A post for the ladies: Tampons in the Philippines

December 9, 2008 - Filed under General

Before we moved to the Philippines, I hadn’t really considered not being able to find tampons. I’ve traveled in Asia before, as well as South & Central America, even in Egypt and never had a problem finding tampons. It wasn’t until I went looking for them here that I became aware of not only how rare they are, but also how controversial they are in this country. 

It’s something that’s not really talked about here, even though there are some very strong opinions on the subject. Being a highly religious and conservative country, there are a lot of negative perceptions and opinions, as well as a lack of information. Many girls here are taught that if you use a tampon you are no longer a virgin, and that only girls who are sexually active use tampons, girls who are pure and innocent don’t put things inside of themselves.  Of course not everyone believes this stuff, but because there is so much discrimination surrounding the use of tampons, many women are reluctant to try them.  This has of course contributed to the lack of availability here in the Philippines.

A few weeks ago Mike and I headed into town for some groceries. I went to the women’s isle expecting to just grab a box, no problem, only to be confronted with a wall of pads and not a single box of tampons.  Figuring they were just out of stock, I checked another store… and another… and then I got worried. We live on a beautiful beach, go swimming every day, and are pretty active divers. What am I suppose to do, put all that on hold for a week? I left Mike to finish the grocery shopping while I went on the hunt. I finally managed to find one lonely little box for 960 pesos… thats $24 Canadian. $24!!! Thats $1.20 per tampon. I bought them anyways…. then went and found Mike to tell him I just spent more on a single box of tampons than he just spent on all our groceries for the week. 

This weekend we went to Cebu. Cebu is the second largest city in the country and home to several malls, most of which are bigger than any Vancouver mall. Nine West, Guess, Mango, even Top Shop… surely I could find tampons here.  I dragged Mike to three different drug stores and still nothing. We finally made one last ditch effort and checked the grocery section of one of the department stores. I almost did a little happy dance right there in the isle when I found a box. There was only one brand, and they were still around $11, but I didn’t care. I loaded up a basket and headed to the checkout. I’m pretty sure the checkout girl must have thought I had a bleeding problem!

Anyways, to make a long story short… ladies… if you’re thinking about coming to visit be sure to bring enough with you. (and maybe some extra for my stash!)

Posted by: Kelly

11 Comments so far

  1. lilli December 9, 2008 3:08 pm

    i might come to the philippines for a wedding next summer…I’ll bring you a whole stash :)

  2. Leela December 11, 2008 8:38 pm

    Have you ever thought of using the Diva Cup? So much easier to travel with and better for the environment!

  3. Kelly December 11, 2008 9:15 pm

    I think that would be even harder to find (if not impossible) in the Philippines than tampons. Although perhaps a good option for people who are considering traveling here, but who have not yet arrived.

  4. Peter & Josephine January 19, 2009 9:40 am

    Don’t worry Kelly, my wife Josephine who was born in Dumaguete say’s she will also send you hers. She hates them, when she first bought a pack thinking they were pads she was shocked to see it was something to be inserted inside of her. In fact I remember now how she actually asked me what this was? Imagine the look on my face and knowing she wanted an explanation. She still has the box of 100 and said you can have them all. That’s what I love about her she is not willing to compromise her traditions nor too quick to aguire what may be bad ones. She said Philippino women hate them. Guess that’s something not in the travel manuals, but you guys are doing your part there, good luck and enjoy the Visayas.

  5. Kelly January 21, 2009 4:56 am

    Haha, thanks for the offer, but I managed to find some in Cebu.

  6. Marie August 17, 2009 4:08 am

    What store did you find the tampons? The Tampax brand to boot!!! I have run into the same problem…..aisles and aisles of pads but no tampons!! Thanks!!

  7. Kelly August 17, 2009 1:03 pm

    haha… I found them at Lee Plaza in Dumaguete, but they were expensive!! Found some different brand in a big supermarket in Cebu, but can’t remember the name, sorry.

  8. Joy Martinez January 3, 2010 11:16 pm

    i wish i had found your blog before going to the Philippines. During the last few days of my recent vacation, I got my period. Unfortunately those were the days we were also at the beach. I only had one tampon with me and could only go swimming one day! I searched for a box at many stores and couldn’t find one. I even looked online and one Filipino website described them as “satan’s finger”. Next time I’m bringing my own box!

  9. Russell January 26, 2010 11:02 am

    Many girls here are taught that if you use a tampon you are no longer a virgin, and that only girls who are sexually active use tampons, girls who are pure and innocent don’t put things inside of themselves. That is why my Philippina stepdaughter had 2 children at the age of 17. I think personally that it all has a lot to do with the catholic church and yes, I am a catholic!

  10. swimthroughme March 27, 2010 6:42 am

    Hi! I just bought a box of Tampax tampons from Rustans super market in Rockwell. They have at least three different brands. :)

  11. Kelly March 27, 2010 10:29 am

    Thanks swimthroughme… it’s not really a problem in Manila, it’s more when you’re traveling in smaller cities and more rural areas.


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