Things To Know About Philippine Culture

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Last time we started writing more about what to expect or the things you need to know about Philippine culture in general. (If you wish to read Part 1, you may click HERE.)

Because the Philippines is composed of 7,107 islands to be specific, you can imagine the variation of our culture. What people are like in Luzon doesn’t really mean that it’s the way in Palawan, in Visayas, and in Mindanao. So we are going to mention more general traits in chunks or a little bit more 🙂 .

Philipine culture 2 Courtesy and Respect

Filipinos are generally respectful of people older than us– even if it is just 2 years difference. Older brother is referred to as ‘Kuya’ and older sister is referred to as ‘Ate’. This applies too when referring to older people who are not related or a relative. It is very impolite if we will refer to older people just by their names. To other places it is almost a shame if you call an older brother by his name.
Now having this in mind, we introduce to you the “Po” and “Opo” Filipino words. Opo is used to politely say “yes” especially to older people and Po is used when addressing politely to both the older and the general public.
In some places, the hand gesture of Mano po is highly practiced. This is a gesture often made by reaching to an elder person’s right hand and pressing it on your forehead while bowing. It is a common way to show respect to elders, parents and other relatives.

ComplimentsPhilippine culture 2

If you, as a Westerner or a foreign tourist would greet a Filipino girl and tell her how pretty she looks like, that will most likely be refused. This is because acceptance of one’s compliments here, especially about our physical appearance, our abilities or our possessions are seen as pride or arrogance to some extent. Deep inside we are pleased if we are being praised or complimented, but most of the time we have to keep it to ourselves. That way, you are seen as humble if you try to be happy inside and not so much when you just have been given the praise.

The Big “M”

Traditions involving around money matters are such a huge topic that I can write pages and pages of this. But the aim is chunking so, there you go. Many Western or International visitors who end up getting married with a Filipino(often to a Filipino lady or Filipina) are very challenged accepting the way we behave in this matter. An international Financial Icon observes that Filipinos love to spend beyond their means.

This is translated to us having the tendency to spend a lot just to impress people – even people we don’t know or like. The renowned Financial expert further observed that Filipinos like to show their family how much they love them and that they can make everyone comfortable to the extent that they spend what they don’t have which eventually leads them to debts.

Examples can be celebration for events, gifts or pasalubong to bring after traveling, money to give relatives or family members who asks and buying things we don’t need or don’t have the money for.

Philippine culture 2Inability To Say No

Some of our problems with managing personal finances stems up from our inability to say “NO”. Take for instance the number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who are often working menial jobs abroad to support their families in the Philippines.

In 2012, the Central Bank of the Philippines reported that the annual personal remittance from the OFWs reached to a whopping record-high $ 23.8 Billion (in USD yes!). Our spending seems to be going high each year but only 2 out of 10 Filipino families have a bank account. Low, I know.

Philippine culture 2Going back to the OFWs, you hear classic stories of Filipinos working abroad to sometimes the point of being a slave and then every money earned will be sent to the family in the Philippines. Often, these family members left are solely depending on the money from the OFW.

The saddest part is that many of these family members are unemployed yet they are able to work. Burdens are often heavy on the OFWs.
Relatives or family members may also sometimes demand or ask money to buy clothes or go on holiday trips. This is where we need to learn to say no to giving for luxury and instead encourage them to look for a job instead. This is easier said than done but is definitely possible.
Of course this goes the same when a Filipina marries a Westerner. Westerners are most of the time seen here generally, as people who have more money than Filipinos.

Having a Western Philippine culture 2husband can mean more money to support the Filipina’s family. I know it might hurt many Filipino readers while reading this but this. This was not written  though to intentionally shoot Filipinos.

This is  just an honest observation of our own culture with money. Of course this doesn’t refer to every single Filipino. The cases are quite a lot not to admit it is really happening.

The Root

I have read an article written by a Westerner on the Philippine Culture. The writer’s observation was that Filipinos do things out of an element called respect.

Thus, the traits mentioned on this article seemed to be springing up by how Filipinos are raised Philippine culture 2and taught. The regard to family and elders would explain our inability to say “No” to them when they ask us money. We tend to refuse compliments and praises. We just quietly keep it on our hearts.

For a visiting tourist this can be overwhelming compared to a more straightforward culture in the West. For those who are planning or thinking of staying here, this is a topic worth discussing. We as Filipinos need to check ourselves sometimes. It’s good think about where we stand in these issues. Things don’t have to be done just because the culture says so. Maybe we ought to seek guidance and think of the benefits and consequences before we make a decision. 

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