The Philippines is a tropical country blessed with several grandeur natural spots, spectacular historical sites, lofty luxurious infrastructure, and majestic sceneries both on land and underwater. Perhaps, you may have read about the best destinations in the country that we have featured such as Ilocos Sur, Cebu, Boracay, Puerto Princesa, Davao, and so much more.
Travel in the country could be your sweetest dream, but if you do it wrong, it could also be your nightmare. You might soon find yourself unwelcome or unwanted if you break some of the customs and cultures. Hence, it is vital to learn the Philippine culture, language, and etiquette.
Traveling the Philippines: The Culture
Filipinos are culture-oriented people, and even in this Generation Me, most of the individuals in the country still cope with the tradition observed since its civilization. Before the country was colonized by the Spanish rule, people are influenced with the indigenous Malay natives of the Southeast Asia. Then, when the country was governed by the Spaniards, the culture was dramatically reformed, and the people cope the Spanish culture. That explains why Hispanic culture is blatant to the dances and ethnic performances of the country, and heritage houses with Spanish-designs can be seen in the country such as the Calle Crisologo in Ilocos Sur. Then, the Americans manifested the entire country turning the whole nation influenced by pop culture as what the country is today.
The country is diversified with people that have a different religious preference. From the influence of the neighboring countries, the Philippines is a mixture of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christians. Most of the populace are Catholic, while the others claim to be Christians. Religion is controversial matter in the country so you might want to respect other’s religious preference.
The local fares in the country are mostly filled with full of spices and are influenced by Mexican, Spanish, Chinese, and Italian flavors. Each spot in the country has native and authentic food to share such as Pinakbet and Bagnet in the Ilocos Region, Bicol Express in Bicol region, and Bulaloin Batangas to name a few. But the country’s pride is the Adobo – it could be chicken or pork cooked in soy sauce, pepper, laurel leaves, vinegar, and salt. The country also includes rice in their meal.
Traveling the Philippines: The Language
The populace of the country is differentiated regarding language relatively according to the island or region. The country is divided into three large islands known as Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao surrounded by several islets. The country’s language is Filipino; Tagalog being the generally known dialect in the country. The Tagalog language is typical to those in Luzon, while the Bisaya language (fractioned in several native dialects such as Waray, Bicol, Cebuano, Ilonggo, and so forth) are most used in Visayas and Mindanao region. Tagalog is used in Manila, Cebuano is used in Cebu and Davao, while Ilokano is popularly in the tongue of those living in the northern part of Luzon (Ilocos Region and the adjacent provinces).
As to show respect, Filipinos use Po and Opo to respond from an elderly or someone in authority. Po is used in sentences (usually at the end of the phrase) to express deep and intimate respect and to be formal. On the other hand, Opo is used to say “yes” in a respectful manner. Po and Opo are typical in Tagalog dialect. Some languages may not require the usage of these words, but still usable.
Boy 1: Kumainkana ng agahan? (Have you eaten your breakfast?)
Boy 2: Opo. (Yes.)
But using po and opo excessively may create a different impression, either being overly respectful or being respectful but in a sarcastic way. Using po or opo when conversing with a younger person may also make different idea as it can mean that you’re seeing him or her older than you.
Tip: You can use po once at the end of your sentence. When answering a question, better say opo rather than just nodding or just making gestures with your eyebrow. Another word you can use for approval is “oo,” but use this word only when you are talking to a younger person or if you have the authority.
Traveling the Philippines: Etiquette
Filipinos are known for being hospitable. When a family or a member of a family feels comfortable with you, he or she may invite you over for a meal, usually for lunch or dinner. Filipinos will surely appreciate if you favor their invitation.
When Eating with a Filipino Family
Filipinos are religious people, and most families take the time to pray before eating their meal. Whatever your religious preference, respect the family’s custom. Wait for the platters of the dish to be offered to you. Filipinos use spoon and fork when dining. The spoon should be on your right hand and the fork to your left. As much as possible, try not to leave leftovers on your plate. That could mean you don’t like the food even if that’s not your intention. And avoid calling the mother of the family hostess as that word may have a different meaning for the Filipinos.
When Traveling with Public Transport
The most common public transport in the Philippines is the jeep, bus, tricycle, and pedicabs. Some regions in the Mindanao have habal-habal, a motorcycle used as public transport.
Because of the design and structure of the jeep, passengers that are distant from the driver (usually those who are seated at the entrance or tail of the jeepney) will pass their fare to the other passengers who will then hand the money to the driver. If you’ve been handed with someone else’s fare, make sure to pass it to the driver or other passengers that are nearer to the driver. And if someone has a change, the driver will do the same, pass the change to the passenger behind him which will hand the money to the other passengers until it will be handed to the payer. Don’t take this custom for granted as you will also need to do this especially when you are the one seated far from the driver.
When paying for your fare, avoid paying with big cash, say 500 or 1000. If you ever need to pay a bill, make sure it’s 20, 50, or 100 only. Pay with coins as much as possible.
When you reached your destination, shout “parapo” loud enough for the driver to hear you. Avoid knocking the ceiling or whistling as it is very disrespectful.
Those are just some of the things you should know when traveling the Philippines. The country embraces its guests and visitors especially those who appreciate and respect its culture and tradition. Moreover, those who try to speak and understand the Filipino language are even more loved by the Filipinos. Etiquette is important not only when traveling the Philippines, but anywhere in this beautiful world.
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