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Bad Experiences in the Philippines

Bad Experiences in the Philippines


Recently I have received a couple of e-mails from an expat living in Thailand and he shared some of the bad experiences he has had when he visited the Philippines.  Has anyone of y’all had such experiences as this?  I have heard of most of these things, but have not personally experienced any of them, except the beggars.  I’m just going to put his e-mails in as I received them and just correct his grammar and spelling.  He told me that he was not very good at those things and I told him that in exchange for him sending me something for the blog, I would make any corrections.  So if there is a mistake in there somewhere, it’s on me.

E-mail #1

Greetings John, I not sure if you received my e-mail telling you about a few funny experiences I had in the Philippines, but if you did, you didn’t get it all.  I’m having problems with my computer. 

One of my trips to Tacloban, I went into a nice clean place to eat.  I went to the counter, read the menu up on the wall above the counter and placed my order for the1/4 chicken with rice.  The nice young lady said okay, but I would have to buy the whole chicken.   I asked why.  She told me the boss wanted me to buy it.  I said no, I don’t want a whole chicken.   I’m going to eat my meal here and I can’t eat a whole chicken.  She than said that I can’t have my order.  Within a few seconds she asked,  How I liked the Philippines.  Being the gentleman that I am, I didn’t answer.

DZR Airport Tacloban

Another consumer unfriendly experience was at the Philippines airline ticket counter in Tacloban.  I waited for my turn to go at the counter to make my purchase.   I sat down and place my order for 1 ticket to Manila.  I’m sitting there with the pesos in my hand to pay my fare.  Looking at my passport, she said to me, “Your American”.  I said, “Yes”.  After writing up my order on the computer, she said to me that she will first have to convert the pesos that I had to American dollars and than she would have to convert the dollars back to pesos before I could pay the fare.  Now as we all know they benefit a fee every time money is converted.  It doesn’t make tourist think well of people when they talk down to us.  I had several other unfriendly experiences there, but these two really make me laugh.  Hope your day is going well and that you have enjoyed the clips that I have e-mailed to you.

E-mail #2:

Hi John, OK other experiences I had while in the Philippines, I was there twice, but didn’t spend much time there. Almost every place that I ate couldn’t or wouldn’t serve black coffee to me, even when I would ask if they could, the servers would just look at me, and than bring a cup of hot water and a package of coffee that had the coffee, sugar, and milk all mixed together, it got so that I would order a cup of hot water and than get my own coffee out of my back pack, and put it in my cup, what could I do, when people wont talk to me, but just look at me, but of course they did charge me the coffee price.

Nescafe 3 in 1 coffees

Another experience I had there, that I never had at any other country, and Ive been to many countries, was at the money changers at the airport.  The last trip that I was there, I ask the lady while changing my money, if I could make  a purchase with the USA dollar while I was waiting for my flight out, that I wanted to buy a snack.  She said yes the shops would accept the dollar.  So I got all 20 dollar bills and one five dollar bill, after I went thru immigration, paying the 30$ fee, I got looking around and than went to purchase a ice cream snack.  I took it to the counter and gave them my 5 $ bill.  The guy looked at it and gave it back to me saying the money wasn’t any good.  I asked him what he was talking about, but he wouldn’t answer me.  So later I went to another shop for a snack, had the same problem.  So I asked the man to please tell me why the money wasn’t any good.  He said look at the date on the bill, its to old.  Than I said well I just got the bill from the money changer, she gave it to me, after I told her that I wanted to buy a snack at the shop.  The man finally took it from me after a while and  for punishment, I guess, he charged me double price.  OK I guess its no big deal, but why don’t people take the time to explain things, and the lady that exchanged my money knew when she gave it to me, that I wasn’t going to be able to spend it.  I guess they don’t care if tourist come back.  

My worst experience was in Tacloban, where those bike taxis are so rude and uncaring about peoples safety.  Just try and walk across the street without one driving into you.   I said I’ve been to many countries, but they are the rudest sob’s I’ve ever seen anywhere.  Why would anyone want to go back there? 

Another experience I had in Tacloban was all the street beggars following me and staring at me while I’m trying to eat my food.  I’m always careful of the street people because they will also pick your pockets and try to scam you. 

Children begging in the Philippines

And than of course the taxi scams.  I had a taxi charge me 700 pesos for a 80 peso fare.

I don’t have a very good feeling about my experiences in the Philippines for being there a short period of time.  To be honest, I’ve been treated better in Thailand, and its not perfect here.  If I think of any thing else to tell you I will later.  Hope everything is going well for you and family.

My Responses:

Wow!  I’ve have been here over 3 years and visited here 6 times before that and never experienced any of the things you are saying except the beggars asking for money.

I have been to dozens of restaurants in the Philippines, in a lot of parts of the Philippines and I have never had anyone tell me that I had to buy more than I wanted to buy to get anything.  I have gotten the wrong order a few times, but nothing more than some extra rice or minus a piece of chicken.  I have also been told that some of the items are the menu are no longer available, but have never been pressured or even asked to buy anything more than I wanted.  What did you end up doing in that situation anyway?  You don’t say in your e-mail.  Did you order something else, did you leave, what happened?  I’m pretty curious of that.

Marcial's Grille

I have flown in and out of the terminal in Tacloban a lot and this was never a problem for me.  Of course most of the time I buy my tickets online before I even get to the terminal.  The last time we went out to Texas (in May 2012), we bought our tickets there and did not have that problem.  I did have a problem trying to buy only a 1 way ticket, because we had American passports, but that got resolved thanks to a hard working young lady.  No extra fees were incurred  and she even made sure that we had our seats and boarding passes for our next flight out of  Manila so we would not have to go through the same routine again.  We hope to take a Space A flight out of Clark next month to avoid any of those problems this year.

I know that many of the places outside the big cities only have the packets of coffee and most of those are of the 3 in 1 variety.  I think that if you would have asked for a Nescafe, maybe you would have gotten a regular cup of coffee.  There is no way I would have paid for a cup of coffee when all I got has a cup of hot water though.  You should have made a stand on that one I think.

I never heard of vendors at the airport not taking ‘old’ money.  I have heard and experienced that they won’t take money that is tattered.  If it looks old, they won’t take it, but not just because the date on it is old.  At least I’ve never had that experience.

The vendor that finally took your money and charged you double, again I think I would have made a stand on that one and refused to pay double.  You say that it not a big deal, but to me that is a big deal.  I would not have paid double, no way.  To me the Filipinos that try stuff like that you have to treat like children.  If you let them get away with it, they will continue to do it.  Thankfully that is not the typical Filipino.  Most Filipinos are very nice and very honest.

Tacloban tricycles

I will admit that there are plenty of tricycles on the streets of Tacloban and actually even here, especially in the downtown area.  I cross the street on a regular basis and have very little problem doing it.  I do have to lead my wife across at times, but we never had one hit us at all.  The way I look at it is they are trying to make a living and need to get a lot of passengers.  So they try to get to where they are going as soon as possible so they can get to another person.  Most of the are trying to make a living for their families and can use whatever money they can get.  Still, at least in my experience, I have not had anyone try to cheat me as far as I know.

That $30 fee was most likely the terminal fee.  Everyone pays that when they come through.  If you travel through Cebu instead of Manila it is less expensive.  I don’t remember either of the amounts of the fees, but the Cebu rate was definitely much less.

The only time I have ever had a taxi driver charge me more than what was on the meter was in South Korea, and that was a long time ago.  They charged me double because we went outside the city limits.  At least that is what he told us.  The next taxi driver, coming back did not charge us double for coming back though.

You know I’m sure there are some people out there that will try to pick pocket you or scam you, but, again, I have not experienced it in all my time here.  I do not normally carry a big wallet though, only a little ID wallet.  It fits well down into my front pockets and I don’t carry that much money around.  If you are really worried about pick pockets, why not try a money belt.

Children in the Philippines

As for the people staring at you, well I’m willing to bet that most of them were children.  They are naturally curious, just like any child anywhere.  I still get stares here.  When I’m in Manila or Cebu, they hardly notice me, except for the occasional child asking for a peso.  If you are with Filipino friends/relatives, they should take care of that problem for you and shoo them away and tell them to stay away.  For me I hardly give money to the kids, but sometimes I’m in the mood for it or if they look especially needy, I will.  When the old folks ask, I always do, if I have any money.  I can’t say no to the old folks for some reason.

I’m sorry you have had such bad experiences in the Philippines.  I am unable to explain why so many things have happen to you and none of them to me.   In fact I know several expats here and have heard very little about bad experiences.

My family is doing well, thank you for asking.  I enjoy the clips you send me.  Some of them I have seen before, but I don’t mind.

I look forward to hearing more about your experiences, but I hope they were not ALL bad.


  1. Each and every one of these things can and probably have happened to many travelers over the years. First, one must remember that while here in the Philippines, you are surrounded by “desperation” and some folks will do whatever they can get away with to get by. However, there are just some people (foreigners) that have the words “Easy Target” stamped onto their forehead. These are the folks that attract cons. It happens everywhere and the more savvy and confident traveler you are (or appear to be), the less you will experience this. As far as meeting really rude people, this guy likely has never been to Korea!

    • I hear the French are pretty rude too, especially towards Americans. I have never been there though.
      I guess I’m a bit more savvy than I thought because I don’t have a problem. Of course if I don’t like the price of something, I’ll walk away. I’ll look else where or just forget the whole thing.

      • Never been to France, but have been to Noumea, New Caledonia (french Colony) and they are rude there also.

Texan in the Philippines