frequently asked questions
prepare your madventure
Historically the Philippines is shaped by Spanish colonial times and occupation by the US and Japan. Time has influenced indigenous traditions with Spanish and American habits. There are a few things which are important to know about the culture in the Philippines.
Due to Spanish colonial rule, the most practiced religion is Roman Catholic with more than 85% of Filipinos baptized in this faith. This explains the common practice of praying before starting a meal or any kind of event.
One really important aspect of Filipino culture is family and family life. It is the base for everything and the most important for Filipinos. Respect regarding elders and authorities are also key for inter-personal relations. Children might greet you with the tradition of “mano po” which means “hand please,” wherein children would take your hand and hold them at their forehead to receive a blessing. It is also common courtesy to use the word “po” when talking to someone older or of authority.
Almost as important as family is food. People would greet each other with the words “kain tayo” which basically means “let’s eat.” Snacks, coffee and meals are often immediately offered when entering a house. Refusing food may typically be considered impolite by some hosts and should be handled carefully. If you really don’t want to eat anything let your host know that you are really thankful for the offer but way too full to have any food.
In general, a meal is never complete without rice. During the afternoon snack called “merienda,” people would eat pizza or pasta, instant coffee and any sweet snack such as sticky rice or cookies. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are mainly served with rice. Being a vegetarian is challenging but possible. Table knives are not used. Traditionally, just a spoon and fork are used for dining.
Daily life starts early. People wake up around 4 to 5 am and go to bed early, making the most of daylight hours. After lunch people sometimes do a siesta and rest for a while.
There are more than a hundred local languages and subsequent dialects registered in the Philippines. However, most Filipinos you will encounter on your travel with us will have at least a basic knowledge in speaking the national language, Filipino (Tagalog). An ability to speak and understand English is also common in the Philippines but should not be completely relied on as people in more remote areas might not speak it. Below are a few key Tagalog phrases you can use when relating or interacting with Filipinos during your travel:
Salamat – “Thank you”
You’re Welcome – “Walang anuman”
Magandang Umaga – “Good morning”
Magandang Hapon – “Good afternoon”
Magandang Gabi – “Good evening”
Masarap – “Delicious”
Magkano? – “How much?”
Paano pumunta sa (place)? – “How do I go to (place)?”
Mainit – “Hot”
Malamig – “Cold”
Maganda – “Beautiful”
Ingat – “Take Care”
Paalam – “Goodbye”
Kamusta? – “How are you?” (may be used to greet someone hello)
While the climate in the Philippines is generally hot because it’s a tropical country, there are two main seasons in the Philippines: Dry and Wet.
Wet season is typically from June to October while Dry season is from November to May.
- Passport and printed return ticket out of the Philippines
- Cash in Philippine Peso
- SG to Philippines adaptor
- Light weight clothing including pants, shorts, skirts, T-shirts, etc.
- Shoes and clothes you’re comfortable getting dirty
- Something to cover your shoulders if necessary (i.e. a shawl)
- Bathers and swimming shorts
- Sunblock & Mosquito Repellent
- Water Tumbler
- Towel & Toiletries
- Padlock (not essential but useful)
- Sandals and/or comfortable walking shoes
- Laundry – If your tour is situated in a big city like Manila, Dumaguete, or Bohol, there are normally several laundry stations or services where you can do your laundry. Hotels, hostels, and even communities you stay at can take your laundry as well, for a fee.
The currency in the Philippines is Philippine Peso. That converts to around 50 US Dollars. There are several money changers in cities and towns but ATMs are scarce in provinces or towns. It is advised that whenever guests are in big cities or in airports that they already withdraw enough money for their small-town trips. We also strongly encourage guests to take any and all precautionary steps to keep their money (whether cash or otherwise) safe as the company is not liable for any losses experienced in the trip.
Socket / Plug types in the Philippines are type A, B, and C with a standard voltage of 220V and a standard frequency of 60hz
- For inter-island travel in the Philippines, there are available domestic airlines and ferry lines to take you to your preferred destination. Drop us a line if you want to arrange your travel with us!
- For inter-city travel in Luzon, the bus is your best bet! Or if you want to travel more comfortably, we can also book a van to take you to where you need to go.
- For going around a city or town, there are several ways to travel in style: Uber, Grabcar, Taxi, Train, Bus, Jeepney, or Tricycle. You can also try to walk to nearby destinations if you want the extra exercise! Just make sure to be extra careful and cautious of your belongings when commuting.
health & safety
Rest assured that MAD Travel tours are limited to safe and secure destinations.
Still, as in any country, safety precautions have to be exercised when in the Philippines. This includes keeping your valuables closeby and in secure places, not travelling with flashy items, being discreet with gadget use, never giving personal information (like hotel rooms, amount of cash brought, etc.) to strangers, and the like.
Before coming into the country, it is advised that you pack a mosquito repellant that works best for you. Also try to be more cautious during early morning and early evening as these are the times when mosquitoes are known to be most active. Avoid places with murky, still water and do your best to cover up. When sleeping in open areas, ensure that your bed has a mosquito net and don’t forget to use it!
Regularly updated information about Dengue, Malaria, and Zika are available on the web. We advise that you take a bit of time to read about the ways you can further prevent these diseases.
The national and local health departments in the country are also regularly updated about any outbreaks or causes of concern regarding these diseases. Should we find any reports leading up to your trip, we will take the necessary steps to inform you immediately.
While we design our adventures to keep you free from danger, you, the traveller, also play a big part in ensuring your own health and safety.
Make sure you always stay hydrated on your adventures with us. We recommend bringing a reusable tumbler. There are several places in each town to get clean, potable water.
Protect your skin from the sun by packing the essentials: sunscreen, a cap or hat, and some sunglasses. You might also want to wear protective gear on our treks.
When visiting islands, forests, or mountains, take precaution when touching items that look out of the ordinary. Your best bet in uncertainty is always to ask your guide first.
Any traveller is typically recommended by their respective governments to get routine vaccines before they visit any destination. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio, and your yearly flu shot.
When visiting the Philippines, your doctor may also recommend getting vaccinations for Hepatitis A and Typhoid. While we ensure that our guests eat clean and safe food, we will not be able to control what you eat outside of our tours.
For other vaccine and health concerns, please consult with your doctor.
We try to make your experience as authentic as possible so we let the communities you will be visiting cook most of your meals. Should you have any dietary requirements or food allergies, please tell us prior to your trip, so that we can prepare accordingly.
You may want to try some local beer or rum. This is okay to do outside tour hours, but remember to drink moderately. Everyone in the team likes to have a good time but we also know how one bad hangover can ruin your trip. We wouldn’t want one night of heavy drinking outside the tour to mess with the authentic and fulfilling experience we have prepared for you.
Do note that consuming alcohol in Gawad Kalinga communities is prohibited because of the nature of the community members’ backgrounds and the values GK tries to instill in the people who live there. As such, we expect our guests visiting these areas to uphold the rules set by the communities.
For special events and occasions on tour, moderate drinking is permitted. You may consult your MAD Travel tour coordinator about this before your trip or event.
Unfortunately, we have a non-refundable,non-transferable policy with our tour. This means that once paid, your attendance is already counted on the tour. Since we coordinate operations with the tribe or community, we have to ensure that we have a sure number of people going on the tour days before it begins. Your pre-payment allows us and the tribe to prepare for your visit i.e. buy food, ready transportation, etc.
In case of an emergency, you may reach our tour coordinator, Trish Magcase, at +63917-7138607. Please only contact us outside of business hours if it’s an emergency.
Business hours are from Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm. Thanks for understanding!
Bank Name: Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)
Bank Account Name: Make A Difference for Social Tourism Inc.
Bank Account Number: 0241-0307-84
Bank Account Branch: Pasig Boulevard Branch
Type of Account: Checking
Bank code: 010040018
Bank swift code: BOPIPHMM
Branch code: 0024
Gawad Kalinga, “to give care,” is a global movement that started in the Philippines that aims to end poverty by first restoring the dignity of the poor. Since it was formally established in 2003, GK has expanded its work to over 2,000 organized communities throughout the country. Today it has emerged as a multi-faith, multicultural platform for nation building, peace-building work in conflict areas in Mindanao, and reconstruction work in post-disaster communities. The GK model has also been adopted in other developing nations like Cambodia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. As of today, it has changed over 1 million lives.
Donations are often useless, expensive and have harmful effects on the local population. Why?
- Unfair competition with the local market (better to buy locally then)
- Dependency to international aid (it’s only a punctual help that won’t change their lives)
- Maladjustment (every donation should target a specific need)
- Strengthening of corruption (the way donations are given without the involvement of the beneficiaries)
- Cultural Identity endangered (donations coming from developed countries reinforce the idea that Western goods are “better” and the youth will develop inferiority complex)
- You can help without harming by putting extra efforts in understanding the culture and meeting the community
At the end of your stay at the Enchanted Farm, MAD Travel will present different ways of supporting the GK programs or making donations, should you wish.
There are more than 100 known indigenous groups in the Philippines. Through specific tours, you will be able to meet one or two of them.
We care deeply about the tribes that we work with. Our tours don’t only provide financial assistance and employment opportunities to these tribes, they also allow their real history and culture to be preserved. Through tourism, we hope to shed light on the real lives these indigenous groups live and the rich traditions they uphold — far from the usual way they are often represented (or misrepresented) in some history books and media.
As you get to know the tribes, you might find that they’re not much different from you. As such, we ask that our guests give the same level of respect to these community members as they would expect to receive from anyone else. Please don’t treat the tribal village like a human zoo. While the members are fond of having their photographs taken, please extend some courtesy first by engaging with them and asking them if it’s okay to take a photo.
We love to see parents taking their children on adventures! We believe that there’s no better teacher than experience! For as long as your child can walk and is physically fit enough to embark on our adventures, they may tag along! Do note, however, that they will be counted as one regular person for payment.
Story by Andrea, one of our Chief MAD Experience Officers One month into my job as a new tour guide for the Tribes and