Moving to Manila may be intimidating for anyone, but it doesn’t have to be. From acting like a shark in theatres, pointing with your lips, these tips will help you fake it until you feel completely immersed in local society. Pretty soon people will be calling you “Chip” or “Te.” Find out how to behave like a local in Manila with these tips.
How to Talk to Strangers
Address men as “Boss,” “Chip” (chief), “Kuya” (Tagalog for older brother), “Pogi” (handsome) or “Pare.” When speaking with women, call them “Miss.” But replace the short “i” with a long one, so that it sounds like “Meees.” If that doesn’t roll off your tongue, then you can call women “Te” which is Tagalog for older sister. In Manila, communication between people is about a balance between familiarity and respect. If none of this makes sense, then you’re fitting in already. You will be respected for trying a few words in the local language.
Asking for the Bill at a Restaurant
Once you’ve completed your meal and are ready to ask for your bill you must first get the attention of your server. Do this by raising your hand.
Once you’ve made eye contact, raise your other hand and draw a rectangle in the air. Not sure how? Form triangles with the tips of your index fingers and thumbs touching.
Draw your fingers out and apart and snap shut the rectangle as you shut the index fingers and thumbs of the same hand together. While you’re coordinating your hand movements say “chit”.
If you’re still not sure how this should go then just keep your eyes open and watch the locals. It’s quite easy really.
How to Ride in a Jeepney
These colourful and fun vehicles are the most common form of transportation in the Philippines. One can hail a jeepney just about anywhere although there are proper jeepney stops. Getting on at a proper stop has its’ advantages. One has a better chance to taking the seat farthest from the driver, by the back entrance. This is prime real estate on a jeepney.
Take your seat and wait for the jeepney to fill with passengers. Other people may have to move around you to find their seats but this is part of the fun. Sitting here you will be ready to make a quick exit when it’s your stop.
Once full is when you pay. Give your money to the passengers in the middle seats to pass the fare to the driver on your behalf. Pass your money to the person beside you and say “Bayad.” The driver will be watching this whole process from his rear-view mirror. No need to worry, your fare will make it to the front.
If you weren’t lucky enough to catch the back seat and find yourself in the middle. Pass other passengers’ money along should you find it given to you. This is very customary here.
To further fit in with the locals, hold onto the handrail and rest your head facedown. Pretend to sleep or look out the window as if you’re lost in thought. People watch as much as you like, just don’t let others catch you.
Don’t expect personal space on a jeepney. If there is a little room beside you always shift yourself closer to the entrance.
When you see your stop coming up, shout “Para!” and quickly head for the opening.
How to Speak
Brand names are often used instead of actual names. For example, ask for Coke instead of soda, Colgate instead of toothpaste and Xerox for a photocopy.
If you forget a word in mid-sentence, say “ano” or “kwan”. Pinoys will understand you. When trying to get someone’s attention just shout “Psst!”. If that doesn’t work, use the more urgent “Psst-huy!”
Bekinese is a language you may wish to learn while in the Philippines. It is a mix of Spanish, Tagalog and English and is used by everyone. Bekinese makes conversations more entertaining as it incorporates global pop culture into Tagalog.
How to Find Your Seat Inside the Cinema
Act like a shark! Place the palms of your hands together and out in front of you, like a fin. This action will make it known that you’re coming through. Make sure to whisper “Sorry,” and “Excuse me” while moving through the crowd.
How to Point at Things
Although this may seem odd to some Westerners, it’s very easy. Pucker your lips and point in the direction of the item you’d like to refer to.
Eating in The Philippines
Dining is almost always done with family and/or friends and it’s very rare to eat alone. Meals are celebrated here.
Should you order your own meal rather than sharing family style then make sure to offer your table mates a taste should your meal arrive first. Most often, locals will say no to the gesture and tell you to start eating in which case you should
Forks and spoons are used here, not knives. If you need to cut something, hold the food down with your fork and use the spoon to cut it. You will likely have rice with most meals, in which case you should place your piece of food on top of the rice and scoop it up.
Midday snacks are common, be ready.
Never take the last piece of food on the table. Locals tend to be very shy about taking the last of anything. If you would like the last morsel then be patient. Wait to make sure no one else will take it and then express your interest in the last bite.
How to Take Selfies
Locals here love selfies. Although most likely photos taken by someone else may be better quality, these blurry close ups are preferred. So take out your mobile phones and snap away. Have fun documenting your days.
How to Pose for Photos
A simple smile here is not enough. You have to slap on your goofiest grin!
Phones in the Philippines are hardly ever used to make calls. This is a nation of texters. While you’re waiting in a line up or sitting on a bus have fun catching up on your communication. Use lots of emojis here and there is not much use of capitalization or punctuation .