When asked about what they love about the Philippines, tourists who have been to the country often say it’s the Filipino’s warmth and hospitality. And this is true. Filipinos are among the friendliest peoples of the world.
In a 2011 HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, the Philippines made it to the Top 10 Friendliest Nations in the World. The Philippines ranked 8th. The Expat Explorer Survey that is conducted annually to gain insights about living and working abroad.
This recognition is, indeed, a testament that expatriates who have been to and worked in the Philippines for a long time value the Filipino culture.
Aside from Filipino hospitality, the workforce’s strong service orientation complements business growth. Working with a Filipino team can be truly rewarding. The country’s service industry, i.e. the BPO sector, has been at the forefront of the country’s economic growth.
If you’re planning to launch a business in the Philippines, it’s a good idea to first understand the things the make the Filipino workforce a unique and desirable team. A good grasp on your offshore team’s culturally preconditioned beliefs, traditions, and values will help you work with them effectively.
Here’s a glance to the Filipino work culture:
1. Strong Affinity to the Western Culture
Filipinos have a strong affinity to the Western culture while maintaining its strong Asian identity. This familiarity with different cultures is due to the nation’s long history with both Oriental and Western cultures.
Moreover, Filipinos interact with tourists and foreign professionals on a daily basis. They are no strangers to outsourcing as well. Thus, communicating effectively in a cross-cultural setting is not a problem with them.
Lastly, Filipinos’ inherent open-mindedness and cultural sensitivity allow them to build a smooth relationship with anyone from any cultural background.
2. Language Proficiency
Filipinos are highly proficient in the English language. They speak in a more neutral tone, which native English speakers find easy to understand. The Education First English Proficiency Index ranks the Philippines third in Asia, next to Singapore and Malaysia.
The Philippines is also home to plenty of multilingual professionals. Many Filipinos know how to speak French, Spanish, German, Italian, Mandarin, Korean, or Japanese. The tremendous influx of young professionals to the country’s premiere language institutes is testament to this.
3. Centrality of Family and Relationship
Filipino’s definition and conception of the family transcends school, work, or even their relationship with power and the state. The emphasis on relationships is central to the Filipino identity.
Consequently, the concept of ‘pakikisama’ becomes strongly entrenched into the Filipino psyche. Thus, team working is a natural state of affairs among Filipinos.
Pakikisama is roughly translated to English as “camaraderie”, but for a Filipino, it means more than just that. Filipinos go out of their way to help others (say a team member) and to be seen to be helping. Adding value to any relationship is a true hallmark of Filipino pakikisama.
4. Strong Service Orientation
The Filipino people has been at the forefront of the Philippine call center industry primarily due to its strong service-orientation. Filipinos have an innate interest in other people making them good listeners and reliable problem solvers. The Filipino people is known for their hospitality and warmth. These are attributes they bring even to the workplace.
Filipinos are culturally flexible, language proficient, relationship-centered, and service-oriented. However, these same cultural values can pose some challenges.
The Filipino’s conception of family may hinder some from being critical or independent, and prefer predetermined procedures or processes. Moreover, their notion of keeping a ‘face’ starkly defines them in contrast to Western practice of criticism and confrontation. Thus, managers should be tactful in confronting and providing criticisms to their Filipino staff.
Needless to say, if you enter the offshoring game with an open, understanding and flexible mindset, you will find dealing with your offshore workforce extremely rewarding. Learning how to manage differences is the key towards a rewarding working relationship with Filipinos.
Ateneo de Manila University. (2016). #21 Developing Effective Filipino Work Teams. [online] Available at: http://www.ateneo.edu/cord/publication/01/28/16/21-developing-effective-filipino-work-teams [Accessed 3 Apr. 2017].
Tarroja, M. (2010). Revisiting the Definition and Concept of Filipino Family: A Psychological Perspective. Philippine Journal of Psychology, [online] 2(43), pp.177-193. Available at:
[Accessed 2 Apr. 2017].
Diversify OSS. (2014). Working with Filipino staff – The challenges and pitfalls | Diversify OSS. [online] Available at: http://www.diversifyoss.com/newsroom/working-filipino-staff-challenges-and-pitfalls/ [Accessed 3 Apr. 2017].
The Huffington Post. (2014). What Asia Can Learn From Philippines About English Education. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-chavez/what-asia-can-learn-from-_b_4572991.html [Accessed 3 Apr. 2017].
Ef.com. (2017). EF English Proficiency Index – A comprehensive ranking of countries by English skills. [online] Available at: http://www.ef.com/epi/ [Accessed 3 Apr. 2017].
Angela E. Lorenzana, (2015). A Semantic Analysis of “Pakikisama”, a Key Filipino Cultural Relationship Concept: The NSM Approach. IAMURE International Journal of Literature, Philosophy and Religion, [online] 7(1), pp.1-1. Available at: http://ejournals.ph/article.php?id=2887 [Accessed 3 Apr. 2017].
Assessments, P. (2017). Understanding Philippine Cultural Values in the Workplace. [online] Expatch.org. Available at: http://www.expatch.org/2013/02/13/understanding-philippine-cultural-values-in-the-workplace/ [Accessed 3 Apr. 2017].
Repository.ris.ac.jp. (2017). Pakikisama: A Filipino Trait [online] Available at: http://repository.ris.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/11266/5196/1/shinrikenkiyo_008_045.pdf [Accessed 3 Apr. 2017].