A little courtesy goes a long way. Filipinos are a very friendly and hospitable people, sometimes to a fault. Take the time to smile and say “thank you” and you will get much better responses. You will get an even better response if you throw in a little Tagalog, such as “salamat”, which means “thank you”. When speaking in Filipino to people old enough to be your parents or grandparents, it will be much appreciated if you include “po” in your sentences; for example: salamat po. You can also use “Tito” (uncle), “Tita” (aunt), “Manong” (Mr) or “Manang” (Mrs/Mrs), “Ate” (older sister) or “Kuya” (older brother) for people who are older than you but not old enough to be aunt or uncle. Older speakers tend to use “manong” and “manang” instead) to address you by your name. If you have a conflict, stay relaxed, make a joke and smile. If you get angry or push yourself to the fore, you won’t get far and you will lose respect.
In the countryside and in some urban houses, you have to take your shoes off when you enter a house, although an exception can be made for foreigners. The key is to look around before you enter a house. If you see shoes outside the door, it is most likely customary for the family to remove their shoes before entering. If you are wearing socks, you do not have to take them off.
Work in Philippines
When working with people in the Philippines, it is important to remember that they often bring cultural influences to the workplace that do not always mesh well with your business culture. When you meet another business person for the first time, it is important to address them by their title as well as their first and last name. Businesses in the Philippines are often hierarchical and it is important to note that most decisions are made from the top down. In addition, the Filipino value of “social harmony” does not always allow for direct address on sensitive issues. [www]
Street children in Philippines
In many of the larger cities, extreme poverty is widespread. It is illegal to give money to beggars or to the street children who walk around at all hours. If you really want to give something, food is the better alternative. When children approach foreigners, sometimes they do not go away until you give something. To counteract this, avoid swear words and just ignore them. They can understand swear words and may call their friends to annoy you even more.
Political issues in Philippines
Remember that the Marcos years (1965-1986) can be a polarising issue within the Philippines. Visitors will find that the northern Ilocano population sees the regime as an era of stability, while the metropolitan areas in southern Luzon are very proud of the People Power or “EDSA” revolution that deposed the regime. Either way, it is best to assess the speaker’s opinion before approaching the subject.
Homosexuality in Philippines
The Philippines is a predominantly Roman Catholic country, but there is a large gay and lesbian community. Discretion is advised as it is considered immoral by some to show public displays of affection between members of the same sex.
In the Visayas, “bayots” (or “bayuts” – the Pilipino equivalent is “bakla”) are flamboyant male homosexuals and often in high demand in professions such as hairdressing, interior design and beauty therapy.