The true character traits of a Filipino is actually not hard to deduce as it can readily be seen and experienced day in and day out if you also live in the Philippines. Whether you are a Filipino like me or a tourist in the country, it pays to learn a few basic things about this people that descended from the early Malay race.
1. Camaraderie (Pakikisama or Kapwa-Tao)
While this trait is true to some extent, it must be noted that camaraderie is present only among close friends and relatives. Gone were the days when you will see people helping others even if they don’t know each other. Helping one another is limited only to people we know and sometimes this is even disregarded. You would see a snatcher running away and behind him a screaming lady but nobody would dare to help nowadays. In today’s realities, most people would help and expect something in return. It simply is no longer the 40s to 60s decade.
Camaraderie is actually an over-stated trait of Filipinos. If it was true before in the form of Bayanihan, now it is seldom seen because there is much individualism (Kanya-Kanya) and to each his own attitude that prevails. The focus is to survive and put food on the table and problems of other people should not be a concern.
This seems to be the necessary result of competition for almost anything just to survive brought about by poor economic conditions. The government is expected to provide the help and assistance needed by people so the concept of Bayanihan is already out of the picture. It is actually an act already so rare that it merits to be featured in a TV show if it happens.
2. Debt Of Gratitude (Utang Na Loob)
Debt of gratitude still persists in the Filipino psyche. You give a Filipino a favor and he will surely remember it even if he already returned the favor. Those who do not exhibit debt of gratitude are called ingrates and it is a word that is painful to hear for most Filipinos. Perhaps this is one of the traits of a Filipino that continues to this day and it could be the result of parents passing this concept to their children.
If you are a Filipino, it is hard to say no to close friends and relatives when they need a favor and favors they always need. We give favors only to people we know and can return the favor that we gave. Because kindness can be easily made subject to abuse, we tend to be very subjective and choosy on who we should help.
3. We Love Our Family To A Fault
The extended family is what we have as a race. A son or daughter might leave the parents house but soon expect them to return head bowed. Even if a member of the family commits a crime, don’t expect us to come forward and tell the authorities where they hide. Yes, we live with our parents, brothers and sisters and even cousins in the same compound. If it is not possible to live together in one house, we will transfer and rent a nearby house close to our relatives.
Family togetherness brings a feeling of security among Filipinos. It is actually hard to find a person living alone all by himself far away from relatives in the Philippines. If that person has no relatives nearby or even friends that can join him in case of an emergency, chances are there is something dubious about that person.
4. We Smile Come Hell Or High Water
Just like people from other countries, we also have a lot of problems. The Philippines being a poor country, we can barely eke out a living. But no matter what kind of problems we face, we always find time to smile and even joke about our problems. It’s God’s will or God will help us (Bahala na ang Diyos) is a common expression among ordinary Filipinos. No problem is too difficult however because sooner or later, it will have to pass and another problem comes around. So we just laugh at most of them and treat it as part of life and God’s Will. Very seldom you will hear a Filipino committing suicide because of problems and this is one of the strong character traits of a Filipino. We just laugh problems away by not taking too much responsibility to solve them especially those out of our hands.
5. We Are Resilient And Have Strong Survival Instinct
We will eat anything you put on the table even with our bare hands (We enjoy bare-handed eating actually). We can live on any part of the planet. Just look at the millions of Filipinos working in other countries. We can stomach subtle insults and even degrading remarks of foreign employers as long as we can send the money needed by our family back home. Give us any kind of job and we will learn it faster than anybody new in the job would. We are always ready to please and even willing to work longer hours for free just so that we can have a stable income to support our family.
6. We Don’t look For Trouble But Will Not Back Down In A Fight
Filipinos will always try to avoid trouble. We are an amiable race that will just keep on smiling even if we don’t like what we are hearing. We might disagree with what you are saying but seldom will you see a Filipino telling to your face that you’re wrong. We believe that nobody’s perfect (Tao lang Po!) so it is not our business to tell other people that they are wrong. This could be one of the reasons why some say we have strong tolerance towards inefficiencies. We take criticisms personally that’s why we don’t want to hurt other people because we expect to know how they would feel. Everything is personal with a Filipino and this is just being true to oneself.
But just like the title of Jose Rizal’s book Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), the moment you touch us, all hell will break loose (Maghahalo ang Balat sa Tinalupan). We can withstand verbal tirades but the moment you commence to inflict physical harm, a Filipino will come at you swinging and we don’t just use fists when we fight. We just love to have something in our hands when we fight.
7. We Are Religious
Perhaps, no other people can be as resigned to God’s will than Filipinos. Sometimes, we even forget about getting even or exacting revenge against those who wronged us because we leave their faith to God (Bahala na ang Diyos sa Kanila). Filipinos known religiosity is one of a kind and even considered as phenomenal. But for a good number of Filipinos, faith is with the one above and not with the church. The Catholic Church is actually starting to lose its grip among the people that some dogmas are not followed anymore.
8. We Love To Celebrate
With the so many problems that we face each day, we make it a point to celebrate every now and then. We celebrate during special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, and even celebrate the memory of our departed relatives just to name a few. We look forward to celebrations, parties, excursions, and anything that is out of the usual routine. This is normal and anybody would want this for their life. We work hard and play hard. Hell, we even play hard even if there is no work!
9. We Are an Emotional People
The above character and traits of a Filipino already says much about our being an emotional people. Filipino women are one of the most sensous and romantic you would find in the whole world. They love for good and will stay with their man through thick and thin. A Filipina woman will think long and hard before leaving her husband. Divorce is actually hard to find in a Filipino woman’s dictionary. You must be a really useless and irresponsible husband if your Filipino wife would think of leaving you.
10. We Will Follow But You Must Do It First
There are those even in the Philippines that say Filipinos lack discipline. This is not true and a real non-sense. Filipinos are one of the most disciplined people you would see in other countries. We follow rules and regulations even to a fault. We don’t want conflict with the law and therefore would always like to live a peaceful life free from troubles.
But it simply is not easy to just follow rules in the Philippines when you know the ones in government are not really enforcing the rules. There are so many laws in the Philippines that even authorities themselves are breaking. Hi-jacking, carnapping, drugs , kidnapping and other crimes almost always have authorities and rich people behind them. If you want Filipinos to be disciplined, then lead by example. That’s all there is to it. Make the Philippines a police state like Singapore and you will see Filipinos behaving much better than Singaporeans.
11. Yes, We Have Colonial Mentality
There is nothing wrong with aspiring to have modern equipments coming from other countries. This is especially because Philippines has no industry of its own that can make products and compete with foreign brands. Our watch is made in Japan, our cars made in Japan, our laptops made in Taiwan, and we love to drink liquors coming from Europe. Why? because we don’t produce these products here in the Philippines.
There is also this ambition to leave the Philippines and live in another country for most people. This is part of the Filipinos natural traveler (Lagalag) and explorer instinct. It is part of the character traits of a Filipino that dates back to the time when the early Malays left their continent and crossed the Pacific Ocean with their small bancas to seek greener pastures in another part of the world. Fortunately they moored in this archipelago with more than 7,100 islands. And now we are looking for another greener pasture.