Americans (not all, but many) have this thing about tipping we Aussies just don’t get. I guess it comes down to paying our waiting staff a living wage, rather than having them paid peanuts and then taxed on what their tax man thinks they would have made in tips. The Philippines, if you recall, was an American colony for nearly half a century and so they do tend to absorb a lot of the American idiosyncrasies. So do you tip, or do you not? Whom do you tip if you do? As we are talking about the Philippines, the best answer is ‘up to you’. There are no hard and fast rules and I have found the very rich and very poor don’t tip. The former because they have staff to handle these inconveniences or simply don’t think it is something they need to do as they are so important; the latter because they don’t have any money and rarely use any service where a tip might be given. So what about the middle classes, the working stiffs and us kanos? We kanos are considered to be well-off, rich in fact. No matter if you are a retired bloke on the aged pension who has saved for a year to fly a cheap, seat-only fare to Manila to meet your chat pal, you are considered rich. So do you tip? Some do, some don’t. I know one bloke who is very ‘kurripot’ (tight-fisted). He will travel fifth class if it is available and almost free and he never tips. He is naturally arrogant and boorish and I guess people just back off, figuring he’s not worth it. I know other guys who you would swear are American Bankstas, they tip everyone and as much as they have in their wallet. P100 is never enough; these guys only tip in multiples of P500. I’m talking blokes who spend nearly all their time in the Philippines propping up bars, bar fining GROs and basically having a whale of a time. Fair enough. The danger here is that people who service these guys begin to think we all have money to throw around and, like if you feed sharks often enough, they will equate a foreigner with a big tip. When they find out you only give P50 or so; you get the long face. So how much do I tip? I tip taxi drivers because I have driven cabs and know it is a tough job. I only tip those who don’t try the ‘no meter’ gag, or who do but are happy to negotiate and keep a smile on their dial while they do. I will round the fare up to the nearest hundred and if the driver was friendly, I’ll add P100. That’s just $2.50; not a lot for me, but it will make a difference for him. This is when on business or vacation. When I am living there I usually just round it up or throw in a P20, maybe a P50 if he has been really good. Restaurants get nothing if they add a ‘Service Charge’ to the bill; unless the waiter or waitress has been really good. Then I will drop a P50-P100 for them, depending on the size of the bill, party and where we are. The big, western style places get P50; local eateries the P100, simply because wages are usually higher at TGIFs or Chili’s. I also give money to beggars with kids. They may have rented the little urchins for the day to look more pathetic but who cares? I am so much more fortunate in my life than they are and if the two or three bucks was going to make my kids go hungry, I wouldn’t give it. Keep perspective, people. Don’t go mad and throw money around like confetti; but don’t get too wired over a buck or two. Know the value of a dollar versus a peso and make your own decision.
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