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Culture of the Filipino

Filipino Cultural Differences and Similarities

In dealing with Filipinos or other people with different cultures, one must know two important points regarding tradition: first, it is important that he accepts that there are no intrinsically “right” or “wrong” solutions, no objectively “better” or “ worse” ways of meeting basic needs; secondly, every culture is and has always been ethnocentric , that is, it thinks its own solutions are superior and should be recognized by “right thinking”, intelligent, logical human beings.

For the Westerner, for examples, to eat with bare hands is “dirty”; for the Filipino, it is the usual thing to do.

The Filipinos, compared to Westerners, are more sensitive and easily humiliated. One must never ridicule a Filipino. He considers, with a great deal of resentment, ridicule coming from a foreigner or stranger, although not so much from a fellow Filipino or townmate. He is sensitive to hard words nd aggressive behaviour. One must avoid showing signs of conflict when talking to a Filipino. As much as possible, never show a sour look, nor utter harsh words to him.

Culture of the FilipinoFor the Filipino, smooth interpersonal relationship is the rule for any relationship. A smile, a friendly lift of the eyebrow, a tap on the back, a squeeze of the arm, a word of praise or a friendly concern can easily win the friendship of a Filipino.

The Filipino tends to be a poor loser. He is unable to take defeat gracefully. If he wins, he is exceedingly jubilant; if he loses, he is exceedingly bitter. In athletics, he is deeply sports-minded but tends to be unsportmanlike. To him, to be defeated is to be humiliated. Thus, the Filipino, when he loses, is apt to make an excuse or alibi.

Westerners tend to regulate their contact with other cultures by failing to observe the gap; the Filipino tends to regulate his contact with people of other cultures by a clear recognition that differences exists and a shallow and incurious notion of what these consist of. The Filipino limits his contact with people of other cultures in their midst partly by shifting to Tagalog and by a variety of other defensive measures whereby he tries, understandably, to evade he experience of difference.
A Filipino may interpret the frankness of the Westerners as rudeness, and in the way Westerners view the Filipino’s reticence at saying a direct “No” as indecisiveness. To the Filipino, “I’ll try” could either mean “No” or that he’ll really try.

Westerners conceive of time in linear-spatial terms: the past, present and future. The Filipino has two concepts of time: first as linear where time is a succession of moments with a fixed starting point and a fixed ending point; the second is the cyclical concept of time where time is a succession of moments without a fixed starting point nor a fixed ending point. Thus, the “mañana habit.” The Filipino considers time flexible and unlimited. What cannot be done today can always be accomplished tomorrow. Among friends, meetings are not held promptly.

(Excerp from the book of T.D Andres)


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