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Philippines – Cultural Challenges

There are more than a few factors to consider when coming to live and work here in the Philippines but culturally speak it is worth taking note of the following pints.

Important points to consider culturally when dealing with a Filipino would be as follows:

There is always a strong need for Filipinos to have the people close to them involved in a decision or at least considered before acting on something major.

Filipinos are group orientated, however like the conquistadors; self pride is a powerful element in the culture. When a Filipinos “hiya” (self pride) is high, and his / her individual actions benefit the group, “amor propio” or a sense of oneself is present as this individual who does the right thing places importance on how others will recognize him / her great self esteem and honor. Never undermine the Filipinos pride.

Structure and hierarchy are critical at all levels – in the home, at school, in military and in business. Filipinos have a strong sense of formality in which Filipinos are treated according to their rank and status. Here you will also find that situations and not rules and systems typically determine an action. “Utang na loob” or the constant building and fulfilling of obligations between individuals is the “grease” that keeps society going.

What is the best way to view time – Mon –chronic or poly-chronic
The Philippines has an extremely polychronic culture, schedules must remain loose. The clock takes a backseat to most other criteria for actions. Things do not necessarily flow sequentially here and deadlines are juggled constantly. Family time here though is typically sacred.

Risk taking or risk adverse
The Philippines has a risk taking culture because the social and business hierarchies and peoples positions must be carefully considered within the large group context. However while most Filipinos defer to authority for decision making they will often go ahead and do things on their own if the expected action is not taken.

Past orientated or future orientated
Filipinos look toward the future and are frustrated that today’s actions do not necessarily affect wheat happens tomorrow. When things do not work out Filipinos will usually dismiss this as fate.

Filipinos are high context indirect communicators. As a culture a Filipino will avoid confrontation and speak in terms that maintain harmony at all costs, even if the results in speech that in indirect, evasive or contradictory. Having sensitivity to context is critical if you want accurate information on what is really being meant to be done.

It is common that the Filipino will often use the word “yes” even though “no” is meant. There is also the avoidance of explanations and statements that even greatly criticize or make someone look bad, forever will have the eternal smile even when things are not going well.

There is also the failure to provide bad news or important negative information etc are common characteristics in the Philippines, which can ultimately be understood and precluded if one develops the ability to read between the lines

Meaning of Yes and No in the Philippines