5% COMMISSION or MORE
When selling or buying a house, a lot, a car or anything of value it is normal to give 5% commission to a "so-called agent". Most of these agents are not official, but just know of something for sale so they make a n agreement with the owner before they introduce a customer. Same goes for the friendly tricycle driver that meets you at the airport as he will suggest a hotel or guest house and get a back-hander from the owner should you take a room, although this is usually not 5%, probably some money ranging from 50-200 pesos. I have known one establishment to give trike driver 150 pesos a night for each night the guest stays.
When it comes to selling land quite often someone will call and ask if there is a discount, and if you say that you will go down 500,000 pesos the "so-called agent" will ask if he can sell it for the original asking price he can get to keep the 500,000. Often if you don't agree they will not introduce the buyer to you and tell the buyer that the land is not for sale and will show them another lot which has a bigger commission.
THERE IS MONEY IN TRASH
It is now the custom for locals to save their trash and take it to the junkyard where the prices of different types of metal, plastic etc are posted. The scrap metal merchant will carefully separate everything in to separate piles, weigh each type of scrap and pay you accordingly. Once he has enough the shipping company will deliver a sea container to the dealer's doorstep, and will collect it next day when it is full, before shipping to Manila.
The scrap merchant that we have been using for the last 3 years started up with only 2,600 pesos and within a year he had purchased a motorbike, a truck and a jeepney so he had done very well indeed for himself. Each town will have several junkyards where locals can sell their junk. We usually keep our plastic, tin cans, bottles and assorted metal until it fills up the back of our pick-up, and we are rewarded with around 500 pesos. Not a lot of money but enough for a meal for two!
ONE CIGARETTE PLEASE
In the west cigarettes are sold by the pack or even carton, but in the Philippines the locals can go to any sari sari store and buy one, two or three if they like. They are sold individually for a peso or more. In fact this is quite normal among the locals. Philippines is the 25th largest consumer of cigarettes in the world and has one of the lowest cigarette prices too. It also has the highest number of female smokers in the 10 ASEAN members (Association of South East Asian Nations). A year or so ago the government put a SIN TAX on cigarettes and alcohol and the price of a smoke doubled overnight, but this has not had too much affect on the consumption. The W,H.O. reckons 10 Filipinos die every hour due to cancer, lung disease, stroke or heart disease.
Smoking was recently banned in public places such as restaurants, hospitals, airports, recreation areas and many more. Young people from the age of 12 can be seen smoking, even young girls.
I am not sure because i am a non-smoker, but even with the sin tax a pack of cheaper cigarettes can cost as little as 20 pesos, Marlboro may be 50 pesos a pack. I do remember that just 2 or 3 years ago the locals could buy a pack of 20 cigs for as little as 5 pesos (10 U.S cents, the cheaper brands).
MASS WEDDINGS and PREGNANT BRIDES
In the countryside it is quite normal to have mass weddings throughout the year on a given day when the priest is available. This will cut down on the expenses at the church which will be shared by all of those who are tying the knot. We attended one recently and it became quite obvious that many of the brides were pregnant (5 out of the twelve were obvious to the casual observer) , an din fact two of the lovely girls looked as if they would be going straight to the maternity ward after the service.
BE PREPARED IF YOU ARE INVITED TO A LOCAL WEDDING
Perhaps you will be invited to a wedding but is the invitation is in the countryside where the people are poorer you may not enjoy the food. Usually a whole pig will be killed and all the dishes will be prepared from that single animal, but every part of the pig will be used, even the head, intestines, and blood. Unfortunately the people may be country folk who will not be great cooks and the meal may be lacking in flavor. You can expect to eat blood soup, skin of the pig and the entrails.
Lechon is the national dish of the Philippines – also Puerto Rico. Entrails are removed and the pig is skewered and slowly turned over hot charcoals. The trick is to get a nice crispy skin. Lechon is eaten especially for special occasions. Cebu gets some acclaim for having the best lechon in the Philippines, but the proclaimed Lechon Capital of the Philippines is La Loma, Quezon City. The roasted pigs are lined up along the street daily – cost varies by pig size but one pig will set you back a few thousand pesos. With all of that cholesterol in the air, maybe it is appropriate that La Loma is right next to the main entrance to Manila North Cemetery, Manila’s most famous final resting place.Related to:
- Food and Dining
A tastier version of coconut cream pie, buko pie doesn’t use cream but evaporated milk and young coconut meat – buko. Buko pie was said to be first made up by a food technologist from the University of the Philippines Los Banos branch in the Laguna Province on the south side of Laguna de Bay. Maybe the two best known shops are Leyte’s and Oriente located on the highway leading from Manila to Pagsanjan. Note that when the pies are gone for the day, the shops close. The pies are best eaten fresh though you can also get the pies shipped frozen. Driving in other parts of Luzon demonstrated that other areas are also getting into the buko pie swing as well.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Road Trip
“Mix mix” is the rough translation for this ubiquitous Filipino dessert. Usually it is made of shaved ice, evaporated milk and a whole gamut of other additions – red mung beans, jello, tapioca, jackfruit, etc – topped with ice cream, flan or sugar. For me, simpler is better. In the case of halo halo that means the dessert served by the Razon’s of Guagua chain. Here you use leche flan, macapuno – coconut spoor, plantains along with the shaved ice and evaporated milk. You can find a branch of Razon’s in most Manila malls and a halo halo will set you back P100. As with any type of halo halo, you use the spoon to mix everything up properly first.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Food and Dining
RESPECT FOR THE ELDERS
In the Philippines the locals have respect for their elders in their family and this is extended to outside the family also. Respect for elders is embedded in the society from a very young age and small children will address the elders by saying "po" or "opo". When a young person visits or meets one of the family elders he shows respect (mano) by taking the hand of the elder and place it on his forehead (perhaps bowing a little too). The eldest among the siblings are addressed as "ate" or "kuya" for a male member. The youngest of the children are addressed as "totoy" or "nene" if it is a girl. Younger people addressing older folk that are strangers may address them as "tita" or "tito" (aunt or uncle), "tatay"or "nanay" ( father or mother) if the person is very old. Other forms of respect when speaking to an older person is "manang" or "manong" (for female or male persons).
If you are dealing with people at the market, shop or just about anywhere the locals will add "po" at the end of the sentence, which is a mark of respect , something like westerners saying "sir"
GAYS, LESBIANS, and TRANSVESTITES
Although Philippines is a strict Catholic country gay culture is tolerated and accepted by the locals, except for the military and politicians where it is still considered incorrect. Gays are involved in art and fashion, transvestites often work in beauty parlours. If you are in a bar it is quite acceptable for members of the gay community to frequent these places too and nobody will care. I was actually in a bar last week where i started talking to a German and his local lady friend who were constantly cuddling each other, but later when his sexy friend started talking i realised that she was actually a he. Nobody cared or remarked about this. Many people call gay guys 'bakla' but this is not strictly true as a bakla is a man with a woman's heart (pusong babae). They are not interested in a sex change as they are considered as a third sex and many of them are more feminine than an actual woman. Homosexuals often come out but lesbians are more secretive as they are expected to have children and look after the home. Many lesbians dress up like men and are referred to as tomboys and can be seen driving trikes, working in shops or any other form of employment. It is worthwhile to note that in nearly every tv show or soap opera there is always a bakla or gay actor.Related to:
- Gay and Lesbian
GAMBLING IN THE PHILIPPINES
Wherever you go in the Philippines you will come across people gambling, whether it is at the cockfight, the lottery, the casino or just playing cards or mahjong at their homes with friends and neighbours.
Every town has a lottery office where you can buy tickets for the chance to win millions of pesos. Smaller villages have their small town lottery where you bet on two numbers coming up. There are many cockpits throughout the country where locals flock to bet on their own roosters that they have not only spent months training, but given the best food to their birds. The Chinese game mahjong consist of 144 tiles and is played with four players who sometimes play throughout the night. Card games such as the local favorites Posoi Dos and Tongit are played for usually small stakes as a form of entertainment among the nations poorer people.
There are many casinos in the Philippines so if you fancy a night out please look at the link below which lists all the casinos in the country.The list also includes VIP slot machine clubs which are open to members only.
NOTE--- Don't play cards or mahjong with the locals---you will never win!!!
RELIGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES
One of only two Catholic nations in Asia , the Philippines is predominantly Catholiic (80+%), 10% Protestant and around 5% Muslim who are based in Mindanao and Sulu. There are a few chinese temples, even Buddhist Temples in parts of Manila and other cities. In fact there is a Sikh Temple and Hindu Temple for the immigrant Indians in Manila. There are even animists that have accepted some parts of Catholicism into their beliefs. There are many different sects such as El Shaddai which was established in the 1980's due to a bible quoting radio show, The Protestants have their Jesus is Lord Church which was established in 1978. Islam spread from Indonesia and Malaysia often by the traders. Even though the Filipino people accept different religions they still believe in shaman, faith-healers, psychics and fortunetellers. Some Tribal Muslims believe in making offering to diwitas (spirits). There is a spirit called Bal-Bal which has the body of a man and wings of a bird which eats the livers of unburied bodies. Muslims from Tawi-Tawi use mediums to contact the dead while many wear amulets to protect against misfortune.
TIPPING IN THE PHILIPPINES
For simple places locals may leave a few odd coins from the change but at better class restaurants Filipinos may leave 50 or 100 pesos. Taxi drivers will often say that they have no change so they would expect to keep it as a tip. If they don't use the meter you will ne paying over the oddsStaff at a good hotel may expect a few pesos for their services. I normally never tip if 10% service charge is included in the bill, but few restaurants would pass this on to the staff.
PHILIPPINE TOILETS--- 7 IMPORTANT FACTS
First thing you should know is that they are known as comfort rooms, CR for short, so if you need one desperately it is better to ask "Where is the CR?"
Secondly, when you reach the CR you must know which one to use as not all are clearly marked with images of a man or woman, but only with the written words, "lalaki" (male) or "babae" (female).
Thirdly, you should always carry toilet paper with you as only hotels and better class restaurants will supply this. Locals normally don't use paper but wash themselves with a scoop of water.
Fourthly, many toilets will not have seats as the locals normally perch on the edge of the bowl to perform their duties, so many seats are destroyed this way.
Fifthly, normally you will throw the toilet paper in the garbage can and not down the loo!
Sixthly, make sure you have a few coins in your pocket as many toilets you have to pay between 2 and 10 pesos. Many of the malls provide free toilets, but some not. The long distance buses will stop at eateries where everyone rushes to find the toilet and normally there is a charge!
And finally, you may have difficulty in finding a toilet as they are only common at shopping malls and bus stations.
BOUNTY HUNTING----10 MOST WANTED
Philippines is the only country in the world except for USA where bounty hunting is legal, and although the palace does not recommend that individuals should try and capture the fugitives themselves there is still a list of criminals on the run with rewards of up to and over 10 million pesos.
If you are interested in capturing any of these individuals here is the Philippine National Police list of the "TEN MOST WANTED". It is interesting to see the rewards and details of their crimes.
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