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.
MARKET PRICES ARE CONTROLLED
At most major markets, especially in Manila, the price of the local produce is controlled and posted on a board for all to see and traders are not allowed to sell for more than the price displayed. The prices are also announced each day on TV and the radio.
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THE DIRTY KITCHEN
Most middle class and rich Filipinos will have a dirty kitchen, which is not exactly dirty, but it means a kitchen outside the house where the maid can barbecue fish, or cook over wood or charcoal, and of course they will have their normal kitchen inside their house. The kitchen will also have a sink, usually made from cement and some type of worktop which will be used for preparing the food. There will normally be a tin roof over the area.
YOU MAY BE INVITED FOR BREAKFAST
The other day we arrived at our friends house at 7 am as we were invited for breakfast before having to attend an official function that morning. So be prepared as you may be offered a plate of fish heads and rice. Naturally my local wife loved it but i very rarely eat rice for breakfast and certainly don't eat fish heads, so i made do with a cup of coffee and bananas. Usually local people will have a coffee as soon as they get up and will eat a large meal before going to work between 7 and 8 am.
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VALENTINE'S DAY, MASS WEDDINGS
Many local people tie the knot on Valentine's Day because the church performs the ceremony free or at a reduced cost. It is also considered an unofficial holiday and most schools will be closed. We attended a wedding in Narra, Palawan where 10 couples took there marriage vows for better or for worse. We had to sit through 10 auditions of "Here comes the bride" as each couple entered the church with the mama, papa and the rest of the entourage behind them and took their seats on the pews. It caused some amusement when the priest ejected one of the couple's cameraman from the church as he was dressed in t-shirt and shorts, as one should be appropriately dressed. The priest then conducted some prayers and sang a few songs before giving a speech to the about-to-be betrothed. I heard something about condoms but this advice seem to be to late for one of the lovely brides!!! He instructed them on how to be faithful, and to look after one another for the rest of their lives, then as the couples knelt he went around the church sprinkling Holy Water on their hands, rings etc. A few more prayers and they were encouraged to give each other a loving kiss to the smiles of the congregation. The marriage certificates were signed and everyone proceeded home by motorbike, tricycle or car.
NOTE---Let us hope that the discount marriages last for life as it will cost the bridegroom a lot more to separate than unite!!!
Not quite sure where to post this tip but here is a good place as any. On all these holidays government offices will be closed but most restaurants and some businesses will be open except for Xmas Day and Good Friday when most places will be closed. Quite often the day of the holiday may be changed to Friday or Monday to allow people in the city to take off for a long weekend. The photo is of a volunteer who is nailed to the cross on Easter Friday as happens in several locations in the country, but San Fernando, Pampanga is the town where the religious fanatics have the best re-enactments of this 2000 year old event. Easter Friday and New year there will be less public transport, and around Xmas time everyone is traveling so buses and flights will be sold out.
New Years Day January 1
EDSA Revolution Anniversary February 25
Maundy Thursday /Good Friday Easter dates differ each year
Bataan Day April 9
Labor Day May 1
Independence Day June 12
Ninoy Aquino Day August 21
Eid 'I Fitr End of Ramadan different date each year
All Saints Day November 1
Xmas Day December 25 and December 26
Rizal Day December 30
Chinese New Year Holiday for the first time in 2014, check calender for following years
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THE KALABAW (CARABAO)
Not sure if i am posting in the correct section but the kalibaw (Water buffalo) is an important animal in the villages and remote areas of the Philippines as it is used for transport, farming, eating and rented out to the neighbours.
Water buffaloes were introduced to the country from Malaysia more than 2000 years ago. They are light grey to dark grey, sickled shape horns that lean backwards, and weigh up to 500 kgs, the female slightly less. Normally they are quite docile unless caring for their young, in that case do not approach them. They love to lie in a muddy pool so the farmers will dig a deep hole and make sure that the animal has access to it several times a day. They will live for almost 20 years and it is normal for the female to produce just one calf.
The caribao is a strong worker when plowing the land but must rest every few hours. They are often used with a sled behind them for transporting materials such as lumber and building equipment. They are also a source of food and are slaughtered now and again, and it is not unknown when you buy beef at the market you may be given Carabou meat.
and what you don't know----a female carabao is called a caraballa!!!Related to:
- Budget Travel
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
In the Philippines the locals use Tagalog, English and Spanish numbers so it can be a little confusing, but of course most people will know the English numbers, but here a re a few numbers to memorise.
isa 1 una
dalawa 2 dos
tatlo 3 tres
apat 4 kwatro
lima 5 singko
anim 6 sies
pito 7 siete
wala 8 otso
siyam 9 nueve
sampo 10 diye
dalawampu 20 beynte
tatlumpu 30 treynta
apatnampu 40 kawrenta
limampu 50 singkuwenta
animnampu 60 sisenta
pitumpu 70 sitenta
walumpu 80 otsenta
siyamnampu 90 noventa
sanda'an 100 siyento
sanibo 1000 isang mil
and important when you order half a kilo of fruit 1/2 kalahati
WHERE THERE IS A TICKET, THERE IS HOPE
Many towns have several lottery offices where local people can buy scratch cards or pick their numbers for the big draws which are held each week, often reaching 10s of millions of pesos. I have never bought a lottery ticket myself but i believe that one has to pick 6 numbers to win the jackpot. There are several different lotteries where you either pick the numbers from 1 to 42 or 1 to 55, as well as others. The draw is made live on TV by using ping pong balls that are blown in to a chamber, each with a different number. The largest jackpot was 741 million pesos, ($16m) won by a guy from Luzon. A certain percentage of the income is used for charity as the name suggests.
At the lottery offices locals will hang around waiting for the results in the hope of striking it rich!!!
WHAT DID YOU EAT TODAY? RICE? ULAM?
If you ask a local what he ate for lunch today the answer will more often or not be 'rice', where as we might say chicken and rice or sweet and sour veg and rice. Rice is the staple food here and ULAM is considered to be the topping that goes with the rice. There is not really an exact translation for this word. The Filipino meal consists of KANIN and ULAM, cooked rice and whatever accompanies it. In restaurants the ulam is served in a communal dish and the diners will add this to their rice. It is not uncommon for the poorer people to have a huge pot of rice and a small can of sardines or corned beef to share as the ulam among 4 or 5 people.
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