be very protective of their country and people, so the slightest criticism could be taken the wrong way. In fact, the Philippines has a growing list of celebrities from whom they’ve either demanded an apology—or worse, declared persona non grata (an unwelcome person)—actress Claire Danes is living proof that it might be better to tread lightly on the criticism.

2. Don’t disrespect your elders

Filipinos highly revere their elders, and this is obvious in the way they are spoken to. The words po and opo, for example, are used to show respect. While foreigners are clearly not required to be familiar with the use of such words, the value of respect is still expected from them. One way this can be shown is through a local greeting practice known as pagmamano (mano is the Spanish word for hand). This constitutes a slight bow, taking the hand of the elder, and touching it to your forehead. This act is most commonly done to grandparents, and they’ll likely be pleasantly surprised should it be done to them by a foreigner.

3. Don’t use first names to address someone older

Another giveaway that respect is a big deal in the Philippines is the avoidance of being on a first-name basis with someone older. Depending on the age gap, there is a more respectful term to address an older person. There’s ate (older sister) and kuya (older brother), tita (aunt) and tito (uncle), and lola (grandmother) and lolo (grandfather). These titles are used regardless of blood relation, and simply based on how much older the person is than you. The default titles for a complete stranger, say, driving your cab or selling you something at a store, would be ate and kuya.

4. Don’t arrive on time

At least to casual gatherings. Filipinos are notorious for adhering to something called “Filipino time”, which refers to anywhere from a 15-minute to an hour-long delay on the clock. So Filipino events will almost always start at least a few minutes late. Many are trying to get rid of this stereotype and formal gatherings are much more likely to begin on schedule, but don’t be surprised when your Filipino friends are only leaving their homes by the time you’ve gotten to your meeting place.

5. Don’t go without prior research

The Philippines is one of those countries many people assume is unsafe due to how it’s portrayed in the media. It’s important to remember that the media tend to magnify the extremes and attention-grabbing events. While there are places in the country best avoided by tourists to be on the safe side, like certain provinces in Mindanao, as long as you travel smartly, taking common precaution, you should be perfectly fine elsewhere in the archipelago. Prior research will help you decide where to go, what to do, and for those whose cultures are extremely different from that of Filipinos’, what to expect. It also won’t hurt to know a few Filipino words to exchange with the locals. They love hearing visitors trying to speak their language (and again, don’t get offended if they respond with laughter—this is an indication of amusement).

6 Don’t drive in Manila unless absolutely necessary

Instead of sharing the road, driving in Manila feels like Darwin’s survival of the fittest. Not only is it a challenge manoeuvring through the Metro’s complicated routes, the difficulty is upped a level by having to compete with the jeepneys that pull over without warning and the huge buses that swerve carelessly, expecting other motorists to automatically give way. The extreme road congestion and ceaseless rush-hour traffic don’t help much either. So unless you absolutely must, you’ll be best off leaving the driving to your Uber.

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