Filipino Culture Filipino Family Values

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Filipino Culture
Filipino Family Values

  • The family is the center of the social structure and includes the nuclear family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and honorary relations such as godparents, sponsors, and close family friends often called aunts and uncles though they are not.

  • People get strength and stability from their family. As such, many children have several godparents, the more the better.

  • Concern for the extended family is seen in the patronage provided to family members when they seek employment.

  • It is common for members of the same family to work for the same company, more likely than not. Jobs are hart to get and you can trust you relatives almost always.

  • In fact, many collective bargaining agreements state that preferential hiring will be given to family members.

Filipino Concept of Shame

  • Hiya is shame and is a motivating factor behind behaviour.

  • It is a sense of social propriety and conforming to societal norms of behaviour.

  • Filipinos believe they must live up to the accepted standards of behaviour and if they fail to do so they bring shame not only upon themselves, but also upon their family.

  • One indication of this might be a willingness to spend more than they can afford on a party rather than be shamed by their economic circumstances.

  • If someone is publicly embarrassed, criticized, or does not live up to expectations, they feel shame and lose self-esteem.

    General Etiquette & Protocol Guidelines

    Meeting Etiquette

  • Initial greetings are formal and follow a set protocol of greeting the eldest or most important person first.

  • A handshake, with a welcoming smile, is the standard greeting.

  • Close female friends may hug and kiss when they meet.

  • Use academic, professional, or honorific titles and the person's surname until you are invited to use their first name, or even more frequently, their nickname.

    Gift Giving Etiquette

  • If you are invited to a Filipino home for dinner bring sweets or flowers to the hosts.

  • If you give flowers, avoid chrysanthemums and white lilies.

  • You may send a fruit basket after the event as a thank you but not before or at the event, as it could be interpreted as meaning you do not think that the host will provide sufficient hospitality.

  • Wrap gifts elegantly as presentation is important. There are no color restrictions as to wrapping paper.

  • Gifts are not opened when received.

    Dining Etiquette

    If you are invited to a Filipino's house:

  • It is best to arrive 15 to 30 minutes later than invited for a large party.

  • Never refer to your host's wife as the hostess. This has a different meaning in the Philippines.

  • Dress well. Appearances matter and you will be judged on how you dress.

  • Compliment the hostess on the house.

  • Send a handwritten thank you note to the hosts in the week following the dinner or party. It shows that you have class.

    Table manners:

  • Wait to be asked several times before moving into the dining room or helping yourself to food.

  • Wait to be told where to sit. There may be a seating plan.

  • Do not start eating until the host invites you to do so.

  • Meals are often served family- style or are buffets where you serve yourself.

  • A fork and spoon are the typical eating utensils.

  • Hold the fork in the left hand and use it to guide food to the spoon in your right hand.

  • Whether you should leave some food on your plate or finish everything is a matter of personal preference rather than culture-driven.

    Business Etiquette Basics

    Relationships & Communication

  • Filipinos thrive on interpersonal relationships, so it is advisable to be introduced by a third party.

  • It is crucial to network and build up a cadre of business associates you can call upon for assistance in the future.

  • Business relationships are personal relationships, which mean you may be asked to do favours for colleagues, and they will fully expect you to ask them for favours in return.

  • Once a relationship has been developed it is with you personally, not necessarily with the company you represent.

  • Therefore, if you leave the company, your replacement will need to build their own relationship.

  • Presenting the proper image will facilitate building business relationships. Dress conservatively and well at all times.

    Business Meeting Etiquette

  • Appointments are required and should be made 3 to 4 weeks in advance.

  • It is a good idea to reconfirm a few days prior to the meeting, as situations may change.

  • Avoid scheduling meetings the week before Easter.

  • Punctuality is expected. For the most part your Filipino colleagues will be punctual as well.

  • Face-to-face meetings are preferred to other, more impersonal methods such as the telephone, fax, letter or email.

  • Send an agenda and informational materials in advance of the meeting so your colleagues may prepare for the discussion.

  • The actual decision maker may not be at the meeting.

  • Avoid making exaggerated claims.

  • Always accept any offer of food or drink. If you turn down offers of hospitality, your colleagues lose face.

  • It is important to remain for the period of social conversation at the end of the meeting.

    Business Negotiation

  • You may never actually meet with the decision maker or it may take several visits to do so.

  • Decisions are made at the top of the company.

  • Filipinos avoid confrontation if at all possible. It is difficult for them to say 'no'. Likewise, their 'yes' may merely mean 'perhaps'.

  • At each stage of the negotiation, try to get agreements in writing to avoid confusion or misinterpretation.

  • If you raise your voice or lose your temper, you lose face.

  • Filipinos do business with people more than companies. If you change representatives during negotiations, you may have to start over.

  • Negotiations may be relatively slow. Most processes take a long time because group consensus is necessary.

  • Decisions are often reached on the basis of feelings rather than facts, which is why it is imperative to develop a broad network of personal relationships.

  • Do not remove your suit jacket unless the most important Filipino does.

    Dress Etiquette

  • Business attire is conservative.

  • Men should wear a dark coloured, conservative business suit, at least for the initial meeting.

  • Women should wear a conservative suit, a skirt and blouse, or a dress.

  • Women's clothing may be brightly coloured as long as it is of good quality and well tailored.

  • Appearances matter and visitors should dress well.

    Business Cards

  • You should offer your business card first.

  • Make sure your business card includes your title.

  • Present and receive business cards with two hands so that it is readable to the recipient.

  • Examine the card briefly before putting it in your business card case.

  • Some senior level executives only give business cards to those of similar rank.

It is believed that young people should not marry before they have completed some kind of educational preparation for a career so that they will be economically self-sufficient. They also should be sufficiently mature to assume the responsibilities of raising a family. The typical age for marriage is thus 20-25 years for Filipino women and 25-30 years for men. Once married, Filipinos are expected to start their families within a year or so. The birth of a child fixes the ties between the married couple's respective families. The bond of marriage also is considered permanent; Catholicism and Philippine law prohibit divorce except among Muslims and some unassimilated groups (PAPEP, 1982).

Although the father may be ostensibly perceived as the main authority figure in the nuclear family, the mother has considerable authority and influence. She generally controls the finances, may work full time (even with many children at home), and earns as much as or more than half the family income. Women enjoy high status in the family and in the society at large. Bilateral lineage attests to this higher status of Filipinas compared with women in more patriarchal Asian countries. The long accepted phenomenon of the "working mother" in the Philippines thus does not pose a drastic role change as it does for other recent Asian immigrant families in the United States (PAPEP, 1982).

Egalitarian roles and relationships between men and women are further reflected in family decision making processes. Family authority is based on respect for age, regardless of sex. Family decisions are made only after a consensus has been reached to ensure that the ultimate decision will be representative of and acted on by all family members. Family disagreements are avoided, if possible; when disagreements do occur, they are kept strictly within the family (PAPEP, 1982). Children are the center of the parent's concerns. They are viewed as an extension of the family and recipients of the family's good fortune. Many adults may assume responsibility for a child within a family but do not strictly adhere to the Confucian expectation of unquestioning child obedience. Parents are expected to persuade a child to accept their point of view, rather than impose their authority on the child without consideration for the child's preferences or wishes. The child, in turn, is expected to show proper respect and obedience, to compromise, and to maintain good relationships with all other family members (PAPEP, 1982).

The receiver oriented and relatively indirect style of most Asian languages is characteristic of communication patterns. These patterns are integrally related to primary values such as family, authority, interpersonal harmony, concern for others' well-being, and the importance of "saving face." Similar to other Asian ethnic groups, Filipinos typically employ formality and honorific language that conveys proper respect for authority, status, and positions by terms of address and titles. For example, a physician or a lawyer will continue to be addressed as "Dr. Cruz" or "Attorney Ramos" by clients, friends, and colleagues well after more personalized and informal relationships have been established (in contrast to the American tendency to move more rapidly toward a first name basis) (Santos, 1983). 

Respect for authority and concern for "face-saving" further reinforce the frequent use of euphemisms, third parties, and saying "yes" when the opposite is meant (Santos, 1983). Filipinos often will go to great lengths to avoid making a direct appeal when they have encountered a problem or wish to convey an important request. They instead prefer to introduce a go between "to cushion the transaction and escape the embarrassment that might result from presenting the matter face-to-face with the other person" (Gochenour, 1990, p. 50). In their wish to be accommodating,

 Filipinos also may find it impolite or embarrassing to decline social invitations or to respond directly to other requests that might elicit a negative answer or contrary opinion. Although apparently concurring in some manner (through failure to express or defend an alternative point of view) or ostensibly indicating agreement, Filipinos may actually be privately opposed to the issue or question at hand. They generally will make an ambiguous statement rather than say "No," or say "Yes," but mean "No," "Maybe," or "I don't know." They find it hard to reject or disagree, especially when conversing with someone considered superior. When they feel the truth will offend or embarrass, they answer indirectly. The purpose of an evasive reply is not to deceive but to please or avoid confrontation (Harper & Fullerton, 1994). Thus, as a result of values such as paki kisama and amor propio, mistakes will go unmentioned, questions unasked, and issues unsettled (PAPEP, 1982). This communication style obviously may challenge a more Eurocentric orientation that values frankness, directness, honesty, and sincerity and potentially contributes to a perception of Filipinos as being two-faced (Gochenour, 1990). 

Consistent with other high context cultures, Filipinos have a highly developed sensitivity to the nonverbal aspects of communication (Gochenour, 1990). Filipinos are considerably less dependent on spoken words than are European Americans; they watch their listeners carefully and identify body language cues to assess what the person is feeling. The essence of this more intuitive and affective sense that guides nonverbal communication is captured in the phrase "talking with one's eyes" (PAPEP, 1982). Pilipino sensitivity to context thus "extends from a keen awareness of appropriate speech and behaviour in a given situation to a well developed instinct for what is implied and not stated" (Gochenour, 1990, p. 61). This sensitivity is further complemented by a high tolerance for ambiguity that enables Filipinos to respond calmly to uncertainty or lack of information. Again, however, this orientation may conflict with the characteristically Eurocentric utilitarian emphasis on forthrightness and achieving and results in the least amount of time (Gochenour, 1990).

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