Cebu DOs and DONTs...
Ingredients to your travel!

Cebu Dos and Don'ts

Just like in other countries and cultures there are behaviors (sometimes unexplainable) that are allowed and not allowed by the society.

So, Filipinos are not spared from having some do’s and don’ts in especially in terms of social interaction.

This page also includes safety tips to travelers and visitors of the island.


Be nice and friendly and greet everyone sincerely. Cebuanos don’t like snob and stiff-necked people. Return their greetings.

Greet the elders first and then the younger ones next.

Smile a lot and you’ll make lots of friends.

Take off your shoes (sandals, slippers, etc.) when entering a house. Most of them offer house slippers to be worn inside the house only.

Accept their food and drink offers. Just try a bit of the food they offer so that they don’t feel embarrass or insulted even when you don’t like it.

Look humble, kind, simple, and reserve. Although Filipinos love these behaviors not everyone acts such ways.


Don’t be too straight or expressive about your observations. Better keep them to yourself and talk about it later on at the right time and environment.

You don’t have to be on time when invited to an informal and other social or friendly appointment. Filipinos can be on time only if the appointment is official and formal. Most of them thought that time is cyclical in direction.

Don’t get paranoid if some locals look at you with searching eyes or stare at you. Some are not just used to see foreign visitors.

Don’t show off. Ordinary people do not only dislike you but you are attracting pickpockets, thieves and other bad elements.

Although the Philippines is a tropical country, never wear sandals and shorts when attending special occasions. Wearing shoes and a descent pair of pants and clothes is a preferable attitude.

Ask the locals what proper attire to wear for different formal occasions.

Cebuanos (or Filipinos), in general, are not very straightforward in a strict sense. So, when you invite somebody to attend an event or to your place be sure to say it more than once to convince the person that you are really sincere about it. Expect that they will refuse or not accept your offer right away – a way of showing politeness…

Losing one’s face is one of the traits of Cebuanos. So, you can give the person a chance to redeem herself to avoid embarrassment thus saving her face.

Don’t use the common sign of OK, which symbolizes money. Instead, a thumbs-up sign should be used to mean ‘good’, ‘okay’, or ‘great job’.

Don’t use your index finger when you want someone to come near to you. It is considered rude. Use your hand by downward motion. Another way is by calling their names, titles (waiter, Sir, Ma’am, Miss, Mister, etc.) is much acceptable and polite. A casual method of calling one’s attention is by producing the sound ‘pssst’.

Safety Tips

Never display any expensive items when passing by crowded place, especially in port areas, streets and market places.

Better yet, keep your valuable invisible. Or don’t bring them outside when you move around except your necessary items like phones and wallets. Pickpockets and other predators are present in places where people are likely to carry with them valuable items.

Don’t put your eggs in one basket. It means that you should keep some amount of cash somewhere inside your clothes in case you can’t protect your wallet…

Don’t advertise yourself to anyone by wearing flashy clothes or anything.

Wearing simple clothing and a single bag (with necessary items only) and acting alert are good practices.

If someone tries asking your help don’t leave your things unattended. Refuse politely if you don’t want to answer the request; but be straight with your answer if they keep on insisting.

Don’t refuse to respond to someone who tries to talk to you – they might be genuine friendly people. You may listen to them but doubt their words when they offer something that is too good to be true or something that’s totally free. (Sincere individuals with generous hearts usually offer generously when they start to know you a little bit deeper).

Some Cebu Idiosyncracies

If they are so casual, Filipinos point directions not with their index finger but with their mouth or lips. They do this by puckering up their lips towards the intended direction.

They call somebody, whose names they don’t know, by producing the ‘psst’ or similar sound. Sometimes they call you ‘Hoy’ if they can’t remember your name, or when they want you to come forward.

It’s common to see men touching each other in public as a sign of friendship.
Girls also hold their hands together while walking along.

Guys would whistle at a passing young lady, which means she is pretty enough to catch their attention. It is a form of compliment but rude in other cultures.

Well, that's all for now.

We wish you all the best. Enjoy your travels.

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