Opinion: Pet peeves that might drive you up the wall in the Philippines

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Pet Peeves in the Philippines

Numerous “Pet Peeves” That Might Drive You Up the Wall in the Philippines

I should first say that any country has its “pet peeves” and proverbial “up the wall” moments – and the Philippines is no different.


As it goes, I live here and am generally pretty content with my lot.

Many people have said to me that they accept what goes on this country on a daily basis, well sorry folks I may overlook it, but accept it, never.

I’m a realist, simply said you cannot convince me that a society hell bent on proving their stupidity is far better off trying to make me understand their ‘conditions’ as if it is a mental disorder – simple fact is, it’s a societal disorder, one that is chosen, not given.


Numerous people believe that the act of rendering a “fine” for a said oblivious offences (aka-wrongdoing), whether it be a traffic offence, a human offence, etc – it is simply an out of control system that often hits hard with overrated charges and fines. Living in the Philippines is the ultimate place for that, a society that has refused to abide by the law and when caught, expects to get a ‘free pass’ because of it. 

Even those who find themselves in an infraction and are fined on the spot, often have an uncle’s brother, mother’s, sister’s, nephew’s, yaya who is in the police force. It’s not what you did, it’s “who you know” that counts here. 

Though this list is short on content it no doubt will bring back fond memories of reality – past and present. Some of you will find your own personal pet peeve as well, others can simply ignore, overlook or at best live with those pet peeves with a little medication and a whole lot of alcohol to wash it all down. 

I tried choosing those things which would fit well with people who have never been to the Philippines, but in the end you’ll pretty much get the ‘reality pill’ of living in the Philippines.

The Kano Selection

Finding out your skin colour dictates the cost of numerous things in the Philippines will trouble you at first, then within a short time, will truly piss you off.

Just recently, after eight years, a desperate soul tried to sell me oranges near a hospital to which a friend of mine was inside and hungry for. I asked “pila” (how much) and of course he gives me a price somewhere between the moon and the outer regions of deep space. I put them down and walked away – where upon he realises he’s screwed and he yells out the ‘everyday’ price. I kept walking as I’m not playing the infamous “Kano Dice Role Game” here with anyone – damn fool and damn desperate or not.

You’ll also get this in the area of driving a car. If you are luckily chosen out of a group of cars and asked for licence and registration, you’ll be picked apart, taken apart and wonder what part they will find next to twerk their little void in, all the while waiting for your recognition to the fine service they have been giving to your community (aka – 1,000 pesos).

Taxi Drivers

As many unsuspecting people flying into Manila will find, the taxi service in that region of the Philippines is fraught with “hot meters,” if you are not paying attention a 300 peso ride will cost you 930 peso before you have a clue.

Also, jumping into a taxi and realising the driver is more drunk then you were the night before.

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Motorcycle Drivers

This may well fit into the all time worst pet peeve category, for me it’s an institution ripe for reaming, and yes, I’m being kind.

A motorcycle entering a busy (or any for that fact) roadway and never looks, turn their head or cares less if an 18 wheeler is there or that you are clipping along at 100 kilometers per hour – it simply doesn’t matter – and if you hit them, well you are simply screwed my friend, sorry.

Seeing an accident ahead and a motorcycle wheel sticking out from under a bus – what part of “size matters” doesn’t anyone understand around here?

Buying a motorcycle and realising that you need to pay 250 peso to have it smog tested – the worst reality is the last time I had a motorcycle smog tested it was next to a busy intersection where smog belching buses and jeepney rides were one every 18 second, so while my bike was being tested for smog (it was one year old) 6,392 buses and jeeps ran by belching more smog then my motorcycle could produce for the rest of its natural life.

One of the pet peeves with motorcycles is the fact that everyone here has a rosary around the handle bars. It’s one thing to ride with common sense, it’s another to jump on your bike, rev it up to the red-line, spin dirt on two inch wide tires and shoot down the highway at 120kph. Once you pass that proverbial house of worship and/or the next red light, you rub that damn thing a couple more times and that gives the power to burn out and run-her up to 145kph – no need to worry, you’re protected, diba!!!

Going to the Mall

This one is something that simply has no concept of reality, especially when you think of an escalator. Yes, that’s right, not only will they run in front of you to power reach the escalator they will then wait for the ultimate step of magic to pop up out of the floor to ride them safely to the top – though I might add that waiting for the ultimate step might take 30 seconds, two minutes, who knows? It truly depends on if they are talking in a family reunion manner or chatting on the phone or worse yet, texting.

For some reason I seem to enter the malls just in time to dodge the numerous family reunions throughout the main floors, entrance ways and store isles. Since I’m no fan of the malls to begin with I like to keep my time limited, but sorry to say I must take additional time out for the reality of “reunion dodging.”

Check Out Time – where to start, first if you think trying to beat anyone to the escalator was a task, try beating them to the check out counter. To add insult to injury, if you are in line (even at a convenience store) they will gladly find a way to get in line in front of you, at any cost, any manner and if it means “losing face” it’s all good – ultimately their time is more important then yours when you find them out in front of the store sitting on the curb waiting for the other 13 thugs to get their shopping done.

Entering a mall and getting served 16 kilos of worthless papers on condos, eyeglasses, Jollibee, dentures and a whole array of fine upscale shit you’d most likely never buy, of course with the condos I always smile when they say “for investment sir”? Are you serious?

Riding the elevator – this is a comical moment if you are not a person with disabilities, otherwise you just want to jump in their and bash their heads together. Using the elevator in the Philippines is like going to Disneyland for the normal people of the world. They enjoy the ups and downs and whatever way it moves around – simply said, they’ll wait hours and hours to go up one floor.

Parking – well parking in general is horrendous in the Philippines, 78% of Filipino’s cannot drive and if they say they can they simply cannot back up without 13 directors on standby. If you ever see those YouTube videos of people that are parking,. look up ‘backing up in the Philippines” it’s hilarious unless you are waiting for a parking space.

This is got to be my number one pet peeve of my life – you walk into the mall the security guard at the door goes through your bag, sack or whatever. You then walk 20 feet where another security guard is located at the entrance to a store – and then you get searched again. What makes it worse is that I could sneak a 48-seat bus past these clowns and I’m not sure they would notice it.

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Restaurants in the Philippines

Here’s another ball-buster to take you over the edge, ordering a meal and getting it over a period of 20 minutes, or an hour or better yet, not even getting it at all. I have no idea what it is with it all, but for some reason it’s an institutional thing.

If the restaurant is a buffet that can be an experience all together – check out my “wedding” category below and you’ll see why – although most buffets are somewhat orderly if it is crowded and they serve something special like shrimps or crabs, well good luck, you’ll need body armour and three machine guns to keep crowd control. 

Oddly I find that ordering a drink is often not as simple as it should seem. For some reason numerous waitresses and waiters believe that if you order a San Mig Pilsen and they are “out of stock” then for sure you must want a San Mig Light, right? And so it goes –  just the other day I got a cappuccino for a coffee because they were out of stock, I went to pay and it cost me an additional 30 peso too.

Eating at a carenderia and realizing that the cockroaches are just part of the décor – but the sad reality is that you go to the mall and find it’s no better. 

The biggest pet peeve in restaurants is looking at a menu of 300 items and finding out 279 of them are in fact “out of stock” – my best friend was with me once at a local eatery and after the 11th “sorry sir, out of stock” he asked “tell me actually what you have in stock so I can order before midnight.”

Another good one is waiting for another drink or to order dessert – everyone in the place is busy texting, listening to music, reading or just simply ignoring the fact that they actually work in a restaurant.

Garbage in the Philippines 

Here’s another huge one, I’m not sure where to begin and when I do I’m not sure how to end – but here it goes, if it seems messed up then for sure, it is.

Trying to enjoy your vacation to an eco-tourism spot and finding out there is more garbage in the place then at the local dump.

Trying to swim in a place only to find there is more garbage in the water then on the beach (trust me – numerous places here you have to judge which is worse).

Watching kids buy candy or snacks and tossing the wrappers directly on the ground – to top that off, Watching adults purchase a candy or snack and throwing the wrapper directly on the ground.


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The LTO (Land Transportation Office)

I’m not going to spend much time on this as it pisses me off just typing about it, so enough said – if you can pay someone to go for you, do yourself a favour, “just do it.”

I almost forgot one pet peeve, that is the fact that you must carry a twig in case your vehicle breaks down – yes a twig, not a reflective triangle, not checking the fact that your emergency flashers work (or for that fact that your headlights work) but a twig – that in itself pretty much sums up the reality why I’m a realist and others carry a twig.

Riding the Bus

Watching the reality that a bus is going to overtake you whether you like it or not (and at a blissful speed might I add).

Riding a bus that takes curves faster, tighter and more dangerous then an Indy driver on one hour’s sleep – after a night of drunken splendour – eating nachos, etc, etc.

Realising that not only cars, trucks and motorcycles run the highways of the Philippines without headlights, taillights and such, but also public buses.


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A Mish-Mash of Other Pet Peeves

Hearing the word “only” behind every cash denomination out there. “Sir it’s 427,000 only” or “Sir This crack box size Condo is 8.4 million only.” – to add insult to injury they throw in the “For Investment Sir”

Hearing the ultimate saying in the Philippines “Hey Joe”. But my mother didn’t name me Joe, I never smoked a Joe and the only thing I can relate to is having a cup of Joe – but here instead of knowing my name, it’s Joe to which I no longer answer too.

Street Beggars, The interesting part of street beggars is they turn tricks in teams, so if you ‘give up’ that five pesos to one, you better have 19 more to hand out as you are going to be seeing them darting from 21 directions within the next few minutes. The worst part about beggars is seeing a kid begging while dressed in good attire or worse yet seeing an adult in the mall doing the same.

Going to a wedding – and finding out they are serving buffet. This is the only thing you should do in a buffet line at a wedding – bring a snack or packed lunch, get your camera out as one of the most amazing things will happen. I refuse to attend a wedding that has one.

Similar is trying to board an aeroplane.

Ants (and some uncles, joke lang) – for some reason, the ants are more aggressive than anywhere else. Not only can you not set a spoon down on the counter-top, if you do, within seconds it will be crawling with the bastards. This is coming from a man who lived in Florida, where I thought the ants were pretty bad.

Since we’re on animals, “crowing roosters” in the Philippines. Enough said

Dogs in the Philippines. If you have a problem with cruelty to animals you might want to redirect your flight into this country, it’s pretty harsh, enough said on this one too.

Inviting over friends only to realise they stole your knives and forks. Do yourself a favour, buy the cheapest junk in utensils and don’t have or use those imported sets that you shipped over – if you do you’ll be missing them one by one, two by two, etc.

Inviting over friends and realizing they stole your soap, shampoo and, oddly, your cloth line clips – if you have guests, parties or like to mess around with young ladies, then for sure your possessions better be glued to the counter (actually bolted, glue is not enough to keep it in place for too long).

Realising how many breakdowns happen in a day and how many pertain to flat tires – then realising that 97.6% of all vehicles in the Philippines are running on bald tyres. To add insult to injury, this is the only country where I see four million peso SUVs running around on the threads, one headlight out, no taillights or turn-signals and more (but of course they have the twig inside just in case).

Realising you are living in the biggest country of nose pickers you’ve most likely ever seen – not just in private but in the mall, at dinner and even in meetings – I shudder to think of the reality but I’m sorta dead to this one now.

Watching everyone piss everywhere, in the road, at the side of the car, behind the coconut tree, in the city on the sidewalk – it simply doesn’t matter. Add that to the 100 degree heat and you got yourself an instant moment that hits you right in the gag line.

Then to add insult to injury, when you take the part from above and add in the fact that you want to go for a morning swim and realise that the person next to you is shitting in the sea…



My last two are a bit combined but most definitely my worst two pet peeves in the Philippines

“The Ledger and “Sir, This Is How We Do it In the Philippines”

Let me explain the ledger so you better understand the reality of the last part. First off if you’ve been here you know that the ledger is without a doubt the most used piece of ‘information highway out there’ or at least in the Philippines. If you want to search for something, find out something, detract something or bash something, you just go to the local store, government office, police station  and ask them for “The Ledger” – why look on a computer or anything for that fact which would dictate that this is a country headed into the 21st century, you simply ask “Ma’am, can I see your ledger” and the magic begins. It only takes about three hours to find the right one and if not found in three hours you’ll have to return in three days to get that much needed information.

It is without a doubt that if you ever want to become a millionaire in the Philippines just start producing ledgers. Enough said.

I was asked to do some consulting work on a call centre here to find out what the problem was with being so far behind. The first night I was entwined in finding out several online issues and other issues with the company headquarters in Costa Rica. On the third day I noticed one guy was not doing much at all and always seemed to be filling something out (and yes, of course it was a ledger). This guy was filling out every aspect of a call center on a f-ing ledger and he was happy to do it.

When I confronted him about what he was doing he said he was laying out a plan on how to teach me to fill out a ledger. I thought for a second before I happen to tell him that “My Friend, this in fact is the 21st century and everything you could show me in 10 hours I can fix online in 10 minutes.” after about an hour of listening to his reasoning I of course got the “But Sir, This is How We Do It In the Philippines.” Where I said in uplifting temper  “I’m here to teach you how to run a computer, which you use every day to call and talk on but have no ideal what else to use it for.” And that my friend was the end of his ledger, he most likely kept it for remembrance, diba!

 And that my friends in the last of just a longer and more mucked up list of Pet Peeves in the Philippines. If you live here and you say you ‘ain’t got any’ – then drop me a line I have a George Carlin template I need to send you 🙂