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The Philippines is made up over 7,000 islands with over 170 local languages. The national languages are Filipino (Tagalog) and English, which are taught in school. The Manila Mission is a Tagalog speaking mission and often (especially in the city) it is mixed with English to form “Taglish.” Manila is the best of both worlds with areas of green, provincial landscapes including the beautiful islands of Palawan and Coron. Much of the mission consists of the busy crowded city of the Philippines Capital. Often, people living in Manila moved from their native islands or provinces to find work in the city, and therefore make the adjustment to speak Tagalog rather than their local dialect.
The Filipino people are a happy, fun-loving people. They are predominantly Christian and hold their families in high regard. Religion and missionaries are common in the Philippines so people welcome them to the community.
The Church officially arrived in the Philippines in 1961 and in 50 years, church membership grew to nearly 650,000 with over 1,200 congregations. Members are willing to work with missionaries on visits and are willing to give referrals to the missionaries.
As a missionary, you work closely with the wards and attend and participate in ward meetings.
The direction from the Philippines area presidency is to focus on reactivate the less-actives, strengthen the church, and find potential priesthood holders to teach.
The Manila temple is also located just outside the Manila Mission, however, missionaries are permitted to visit the temple according to the arrangement of the mission president.
As a missionary in the Philippines, expect to eat rice everyday. The dish eaten with the rice is called “ulam” and usually consists of chicken, fish, pork, or canned foods. “Lechon na baboy” or roasted pig, is a common traditional meal eaten with rice. Members and investigators often offer “merienda,” a small snack like crackers, soda, chips, or various Hostess type goods, after sharing a message with them.
Jeepneys are a common mode of transportation for missionaries. A Jeepney is an elongated covered Jeep where passengers enter in and out the back and sit on one of the two benches facing each other inside. Passengers pass their fare to the driver or his assistant (conductor), by saying “bayad po,” meaning payment sir/mam. To get off the Jeep, you simply say, “para po,” meaning please stop, or knock on the ceiling of the Jeep.
Tricycles, a covered sidecar attached to a motorcycle, are also commonly used. As many as four to six passengers can squeeze onto one tricycle at a time.
Things to watch out for are pickpockets. Generally, crime is moderately-low.
See Philippines Crime and Safety Report
“There are people that like to slit your bag for money etc so don’t take any valuables with you or as least amount of money as you can. I really felt safe!”
Upon entering a house, it is polite to take off your shoes.
Most meals are eaten with a spoon in the right hand, and a fork in the left. It is also common to “magkamay,” which is to eat with your hands.
When meeting or greeting an elderly person, it is a polite gestures to take the back side of an elderly person’s hand and place it to your forehead. This is call “mano” or “bless.”
One missionary fondly recalled, “We always did service projects at Christmas!”
Kumusta po kayo? – How are you? (with respect)
Magandang umaga-good morning
Ingat-take care (often used as a parting goodbye)
“It was pretty easy to pick it up. At the time I was there there were many who spoke English”
Suit coats are rarely if never worn during your mission.
Wear quality shoes. You will be walking everywhere. Your shoes should also be able to endure flooding during typhoon season. Rubber shoes are recommended.
Umbrellas are optional. It depends on your preference. Many missionaries just brave the rain along with the locals although women usually use umbrellas. Umbrellas can be purchased at the local “palenke” (open market).
Most silk ties shrivel up in the humidity. Use ties with fabric blends.
“Rubber shoes and definitely wear flip-flops on your feet when showering and cotton sheets as any other get to warm and there is no hot water showers.”
Lightweight sheets and a pillow case is all you will need for bedding. Bring sheets that are good quality but are also very cool to sleep in.
Small hand sanitizer bottles are essential to pack and use constantly. You can find these at local drugstores in the mission.
Bring a small, lightweight proselyting bag. While proselyting, you will only be bringing small Books of Mormon and a few other items. A “fanny pack” style bag that has a shoulder strap and a waist strap is a very good option.
Use the pouch system through the church. Mail service is not extremely real reliable.
You will Love the people. Best mission in the world!
PO Box 1997
Makati Central PO, Makati City
1200 Metro Manila
Straight from the Philippines Manila Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Real dairy products and decent deodorant. If you have large feet, sometimes it is difficult to find large shoes.”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Rice with chicken, pork, and fish. Also pancit, which is a skinny noodle. The members also fed us lots of snacks similar to Hostess products and Sprite.”
“Rice and fish. Fresh fruit except apples are readily available. Bananas and mangoes are very common and very delicious. We ate what the Philippine country ate. They have lots of food vendors which are tasty but if you don’t like that idea, avoid it. I personally loved it.”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“A sixteen-day old duck embryo, also know as Balut. Chicken intestine.”
“balut and goat. balut is very hard on your stomach to digest.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“There are areas where they are so devout catholic that they always have procession with their graven images they called “SAINTS””
“Filipinos are very hospitable and fun loving people. Often, they use their “shyness” as an excuse for not going to church.”
“They love basketball, boxing, cockfighting, billiards, and karaoke.”
“They also love Americans and will call at you when they see you walking by.”
“Very poor people but very loving and friendly. It will definitely be a culture shock if you haven’t been to a third world country. You can almost have anything made from dresses, shoes, and pants etc. They are very talented in that area.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Philippines Manila Mission?
“First go online to study the culture, the weather, the language or the dialect.Also, gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and read your scriptures most especially the Book of Mormon.”
“Be prepared for a lot of walking and jeepneys rides. Tricycles and bicycles with side cars don’t work for the average American because the Filipinos are small. Also, be aware of your surroundings. There is a lot of purse slashing and they are quite good at it. Don’t take much money during the day, only what you would need for jeepneys or bus ride.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“I had talked to people that had lived there but it still didn’t prepare me.”
“Was not prepared for the culture shock!”
“Love the people no matter where you serve, be humble, loving and respect the culture of other people. Remember we are on the Lord’s errand and we have to act accordingly.”
**Did you serve in the Philippines Manila Mission Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**