Below are some pointers that can help foreigners interact with Filipinos in general and Davaoeños (local folks in Davao) in particular. These are applicable in common social situations.
Social Gatherings and Meeting People
What To Wear
For less formal gatherings such as casual parties and meals especially here in Davao, a decidedly more laidback city compared to Manila, many people (men and women alike) usually pair jeans with nice casual polo shirts (for men) and blouses (for women).
For the ladies, it is important to dress tastefully. Showing “too much skin” is frowned upon, and it is better to err on the side of caution and dress a little more conservatively.
Meet The Parents… Kuyas, Titos, and everyone else too
Filipino society revolves around core family values, one of these being respect to the elderly. The oldest person in a gathering is usually the most important and accorded the most respect.
Remember The Title
Address people with Mr., Mrs., Ms or titles such as Dr., Atty., Engr., and their family name. Wait until you are invited to use given name or even a nick name.
We Shake Hands, Too
A smile and a polite (not too firm) handshake are acceptable for greeting new people.
In large social gatherings, it is usually fine to arrive 15 – 30 minutes late. Even an hour late is acceptable for VIPs. For business meetings, however, everyone is expected to be on time.
To learn more about Filipino Time, click here.
For The Real Gentlemen
For men, a gentlemanly attitude and manners are very much appreciated. Go ahead and hold the door open for the ladies!
Dining Manners And All
Who will pay?
In general, the person who invites pays for the meal, but as a guest be prepared to offer to pay as well (your offer will usually be declined).
If you are invited to a meal at your host’s home, bring a gift or token to show your appreciation. A couple of good examples would be a basket of fresh fruits (easy to find, and better yet, cheap, in Davao), drinks (such as wine) that can be shared after the meal. Compliment the host and his/her spouse on their home.
Don’t begin eating until the host invites to do so
Your host may offer you an alcoholic drink (usually either beer or wine) to go with the meal. It’s fine to refuse if you don’t drink or do not want to drink. If you do take up the offer, remember that getting drunk is frowned upon
During meals, the general rule is to help yourself. You may offer to serve some of the food or pour a drink for the person seated next to you, but it is fine not to do so
Spoons, Knives, Chopsticks or just Toothpick?
Spoons and forks are almost always used during meals. Sometimes chopsticks may be used, if dining at an Asian restaurant. Less frequently, people may eat using their own hands, but this is usually done at very informal and casual settings. (Besides, there is an art to eating with your hands, and it takes a lot of practice before you are able to feed yourself properly without making a mess.) It’s fine not to follow what other guests are using and just use whatever you’re comfortable with
Don’t Eat The Last Donut: Filipino Style
It is acceptable to not finish all of the food and say you are full. “Sayang!” The last morsel of the dish is usually just left on the table.
What To Do Next?
Don’t immediately leave after meals; lingering and a little bit of chit-chat is expected
This article on Social Etiquette To Observe In Davao and The Philippines is written by Katlyn Batuigas.