26 Sep 7 Filipino Habits I Lost When I Started Traveling
Showering 3 times a day
The average temperature in the Philippines is 28* Celcius but with the humidity, especially in urban areas, it feels so much warmer than that. We shower from head to toe as soon as we get up in the morning, when we come home from work and right before bedtime. Oily scalp is a no-no! We always smell like shampoo. Be warned, Filipinos have this crazy sixth sense of being able to tell whether you showered this morning or not.
I’ve lost this habit being always on the go, staying in hostels or places where bathrooms are shared but if you really have to know, I swear I still make it a point to shower daily!
The need for airconditioning
Filipinos hate to sweat. You will see people fanning themselves with Abanicos or Spanish folding fans to anything we can get our hands on — handkerchiefs or random pieces of paper. We’ll stay out of the sun and always stand under the shade. We’ll spend our hard earned money to pay for sky rocketing electricity bills just to be able to have an aircon at home.
Traveling really teaches you how to be comfortable in all kinds of situations so I’ve gotten used to not having it. Besides, you’d want to save every centavo while traveling anyway. Rooms with aircon can cost up to 40% more.
Having perfectly manicured nails
Filipinas in general don’t wear a lot of makeup. If they do, they will always still look natural. But one thing that sets them apart is that they have immaculate hands and toes. Everyone from university students to corporate yuppies to mommies and their yayas make it a weekly habit to groom and paint their nails.
Each barangay has a neighborhood manicurista that goes around with a bag of sanitized tools and nail polish. Nail salons are everywhere, a mani-pedi can cost from $2-10 depending on how basic or posh the place is. We like it simple, nothing too crazy like 4 inch fake nails!
Nowadays, a travel-sized nail cutter is all I have.
Telling people how they’ve changed
“Tumaba ka!” meaning “You gained weight!” is a common greeting in the Philippines, as well as “Ang itim mo!” meaning “Wow, you’re soooo dark!” after a weekend at the beach. Breathe, and try not to take it as an insult.
To be honest, it took me years to get rid of this habit because strangely, it was the norm. But after making friends with people from different nationalities and immersing myself in different cultures, I began to embrace diversity and became more sensitive to these types of comments. This is a culturally accepted habit that really has to stop.
Before and after living in a surf island in Indonesia
The dream of having perfectly flawless fair skin
I was guilty of this. I worked as a Marketing Director for a skin care clinic in Manila for a number of years. Basically my main job was to tell people that whiter skin is better so we could sell overpriced products and services. We offered every single skin lightening product from toxic whitening lotions, invasive skin peeling treatments, expensive Glutathione capsules and injections.
The showbiz industry praises fair-skinned celebrities so dark-skinned people are looked down on. Inevitably, this ignorance cascades down to the masses creating a multi-million Peso industry in a third world country struggling to make ends meet.
Having a hundreds of pairs of shoes
Thanks to Imelda Marcos, we think it’s pretty normal to have hundreds of pairs of shoes. Half of them are probably tsinelas, also known as flip-flops, thongs or slippers depending on where you’re from. I survived having only one pair of tsinelas living in Indonesia for a year and I’ve never been happier!
The need to travel in groups, big groups
It’s not unusual for Filipino families and friends to travel by the dozens. Everyone from your grandparents to the newborn infant is present at every outing or weekend trip. Everyone eats together, buffet or boodle style. Dining alone is unimaginable and just too depressing. You might also see people going to the restroom in groups, shopping in groups, surfing in groups. As we always say, the more, the merrier.
As a female solo traveler, I no longer have this luxury and I must admit it’s probably the one I miss the most!
What about you? Do you have any Filipino habits you’ve lost after traveling or living abroad?