5 things I don’t like about The Philippines

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ September 7th, 2010. Updated on September 22nd, 2014. Published in: Travel blog » How to live overseas » Philippines.

Things not to like about The Philippines

There are some things I don’t like about the Philippines,  I’m writing them down.

Throughout my journals I give a fairly impartial view of most things, keeping my writing in tuned with my own journey rather than just “mouth off”.

However, I do feel that for anyone to develop, or any place to improve, one does need to air viewpoints from time to time. This is just that time. Sadly, I am writing this shortly after the taxi incident, so the list is getting longer. But, such is life!

5 Things not to like about the Philippines

(no particular order)

5. The Ferries: are not good in The Philippines

They are run recklessly with no regard for human life. Ferries in the Philippines have bad safety standards. Ferries are overcrowded,

Inside a Philippine Ferry

Inside a Philippine Ferry

unregulated and unmitigated death traps.

I can’t count how many times over my time here in the Philippines that I’ve seen headlines stating 100’s have died in a sinking. What’s worse is when those headlines are only side notes on a paper.

What’s perhaps even worse is that each and every time a sinking occurs, a Government official makes a statement saying they will do their best that this never happens again. 3 months later; and families are lost at sea once again. 10,000 pesos compensation is given out, maybe. Now wait 3 months and repeat.

Get your act together Philippines, and get this fixed now!

4. Things I don’t like about the Philippines – Mindanao, the conflict:

Internal wranglings, religious overtones, dynasty political stalling and international intervention. About one third of the Philippines (Mindanao) is one of the most beautiful parts of these islands. Yet, this dark shadow is always there. I don’t have the answer; only to say whatever is happening now, surely is not working.

Stop the violence and corruption. Other countries have dealt with similar issues, why can’t you? Make this a better place.

Mall security in The Philippines

Nothing, and I do mean nothing can be as insulting to the Philippine people as their idiotic mall security. Nothing! It’s a disgrace on the word intelligent!

3. Things I don’t like about the Philippines -Mall Security:

Never in any country in the world that I have been have I seen such a pathetic excuse for a security system than mall security in the Philippines.

Scenario: men have to enter to the right, women to the left. A walk through metal detector will sound, but it means little. Then a man/or woman will pat you down. Not thoroughly of course, just a tap on your hips. Maybe a handheld metal detector will sound loudly, but don’t worry you never have to empty your pockets of grenades, pistols or knives.

We’re not finished yet though. You now need to proceed to a table and have a security person with a small wooden stick signal for you to open the top of your bag. Said security person will then, barely, poke the top contents of your bag with the stick before waving you on.

Again, not to worry all explosives under the top layer, or in any of your other compartments will not be seen.

  • If you are a pregnant woman chances are you will not be patted down, so yes a pillow strapped to a stomach full of weapons or explosives and said person will have no problems getting through.
  • I have yet to see a woman in a chador be touched, so yes, dress like a Muslim lady, and again no problems, it’s less hassle than wearing a pillow.
  • If you are wearing combats none of your side pockets will be patted down, again perfect for hand guns or grenades.
  • If you are man, and the security guard is gay, you will get a longer pat down should said guard feel it necessary.

Most of this is done by private security, but someone from the increasingly powerful Malls is obviously funding them. Security, prevention, no chance in hell. A blight on the intelligence of the Filipino nation, yes.

Mall security in the Philippines is the most idiotic thing I’ve seen here, period.

2. Things I don’t like about the Philippines – Environmental Destruction:

For such a beautiful nation, it’s spiralling down into a dark abyss it won’t be able to climb out of.

From the decaying, worm infested rice terraces to a lack of provision for natural disasters in the North. Protection of the dying Dugong in Palawan to the endangered Tarsiers in Bohol. To the rarest flower the Rafflesia and ethnic tribes in Mindanao.

Every now and again a fiesta or workshop will be held highlighting various causes. The way they are facilitated and presented in The Philippines is a waste of time. Earth Hour being an example. Turn off all the lights, then show up at a giant mall with all the lights on, loudspeakers blaring and claim you are learning about energy conservation …

There is grave cause for concern that in a bid to push into the modern world of high technology, fast food national mentality and creature comforts that The Philippines will lose the very things I feel makes it so very unique on the planet.

Stop eating junk food, and start protecting your environment

Poster of Ex Philippines President Arroyo

Political Dynasties: Gloria’s gone, now there’s another son of another president in power, how long before Gloria is back?

1. Things I don’t like about the Philippines – Political Dynasties

There are many, many corrupt countries in the world. And, to be fair, I’ve not come across much corruption in day to day life in The Philippines. But then again, I am not a Pinoy. They however, tell me –  it’s terrible. And, at the highest level on down.

What I do see that disturbs me are the amount of political families around. The senator, his brother the governor, and the sister in law the mayor? How can this be? And the alternative? Another family of politicians. If one dies, another family member takes their place, or maybe a best friend. A prime example is again the troubles in Mindanao.

In my international view on politics there should be no other family member involved should one already be a member in government.

That’s my personal view, for anywhere in the world. The average Filipino shakes their head at the thought of the political dynasties here. Yet, at the same time jumps up & down in excitement if the said party holds a fiesta in their town.

Instead of hearing rumors to change the constitution to create more political offices, perhaps it would be better to create less?!

Bonus things I don’t like about The Philippines:

Burger and soda from the Philippines

Obese (fat) people are becoming the norm in big cities, worse still are the little fat marshmallow kids running around the malls.

There is one other point that did not make the list, but I do think it warrants a mention.

The Philippines is developing into a fast-food nation. And, it’s starting to show.

In fact amongst the more affluent you can’t miss it. Heavy seriously overweight kids gorging themselves on burgers, soft drinks and fried chicken is becoming the norm. Take note of what happened in the USA, The Philippines, take note; and learn from others mistakes.

Mini list of things I don’t like in the Philippines (yes, I am on role)

– Cinemas/ Theaters are for watching films, not sleeping in all day, nor holding conference calls on your phones – turn them off.
– Try to walk in straight lines rather than in bumper car fashion!
– Realize that if there is a plague that affects rice, you are doomed. D I V E R S I F Y your diet!
– Your gay / transgender population is going to cause you a lot of problems in the future if you don’t stop being afraid to discipline them like you do everyone else. Being gay or transgender does not put you above the law, nor make you special.
– Just because someone is from the U.S.A. or Europe does not mean they know more than you! Confidence people!
– Ego seems to come to you with money (so does looking very fat), lose both. Having wealth in the form of a big car, money, clothes, or anything else like that does not make you better. It actually makes you look very ugly to everyone. Loose the ego!

And, that’s the list of 5 + things I don’t like about the Philippines:

I know this top 5 list of things not to like in The Philippines will upset a few people. I also know people will scan over it and take parts the wrong way. If you’ve been reading my journals then you’ll know better about what I think in regards to The Philippines.

However, like I said at the start, if you don’t say something that’s on your mind then nothing will ever come about.

Is there something that you can relate to here?

Hotel search at the Longest Way Home

Planning on booking a hotel room in The Philippines?

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I recommend you try my own hotel search for The Philippines.


Coming soon:

So you now think I hate the Philippines? 5 Things I like about living in the Philippines ( a not so typical list)

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34 Great responses to 5 things I don’t like about The Philippines

  1. Kim says:

    Mr. Non Complainer: We foreigners realize our nation leaders have royally fucked up the rest of the world. And when it appears we are complaining about your state, we are really complaining about our own. As it has been said, who else is reaping from low-labour, resource rich nations but the Western hegemon. I’m sorry. But neither of us seem to have a vote on this. These guys I’m thinking of aren’t elected officials and keep the capitalist democratic system burning. Take it up with your business leaders and gov’t officials.

  2. Sharon says:

    I’d like to add one thing to your list about the Philippines. They need to develop a traffic system and ROAD LAWS. What the jeepney drivers do is what’s called “road rage” in the United States. No, they aren’t chasing each other in a fit of blind anger but I rode through Iligan on jeepneys and if I drove that way here my insurance policy would be cancelled. No traffic lights, no seat belts, people riding on the outside of the vehicle, ten people on a motorcycle.

    Please add this to your comments about those horrid ferries (which I would NOT board!)

    Theres NO regard for public safety in this very very exotically beautiful country.

    Salamat ko!

  3. deeehdeee says:

    this is so true. especially the mall security. and the fastfood culture… AND the RICE! hahaha it is considered an accomplishment for any filipina who can go without rice for a month! and that swimsuits in beaches here are rare! i’ve seen your other post about the philippines. and most of them is just the plain truth. its sad but its the truth.

    God bless on your journey! :)


    • Many thanks. It’s only by being the outsider that I think things look so very obvious.

      Though, to the credit of the Pinoy, they are not afraid to admit the faults in their system. Many other nations cannot face such criticism. That in itself offers the Philippines some hope. :)

  4. Ado says:


    I read the article with great interest. Interestingly, it mirrored what I hated most here in my own country. This is a concise observation and though I feel bad because this happens here in the Philippines, you presented hard facts.

    You only touched the outer layer of the problem. If I post what other problems that the Philippines have right now, I’ll probably get shot here in the streets, get mugged by the narrow-minded people drinking their gin and hard spirits, and probably get salvaged brutally.

    I also read what you liked about the Philippines and yes, I am probably one of the few who appreciate these traits.

    I appreciate the honesty and conciseness of your entry.



    • Hello Ado,

      Thanks for taking the time to read both articles, and for leaving you thoughts on them.

      Yes, there are many inner layer problems as well in The Philippines. I can, as an outsider, only go so far in my writing.

      One observation I have learned to the credit of the Pinoy is in comparison to their neighbors. The Filipino can admit their own faults. In a similar article I wrote about other places there’s a great rise to “defend the nation”. Whereas here, many Filipinos are not afraid to openly admit to a large extent that they have problems. And this, is of great credit to the Filipino people. With this mentality, I hope that there will be a positive future for the nation, and the people that live there.


      • Ciril says:

        Dear Dave,

        Your comments on the Philippines is only a drop in the bucket.
        I can add tons to it but there is no sense. No amount of criticisms or bad mouthing on the ills of this God forsaken country will ever ever change it for the better. It is getting worst every day. The election was just done on May 13 but look, the politicians isn’t done bickering each other yet and already started planning for the next election instead of planning for what to do to for the good of this God forsaken country.

  5. jill says:

    hi! i am a filipino and not in the least bit offended by this post. in fact, it sounds just what every other person from the philippines will complain about.

  6. Sharon says:

    A few things I DO like about the Philippines:

    1-Its not the United States. Thats an advantage right away. :)
    2-It has very impressive waterfalls; i.e. the Maria Cristina. Wow.
    3-Its surrounded by (or was) the bluest ocean I’ve ever seen in my life.
    4-Most of its people are open, kind and caring.
    5-The Muslim shops are beautiful. I bought a ton of (I call them scarves.) I’m sure thats the wrong name.

    One extra thing I don’t like (I posted about two months ago:) I’m transgender and the attitudes there like here need to change. Transgenders are no threat to anyone.

    I miss Mindanao.

  7. Mark says:

    It’s true.. but your statement is too general “The Longest Way Home “. The problem here in Philippines is really about money, people those who have high income can afford higher accommodation, those who prefer cheaper one can select economy type, while about the mall security the mall owner don’t like to invest on more cameras to monitor people inside and out because its kinda expensive. So they prefer to let the security guards “private agency” to check people. And also mall owners prefer to use “agency” to cut off taxes and benefits to the filipino workers hence the security improvements are less likely improving. About the fast-food chain ? oh.. filipino likes to eat, its affordable to them compared to buying expensive equipments. Political dynasty.. its also money.. politicians wanted to preserve they financial stability.. But don’t get me wrong ? philippines is developing country, we know our mistakes and what needs to change, its just take a little while though.. regards from Iligan City

    • chel says:

      I love my country and I don’t have any complaints. About the traffic complaints, all i can say is Filipinos are just good drivers; otherwwise, you would see wrecks everywhere! People just like to complain.

  8. Sharon says:

    “- Your gay / transgender population is going to cause you a lot of problems in the future if you don’t stop being afraid to discipline them like you do everyone else. Being gay or transgender does not put you above the law, nor make you special.” quoting Dave.

    Dave thats true. I’m transgender and I don’t feel I’m above the law here in the U.S. but I’m also not treated “equal under the law.” Thats the key there too- make LGBT Filipinoas equal under their law and they will behave.

    You posted about the religious “war fare” and strife in Mindanao and that too is true. Mindanao is too incredibly gorgeous to have so many problems.

    I was married to a Pinay from Iligan and she divorced me because I’m transgender. I’m not gay. I loved her very much but she let her religious beliefs and family dictate her thinking. One of her brothers was the top engineering student in Iligan and he’s gay and the family suppressed him. Well Filipinos and Filipinas, there was an LGBT rights march in Iligan a few days ago because it was on Huffington Post. Look for it you’ll find it. Respect each other as humans. People are people and all want the same basic things- respect. love, sense of belonging and ability to support their loved ones. Make gay marriage legal and stop stigmatizing your LGBT friends and neighbors. You have a lots of more important issues in your country to resolve.

  9. Kato says:

    This is a great material for others to read regarding the bad things about our country. I agree with a lot of things in your list. (Well I could agree more, if I have more factual knowledge about the other items.)

    The security is not only terrible in the Mall but also in train stations. It’s the same thing, they just pat you once or twice sometimes without even looking, check your bag timidly and that’s it! You’re in the train station.

    Most cinemas are really full of undisciplined people. Lots of people really don’t bother turning off their phone or at least in silent mode. And what’s worse is when they have company with them, they often talk loud enough for people in other rows to hear them – really annoying and unpleasant. And also, the people sitting behind you will kick your seat once in a while during the movie, and this happens almost every time I’ve watched in cinemas.

    I also don’t like the infamous “rice diet” here in the Philippines. It can easily make you full but it can easily make you lose track of your daily diet needs too which often leads to obesity. If they’d only try to eat more fruits, fish, and chicken – without the rice – I think they can reach their daily dietary needs and avoid getting fat. (The said foods are delicious on their own!)

    Generally speaking, Filipinos tend to think foreigners are better than them. This I really don’t quite understand but I know it’s not good. Maybe it came from their traumatic experiences during the colonial period? Or maybe it’s because they want to suck their money out? Well whatever the reason is, it’s really uncharismatic for the people. The foreigners will only be more inclined to lose respect and take advantage of them.

    Those are my thoughts.



  11. hu says:

    men u nailed it shut…. ur soo right about everything u said… ummm i guess everywhere in the world has their 5 most hated things…in my case my number most hated things in thwe Philippians is the mall security in my opinion i find it really pointless…

  12. James says:

    I can’t agree more, he nailed it on every single point correctly. He did miss one though, try getting some paperwork done at government function and offices, that’s going to drive you up the wall. It is slow, no air condition, only workers inside have A/C and Cable TV to watch, while you sit outside and get a heat stroke. Plus workers inside talk, laugh and watch TV while you are outside waiting for your paper work which they are suppose to work on. That’s the story of the Philippines, everything is slower than a snail, if snail was doing paperwork it would beat these these monkeys hands down. I relate to the gay comment you made above, I personally am straight as an arrow, but if you don’t bitch slap them and beat the living craps out of them they will not leave you alone even if they know you are straight. Lets just say quite a few incidents happened to me and gays there, luckily it never lead to a fight, I just had to resort to profanity, get pissed and look like I am going to kick some gay ass.

  13. James says:

    Also, if you want to set up a business, whether production, financial, or anything, good luck if you are a foreigner. 40/60 rule will kill your business, you have to partner up with a Philippine citizenship and give them 60% share of your company while you keep 40%, otherwise you can’t do business there. No wonder out of $100 invested in the entire SE Asia only less than 5% of the investment goes to the Philippines. I’ve know many people that got ripped off with this rule, whether they married to do business or partnered up with somebody. No foreign investments, no growth, no jobs, that’s why over 60% of Philippine’s GDP is exporting maids and workers overseas to work and then wire their money back to the Philippines. Without exporting their workers Philippine economy would be in shambles. It is really sad because the only country other than Singapore where English is spoken is Philippines but people still choose to invest in places like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia rather than in Philippines. It will never change, as long as Filipinos keep on electing monkey families in to politics it will never change. The person that came up with a 10 feet wall around Philippines, 40/60 rule is Corazon Aquino, Yes, Nino’s Mom.

  14. KC0414 says:

    im a filipino but im a british citizen now,uk is my home and there is no way im living in that stinkin country again,i go visit but for my family and relatives

    • nes says:

      i am a filipino and i am not ashamed of my heritage, and i would live in the philippines again given a chance… we ignore the condition that the philippines is in right now, we filipinos abroad can help. we are shooting our own foot if we ignore our own birth land… you cannot hide who you are, even if you are in UK, you are still a filipino. and just because we are living in somewhat elevated state, we ignore heritage, rubbish! we become hypocrite! history tells me that successful countries have gone through hardship, either by civil unrest or war but comes out of the situation with proper leadership; and voided with grafts and corruptions

      this sort of mentality is short sighted and very selfish. it is the mentality of a person that is ego-bloated and ignorant; lacking in knowledge!

      • KC0414 says:

        well thats you,im different coz at least i see whats wrong with that country.actually even its possible that i can hide my heritage coz of my actions(im more liberated and westernised) and my looks,people say i look like more of an african woman.call me ignorant,i dont care and i have knowledge

        • [email protected] says:

          all I am saying is that we cannot ignore who we are, whether we are filipino, english, americans, indians, chinese etc. we are what we are, we live in the same world, the same planet. whether you are liberated westernized, call it what you want, you still belong to this planet. and calling the philippines a ‘stinkin country’ is basically kicking your own self. like what i said, you cannot hide your looks, your colour, your grammar, your accent, it all show you as you, and pretending to be a british my friend will not fly. i am flabbergasted knowing that you came from the third world and now pretending better than the rest of us – this is your big mistake my friend.

        • Jeremy says:

          Wow, this is some though (snip-no bad language). Do you even realise that your acquired citizenship does not validate your ethnicity? Do you think you are the better person just because you “see what is wrong with that country”? As a Filipino, you should be ashamed of yourself. Seeing how you “see” the flaws of the Philippines yet you do not do anything to help improve it. Also, you might pass in looks, but you cannot deny your own blood. The only knowledge you have here is no knowledge at all.

  15. Just a reminder that personal insults, attacks or inappropriate behavior won’t be tolerated here. Keep it clean and on topic.


  16. John Salong says:

    I’m filipino and I agree with the author of this blog. The Philippines could’ve been a great country, take note that I implicated “could’ve been”. The same problems have been discussed for decades and you wont see any further improvements. Economic wise the country does have a sustainable growth, but the growth are only taken advantage of a few selected groups. Nothing will change even a few decades from now. Politicians and even the smallest group of people, will always take advantage of each other. Don’t get me wrong, when there are calamities and natural disasters the Filipino will rise, but given the opportunity the majority will take advantage of the situation; political wise and other means.

    We Filipinos are so proud, have you tried asking yourself “proud about what?” Has the nation contributed anything to the human society? How about the sciences? As far as I know, there is no Filipino yet to achieve a Nobel Prize. Has a Filipino contributed to science to better the human race? A Filipino inventing a water powered was a joke. A Filipino inventing the fluorescence with no actual facts? Its sad that we consider ourselves world class people, but act like 3rd world hooligans. Don’t believe me?

    The masses will remain controlled by the elites… the country has been like that since then…

  17. c says:

    You really got the Philippines.

    And I agree about the elephant ride in Chitwan – disappointing.

  18. Unknown says:

    well, the one thing I dislike in the philippines is the corrupt peoples who likes distroying their own country for their own needs.

  19. G says:

    I’m a Pinoy with lots of pride. I was reading this article telling myself to keep calm and objective, because I figured something was going to upset me. Fortunately, you pretty much nailed it. I was afraid you were going to be some self-righteous high-standard expat complaining about poverty, but instead I see you are quite open-minded. Good job!

  20. I really had fun reading this post.. It was objective, and not at all bashing as I thought it would.. Well given the apt title you got there.. =) but really nice post! I hope people would look at it objectively and try not to force their ideas on what people think otherwise..

    “Realize that if there is a plague that affects rice, you are doomed. D I V E R S I F Y your diet!” — Ah. That is asking too much for most if not every Filipino.. Ahahahaha..

  21. I'm a filipina says:

    Hi dave. Though it hurts, i do beleive theses stuffs are certainly true about Philippine’s system. These are just few among the country’s problems. The very thing that i see as a big problem other than corrupt officials is that filipinos always get to blame the government, those in the political seats. Not realizing that we, the ordinary people, are also responsible for this extreme economic obstruction. Everybody should be responsible enough for his country’s progress. Change starts with oneself, and not in putting blames on other people.

    • Hi,

      Very much agree with you. It’s not just the politicians that have to take responsibility, but also the people that put them there (voters). However in a land where votes can be driven in under the guise of a free meal and a beer it’s no easy task!

  22. End Wage Slavery says:

    Figuratively speaking of course ^ not literally. All hyperbole aside, the oppressed and poor vast majority of the population of The Philippines will remain oppressed and poor generationally unless and until a revolution overturns the existing social order and reorders society in a way that (gasp!) actually benefits somebody besides the tiny wealthy class, that instead is oriented around what’s best for the common man and woman. I’m not saying the transition would be an easy process but nothing worth doing is easy. The end result is worth it as the alternative is perpetual wage slavery, poverty, subsistence but not truly living. Just human machines that the wealthy class sees only as disposable robots to increase their profits. The best bet is a three-stage process that applies in pretty much any capitalist country:
    1. Education of the non-wealthy majority in the reasons why things are the way they are (because capitalism cannot exist without mass exploitation of the average person) and what needs to be done to change it, i.e. the removal of the existing social order and its replacement with direct worker ownership of the businesses

    2. Turning this education into a mass movement to peacefully replace capitalism with direct worker ownership, formation of cells in cities and towns all over the country

    3. Organizing and carrying out a nationwide campaign of (non-violent) civil disobedience that blocks off roads and rail lines, shuts down airports and seaports and camps out surrounding government buildings with tens of thousands of people. Make “business-as-usual” impossible. Shut down the country and keep it shut down until the rich ruling elite panics and tries to get the military to start shooting demonstrators. When the military refuses and sides with the demonstrators rather than obey an inhumane order the elite will pack up their “portable wealth” in steamer trunks and flee the country, leaving the rest of the population to clean up the mess and rearrange it in a way that benefits the vast majority of the population instead of a fortunate few.

  23. Mandy says:

    I’m a Filipino and I think the Security Systems in malls are idiotic and unnecessary. But I take comfort in knowing that another job occupation, though utterly stupid, is a way to help our fellow citizens to wage through life easier.

    As for your other complaints, we don’t like them happening any more than you do. :( But we learn to cope. We are, afterall, a happy nation. Smile smile smile :)

  24. johnny says:

    Good day sir!
    Thank you for visiting and sharing your opinion about our country.. honestly, while i was reading your article, i was a bit offended but yes, IT IS THE TRUTH(about the things in this article).. i have travelled some parts of the philippines and i have observed and experienced what you have said.. i guess the bottomline of the problems here are the people living here in the phillipines.. we need to be more patriotic and be more disciplined..