Food

A Strategic Guide to Tipping in the Philippines

Tipping can be tricky, but there are benefits to doing it.
IMAGE Miramax Films
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Everyone wants their performance to be recognized. A few words of praise, a nice slap on the back, but most of all, a sweet year-end bonus. You work hard, you deserve it. Think of a tip like a reward for a job well done. It’s a small, instant bonus which shows your appreciation. So, why is tipping in our country still just an afterthought?

Why tipping in the Philippines is an iffy matter

Tipping in the Philippines has always been a contentious subject. There are no written rules and tips are entirely up to the customer. Is a matter of principle? Percentage? More often than not, it's usually a matter of how much loose coins you have in your change. Tipping is an afterthough because restaurateurs, bar owners and businessmen don’t think of excellent service as a difference maker. You’ll come back anyway. Or perhaps, it’s because there are no clearly defined and generally accepted guidelines on how to tip. No doubling of the tax, like in the United States or tips which are already included in the check, like in Japan. Whatever your tipping preference may be, it’s simply that–a personal preference. So, while we won’t lay out an elaborate tipping system for every occasion, do consider this a helpful guide on who we believe you should tip well and why it pays off to do so.

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The Barbershop

A well-appointed barbershop is one of the last refuges from the demands of modern life. Where a man can let his hair down, figuratively, and enjoy the professional service of seasoned barbers. Not only do you look better after you get out of the chair, many barbershops release you back into the wild feeling revitalized by a little backrub or even a complimentary cup of joe. Why would you mess with this perfect arrangement by tipping poorly? We recommend finding your go-to guy and tipping him well, around 30% of the price, or up to P100 to P150 for service that goes beyond what’s expected.     

The Bar

A buck per brew is expected in the United States. Rounding up to the next euro will do fine in Europe. More often than not your brewskies arrive as scheduled and the transaction’s concluded without a hitch. And that’s what it is, a simple exchange of product for payment. Here, it pays to tip a little more to speed up the transaction, especially if you frequent busy bars and clubs. For your first order, over-tip your barman/waiter and you’re off to a good start. He’ll take care of you every time. It’s all about building relationships, and your next round of delicious oat sodas might even be on the house.

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The Restaurant

Normally, we’re fine with tipping a few small bills since a service charge is often included, especially if the service is just okay (which it is usually). What’s the reason for this, you ask? Personally, we believe it has something to do with the capitalist division of labor which splits up every process into tiny tasks, and allows restaurants to pay disempowered workers substandard wages. That, or their training sucks. Anyway, we digress. We do think you should tip generously in fine-dining restaurants when servers go above and beyond to ensure a great dining experience. If the recommendations they make are on point, a nice tip is well deserved.

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Christopher Puhm
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