There are things that we find annoying about us Filipinos — our bad habits don’t seem to change for the better. It may be true that certain nationalities have worse attitudes or habits, but why pick on them? We should be more concerned about what’s going on in our own backyard than elsewhere. Such negative Filipino traits earn us a negative reputation and paint the country in a bad light.
Of course, not all Filipinos share these bad qualities but if you feel offended reading any of the items below, maybe you fall into this segment of the society that needs improvement in attitudes and outlook in life. If not, good for you.
Acknowledging our negative Filipino traits means we are open to improving ourselves
Here are some of the bad qualities possessed by many — not all — Filipinos.
When someone celebrates a birthday, graduation, or winning the lotto in the neighborhood, the party lasts through deep in the night, keeping neighbors awake by the noise of an out-of-tune videoke singer. On the road, inconsiderate drivers blow their horns every 24 seconds, make a U-turn at prohibited areas, and rarely give way to other vehicles. Just because a poker game is among the few reasons to attract people to join a grieving family is awake, the cards game is reluctantly introduced even against their will.
Disrespectful of other people’s time and property
Even after agreeing to meet at a certain time, many Filipinos fail to fulfill it, using alibis as traffic, getting caught up with something, or lost in the way, disregarding the feeling of someone who just complied with the agreed time. Many professionals like doctors, dentists, and engineers arrive late for appointments, with little to no regard for others people’s time.
If these folks can’t fulfill simple tasks, can we trust them when it comes to, say lending them our prized books or CDs, loaning them money, or anything they promise to return? And hey, the videoke shop in the neighborhood needs to do its business and ignore everyone, disrespecting even when there is a prayer for a dead neighbor going on nearby.
Related: Annoying Habits of Many OFWs
Racist and subject others to discrimination
Many Filipinos complain of being racially profiled (eg. some Filipinas in the Middle East are easy to get or gullible) but some of us look down on other people such as Indians as fellows with stinky body odor who live off through ‘5-6’ usury business. Or on Chinese neighbors who own bigger stores in the market as penny-pinchers. But we can’t look at ourselves and fix our flaws.
Once we Filipinos are exposed to other cultures, that’s when we become mature and widen our understanding of discrimination and racism. While they taunt and make fun of others back home, they complain as victims of discrimination abroad.
Narcissistic and self-absorbed
Many Filipinos want to know who is his or their stalkers at social media and install the ‘who are my top viewers’ application which turns out as a link to a malicious website. Many Filipinos want to get everybody’s attention to the point that they post clinging to a celebrity in photos, take photos at Starbucks, or some luxury item trying to show off their social-climbing skills.
Even when there are things that are of higher priority, many Filipinos continue to devote time, effort, and money to things that make them popular or appear on the upper levels of society, even if it means they’ll bury themselves in debt.
While admittedly deeply religious people, many of us Filipinos are also living a life of hypocrisy or failure to walk the talk. Inside Quiapo church are devoted, religious people. But outside seems like a world away. There are shops that sell abortion formulas, clearly, in defiance of church teachings — and an apparent sign that unwanted pregnancy is a common observation n the country. On top of that, viewers in the Philippines are consistently ranked top when it comes to accessing adult websites.
We easily go ballistic whenever the word Filipino is used as dark humor in a script of an American sitcom or a celebrity mocking our “presumed” perfect accent. We are quick to call for apologies even if they’re all meant as a joke.
We choose to fight back instead of changing our bad habits. That may be a reason we become a common topic of humor. We didn’t hear an uproar in Kingston when Stephen Bishop sang “down in Jamaica…lot’s of pretty women…steal your money and break your heart.” He might be considered persona-non-grata if ‘Jamaica’ was replaced with ‘Philippines’.
Some Filipinos prefer to receive a few hundred pesos, two kilos of rice, or a shirt printed with a mug shot of an aspiring politician in exchange for votes running for office rather than resist temptation and bond together for a better society and governance.
Yet they are the first to complain of poor governance, regardless of who is the President. Poor tricycle drivers are allowed to ply dangerous streets — risking the lives and limbs of passengers — just to earn a living. No wonder politicians often find it effective to plaster their faces everywhere, no matter how shallow the idea is. That’s because the more they are visible, the more likely they’ll win, even if past records show they’re worthless as trash.
When going to the market, some Filipinos prefer to take the motorized bike and pay a premium instead of a 20-minute walk — to ensure he or they will not miss a favorite TV show. At the end of the day, they lament how a hundred peso bill could no longer be stretched.
Or they spend the whole day staring at the television, sending SMS on shows that offer prizes to ‘home text partners’. Ironically, to say that OFWs are not lazy is an understatement; overseas Filipinos are among the hardest working people on Earth, taking jobs others would likely ignore. One thing that keeps unemployment high: half of the unemployed are not really looking for work. While not all of them are lazy, certainly the lack of drive to look for a job is partly caused by being lazy.
Many Filipinos live off talking about the affairs of other people. Maybe that’s because it’s a major function of Filipino culture. Who impregnated a neighbor’s teenage daughter? A barrio councilor has bad breath. The baby of a close friend has a striking resemblance to the family driver.
No wonder many families are broken, trust lost and friendships gone awry because of people trying to get in the way. Proof: tabloids are selling like hotcakes.
Pass laws that are easily broken: no smoking on jeepneys, no jaywalking on streets, picking flowers in the park, or peeing on fences, trees, or truck tires. Even wearing prescribed attire (‘please wear semi-formal wear’) when attending wedding ceremonies becomes a task difficult to follow. When we’re overseas we find it necessary to follow rules, but we seem to take our country and its simple laws for granted.
We throw our garbage anywhere, assuming that someone will fix our mess. We don’t clean up our tables after we eat at fast food outlets, assuming that we paid for someone to clean it.
Practice crab mentality
Once a fledgling sari-sari store business becomes the talk of the barrio, everyone is riding the bandwagon and putting up the same business. Eventually, every single store in the neighborhood fails and shuts down its operation.
If someone gets promoted at work, some Filipinos are good at making up stories; did he date the supervisor? Did she sleep with the manager? It also exists in the form of protectionism. Insecurity or lack of creativity drives this attitude.
Tendency to use connections for personal gain
A bright yet not well-connected job applicant never gets the job vacancy because it was reserved for a family member of an incumbent official or a reward for supporters of a candidate who just won the elections.
Eventually, he lands a job abroad and a foreign firm gets to benefit from his skills. A well-connected passenger gets the airport’s special lane while hard-working OFWs sweat it out on a long line. The political supporter who lands the job is often a topic of conversation because of his/her skills, or lack thereof.
“Nakapasok ako as clerk sa City Hall kasi malakas ako kay Mayor,” a proud yet unqualified government worker might say.
This habit, sadly, encourages corruption in government service, a disease that society struggles to stay away from.
Some Filipinos have the nerve to crash into wedding parties uninvited or show up at a birthday party because they were brought along by a friend of an invited friend. They enjoy free electricity supply through illegal connections or enjoy a bonanza of free water from busted pipes instead of reporting the apparent waste of scarce resources.
They don’t pay fares of jeepneys driven by friends — assuming that it’s implied even the driver made no mention about free rides. “Thank you, pre,” the freeloader quips as he alights the vehicle. They sometimes disrespect the families of the recently deceased, coming to the wakes not to pay respects but to get free meals.
They often visit the house of a balikbayan/OFW who just arrived and ask — they don’t wait — for presents. When a Filipino is invited by a foreigner out for lunch, this Pinoy might bring along his kids, parents, and whatnot.
Allegiance by convenience
Filipino politicians often change parties not because they found a better-principled group, but to gain something — power, money, or fame. When momentum shifts, be prepared to jump ship and switch loyalty. Read their biographies and be not surprised they’ve been into various alliances with no real accomplishments to show.
Appointments are never meant to be on time as many Filipinos make it a habit of not making it on time. Meetings, parties, church services, and so on. We guess teachers didn’t lack the motivation to make us punctual as tardy ones were meted with appropriate punishment. Shall we blame others for this? Traffic congestion, slow jeepney driver, hard-to-find location, I was robbed, and others in an endless list of alibis and excuses.
The propensity for ‘good time’
The gathering of friends isn’t bad. But if it always meant 20 bottles of hard liquor meant to be consumed overnight, that’s something. Just got the job? Let’s celebrate and have a drink. Just got the paycheck, let’s have a drink.
When someone starts reminding them to be frugal and slow down on alcohol spending, they reason out, “it’s my money, you have no business interfering”, “this is just once in a while” or “I need to drink to forget my problems”. Yeah, right.
Treat OFWs as ATMs
Some Filipinos are overly dependent on relatives working overseas that they don’t look for jobs or don’t attend classes because they are in an “abundant supply of financial aid”. Worse, money remittance from OFWs is spent on luxuries and expenses like mobile phones, cars, and jewelry they can brag to friends instead of investments like farm lots or small businesses.
In many cases, nothing was allocated for savings or investment. When OFWs come home, families find it hard to explain where money was spent. That is why we sometimes think of reasons we shouldn’t remit money back to the Philippines.
Some Filipinos try to portray themselves as well-off, can-afford individuals who share photos of their latest branded bags (or wear employer’s dresses), shoes (even if they’re obviously imitations), or drink coffee at some “sosyal” coffee shop. There is no problem bragging if one can back it up.
But the problem begins when such actions conceal reality. To cope with their “affluent” lifestyle and continue to join that exclusive circle of friends, these Filipinos may resort to extreme measures (embezzle money, prostitute themselves or run to the nearest pawnshop). For OFWs who practice this habit, this could lead to more demanding families who think their relative abroad doesn’t have money problems or even become the target of robbers when they come home.
Rarely say good things about our country.
Some Filipinos have a lot of things negative to say about the Philippines. The government is corrupt. The airport stinks. Filipinos are always late. The Philippines remains laggard among its Southeast Asian neighbors. While these statements may be true, it doesn’t help if we only dwell on identifying the problems. We also must-have solutions to offer to remedy the problem of tardiness, fixing the problems in our airports, or rampant corruption.
Some people may ask ‘Why just nitpick on bad attitudes and not offer solutions?’. We say you’re old enough to know how to deal with these bad habits unless you failed your basic ‘good manners and right conduct‘ classes years ago.
Bato bato sa langit ang tatamaan, huwag magalit.
Of course, there are more than 17 of these negative Filipino traits and bad attitudes we possess. But if our aim is to correct them, we think it’s good enough to list the 17 and try to change them instead of listing a hundred and failing to improve on any of them.
On the flip side, there are many things we can be proud of as Filipinos and positive traits we should adopt at all times. So it’s important that as we try to fix our flaws, we are proud of the attributes that are unique to us Filipinos.