The Grey Chronicles


When in the Philippines, do as the Filipinos!

Some authors view the following as Filipino values (Bulatao, 1970), while others (e.g., Ruiz, 1997) view them as Filipino cultural patterns of behavior, not values.

1. Hiya [Shame]. The role of hiya in the culture is to maintain or support the existing order of authority, even peace and order, or self-esteem. It connotes uncontrollable feelings that accompany awareness of being in a socially unacceptable position, or performing a socially unacceptable act (Lynch, 1970). In the Philippine context, it motivated a person to behave in accordance with the norms of society.”

Annotations: This behavior is similar to East Asians idea of losing face, as in: walang mukhang iharap, literally: no face to present publicly. Juxtaposed with amor propio, for some, losing both is like living a life not worth living.

2. Pakikisama [Gang work] is the ability of a person to get along with others, but more specially, it means giving in, following the lead.(Lynch, 1970) ”

Annotations: Similar to the term barkada, the social pressure on a member of the group is so strong that if one leaves the group, he is literally ostracized by the group. This behaviour has a negative correlative: tayo-tayo or for us exclusively, which connotes unwholesome narrow loyalties of behaviour. Another manifestation of pakikisama is Suki, usually used in business transactions wherein a customer patronizes a merchant regularly in return for somewhat lower prices than the usual prices charged of non-suki customers. Pakikisama could also be triggered by regionalism or barrio-barrio mentality, where similar ethic group choose to only mingle with members of that group.

3. Utang na Loob [literally: Debt of Gratitude], the paternalistic orientation of a sense of obligation or indebtedness when one has done another a favor. The recipient of the favor is under no obligation to repay; but it all depends upon him. However, if he does not repay, others will call him ungrateful,or he himself will have a feeling of guilt.”

Annotations: Being a recipient, one can say thank you; but with Utang na Loob, it goes beyond simply saying Thank You. The giver expects the receiver to repay the favor, one way or another. Filipinos debt of gratitude is also sensed in the way they treat their elders: parents, grandparents or older persons. They believe that what they have at present is a gift from whoever were ahead of him.

4. Tulay [Go-between] is a person who acts as an intermediary between one person or group of persons, whose function is to assuage a bruise, heal a wound,or prevent an injury.”

Annotations: The go-between maybe a friend of the boss, or a friend of a friend. This is sometimes known as the third person strategy. Other literatures identify this as padrino [literally: godfather] system, but unlike the Italian’s version, the Filipino version is based on amor propio rather than omerta.

5. Amor propio [Personal or Family Honor, Dignity]. Filipinos react vehemently to anything done to him which he considers an insult to his honor, dignity, or pride because such insult undermines his position with other individuals (Jocano, 1966).”

Annotations: Filipino families are close-knitted units. Family members take pride in their own heritage, thus honor and dignity to the family is foremost in their minds. You could physically beat a man down, but he would still try to go up and fight. Take away his dignity; his moral strength is diminished and his physical strength useless. But, mind you; someday he might come back a raging bull!

6. Bahala Na [literally: Leave it to God]. Bahala na has its roots in the ethical religious belief system, i.e., the relationship between God and man, man relies in his belief that God will take care.”

Annotations: Bahala na implies that man is governed by a set of forces beyond his control, leave things to fate; thus also has a defeatist connotation. Maybe this is why, when Filipinos in the face of disaster, hardship or difficulty; are sometimes seen smiling or take the situation lightly because somewhere in this vast universe, they believe that God is omnipresent to take care of their troubles and foibles. Smiling in the face of adversity is not taking events lightly; but rather they see another opportunity to change things in their favor.

Most of these behaviors are alien to foreigners which would sometimes find these as strange, backward, or just plain out-of-this-world; but these behaviors are what make a Filipino Filipino!


Ruiz, Macario B. (1997). Fundamentals of General Management: Concepts, Tasks, Approaches, Performance. Quezon City: R.M. Garcia Publishing House, 1987. 295pp. back to text

Bulatao, Jaime P. (1970). The Manileños Mainspring, Four Readings on Philippine Values. IPC Papers, No. 2 3rd ed. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila Press, 1970. back to text

Lynch, Frank (1970). Social Acceptance—Reconsidered, Four Readings on Philippine Values. IPC Papers, No. 2 3rd ed. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila Press, 1970. p. 13,15-18.back to text

Eggan, Fred (1968). Philippine Social Structures, Six Perspectives on the Philippines. George N. Guthrie, ed. Manila: Bookmark, 1968. p. 62. back to text

Jocano, F. Landa (1966). Philippine Social Structures, Philippine Cultural Heritage. No. 2. Manila: Philippine Women’sUniversity, 1966. pp.23-24. back to text

Disclaimer : The posts on this site are my own and doesn’t necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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