17 Bad Habits & Attitudes of Filipinos That Need to Change

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 of what’s going on in our own backyard than elsewhere.

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 who need improvement in attitudes and outlook in life. If not, good for you.

Here are some of the bad qualities possessed by many — not all — Filipinos.

1. Thoughtless
When someone celebrates 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 in a wake, the cards game is reluctantly introduced even against their will.

2. Inconsiderate
Even after agreeing to meet at a certain time, many Filipinos fail to fulfill it, using alibis as traffic, got caught up with something or lost in the way, disregarding the feeling of someone who just complied with agreed 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

3. Racist
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. Worse, see #6.

4. Too self-conscious
Wants to know who are his or her stalkers at social media and installs ‘who are my top viewers’ application which turns out as a link to a malicious website. Wants to get everybody’s attention to the point that they post clinging to a celebrity, semi-naked or suggestive self-portrait profile photos. They buy items that are sometimes beyond what they can afford — cellphones, fashion accessories — thereby earning the moniker as social climbers.

5. Religious fanaticism
While admittedly deeply religious people, many of us Filipinos are also living a life of hypocricy/inconsistency. Outside of the Quiapo church are shops that sell abortion formula. The island of Siquijor becomes a haven of faith healers who practice black magic.

6. Onion skinned
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 apology 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’.

7. Short-sighted
Some Filipinos prefer to receive a few hundred pesos, two kilos of rice or a shirt printed with mug shot of an aspiring politician in exchange of 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 on 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.

8. Laziness
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 she 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 unemployed are not really looking for work. While not all of them are lazy, certainly the lack of drive to look for job is partly caused by being lazy.

9. Gossipmonger
Many Filipinos live off talking about affairs of other people. Maybe that’s because it’s a major function of the Filipino culture. Who impregnated a neighbor’s teenage daughter? A barrio councilor has bad breathe. The baby of a close friend has a striking resemblance of 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.

10. Undisciplined
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. When ROTC was phased out, this supposed quasi-military training for college students which aims to instill discipline and preparedness among young citizens didn’t receive a worthy replacement.

11. Crab Mentality
Once a fledgling banana cue business becomes the talk of the barrio, everyone is riding the bandwagon and put up the same business. Eventually, every single banana cue business in the neighborhood fails and shuts down 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.

12. Nepotism
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 in the elections. Eventually, he lands a job abroad and a foreign firm gets to benefit of 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 topic of conversation because of his/her skills, or lack thereof.

13. Freebie hunters
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 enjoying a bonanza of free water from busted pipes instead of reporting the apparent waste or scarce resources. Often visits 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 what not.

14. 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.

15. Rarely punctual
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.

16. Propensity for ‘good time’
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.

17. 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 “abundant supply of financial aid”. Worse, money remittance from OFWs are spent on luxuries and expenses like mobile phones, cars and jewelry they can brag to friends instead of investment like farm lots or small business. 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.


  • Social climbers: 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 imitation) or drink coffee at or some “sosyal” coffee shop. There is no problem bragging, if one can back it up. But the problem begins when such actions conceal the reality. To cope up 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 target of robbers when they come home.
  • Only offer pessimistic things to say 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 into 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 do 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.

More Bad Attitudes: 7 Bad Traits of Many Filipinos

Of course, there are more than 17 of these bad habits and bad attitudes many Filipinos 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 fail to improve on any of them.

On the flipside, 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.