The Jeeps are confusing and just downright chaotic if you are not familiar with Manila's roads and landmarks. Same goes with the buses.
The Metro, while more foreigner-friendly, is often filled to the brim, and would usually not be a good choice during rush hour, even if you have a metro card, so the best idea is to stay in a dorm or apartment that is a walking distance from your campus.
For your weekend incursions, taxis will do the trick. They are plentiful and relatively cheap. You can cover a fair distance with $5, with a flag down rate of only about $1.
Banks are easy to spot in the Philippines, and the most popular and reliable ones are BPI, Metrobank and Banco de Oro. Making an account should take no more than an hour, as long as you have all the required documents such as relevant IDs and pictures.
Minimum required balances for ATM accounts are typically low too, and could range be as low as around $13.
Foreign banks such as Citi and HSBC are also present, but they are much rarer than the local banks.
SHOPPING AND ENTERTAINMENT
Shopping malls are plentiful in the Philippines, the most popular ones being SM and Ayala Malls, and a strong consumerist culture allows for the presence of many Western shops and restaurants. Uni-Qlo, GAP, H&M, Krispy Kreme and Wendy's, you name it, they're all here.
Flea markets are also popular, and you could get many items at a very cheap price if you're persistent with your bargaining. It is not uncommon, and it is in fact expected, that if you are visibly a foreigner, shopkeepers will mark up their prices. Don't fall for this.
Tipping is not expected, but appreciated in the Philippines, unless there is a service charge.
Catholicism remains the most dominant religion in the Philippines after many years of Spanish colonization. Catholic churches are not hard to find, and they often hold services daily, in both English and Filipino.
Other branches of Christianity have seen a resurgence though, and with a bit of effort, you can find an appropriate place of worship for your particular denomination. The same is true for followers of Islam, who comprise a significant minority in the Philippines.
ALCOHOL AND SEX
The legal drinking age in the Philippines is 18, and beyond that, there are not many rules that cover alcohol. Alcohol is both decent, and cheap, with a bottle of the standard Filipino beer, San Miguel, costing just under a dollar.
Attitudes towards sex however, are conservative, largely due to Catholic influence. Do not expect Filipinos to so easily engage in sexual activity despite what you may think.
Both petty and serious crimes are common in the Philippines, and as a foreigner, you will inevitably attract more attention from ill-willed elements, so always stay on your guard. As much as possible, travel in groups, and avoided both very crowded and deserted areas, which are of risk to you.
In the event that someone attempts to steal your belongings, do not resist. Often, these people have weapons such as daggers and handguns, and they are more than willing to use them if they have to.
Getting around poses risks in itself, and Filipino drivers are notorious for being rash. Pedestrian lanes are no more than decorations on the road, so do not expect any cars to stop and give way for you. Cross streets together with other people, and as much as possible, use pedestrian bridges.