Tips to make sure you're Manila Expansion Ready

Exploring a new country, such as the Philippines, can be really exciting. Just make sure you’re ready to adapt to some rather odd cultural differences to make your stay here as smooth as possible.


1. Talking to Strangers

As someone who is not familiar with the environment, you would most likely end up in a situation wherein you have to ask strangers for directions and other information. So it’s gonna be handy if you know how to converse properly when dealing with everyday Pinoys.

When talking to men, address them as “Boss”, “Chip” (chief), “Kuya” (Tagalog for older brother), “Pogi” (handsome), “Pare” or “Manong” (for older men).

When speaking to ladies, you can call them “Miss”. However, make sure to replace the short “I” with a long one (“Meees). That bit of wrinkle makes all the difference.

Familiarity with a bit of flattery can take you a long way.


2. Asking for the Bill at restaurants

Filipinos love food. That is why we have a lot of cool and trendy spots where people can eat out. Here’s how to make sure there would be no kinks when you’re asking for the bill:

Get the server’s attention by raising your hand.

Once you’ve made eye contact, raise your other hand and draw a rectangle in the air with the tips of your index fingers and thumbs touching (like asking for the menu in other countries).

As you do this, say “chit” loudly enough for the server to hear you (our you can just “mouth” it out if you’re the silent type).

Just make sure you don’t “insult” the chef.


3. Eating

We’ve already covered that Filipinos love to eat. Every meal is treated as a celebration. Pinoys hate eating alone and most meals are shared family-style.

However, should you want your own meal and it arrives first, don’t forget to offer some to your companions by saying “Kain po tayo?” (Lets eat?).

More often than not, they’ll say no, and encourage you to eat ahead. Go and start eating.

In terms of utensils, Pinoys use spoon and fork instead of knife and fork. Hold down the food with your fork and use your spoon to cut it. Put the food on top of rice, the scoop it up.

One big NO NO when eating is grabbing the last piece of food. Pinoys shy away from picking up the last piece. Wait until you’re sure no one is taking it before expressing polite interest.


4. Street Food

We can’t emphasize enough that Filipinos have a love affair with food. This relationship extends up to the streets where there’s an abundance of “exotic” delicacies to choose from.

However, before you engage in any of these street cuisines, you have to make sure that: (a) You have the stomach for it. (b) You have your hepatitis shots, etc. (c) You’re sure of the sanitary conditions of the vendor selling said street food/s.

There have been quite a number of foreigners who fell prey to amoebiasis and the likes because they ate the wrong food.

Having said all of that, if you’re still feeling adventurous, here are a few must-try famous street foods in the Philippines:

  •   Kwek Kwek: Hard boiled quail egg deep fried in an orange batter
  •   Betamax: Called as such because of its box type shape, it is actually grilled chicken blood
  •   Adidas: Chicken feet named after the famous shoe brand because the three long toes reminded people of Adidas’ iconic “three stripes”.
  •   Isaw: Grilled pork intestine (We don’t need to elaborate)
  •   Balut: The paragon of Pinoy street foods! It is an egg with a Duck Embryo/Fetus inside. This treat has been seen from various international TV shows like Fear Factor and Survivor.


5. Riding the Jeepney

They say you’ve never really experienced the Philippines without riding its iconic jeepney.

You can hail this popular mode of transportation anywhere, but there are advantages of hopping on at proper jeepney stops. You have a better chance of grabbing the best seat in the house: the one farthest from the driver, right next to the entry in the back.

From this seat, you’re not only nearest to exit, you also get to experience the thrill of having passengers in middle seats pass your fare to the driver for you.

Just hold your money out to the passenger beside you and say “Bayad”. Don’t worry, your fare will get to the driver who watches the whole process from his “all-seeing-eye-of-sauron” rearview mirror.

Should you be seated in the middle and money is passed to you, take it and pass on to the next passenger.

When you’re near your destination, shout “Para!” and quickly head for the opening.


6. Speaking

The Philippines is generally an English speaking country. However, like other English speaking countries, Pinoys have modified the language and added their own cultural identity to it. Here are some pointers to make sure you don’t get lost in the Pinoy Pop Culture translation.

  •   When asking for things, use brand names in lieu of their actual names: Coke for soda, Colgate for toothpaste and Xerox for photocopy.
  •   Should you forget a word mid-sentence, say “ano” or “kwan” in its place. We assure you that Pinoys would understand.
  •   If you need to call someone’s attention, just shout “Psst!” If unsuccessful, use the more urgent “Psst-huy!”
  •   It’s also helpful if you learn a bit of “Bekinese”. Bekinese is gay lingo but is generally used by all Filipinos regardless of age and gender. Some Bekanese words are “Chaka” (hideous or ugly), “Chorva” (Universal filler and Bekinese version of “kwan”) and “Pawis Hilton” which means sweaty (Pawis is sweat in Tagalog combined with pop culture icon Paris Hilton.)


7. Finding a seat inside the Cinema

If you find yourself alone in the movie theater swarmed by movie loving Pinoys, act like a shark in deep water. Put your hands

flat against each other in front of you, like a stealthy fin moving through the sea.

This would inform the ocean of people that you’re coming through. Be sure to make yourself small by scrunching your shoulders up a bit and your neck down a little, thus causing less disturbance.

Don’t forget to whisper “Excuse me” and “Sorry”, alternately and in succession.


8. Sports

In spite of the fact that almost all Pinoys are “vertically challenged”, the Philippines is a certified basketball crazy nation.

So if you’re 6-feet or taller, get ready to be invited to a friendly game of hoops.

Just make sure that your body is up for it. Because what Pinoys lack in height they make up in “gulang” (accepted cheating by being physical). A little jersey grabbing and an elbow to the stomach are quite normal.


9. Pointing at things

Instead of using your pointy finger, use your mouth instead. Pucker your lips toward the direction of the referred item.


10. Posing for photos

For pinoys, a simple smile won’t do.

Instead, make an “√” sign using the index finger and thumb of one hand. With palm facing in, place your chin in the space between the thumb and index finger so that the latter goes up to the cheekbone and the thumb supports the jawline.

Slap on your goofiest grin… and CLICK.


11. Texting

The Philippines is considered by many as the Texting Capital of the World. Maybe it’s because of Pinoy’s non-confrontational nature that they prefer texting as the best form of communication.

When texting, be sure to use Jejenese, the prevailing SMS language.

Practitioners of Jejenese are called Jejemon. They use “z” in place of “s” and add “h” where they can. They are highly allergic to vowels and disregard almost all grammar rules.

For example: “srry powz” is Jejenese for “Sorry po”, which is “I’m sorry” in Tagalog.



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