JTOL – All Foreigners Are Rich, Right?

all foreigners are rich

“All Foreigners Are Rich, Right?”  Whether you’re just here for two weeks or you’ve been here for a year, unless you either speak the local dialect or have a Filipina with you.. expect to have to do some haggling.

 Some might call it opportunism, others might call it gouging.  When it comes to taxis and tricycles the rates are mandated by the government.  The way the system is ‘supposed’ to work is that you only pay what is on the meter.  With taxis they are easier to deal with because all it takes is a call with a complaint about their taxi number charging more than the meter, or not using the meter and they risk having their license yanked for 30 days.. which costs them money.  They don’t put up too much of an argument, but even so they will do their best to act as if the ‘special rate’ is a lower fare because they just like you so much.  (yah, right.)

With the tricycles, those guys just don’t care.  The rate for a ride is supposed to be 8 pesos.  That should be enough to get you about ten or twelve blocks in town.  But if you, as a foreigner, walk up to an empty tricycle and try to get that 8 peso rate (about 17 cents, USD).. prepare to haggle.  For one thing, he’s not gonna move that tricycle until he’s packed in about five other passengers on the motorcycle and sidecar.  If you’re willing to wait for more passengers going your direction, you only pay the 8 pesos and all is cool.

But.. if you want to him to take just you somewhere, now he has what they call the ‘Pacquao’ rate.  Usually they will say they need at least 3 passengers and you gotta pay for 3 passengers even if you’re alone.  But that’s just a starting point.  Three times eight ‘should’ be 24 pesos, but.. no.  It’s gonna cost anywhere from 50 to 90 pesos if you want to ride that tricycle ‘now’ and by yourself.  So the real trick to getting the 8 peso rate is to find a tricycle that has only one or two seats left which is going in your general direction and they won’t even hassle you about the price.  You pay the 8 pesos when you arrive and you’re done.

This segment I had to break into 2 parts, so both of them are here.  Hope you find it useful if you’ve never been here.  If you’re an experience Expat, feel free to share any other tips and helps for haggling you’ve learned here in-country in the comments section below.  Thanks, and enjoy..

– Below is Part 2 of 2 for this video –

Henry “Reekay” V.

Author: Reekay V.

Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat and spent 1999 living in Vietnam.

Share with me my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Hopefully you find my observations helpful in your own adventures.
— Reekay


  1. nice video, Henry. I think it is time to start saving for a car or motorcycle
    What about finding some honest safe motorcycle/tricycle driver and just calling her whenever u need to go somewhere. Pay her 1.5 times the rate (12ph) and she is all yours?

    1. That’s a good idea. I’ve done that when I went to Bogo without a vehicle (took the bus). Hired a guy to get us out to the farm in the province and then got his cell # to pick us up at the end of the day and get us to a resort for the night. I’ve yet to see a female tricycle or taxi driver yet though, either here or Cebu or Mactan. 🙁 Where I’m at now in Bohol, no tricycle driver would come way out here for less than 300 pesos (about $7.25 USD) So I’ve been walking until I get some wheels in the next few months. Ever since the incident in Cebu, I now take a baton-stick with me during my walk. 🙂

  2. Reminds me of a time i was in Lagos, Nigeria catching a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Our normal flight crew transport was already taking the flight crew to the hotel and I had to stay back to take care of some office paperwork. The local handling agent gives me about $15US dollars of local currency and says don’t pay more than the meter says. So I get into a taxi and tell the driver my hotel. As we pull out from the curb, I notice he is messing with the meter and some wires. I start to laugh cause i know what’s coming. He turns to me and says, “the meter is not working.” “Oh really? And you just found this out as i was getting into the cab? Whatever, keep driving.” I wasn’t about to go back to the airport, and get stuck in traffic, just to catch another taxi.

    When we pull up to the hotel, the driver turns to me and says, $30 USD. I grab my bag out the trunk, hand him the $15 usd that the agent gave to me and just kept walking. He knew, that i knew, he was full of @$&? and i wasn’t about to pay double for a ride. Bell hop is looking at me like i am crazy, but i refuse to get taken advantage of, just because i am American.

    1. Yep.. and the way I see it, the more we expats stand up and only pay the fair rate.. the less bold they will be about doing it to the next guy. But the reason it persists is because they every so often get a foreigner who just pays up whatever insane amount he’s bold enough to demand and it’s pay-day for them.

      I once was going to Chicago Joe’s, a cool nightclub over on Mactan one night and I knew the fare was only about 90 pesos max. It’s not even 5 minutes away from my place I had there. This taxi driver tells me, “Ohh.. is way over in Maribago, but I can take you there for 400 pesos, get in — we go.” I laughed at him as I walked away to the next taxi. I told the second one I’d pay him 100 pesos and off we went. When I got to the club I told my cabbie, “Tell your friend he’ll never get that ridiculous price from me.”

  3. The man has a new beard 🙂

    Why don’t you Henry hire a young, lovely lady to sit down with you 3 nights a week to teach you the local lingo. Seems like an investment that could pay itself back in a short while.
    You are a smart fellow, it should not take you too long 😉 Besides I think it is polite to at least try to learn the local dialect if staying permanently.

    Keep it up!

    1. Several of the older women here have taken it upon themselves to begin teaching me, whenever I actually poke my head out into the village for a Cobra drink at the sari-sari store. ha! I was open to the idea of a part-time maid but as it turns out.. ALL the women of marrying age here are already married. The only ‘single’ girls out here are still in junior high. So.. not much chance of getting any female company to come over and give me any lessons on the native tongue.. dialect.

      As for the beard.. that was the product of losing the urge to shave for about a week. It got all itchy for me and I had a date coming up who doesn’t like how it itches her Bibingka. So I got rid of it. 🙂

  4. Cake?….according to my Google translator. I’m glad to hear you got thru the meeting with ur new friends. I think I have a bit of street smarts myself from spending a few formative years in NYC gang territory. I tend to “feel” threatening situations & prepare myself for what might come. Even with my learned street techniques and martial arts training, at 59 I cringe at the thought of taking on 3 guys that could be armed. What do you know about weapons that would be considered legal to carry in the Philippines?

    1. Yep.. Bibiingka is a baked rice cake they make here in the PH. Very sweet. 🙂 Some Filipinas use the word ‘seashell’, others use ‘bibingka’.. haha! As for carrying weapons, firearms are out of the question, legally. The only good thing about that is here most guys are too poor to afford a gun (or bullets) anyway. But knives and Bolo (short machete) are commonly used for gardening and cutting up lechon so.. no muy bueno. I’m looking now into learning Eskrima, which focuses on disarming and disabling specifically a knife attack. Hopefully it never comes to that, but having the training is better than not, imho. Yesterday for the first time I took along a baton-sized piece of wood that I normally buy for firewood. It’s just over 2-feet long and now I carry that in hand while walking the jungle road. Almost scared myself, ha! It may only be a stick of about 1.5″ diameter.. but it will beat the crap out of someone’s head, shins and ribs should it come down to that. All the malls check your backpack here, but they are really lax about it. I had the baton (stick) in one compartment of my backpack, but only opened the zipper to the front pouch and security let me right in. They wave a metal detector wand over the backpack but, being wood.. it doesn’t sound off. 🙂 If they ever do ask about it, I’ll just say it’s for stray dogs since I walk to the mall. It’s not sharpened or anything so it looks like a pretty innocent item.

      As for carrying a knife, I myself have always leaned away from that. For one thing, you don’t always have time to access it from your pocket. You can’t carry it on a belt holster here either without getting hassled by security, maybe even police. Plus, if it came down to it.. using a knife puts you in a situation where you could go beyond ‘disabling’ and end up killing a person very easily. And there’s the chance they take it from you. So, I’m not big on carrying or relying on a knife because it also limits your grappling ability for one hand. Now, if you go to even SM Mall in Cebu and other places, they do sell these Tazer devices that are built into a flashlight. I might consider one of those since security wouldn’t notice it and I’d be carrying the flashlight at night anyway. All things considered, I’m thinking that’s probably the safest weapon you could carry without getting hassled and have the best element of surprise.

  5. I carried a Leatherman tool in a pouch on my belt the whole time I was there & got frisked & checked many times but never did they say anything about it. Even though it has 2 blades it’s not much 4 a defensive weapon since it’s hard to deploy quickly and I agree with you about using a knife to defend yourself. I thought about carrying a cane which is something that would seem innocent to have and would be very effective against anything short of a gun or a sword, but it’s also a hindrance to carry if u don’t need one. The flashlight/taser sounds like a good idea. I carry a powerful LED flashlight in my pocket always. It’s the size of a Chapstick, uses one AAA battery & throws a beam equal to a regular big Maglight. I got it on Amazon for about $20.00, actually I got 2 of them. It has 3 settings and runs 8 hours on high with a good battery, it even has a clip so U can stick it on your hat & it’s brighter than a dedicated “head light”, I use it all the time.

    1. The LED flashlights are surprisingly bright now. The rechargeable one I take at night shoots a solid beam into the night about 150 feet away very brightly. It has 12 LEDs in the front. On the jungle road I’ve practically blinded myself checking it out.. ha! Good for a diversion as you re-position, escape or fight back. With a tazer in the handle.. “Is Nice!”. 😀 This place has them online: stungunscheaper.com

    2. As a side-note.. my younger brother is a little shorter than me but is very muscle-bound. He got tazered by the police two years ago so I asked him what that was like, if there was any way to resist the shock.

      He said, “Man.. that sh*t hurts. They juiced me up and I hit the ground.. then they shocked me again. Aint no moving after that.” hahaha!

  6. Nice presentation on "Thinking Outloud, All Foreigners are rich" When we retire in a few yrs to Bohol I will; Speak Visayan, get a very dark tan (part Italian so I get DARK) and or course have the advantage of having my lovely Filipino wife with me. This should prevent any of the above nonsense you are unfortunately having to deal with. I'm not so forgiving when it comes to anybody trying to rip me off, but you are correct about not allowing things to escalate with anger and yelling. Pinoys have this saving face thing, and a direct confrontation leaves few options aside from a direct assault back at you. Politely acknowledging someone as an asshole requires self control and intelligence… Good job here on this site! Hope to see you in Bohol.

    1. Sounds like you got it wired! That’s the way to do it. I was practicing some Visayan with the neighbors a little while ago. They get a kick out of it and I teach them some phrases in Spanish. If you’re ever in the Cebu/Bohol area be sure to let me know.

  7. My sons martial arts instructor was a 3rd degree blackbelt, a large muscular young guy, and a champion fighter in full contact karate, when the time came to instruct the students in defending against a knife attack he said he said the best thing you can possibly do, and what he would do personally, is RUN!!!

    1. Having no weapon against a person with a knife does put you at a disadvantage. However, if running is not an option (surrounded), then using a chair, trash can or even your belt to strike and keep a distance is better than hand to hand fighting against a knife.

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