Planning Your Trip to the Philippines
When planning your trip, make sure that you find out about the wet and dry seasons, or other possible weather conditions that may affect your holiday. If you are using a travel agent then make sure that you ask about this, even though they should tell you.
Filipinos often use their eyes, lips, and hands to convey a wide range of messages. Raised eyebrows and a smile indicate a silent “hello” or a “yes” in answer to a question. Fixed eye contact between men is considered an aggressive gesture. The proper method to summon somebody is with a downward wave.
Filipinos place great emphasis on polite language and gentle conversation. Voice tone is always soft and gentle, and direct questions should be avoided. Filipinos value their self-esteem, so never criticize or argue with them publicly. Most men, when so provoked, will fight for the preservation of their pride or self-esteem.
Avoid topics such as politics, religion, corruption and foreign aid. Filipinos enjoy conversations about their families.
What to Wear
People in the Philippines dress for the weather (HOT!) Casual attire during the day for women is light blouses and shorts. For men collared T- shirts worn over slacks. In the evening skirts are substituted for shorts and the T-shirts are tucked in.
Mode of Transportation
There are four modes of public transport in Metro Manila and surprisingly, they are easy to use.
Buses : Both air-conditioned and regular buses travel all the major routes in Metro Manila except Roxas Boulevard. On an air-con bus a short ride costs PhP 10.00, adding PhP 2.00 for every succeeding kilometer. The regular bus’ minimum fare is PhP 9.00, with an additional PhP1.00 for every succeeding kilometer. Just tell the conductor where you are going and he will tell you how much it costs. Keep your bus receipt as it is your proof of payment.
Media and Communications
Most of the national dailies are in English. There are 6 national television stations which broadcast mainly in Filipino. Cable TV is also available in most of the hotels in Manila and other parts of the country. The postal system in Philippines is efficient. The country has international and national direct dial phone and facsimile services, mobile phone sites, Internet and e-mail facilities, and worldwide expresses delivery service, through which you can easily make domestic or Rebtel and stay connected with your family.
Jeepneys : Called “folk arton wheels,” jeepneys ply most of Manila’s secondary roads and even a few major thoroughfares. They’re as much fun to ride on as they are to look at and you have to try one. Although there are regular stops, you can often just flag one down and hop on. Call out “bayad” (bah-yhad) and pay the driver. If you are too far back, pass your PhP 4.00 “quatro pesos in local tounge” (minimum fare for the first 4 kilometers; 50 centavos additional for every succeeding 500 meters) down. When you are ready to get off, call out “para” (pah-rah); wait till he slows down and jump.
The LRT : It’s the fastest, cheapest way to go. The PhP 10.00-worth token takes you from Monumento (the northern end of Edsa) to Baclaran, travelling first along Rizal Avenue and then Taft Avenue. Many of the tourist maps have the route of the LRT marked.
Taxis: Air-conditioned taxis cost PhP25.00 on the meter and an additional PhP 2.00 is added for every succeeding 200 meters. to the final cost. Non-airconditioned taxis do not ply anymore. Taxis are always lined up at the major hotels and tourist restaurants and can be hailed on the street. If you take a taxi, make sure the driver turns on the meter. If he gives you a story that it is broken, get out and take another taxi. Unless you are taking a long trip or the traffic is unusually horrible, most taxi rides should be well under P100. At least a 10% tip is expected.
The unit of currency in the Philippines is the peso (P). Notes are issued by the Central Bank in denominations of P10, P20, P50, P100, P500 and P1, 000. Coins are issued for 5c (centavos), 10c, 25c, P1 and P5. Most foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks, hotels and authorized foreign exchange dealers. Outside of Manila, the use of the Philippine pesos for payments is preferred. Travelers checks issued by American Express, Bank of Tokyo, Bank of America, Barclays and Citibank are widely accepted. Major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club can be used to pay for most goods and services.
Most businesses are open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM weekdays and 8:00 AM till noon Saturdays. Banks are open from 9:00 AM till 3:00 PM Monday through Friday. When banking in the Philippines, it is advisable to have your passport with you for identification.
If you are coming from America, Asia or Europe and hold a valid passport and either a return ticket or a ticket to another destination outside the Philippines you may enter without a formal visa and stay for 21 days. If you wish to stay longer you must obtain a Visa Extension either before your trip from a Philippine Consulate or Embassy or, once here, from Bureau of Immigration. For most foreigners staying up to 21 days, visas are not required upon entering the country, provided visitors have valid passports and tickets to leave the Philippines. Visas are required only for stateless persons and citizens of countries with which the Philippines has no diplomatic relations. For visitors who are planning to stay up to 59 days, a temporary visitors visa is required, and registration with the Commission on Immigration and Deportation is necessary. Foreigners arriving from an area infected by plague, typhus or yellow fever are required to have valid vaccination and immunization certificates. Holders of Hong Kong and Taiwan passports need special entry permits. Visas and permits may be obtained from Philippine embassies and consulates.
The Philippines is tropical with just two seasons hot and dry from November to June and rainy from July to October. Filipinos will tell you that it is cool from December through February and they themselves will wear jackets.
Visitors are advised to fill in the Baggage and Currency Declaration Form before arrival to facilitate customs examination. For those with no currency or article to declare, BC Form 117, signed by the custom officer serves as a gate pass. Foreign currency more than US$3,000 must be declared at the Central Bank of the Philippines counter situated behind the customs examination area. Departing passengers are not allowed to take out foreign currency more than the amount that was brought in and declared. Local currency not exceeding P1,000 can be taken out of the country. Imported items brought in, and not to be taken out again upon leaving, are taxable.
Two bottles (1 liter each) of alcoholic beverages, two reams (400 sticks) of cigarettes and two tins of smoking tobacco are allowed to be brought duty-free into the country.
Things to remember when planning your Philippine vacation.
* Make sure you have a signed, valid passport (and visas, if required). Also, before you go, fill in the emergency information page of your passport!
* Read the Consular Information Sheets (and Public Announcements or Travel Warnings, if applicable) for the countries you plan to visit.
* Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of the countries to which you are traveling. Remember, the Philippines Constitution does not follow you! While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws.
* Make 2 copies of your passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives. Carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport.
* Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
* Do not leave your luggage unattended in public areas. Do not accept packages from strangers.
* If you plan to stay abroad for more than two weeks, upon arrival you should notify by phone or register in person with the Philippines embassy in the country you are visiting. This will facilitate communication in case someone contacts the embassy looking for you.
* To avoid being a target of crime, try not to wear conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money or unnecessary credit cards.
* In order to avoid violating local laws, deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money or purchase art or antiques.
* If you get into trouble, contact the nearest Philippines embassy.