The Philippines (7.95) earned the top BEI score for the second consecutive year. Norway (7.06) improved significantly, while the Netherlands also scored above 7.0, marking the first time that three countries attained this level of intermediate proficiency.
A country formerly colonised by the Spanish, Americans and Japanese, the Philippines continues to show remnants of its past.
The Western culture is still entrenched in people’s everyday lives, and Filipinos remain to be highly adaptable to foreign cultures.
Moreover, hospitality is an integral part of Filipino culture and tradition. These factors make Filipinos easy to socialise and work with.
The Filipino Service-oriented culture produces extremely polite employees with world-class customer service.
Demand for Philippines outsourcing services is growing at over 30% per year
Salaries in the Philippines are a fraction of those in the Western world
Now spanning a history of over 25 years, the business process outsourcing industry in the Philippines saw its beginnings in the year 1992. The industry has since earned a ten-fold increase in its total revenue.
The country’s BPO sector has a global market share of 10%, which is a three-fold increase since 2004. This global market share is estimated to be at 15% by 2022
Filipinos are descendants of Malay explorers, but the bloodline has been infused with Chinese, Arab, Indian, Spanish, and American lineages. This fusion of cultures has given rise to no less than 111 distinct cultural and linguistic groups, each with its basic Malayo-Polynesian roots but with varying degrees of other foreign influences.
The warmth and hospitality of Filipinos are known throughout the world. Guests are plied with food and drink, and often, a place in the host’s own home. It may be generosity to a fault, but there is nothing more pleasing to Filipinos than knowing that their guest is never wanting for anything.
Filipinos have a strong sense of family. Three generations often come together. Aunts and uncles (titas and titos) help raise and discipline the children as secondary parents. In turn, cousins grow up as informal siblings. The grandparents and elderly members of the family are the family’s source of history and stories and are taken care of until their last days. Visitors and guests to family gatherings would do well to pay their respects to the elderly clan members. Pagmamano, taking the elder person’s right hand and bringing it to your forehead, is a great sign of respect. Similarly, calling them lolo (grandfather) and lola (grandmother) and adding the honorific po to your sentences denotes your recognition of their age and rank in the clan structure (such as "How are you po?").
Filipinos are expressive talkers, incorporating eyes, mouth, and hands in their speech. In this way, depth and nuance are added to something that cannot be said or put into words. Courteous language and gentle demeanour are the norms; exaggerated movements and boisterous speech are frowned upon and considered especially by the elder generation as uncouth (walang modo). Direct eye contact is always avoided since it is an aggressive stance and regarded as offensive. Pointed or direct remarks are avoided, and sensitive topics are best left untouched. Westerners might find it rather tiresome and long-winded. Nevertheless, it goes a long way when developing relationships with Filipinos.
The importance of "keeping one’s face", meant as pride and self-esteem, is very important to Filipinos. Sensitive and delicate topics are often avoided to prevent misunderstandings, criticisms, or fights. "Losing face" is the worst thing that a Filipino can think of happening to him. Thus, the sense of hiya or being sensitive to the pride and self-esteem of others is a quality learned early on. Sociologists have come up with a term defining this quality — smooth interpersonal relationships or pakikisama. By trying to "get along," Filipinos adopt a group mindset, thinking and doing what everyone in the group decides. This is not indecision or passivity, but Filipinos do not care to be the odd one out.
Filipinos dislike upsetting anyone and that’s why they make it a point never to ruffle any feathers, whether directly or indirectly. If forced to give a negative answer, the Filipino will say something without explicitly saying "no." Pakiramdaman or the sensitivity afforded by one to another comes in. Simply, this is feeling each other out or, more concretely, sensing what is not said. This aids in completing the gaps or the omissions in the conversation because every Filipino knows that much of what is not said in any conversation is as weighty as words that are spoken.
Another Filipino trait is utang na loob or recognizing a personal indebtedness owed to the one who has bestowed favours. It’s quite simple: favours long past are never forgotten and are always remembered to be reciprocated with similar or greater kindness. Something like a gracious quid pro quo, but it is not a forced reciprocation. Because of hiya and smooth interpersonal relationships, returning the favor is almost an unspoken, unasked-for given.
Resilient and optimistic in the face of adversity, Filipinos are spontaneous and convivial in their celebration of life, best exemplified in festivals and fiestas.
The arrival and a 333-year rule of the Spaniards left its indelible mark on the islands and its people: The Catholic faith. About 80% of all Filipinos are Catholic making the Philippines the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia.
With the arrival of Shariff Kabunsunuan to Mindanao in the early 14th century came the introduction of Islam to the country. To date, Mindanao is the centre of the Islamic faith in the country with followers numbering to over three million. The greatest concentration of Muslims is in the provinces of Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao, and the Sulu Archipelago.
At the turn of the century, two independent Filipino religions were established — the Iglesia ni Kristo or Church of Christ, and the Philippine Independent Church, more commonly known as Aglipayan after its founder, Gregorio Aglipay. These two make up the local independent religions.
A vast majority of tribes inhabit the mountains of Northern Luzon and Mindanao, and a small number in the outlying islands of Palawan and Mindoro. These indigenous tribes have withstood waves of Spanish and American missionaries and still adhere to their nature-based, animistic beliefs.
Much has been said about so-called negative Filipino traits and these have been blamed for the perceived weak character of the Filipino. We need to use an oriental yardstick to measure success or failure as it would be unfair to use Western standards to evaluate Filipino traits.
It is very Filipino to stress negative points, to find fault in one’s behavior, to compare themselves unfavorably with Western standards. There is something strange in the very way the Filipino looks upon success. A person is not supposed to exert effort at the expense of sanity. They will ridicule a person who teaches himself how to think and label him Tasio, the philosopher. They warn people not to learn too much lest they be like Jose Rizal (Philippine National Hero) who was executed at the Luneta in 1896. Assertiveness is frowned upon because it smacks of pride and ruthlessness. Success to the Filipino, must come naturally; it should not be induced or artificially contrived. One should not be successful at an early age because that would mean exertion and hard work. Success must come very late in life, if it is to come at all.
Filipino traits must be understood in the above context. Hence, they are considered negative only according to other yardsticks.
The following Filipino traits show an ambivalence of positive and negative aspects.
Negative, because it arrests or inhibits one's action. This trait reduces one to smallness or to the "morality of slaves", thus congealing the soul of the Filipino and emasculating him, making him timid, meek and weak.
Positive, because, it contributes to peace of mind and lack of stress by not even trying to achieve.
Negative, by all standards, because it begins ardently and dies down as soon as it begins. This trait renders one inactive and unable to initiate things or to persevere.
Positive, in a way, because it makes a person non-cholent, detached, indifferent, nonplussed should anything go wrong, and hence conducive to peace and tranquility.
Group Loyalty (Pakikisama)
Negative, because one closes one's eyes to evils like graft and corruption in order to conserve peace and harmony in a group at the expense of one's comfort.
Positive, because one lives for others; peace or lack of dissension is a constant goal.
Test of Strength (Patigasan)
Negative, because it is stubborn and resists all efforts at reconciliation. The trait makes Filipino's childish, vindictive, irresponsible, irrational. Actions resulting from this trait are leaving the phone off the hook to get even with one's party line; stopping the engine of the car to prove that one has the right of way; standing one's ground until the opposite party loses its patience.
Positive, because it is assign that we know our rights and are not easily cowed into submission.
Negative, because one leaves everything to chance under the pretext of trusting in Divine providence. This trait is really laziness disguised in religious garb.
Positive, because one relies on a superior power rather than on one's own. It is conducive to humility, modesty, and lack of arrogance.
Because, i.e., scapegoat (Kasi)
Negative, because one disowns responsibility and makes a scapegoat out of someone or something. One is never to blame; one remains lily white and has a ready alibi for failure.
Positive, because one can see both sides of the picture and know exactly where a project failed. One will never suffer from guilt or self-recrimination.
Negative, because, being closely related to hiya and kasi, it enables a person to shirk responsibility. One is never accountable for anything.
Positive, because one's psyche is saved from undue embarrassment, sleepless nights, remorse of conscience. It saves one from accountability or responsibility. This trait enables one to make a graceful exit from guilt instead of facing the music and owning responsibility for an offense.
Negative, because one never learns to be on one's own but relies on one's family and relatives. This trait stunts growth and prevents a person from growing on one's own. Generating a life of parasitism, this trait is very non-existential. Blaring music, loud tones are a result of this mentality. We wrongly think that all people like the music we play or the stories we tell. This mentality also makes them consider the world as one vast comfort room.
Positive, because one cares for the family and clan; one stands or falls with them. This trait makes a person show concern for the family to which he belongs.
Procrastination(Mañana or "Bukas na")
Negative, because one constantly postpones action and accomplishes nothing. This aggravates a situation, a problem grows beyond correction, a leak or a small break becomes a gaping hole. This arises from an indolent mentality that a problem will go away by itself.
Positive, because one is without stress and tension; one learns to take what comes naturally. Like the Chinese wu-wei, this trait makes one live naturally and without undue artificiality.
Indebtedness(Utang na loob)
Negative, because one overlooks moral principles when one is indebted to a person. One who is beholden to another person will do anything to please him, thinking that by doing so he is able to repay a debt. One condones what the other person does and will never censure him for wrongdoing.
Positive, because it is a recognition of one's indebtedness. This trait portrays the spirit behind the Filipino saying, "He who does not know how to look to the past will never reach his destination."
Negative, because self-centered; one has no regard for others. So long as my family and I are not in need, I do not care about the world.
Positive, because one takes care of oneself and one's family: "Blood is thicker than water."
At the end of our exposé of the positive and negative aspects of the Filipino psyche, one asks the question: What after all, is its ideal of personality, activity and achievement?
Regarding personality, if the ideal is a personality without stress and tension, then Filipino traits contribute to this. The contention is that success necessarily means hypertension, ulcers and sleepless nights. Could there exist a state of success without these physical aberrations?
Regarding activity, if the idea is that one should engage in a whirlpool of activity or if the work ethic is workaholism, then the Filipino indeed is in very poor estate. But is this not more of the Occidental or Western concept of activity? In contrast, the Oriental emphasizes conformity with nature; hence, one should never exaggerate or overact.
Regarding achievement, if the ideal is that one must achieve an earthly goal, then the Filipino, as a race, will occupy a low rank. But again, is this ideal not more Occidental or Western, according to which one must always set a goal and accomplish it? Setting a goal is not wrong in any culture, but the manner of achieving it which can be questionable.
Does one have to expend one's total energy in the pursuit of an ideal which, after all, is a personal, earthly goal?
If for the Filipino smallness, meekness, and humility are ideals, could it not be that he is not this-worldly? Could he not perhaps be aiming, consciously or otherwise, at the life in the hereafter where the last will be the first, the weak will be strong, and the small will be great?
Filipinos are open to others and feel one with others. They regard others with dignity and respect and deal with them as fellow human beings. This is manifested in a basic sense of justice and fairness, and in concern for others. It is demonstrated in the Filipino's ability to empathize with others, in helpfulness and generosity in times of need, in the practice of mutual assistance, and in the famous Filipino hospitality.
Filipinos possess a sensitivity to people's feelings or trust and a sense of gratitude. Because of this Filipinos are very sensitive to the quality of interpersonal relationships and are very dependent on them: if their relationships are satisfactory, they are happy and secure.
Filipinos possess a genuine and deep love for the family, which includes not simply the spouses and children, parents, and siblings, but also grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and other ceremonial relatives. To the Filipino, one's family is the source of personal identity, the source of emotional and material support, and the person's main commitment and responsibility. This can create problems that overflow into the workplace, however, I recommend you don't get involved, leave family-related issues to the HR Manager.
Filipinos have a cheerful and fun-loving approach to life and its ups and downs. There is a pleasant disposition, a sense of humour, and a propensity for happiness that contribute not only to the Filipino charm but to the indomitability of the Filipino spirit. Laughing at ourselves and our trouble is an important coping mechanism. Often playful, sometimes cynical, sometimes disrespectful, they laugh at those they love and at those they hate and make jokes about people fortune, good and bad.
Filipinos have a great capacity to adjust, and to adapt to circumstances and to the surrounding environment, both physical and social. Unplanned or unanticipated events are never overly disturbing or disorienting as the flexible Filipino adjusts to whatever happens. They possess a tolerance for ambiguity that enables them to remain unfazed by uncertainty or lack of information. They are creative, resourceful, adept at learning, and able to improvise and make use of whatever is at hand in order to create and produce.
Filipinos have the capacity for hard work, given proper conditions. The desire to raise one's standard of living and to possess the essentials of a decent life for one's family, combined with the right opportunities and incentives, stimulate the Filipino to work very hard.