Filipino people: 9 common characteristics, traits and values
Sep 22, 2021
What makes a Filipino a Filipino? What makes the people of the Philippines unique from other cultures? There are a range of Filipino values and traits that help us stand out of a crowd anywhere in the world. We break down nine of these traits and why these values make Filipino people interesting and unique.
Religion and superstition are big influencers of Filipino beliefs
Catholicism, influenced by the Spanish colonisation, is the dominant religion in the Philippines, with 86% of the population identifying as Catholic. Before colonisation, however, the country was considered a pagan nation and Filipino people believed in natural spirits.
Today, most Filipinos adopt a religious way of life while still upholding some pagan beliefs. Many of these practices have become part of Filipino culture and are considered superstitious at times. These superstitious beliefs include saying “tabi tabi po” when chartering bushy lands and turning your shirt inside out if you feel like you have become lost while hiking or in nature.
Filipino people are serious about their food
If you ask any Filipino what their favourite pastime is, most likely, they will say any activity that involves eating. Eating is considered a social activity and Filipinos like eating together and eating out with friends and family. Filipino parties have more than enough food to feed everybody. Servings are meant to be so abundant to the point that guests are expected to take home the extra food. It is also considered an embarrassment to the host if there isn’t enough food to give away.
Caring for your family ranks high in Filipino values
Family is also often regarded as a Filipino’s greatest treasure, which means that Filipinos are willing to do anything for their family. Working abroad for the sake of one’s family is a common way of life for a lot of Pinoys. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) often send money to the Philippines to show they care for loved ones.
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Filipinos are very hospitable
Filipino hospitality is famous amongst tourists and expats alike. In fact, the country has been deemed as one of the world’s friendliest countries. Foreigners usually receive a wave from a Filipino when walking in the street. In addition, Filipino locals are very welcoming to new faces. It is common for locals to invite tourists to their homes for a meal or two, especially in less urbanised areas.
The Filipino people want to share their culture with foreign visitors and Filipinos usually do this through home-cooked meals. If you are fortunate enough to be invited, you may hear “O, kain pa” often, which means “come on, eat more”. Though, your Filipino hosts may need some convincing that you truly cannot eat another bite. Filipino hosts also have the tendency to reject help, such as washing the dishes, from guests, saying “no, you’re a visitor” to your offer.
Filipino people have a diverse background
Has a foreigner ever told you “You don’t look Filipino”? Unlike other Asian countries, the Philippines was not only colonised once, but twice. The country was under Spanish rule from the 15th to the 18th century. The Philippines was then colonised by the Americans until the mid-19th century. The Philippines was also briefly occupied by the Japanese, while Chinese merchants have migrated throughout the past few decades.
Hence, today, most Filipinos are of mixed heritage. Interestingly, the most common surnames in the Philippines are Dela Cruz, Garcia Santos, and Reyes—all of which are Spanish in origin. Tan and Lim are also common last names, which are Chinese in origin.
Filipinos are a very social group of people
Filipinos live by the saying “the more the merrier!” and are often close with different members of their clan. Special occasions and trips are also usually celebrated with various members of the extended family, which means Filipino parties are often big. A party is only considered a party if you at least invite your family, your extended family and their friends. These Filipino values extend to weddings which are also expected to be big and a hundred guests is considered to be a small number.
The result? There is more food than anyone can finish.
Religious celebrations are a big part of life in the Philippines
Christmas season usually starts on the first of December in most parts of the world. In the Philippines, it starts in September, as it is candidly referred to as the start of “ber” months. Christmas songs are played in public areas such as shopping malls and markets during this time.
Aside from Christmas, Easter is also a festive season that calls for gatherings. Other occasions such as Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Mooncake Festival and Ramadan are also recognised to be festive seasons for a number of the population. Since Pinoys are known to thrive in big groups and love to eat, celebrations are always coupled with huge gatherings and lots of delicious food.
Caring for others is part of Filipino values
Filipinos are caring and are very much comfortable showing it. Sharing is caring for us, and this sense of goodwill is extended to not only people we know, but to complete strangers. Even members of the lower economic class share whatever they have with those in need.
Caring can also take many forms, one of which is sending money and goods to loved ones, or even strangers. Overseas Filipino workers are often called bagong bayani (modern-day heroes) due to their selfless economic contributions to their kababayans, or countrymen. Now there is more need for these heroes than ever. The Covid pandemic has been a hard time for many. No matter where you are, there is always a way to help people in need, especially loved ones.
Having a strong work ethic is a classic Filipino trait
The Philippines is one of the top 20 countries in the world that works the most hours per week, but also has one of the lowest minimum wages. Because of this, doing overtime work is the norm and leaving the workplace on time is frowned upon. Hence, when Pinoys move to a different country for greener pastures, the discipline of churning work is often recognised.
While you cannot easily lump people into groups, Filipino people would not mind being associated with so many good traits. This list includes just a few examples of what makes Filipinos such a joy to be around.
Do any of the traits mentioned pertain to you? Let us know in the comments when you share this article!