Remember all the important life lessons you learned when you were a kid? Those same lessons go double here in the Philippines and Asia in general.
Western countries tend to “rubber pad” life for their citizens. You go about your normal day-to-day life knowing someone (police, politicians, etc.) is there to look after you and that other citizens will usually be following the rules…
Take a moment with this list of eight lessons you learned back at home, and follow them here because your health and wealth depend on it!
1. Look both ways before crossing the road.
Traffic here is random and vehicles often go wrong way/one way, the wrong side of the road and they are oblivious to you! ALWAYS check both directions. This is good training for your travels too as many countries drive on the opposite side of what you are used to.
This goes for sidewalks too! Motorcycles use them at high speed. Ask how I know
2. Don’t talk to strangers (or be VERY careful if you do).
These people are ALL strangers to you! Happy, smiling, helpful, friendly strangers and surprisingly small so seemingly harmless. Unfortunately, friendly does not mean they are your friends. Beware the “fast friend” and unsolicited advice. If you need directions, travel advice, accommodations, recommendations etc, then YOU choose whom to ask. Someone coming to you directly without being questioned will have their own interests in mind, not yours.
3. Do not take “candy” from a stranger.
Really, do not accept anything from someone you do not know or did not ask for. A package of cigarettes could contain drugs, a drink could be drugged or at the very least you could be charged an exorbitant amount for something you did not want.
4. Do not give money to strangers.
Absolutely EVERYBODY has their hand out. If you want to make yourself a target then try dropping some pesos into the hand of a beggar. Every vendor and street person will want some of that action and there are LOTS of them.
Also, you’re not helping. I once gave a bag of nice clothes to a family I had watched grow up on the streets. They never wore them because you can’t beg wearing nice clothes. I did some research and found out they had a house not far away and would put on their “mahirap” or poor clothes to go begging. This was their job.
5. If you can’t say something nice, say nothing.
Filipinos take offense easily to loud voices, expressions of anger, or aggression will not have the desired result. Anything you are trying to accomplish will come to a grinding, screeching, smoking halt. Often the absolute opposite result of what you want will be the result you get.
6. Mind your manners.
You are a guest here, this is their country and they make the rules. Filipinos can skirt the law but foreigners cannot. If you commit a wrong while side by side with a Filipino you will probably see them go free while the foreigner gets punished. I was once stopped for no motorcycle helmet whilst Locals buzzed past helmetless and oblivious. The traffic Enforcer simply explained, “They have no money to pay the fine.”
7. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I cannot believe how many “masters of the universe”, western-trained, educated, business-minded people come here and do deals on a handshake, or make deals based on verbal assurances. They believe the “Antique American silver coins” and “Rolex” watches selling on the street are real. A friend of mine was offered a 10kilo bag of collector coins, all in their own little plastic holders, and a Rolex watch as collateral for a loan. He had them evaluated. ALL fake. Land titles are the same. Do the research. Maybe the title is for an entirely different property. Maybe the title is fake. Maybe they have borrowed from others on it.
8. Haste makes waste.
Be patient. An emergency on your part is a moneymaking opportunity on theirs. The more you show your need for something the more of a target you become. Expediting anything is worth something and there is nothing in it for them unless you pay. They have nothing but time.
Remember all those lessons you learned while growing up, they still have value here.