A lot of times, people ask me about tipping. How much is appropriate? Do they tip in the Philippines? Now, what I will be saying does not apply so much to Manila, because it is a cosmopolitan city that is more “worldly” than most other places in the Philippines. I am talking about the Philippines, outside Manila.
As a rule, you don’t have to tip here. Nobody will look down on you and think you are cheap if you don’t leave a tip. That said, I always leave a tip anyway. But, generally speaking, it is not the size of tip that you’d leave in the USA or another first world country. Back in the States, the standard tip is usually around 15% of your total bill. If the service is very good, 20% is not too much.
If you are in the Philippines, leave those percentage tips behind! For a normal meal, a tip of even P20 is appreciated. For me, if service and the food is very good, I leave a tip of P100, and that is a very good tip here. I have left a bigger tip than P100, but it would not be normal of me to do so. Something has to be very special to give more than P100. Generally, I will leave P20 if the food or the service leaves a bit to be desired. I will leave P50 if everything is OK, but nothing spectacular. If it’s a great meal, and good service by a friendly staff, I will leave P100. I don’t generally care or worry about what the total bill was, that doesn’t really enter into my tip calculation. My only concern is how the food was, and how the service was. Nothing else.
Now, there is one exception. In a major hotel, or a very nice restaurant, it has become pretty customary that they will add a percentage service charge to your bill. If a service charge is on the bill, all rules are off. A tip is not required if a service charge is already being paid as part of the total bill. If there is a service charge, and I came away still very impressed with the service, I will leave a tip in addition to the service charge. In this case, I will generally try to slip P100 or P50 to the waiter without being seen, and I will tell him “this is for YOU.”
All in all, tipping is not the issue that it is back in the States!