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Filipino Value System


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#1 Art

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 8:25 PM

I've been doing some research on running a business in the Philippines and came across this article I thought it had some interesting comments and has given me another insight into the Filipino mindset. Written in 2007. Wonder what others think about it?



Working Hard vs Working Smart: The Root Cause of Filipino Failure

http://socyberty.com...lipino-failure/


The culture of valuing “smarts” more than “sweat” may be why Filipinos are being left behind economically by their Asian neighbors.

The root problem of the Filipino is our valuing “being cunning” over and above any other value. This would be perfectly acceptable if not for the fact that this principle is just as likely to mean “cheating” as “thinking out of the box and coming up with something innovative.”

It may be because of the tropical heat but “working hard” is not as valued by Filipinos as much as “working smart.” Given three scenarios where in the first case a farmer works 12 hours a day and reaps a good harvest, in the second case the farmer works only 4 hours a day and has a poor harvest, and in the third case, a farmer hires laborers who work 14 hours a day while the farmer supervises them for only 4 hours a day and reaps a good harvest, most Filipinos would pick the third scenario as best–never mind if it means exploiting the laborers to get a bigger percentage of the harvest.

This state of mind is reinforced by how we appreciate the Filipino children’s folk hero “Juan Tamad” (Juan the Lazy) when were growing up: we laughed and gloated with Juan whenever he put one over his unsuspecting victims. Our parents, our friends, our media also reinforce this trait unconsciously by looking up to people who come up with short-cuts, who reap great rewards with little effort. We don’t look too kindly at people who work back-breaking jobs, get old and weather-beaten and only can come up with the same rewards as the guy who took the short-cut. We only feel pity for these hard workers.

A key ingredient in why this value system persists is the thinking (whether grounded in truth or just paranoia) that we have to act this way because we think THEY are also trying to do IT to us! This is why Filipino bosses try to exploit their employees because they think employees are trying to cheat them anyway. And in circular logic, this is why Filipino employees try to cheat management because they think they’re being exploited. This is why Filipino companies try to gouge customers while Filipino customers try to avoid paying companies. This is why Filipino politicians cheat their constituents and why Filipino voters think all politicians are liars and corrupt. This is why we have terrible traffic because we always think other drivers are trying to grab our lane so we never give way.

This is not a pretty picture but it’s true more often than not and we need to start opening our eyes to this if we, the Filipino, are to change.

One group of people who hold the opposite value system to ours are the Japanese. They value “working hard” more than “working smart.” In their system, coming up with short-cuts is looked down upon and is considered a sign of laziness. Thus they better appreciate workers who work overtime and on weekends finishing a report over someone who did the same report in two hours by automating it with spreadsheet macros. This is why innovation mostly comes from outside Japan and they just bring it into their country and make the most of it through their hard-working nature.

But this is the key to a Filipino resurgence (”resurgence” because we were not and are not always like this): we should keep our “working smart” attitude but we should value “working hard” just as much. And first and foremost, we need to STOP thinking we need to cheat because it will be done to us.

Look at how Filipinos succeed abroad in societies where they know cheating is not permitted–these oversease Filipinos end up being honestly innovative as well as working hard with personal success being the result. These overseas working Filipinos see the value of woring hard–they actually get good paychecks for their toil. Seeing the payoff for following the rules, for giving an honest day’s work, they give it their all.

So this is what we need: we need to stop thinking or caring about everyone cheating, we should instead work hard as well as smart. We should stop exploiting our employees, our bosses, our customers, our companies, our constituents. We need to start with ourselves, our families, our children, and our friends: we need to show them how we appreciate hard work and how we look down on cheating and exploitation and short-cuts and easy money–we should no longer laugh conspiratorially when our buddies brag about kick-backs and bribes and tax fraud. We need to put aside Juan Tamad and welcome Juan Masipag (Juan the “hard worker”).

Our new tag-line should be: Work Hard, Work Smart, and Together, Filipinos Will Prosper.





#2 Freedom Rider

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 10:47 PM

That is a lesson to be learned by all :thats-funny:

#3 RogerDuMond

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 12:01 AM

I think that a more valid reason for the lagging economic conditions is the hesitancy of foreign investors. One because they can't own the business outright and also because of perceived political instability.

#4 Cary

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 2:15 AM

Exactly Roger. Look at China. Yes the government is hard on its people and there is a clear line of those that have and have not there. But China knows that if it allows foreign investors and firms come to China, they will employ locals and give Bejiing a percentage of the profits. While in the Philippines the first thing that businesses think of is payoffs. Whether thats fair or not thats what the outside world thinks of the Philippines. And that does not include the south where firms wont even go there because of the instability there.





I think that a more valid reason for the lagging economic conditions is the hesitancy of foreign investors. One because they can't own the business outright and also because of perceived political instability.



#5 Athena

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 2:53 AM

I believed the article is spot on. With PIs natural resources, it doesn't need foreign investment to support its people and could very well survive (feed its people) if the articles tagline "Work Hard, Work Smart, and Together, Filipinos Will Prosper" is indeed applied by the filipinos.

Look at India, who have similar work ethics with PI - they have foreign investment but is still not going anywhere except being 3rd world country. I believed largely because India have similar mentality/values as filipinos. If ever you go to any big filipino gathering in the west – try listening in to the conversations if you can understand the lingo. One way or another, the talk will comes round to telling tales – on how they had milked the system. In UK, they would be bragging how much benefit theyre getting while working cash on hand. Sometimes, there isnt a dent of shame of it, even with the indigenous person listening to the conversation.

In PI – how many do you think college graduates especially the men, who are just sitting around doing nothing! True there is not much work as in paid employment. But have they the initiative to try on something that can get them to earn money?! Huh, that would be the day!!! As it is beneath their dignity to do blue collar work as they are college graduates……… in Philippine society, they look up people with white collar jobs….. it doesn't seems to sink in that we can all be generals. But in the west, there is a healthy respect for work irrespective of what type it is as long as its honest work. Hence, you can see filipinos taking his kind of work in the west. But put that same filipino, to work the same type of work in PI – and lets see how many takers there will be if anything at tall….

Edited by Elinel, 18 January 2010 - 2:53 AM .


#6 Cipro

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 3:05 AM

I believed the article is spot on. With PIs natural resources, it doesn't need foreign investment to support its people and could very well survive (feed its people) if the articles tagline "Work Hard, Work Smart, and Together, Filipinos Will Prosper" is indeed applied by the filipinos.


Foreign investment is not about surival so much I suspect; it's likely more about living well than just about living.


Look at India, who have similar work ethics with PI - they have foreign investment but is still not going anywhere except being 3rd world country.


Actually India is a rapidly growing economy but they need to look at effective birth control.


In PI – how many do you think college graduates especially the men, who are just sitting around doing nothing! True there is not much work as in paid employment. But have they the initiative to try on something that can get them to earn money?!


Good jobs don't grow from dirt, they require someone willing to put forth Venture Capital an otherwise finance such enterprises. There is, for many professional jobs, a minimal amount of infrastructure required. A manufacturing plant engineer is not going to find work in his field without a manufacturing plant.


Huh, that would be the day!!! As it is beneath their dignity to do blue collar work as they are college graduates……… in Philippine society, they look up people with white collar jobs….. it doesn't seems to sink in that we can all be generals. But in the west, there is a healthy respect for work irrespective of what type it is as long as its honest work. Hence, you can see filipinos taking his kind of work in the west. But put that same filipino, to work the same type of work in PI – and lets see how many takers there will be if anything at tall….


You make a good point but I think that's a separate issue. For a place as capital starved as the PI, bootstrapping industry will continue to be brutally painful. Opening up to foreign investors would likely expedite things greatly.

#7 Cary

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 3:05 AM

My wife works for IBM-Philippines and even though its based in Manila, they follow American work rules, holidays, etc. I was told that many Filipinos are let go because they will not work as such. My wife told me of how I believe two weeks ago, one of her staff members didn't show up or call for a day of work. When the girl came back the next day she said that she stayed home because her father was lonely. That in of itself is ok if she had called or text or something to let them know that she wasn't working that day, but she didn't even do that. So when my wife said that she had to write her up, the girl got mad and quit on the spot. Now the work rules were spelled out to everyone as well as a paper copy is given the first day of work. A change of mind set is needed from the top down in order for the Philippines to grow from third world status.

#8 retired

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 7:15 AM

If i had a peso for every time i heard the phrase "Philippine Pride" i would be a rich man . As it is i have a peso for every time i have heard the phrase "Philippine Honor " , which is why i am poor . :-)

#9 Bob Ward

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 7:48 AM

It all starts at the top!!

The uber-rich families run the country. They support corrupt politicians who will pass laws which will make the rich richer. They employ protectionism, exploitation and tax advantages to keep them on top of the heap. So corruption and superiority attitudes begin here.

The people with the wherewithal want to get away from these impediments and most do. As has been said many times before, this creates the brain drain that is so obvious here. The best and brightest are in other countries leaving the rest to figure out how to change the country. But that can't be done without the people who have fled the oppression.

So during the decades of surviving in these harsh conditions, people have adapted to their environment. They mimic (a well known Filipino trait) those above them by cheating those around and below them when they can. And then it's like a domino effect, they are doing it all the way down the line.

Then when everything around you is corrupt and seemingly hopeless, you give in to apathy. Why bust your ass if you are not going to get anywhere? This exacerbates the downward spiral of the country.

There is more to say, but I have to go to work! Yes work! Four letter word!

Edited by Bob Ward, 18 January 2010 - 7:49 AM .


#10 Jay

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 9:31 AM

Part of the problem is the typical 6-month employment contract. Why should anyone try to excel or even give an honest day's hard work for their pay when they know they'll be out the door in 6 months anyway? Business owners should offer "contract to hire" positions, set minimum performance objectives, and offer a bonus for those who meet these and a larger bonus for those who exceed the objectives. But again, having permanent full-time employees would subtract from the infamous bottom line due to employers having to provide insurance, PAG-IBIG and similar benefits. Even though hiring full timers would increase profits in the long run, the short-term profits are more important.

I wonder (at the risk of wandering off topic) whether this short-term attitude and failure to see the bigger, longer term picture, is related to the "sachet mentality" that says just buy enough of something to meet immediate needs rather than stocking up on things. Maybe Western countries' work ethics and abilities to plan more for the long term are related to the climate there, where people have historically had to work hard at farming during the season then preserve enough food to last through the winter and spring until the next harvest (traditionally the leanest months were in the spring and early summer, not the winter, because in late spring the winter's food stores were just about exhausted and that year's crops weren't yet ready for harvest). Here in the Philippines the climate is pretty much the same year-round so there aren't really any growing seasons vs. lean seasons. People tend more to take today as it comes and worry about tomorrow when it gets here.

The Philippines bills itself as being the only Christian country in Asia, but it seems to me that most people here worship the peso, not God. They just go through the motions of attending mass on Sundays then go screw each other over the rest of the week, not to mention stealing, murdering, adultery, etc. Most people here don't follow the Golden Rule at all: with them it's been corrupted into a combination of "those who have the gold make the rules" and "do unto others before they do unto you."




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