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Miss Directions – “Yes” Means “No”, “No” Means “Maybe”

Always very happy to be helpful, Filipinos LOVE giving directions and information but, unfortunately, are sadly lacking in accuracy or accountability. Hating to lose face by not having the knowledge, Filipinos will almost never admit they do not know the answer to a question asked or the location of a destination you are looking for. Whether it may be that you are looking for a particular landmark or a common convenience store, the locals will do everything in their power to try and help you whether they know the way or not.

Freely dispensing wrong answers and bad directions to unsuspecting Foreigners and other Filipinos alike, it seems that the importance is only to save face long enough for you to disappear from sight. Sometimes, sadly, wording the question differently and asking the same person will elicit different answers and this is a very common occurrence, unfortunately. You will soon learn to ask multiple people the same question and, basically, take an average from all of the people you asked to come up with your best conclusion as to the correct answer you are seeking. If the information you require is important then it’s best to DO THE RESEARCH YOURSELF! Start “online” as a reference then follow up with the agency, institution, or business in question in person if there are any gaps in getting you the information you are seeking. Keep PATIENTLY pushing your queries forward and do not accept what you are told is accurate. ALWAYS get confirmation from someone whether it’s a person working for the business or verified information on the companies website.

“NO” means TRY HARDER!

Many times “NO” could mean they really just cannot be bothered to assist you, regardless of the consequences. Remember, workers will get paid even if you walk away disgusted and if there is no immediate positive outcome for them, why would they help you to begin within the first place. “Out of Stock” is a favorite answer used by many restaurants and stores in the Philippines but If you persist, eventually answers and information will flow, albeit grudgingly. Perhaps they did not understand your accented English, foreign terminology, are distracted, or are just too bored to listen.

Rephrase the question, speak slowly and quietly and try to use the least amount of words while still getting your point across as possible. Loud voices will cause a mental shutdown, guaranteed. They are intimidated enough by large white people and raising your voice or saying the same phrase over and over with increasing volume only adds to the discomfort and less appealing side of helping you with your problem. Sit down when possible to minimize the height and overbearing aspect associated with this.

Government institution visits

At government institutions in the Philippines try your best to not be in a hurry. You will be penalized. The more you show your need or impatience, the more weakness you show. Simply sitting at the desk, pulling out a book, and showing you are prepared to wait, in their face, will elicit action.

On the flip side, when giving instructions please do not interpret bright eyes, intelligent looks, and appropriate head nods as confirmation that your directions are understood or will be followed. Ask for your instructions to be repeated back to you whenever possible to ensure everything is understood precisely. That way your motorcycle does not end up at the dealership for a full oil change and tune-up when all you wanted was the oil checked and filled “if needed”. Ask me how I know.

Directions are awful. With often only the “pursed and pointing lips” (see above) as an answer to indicate a direction, a tourist must trot off as indicated to ask the next person the same question, and the next, and so on until you achieve your destination. This is a very common occurrence here in the Philippines, yet you shouldn’t get discouraged as here in the Philippines most people understand English to some extent so finding the place you’re looking for may take time, but is not entirely impossible.

What are maps?

Maps are as alien to this culture as space travel and the ability to interpret a printed or drawn map nowadays is becoming exceptionally rare. Delivery drivers require crude childlike drawings, which must include the full street names to give them any chance of understanding and have anything arrive at the destination you desire. Likewise, compass directions (north, south, east, west) are a waste of time as this sense of geographical identification is becoming less and less common when giving directions to the locals. Many locals may understand your request if you are planning on using the maps app on your phone as most Philippine locals use this technology, but again nothing is ever guaranteed and it is always best advised to make sure you have a clear understanding of one another before anything important is decided on.

So in conclusion, do the legwork, Google what you need, plan ahead, and be patient. Honestly, it does not detract from the adventure, it will only heighten the enjoyment and reduces the frustration when trying to navigate the terrain of the Philippines whether adventuring around the big city or using the trike and jeepney transportation methods found in some of the more rural provinces.

If you would like more information on how you can find something located in the Philippines or perhaps looking for an amazing resort near Manila, come say Hello to us as BADLADZ Adventure Resorts in Puerto Galera. We would be more than happy to assist you in finding directions to a particular destination you had in mind, and can also help you plan your next holiday vacation in a tropical paradise.




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