Hello, My friend! I often hear this when walking around the Philippines. I don’t hear it as much in downtown Cebu City but I do hear it a lot when I’m in a suburb or out in the province. I remember well the first time I heard it. I was in Talisay, walking across a bridge. A pinoy (male Filipino) riding his bike said it as he was passing by.
I was still very leery of Filipino then. That was misguided. I waved and I liked his greeting. Jessie asked “Is he your friend?” I don’t recall my answer. In downtown Cebu City, when I do hear it, it is often followed with trying to sell me something. It might be a towel to wipe the sweat off. Many Filipinos sell and buy those on the street. Sunglasses are another big seller. I’ve bought a few pair of designer sunglasses on the street for next to nothing. Of course they are black market and not the real thing. Sometimes someone tries to sell me Viagra. I see a lot of expats buying that on the street. I don’t get that. It isn’t likely to be real. Only once did someone try to sell me drugs. And a few times they want to sell me some time with a woman. Sometimes the sellers won’t take no for an answer. I just walk off. Or if Jessie comes back, they will leave quickly then. As soon as they see the Filipina they know its all over.
The Philippines is Loaded with Great People
I hear it most often when walking around Bogo City and they don’t want to sell me anything. They are often just curious about the white guy. Many look up to us and want to speak with us. I get that huge smile along with the “Hello my friend.” Sometimes it is “Hey Joe.” I don’t understand why some foreigners don’t like to be called that. It isn’t said with any malice. Just a guy trying to be friendly. I think you should be friendly back. It will leave a good impression.
Sometimes you might notice a pinoy that is looking your way but doesn’t say anything. That’s probably from the unfriendly American’s they have encountered. When I notice that, I say hello and wave. That will usually illicit a big smile and a friendly greeting back from the man. Only once did one guy, working hard on top of a truck, not give me a smile after I said hello. That too was in Talisay. Talisay is a city just outside of Cebu City.
You don’t need to fear Filipino. Use your common sense when it comes to that though. Looking poor is not a danger signal here but trust your instincts.
Safety Tips While in the Philippines
If you feel uneasy, get out of there. The most dangerous time might be if you’re walking on the sidewalk and you notice two men on a motorcycle with helmets that cover their face. Many robberies happen like that. The gangs are getting larger in the Philippines. Lapu Lapu and Mandaue are the worst. You might see check points set up in those two places. Mostly they seem to stop the motorcycles. Most Filipinos are good people.
They might try to make a peso off you but there is nothing wrong with that. They are trying to make an honest living and that is not always easy to do here. For most, it must seem next to impossible. I like to buy from the street vendors. They need it the most. I don’t think it is a good idea to reveal a large amount of cash though.
I like to keep my money in two places. A small amount that is easy to get too and most of the cash in some kind of security belt. I think something around your neck works well but also an under the clothes works well. While your less likely to endure bodily harm in the Philippines, there are a lot of pick pockets and they are very good at what they do.
Don’t believe the people that will try to make you think the Philippines is dangerous, that Filipino are bad people and will rob you at the first chance. It is not like that at all here. Some areas might be more dangerous. I think Angeles City is more dangerous. It seems like more foreigners are killed there. When large number of women are for sale in any area, the danger seems to go up. That’s not just true here, it is true in the USA. I think in the USA it is more dangerous.
It is the bad things that get the most attention. There are no press reports about all the good things that happen between Filipinos and foreigners. Nearly every robbery though will soon appear in the papers and on expat forums and blogs. This causes people to get the wrong idea.
Then you see the travel warnings that have been issued for the Philippines. If you’re brand new to the idea of living in the Philippines, those can be very scary. What the CIA has to say about the Philippines was scary as well. At least it use to be.
The trouble areas for foreigners is in southwest Mindanao. I don’t recommend that those unfamiliar with the Philippines go there. You’re very likely to be okay there too. An exception would be the Sulu Region. You’re very likely to not be okay there. The military will not allow you to go there if they are aware that is your destination. Your risk of being kidnapped is too high. Some have managed to do it and have no problem. I won’t be one of them.
The rural areas of Zambognoa City are also rather dangerous. It too is located in southwest Mindanao. There are some beautiful places in that area that I would love to visit, but I won’t be visiting. There are many other places I can go instead.
Most Filipinos are much like the old south of the USA. The south I remember growing up. Good hard working people that will welcome you with their hospitality. Manila might be different. I don’t know, I’ve not spent much time there. I have found good and friendly people throughout the Philippines though. Even in the troubled area of the Philippines most of the people are awesome. Don’t be overly fearful, protect yourself but there is no need to fear most of the people of the Philippines.
Filed under: Safety In The Philippines
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