Filipino Culture is
interesting, and wonderfully different from American or even European
culture. Filipino's are a very simple, laid-back and joyous people.
They place a high priority on their families, friends and loved ones.
They are loyal and friendly and seek to cultivate relationships by many
gatherings, events, fiestas and parties.
If this is your first time away from the United States or Europe, you
are accustomed to things that may be very different than in the
Philippines. In advance of your departure, prepare yourself for an
"Adventure". This means that when you encounter things that are
different from what you are use to that you "go with the flow" and soak
in the new culture around you.
If you allow yourself to feel frustrated and angry because you are not
getting things the way you are used to, then it will ruin the trip for
you and annoy everyone else around you. It is going to be different, in
almost everyday. The differences in Filipino culture and your own is
why you hopefully came here in the first place. This is a part of this
new adventure that you have decided to take. When lines are longer,
traffic is slow and you feel lost in a new country that is not your
own, just take a deep breath, relax and let everything happen as it
You cannot change the things that happen to you everyday in your life,
but you can change the way that you react to them. Determine ahead of
time that when you come to the Philippines you are here to learn a new
culture and that you will not allow yourself to become frustrated and
thereby take away from an otherwise unforgettable
Filipino's are like
all people around the world in that they love to
enjoy a good meal. Particularly gathered around an atmosphere of
family and friends.
The difference is in how they enjoy those meals and the types of food
that they love.
First of all: When you sit down at the table of a Filipino restaurant
or at the home of a Filipino family, the eating utensils are different
than those of an American or European.
There is a large spoon placed on the right side of the napkin and a
fork on the left side of the napkin. Filipino's uses the large spoon as
the primary eating utensil in their meals. The spoon is held in the
right hand if you are right handed, and the fork in the left hand.
The spoon is used to gather rice, meat and vegetables, the fork is used
to push these items into the spoon.
You will never see a Filipino eat with a fork unless they have been
abroad to work in the United States, Canada or Europe. Those who are
born an live in the Philippines always use the large spoon to eat with.
The spoon is also used with the fork to pull meat from the bone, cut
the food and to eat large scoops of rice.
On the plate of most Filipino's you will first see a large helping of
white rice. They do not like to eat brown rice as the texture and taste
is not as delicious as is the white rice. There will be a
large pile of white rice on their plate first, then the meat
and vegetables, juice from the meat or any other food added on top of
Every bite of food has white rice in it and even if there is no more
food on the table except rice, a Filipino is perfectly content to each
just rice at every meal.
Some of the most
traditional and favorite foods of Filipino Culture are:
A noodle, vegetable and meat dish that is very commonly eaten
at special events. Adobo:
A Beef, Chicken or Pork dish that contains a wonderful juice of soy
sauce, vinegar, garlic, salt, bay leaves. Lichon Baboy or
"linchon" means roasted. A whole pig roasted, or whole chicken cooked
a open fire. Lumpiang Shanghai:
Spring roll containing vegetables and ground meat. Caldereta:
A stew of beef or goat with vegetables. Chop Suey:
A mixture of many kinds of vegetables and seafood with a thick sauce. Mais:
Ground corn that is cooked similar to rice. Boiled Corn on the
Without the outer husk, usually placed on a stick
Is a very sweet mixture of shaved ice, fruit, Ice Cream, Macapuno
strips (coconut) and Leche Flan Leche Flan:
A custard mixture of eggs, sugar and milk Fruit Salad:
Always made from canned fruit, canned corn, Nestle cream and condensed
milk. Native Kakanin:
Native delicacies that are served as deserts, see full description
Sticky rice with coconut milk and sugar. Cassava Cake: Suman/Budbod:
absolutely love deserts. my wife is one of the best desert chef's there
is (in my opinion) and she will tell you that wherever you go in the
Philippines you will be sure to find some or all of the deserts listed
Rice cakes made from rice flour, evaporated milk (or coconut
milk) and sugar (among others). They come in various colors and bite
size peaces or they can just fill up a whole plate. Puto is best served
with hot chocolate or dinuguan (pork blood, as a replacement for rice).
It is best eaten freshly baked and right out of the steamer.
Brown rice cake. The Kutsinta is best eaten with
Puto or can be eaten alone (with freshly shaved coconut). Also made
from rice flour.
Rice cake, made from malagkit
rice (glutinous rice), coconut milk and brown sugar. Some variations of
this will include bibingkang galapong (made from rice flour, coconut
milk, baking powder and margarine), bibingka cassava (made from
cassava, coconut milk and cream and margarine) and pineapple cassava
Steamed Rice Cake wrapped in leaves before being cooked. Served with
sugar, grated coconut or “latik” – milk
solids from coconut that are formed when fresh coconut milk is boiled.
A very soft and easy to chew desert best served cold.
(“layers”): A colorful layered Native
Made from coconut milk, corn kernels, sugar, gelatin,
whipped cream, ube (yam) powder and grated coconut.
Pastillas de leche
(milk candies): A milk-based
pastry that comes in bite-sized pieces (great for snacking while
you’re traveling). Perfect for those with a
sweet-tooth as it is made from granulated white sugar and
condensed milk. When cooked, it is formed into balls or logs and
wrapped with cellophane paper.
– Otherwise known as coconut cake, this is
another all-time favorite Filipino dessert. It is made from coconut
milk, sugar, cornstarch and/or corn kernels.
(In the Philippines: "Fruits")
String Beans (Sitaw)
Small Sweet Red Pepper
English is a second
language in the Philippines and it taught from elementary school
through high school. Most Filipino's can speak, write and understand
English although they may be hesitant to "let it out".
Because they are aware that their English is not as good as an American
or other foreigner who speaks this language, they are shy to speak very
many English words to you. The exception to this rule would be those
who are younger and are use to speaking English on a frequent basis.
They will welcome the opportunity to practice their English skills with
you. So don't hesitate to speak to any Filipino at any time for any
reason. They love to talk and converse and you will find them both
interesting and delightful to talk to.
There are literally
hundreds of individual dialects in the Philippines, but the primary
languages of the Philippines are:
Tagolog or Filipino:
This is the main language of all 7,200 Islands of the Philippines.
Although it is the national language, it is not widely used in all of
the islands and provinces of the Republic. You will discover that each
individual Provence, town or even neighborhood has their own dialect
and language. It is not unusual to find that towns next to each other
speak different dialects and cannot always understand each other.
the language of Cebu and parts of the Visayas. Cebuano is it's own
unique language with obvious influences from Spanish words and phrases.
Many Tagolog and Cebuano words are the same or very similar. Some
Tagolog words used in Cebuano sound the same but have completely
different meanings. This is sometimes very difficult and confusing to
someone trying to learn the native languages of the Philippines.
Cebuano is the main language spoken on Bantayan Island. There are
however, those who were born on the Island and have learned a different
variety of Cubuano that has words mixed in from Ilonggo and
Waray-Waray. This is due to the fact that many who came to Bantayan
Island, came from Leyte where they also speak Waray and Bacolod and
Ilo-Ilo where Ilonggo is spoken.
Is the native language of Leyte and sounds more native in my opinion
than some of the other more widely uses Filipino dialects.
Words, Different Meaning:
Filipino's say "Eat all you can"
American's say "All you can eat"
Filipino's say "Take out or dine in"
American's say "For here or to go"
Filipino's say "Where is the CR?"
American's say "Where is the Restroom?"
Filipino's love to
celebrate. This will be obvious to you if you plan to arrive anytime
from September through the end of January as there will be constant
"Fiesta's" and celebrations happening almost everywhere you go.
The Christmas season begins in the "Ber" months. From September through
the end of January there are wonderful Christmas decorations, lights
and music playing everywhere you go. The traditional songs of Christmas
heard in America are all favorites of Filipino's as well as many of
their own traditional songs. All of these are played on every radio,
television and public address system of the malls and shopping areas of
and Food Stores
have some of the most beautiful and modern malls in the world. The
first time that I landed in Manila, the capital of the Philippines I
was amazed at the size and beauty of the Glorietta, Green Belt, and
Mall of Asia in Metro Manila and Makati.
Some of these beautiful shopping areas are six floors high and have a
footprint as much as ten times the size of a normal American mall.
You can expect to find most every recognizable American store, fashion,
restaurant and product in the cites of Manila, Makati and Cebu that you
would find in most any American City. For the average American or
European you will be very comfortable and delighted in the shopping
areas of the larger cities of the Philippines.
The smaller cites are a completely different matter all together. These
are made up of neighborhood strip malls that are older, have mostly
native Filipino and Asian products and are very limited in the number
of traditional American products that they stock.
Food markets are stocked with large quantities of wonderful food items,
many of which you will recognize as products you have purchased in
America or Europe.
The restaurants in the Philippines, Cebu and even on Bantayan Island
have as their main menu, Filipino food. As listed above in some of the
varieties of this wonderful cusine, the food is very tasty, not often
spicy and contains many of the ingredients that you are probably
already use to in the American foods you enjoy. Chicken, Pork and Beef
are the main meats that are eaten in the Philippines.
A variety of vegitables similar to American food are also
used in many dishes.
The staple for all of the Philippines is white rice, whcih is eaten at
every meal and included with nearly all entre's you order in a
Don't be afraid to try something new that you don't recognize. It won't
hurt you and you may grown to love it as many of us who have made the
Philippines our home, have learned to love these wonderful foods.
With this being said, there are also many restautrants which now serve
American style food. In the Ayala Mall and SM Malls in Manila and Cebu
there are American restaurants such as TGIF Friday's, Chili's, Outback
Steak House, Tony Roma's and others. The prices for these American
style food is about 25-50 percent higher in the Philippines than in the
U.S. So expect to pay more to get the food you are used to.
In the average Filipino Restaurant, a meal for two will cost you about
300-500 Peso's including beverage, tax and tip. This is less than
The Average cost for an American style meal in one of the major
American Restaurant chains in Manila or Cebu can cost in the
neighborhood of 2,000-3,000 Peso's for two, which is about $50-60 USD.
The Philippines has many familiar fast food restaurants such as KFC,
McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Sbarro's, Shakey's Pizza, and many delightful
Mexican fast food locations.
The Restaurants and
dinning on Bantayan Island include:
The outdoor Patio of Cou Cou's
The outdoor Patio of the Ogtong Cave Resort
The outdoor open air dinning of Beach Placid Resort
All You can eat v. Eat all you can.
Many restaurants have all you can eat meals but not many offer all you
can drink as is common in the States. When you order a beverage there
is usually an extra charge for a refil. Don't assume that you can drink
all you want. Just ask you waiter or waitress if it is "bottomless".
Usially you can have a bottomless soft drink for only a few Peso's more.
When I first came
Philippines in 2006, I had not yet coverted any of my American dollars
into Peso's. In the rush to get to the hotel in Manila and get checked
into the Pan Pacific Hotel where I was staying, I handed the porter a
$20.00 dollar American bill, which was the smallest denomination I had.
I did not discover until later that I had just given him 1,000 Peso's,
whcih is more than three day's wages for the average minimum wage
worker in the Philippines.
Every time I called the front desk for something, this young man was at
my door in less than a minute. This continued until he realized that I
wan not a rich American and I only gave him the customary tip of 20-50
For a meal in a restaurant, tip from50-100 Peso's for good service
For a daily maid service in your room, tip 20 Peso's per day
For a Taxi ride, add 20-50 Peso's to the total cab fare
For a Porter who carries your bags, tip 50-100 Peso's for two bags.
Most Filipino homes
not have hot water piped to every room. Only on rare ocassions does a
household have a "Demad" hot water heater in a single bathroom. For the
average American the water that comes from the tap during the months of
December and January is cold to the body, particularly if it has been
cloudy all day or a series of days.
During the warmer months of the year, the cool water from the tap that
is unheated, is actuall very refreshing and not really a problem after
you get used to it.
Most hotels in the provences, particularly on Bantayan Island, do not
have hot water in the bathroom. Most hotels in Manila and Cebu do have
hot water in most all of the rooms. If hot water is a must for you,
then make sure that you ask the hotel where you are making your
reservation if there is hot water in the shower of the bathroom.
The people of the
Philippines are some of the best drivers in the world. They have to be
as they live in very crowded areas where the streets are narrow and
packed with other drivers in cars, buses, motorcycles, Jeepney's,
Trisikad's and Tricycle's.
On the other side of the coin, they also drive very fast, dart in and
out of traffic, and are unpredictable in their movements down the road.
You must be a defensive driver anywhere in the Philippines if you want
to stay alive. You never know what the vehicles around you are going to
do next, so you must watch constantly for danger.
On Bantayan Island,
another matter all together. There is no traffic to speak of. Rush hour
is when there are three bicycles in front of you. Lumbering
down the main highway from Santa Fe to Bantayan or on to Madridejos is
almost always uncrowded and a pleasure to experience.
The best way to get around on Bantayan Island is by Scooter or
Motorcycle. When I first came to Bantayan Island I rented three
different types of bikes. A Honda Beat Scooter which is fully automatic
with no clutch or gear shift. A Honda motorcycle with no clutch lever,
but a 1 down and 3 up foot shift lever. A fully clutched with shift
motorcycle that is like most American small bikes.
I own and drive a Harley Davidson "Fat Boy" motorcycle in the States
and have been riding since I was twelve (I am 54 now)
In my opinion, the
Honda Beat fully automatic Scooter is the
transportation of choice for Bantayan Island, or even in Cebu should
you need to go there on occasion.
I liked the Beat so much that
purchased a new pearl yellow model from the dealer in downtown Cebu
City in December of 2010. The total cost of the new Beat was just
58,300 Pesos, which was about $1,300.00 U.S. Dollars.
You cannot buy anything comparable to the Beat in the United States.
The closest match is Honda's lowest price scooter at about $3,300.00
Dollars. The Beat is a tremendous value and works perfectly on Bantayan
Island or the big island of Cebu.
While living in Talisay in Cebu my wife and I made almost daily trips
on our Beat into Cebu City along the SRP highway. When we arrive in
Cebu City we are not bound by all of the traffic stuck on the roads as
with a Scooter you are allowed to pass the traffic on either side and
go directly to the front of the line.
This makes getting around Cebu City or driving any other place on the
big island very easy and convenient. All this being said, if you are
not an experienced motorcycle rider, do not attempt to purchase and
ride a scooter in Cebu City until you learn to ride well. If your
purchase or rent a scooter to ride only on Bantayan Island and are not
experienced, you can learn to ride without being in much danger. Just
take it slow at first and be very careful when you make turns or come
to an intersection of other vehicles.
Scooters and Motorcycles are available at many of the resorts in Santa
Fe for a daily fee of about 350-450 Peso's. This is about 6-8 Dollars
and a bargain to have your own transportation around the island.
If you decide to come back to Cebu or Bantayan Island frequently or
make it your home as we have, then you can find a great Honda
motorcycle dealer right in Bantayan Town about 30 minutes from Santa Fe.
There are also other motor dealers in Bantayan. You can find directions
to these by asking a local in Bantayan where they are located.
Regarding the Licensing of a Motorcycle or Scooter in the Philippines:
When my wife and I purchased our new Honda Beat, we assumed that we
were paying all of the require taxes and fees associated with the
purchase of the new scooter. We were wrong.
Upon paying cash for the scooter "Cheng" at Honda Motor World in Cebu
City told us that the License plate would arrive in about three weeks.
We had to pay for "A Conduction Permit" which allowed us to drive the
scooter on the streets of Cebu for seven days. The cost of this permit,
as well as an insurance rider that is also required, cost us an
additional 500 Peso's.
At the end of the seven days, we returned to the Honda Motor World
dealer and were told we had to purchase an
Permit for another seven days. The problem is that the Philippine Land
Transportation Office is "Off line" for days at a time and during the
time that they are off line, no one can get anything done regarding
their vehicle registration or licensing.
We were forced to drive our new scooter all over Cebu for days without
a Conduction Permit because of the inefficiency of the Philippine
If by chance we were stopped by a police officer and it was found that
we did not have a current conduction permit, our new scooter would have
been impounded and we would have to pay a 5,000 Peso penalty plus a fee
to get our scooter released from their impound yard.
All this because the Philippine Land Transportation Office does not
allow the Honda dealer to issue a purchaser of a new Motorcycle a
temporary permit to drive for the 30 days or so that it takes for LTO
to get the license plates to you by mail.
It is during moments such as this that you will realize that this is
why they define the Philippines as a "Third World Country". They refuse
to adapt the reasonable and efficient ways of conducting business that
developed countries use because of greed, corruption and ignorance.
When I logged on to the Land Transportation Web site for the
Philippines I discovered that in all of the links for dozens of
categories on the web site, they all linked to the exact same page with
the exact same information which was meaningless and useless.
I clicked on their link to send an email with a comment or
suggestion and the link came back "Non Functional".
The problem is that those in authority in the Philippines do not think
that it is important to develop procedures that are efficient and
helpful. They prefer to make a customer who purchased a new vehicle,
come back twice a week to get a conduction permit and pay an additional
If they simply charged the customer the fee for the 30 day permit when
they purchased the motorcycle, as they do in the United States of other
developed countries, then all the work required by the dealer staff and
the customer in requiring them to come back over and over again, could
Sometimes when you are living in the Philippines and trying to conduct
business, you feel like you are living in the days of the cave man. As
long as these types of unfair and unreasonable procedures exist in the
Philippines I will write and inform the consumer so that perhaps
someone will take notice and make changes to this archaic method of
registering new vehicles in the Philippines.
The Major Methods of
in the Philippines:
reasonable if you get into a cab that uses a meter system. Do not ride
in any taxi that does not have a meter and the cost of the fare is up
to the discretion of the driver. Do not let the driver charge extra for
fuel, additional persons or baggage unless it is disclosed on the
outside of the cab before you enter.
There are no Taxis on Bantayan Island
ride a bus in the Philippines you are taking your life into your own
hands. Bus drivers drive very fast, dart in and out of traffic and pass
on the left side into oncoming traffic. They honk their horns non stop
to alert drivers that they are making fast and erratic moves. At the
end of any bus trip you are exhausted and frightened to your wits end.
Every year thousands die as a result of the carelessness of these bus
drivers and the unwillingness of the bus companies and Philippine
government to do anything about the problem. My advice, don't take a
bus unless there are no other options.
There are no Buses on Bantayan Island. There is however a bus system
that runs from Cebu City to Hagnaya to bring you to the port of Hagnaya
for the Ferry to Bantayan Island.
Jeepney has been around since the end of World War 2 and is the most
cost efficient method of travel in the cities of the Philippines. It is
a long Jeep style vehicle or more modern Multi-Cab vehicle that holds
from 10-20 people. Most of the citizens of the Philippine Islands use
the Jeepney because they can travel to their desired location for only
a few Pesos. The only problem with this method of transportation, it is
hot, noisy and the fumes from the diesel engines of the Jeepney's and
surrounding vehicles will make you sick. If you can handle these things
then this is the cheapest method of transportation.
The Noise, and fumes experienced in Cebu are not as much a
on Bantayan Island.
This is a small 110-125 CC Motorcycle that has a side-car attached
seating 2-4 persons. It is a very cost effective way to travel in Cebu
and Bantayan Island.
a human powered bicycle with an attached side-car that is very cost
effective in travel on Bantayan Island and the small neighborhoods or
"Barangay's" of Cebu.
Be generous when you pay these hard working drivers. They really earn