10 Amusing Filipino Traits
So you’ve heard. Filipinos are generally hardworking, great English speakers and communicators, less expensive to hire, and all the other reasons why many foreign companies choose to work with Filipino professionals. But there’s really more to a Filipino than that. Just like any nationality, Filipinos too have their own set of generally acknowledged traits that make them unique.
If you’re looking to work with a Filipino team, here are a few amusing things you probably should know about the people you’ll be working with, and what these characteristics might say about them.
1. Smiling all the way
If you find Filipinos always smiling, that doesn’t mean they’re mocking you or making fun of you. They just happen to be a happy, smiling, cheerful lot. They smile when they’re happy, they smile when they’re sad, they smile when they’re angry and well, they just smile by default.
Filipinos are typically sanguine by temperament and sunny in disposition. In times of need, you can count on them to be fellows of good cheer. And whatever they may be going through in life, count on Filipinos to manage everything with a smile.
2. A ubiquitous sense of humor
The Filipino cheerfulness is an offshoot of an even greater force, his ubiquitous sense of humor. No matter what the situation may be, you can bet on Filipinos finding something to chuckle about. They have a knack for tempering even the gravest of circumstances with humor. You can find internet pictures of Filipinos happily swimming and frolicking in the flood after (or even during) a typhoon. During power blackouts, they will most likely try and scare each other just for laughs. For the Filipino, you can always find something funny… if you know where to look.
This implies that Filipinos know how to deal with setbacks in good spirit. It doesn’t mean they don’t take things seriously. It simply suggests that Filipinos can take on any challenge with a grain of salt and with tons of humor. However difficult a situation may seem, they can laugh it off and go on with their lives and with business as usual.
3. Respectful folks
Filipinos have certain terms for addressing people with respect. The word “po” is usually added to any sentence to express respect for the elders. “Kuya” or brother is added to the name of an older man, while “Ate” or sister is added to the name of an older female. So if you’re name is Adrien, Filipinos will most likely call you “Kuya Adrien.” That is, if you’re older or seem to look much older. At work, Filipinos normally address people of authority as sir or ma’am. And it would be wise to do so if they want to be in their superiors’ good graces.
Showing respect is very much a part of Filipino culture. Politeness is a norm that is especially evident in the way they talk to people. This means you can expect a Filipino to be polite in manner and speech, no matter what they may actually think of you. They are capable of setting aside personal biases to express politeness and respect as a customary act of goodwill.
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4. Masters of recycling
Filipinos are probably the kings and queens of recycling. They can reinvent any piece of scrap and turn it into something new and useful. Take for example those soda caps usually flicked off to the garbage can. A Filipino may still find some ornamental use for it. Local stores like Kultura boast of products designed with old soda caps. One Filipino startup came up with the brand Loudbasstard which makes sound amplifiers out of bamboos.
Filipinos can be very creative, sometimes out of a need to be economical with limited resources. Before relegating something to the trash, they might first try to find another use for it. The garbage can is only the ultimate last resort.
5. Expert texters
When it comes to mobile phone texting, Filipinos are experts. The Philippines has in fact been declared the texting capital of the world at some point. Filipinos probably have the most agile fingers for punching letters and words into their phones. If there ever was a texting race, the Filipinos would most likely bag first prize.
The Filipinos’ love of texting is only a symptom of their taste for technology. Filipinos, in general, are tech-savvy. The use of computers and gadgets is taught very early on in Philippine education. Technology is very much incorporated in any professional field, which means Filipinos can easily work for companies abroad given their broad knowledge of technology.
6. Face value
If you’re looking for something and you ask a Filipino, he might pucker and pout his lips in reply. Don’t freak out. He’s not trying to kiss you or anything. He’s simply pointing you in the right direction using his mouth. Yes, Filipinos can be quite strategic in the use of their facial features. They point with their mouths and answer with their eyebrows. Instead of saying “yes”, they may simply slide their eyebrows up and down in agreement.
This suggests that non-verbal communication is just as important to Filipinos as spoken language. They don’t merely talk, they express. And likewise, they don’t just listen, they watch. It’s also a testament to the Filipinos’ brand of resourcefulness. They can find more than just one or two uses for their facial features.
Related Article: Filipinos are the Happiest Employees in Asia
7. “It’s just over there.”
When you’re asking for directions, the most automatic response you’ll get from a Filipino is, “diyan lang” or “it’s just over there”. Errrr, it doesn’t exactly mean you’re almost there. It could also mean you’re far from being near. “It’s just over there” can range from 500 meters to 5,000 kilometers. In other words, it’s an indefinite reply suggesting indefinite distance. It’s simply the Filipino’s way of saying it’s within the vicinity. Not in the next province or the next city or the next country. It is best to ask for very specific directions or landmarks to spare yourself any false hopes.
This suggests that distance can make no difference to Filipinos. He may be living on one side of town and working all the way on the other side of it without any issue. In fact, many Filipinos work far away from home and that’s no problem. For a Filipino, work is work. And distance, while inconvenient, is not at all a hindrance.
There’s a common anecdote about Filipinos planning their next meal while enjoying their current meal. That’s how much Filipinos love to eat. Food is almost always the topic of conversation. And when it comes to parties, they don’t just prepare a special dish. They serve a banquet, a feast, an eat-all-you-can (and can’t) buffet. And beware, they will insist that you help yourself to more than you can probably handle. An antacid may come in handy If ever you get invited to a Filipino-hosted party.
That means you will never go hungry with a Filipino, period.
9. Gracious hosts
Next to their love for food is their love for sharing it. When Filipinos are in the act of eating and you happen to drift by, they’re inclined to invite you to join them and share the meal. “Kain tayo” or “let’s eat” is something they will typically say, even to complete strangers. To the Filipino, this is a gesture of courtesy and an expression of graciousness. And while it may be perfectly alright to take them up on their offer, mind that it could be just as polite to decline.
Filipinos are famous for being hospitable and gracious. They know how to treat guests like kings and queens. Ask any foreigner who has been in this neck of the Asian woods and he will tell you all about it. Filipinos are warm, welcoming and inclusive in general.
10. Bill racers
When Filipinos are eating out with their friends or colleagues, each one by instinct will offer to pay. What typically ensues is a race for the bill and the more insistent you are (or the louder your voice), the more chances you have of winning. For the same reason, visiting family or friends will never have to worry about paying a dime when dining out with Filipinos. They can just sit back, relax and eat because the Filipino will never let them so much as reach for their wallets.
This speaks of the Filipinos’ generosity and magnanimity. But more than just that, it also shows the Filipinos’ sense of camaraderie.
And there you have it. The Filipino in a nutshell. One thing is for sure. When it comes to work, the Filipino is as much reliable as he is delightful. And just when you think you’ve seen everything, count on the Filipino to surprise you. 😉