Things (Not) to Do in The Philippines

Everyone talks about what are the best things to do in The Philippines. “Go to Boracay”, “See the girls in Angeles City”, “Don’t be arrogant” etc etc. For this article, I will do something different. I want to talk about some of the things not to do in The Philippines. Whether you are planning to live or just visit here for a few days, avoiding these expat and visitor mistakes will go a long way to make it more fun in The Philippines for you.

1. Don’t fall for someone right away. 2. Don’t trust people just because they are friendly. 3. Don’t go to the Manila Zoo. 4. Don’t go to Boracay, go to Palawan instead. 5. Don’t ‘invest’ here for at least a year. 6. Don’t use informal language with someone you don’t know. 7. Don’t forget to open a bank account.

Don’t Fall for Someone Right Away

When you first come here, beautiful women will solicit you, period. Most of us know enough not to fall for someone just because she is pretty, but some times they can be very persuasive. That’s why when you are dating the most important thing you can do is to take your time! If she’s sincere then she should be willing to wait.

See: What It’s Like Dating a Philippines Girl

Another thing that gets guys into trouble is inadvertently messing with minors. Some girls here look like minors even into their 20s, and some juveniles look older than they actually are. When in doubt check ID’s! If she won’t show you an ID move on. A fun night is not worth spending years in a Philippine jail.

Don’t Trust Friendliness

A Confidence Gang in Manila

Lei Wi Yang was a tourist in Intramuros who was set up in a restaurant by a confidence gang. The four innocent looking locals won her confidence and convinced her to take them to her hotel room. At which point they drugged and robbed her. She told police that the gang took her cell phone, 400,000 pesos and $1,376.

These 4 are part of a large crime syndicate that targets tourists by winning their trust with non-menacing looking gang members.

The truth is friendliness means nothing here. Being friendly is standard practice here, and it shouldn’t be construed to indicate that a local actually likes you or is of good moral character.

See: Is Manila Safe for Americans

Don’t Invest Here for at Least a Year

Expect to be solicited by a local for a ‘great business opportunity’ at least once. Usually, it will be from a local that you’ve befriended. The thing is, doing business in The Philippines is not the same as doing business back home, not even close. There’s a reason why The Philippines was ranked one of the worst places to do business in the world.

Your Filipino business partner will always have the most leverage even if most of the funds came from you and that’s by design! You see if you’re not a citizen you’re only allowed up to 40% equity in most businesses and even less in other business categories.

It’s easy to be fooled by the low written prices but once you factor in the graft, the slowness of government agencies, and the ineffectiveness of the Philippine justice system you’ll quickly realize it costs a lot more to running a business here than is written on paper.

In addition to that, unless you’re doing some export-based business or a call center, then you need to understand Filipino tastes. In most areas, there just aren’t enough foreigners to support a company that caters almost exclusively to them. So before you get the idea of starting a ‘real sari-sari‘ or a restaurant with ‘food that actually tastes good’ bear in mind that others before you have thought the same thing.

Finally, you have to be careful about with whom you go into business in the first place. A Briton was recently tied up and robbed by his Filipino business partner, Randy Domingo.

See: Could Ostriches Help You Stay in The Philippines Permanently?

Don’t Go to The Manila Zoo

I love animals and was so excited to visit Manila Zoo. That is until I read the reviews of the place. The zoo is notorious for maltreatment of its animal residents. Reviewers report animals being kept in tiny, dirty, and unsafe cages. The zoo was cited and closed for dumping animal waste directly into Manila bay untreated.

Reviews from Trip Advisor

I felt this heavy feeling in my chest upon seeing these animals in this state, they seem so agitated, restless and uncomfortable. It’s very sad that we put these animals into captivity and could not take care of them properly. While this had become an alarming issue for me, another issue caught my attention. Some fences or cages that houses dangerous animals can be easily entered, most especially by small children. So, I think that it would be best for parents and guardians to pay close attention to there kids if they will be visiting this place.


Looking for something else to do in Manila?
Then don’t come here!
Entry is very cheap that’s probably the only positive here
I’d prefer to pay more and see the animals that they have left looked after properly and the facilities upgraded.
Some exhibits obviously haven’t been cleaned for a very long time and the drinking water for the animals in these exhibits is putrid.
The location is nice enough and certainly has potential
Sort of wish I never went here as I found it quite upsetting

Sydney Australia

Don’t Go to Boracay

Raw sewage flowing into the ocean at Boracay

I’m sure you’ve seen all the beautiful photos of Boracay. Pristine beaches made of white sand, beautiful women in bikinis running around, and white foreigners playing volleyball. The trouble is that’s not the whole story. The resort island is known as an excellent place to get drunk and lay around, however, before you bust out your speedos too quickly you should know that many of the hotels & resorts were cited for improper handling of their sewage– including dumping human waste directly into the ocean. It got so bad that the entire island was closed in 2018 for 6-months for a ‘clean up.’ The Philippines’ own President referred to the place as a ‘cesspool.’

A much better alternative is Palawan. It has great attractions from the underground river to history museums, and beautiful beaches. Did you know a season of the hit reality TV show Survivor was filmed in El Nido, Palawan? Learn more about Palawan Island.

See: Palawan, SE Asia’s Best Kept Secret

Don’t Use Informal Language with Someone You Don’t Know

Koko Narak was deported for making rude statements on Facebook

Respect is paramount anywhere in the world and in no place is that more important than The Philippines. The Philippines is the only country that I’m aware of where you can be deported for simply being rude. Last year the Bureau of Immigration boasted that they deported over 100 foreigners for being rude. That’s why it’s always advisable to refer to people you don’t know as ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ especially if you’re speaking to a government employee, a police officer, or an elder!

See: Important Tagalog Phrases You Need to Know

A Dutchman got the boot from the country last year because he was declared a persona non grata (unwelcome person) after he got into a shouting match with local government officials over two resorts he built without permits.

Don’t Forget to Open a Bank Account

If you’re planning to stay here for longer than six months, then you need to open a local bank account. Why? Because the local ATM fees and international withdrawal fees that your home bank will charge you are going to add up. You’re much better off by opening a local bank account and then transferring money directly into it using a money transfer service. Learn more about opening a local bank account and transferring money to The Philippines.

See: Why Expats Love TransferWise

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