respect as a personal value

30 Filipino Values: Cultural Beliefs That Shape Our Actions

Filipino values inform and influence how we work and live. Discover who we really are and explore opportunities to live and work with us. If you want Filipinos to become effective, there is no need to supplant Filipino values with western values. Filipinos already possess admirable values that, when reinforced, will create a great work culture.

Filipinos work better when they behave according to their values. Filipinos value their community. Do not expect them to become a different person when they get inside your office. Instead, let them bring out their best where they are.

Are you interested in including Filipino values in your leadership training programs? I will be happy to help. Values like malasakit, kusang-palo, and bayanihan are powerful values that inspire great customer service, teamwork, and professionalism.

What are Filipino values?

Filipino Values is a collective term for the shared assumptions and beliefs of Filipinos, which influence their response to facts, events, and situations. Filipino values serve as Filipinos’ lenses on how they appreciate the issues around them. To appreciate Filipino culture, begin with their values.

Like all other humans, Filipinos are not conscious of our values because we have internalized them in the process of growing up. We are swimming in values that we do not notice how our decisions are informed by them.

Values are the community standards of what’s valuable. They are the guiding principles of our lives.

We have personal values, which are like lighthouses that tell us what to avoid and what to pursue. And we balance our personal values with communal values.

Filipino Values: Pagdadamayan

Since Filipinos are grouped into many islands, dialects, and ethnic groups, some values may be emphasized more in one group than others.

I will describe later 30 Filipino values. You will understand why Filipinos do what they do. Use these values to educate, empower, and motivate Filipinos. Use these values to teach personal development and leadership.

I won’t attempt to be academic. I understand that the younger generation of professionals may find some of the values unfamiliar.

But they’ll surely recognize each when I show the asal (behaviors) that demonstrate each value.

Filipino Values in Training Leaders

I was in Cebu ten years ago. While waiting for my flight to Manila, I met two Americans. A client accompanied them. They were sent by their company to conduct leadership training based on Good to Great by Jim Collins.

They told me their workshop participants found it difficult to understand the concepts. They said everyone was quiet; no one wanted to participate in discussions.

Since I had handled the same group before, I was sure speaking in English was not a problem.

If you have read Collin’s book, you know that no Filipino company was part of his study. His terminologies, not the concepts, are unfamiliar to Filipinos.

I have designed my version of the Good to Great program too. I shared with them the techniques I use for “Getting the Core Values Right” and “Mission to Mars”. Collins said that we don’t set our core values, we discover them. But I think we can change our core values, too, since core values are not like our DNA.

There are more engaging activities than what was provided in the book. Making participants choose from the values that they’ve been swimming since childhood is much more fun.

If only the two American trainers understood Filipino values, they would have seen how creative and imaginative Filipinos are.

Here’s another example.

Kouzes and Posner talked about the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. I know that Model the Way is easy to understand. But being “uliran” will resonate with them. The meaning is deeper.

Because an “uliran” sets the standards. He walks the talk. He practices what he preaches.

People look up to an uliran.

Metaphors and saying could have helped. Stories of organizations familiar to us could have helped.

Learning about Filipino values can help you work more effectively with Filipinos.

cultural significance of bayanihan
We help each other.

Remarkable Filipino Values

If you want to understand Filipinos, start with our values. You can start with these 27 traditional Filipino values. Each of us carries a different set of values, and we may have a unique way of seeing and understanding each value.

We don’t study all of these in schools. Our parents taught us these as we were growing up. We learned them while playing with other kids. And we caught them while watching adults.

1. Amor Proprio ( Loving Oneself )

Amor propio is means self-love or self-regard. We Filipinos value self-respect. It is related to dangal, which means dignity. We honor our words, and we fight for our honor. It is also related to the Filipino term hiya I will explain below.

The greatest love of all, according to Whitney Houston, is loving yourself. Every line of that song tells us about Amor Propio.

Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

Amor Propio is a Spanish phrase. We used the phrase, but we did not inherit the value. That’s because Filipinos, like many Asians, value themselves. They have high regard for themselves. They respect themselves as they respect others (Kapwa-tao).

When the Spaniards went to the Philippines, they were looking for slaves. the Filipinos, on the other hand, offered themselves as allies.

During the American colonialization in the Philippines, there was an effort to paint love for self in a negative light.

Our ancestors were told that too much of this is kayabangan (something that colonizers often say) and that our sense of hiya prevents us from reaching our potential.

This is why when a person is shy, he is called mahiyain. A criminal is walang-hiya (shameless) and kahiya-hiya (shameful).

But hiya means self-regard.

In the workplace, Filipinos do not want to be embarrassed. They resent being shouted at. And they also do not want to embarrass others.

When I was young, I often hear Nonoy Zuniga’s Doon lang. When I was young, I saw the value of education as a way to earn dangal. If you like listening to old songs, you can find Doon Lang on Youtube.

Amor propio is a Filipino value that we bring with us everywhere. And everywhere I go, I find Filipinos whose amor propio makes them excellent workers.

2. Awa ( Compassion for Others )

Awa may mean compassion, grace, sympathy, charity, or pity. The meaning of awa changes slightly based on context, but as a community value, it means compassion for others. Because of our heart for others, we give whatever we have even though we need help. One good example is the mushrooming of community pantries throughout the country during the pandemic.

Because we value others, Filipinos tend to be compassionate. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the Philippines, Filipinos took care of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

Many Filipino managers, for example, have to think twice before they let go of employees. Western companies consider it a good business decision to let go of people to maximize profits. If one employee can do the work of two persons, they’ll let go of one.

Most Filipino managers are people-oriented. They do understand that employment means a lot to Filipino workers.

Being let go means that they will stop supporting their family.

So, we find ways to keep someone on the job.

As a result, we have loyal employees. They’ll do everything to help your organization. Employees consider this generosity which they have to pay somehow.

Filipino vaues: Bahala Na
Leap of Faith

3. Bahala Na ( Let Go & Let God )

Bahala Na is a Filipino attitude that expresses courage and faith in God. It means to let go and let God. It has always been an expression of optimism.

Bahala na is a quality shared by most entrepreneurs. It is almost equivalent to the western concept of risking forward. American entrepreneurs typically say that to succeed, one has to embrace the unknown instead of standing still.

Bahala na is like that and more.

Bahala na means that Filipinos consider all possible solutions. And when it seems that there is only one solution left, though they don’t have all information they need, they’ll risk forward.

They run away from safety to get something that will make them free. This is the same quality we admire among heroes.

It may seem safe to be in prison but freeing oneself outweighs everything.

But, just like I said, Bahala na is more than that!

Bahala Na is an expression of courage and faith. It was like David facing Goliath. Bahala Na means I will win because God is with me. Bahala na is a 100% commitment to succeed.

But, like the Biblical David, Filipinos will use everything they have to win.

4. Bayanihan ( We Are Heroes to Each Other )

Bayanihan, derived from the words bayan (community) and bayani (heroes), happens when Filipinos unite to do heroic acts for individuals and communities in need without expecting anything in return. Giving aid, without being asked, even to strangers, is an enduring Filipino culture.

We are Filipinos, and we value bayanihan. We are nation-loving people. We support our countrymen in times of need.

Because what happens to some of us happens to all of us.

You will notice that Filipino values are very much connected. When we speak of Bayanihan, for example, we will notice that it has something to do with malasakit, pakikipagkapwa-tao, pagdadamayan, pakikisama and utang na loob.

5. Mabuting Pakikitungo : Hospitality

Tourists to the Philippines know us because we value mabuting pakikitungo. We are friendly. Filipinos are excellent hosts. This is because of our sense of pakikipagkapwa-tao and hiya. Our hospitality is for everyone.

They want you to get the best experience when they host you. They want to show their best all the time.

In most organizations, we talk about the western concept of customer service. We preach the idea that the customer is king.

You should use our Filipino sense of hospitality when you talk about creating a delightful customer experience. Because that’s what we do naturally.

We find it difficult to consider our customers as kings. We are not their slaves. Teach instead that customers as guests. For we do want our guests to feel at home. We Filipinos want our guests to know they can trust us because we want the best for them, as we want the best for ourselves.

We serve not because we get paid but because we want to give and add value.

6. Delicadeza ( We Value Our Reputation )

Filipinos value delicadeza. It refers to the value we place on maintaining the dignity of our institution, office, or family by avoiding embarrassing situations. When there is controversy, we expect them to resign from their posts, not because they are guilty but to shield their company or organization from further embarrassment.

Because of this, the DOJ Secretary was asked to resign.

We often say that we lose our sense of delicadeza when we talk about our politicians who are kapit-tuko. They grip their posts like a gecko.

Our sense of justice requires that at least they take a leave of absence or avoid a conflict of interest.

A local executive, for example, with delicadeza will not appoint his relatives to government posts. Filipinos do not value nepotism in the government. It is common for us to recommend our relatives to the government, but not to the same office that we are leading.

We do not want to put ourselves in a position that will make people question our agenda.

When a President appointed his people from the city where he was the former mayor, we consider the actions lacking in delicadeza.

It is not illegal, but it is not appropriate. When he used his power to give favor to those who supported his election campaign because of utang na loob, we felt that he abused his power.

Talk about delicadeza if you want people to observe good governance.

Filipino Values: Pamilya muna
Pamilya muna.

7. Makapamilya ( Family First and Last )

Makapamilya is a value that considers the interest of the family more important than personal interest. Filipinos are willing to sacrifice prestige and even happiness for the sake of family.

Because of our love for family, many Filipinos choose to work abroad. They are not doing this to achieve personal success. They do this to ensure that their children get a good education.

An employee, for example, may leave work to care for a sick mother or father.

It is to your company’s advantage to be family-oriented. Create programs for the family. Know the members of your employee’s family.

When the family is loyal to your company, you get a loyal employee.


Filipino Values: Joy
jef rome jc

Why I Choose Family First

I will begin by introducing to you my family because they are everything to me. Meet my wife Romelyn. She is a librarian at the University of the Philippines, Los Banos. She’s finished her masters in Library Science in 2018. She intends to invest her years in public service. She …

Why I Choose Family First Read More »

8. Kasiyahan ( Joy & Humor )

We expect kasiyahan when we gather together. The gathering can be a birthday party, a reunion, or a meet-up in Starbucks. We are attracted to people who make us laugh.

Our superpower is our ability to smile even in the most challenging situations. This does not mean that we take things lightly. Smiling in difficult circumstances allows us to be centered and in control.

To have humor is human.

We stay in companies where we can find meaning and joy. Filipinos can survive the most challenging tasks but not the most psychologically toxic environment.

Create an environment of fun and fellowship because that’s how Filipino workers thrive.

9. Kagalingan ( We Pursue Excellence )

We value kagalingan, from the root word galing which may mean excellence or wellness. A deeper translation of galing means magic. Filipinos look up to people who show extraordinary talents and excellence in what they do.

We take pride in having the kinds of Lea Salonga, Manny Pacquaio, and our beauty queens.

If politics weren’t involved, the country would have celebrated Maria Ressa, the first Filipino Nobel Prize laureate. She will eventually be recognized, of course, when politics is no longer an issue.

If you want to promote excellence at work, make it social. Let everyone know that you are after excellence.

More than the incentives, Filipinos love the honor of being known as excellent workers.

Aside from having top ten employees, you may also improve awards like Most Improved, Most Customer-Friendly, Most Creative, and Most-Value-Adding Employee.

You may not be able to double the salary of your people to make them more productive, but always remember that they value excellence.

10. Karangalan ( We Value Honor )

Filipinos value karangalan (honor) as they value their lives. Even the poorest among us dreamt of sending kids to school. It is our honor to have done everything for those we love.

An uncorrupted public official honors her family. A great and selfless teacher honors her community. A world champion in math honors her school.

Someone who does something great does not only honor himself but those who surround him. Because of these, we keep our integrity intact.

A Filipino who values honor above all else is truly remarkable. We surely miss their kind these days. but once in a while, we hear of Filipinos who will do everything to keep your trust.

11. Katapatan (Sincerity and Loyalty)

Katapatan came from the word tapat may mean sincere, open, honest, faithful, and true. We are trustworthy and loyal.

Loyalty means we will not lie to you. We will not betray you. We will do what’s good for you.

In the Philippines, we believe in the suki system. That means our loyal clients stay with us because they know we won’t cheat them.

Filipinos are loyal employees. So do not break their trust. Do not break your promises; if you have to, be open and honest about it.

12. Kusang-Palo (We Take Initiative)

Kusang-palo is an idiom for taking initiative. It means we do not wait for someone to tell us before acting. Filipinos value being proactive.

A beast of burden, like the carabao, moves when hit with a stick. There is no need for someone to supervise us or hit us before we move.

The best time to fix a leaking roof is when it is not yet raining. Becoming proactive means we have to get things ready before they are needed.

This will make more sense to you as we move on to the next value, maagap.

13. Maagap (Proactive and Prompt)

We often say, “daig ng maagap ang masipag“.

Filipinos are hardworking people. But more than hard work, they value promptness. They go to the rice fields before sunrise. They go to the sea before the cock crows.

We value punctuality, and Filipino time’s colonial definition does not make sense to us.

The only reason for a Filipino to be late is to do it deliberately. Politicians during the American period tried hard to imitate their former Spanish colonizers. Being late in meetings is very un-Filipino.

Unfortunately, our American miseducation made us believe we are the opposite of maagap.

14. Magalang (Respectful)

We show many ways of respecting people. Our house helps, for example, are often called Ate and Kuya. We want our children to know that those with us deserve our respect.

If we don’t know people on the street who call them sir or ma’am. Or, in the case of tricycle drivers, boss.

If we buy something, we say thank you. And the seller will say, “thank you too.”

We address people in the ways they want to be addressed.

I think it has something to do with our concept of dangal. We don’t want to offend people. At all times, we want to show that we do respect them. And anything that violates this value we condemn.

You can build a better workplace if you find time to ask people what makes them feel respected. They will appreciate it.

In some companies, there are efforts to westernize their culture. Calling people by their first name, absent the honorifics madam or sir, may seem a good idea.

But it does not mean it is much better than respecting the place’s culture.

People do not leave their cultural values when they enter your company. Do not force them to live double lives.

Filipino Values: Mano po.
Mano po!

15. Magpasalamat (Being Grateful)

When I was in college, people often went to the store of Mister Salamat. His surname is not Salamat. Students gave him that name because he always said thank you to everyone.

Even if you just want to stay in his store and don’t buy anything, he’ll be thankful to you for dropping by. This made the students love him. And yes, they go to his store to eat or buy school supplies.

They reciprocated his goodness.

There are many ways of expressing our gratitude. In the workplace, that means going the extra mile.

I often tell my clients that if they want employees to be grateful, they have to express their gratitude to employees often. Our sense of gratitude is best expressed in utang na loob.

16. Malasakit (We Care for Others)

Aside from bayanihan, malasakit is the most popular value among Filipinos. Malasakit means caring or concern for others. We expect every Filipino to care.

A good leader, for example, is expected to show malasakit. Leaders cannot be public servants if they don’t care for people.

We expect business entities to show malasakit. They must take care of their employees – and to a certain extent, be concerned about their families too. They must not create products that will harm communities.

Often, companies manifest malasakit through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

Because of malasakit, you will hear of teachers who spend extra hours teaching students. They use their own money to buy school supplies too.

Because of malasakit, you have employees who work the extra mile to serve their customers.

Because of malasakit, we hear of a movie star who sold her luxury car for charity.

When you work with Filipinos, remember that they care for people. They help those who are in need without expecting anything in return.

You will find it easy to sell a social business to Pinoys, who are always ready to do meaningful work.

17. Malikhain (Creativity)

What makes Filipino thrive is their ability to come up with solutions. We are inventors and innovators.

We seek opportunities, and when we don’t find them, we create them. One excellent example is Rags2Riches which helps many women while recycling textile waste.

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18. Mapamaraan (Resourcefulness)

One lesson I learned from my grandfather is this: kapag may gusto may paraan, kapag ayaw may dahilan. Those with desire find ways, and those who have no desire have excuses.

Filipinos don’t expect you to give excuses. If you want something, you’ll find ways.

Though we lack resources, we should not lack resourcefulness. Our resourcefulness helps us do extraordinary things with what we have.

Find out how you can leverage the resourcefulness of Filipinos. Those who are passionate about working with you and making your business successful will certainly find ways.

19. Masikap (Diligent Worker)

We believe that work feeds us. Work provides for our family. Work sends our kids to school. Work make us achieve what we want in life.

We believe that whatever we earn must come from the sweat on our brows. Whatever we feed our children must not come from stealing other people’s money. We work with honor.

I wonder how your employees will work if you start giving Masikap Award. By doing so, you will emphasize the value of stick-to-itiveness and doing our job like a vocation. That we are not selling our hours for pesos.

Masikap = Filipino values
Filipinos are diligent.

20. Matino (Sensible)

A sensible person is matino because he aligns his actions with accepted principles. He does not do anything that will compromise his integrity and the welfare of the people he serves.

Judges are matino if they are fair and just. They don’t favor anyone who has connections or money.

Students are matino if they pay attention to their studies. Teachers are matino if teachers set themselves as models to students.

We expect our leaders to be matino. But often, because of our electoral practices, we elect the incompetent and the corrupt.

At work, Filipinos try very hard to be deemed matino. They avoid doing anything that will tarnish their reputation.

Be clear about your work expectations because Filipinos will strive to abide by them.

21. Pakikipagkapwa-tao (Interpersonal Relationships)

When I was young, a popular TV program was “Kapwa ko, Mahal Ko’. It was hosted by Orly Mercado, who later became a senator. The program provides help to those who are in need. Many viewers give financial assistance too.

Kapwa means “of the same nature” or “of equal status.” It is like saying that kapwa is your other self. You ought to love your other self, right?

In the workplace, this means that regardless of your station in life or your organizational chart, remember that we are both humans. I respect you, and I expect you to respect me.

Filipinos will follow you because you are the boss. But don’t you dare insult them or make them feel inferior.

I often conduct workshops on interpersonal relationships and on building interpersonal communication skills. If you begin with pakikipagkapwa-tao, interpersonal relationships will make more sense to Filipinos.

For us, pakikipagkapwa-tao is not a means to survive. We aim to have harmonious relationships with our other selves.

22. Pakikiramay (Sympathy)

We often go to a lamay (wake) to show our pakikiramay. We want to show the bereaved family and friends our sympathy. It is also an occasion when relatives and friends who have not seen each other for a long time meet again.

This value is not for the dead but for the living.

If you are a manager, pakikiramay is the quickest way to relate with your employees. Pakikiramay shows that you have empathy. It shows that you care for them.

23. Pakikisama (Fellowship)

Filipinos value being part of a group or community. Events that make us together energize us.

Some companies conduct fellowship sessions as part of their team-building efforts.

Company initiatives will succeed if Filipinos feel they belong. Policies that are imposed on them do not often succeed. Make a project a communal effort, and people will support it.

An initiative like 5S, a lean manufacturing methodology, often becomes successful in the Filipino workplace when you sell it as a community project. It is good for the company.

Get leaders that employees trust to champion the concept, and you’ll have everyone follow the system in no time.

Pakikisama, like other Filipino values, is often presented in a bad light when we were still a colony of the United States. Your grandparents and even your parents have likely been miseducated about it.

But be that as it may, pakikisama is an enduring belief. We want to belong.

Pananampalataya: Filipino Children praying
We teach our children to pray.

24. Pananampalataya (Faith in Supreme Being)

Filipinos are known for their faith in the Supreme Being. Even those who do not consider themselves religious would say that they have faith in God.

It is this faith that makes us say “Bahala Na”. I will do it because God is with me.

Some believe that what they do for your company is a service to God. And when you do things that do not help the community, they think of you as selfish.

Some Filipino companies have chapels and allow Bible study sessions. Somehow, they believe that allowing Filipinos to have time for spiritual growth help in building good relationships and improving work performance.

25. Tibay ng Dibdib (Fortitude)

Filipinos dare to fight even when the chance of winning is tiny. We often associate it with puso (heart) or the will to go on until we win.

Fortuna favet fortibus. Fortune favors the brave. We adhere to the same principle.

We love the underdog, for we are always the underdog. Give Filipino challenging projects, and they’ll likely take on the project. Even if it is their first time.

We often succeed because we find ways to make things happen.

Tiyaga - filipino Values
Tiyaga sa trabaho.

26. Tiyaga (Patience)

We value hard work. Quietly we do what we ought to do. Our younger generations have been fed the idea that they don’t need to work hard if they can work smart.

Working hard does not mean we don’t work smart. Filipinos dare to do the job, no matter how hard. Our overseas Filipino workers are often praised for their excellent work attitude.

When I was young, I was told repeatedly that “kapag may tiyaga, may nilaga”. Those who have patience have something to stew.

We keep working, no matter how hard, because it is the smartest thing to do.

Quitters won’t get anything.

Instead of calling Filipinos lazy (an insult to us), encourage them to have patience. Say instead, “Tiyaga lang, uunlad din tayo. ” Let us be patient, for we shall succeed.

27. Utang na Loob (Debt from Within)

Filipinos are intrinsically motivated to give back what they have received from you, even though you don’t expect anything in return. It involves reciprocity. People do not pay utang na loob with money.

If you give Filipinos money to do something for you, we call it payment. We call it a bribe if you give money so they’ll violate policies and procedures.

But when you help them when they need help the most, we call it utang na loob. It has no price tag. We intend to repay you soon.

Filipino workers consider it utang na loob you do good to them. An employee got promoted because you had coached and mentored him. That promotion allowed him to send his children to college.

You consider it your job, but he considers himself indebted to you.

Never look down on your Filipino subordinate. Support them. Don’t talk about how much money you pay them. Talk about what their work can do for their families.

28. Makatao (Humane)

We expect Filipinos to be humane. We want those in power to think about the welfare of the people.

A boss who is harsh with his words and has a habit of putting down people is deemed as “hindi makatao”. That means you are disrespecting people and treating them less than human.

Filipinos can ensure working with a bad boss. They need their jobs. But don’t expect them to stay longer than necessary. As soon as they find another, they’ll leave your company.

But you don’t like to become makatao for Filipinos to stay. It is a critical leadership practice that you can use anywhere. Employees trust those who respect them as human beings.

29. Makabayan (Love of Country)

I said that bayanihan is essential a demonstration of the love of our country. We do it together. Makabayan is a value we expect from someone wherever they are.

We held Ninoy Aquino as a hero because he was willing to die for his country. On the other hand, we deemed Ferdinand Marcos Sr a villain because he killed many Filipinos and plundered his country’s wealth.

Though many Filipinos elected his son to the presidency, many voters are ashamed of what they did. They don’t want to be associated with plunderers. For this reason, plundering politicians employ the services of paid trolls.

It is usual for those who earn their keep to defend even the indefensible. For the poorest of the poor, money is not a bribe. It is a help. And any support people receive becomes utang na loob. You did not buy them; they are paying utang na loob.

But being makabayan, once in a while, trump utang na loob. People do what is suitable not only for themselves but for the country.

Makabayan is the essence of our belief that goes,” bayan muna bago ang sarili”.

30. Masagana (Abundance)

Masaganang buhay means abundant life. Filipinos pray for abundant life all the time. Of course, each family defines abundance in different ways. 

But most Filipinos consider being healthy, joyful, and being with the people we love as having an abundant life.

We may not have gazillions of money in our bank accounts, but as long as we get to send our kids to school, have a good harvest from our labor, and have not met sickness, we deem our life abundant.

Interestingly, we say Happy New Year in English. But we often say Masaganang Bagong Taon, which means prosperous our abundant new year.

Negative Filipino Values

Some experts claim that values are neither positive nor negative. Others say values are inherently positive, and negative values are simply behaviors that violate positive values.

We can choose to debate these things. We can also agree that we name values as positive or negative so that we can have a common understanding of how we call them.

Nationalism, for example, is often expressed in many ways. But there were wars between countries because of nationalism. Imperialists believe it is their right and responsibility to govern other countries for the sake of their nation. Imperialism is the extreme side of nationalism.

I have mentioned Bayanihan as an antidote to kanya-kanya and tayo-tayo.
We have bayanihan because we unite for a common cause. We can say the same for kanya-kanya and tayo-tayo. One group of people unite against others.

This means that some values are more important and beneficial to humanity than others. A value system is negative if practicing them harms others.

Filipino Traits and Values

This article is about Filipino values. However, I realized during my research that some authors mix up values and traits. They describe many Filipino values like hospitality, family orientation, and utang na loob as traits.

I cannot blame them.

Our Filipino values influence our traits. Probably, next time, I will write about admirable Filipino traits. However, since you are already here, let me help you distinguish Filipino values and traits.

Filipino traits refer to the patterns of behaviors, thoughts, and emotions.

One example is ningas kugon. It is a pattern of behavior, not values. It is not a negative value but a lack of skill to finish what one has started.

I say that Filipinos tend to “forgive and forget.” Some say that we have a very short-term memory. That’s how they explained the return of Marcoses to power. Although we knew they had not returned the loot, Marcos Jr was elected.

We can blame the troll armies, of course. But the truth is we are too easy to forget.

Here’s another example.

Though we have laws that protect women and children, we will still shell out money to ensure that a wife-beating uncle won’t stay in prison. No, we do not condone that deed, but we can’t help but protect our kin.

Sure, I have given you negative Filipino traits as examples. That’s intentional. I show that Filipino values and Filipino traits do not always go together.

Filipino traits are patterns, while Filipino values are choices. Sometimes, our actions do not reflect our values because of our habits as people.

I remember a friend who said he wouldn’t vote for a plunderer in the Presidency. But he campaigned for one. And that’s because everyone in his hometown will support anyone from their province.

Do you see the distinction?

We can replace and choose our values. But our traits, both good and bad ones, will take a long time to change.

Essays About Filipino Culture and Values

Read the following articles to learn more about Filipino values.

  • Malasakit. Filipino do care for others. So, if you are teaching people how to value customers, begin with malasakit.
  • Filipino Time. There is a misconception that Filipinos are always late for appointments. Just like many races, Filipinos do value promptness. This article will encourage you to stop the slander against Filipinos.
  • Bahala Na. Bahala na is an expression of belief. I contend that it is our way of surrendering everything to God after we have exhausted everything.
  • Pakikipagkapwa-Tao: We value people, no matter what race, for they are human like us. Pakikipakapwa-tao that human beings are our other selves.
  • Ningas Kugon. This behavior isn’t all negative. Enthusiasm, in the first place, is positive. We need the enthusiasm of ningas kugon, perseverance, and discipline.
  • Utang Na Loob. Our debt of gratitude seldom gets paid. Some of us consider their utang na loob as a lifetime connection with people. It is also often abused.

Reshaping Filipino Culture

Our values and traits are essential elements of Filipino culture. These values find expression in our arts, customs, traditions, institutions, and achievements. Therefore, one needs to study their culture to understand the Filipino people.

I met executives, some of whom were educated abroad, who wanted to Americanize the values of Filipinos at work. They see many things wrong with our culture, so they want to change it.

Admiring another culture is okay with me. But it is unproductive to put down Filipino culture without understanding it.

Sure, many Filipinos have negative traits which do not fit in the place of work anywhere. But there are good traits that, when embraced, will help employees and the organization grow.

I presented these Filipino values to help everyone understand the reasons behind our behaviors. However, these are by no means complete.

Visiting different regions of the country, I discovered values more expressed than others.

There is this town in Mindanao where people are known for their honesty. So many times, I left my belongings. I am forgetful. But always got them back.

Awareness and mindfulness can help us reshape our culture. We can cultivate the ones that will help us propel forward – and change those that prevented us from moving forward.

We are a product of our culture. And our culture is our product. We can cultivate the values we need. For example, we need to see more values like malasakit, bayanihan, pakikipagkapwa-tao, kusang-palo, and mapamaraan practiced at work.

We must also let go of many parochial beliefs that hinder us from moving forward. Pakikisama is a positive value. But when overused, we use it to justify tolerating wrong attitudes at work.

We can reshape our culture. Let us begin with our values.


  • Filipino values influence how we live. We give more significance to some values than others. When working with Filipinos, it is beneficial to consider the values that influence how they make decisions for themselves and others.
  • When you conduct training sessions, explore how you can incorporate Filipino values. By beginning with what’s familiar to them, you will make it easy for them to apply new concepts, strategies, and principles.
  • Come up with initiatives that celebrate Filipino values.

About The Author

4 thoughts on “30 Filipino Values: Cultural Beliefs That Shape Our Actions”

  1. Nice collection here of Filipino Values, Jeff Menguin. It may be interesting for non-Filipinos to see how these 27 compare with values from different countries and cultures.

  2. Use some of these Filipino values for your “core values”. And when you do, clarify your message so that all of your people are on the same page. One way to do that is to look for three to five behaviors that exemplify the values.

    Explore also the behaviors that people must not do.

    Instead of using the word excellence, which I believe most companies used, you can come up with a combination. For example, you can use “matino at mahusay.”

    By putting these values together and identifying the behaviors aligned to these two values, you are creating something which is uniquely yours.

  3. Pingback: Bayanihan: Culture That Inspires Filipinos to Become Heroes

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