Facts about the Philippines – From Someone Who Lives Here

Several people write about the Philippines, but several of these writers have never lived here. They are rewriting other writer’s papers or have only visited the Philippines on vacation. 

I can tell you that vacationing in the Philippines and living in the Philippines are two very different things. One is glamorous, and the other is not so glamorous. Remember that the Philippines is a third-world country.

Here are the facts

Beauty – The Philippines is a beautiful place. Sand-filled beaches, sunshine, and coconut trees. The cleanest locations in the Philippines are in tourist areas. People tend to dump trash everywhere else. Manila looks like a garbage dump in several places.

Customer service- Customer service is laid back or nonexistent unless in a tourist area. No one is in a hurry to help you. I’ve waited 15 minutes for someone to pump gas and waited over an hour for the local store to check me out. People move like their covered in molasses.

Friendly- The people here are friendly and helpful. In several cases, they want a tip for their help. They will help you find a parking place or back out into the street for some coins. After a while, you are handing money to everyone. The person who helped you park, the guard who opens the door, people in line, so you don’t wait for an hour. 

Internet- The internet service is horrible, and customer service is laughable. Fiber optic internet is worse than standard cable internet, and companies push everyone to move to fiber.

Travel takes forever- The Skyway (Interstate) has only come about in the last few years and has a long way to go. If you are lucky to live close to Manila, you can use the Skyway to travel quickly from place to place unless there’s an accident. Everywhere else in the Philippines, it’s slow going. A one-hour trip can take all day.

English Speaking- In tourist areas you’ll find that several people speak English. However, in rural areas, people speak broken English or speak in a complex way to understand. Some people refuse to talk in English or never learned English.  

Christmas- Christmas season starts in September and ends in January. The Philippines has the most extended Christmas season in the world. It’s like a five-month party.


Share- Filipino families share just about everything, including money. I think it’s the main reason there’s not much personal wealth building and Filipinos remain poor. If a family member goes into the hospital, everyone in the family helps pay the bill.

If a Filipino works overseas, they send money to their family to pay the bills. Many people in the Philippines don’t work and wait each month for overseas money. However, the usual monthly pay for a job in the Philippines is $300.

My home is your home- A family member’s home is considered your home. You just act like it’s your house. Get something to eat and drink, take your shirt off, and use someone’s slippers.  

Marriage- If you marry a Filipino, be prepared to help support their family. Their family is more important than you are.

Personal Hygiene

Bathroom- In tourist places all over the Philippines, there is toilet paper, hand soap, and a toilet with a toilet lid. Live in the Philippines, and you won’t find any of these luxuries. You’ll need to carry toilet paper, hand soap and a towel with you. You’ll also need to get used to using the bathroom by sitting on the bowl. 

Shower- Tourist places have a working shower, soap, shampoo, and towels. I take a shower with a bucket and ladle because the shower doesn’t work. My eyes burn because of the PH of the water, and bugs come out of the drain. I’ve lived in several locations, and this is the norm.

Electricity- The Philippines is a hot place to live. Expect the power to go out at any time. In the Philippines, it’s called a brownout instead of a blackout. The power usually goes down at night, so the term blackout seems more appropriate. 

Take water everywhere- Don’t drink tap water in the Philippines unless you want a stomach problem. People buy purified water for their homes each week and have it delivered. I carry a large bottle of water wherever I go. Also, have water in your car for the radiator. 


Healthcare- If you need hospital care, you have two choices. Public and private hospitals. Public hospitals cost much less than private hospitals, but the treatment is minimum. I visited one, and the wait time was four hours, and the only space available was outdoors in 100-degree weather.

Private hospitals are much better and have private rooms. You need to pay your bill each day, or they toss you out. 

Dentist- I have read where the dentist in the Philippines uses modern technology. I went to the dentist once, and the dentist didn’t take any x-rays but did three fillings which fell out after a month.

Pollution- Pollution in the Philippines is horrible. I have been in several situations where I couldn’t breathe. I even spent several days in the hospital because my lungs stopped working. 

Trash- Trash is everywhere in certain places in the Philippines. In Manila, people think the nearest bush is a garbage can. Store owners keep their area clean, but any spot with overgrowth has trash in it.

Lizards live with you- It’s not unusual to have lizards running across the floor or up the wall. They also wake you up at night with loud croaking. 

Dog poo- Thank goodness the rainy season lasts most of the year in the Philippines because it washes away the dog poo everywhere. Watch where you step, or your shoes will be full of the stuff. No one cleans up after their dog in the Philippines.


Food- Many foods in the Philippines tastes excellent, but there is also a lot of food that Americans will label as nasty. Several foods we enjoy in America are here, but they taste different. I have only found a handful of “American” food that I can stand to eat.

Pizza tastes like cardboard, and potato chips don’t taste anything we enjoy in the states. Even shopping at S&R (It’s Like Costco) is discouraging when finding food Americans want to eat.

Read another great article here.

Have you lived in the Philippines as a foreigner? Let me know your story in the comment section below.

Do you have questions about the Philippines? I’ll do my best to answer your questions. Please add questions in the comment section below.

12 thoughts on “Facts about the Philippines – From Someone Who Lives Here”

  1. I’ve never been to the Philippines but always wanted to visit. For some reasons I never went because there was always something that stopped me from going there. I’m confused though Michael, do you live in Japan or the Philippines? 

    I was under the assumption that you’re based on Japan, but maybe no more. After reading this article I’m not sure I actually want to visit the Philippines, lol. 

    • I travel the world and write several articles about whatever country I’m in. Japan is usually where I live but the website is about travel and Japan not just Japan. 

      Thank you for your comment.

  2. The Philippines is really a beautiful place. I have only gone once on vacations. But I am planning to go again and stay for 5 months. So reading about specific things about life there has really helped me. The point concerning water is one I didn’t know about. I will always carry water with me then.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed my article. Enjoy your upcoming five months in the Philippines. I recommend visiting Manila and going to historic places.

  3. Wow, you are so honest and right to state that vacationing in the philippines is not all like living there! I knew that it was a third world country but didn’t know it was that bad even in the city. I visited Haiti so I know what it is like in poor countries. The positive thing though is that they are generous. I hope it will get better. Thank you for sharing your experience !

  4. Very interesting and informative. I like how you’re writing from your own experience. You use nice images to liven up your post and your writing style is pleasant to read.
    I enjoyed the article and hope you continue writing these types of articles. It benefits everyone to know these things.

    Take care!

    X- Iris G.

  5. I appreciated this article on the Philippines.  My wife is 1/2 Filipina but has never been to the country.  Both her brothers have been there and have described living with extended family away from tourist areas as you have described things.  We would love to visit but I am pretty sure we would try to stay in a tourist area some of the time.  It would be good to meet extended family.  I am wondering if they would expect some financial help from us once we met.  We have been told that the country is gorgeous but that many of the social problems overwhelm the physical beauty and friendliness of the people.  I work with many caregivers from the Philippines.  They are always encouraging me to visit.  Thank you for this article that presents a different, more realistic view of the Philippines.

    • Thank you! Coming to the Philippines as a tourist and staying in a hotel is the best way to visit. Asking for money is a part of their culture so don’t be surprised when they ask. 


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