10 Idiosyncrasies adopted by an Expat for continuously living in the Philippines

If you have been in the Philippines, you will notice that it is a multiracial country. The population is a dynamic mix of several native tribes with the Malay race, knotted with Chinese merchants, occupied by Spain for over 300 years, under the rule of Americans with a sprinkling of Indian, Japanese, Muslim, and Korean influence. An expatriate living a long time here will blend with the locals picking up foibles and lifestyles that are unique to the Filipino culture. Here are some idiosyncrasies that have been adopted by a foreigner living in the Philippines for too long.

1) Language is not a barrier

Have you ever heard an expat speak Tagalog with a local? Sans the accent and an up-close contact you won’t know the difference when an expat living continuously in the Philippines speaks the language. Tagalog has many twists, some words are changed to adapt to a certain trend like the gay language and there is also the street lingo. Listen to an expat say these words with a twisted tongue and it’ll surely tickle your funny bone.


A) Jowa-Gay language
Husband or wife–English

B) Erpat–Street lingo

2) Ride a tricycle instead of walking

A 1-kilometer walk is a good form of exercise in your home country, here it is an obstacle course with street vendors, illegally parked vehicles, foot traffic, and illegally built structures. A tricycle, a motorcycle with an attached single-wheel sidecar, is your safest way of reaching your destination. Drivers take advantage of overcharging foreigners but not those who lived in the Philippines too long.

3) Ice in your beer

Because of the hot weather, Filipinos place ice in their beer for a cold drink. If you have been living here too long, you’ll be putting ice in your beer even if you are in the air-conditioned milieu.

4) Respect for elders

Young Filipinos would ask the elder’s blessing by bowing their head, taking the right hand of the elder with their right hand, and placing the hand on their head saying “Mano po” at the same time. The youngsters in an expat family living too long in the Philippines have adopted this custom.

5) Soda in a plastic bag

You’ll get used to drinking soda in a plastic bag and enjoy it instead of drinking in a bottle or a can.

6) You become a human Forex

When you have lived too long in the Philippines and go to other countries, you tend to convert any payment for goods and services into the Philippine Peso.

7) Shoes off, please

Before entering a house or any dwelling, it is customary for any visitor to remove any shoes as a courtesy to the owner. This is an automatic reaction for an expat who has lived in the Philippines too long.

8) You’ll love basketball

The Philippines is a basketball-crazy country, what they lack in height they certainly make up in savvy, enthusiasm, and skill. Hoops are erected on every street with players wearing the jerseys of famous NBA players. If a hoop is installed in your home you‘ve been caught by the craze and have lived in the Philippines for too long.

9) One of the happiest countries in the world

Filipinos are ranked fifth as one of the happiest citizens in the world. Life in the Philippines is about laughing and enjoying every moment despite poverty, suffering and natural calamities. You have gained this inherent trait by living too long in the Philippines, you’ll learn to face problems with a positive attitude.

10) Politeness is a virtue

Foreigners will be referred to as mam or sir and a bit elder men and women are addressed by younger people as kuya and ate, respectively. Senior citizens, disabled, and pregnant women have their own lines at banks, payment centers, and restaurants. If you’ve lived in the Philippines too long you’ll be looking for acts of politeness in your travels abroad.

The traits of Filipinos will be hard to rub off. This is a good thing, show these qualities to foreigners and you’ll stand out and you’ll be proud and thankful that you’ve lived in the Philippines for too long.

Expats in the Philipppines

Expats in the Philipppines

Expat.com.ph is a platform that aims to help Expats living and working in the Philippines and expats-to-be. It provides free information and also encourages them to share their experiences. Let's help making life in Philippines that much more fun!

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