What is Considered Rude in the Philippines?

For foreigners living in the Philippines, a common question is, “What is considered rude?”

The answer to this question varies depending on who you ask.

For example, some Filipinos believe that speaking to someone at an average volume level is considered rude because they are always whispering. In contrast, others think it’s polite to speak loudly.

Some Filipinos believe that asking someone how much something costs in the Philippines is rude because it implies you can’t afford it, while others think it’s polite to ask.

These examples show how what is considered rude in the Philippines can vary depending on who you ask; however, there are some general guidelines that one could follow to avoid committing an act of rudeness.

1) Do not interrupt someone.

Do not interrupt someone

Do not interrupt someone while they’re speaking. It’s rude to talk louder than them, talk over them, or compete for attention.

Be patient and wait until they have finished speaking. Once they have finished speaking, ask them to share their thoughts or opinions on the subject before offering a response.

2) Never place your feet up on a table, desk, or chair.

It’s considered very rudely, and it’ll make you look like a child (or an uncivilized person).

Place them on the floor if you need to put your feet up. You can also place one ankle over the other to indicate relaxation.  

3) Don’t shout when speaking.

Filipinos usually speak in soft voices, so shouting feels very rude and disrespectful to them… even if you’re just trying to be heard over the traffic noise.

It’s much better to speak at an average volume than to talk very loudly just so someone can listen to you over the sound of cars honking their horns.

4) Don’t ask people too many questions that are personal in nature.

You should never ask someone personal questions or questions that are too personal.

It’s always better to remain polite. Filipinos are very sensitive about their personal lives, so these questions are rude.

5) Avoid talking about the Philippine government.

Filipinos are very sensitive about their political leaders, and you should never talk negatively or disrespectfully about them.

If you want to make comments, make your comments positive; don’t be negative and critical of their president because Filipinos will not be happy listening to it.

They’ll find your comments very rude and disrespectful.

6) Avoid whistling inside the Philippines.

Filipinos find whistling rude and disrespectful, especially if the person is making sexual gestures toward a passing woman.

It’s never acceptable in any nation since it constitutes harassment of female citizens by males!

A law has recently been passed to penalize men who make unwanted comments with fines and imprisonment for their actions.

7) Don’t assume that people are wealthy just because they dress nicely.

When you see someone wearing nice clothing, don’t assume that they have a lot of money or live in a big house somewhere.

Many Filipinos can afford to buy new clothes, but not new homes.

Don’t be rude by asking them where they’re from, how much their house cost, or what kind of car they drive because you could offend them.

8) Don’t point out other people’s mistakes or misfortunes in front of others.

If someone makes a mistake or encounters lousy luck, don’t point it out to them in front of other people. It’s better to remain polite and keep your thoughts and opinions to yourself.

9) Don’t compete for attention with someone talking on the phone.

Never, ever interrupt someone on the phone to talk to them first.

They’re already distracted talking on the phone, so don’t interrupt them. Your friend or family member will call you back once they speak to their phone companion.

10) Do not cut in line.

It’s vulgar to cut in line, so don’t do it. Always wait your turn in line as everyone else has before you. 

11) Don’t ignore someone if they wave at you across the street or sidewalk.

Don't ignore someone

If you’re walking somewhere and someone waves at you from across the street, do not ignore them.

If you don’t return their wave, they’ll think you’re trying to make them feel bad for waving at you. The best thing to do is wave back and smile at them like nothing was wrong.

12) Don’t be rude by not giving out your number when someone asks for it.

Don’t ever refuse to give your number to someone who asks for it because you do not want to be rude. They might try asking you another time, so always give them your number politely.

13) Don’t forget to say thank you if someone helps you.

Don't forget to say thank you if someone helps you

If someone helps you with something, it’s coarse not to thank them for their kind gesture.

Always say thank you to people who help you carry groceries, open a door for you, or anything meant as a polite gesture.

14) Don’t hug

Don’t hug someone unless they hug you first. It’s best to stick with a handshake, so the other person doesn’t think it’s rude if they don’t want to hug you.

15) Never badmouth your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend in front of your new partner.

Filipinos don’t like it when someone badmouths their ex-girlfriend or boyfriend before their current girlfriend or boyfriend.

It’s considered rude and disrespectful because it implies that they think poorly about the person they used to date, too.

16) Gift-giving Etiquette

Don’t give a gift that’s too expensive if it’s your first meeting; this will seem like you’re trying to buy their love and affection. Give them something as small as a pen or some candy instead.  

17) Don’t call out people in public.

Don’t shout at someone for making you upset. If you’re angry enough, wait until they’re alone to talk about your problem with them.

18) Dining Etiquette

Dining Etiquette

Don’t serve yourself food before everyone else has been served because it’s rude. Wait until the host starts eating, and then you can all eat too.

19) Don’t argue with older people and adults if they tell you something is rude.

If someone older or an adult tells you that something is rude, they probably know what they’re talking about, and you should apologize profusely.

20) Don’t pretend you don’t know a word in a foreign language if you actually do.

Don’t pretend that you don’t know what something means in a different language because it’s rude and shows how arrogant you are.

21) Don’t ignore people who want to say hi to you.

If someone tries to say “hi” and starts talking to you, don’t ignore them and walk away. Apologize and speak to them respectfully.

22) Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Communication

Don’t ignore someone who is trying to get your attention. If they wave at you from across the street, don’t pretend you didn’t see them and keep walking.

23) Don’t stare at people or invade their personal space.

Don't stare at people or invade their personal space

If you’re on the train, don’t stare at someone standing over them as if you’re seeing something disgusting.

24) Keep your handshake soft and brief.

Don’t hold the other person’s hand in a firm grip for too long because it might make them feel uncomfortable.

25) Don’t point out other people’s mistakes.

When talking to someone and saying something incorrectly, just politely correct them instead of pointing out how they’re wrong.

26) Always greet seniors first.

Don’t walk past someone older than you without saying hello because it’s rude.

27) Don’t take sides when a fight or disagreement happens around you.

When someone is fighting with someone else, never try to choose who you want to be on your side because people will think badly of you for it and will never respect you again.

28) Don’t insist that your way is correct and that all others are wrong.

When someone doesn’t agree with you, don’t get mad at them and make them feel like they’re completely wrong and stupid by insisting that your opinion is better than theirs even though it’s not.

29) Criticizing the Philippines directly as a country will be taken very offensively.

When you’re in the Philippines, never say something that will sound like you’re criticizing the country or its people because it’ll upset everyone who hears it, and no one will want to have anything to do with you again.

30) Learn Tagalog Phrases and Avoid English.

Learn Tagalog Phrases and Avoid English

If you’re in the Philippines, take time to learn some Tagalog phrases and avoid speaking English as much as possible because it will make people think you’re not taking the time to respect their culture.

31) Saying no to food is very rude.

Saying no to food when offered to you is very rude because it means you don’t want to eat what the person who made the offer cooked for you, which shows disrespect.

32) Criticizing people’s karaoke skills is rude.

If you’re at a karaoke bar or public place and someone is singing, don’t sit there and criticize them like they need to know their voice is terrible because it’s vulgar.

Originally posted on February 15, 2022 @ 6:47 am

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As a lifelong traveler and founder of lovefortraveling.com, I, Alex Deidda, have always been driven by my passion for exploring new places and cultures.

Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to live in various countries, each offering unique perspectives and experiences.

My love for traveling led me to create lovefortraveling.com, a website and blog dedicated to helping people plan their trips.

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