FILIPINO CHARACTER AND PERSONALITY:
Filipinos have been described as friendly, outgoing, sensitive, easily offended, nosy, garrulous, direct, hospitable, feisty, irreverent, good natured, clever, witty, gregarious, happy, generous, easy to laugh, gracious, easy to befriend, casual, fun loving, sensitive and hospitable. Personal and family honor are stressed, as well as dignity and pride. Education is highly valued and families make great sacrifices to educate their children. Hiya (shame) is instilled in Filipinos at an early age. To be shamed is the greatest form of disgrace. Filipino culture developed over centuries in tandem with and in response to Western culture introduced by the Spanish and later Americans.
Filipinos are generally more easy going than other Asians. A survey conducted by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Constituency (PERC) ranked Filipinos as "the easiest people in Asia to get along with." In the 2006 Happy Planet Index (HPI) by a British think-tank New Economics Forum (NEF), the Philippines ranked 17th out of 178 countries, far ahead of the United States, which ranked 150. According to NEF, this report is “an index of human well-being and environmental impact”, which moves beyond crude ratings of nations according to national income, measured by gross domestic product to produce a more accurate picture of the progress of nations based on the amount of the Earth’s resources they use, and the length and happiness of people’s lives.” In the report, a list has been provided about the ranking of the countries. The NEF study measured life satisfaction, life expectancy and environmental footprint, which is the amount of land required to sustain the population and absorb its energy consumption.
Filipinos have a strong sense of family and community They are very gregarious and like to talk and hang out with family and friends. They love to fool around, gossip, make jokes and tease one another. Rumors spread quickly. Some say Filipinos are happy-go-lucky people who are often pessimistic about today but always optimistic that tomorrow will be better.
People living in urban areas are more exposed to cosmopolitan values. They tend to be less traditional and more modern. Those living in rural areas, on the other hand, still value tradition Even though life appears to be a struggle, many people are happy with their lives.
Winston posted in his blog happierabroad.com: “1) Most people are nice and good folks who are cheerful and open. It is easy to meet people and start conversations. People are always willing to enjoy life and have a good time (especially if it's on your tab of course). 2) It is the most nonjudgmental and least racist country in Asia. Filipinos are a mix of many ethnic tribes, including Chinese, Spanish and Malay. Thus it is truly multiculturally advanced and integrated. Everyone is accepted here, including misfits from other countries, as long as they are nice, courteous and law abiding. 3) People are not stuck up, but warm, open and like to enjoy life. They are not too uptight or serious about relaxing and partying. There is a very relaxed laid back attitude in the populace. They are fun and enjoy corny jokes even. [Source:Winston, happierabroad.com, December 22, 2011]
In an article on Filipino stereotypes, Alisa Krutovsky wrote in Examiner.com: 1) We [Filipinos] drive only Japanese cars, because they are reliable and practical. (Even though it’s not true to all Filipinos, many of us, and them, would agree with this one statement!) 2) Filipinos are always late...to everything. (Even though it’s regarded as a stereotype, my friend did admit the fact that she is usually late, as well.) 3) Filipino parents would get their attention, by saying, "Psst!" and "Hoy!" You are a true "Filipino", if you turn around. [Source:Alisa Krutovsky, Examiner.com, DC International Travel Examiner, December 27, 2009]
See Separate Article FILIPINO SOCIETY
Social Values and Organization in the Philippines
The great majority of the Philippine population is bound together by common values and a common religion. Philippine society is characterized by many positive traits. Among these are strong religious faith, respect for authority, and high regard for amor proprio (self-esteem) and smooth interpersonal relationships. Philippine respect for authority is based on the special honor paid to elder members of the family and, by extension, to anyone in a position of power. This characteristic is generally conducive to the smooth running of society, although, when taken to extreme, it can develop into an authoritarianism that discourages independent judgment and individual responsibility and initiative. [Source: Library of Congress *]
Filipinos are sensitive to attacks on their own self-esteem and cultivate a sensitivity to the self-esteem of others as well. Anything that might hurt another's self-esteem is to be avoided or else one risks terminating the relationship. One who is insensitive to others is said to lack a sense of shame and embarrassment, the principal sanction against improper behavior. This great concern for self- esteem helps to maintain harmony in society and within one's particular circle, but it also can give rise to clannishness and a willingness to sacrifice personal integrity to remain in the good graces of the group. Strong personal faith enables Filipinos to face great difficulties and unpredictable risks in the assurance that "God will take care of things." But, if allowed to deteriorate into fatalism, even this admirable characteristic can hinder initiative and stand in the way of progress. *
Social organization generally follows a single pattern, although variations do occur, reflecting the influence of local traditions. Among lowland Christian Filipinos, social organization continues to be marked primarily by personal alliance systems, that is, groupings composed of kin (real and ritual), grantors and recipients of favors, friends, and partners in commercial exchanges. *
Three main traits underlie Filipino values and value-orientation: 1) person-alism, 2) familialism, and 3) particularism (popularism). These strongly influence Filipino behaviour and decision making, and are the basis of his personal beliefs, and cultural traditions and practices. They are the basis for acceptable behaviour. [Source:Philippines Australia Business Council ^^]
Personalism is the emphasis Filipinos give to interpersonal relations or face-to-face encounters. Successful leadership or being a good manager necessitates a personal touch, and problem-solving is effective if handled through good personal relations. ^^
Familialism emphasises the welfare and interest of the family over those of the community. The family is the basis of group action and almost all community activity centers on the family. The family, and not the individual, decides on important matters, and these are decided on the basis of family, not individual interest. The family honour, and not that of the individual, is at stake when a family member makes a mistake. ^^
Particularism results from the strong family influence on individual and group behaviour. Individuals strive to promote their own and their family’s interests over community interests. Being popular among peer groups is highly desirable, hence Filipinos make special efforts to entertain friends and relatives. Knowing how to entertain people (marunong umasikaso ng kapwa) is important. Conformity to proper codes of conduct reaps the rewards of cooperation and assistance; non-conformity is punished by withdrawal of support. ^^
Value orientation is the way individuals relate to objects, events and ideas. Three main obligations underlie Filipino value orientation ‘ relational (pakikipagkapwa), emotional (damdamin), and moral (karangalan). All, or one may influence work or social relationships. ^^
Relational obligations are interpersonal or face-to-face relationships and their resulting obligations. This is relative to the personalism value in Filipino cultural orientation. The nature of interpersonal relationships are determined by pakikiramay, pakikisama, bayanihan, and galang. Pakikiramay means going out of the way to help, without being asked, i.e., unsolicited help. Pakikisama or smooth interpersonal relations (SIR) means going along with someone’s views, whether agreeing or not. This enhances camaraderie, trust, confidence, and loyalty. This is related to bayanihan or reciprocal labour and giving help without compensation. In turn, one can request help in time of need from those to whom you extended help. ^^
Galang or respect is part of most social encounters. It indicates deference to the opinions of elders, peers, or those in authority, during important deliberations. Any verbal clash with older people in public, or any sign of extreme familiarity with members of higher official status in public meetings, are signs of disrespect.
Religion and Filipino Character
Catholicism has a strong influence of the Filipino character. According to Thank God I'm Filipino: “ The Philippines is one the most religious countries in world, particularly in Catholicism and Islam. Families would encourage and strengthen the values of their children and would at least have one day a week for worship and at the same time strengthening family ties. Religion is the foundation of most of the country’s morals and values and sometimes, the church greatly affects the minds and opinions of the general populace, affecting its decisions. Sadly, this also applies to the government as they are troubled by whatever the Church’s stand is in every matter, as people see their opinion to be the “right” one. Thus, many of our politicians go with whatever the Church says, fearing that they would lose vote if they go against it. [Source: Thank God I'm Filipino - TGIF, Facebook, October 8, 2010]
The Philippines is the only Christian nation in Asia and Filipinos have high spiritual fervour. They observe holy days (business establishments are normally closed on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, All Saints’-All Souls’ Days and Christmas). Sunday is considered both a religious and a family day. As much as possible, avoid working on that day because most Filipinos go to church and do things together as a family. [Source: Canadian Center for Intercultural Learning+++]
Most Filipinos are Roman Catholics, but there are other large Christian groups throughout the country especially among the Indigenous ethnic groups in the Autonomous Mountain Region of Northern Luzon. Most traditional elites are Catholic. In southern and western Mindanao and the islands of Jolo and Sulu Sea that constitute the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, there is a substantial Muslim community, which has been aggressively pushing for independence through such organizations as the Moro national Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front. +++
Religion is openly and overtly practised throughout all aspects of life in the Philippines, including the work place. Strong beliefs and religious practices and events are not always matched by social norms and practices. While the Catholic Church makes divorce very difficult, if not impossible, it is not uncommon for married couples to either drift apart and enter into common law relationships with new spouses. In business and when exploring informal personal relationships with colleagues, it is prudent not to try to nail the formal relationships down if they do not seem to "add-up". +++
There is widespread misunderstanding and uneasiness regarding the Muslim religious minority and its demands for independence amongst the majority of Filipinos, especially in Mindanao. It is therefore wise for expatriates to avoid debate of the Muslim claims for independence and to check out the current safety of specific itineraries and proposed meetings when planning business trips and holidays to predominantly Moslem areas of Mindanao. +++
Island Influence and the Philippines Multi-Cultural Stew
It is said that Filipino culture is derived from all the cultures that have resided on the islands. The bayanihan or spirit of kinship and camaraderie is thought to have taken from their Malay ancestors. Close family ties are said to have been inherited from the Chinese.
The Tagalog word “tsismis”, wrote journalist Alan Berlow describes "stories, intrigue, lies, gossip, speculation, gathered like rice in a basket and tossed up in the air, sending husks to the wind, leaving behind kernels of truth. Truth and half truths, anyway." It is a "missing link, a smoking gun, the connective tissue of random events, the effort to explain things that resist explanation.
Philippine Pinoy culture has been described as "a buoyant chaos of Asian and Spanish influence." The Philippines has been a crossroads between east and west and meeting point for cultures from all over Asia and the Pacific, and the country's culture and people reflect this merging of cultures.
Filipino's are racially similar to Malays but culturally they are more like the Spanish. It could be argued they are the most hot bloodied and macho of the tropical Asian cultures. Prostitution and murder rates are high. It has many of the same problems as Latin American countries—and for that matter developing countries: social inequality, large disparities of wealth and income between rich and poor and small percentage of rich landowners and lots of poor. [Source: "The Villagers" by Richard Critchfield, Anchor Books]
Influence of History, Spain and America on Filipino Culture
According to the Philippines Department of Tourism: Filipinos are a freedom-loving people, having waged two peaceful, bloodless revolutions against what were perceived as corrupt regimes. The Philippines is a vibrant democracy, as evidenced by 12 English national newspapers, 7 national television stations, hundreds of cable TV stations, and 2,000 radio stations. Three centuries under Spanish rule followed by 50 years of American influence has made the Philippines an Asian country unlike any other. Through a thick layer of Spain and America, you can glimpse the Filipino soul trying to express its unique, cultural identity through creativity. [Source: Philippines Department of Tourism]
Through music and dance: Our love of sosyalan (socializing), dancing and music, culminate in the province-wide street party and town talent show – the fiesta (festival). Usually a celebration of the earth’s bounty, be ready to dance in the streets to tribal drum rhythms (listen for the Latin influence). Or simply marvel at elaborate floats blooming with the season’s harvest and the town folk’s crafty work. From masquerades to mud fests, pilgrim processions to pageant parties, our island-style parties are open to everyone.
Through art: Naturally artistic, you’ll see our penchant for color and craftsmanship even outside museums and galleries. Pay attention. It can be seen in our handicraft, design, fashion. Spot it in our churches or our parks. It can be loud like our jeepneys or as clean as our embroidery, as brash as our tribal tattoos or as delicate as Lang Dulay’s weaving.
Through food Our distinct cuisine came from the comfort food that reminds Filipinos of family, home, and simple joys. Its many-layered flavors are expressed differently from kitchen to kitchen. So try to get invited as often as you can! Take the national dish, adobo (pork stewed in garlic, soy sauce and vinegar). It has as many recipes as we have islands. But we all share it. With islands so diverse, Philippine culture is a buffet or fun and festivity.
There is common saying that the Philippines endured 300 years of Spanish rule and 50 years of Hollywood. One Latin American journalist wrote that “self-awareness acquired with independence from Spain has been inseparable from a sense of backwardness and self-doubt. Describing her childhood, Imelda Marcos said, "I knew how to eat an apple before I knew the banana. I knew the American anthem instead of my own anthem."
Latin Influence on Filipinos
The Filipinos character has been described as a mix of Hispanic and Asian cultures. Many say Filipinos have more in common with Latin Americans than they do with Asians. Life in the Philippines often has a slow pace. Big gatherings and fiestas are common. There is a “manana” attitude about time. Being punctual is called “American time.
Machismo culture is prevalent on television, in the workplace and in everyday life. One Filipino woman told Newsweek, "our culture teaches that men are to be strong." The roots of the macho lie both in Spanish colonial and traditional familial hierarchal structures.
Latin America is often described as violent, passionate and intense. Crime rates and often murder rates are high. Large numbers of people party regularly all night. Many non-Latin Americans consider Latin Americans to be noisy and affectionate. Madonna described Latin culture as "very embracing, warm, passionate." The same cold be said about Filipinos.
Latin American are very hospitable and generous and it often seems the poorer people are the more they are willing to give. Guests are honored with special dishes and treats. Honor is important and defended vigorously, sometimes even physically. Personal criticism is taken very seriously and should be avoided. Because individuals are considered far more important than schedules, punctuality at meetings may be admired but not strictly observed. A casual stop over can sometimes turn into a visit that lasts a few days or a week. These guests often disappear, however, if work need to be done. Children like house guest because they spoil the children and give them lots of attention. These ideas and values also exist in the Philippines.
Cleanliness is a virtue despite how dirty things seem on the street level. Much time is spent making sure that the house is tidy and clean. Floors are mopped on daily basis and walls are scrubbed weekly. The condition of a house is a reflection on the family and especially the mother. The streets are beat up and full of trash but homes are clean. People keep their homes clean but often litter in public.
Latin Americans sometimes seem to have difficulty distinguishing between realty and myth. People believe in miracles and the power of divine intervention. Charismatic leaders and sports heroes are worshiped as gods and their faults are glossed over. It is no surprise that the literary movement of "magical realism,” championed Columbian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, sprung up in Latin America. These ideas are very much alive in the Philippines.
Asian Influence on Filipinos
National Geographic photographer Karen Kasmauski said, Filipinos “are more expressive and emotional than other Asians, yet they still have a polite Eastern restraint and civility about them and a strong aesthetic sense, an appreciation of beauty—particularly beautiful women.” Despite have a reputation for being emotional, Filipinos are surprised by overt expressions of emotion and don’t like when people raise their voice.
An emphasis is placed on skills to smooth interpersonal relations and minimize interpersonal conflict. When a difference of opinion arises, an effort is made to settle the matter with euphemisms and go-betweens rather than open criticism. “Pakikisama”—the art of smooth interpersonal relations—is of utmost importance to Filipinos. Social control is exerted through customs similar to “adat” found elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
"Face" is important in the Philippines as it is elsewhere in Asia, where it has been said that "face is more important than truth or justice" and losing face is often an individual’s greatest fear. Face is essentially respect in a community and is a crucial underpinning of society. Loss of that respect threatens the relations of individuals with almost everyone in his or her world and is hard to get back once lost and thus is avoided at all costs.
”Face” is equated with honor and “losing face” is equated with shame, disrespect and humiliation. Maintaining dignity and avoiding embarrassment is at the heart of maintaining face. Some people describe the West as a guilt-based society where people's behavior is dictated by their personal hang-ups. Asian societies, on the other hand, are often described as shame-based societies, in which behavior is often defined by fear of losing face. It is considered very bad taste to publically criticize a person since it results in a loss of face within the community. Necessary criticisms and suggestions should be made in way the that no one is blamed and shame is not cast upon any individual.
Filipinos and Southeast Asians consider it rude to say "no" directly. They often say something like "maybe," "I am busy," or even "yes" when they really mean "no," or convey a no answer in a way that foreigners don't understand. This behavior sometimes causes confusion with Westerners who like a "yes" or "no" answer, and who tend to believe there is a possibility of a "yes" unless they are told "no" straight out.
According to Thank God I'm Filipino (TGIF): 1) The Filipino attitude of “bahala na”(“come what may”) enables a person to meet difficulties and shortcomings with resignation by leaving it up to the Almighty to sort things out. This attitude can also result in overconfidence that everything will work out in his interest without doing anything. 2) The Filipino’s mañana habit causes the delays in many public transactions and even corporations. This attitude can effect the engagement to wait until tomorrow or the next day especially when the person involve is not interested or not in the mood. However, one must remember that many Filipinos take their time in doing things or in making decisions. [Source: Thank God I'm Filipino - TGIF, Facebook, October 8, 2010 ^]
3) The bahala na attitude is the outcome of the mañana habit when the tasks are left undone. This is usually shown and even expressed by people who do not care much of what lies ahead and just leave everything in fate. 4) Some Filipinos do not mostly practice being late or not showing up. There are few people who are punctual for social meetings. In fact, it is not expected of them to arrive exactly on time especially at a party. It is advised that you always check with the host or hostess the time of you are expected to arrive. ^
5) Some male Filipinos are proud and arrogant that they will not accept losing face, particularly in the crowd. They don’t like the idea of being defeated or embarrassed. In some cases, losing face or being humiliated is the cause of street brawls, drinking bouts or even killings in the country. 6) The Filipino hiya or shame trait stems from losing amor propio which is a Spanish word, meaning pride. Filipinos find it difficult to confront someone so as not to humiliate the person or cause person to lose his amor propio. ^
Some Positive Traits of Filipinos: 1) Say Opo/ Po To elders as respect in talking. 2) Filipinos Mano on the elders when greeting them, which is also a part of respect. 3) Most Filipino schools dont bully, not like in other foreign countries. 4) We believe in only one God, which is God (Most of us are Catholics) 5) We always pray, before going to eat, going to bed...etc. 6) We love to laugh. 7) Some are helpful. 8) There's no such thing as nerds here in us, and we don’t tease smart people. 9) We are friendly. 10) In the old days, if a boy wants a girl, the boy should speak to the parents first, and do everything just to accept him and to marry the girl.(that was in the OLD days). 11) The father is not the only bread winner of the family, also their children.- Most of us don’t care if your ugly or beautiful, it all depends on the personality. ^
Some Negative Traits of Filipinos: 1) Some give birth at an early age ...16. 2) Some just don’t mind their own business. 3) Have many bad habits, like drinking, smoking....etc.- 4) Some poor teenagers sell their bodies just to have money (prostitutes). 5) Most Filipinos have sad/dramatic lives. 6) There are many broken families. 7) There are a lot of holduppers, kidnappers, rapers, robbers and others which we really cannot avoid. 8) Almost all Filipino Presidents corrupt out country. 9) A lot of Bad words to choose from which Filipinos just cant avoid saying those. 10) A lot of Filipinos are hard workers.( Same as students) 11) We tend to be with our friends most of the time than to be with our parents. ^
Good Time Filipinos and Fiestas
Filipinos are a fun-loving people. Throughout the islands, there are frequent fiestas and foreign visitors are easily welcomed into people’s homes. According to Thank God I'm Filipino: “Filipinos are gregarious, friendly and hospitable. They sing and dance even when it’s storming, laugh at anything and have a communal sense of fun.
National Geographic photographer Karen Kasmauski said Filipinos keep up a positive attitude often in the face of great adversity. “Filipinos know that life can change quickly, so why not celebrate it while you can? Almost anything is cause for a parade or a party; a reason for music and dancing. They seem to engage with life intuitively, in present time, instead of worrying about what might lie ahead or dwelling on the past.”
Anne C. Kwaantes wrote in Christian Classics Etheral Library: “Everyone here agrees — Filipinos love fiestas. The word "fiesta" will bring a smile to the face of almost any Filipino. After all, a fiesta is a special time with friends, a time for fellowship, food, and lots of activities. Each year brings numerous fiestas. Sometimes people are busy for weeks preparing for them. It is surprising, how even those facing many problems in their day-to-day life set them aside and participate in the festivities. [Source: Anne C. Kwaantes, Fourum, Winter 2000, Christian Classics Etheral Library, pages 6, 7]
Every Catholic town in the Philippines celebrates an annual barangay, or 'barrio', fiesta in honor of their patron Catholic saint. During this period, there are large processions and parades throughout the town, with the saints, the mayordomo or sponsor of the fiesta, and school children marching through the settlement to band music or music played on a videocassette. In addition, each family visits other neighbors and relatives to share home-cooked, special 'feast' foods during the fiesta. In many coastal or riverine communities, fishers celebrate by carrying the image of the patron saint on boats in a fluvial procession to bless the waters and fish. The sacred days of the Roman Catholic calendar also affect traditional livelihoods. For example, Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ was crucified, even today is considered a 'taboo' day for fishermen. It is an omen of terrible fates, and fishers fear for their lives if they go out fishing on that day. In the past, every Friday was deemed to be a risky day to go fishing, but these beliefs have been modified over time.
Filipinos have been accused of being overly fatalistic and concerned only with the here and now. “Bahala na” is popular expression that roughly translates to “I don’t care what happens in the future, as long as I survive now.”
The Philippines was ranked as the most emotional society in the world, with Latin American countries dominating the top of the list, in a three-year study conducted by Gallup in more than 150 countries. In another study Filipinos were ranked as the 6th most positive people in the world, Panama was the most positive country with Paraguay coming in second and Thailand came in sixth. [Source: Agence France Presse, November 24, 2012 ]
The Singapore-based Malaysia journalist Seah Chiang Nee wrote: When a person “meets a German or a Japanese, the tone should be serious and purposeful – not a back-slapping “Hail Fellow thee!” way which he can use on a friendly Filipino or Malaysian. If he gets too familiar with people in Germany or Japan, they would probably think that’s he’s too flippant and not someone to be trusted. The reason, I explained, was that the Germans and the Japanese were generally very serious, disciplined, industrious and humourless. Treating Filipinos too seriously, on the other hand, could have the opposite effect, impressing upon them that you are too uppity. [Source: Seah Chiang Nee, Star, December 8, 2012]
Most Filipinos are generally open about their emotions (as long as in their judgment, they are appropriate and positive). But they do not normally express anger in public so as not to appear rude. Public display of affection such as holding hands and putting arms around the shoulders of one’s significant other are acceptable. There are few social sanctions with respect to modest displays of affection in public. Rural areas tend to more conservative. There is much greater tolerance of public signs of affection between people of the same sex than in western countries. [Source: Canadian Center for Intercultural Learning+++]
Public displays of anger and other strong emotions are not well regarded, but do occur, particularly by (social) "superiors" when interacting with (social) "inferiors" (e.g. employers—employees, landowners-tenants/ agricultural labourers). The socially "inferior" target of such anger or emotion is unlikely to defend himself or herself, will often deeply resent such outbursts. Foreigners in "superior" positions —particularly Americans (including Canadians) and other non-Asians—may well be subconsciously held to higher standards than their Filipino counterparts with respect to use of strong emotions in public.
One person posted on happierabroad.com: “If a Filipino is angry he does not think about the consequences of his actions, he just starts a fight. Sometimes there are stabbings. Then they end up in jail for a long time. Many crimes are just crimes of passion and the people had no control. I have even noticed that with stateside Filipinos- they do not think of consequences. Here in Angeles City some American guy got into a fight with street vendors and taunted them. They went totally berserk and stabbed him 9 times. They are all in jail now for life. The guy is dead. [Source: Winston, happierabroad.com, December 22, 2011]
In April 2007, an American Peace Corps volunteer, Julia Campbell, 40, of Fairfax, Va., disappeared during a solo hike to Ifugao province's famed mountainside rice terraces. Initially it was thought that she might have fallen and been carried away a rushing stream but later her killers confessed on television to what he did. Associated Press reported: “The man suspected of killing a Peace Corps volunteer who was beaten to death and buried in a shallow grave gave himself up. Juan Duntugan claimed he was fuming about a running feud with a neighbor when Julia Campbell bumped into him from behind, causing him to drop a bundle of clothes he was carrying. "My mind went blank," Duntugan told ABS-CBN television. "I did not know who she was or what she was. I got a rock and I hit her on the head. [Source: Associated Press, April 27, 2007 ]
Hospitality, Honesty and Resiliency of the Filipino People
National Geographic photographer Karen Kasmauski said, “Filipinos are such warm, hospitable people. Whenever I go there, I always feel like that I’m a special guest. People welcome me into their homes, to their weddings, their funerals, their religious celebrations. Because so many Filipinos emigrate to other countries they know what it feels like to be a stranger in a foreign country; they know hard it can be. So when a visitor comes to their country, they want to be welcoming. And their strong sense of family and community extends to everyone.”
According to Thank God I'm Filipino:“Being a hard-working people, the Filipinos are also honest. In general, they would prefer to work hard for an honest day’s pay than to find an easier way like stealing or cheating. As in the case of overseas Filipino workers or OFWs, they are mostly domestic helpers and though given a job which requires a lot of trust from the employer as they are left alone with their belongings or children, it is rare that Filipinos would do anything to betray or lose the trust that is given to them. We see so many Filipinos working in the homes of other families precisely because they can be trusted. But even in our own country, Filipinos have displayed honesty in various forms, may it be from a taxi driver returning a dropped phone or wallet. Filipinos would choose to do the right thing, though sometimes this is not necessarily true. [Source: Thank God I'm Filipino - TGIF, Facebook, October 8, 2010]
“The Philippines is a hotspot for disasters, natural and otherwise. Couple that with poverty, and one would think that Filipinos have the most reason for being a depressed people. However, we have demonstrated time and again that Filipinos can bounce back from a tragedy, emerging stronger and better than before. In the middle of a disaster, Filipinos can still manage to smile and be hopeful that the next morning brings new hope. We have shown the world that by working together as a nation, we have what it takes to recover from a bad situation. This is something that all of us should be proud of, no matter where in the world we are. With all of these good traits (and more!), one would really be proud to say, “I am a Filipino.” Filipinos have shown the world that by working together, we have what it takes to recover from a bad situation—and this is a trait that we should all be proud of.” [Ibid]
Bad Side of Clueless Filipinos According to One ExPat
Winston posted in his blog happierabroad.com: “Many people are rude and inconsiderate without manners or civilized behavior. They cut in line in front of you, interrupt when you're talking to a salesperson, are pushy when they want you to buy something, etc. Beggars will touch you and stand in your way and demand donations. Trike drivers will cat call you as if you were their pet. I've seen construction workers use electric drills and saw wood right in the middle of a crowded restaurant, totally oblivious to the fact that they are annoying the hell out of the customers! (fortunately they were ordered to stop eventually) But boy I've never seen such clueless people. [Source:Winston, happierabroad.com, December 22, 2011 ]
“In the Philippines, you are constantly surrounded by people with a "give me, give me" look on their faces. And that's because the key to their survival has been in finding ways to GET things from others, taking advantage of them, and freeloading off them. They're always looking for free things and generous people to get things from. But of course, they never want to give anything for free, as nothing in their culture is free. It's obvious hypocrisy of course, but I guess in their position, they can't afford any ethics. This can get annoying and infuriating, as it makes you feel like a constant target, but some expats get used to it and just develop a firm stance against them, while others don't.
People have a "do whatever you feel like and to hell with the consequences" attitude, which can be fun but sometimes hazardous too. They are prone to act out without inhibition. People have a strong sense of loyalty and duty to family, but not a strong conscience, sense of ethics, morality or fairness. Lying is not considered wrong, but a normal tactic. There is no guilt when one does wrong. There is a mentality that everyone has "an equal opportunity to ripoff each other".
“Filipinos do not even feel guilty about wasting their own food, leaving it out to spoil or leaving uneaten rice in the cooker to spoil, which they will do over and over again. Thus there is no shame at all in wasting even their own resources. It is not uncommon for a Filipina to get taken to a restaurant, order a meal and then take only one or two bites, throwing the rest away, not even taking it home, all because they aren't paying for it. It's a total disregard for waste. Filipinos themselves will playfully admit that they typically behave like children in that when they want something, they want it NOW, without regard to expenses or consequences. So basically you would be dealing with "adult children".
“It is very difficult to find intelligent conversation in the Philippines. People there seem incapable of thinking and observing, or forming intelligent opinions and observations. You will mostly only have intelligent discussions with other expats and foreigners. While middle class educated Filipinos will only be able to speak English more fluently with you than average, they will still not usually be able to form intelligent opinions and observations.
“Most people's English is only at the basic level. They understand you if you ask simple questions like: "Where is the CR? (bathroom)" "What time is it?" "Where are you from?" Those they will understand and respond. But if you ask them: "Can I apply this retroactively?" or ask them things involving steps, details or specifics, they will struggle and look confused. They also are not accustomed to intellectualizing over concepts. For instance if you say to them, "The term 'pure Filipino' is an oxymoron because by definition a Filipino is a mix of different ethnicities, not a purebreed", most will not understand this statement, nor will they know what "oxymoron" means. Therefore, when travel guides such as Lonely Planet say that everyone in the Philippines speaks fluent English, it's more of a politically correct statement than the truth.”
“Communication skills are not articulate or skillful (which is true of Asia in general). Thus when you try to get directions, they will usually be vague, not exact or step-oriented, and get you lost often. So when you try to dig for information, you have to be patient, persistent and probing, because frankly speaking, communication skills in Asia tend to suck.
“There is a lack of common sense in that mistakes are often repeated over and over again, as if they never learn from them. For example, if food is left out to spoil and has to be thrown away, they don't try to prevent it from happening again, but simply do it again and again. If during a party, someone puts their beer bottle on a narrow wooden plank, which common sense tells you will fall in only a matter of time, and it does fall as predicted, they simply do it again next time. When mothers give their toddler kids drink and food to hold, which they then spill all over the ground, the mother does not learn from that, but simply repeats the mistake again, resulting in the same consequence.
“And if kids get hurt or maimed from playing with fireworks and throwing them in front of people on public streets, they simply do it again and again, like they don't care. This is not just a lack of common sense, but a form of madness without regard for consequences too. It also shows a lack of regard for safety and wasting resources.
Filipinos Definitely Love to Get and Hate to Give
Winston posted in his blog happierabroad.com: “Filipinos definitely love to GET and HATE to give. This explains in part why salaries are so low in the Philippines that many have to go abroad to work or resort to receiving funds from overseas relatives or foreigners. They are so low because everyone hates giving and is super stingy, while of course they are always happy to receive as much as possible from others. This creates an obvious imbalance in their society that leads to problems. [Source:Winston, happierabroad.com, December 22, 2011 ]
“The basic hypocrisy here is that everyone is always wanting to get but no one wants to give. This creates an imbalance that leads to consequences. To them, there is no shame at all in taking, but there is in giving. When Filipinos do give, it's always very little, and if it goes beyond that, there will be extreme reluctance and an attempt to make you feel guilty for forcing them to give. Giving goes against their nature. This is why foreigners who live in the Philippines or have done business there will tell you that "When money is flowing from you to them (Filipinos) they will be nice and friendly to you. But when money is flowing from them to YOU, they will see you as a devil."
“Many Filipinos feel NO SHAME at all in receiving things, even at great expense to the giver, but in fact have an OVEREAGERNESS and INSATIABLE appetite for it. They receive with a child-like glee, as if they were children jumping up and down in front of Santa Claus waiting for their gifts. Try this: When you are in a department store, go to a sales associate and point to some fancy expensive item and jokingly say, "How about I buy that for you?!" Notice how they light up with glee and delight as they say "Oh really?! You buy that for me?" as though he/she were a child, totally forgetting the nonsensical nature of a total stranger buying an expensive gift for another stranger for no reason. That's because their desire to receive without shame or guilt supersedes everything without inhibition. It's the nature of their character. There is no shame or guilt in seeing you waste your money either, even if you're poor or on a budget. They are always very willing to receive things from you, even if it bankrupts you.
“Many are also not shy to ask you directly for a gift either, hence the popular cultural line they give you when you are about to travel: "Don't forget my pasalubong (gift)." Even jokes like that are revealing in regards to a culture's mentality. Such greediness is the worst in Manila and Angeles City, but not as bad in the rest of the country or the provinces. In this area, there is a double standard in that while it is ok for a Filipino to want to receive things for FREE, and take advantage of any FREE thing they can get, it is considered out of line and rude for a foreigner to expect to get anything for free. Instead, foreigners are supposed to enjoy paying for everything, not expecting anything for free. Yet a Filipino is allowed to gleefully want and expect free things, especially from foreigners, as though it were an entitlement they had been waiting for, like a child waiting all year for Santa to visit his home.”
“Hiya” (pronounced hee-ya) is an important idea in the Philippines. It literally translates to ‘a sense of shame. Sometimes hiya is interpreted as ‘face’, as in ‘losing face’, but that is not the whole story. According to laonlaan.blogspot.com: “Filipinos are very sensitive to personal affront. They try, as much as possible, to avoid feeling “hiya”, a painful emotion or deep shame arising from a realization of having failed to live up to the standards of Filipino society. It is a kind of anxiety, a fear of being left exposed, unprotected and unaccepted. It is a fear of being shunned by their society, which would mean personal humiliation. [Source: laonlaan.blogspot.com /]
““Hiya” is one value that regulates the Filipinos social behavior. Just as one is very careful not to be subjected to embarrassment or “mapahiya” one must also make it a point NOT to cause another person’s embarrassment. For example, in asking favor, both parties are careful not to offend the other. So if a favor cannot be granted, the person who cannot oblige apologizes for his failure to do so with an explanation that it is not his intention to refuse but that other factors beyond his control keep him from doing so. /
“Hiya is the currency applied within the society, controlling and motivating a person’s social behavior. This is the reason why a vast majority of Filipinos still remain conservative in their actions in the modern age. Everyone is expected to have hiya in the way they behave in order to win respect from the community. Dressing cleanly, being friendly and living up to your word are good ways avoiding “hiya”. /
“Public ridicule, or to be censured openly, or to fail to do what is expected of one, is to suffer hiya, a loss of esteem. Inversely, if one has not acted improperly, or continued to behave in a manner disapproved of by the community, it's to be without hiya. This label automatically results in the withdrawal of acceptance within one’s group, if not the entire community. To be charged with not having this sense of hiya is regarded as a grave social sin, for one to be called “walang hiya” is an ultimate insult. /
“Hiya is a controlling element in the Filipino society. A person’s behavior is socially restricted by his sense of “hiya” while public behavior is censured, or approved of, by hiya. For example, an employee dismissed from his job may react with violence because of “hiya.” Or a workmate may not openly disagree with you even if he feels strongly against your opinion out of “hiya”. For other examples, an employee could refrain from asking questions from his supervisor even if he is not quite sure what to do, because of hiya. Or a party host may end up spending more than she can afford for a party, driven by hiya, or the fear of being perceived of in any negative way.
More on Hiya
According to Philippines Australia Business Council: “Hiya is shame, shyness, losing face, and embarassment, or a combination of these. It is the Filipino reaction to anything which is an affront to his honor, dignity, or pride. It reflects in all his personal relations, as well as how he looks at himself relative to another individual. A Tagalog would say ‘Di baling saktan mo ako, huwag mo lang akong hiyain: (I would not mind if you hurt me physically, just do not shame me). A harsh speech or discourteous comment may trigger a violent reaction from a Filipino. A Tagalog would say ‘Ang sugat ng itak ay mas mahanay kaysa sa sugat ng masamang pangungusap’ (The wound from a knife is more bearable than an offensive word). Another Filipino proverb which stresses the importance of hiya says ‘Kung gumagaling ang isang sugat, di kumukupas ang masamang pangungusap’ (A wound may heal, but an offensive word never fades away. [Source: Philippines Australia Business Council ^^]
In other words, a Filipino prefers to agree, especially with superiors, rather than take the risk of being offended by rebuff; it drives him to do the ‘right’ thing in the eyes of others, even if this requires sacrifices on his part. It also helps maintain order within his own group and serves as an unwritten code of conduct for the community. Hiya has been descried as ‘the uncomfortable feeling that accompanies awareness of being in a socially unacceptable position, or performing a socially unacceptable action.’ It is a very controlling element in Filipino society. To call a Filipino walang-hiya (shameless) is to wound him seriously. Hiya may even operate when a person is absolutely right, and the other person is wrong. This is to preserve the balance between hiya and amor propio (self-esteem). For example, a Filipino may hesitate to collect a long overdue debt, because to bring up the matter face-to-face may place a person’s amor propio at risk. ^^
Stephen wrote in livinginthephilippines.com: “The Filipino people are not known for being confrontational ... But if you get in their face, raise your voice and call them names, you are likely to push them over the brink .. Our western culture is that of being 'rugged individuals'. This means being a self-reliant and independent people. Surely we are all citizens, but responsible for ourselves and our own futures. This 'rugged individualism' is especially true for America, Canada, New Zealand and of course Australia. But because of the Philippine 'Hiya' concept it means that the Pinoy outlook is completely different. The Philippine people need to be close to, and accepted, by others. Most personal behavior is driven in seeking to be well-accepted and respected group members.Thus, our individualism is not something that a normal Pinoy would ever aim for. [Source: Stephen, livinginthephilippines.com/forum, August 22, 2013]
This Philippine concept of hiya may seem somewhat meaningless or unknown to we westerners whom value individualism and non-conformism, because our behavior is controlled more by an individual sense of right and wrong, and much less by outside group censure. In the Philippines, to lose hiya and so the support of your kinsmen is to become a social outcast. This strong social/cultural drive leads to the over-riding importance of "Filipino Hiya" at all times. Hence, it's a really good idea not to shout-at or abuse any Filipino, especially in public. If one causes a perceived loss of hiya, things could get ugly very quickly indeed and especially for you. It's best to smile in a friendly way, so Pinoys can feel that doing what you want brings respect to them for treating foreigners well. However, if one is shouting and displaying anger in public, then a Filipino can gain respect from other Pinoys by treating you, a rude foreigner, disrespectfully. They would gain in hiya by simply putting a rude person in their place.
Importance of Social Approval to Filipinos
Jeff Harvie wrote in filipinawives.wordpress.com: “Filipinos are very aware of the opinions of others and what people think of them. While this might seem a bit silly to westerners, it is how it is and you’re not going to change it, even if change was a good thing. Social approval, or acceptance by the group, is very important to Filipinos. If you, as the fiancé or husband of a Filipina, do something to cause her to feel hiya within her social group, then you have offended her and hurt her in ways you might never be able to appreciate. [Source: Jeff Harvie, filipinawives.wordpress.com, August 19, 2014 =]
“Going out in public unshaven, unkempt and wearing dirty clothes, old flip flops and looking like you just crawled off Smokey Mountain (a giant garbage dump in Manila) will cause her to feel hiya. She wants the world to be proud of you because you are the living embodiment of how well she can take care of her family. You never see Filipinos at the mall dressed like beggars unless they are, indeed, begging. No matter how poor, when they go out in public they will make sure every member of the family is clean and as well dressed as circumstances allow. =
“Speaking your mind in that blunt, forthright and very direct way we westerners see as being honest and admirable is also a way you can evoke hiya in those around you. Yes, the Philippines has some serious social issues to deal with. Yes, there are inequalities and corruption is systemic; but that doesn’t mean you need to remind everyone in earshot. Filipinos know there are problems to be solved but so too do we have serious social issues in our own countries. You wouldn’t like it if someone kept on and on about racial problems in the USA or welfare cheats in the UK, how Aborigines are treated in Australia or whatever. Regardless of how accurate the comments may be, nobody likes to be hammered about these things, especially in social settings. Filipinos do worry what others think about them. Accept that. Do be aware that what you do, say and how you behave can hurt those around you. Understand that hiya, a sense of shame, is very real and if you don’t want to be the archetypal ugly ‘Kano’, be mindful of the part hiya plays in Filipino society. =
Filipino "Amor Propio "
“Amor propio” is Spanish word which means self –love; a sense of self-esteem or self respect that prevents a person from swallowing his pride. According to the Philippines Australia Business Council: Amor propio often implies a vindictive reaction to questioning an individual’s action, integrity, or honor. Injury is personal and does not need to be shared; it is enough to the aggrieved person that injury has been inflicted. Amor propio is like a high tension wire, which holds an individuals self-respect and esteem and provides protection from rebuff. Amor propio is not aroused by every insult or offensive remark, but only by those which hit at an individual’s most highly valued attributes. If amor propio is aroused, the impulse to hit back physically or verbally often overrides pakikisama and the desire to avoid violence. [Source: Philippines Australia Business Council]
According to laonlaan.blogspot.jp: Amor propio “includes sensitivity to personal insult or affront. A slight remark or offensive gesture, though insulting, would not trigger a sense of “amor propio”. The stimulus that sets it off is only that which strikes at the Filipino’s most highly valued attributes. For example, an abandoned wife will refuse to seek financial support from a husband who has abandoned her no matter how financially destitute she is on this principle. Amor propio in short means ego defensiveness, dignity or one’s personal pride akin to the traditional oriental attitude of having ‘face’. [Source: laonlaan.blogspot.jp, June 18, 2010 /]
“In Philippine society, building up one’s self-esteem is essential, and to this end amor propio in all respect reinforces the Filipino trait “hiya”. To damage another person’s amor-propio is to invite conflict, even violence; a Filipino is prevented by “hiya” from placing a person’s self-esteem in jeopardy For example, a bride who stoods up a groom in the altar places the latter’s “amor propio” at risk and could lead to a conflict between the families of both. /
“A person whose breach of conduct, such as the bride in the above example, is deemed to have lost him self-esteem or “amor-propio” may receive the judgment: ‘Basang basa ang papel niyan sa amin’. (’His public image is shattered with us.’) A literal translation makes reference to one’s ‘paper’ being ‘wet’, allusions to ‘image’ being presented before the public being ‘all wet’. Her act is said to be “nakaka-hiya” or shameful. /
“Unlike in the West where there is only wrong and right and a person only needs to feel guilty if he is wrong, hiya operates even when the person is absolutely right and the other person wrong. This is because of the Filipino interaction between “hiya” and “amor propio” . Like for example, a person may hesitate to collect a long overdue financial debt or item borrowed because to raise the matter face to face may place a person’s amor-propio at risk and can cause the latter to flare up. Public confrontation can lead to violence. Filipinos avoiding open confict as matter of amor-propio and honour. Now if you are wondering why a Filipino hesitates to bring up a problem, or point out that “your slip is showing”, or call your attention to an anomalous situation, remember that it is hiya in operation. Filipinos feel uneasy if they are instrumental in making waves, rocking the boat and exposing someone’s volatile amor-propio to injury. To avoid further confrontation and damage to one’s “amor propio”, the best solution one can resort to is to get a “go between”.
Importance of “Go-betweens” in the Filipino Society
A breach of etiquette involving the inter-play between “hiya” and “amor propio” can be a serious matter and face to face situations resolving the matter can be too potentially explosive to be handled delicately and appropriately. Thus, according to laonlaan.blogspot.jp, “an intermediary or “go-between” (locally termed as “padrino”) is needed to defuse the situation. The “go-between” makes it possible to raise matters that may have caused a person’s “hiya” or embarrassment. The person addressed by the go-between has the prerogative to turn down the request, or contradict the charges and explain his side without fear that he is threatening the amor propio of the petitioner. [Source: laonlaan.blogspot.jp, July 12, 2010 /]
“For example, a simple request for a job placement from a friend/family is fraught with “amor propio” elements, since to say a person is not qualified may wound that person’s “amor propio” and cause “hiya” for having presumed that he can do the job and for having aspired for it; rejection of an application creates an awkward situation for both the applicant and the person who has to turn him down. This is much harder when the other element of Filipino society such as kinship comes in. “Amor propio” would be more wounded if the person who turned down the request is, say, a relative or a friend. In this situation, the job of the third person is to convey the request, in which case the person from whom the job is solicited will feel free to say no gracefully, rejection is taken in better grace when explained by the intermediary. /
“A “go-between” is often used by a young man to know whether the lady he is courting likes him as well. As we say, the way to a Filipina’s heart is through her best friend, or a cousin. Because of “hiya” and “amor propio”, face to face confrontations are very much discouraged which makes the “go-between” indispensable. This is also inculcated within the Filipino family. Children approaches the mother over a grievance or disciplinary problems involving the father. A grandmother, aunt, sister, or brother may all serve as intermediaries over inter-family differences. /
According to the Philippines Australia Business Council: “To avoid situations where hiya or amor propio may come into play, a go-between, or intermediary is often used. It is easier to solve a problem, or turn down a request this way. For example a child learns to approach their mother for solving disciplinary problems involving their father; an employer rejecting a job applicant, may find it appropriate to use a go-between to relay the information to diffuse what may be an awkward situation for both employer and intending employee. A go-between helps maintain SIR. He can relay an unpleasant message with less pain than if it comes directly from the sender. The receiver can then let off steam without directly affecting the sender, and conflict can be avoided. [Source: Philippines Australia Business Council ^^]
Pakikisama is involved in important idea in the Philippines. According to language.berkeley.edu: In its most basic sense, ‘pakikisama’ means going along with others. Its basic etymological source is ‘sama’ (to go with). A derived term is ‘kasama’ (companion; together with). In the social interaction context, ‘pakikisama’ means ‘getting along with others’, and ideally getting along ‘well’ with others. The first part of the term ‘paki-’ is also significant, since it also happens to be the Tagalog affix for ‘please’. It’s as if the individual is being requested to ‘please’ get along well one’s fellow human beings. [Source:language.berkeley.edu |+|]
“Among friends and even relatives, it is considered obnoxious and unacceptable to give a direct command. To minimize the directness or “impact” of the command, Filipinos use paki nga or maki- so as not to offend. Even a boss in the office would use ‘paki-’ the equivalent of “please” in English, in giving a request to a subordinate. |+|
To be polite is to use paki- or maki-. This is part of the so-called “S.I.R.” coined by Filipino social scientists. SIR stands for Smooth Interpersonal Relationship. Filipinos go to great lengths to avoid offending another’s feelings which is why they have this linguistic social convention. It is also part of this whole system of pakikisama and pakikipagkapwa-tao. Pakikisama is the opposite of individualism. In Filipino culture, a person who has no pakikisama is a loner, an individualist disdained by others who seek his company. He does not know how to “go with the crowd.” A related word is makibagay, “to conform” with the group in order to maintain a Smooth Interpersonal Relationship. |+|
Pakikisama is also sharing one’s wealth, talent, time and self with fellow human beings as in bayanihan, working together for a common good without regard for monetary remuneration. The wonderful feeling of having helped achieve something for the common good is its own reward. It is interesting to note that the root word for bayanihan is bayani, “hero;” hence, “being heroes.” |+|
F. Landa Jocano in his book on Filipino World View (2001) relates pakikisama with two other concepts. First, is pakikipagkawa where “a person is evaluated as good or bad, just or unjust right or wrong on the basis of how (one) regards …kapwa (the other person).” In the normative dimension, a golden rule-type is called for in relating to one’s kapwa-tao (fellow human being). The second concept is that of pakikiramay, where a person empathizes or sympathizes with fellow humans during critical periods (e.g. a death in the family). Pakikipagkapwa-tao is a compound word that comes from kapwa “other” and tao “person” The prefix pakikpag- yields the social-participative meaning of essentially “being one in the other person’s humanity.” According to Dr. Virgilio G. Enriquez, considered the Father of Philippine Psychology, the worst insult that you could ever get from a Filipino is “Wala kang kapwa tao.” “You are devoid of humanity.” |+|
Kevin Limbo wrote in his blog: “The root word of pakikisama is sama which means to join or to adhere, ergo if you must be part of the group you have to do the bidding of the group or prove that you are worthy of inclusion which ispakikisama. Case in point, if your buddies drink beer, if you cherish the company of this group, you will not risk their ire by doing otherwise, makisama ka….or you augment in a way that you are part of the group. This is just basic social dynamics in a very society not in love with individuality which the Philippines mostly is. Pakikisama is a societal pressure via passive aggression to comply with the herd or those in power and not some pastel-esque greeting from a Hallmark card as you deftly colored pakikisama.” [Source: kevinlimbo.blogspot.jp, June 7, 2011 \^/]
“Well now that you have an idea on what pakikisama is, here’s what becomes the problem. When you live in an apartment in the Philippines, and you have neighbors that will ask you “hey, can I tap on your cable?” and when you refuse because it is illegal, they will answer “wala ka naman pakikisama eh” (oh c’mon, where’s your pakikisama?). It becomes a problem. People will try to reason with you using the word pakikisama to take advantage of a situation like tapping on your cable or electricity, borrowing things and probably never be returned, borrowing money that will also, probably, never be returned to you, and you can never refuse to whatever they are asking you to do. Because they will make you feel like you’re betraying them.” \^/
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated June 2015