Should We Tip in the Philippines?

Key Takeaways:
  • Tipping in the US has gone out of hand, and this culture is also starting to creep into the Philippine culture.
  • Tipping should not be forced. Tips should be freely given for outstanding service.
  • Filipinos love to haggle, so tipping may not catch up any time soon.

The tipping culture of the US has gone out of hand in recent years as establishments and employees are almost compelling their customers to tip even with unsatisfactory service, which many outside the region may find ridiculous.

However, this tipping culture has also reached the Philippine shores through tip jars, but not with the same effect and expectations as foreign lands. This may be caused by the underlying Filipino culture of being masinop and matipid.

There are also places where tipping can be insulting or may leave the server confused, so let’s be careful and learn other people’s customs before going there.

So the question now is, should we tip in the Philippines? Just a disclaimer: I am only writing from my personal finance point of view.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Why Do Some Countries Require Excessive Tipping

Before I share my personal tipping criteria, we should first address the elephant in the room – excessive tipping.

The tipping culture is worst in the US because many establishments and businesses, particularly in the service sector, are not paying their staff enough, resulting in employees relying on customer tips to supplement their salaries.

So, it appears to be a cycle: establishments don’t pay their employees enough -> employees ask for tips to supplement their salary-> the tips are accounted for by the employers, resulting in them not paying their employees enough.

However, in some instances, there are also people who realize that tips can be a lucrative addition to their current income.

What is the Philippines’ Tipping Culture?

Naturally, Filipino service sectors don’t require tips and wouldn’t be offended if you don’t leave any. In fact, many Filipinos are more into haggling (tawad) than tipping.

However, tipping is slowly becoming a common thing, even expected, in popular tourist destinations.

Since these tourist destinations attract foreigners who usually tip, the Western tipping culture has slowly crept into some people’s consciousness.

I remember a time when I was in Bohol. While we’re visiting the Ati Tribe and watching their performances, there is a tip box with a P100 bill tucked in the mouth of the box, which I think is an anchoring technique to suggest that P100 is a good amount to tip.

When Should We Tip?

Tipping does not come naturally for Filipinos, but it wouldn’t hurt too much to tip once in a while. However, we also need to set some boundaries or criteria for tipping. Here are a few of mine.

1. When their service goes beyond expected.

I believe tips are a reward or a thank you for a job well done instead of an expected additional payment on top of the already paid amount.

So whenever I’m in restaurants, cafes, and other service-related places, I usually tip to show appreciation for a job well done. While there is no specific custom, a 10% tip is a great starting point.

2. When we only avail of the service rarely.

I heard this from a friend while he was waiting for his car wash to complete. He said that since he only gets his car washed once every one or two months for only ₱100. He usually tips an additional ₱100.

And since the amount is minimal relative to the service the car wash guy provided, the price and tip paid are justified. In effect, because he tips well, the car washer performs better. It’s like a cycle.

3. When you just want to be generous.

Whenever there’s a crisis, our culture tries to help those in need, so sometimes tipping can be a way to accommodate the people working in the service sector, especially since they are usually overworked and underpaid.

For instance, during the steep oil price hike in 2022, many realized that the drivers of various vehicles struggle to keep up with the high cost of living due to a spike in inflation.

As a result, tips have been a way to augment their income while also becoming more generous in the process.

Final Thought

I don’t think tipping in the Philippines will ever catch up as much as what’s happening in the US because we have a culture of haggling to reduce the price that we’ll pay as much as possible.

However, it’s still good to tip now and then for services that go beyond expectations. Tipping may even help condition the service industry to do better.

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