Filipino traits and values

Metro Manila, Philippines

UPDATE: Coronavirus (COVID-19) is forcing a lot of companies to review their traditional staffing, offshore, and Work-From-Home (WFH) options.  Outsourcing enables businesses to slash costs whilst at the same time maintain and rebuild their companies. Read our dedicated COVID-19 articles here: COVID-19 Business Recovery Action Plan


In order to understand the Filipino talent and the BPO industry in the Philippines, one has to take a look at the country’s history and understand Filipino culture and traditional values.

What do Filipinos value?

The term kapwa, or a shared inner self, lies at the core of Filipino values and psychology. A person who treats another as a kapwa has a shared a sense of identity and consciousness with that ‘other’ person.

Both in the individual and community level, strong emphasis is placed on social acceptance and maintaining social harmony. As such, social approval and caring about what others will think, say, or do strongly influence social behavior.

Here are some of the values that Filipinos have historically held important:


The family

The family is at the center of the Filipino community. Children are not expected to leave their parents’ house until they themselves get married; and even after then, many couples opt to stay with or close to their or their spouse’s parents. Also, they’re expected to care for their ageing parents instead of sending them to a retirement home.

This is why it’s common to see different generations or multiple families living in a single residence. The value that Filipinos put into caring for one’s family can also be seen as one of the reasons why nurses and caregivers from the country provide their patients and clients with a high level of care.

Humor and positivity

Optimism, humor, and positivity are valued traits in the Philippines. The country has a long list of national holidays, and many provinces and cities have their own sets of local holidays. At the same time, in the face of difficult or challenging situations, members of the community are encouraged to look at the brighter side of things.

The inclination for finding the good in the bad can be traced to the country’s location, which lies in the path of typhoons and sits along the Pacific Ring of Fire. In a place where natural calamities are commonplace, humor and positivity work as a coping mechanism, much like how some children laugh to hide their embarrassment after slipping or falling.

Flexibility and adaptability

The term bahala na, which can be translated to whatever happens, happens, is one of the more familiar phrases used in the country and is perhaps the most representative of how Filipinos value adaptability and quick thinking. It exemplifies one’s belief in a higher power and submitting one’s fate to elements that cannot be controlled.

People who use the term bahala na do not see anything wrong with it, as it serves as a sort of positive affirmation that allows them to deal with a problem right then and there. However, those who do see it negatively often view it as a form of fatalistic submission or a way to absolve one from the responsibility of their actions.

Faith and religion

Spirituality is deeply ingrained in Filipinos. A form of animism was already being practiced in many pre-colonial societies and Islam has been firmly established in the southern islands even before the Spanish brought Catholicism to the country. These days, religion still plays a big part in society and in the everyday lives of Filipinos.


The Catholic Church’s views still affect the passing of some laws, most towns still hold fiestas to honor their patron saints, and many regular non-working national holidays are dedicated to celebrating various religious activities and events. To many Filipinos, religion helps shape their values and principles.

Filipino hospitality

Filipinos in the country and around the globe can be expected to extend a warm welcome to their guests regardless of where they come from, how well they know their host, and why they’re visiting someone’s home.

Hosts typically provide their guest with food and entertainment and, if there’s time, a tour around the local destinations. Before they leave, guests are entreated to take home pasalubong or souvenirs, which often come in the form of delicacies and local sweets.

Filipino culture and tradition

Brief Philippine history

Long before the Spanish arrived in the Philippines, the communities in the archipelago have been trading with what is now China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Its location beside continental Asia and along the border of the Pacific Ocean provided the archipelago’s inhabitants a lot of opportunities to interact and communicate with different groups of people. Some of the major influences that affected the communities in the islands are Hindu religion, language, literature, and culture from India, and Islam from Arabia.

The Spanish Colonial Period began with the arrival of the Spaniards in 1521 and ended in 1898—lasting a total of 333 years. The islands were named The Republic of the Philippines in 1543, in honor of King Philip II of Spain. Christianity was also given heavy emphasis during this time.

After Spain was defeated in the Spanish-American War, the Philippines was occupied by America, Japan, and again, America after World War II.  By 1946, the United States has ceded its sovereignty over the country and elections were held to elect the first president of the independent republic.

How to outsource roles the right way
How to outsource roles the right way

Languages of the Philippines

The official languages of the country are English and Filipino, but there are over 175 languages used in the Philippines. Most of these languages are under the Malayo-Polynesian subgroup of Austronesian languages. It’s typical for Filipinos to grow up bilingual, and many even speak 3 languages— the 2 national languages plus the indigenous language in their area.

Philippine languages have been influenced by many other languages, including each other. During the Spanish occupation, friars and priests, with great reluctance and much delay, conducted religious instruction and almost all forms of formal education using Spanish under the orders of the Spanish government. It was at this time that many Spanish words were borrowed into Tagalog.

The American occupation saw the wide adoption of English as the language of instruction in schools throughout the country. Before and after World War II, the Philippine government actively took solid steps toward establishing a national language based on Tagalog, which was used as a second language by almost half of the country’s population at the time. Then, in 1987, Filipino was named as the National Language of the Philippines.

In the present day, both Filipino and English are taught as academic subjects and used as languages of instruction in primary and secondary schools and universities throughout the country. News and entertainment programs that are aired throughout the country are also often delivered in these languages.


More often than not, the Filipino people place their moral values in religion, particularly Catholicism and Islam. Religion is seen as a universal value that further strengthens the family and sometimes even affects the government in power. This shouldn’t be an issue to you as a business owner, since BPO in the Philippines is a major driving force for the country’s economic growth.

This loosens up the tensions between the Philippine government and foreign business owners and investors, making it easy for investments to go through and for businesses to receive tax relief on top of it all. However, due to the fact that Filipino talent have strong feelings about their religion beliefs, it’s best if you keep your conversations both professional and friendly when religion gets involved.

Filipino cuisine

The Filipino cuisine is a mesh between Chinese, Mexican, Malay, Spanish, Indian, and American cooking. It usually consists of 6 meals per day, including breakfast, snacks, lunch, brunch, dinner, and a final reach toward snacks to end the day on a full stomach. Most Filipino dishes involve rice, which is served alongside other edibles.

Most Filipinos regularly use spoons, forks, and knives to eat their food, but sometimes hands come into play when seafood is involved. Popular dishes include chorizo, asado, paksiw (pork in vinegar and other spices), kare-kare (stew made of ox-tail), sinigang (soup delicacy made of pork, prawns, or fish), longanisa (sweet sausage), and more.

On the other hand, some popular snacks are bibingka (rice cake made with margarine or butter), polvoron (powder candy), puto (rice cakes), chocolate, and more.

Filipino work ethic

If you are considering hiring from, or outsourcing to the Philippines, it’s important to understand the differences in culture, so that you can get the best out of your workforce.  As with anything in life, to keep people motivated, engaged and doing their best, they need to be happy and everyone needs to benefit from the relationship – it needs to be a win-win.

The Philippines workforce are some of the hardest working and loyal people on the planet.  They are very strongly community and family oriented, which should be reflected in the workplace and management styles.

It is hard to make generalisations, but Filipinos are very strong in more creative and communication based roles – examples of this are design, content production, arts, and many of the customer service oriented activities.  They are also very strong in English (spoken and written) – especially considering it is technically (historically) a second language for them.

Philippines – a top outsourcing destination

Read this article to see why Philippines is a top outsourcing (and employment) destination.  Here we have outlined some of the top reasons why ‘Philippines is the Swiss banking of outsourcing’.

Managing a Filipino workforce

Managing people generally is not easy.  To get the best out of a workforce, you have to invest heavily in the environment, and processes to ensure that you are providing adequate nurturing or their skills and career.

The workforce i the Philippines is no different. Properly managing a nurturing a workforce in the Philippines isn’t necessarily easy, but if you get it right, you can build n incredibly dedicated, loyal, and highly effective team.  We have written a number of articles covering these very items.  Below are some of of recommendations:

Outsourcing of customer service
Outsourcing of customer service

Get the best from employing young professionals

This article reviews a recent podcast interview we had with Eileen Juan, the founder and ‘Queen Bee’ of The Picture Company.  She talks about how to motivate and get the best out of her Filipino workforce.

Get the best out of your Filipino workforce

This article explores the ways of getting the best performance possible from your Philippines-based team.

Resiliency and adaptability of the Filipino workforce

This article summarises the learnings from our podcast interview with Gerrard Aguelles, a technical trainer and web developer.  In this article, he explains how Filipinos are adaptable and how they respond to working with foreigners.

Payment solutions for Filipino workforce

The Philippines also keeps up when it comes to technology in payment solutions. With the rise of mobile payment and B2B platforms, transactions like receiving remittances, transferring allowances to parents and siblings, opening a savings account, etc. can now be done with the click of their mobile phones. With this, Filipinos can spend more time with their loved ones and bond together with their friends.

With this, businesses with Filipino workforce don’t have to worry anymore about excessive transfer fees when sending to different currencies.

Holidays in the Philippines

The Philippines is renowned for its both national, and local celebrations and festivals.  They have wonderful celebrations, which focus on and celebrate many of the core values mentioned above.  As a result of so much festivity, the country has more holidays than most other nations.

These holidays are briefly outlined below – and you can get full details of Philippine holidays here.

The Philippines has plenty of regular and special non-working holidays that celebrate national, religious, and cultural events. Regular non-working holidays refer to holidays with a fixed date, and schools and offices are typically closed on these days. These are:

  • January 1, 2018, Monday – New Year’s Day
  • March 29, 2018 – Maundy Thursday
  • March 30, 2018 – Good Friday
  • April 9, 2018, Monday – Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor)
  • May 1, 2018, Tuesday – Labor Day
  • June 12, 2018, Tuesday – Independence Day
  • August 27, 2018, last Monday of August – National Heroes’ Day
  • November 30, 2018, Friday – Bonifacio Day
  • December 25, 2018, Tuesday – Christmas Day
  • December 30, 2018, Sunday – Rizal Day

Special non-working holidays refer holidays that are enacted by the congress or declared under the judgement of the president. Some holidays may apply to academic institutions but may not effect business schedule or government functions. Some of the special non-working holidays celebrated in the country include:

  • February 16, 2018, Friday – Chinese New Year
  • February 25, 2018, Sunday – EDSA Revolution Anniversary
  • March 31, 2018 – Black Saturday
  • August 21, 2018, Tuesday – Ninoy Aquino Day
  • November 1, 2018, Thursday – All Saints’ Day
  • December 31, 2018, Monday – last day of the year

In addition, the government has also declared these 3 dates as non-working holidays:

  • May 14, 2018 – Barangay and SK elections
  • November 2, 2018, Friday
  • December 24, 2018, Monday

Employees who work on regular holidays receive 200% the sum of their daily rate plus their daily cost of living allowance. Those who work on a special holiday, on the other hand, get 130%.

How Filipino culture and values benefit outsourcing

There are plenty of reasons why many businesses prefer to outsource their processes to BPO companies in the Philippines, and these include the high linguistic and cultural compatibility between Filipinos and their clients.

This factor not only affects the quality of service provided by the workforce, but also plays an important role in how the office dynamics work. To conduct a harmonious and effective working relationship, it’s best if both parties take the extra mile in familiarizing themselves with the culture and values of the people they are working with.

Comprehensive guide to payroll salary compensation, benefits, and allowances in the Philippines

If you’re looking to hire people in the Philippines, especially if outsourcing, you should read our Comprehensive Guide to Payroll Salary Compensation, Benefits, and Allowances in the Philippines.  It’s the most comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about salaries in the Philippines, and all the associated considerations.

It also covers holidays and general allowances and expectations.  As we mention above, there are a lot of holidays in the Philippines, and they are a core part of the culture and community.  Equally, there are a lot of allowances, and peripheral things that you should know about when hiring a Filipino workforce (from within The Philippines).

Filipino salaries and income

the Philippine workforce earns considerably less that the workforce of the West.  Sometimes this can be seen as unethical. But the Philippine economy is booming – it has been growing at above 6% year-on-year for the last 5+ years.

This is impressive growth. And it is largely fuelled by it’s young, and relatively well paid workforce. A young Filipino graduate can live relative well on a $300 Monthly salary – as we explore in this article.

Filipino culture and values shine

The people of The Philippines can stand tall and be proud of their culture and values. It is an exciting time of rapid growth and relative prosperity for the people of The Philippines. And it couldn’t be more well deserved, or hard earned.

Managing a team in the Philippines is not always easy – but then people management is a complex nuanced subject at the best of times.  But once you have mastered it, the rewards are substantial – for all involved!

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