• Bangladesh!

    Bangladesh: Traditional houses. Go Now!

    This low-lying country has historic ties to India and Pakistan, but today maintains a wholly unique culture. Explore Bangladesh!

  • Indonesia!

    Indonesia: Lombok. Go Now!

    This archipelago nation is culturally diverse from big cities to isolated islands. Begin Your Journey!

  • Jordan!

    Jordan: Petra. Go Now!

    Tucked away in this Middle Eastern country, the famed city of Petra (pictured) links the past to the present culture. Explore Jordan!

  • Mongolia!

    Mongolia: Desert. Go Now!

    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

  • Kyrgyzstan!

    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

Social Life in the Philippines

WARNING: Terrorist threats continue in the Philippines, please read this travel warning before going!


The Filipinos are conservative in most aspects of their lives and this is best seen in their behaviors, dress, and dining etiquette. They tend to dress and act conservatively, much of which is based on their deeply rooted Christian or Islamic faiths.

Most of the Philippines's behavioral restrictions are only found in Mindanao and the south. Islamic law forbids pork products and alcohol, but many people, even in the south do drink alcohol, although drinking in public and public intoxication is strictly forbidden. Pork products are difficult to find in Mindanao since there is little market for pork and most locals do avoid this meat. Fortunately, avoiding pork and alcohol in Mindanao is fairly simple as there is little access to either.

As a visitor to the Philippines try to follow the lead of the locals by dressing conservatively (see below for details), dining in the local etiquette (see our Philippines Dining & Food Page), and avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances, and business unless initiated by your local counterpart. Also try to avoid being loud, rude, showing off wealth, or getting noticeably drunk in public.


The traditional dress of the Philippines varied greatly based upon where an individual was from since the archipelago separated the people and the dress was very localized. With the arrival of the Spanish western-styled outfits were introduced and combined with more historic clothing to form what is now known as the national dress. For women this clothing is called baro at saya or baro't saya, which is simply a blouse with a skirt. The style is generally simple and free flowing. For men this national dress is called barong tagalog and is essentially a long button-less white shirt with simple embroidery on the front, which is worn untucked. Men tend to wear any number of types of pants with this shirt, but black is the most popular.

Today western-styled clothing rules the Philippines, but the above outfits are commonly worn on special occasions or for formal events; one version for women is the terno, which is a dress with large puffy shoulders that is popular with some women. However, for everyday wear western-styled clothing rules and in one of the country's many new shopping malls the clothing may look no different than elsewhere in the world.

As a visitor to the Philippines, there are few dress restrictions that must be followed. Since most of the country is Christian short sleeve shirts and pants are well accepted as even many of the locals wear these clothes. However, in business and religious settings long-sleeved pants and shirts should be worn. However, on the southern island of Mindanao and many small nearby islands, most of the population is Muslim. In this area, there are a number of religious laws which should be obeyed by everyone, including tourists. Among more conservative Muslims it is considered inappropriate for women to leave their hair uncovered; follow the local's lead and cover your hair if the locals do. In these areas both women and men are expected to cover their legs and shoulders as showing your knees can be offensive. No matter where in the country you are, be aware that nakedness and women going topless is generally restricted.

This page was last updated: November, 2013