From "26 Days Around the Philippines" by Carlos M. Libosada, Jr., Bookmark, Inc., Manila, 2nd ed., 1999.
Patience is the traveler's sterling virtue. Sense of time is slower in the provinces than in the cities. Public vehicles, for instance, do not leave their stations until full (or crammed with passengers), and almost everyone does tend to talk rather than act. Avoid showing impatience, though -- and, most certainly, anger. Anticipate delays and the experience of having to do some waiting. Always look on the brighter side -- you get to discover more about places and people during delays.
A traveler must also learn how to be appreciative. Consider each place as unique; it will always have its own set of the unusual.
Cheap food is always available -- go where students and government employees eat. Local rice delicacies make substantial substitutes for a full meal. Noodles are also quite filling.
Avoid buying food at stopovers; they are usually overpriced and tasteless. And do keep a pack of snacks for the occasional hunger attack.
Dress properly. Shorts that are too short and skimpy apparel are considered improper for women. Overdressing and flashy apparel (masyadong maporma), on the other hand, are considered improper for men.
Smile. This never fails to elicit a positive response, and makes it easier to obtain assistance.
The best persons to approach when in need of help are tourism personnel. There are regional, provincial, and municipal tourism officers who are trained to assist visitors. They ensure that visitors make the most of their stay. In the villages, the barangay captain or any one of his councilors will be there to help you.
Do not hesitate to ask questions. People are usually willing to aid a traveler in distress. When asking directions, however, sense of distance is subjective. What is "near" for locals may actually be far for you. Observe closely the angle of an arm or a finger when someone is pointing toward a direction. The wider the angle, the farther the distance.
Traveling alone and traveling with a group have their own advantages. Traveling alone affords you greater mobility and allows you to squeeze into a crowded vehicle. Traveling with a group, on the other hand, provides not only company but security; there will always be someone to watch your bags in case you need to go to the rest room. The bigger the number, the harder for everyone to be seated in a bus or jeepney. However, a group is usually given discounts in hiring vehicles and booking accommodations.
Choose a lodging house at a location with the least environmental noise. A room far from the lobby would offer more peace and quiet. Consider the maintenance quality of a lodging house aside from its attractions (e.g., wilderness areas, natural springs). After deciding on a room, check the bed to see how clean it is. Since toilets and baths in lodging houses are usually communal, check these too to see whether they pass your standards. There are lodging houses and lodging houses; highly recommended ones are no guarantee that they are indeed the cheapest or the most decent. Part of your adventure is hunting for the one you like best.
Do take a tricycle to get around in towns and cities. They ply more routes, are swift, and are cheap (P3 to P5 pesos for a trip downtown). It is even more practical to hire tricycles on a per-hour basis (P75 to P100/hour, and negotiable), specially if you wish to cover the most ground in the least amount of time.
While conveniently located near town or city markets, bus and jeepney terminals can be designated elsewhere without prior notice. In this case, it is safer to get on a tricycle or a taxi (PU, or public utility, in the Visayas) and ask the driver to take you to your next terminal or port.
Have a ready contingency plan to allow for changes along the way. It is not uncommon to encounter drastic changes in transportation schedules, rates of fare and terminal sites. Always consult a tourism officer or your lodging house receptionist regarding any such changes they may know of, before packing up for your next destination.
A Few Precautions
Do not tempt potential criminals with an unnecessary display of wealth or by leaving your bags unattended.
Avoid arguing on two specific topics: politics and religion. Straight forward opinions may be no big deal to you, but may be so to others.
There will always be a hustler at every terminal and port. Should you be approached by one, let him know you're not the easy target he mistook you for. Make it clear that you do not have the money he expects to take from you.
If you're traveling alone and waiting for your ride in a terminal, be wary of a person who sits beside you and then asks you to look after his/her belongings while he/she goes to the comfort room. NEVER reciprocate that action. If you do entrust your belongings to go to the comfort room, chances are that person and your belongings may be gone when you come back.
Finally, never pay in advance, and always demand full service before you part with your money.