Just Because I’m A Filipino Doesn’t Mean I Have to Be A Filipino. Always.

My workmates asked to have some beer sessions after work and my un-Filipino mind instantly replied “maybe next time”. Having born in this traditionally driven society, my mouth said yes and took their request as it would be very un-Filipino of me not to oblige them as saying yes to a beer drinking request is a sign of Filipino respect.

I’m not saying that drinking is bad and that I dislike people who drink. It’s just that drinking is not my cup of tea. Take me to biking, swimming in the beach, camping in the forest and I would surely oblige you.

This is a classic example of a Filipino getting forced to do something out of sheer Filipino custom. Back in my mind, I never really wanted to drink but because my Filipinoness said yes, I got nowhere else to go.




Have you ever tried questioning what you do because of tradition?

Did it come to your mind that you’re being forced to do something because of your Filipinoness?

Here’s an idea.

How about if your Filipinoness limits you from reaching to the next big thing or when you plan to step up your game.

Is that possible? Could our culture, passed down from our Lolos and Lolas to our papas and mamas, be a force to drag us down? Or remain steady?

Back in school, I learned that culture helps nurturing a man’s identity. I could never agree more to this belief as my culture and heritage is important to me personally. In fact, when I travel, I make it a point to go to a market since it is one indicator of a culture. I could literally be in the market all night, if not tired, just to experience what’s like to be in a new place.

Though culture is important for me. I firmly think that I do not need to follow my culture all the time. In this sense, my Filipinoness. Why? By completely reading this, you will know what my reasons are and why I feel this.

  1.  The Just-Agree-Attitude

My friend works in a foreign country and her boss makes her and other Filipinos work on things that are beyond their job description. She said that their bosses in their company would like to hire Filipinos more or ask Filipinos more than other foreign nationals because Filipinos don’t complain. At least publicly. Personally, I think it’s okay to work hard but doing other things not part of my job description is unacceptable. Maybe one or two times would be fair. But doing more than I should is a red flag. Some Filipinos are afraid of the higher authority (boss, the rich, foreigners) to the point of just agreeing outside even if they feel bad about it inside. They agree without questioning.

Popular expression of this is “Agree nalang para way gubot.”

  1.  The Fear of Asking Questions

You are in a class or conference and the speaker talking in front call for questions. Normally, Filipinos would think twice asking questions publicly because it would be an insult to the person being asked. Especially, if it’s an elderly or someone of high authority. In traditional classes, students feel discouraged to raise questions and probe more about the lessons discussed because they received insults from their teachers before when they tried. Some teachers would go beyond saying “Are you questioning my intelligence?” This situation becomes a traumatic experience to students making them feel questioning is never good. When it fact, questioning breeds answers and wisdom.

  1.  Question to Insult

Opposite from the latter is when Filipinos question to find fault and shame to the speaker. Yes, it’s real. At times when speakers and reporters are done, some Filipinos would intentionally drill the speakers with questions to make them look as a joke in front. Generally, Filipinos think of asking questions as a sign of making a situation worse or to be exact the person’s situation worse. So, if someone doesn’t like the reporter, it’s possible that he be given tons of questions even if the questioner knows the answer. So, to make things easier, Filipinos won’t ask questions. This answers why Filipinos seldom or don’t ask questions.

For me, it’s okay to ask questions as long as your intention is to know more and probe the ideas discussed.

Plainly accepting views without validation is ignorance.

  1.  The Feeling of Inferiority

When I was standing on a moving bus going to Samboan, I was like the patty in a burger. A Filipino lady stood before me and a white national in my back. Waiting for some passengers to take off the bus as it arrived in Badian, the Filipino conductor, knowing there’s one vacant seat, offered straight the seat to the white national, completely ignoring us Filipinos in front. I’m not the one to give in easily, so I immediately took the seat for myself. For me, the conductor was completely being indirectly discriminatory.

Because of colonial mentality, Filipinos indirectly feel little in the presence of other foreigners especially towards the whites.

  1.  The Beating-Around-the-Bush

Let me start off by saying, I am a criminal to this sometimes. We, Filipinos, oftentimes don’t say what we really want to say. So, we can say yes even if it’s no. We say yes so much but we don’t really mean it. Personally, I am so used to this that it wouldn’t bother me so much but sometimes they do. A homeowner and I had an appointment of me seeing her house to rent. Our appointment was supposed to be in a particular day but she couldn’t see me so it changed to tomorrow. Tomorrow came and it’s already 5 pm. I received no calls and texts she also didn’t respond to my calls and texts. I ended up waiting from lunch to 5 pm. Why couldn’t she just be honest? Makes everything so much easier.



Here are some reasons why I don’t always have to be a Filipino. How do these stop us in stepping up our game? These habits are a wall simply because they are inhibitions and confusions. When we are confused, our mind gets interrupted of the function of reasoning and our actions pause or becomes impulsive.

You have probably experienced these things also. I know you have more to offer about Filipino practices that seem to slow the process of getting to the next big thing. Have you wondered why you do these things? If you do get bothered a lot, why do you keep on doing them?

If you agree with me and believe this too yourself, it’s high time to question the practices of our culture. To question doesn’t make us less of a Filipino or betray our ancestry. This is the time where we have to question the common practices of Filipinos that seem to weaken us internally affecting our decisions limiting our success. Besides, not every practice is good just because it’s a habit or a part of culture.


Note: This is not a representation of all Filipinos. This is just a personal observation as a Filipino myself. Therefore, you may agree or disagree or maybe comment your opinion.  It’s always fun to ask questions and learn more than plainly receiving everything without validating.
Disclaimer: The feature photo is lifted from http://www.idreamedofthis.com/2013/11/27/what-i-really-think-of-the-philippines/ authored by Nathan Allen. I do not intend to use the photo as my own. All credit for the photo belongs to the owner himself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s