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The Filipino values and traits are what sets the Filipinos apart from the rest of the globe.

These characterize us in a way that we stand out wherever you place us. The Filipino family values that come with being raised in such a spiritual and caring atmosphere make us the hospitable people that we are. Surely, in your neighborhood there is at least one Filipino out there who either fascinates or irks you with his forever smiling face, weird habits and distinctive characteristics.

Things To Know and Love about Filipino Culture and Values

Whether you are plain curious about Filipino culture and values, have recently met a Filipino who made you raise your eyebrows a bit, or are planning to visit the country soon, this list is for you! Here are 16 Filipino cultural values that strongly define what it is like being from the beautiful islands of the Philippines.

1. We are a happy people.

Simply put: you turn on the news, a typhoon floods the streets of the city, yet you see children joyously pushing makeshift boats and transporting stranded office workers home. You read about poverty on the papers, yet in photos is a family smiling and sharing a meal of rice with salted dried fish on a plate of banana leaves under the straw roof of their humble home. Our coping mechanism is definitely something else.

One of the Filipino values that can be easily seen once you visit the Philippines is our inclination towards the sunny side of life. We find it hard, we smile. We succeed, we smile even more. What can I say except our default emotion probably is happiness. Our most used emoji may just be the smiling face! We might even be called out for overusing it… and when that instance comes, we’ll probably just resort to haha’s and LOL’s. Haha!

2. We excel in hospitality skills and customer service.

You might ask, what is the Philippines known for? Wherever you are in this world, I believe there is at least one Filipino worker taking care of you in your hotel, providing you assistance for your medical needs, or making sure your restaurant order is prepared well. We are your friendly go-to’s in airports, over the phone, online. Because Filipino culture practices call for us to be caring, happy and pleasant, it is just fitting for us to excel in workplaces that invest in these characteristics. One striking Filipino cultural identity where this capability might have come from is our concept of kapwa tao. Roughly translating to “fellow men” in English, this concept calls for us to care for others genuinely.

Yes, sometimes we get stereotyped in movies, in real-life, we get boxed in these industries that look for the embodiment of cool heads, warm hearts and helping hands. I can’t blame them for going for what is obvious: we are perfect for these jobs. We are, though, also capable of more. Like all of us, I believe!

3. We are family-oriented.

Ever encountered a Filipino friend or co-worker that, after receiving his month’s wage, excitedly goes to the nearby exchange to send money back home to the Philippines? How about someone helping her cousin’s cousin’s cousin go to school by paying for this year’s tuition fee? Once you get to visit the country, you shall see one example of Filipino culture displayed in the way we treat daily meals as a chance to catch up on each other or in the contents of the Balikbayan box which just arrived from overseas. (For the uninitiated, a Balikbayan box is a big box of random goods that a Filipino expatriate fills and sends to his loved ones in the Philippines. What’s inside? Usually stuff you can’t buy in the Philippines, necessities that are on sale in our resident country, or gift requests from family members.)

Filipinos are culturally family-oriented, and you will see this resonate in our decision-making. Our families play an integral role in how we live our lives. We don’t leave our parental home when we turn 18 just like that. We have this sense of connectedness that call for us to constantly look after our core family’s well being even up until we have families of our own. This is one of the main reasons why you shall see old parents and grandparents still staying with us till the end of their days. Our responsibility to take care of our family goes way beyond seasons in our lives. This shows just how strong Filipino family culture is.  This may not be the case for all and may well be considered old-fashioned, but it still holds true to a lot of us. 

4. We respect the elderly.

I do not know a lot of languages that have specific words to depict respect. The Filipino language has. We have “po” and “opo” sprinkled in our speeches to elders, signifying that we are careful and respectful in what and how we say things to them. Filipino culture and tradition taught us at a very young age to show respect not only through words but also through actions. We do mano po, our way of greeting them. To do this, you must bow, get the elder’s hand, and place it on your forehead. This is one of the many examples of folkways in the Philippines that a foreign visitor like you can take part in. When you find yourself visiting a Filipino home, take an elder’s hand by doing and saying mano po. Chances are, you’ll win their hearts just by doing so!

5. We are hardworking.

Because we are naturally happy, hospitable and family-oriented, Filipinos are a hardworking bunch. We find things to enjoy in our workplace, we serve intentionally and we strive hard to bring home the bacon to our families. This does not only hold true in a corporate setting. It also is evident in provinces where you see farmers plowing the fields diligently or in households where there are housewives taking care of home management. Filipino culture values surely transcend setting.  

6. We are not proud of the Filipino time.

Not all Filipino culture practices are positive! Ever attended an event in the Philippines or met up with Filipinos from where you are, only to find out there will be minutes – even hours – of delay? This is one of some examples of customs and traditions that we, as Filipinos, are not proud of. We may call it whatever neutral term we like, but it is what it is: we are habitually late. Fellow Filipinos reading this might say it isn’t so for them, or it is a thing of the past. Whatever holds true now, one thing is sure: our race’s tardiness has become so prevalent that there is this culturally-tied term for it, and other nationalities have experienced it.

Some of the historic tardiness that have been blamed for our being late to be “socially acceptable” is President Marcos’s lack of sense of time and the First Lady’s fashionably late attitude, with poor punctuality that counts from one to up to three hours. There are also stories that point to the early Filipino culture and way of life as part to blame. Our ancestors relied on sunrise and sunset to know time, of course making them late for their appointments with foreigners who were already equipped with time-telling instruments.

7. We enjoy having siesta.

Siesta is a Spanish influence on Philippine culture. Having a siesta means taking a short nap in the afternoon, often after having lunch. This is still widely popular in rural areas where people have the liberty to call a nap in the middle of a workday. It is almost impossible for the working class in the metropolis to have siesta, but now we see modern office spaces adapting Filipino values and traits such as this by providing nap quarters for their employees. 

8. We do bayanihan.

What are the Filipino values that you often hear about displayed in times of trouble? Bayanihan is surely one of them. To roughly translate it in English, it means the neighborhood helping a neighbor in need. Bayani is the Filipino word for a hero, therefore people collectively helping someone in distress are exercising bayanihan. In books, you’ll see a very traditional way of doing so, with a group of  Filipinos helping carry a movable house to another location. Nowadays, it has a wider scope, like people lined up with pails of water to stop a village fire or homeowners working hand in hand after being affected by a recent typhoon.

9. We understand and speak English well.

The Philippines has been influenced by a lot of foreign cultures because of its long history of being under different colonizers. As you visit the country, you will notice many words in the Filipino language that are similar to their Spanish and American translations. Furthermore, English is widely used in schools as a medium of teaching. That is why many of us are fluent if not at least conversation-ready. Many businesses from around the globe choose to establish their call centers in the Philippines because of our good command of the English language. A lot of English-speaking travellers frequent the country, too, because the islands are basically tourism-ready, with proper English signs in place and English-speaking locals on location.

10 . We say “Bahala na.”

Stemming from the word Bathala na which roughly means “leave it to God,” this is one of the Filipino values and traits that can be seen both ways. On a positive note, it entails faith in God and His will for our lives, acknowledging that God will see us through – therefore, bahala na. On a negative note, it depicts lack of resolution resulting in plans with loose ends and careless judgment. Is what we did right? Bahala na (let’s just see later on.) I passed the essay even without finishing the required reading. Bahala na (what’s bound to happen will happen.)

11. We have utang na loob (debt of gratitude).

If you have a Filipino friend whom you extended help, chances are he will find any way to repay you. This action is rooted in Filipino culture practices that we have lived with as children in a third world country. Sometimes thank you’s are insufficient in showing our gratitude. Even if what you did to your friend was years and years ago, he will keep the thought at the back of his head and will forever feel indebted to you – until he finds a way to pay you back in kind. 

On the other side of the spectrum is a family-oriented take on this Filipino culture and tradition. As our parents strive hard to send us to school, keep us clothed and provide roofs over our heads, there is this unimposed feeling of utang na loob towards those who raised us. Therefore, we are inclined to give our first paycheck to them, build them a house or set a good retirement plan for them. If this is done in the hopes that our children will do the same for us, nobody will possibly admit. Will the debt of gratitude ever be fully paid? Only a Filipino can tell.

12. We have some silly ways of doing things.

Asking for directions to the washroom? A Filipino will use a pout in pointing out which way to go. Oh, and drop the word washroom – go straight and ask for the CR (comfort room.) Boarding gates are now open? Probably only Filipinos are eager to line up during the first call despite secured seating arrangements. 

Don’t even start with me regarding the food. There are seven of you and eight pieces of fried chicken are on the table. I bet my bottom dollar that nobody would want to take that last piece. It has something to do with our innate shyness, they say, or maybe the embarrassment that comes with being the only person to get two? Who knows! Oh, and there is also our dying need to have an accompanying dipping sauce or seasoning to all of our viands. It’s not that we do not trust our cooks that our food tastes good. I wouldn’t even try to make sense out of this! These are some Filipino food culture and traditions even I cannot reason out.

13. We are spiritual.

When Spain set foot in the islands, it brought Christianity in, making way for a lot of people to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Religion is one of the major Spanish influences in the Philippines.  Apart from Christianity, other religions are in the country as well. Islam, for one, dominates one of the three major islands of the archipelago. Regardless of which religion we are talking about, there is no doubt that Filipinos are highly spiritual. You can see this in our Filipino family values and how we go to Sunday service as a family. Examples of customs and traditions that speak about our spiritual side are the numerous fiestas that celebrate the lives of different saints in the Roman Catholic church and the many superstitions that forbid us in doing things like not marrying on the same year as your sibling’s, etcetera.

14. We have good food.

Thanks to the many influences that shaped the Philippines to what it is today, we have good food in the country that can easily win onlookers over. Filipino food is flavorful, comforting and filled with produce that are readily available in our surroundings. We take pride in the high quality crops that our lands produce, which greatly contributes to the sumptuousness of our cuisine. How can you promote Filipino culture effectively? Simple. Aim for their appetite. Curiosity will follow through.

Notable Spanish contributions to the Philippines can easily be found in our dining tables. We embraced a lot of Spanish dishes and made them our own by tweaking a component or two. If there is one more thing Filipinos are good at, it’s working with what we have and coming up with something exceptional. That goes for food and daily life as well.

15. We like to sing.

Ever wondered why many Filipinos grace the stage of many international talent competitions – and win? It’s because we all like to sing! No wonder karaoke in Filipino culture cannot be ruled out. This singing machine is present in get-togethers, birthday celebrations, and even in normal days. Leave the karaoke behind and we’ll still sing our hearts out. They say the Filipino language, when spoken by us, sounds like a song being sung to foreign ears. If that is indeed true, then us winning another global singing contest must not shock you anymore. 

16. We love hard.

Ever heard of the early Filipino culture and way of life? It includes courting your ladylove in a way like no other. The man goes to her home with guitar and flowers on hand, sings and plays a love song right outside her window, and wins her with sweet words and melodies. He then goes home and repeats this over and over again – until he achieves the right to go inside her home and court her parents. 

Before, this is how we define public display of affection. Nowadays, this type of courtship may have evolved, but the Filipinos values and traits that go with it still remains true. We give it our all as we believe in love. 

 

Do you know any other prevalent Philippine culture and tradition that are not on the list?
Let us know!