Culture Shock In the Philippines

By Jovillene Datu

The Philippines is known for its abundance of delicious fruits and beautiful beaches. Similar to Hawaii, The Philippines has many islets, or tiny islands, around the main capital, Manila. Each island and province has its own culture, tradition, and language. Tagalog and English are the main dialects in the Philippines. 

The unique blend of East and West has captivated the Philippines, both in appearance and culture. English is widely used as a medium of instruction in higher education and formal business settings. Aside from English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese are the other common languages spoken among the filipinos. There are also 8 major dialects in the Philippines: Tagalog, Cebano, iiocano, hiligaynon for linggo, Bicol, waray, pampango, Pangasinense. 

The communication is drastically different than in America. Filipinos will often use their lips, eyes, and hands to convey a wide range of messanges. Sometimes a puckering of the lips would mean to look in a certain direction, or a simple raising of eyebrows would mean yes or no. As a sign of respect for the elders, they would always add, “Opo” or “Po” after every sentence. To address people who are older than they would also use, “Kuya,” which means brother, and, “Ate,” which means Sister. 

Because of the humid and sunny weather in the Philippines many Filipinos wear sandals or flip flops, even doing construction work. Unfortunately, since the Philippines is a religious country, women are restricted to how they dress. They don’t wear flashy clothes because they will be harassed by adults in the streets.

There aren’t a lot of laws or rules in the Philippines.When I went there, I noticed that a lot of Filipinos don’t have motorcycle or car licenses, which may seem confusing, since a lot of people own trailers, which involve a cart attached to a motorcycle. Seat belts are not required to wear, but are recommended. The main transportation in the country is an open bus called jeepney. Civilians may board the bus without a door to open or close, and hold onto the railing on the top. Although it’s not safe, many countries don’t seem to mind the unsafe environment. 

Another culture shock is that people can generally sell anything and sell anywhere. There are so many fake designer brands, street foods, and many other shops. A vendor license is not required, and if the police see you, they just walk by and pretend nothing happened. Since the Philippines is one of the countries stuck in poverty, Filipinos know the struggle of financially surviving. As a community, they will always find a way to help each other, even in other countries and states.

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