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Cultural Information - Philippines

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Cultural Information

Answers to your intercultural questions from a Canadian and a local point of view.

Cultural Information - Conversations

Question: I am meeting someone for the first time and I want to make a good impression. What would be good discussion topics?

Local Perspective:

Filipinos are a very hospitable and friendly people. They always smile no matter how they feel. If meeting someone for the first time, it would be good to smile at the person before you even start a conversation.

Pilipino, which is largely-based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is also widely spoken by most Filipinos. The medium of instruction in most school is English. Media is mostly in Tagalog and English so it is not surprising that most Filipinos can speak English.  It is easy for Filipinos to strike a conversation with any one even if they tend to be shy.

Filipinos have close family ties and always love to talk about their extended family, especially about their children. So a good conversation piece is asking about their family – which region or province they come from, whether they have children, their ages and what grade in school they are in. It is also acceptable to ask about what work they do or where they work. Since Filipinos do not mind talking about personal aspects of their life, do not be surprised to be asked very personal questions such as your marital status and your age.

Canadian Perspective:

Filipinos are generally friendly and hospitable and this extends to the work environment. It is usually expected to engage in general light conversation at first, and talking about family, friends and where you come from is a good starting point. Filipinos are very family centered, and you may find that many have family or friends abroad that they would like to tell you about.

It’s quite common to be offered a drink (non-alcoholic) or snack right away. Food and drink is intrinsic to Filipino hospitality and at times you may find you are offered more than you are able to eat but accepting what is offered is recommended.

Don’t try to push an agenda forward, let the locals set the pace for the meeting. You may find that initially you will not be able to discuss everything you had planned but it is important to take the time to become acquainted.

The Philippines recently had Presidential elections in May 2016 and while politics may come up in conversation, as a foreigner it is recommended to steer away from this topic.

Cultural Information - Communication Styles

Communication Styles

Question: What do I need to know about verbal and non-verbal communications?

Local Perspective:

Filipinos are fond of non-verbal communications. They use hand gestures, pursing of lips, raising of eyebrows and their eyes to communicate. They are less dependent on spoken words. They have a sharp intuitive sense (called “pakiramdam”) for what is implied and not stated. Even their smile has various meanings. A smile is not always meant to convey happiness but can mask embarrassment, nervousness of feelings of insecurity. If they do not want to respond to a question, they may just smile.

A respectful way of addressing an elder (someone older or one with a high and respected position in society) is to say “po” (formal) or “ho” (informal) at the end of the sentence.  Parents and other elders are never addressed on a first name basis.

When responding to a request or a favour, Filipinos generally struggle with saying “no” for fear of hurting other people’s feelings.  Instead they may convey the diplomatic response of “maybe” even if they actually mean “no”.

Handshake is acceptable for both male and female except for Muslim women. So do not be offended if women do not accept your handshake. They may just smile or vow their head as an acknowledgement.

Most Filipinos have nicknames, which they use in the work-place but it is advisable to refer to them more formally with their office title, such as Director, Attorney, and others.

In the work place, a lot of acronyms are used, so familiarity with acronyms will also be useful. Filipinos have a unique sense of humour. They are able to laugh or make jokes, in good or bad times. They can even laugh at their own mistakes.

The use of cell phone is the number one means of communication in the Philippines. It is not uncommon to see someone texting while in meetings. You can require that cell phones be turned off during meetings (just like in the churches).

Canadian Perspective:

The Philippines recently had Presidential elections in May 2016 and while politics may come up in conversation, as a foreigner it is recommended to steer away from this topic.

Cultural Information - Display of Emotion

Question: Are public displays of affection, anger or other emotions acceptable?

Local Perspective:

Modest display of affection like holding hands and putting an arm around the shoulders are acceptable in the Philippines.

Public displays of anger and other strong emotions are not acceptable. This generally happens with a person of “superior” status dealing with a “subordinate”. But such outbursts of emotion are deeply resented. Indications of resentment are through non-verbal communications - reduced interaction with the person, absence in work-related social gatherings and even unwillingness to initiate informal communications.

Canadian Perspective:

Discreet public displays of affection are acceptable and common such as holding hands, or placing an arm around another’s shoulders.  Rural and Muslim-dominated areas tend to be more conservative and public affection may not be acceptable.

Public displays of anger are not appropriate or any other emotion that causes someone to lose face.

Cultural Information - Dress, Punctuality & Formality

Question: What should I know about the workplace environment (deadlines, dress, formality, etc.)?

Local Perspective:

In office settings, punctuality and timeliness are practiced. However, in social informal gatherings, Filipinos, generally have a tendency to not be on time (called “Filipino time”).

Filipinos, generally, may have difficulty saying “No” to work assignments so it is good to assess first the person’s capability so as not experience late submission or not at all. It is important to crosscheck status of projects or activities way before the deadline to clarify expectations and progress along the line.  This can be best achieved through informal chats over lunch from time to time. Overtime work is generally a normal occurrence and Filipinos are used to rendering overtime in order to meet a work deadline.

Daily wear in the business work place is relatively informal (short sleeves and smart casual wear). Most offices take the lead from senior officer in charge or office supervisors. Ladies tend to be well dressed but formal business suits are not required. However, in meetings, slightly more formal attire is appropriate. At very formal gatherings such as cultural, business, and other formal public events, long sleeve barong Tagalog (Filipino suit) or formal suit may be appropriate.

With regards of formality, Filipinos like to greet and address people by “Sir” or “Mam”. However, colleagues are often addressed by first name.

Canadian Perspective:

Conservative dress is expected though the degree of formality differs depending on the workplace. In general, the dress code is relatively informal. In meetings with dignitaries or government representatives it is generally expected to be more formal (though this does not necessarily mean a suit, usually a dress shirt). However, oftentimes a polo shirt and slacks for men, and a nice blouse and slacks/skirt for women would suffice. Outside of the main cities dress is relatively casual and it is common for staff to wear jeans and polo shirts.

While punctuality is appreciated, activities and meetings rarely start on time. In Manila in particular, significant traffic may cause delays which is a widely shared challenge. There is not a general acceptance of working from home, and many people travel long distances through heavy traffic in order to get to work.  As such, a degree of flexibility is expected with start and end times. Air travel via small planes, such as those to many of the islands, are susceptible to weather changes and delays/cancellations are common and affect schedules. The workweek is Monday to Friday, though in some industries there may also be an expectation to work part of Saturday.

If there are government representatives or foreigners in the meeting the structure is often quite formal with a number of preliminaries which sometimes includes prayer, an opening address and sometimes brief speeches from key players before getting into the business of the day. As a foreigner it may be expected that you will say a few words of introduction and appreciation.

Cultural Information - Preferred Managerial Qualities

Question: What qualities are most highly regarded in a local superior/manager? How will I know how my staff view me?

Local Perspective:

Qualities highly regarded in local superiors/managers are their educational attainment, expertise in their field, ability to inspire and guide the staff, great communication skills and care for the staff’s well-being.

Filipinos value their work so they are generally cautious and not risk-takers. The staff looks up to the superior not only to provide guidance but also to be cognizant of the staff’s loyalty and work contribution/achievements.  Filipino managers like to be the “boss” so they are expected to provide direction.

Generally, Filipino subordinates will not volunteer information on how they view the supervisor unless directly informed that the supervisor is open to suggestions. Opinions and comments will mostly be positive, as Filipinos are generally not comfortable in giving critical feedback for fear of hurting a person’s emotions.

Canadian Perspective:

Level of education is highly regarded, and degrees from foreign universities are particularly respected. Experience in one’s field is also important, though at times “age” and “seniority” is often equated with experience, rather than performance and demonstrated success.

An ability to coach and provide feedback without being critical is also appreciated, helping staff to build capacity in a way that is engaging and empowering.

If you are working outside of the main cities, team members may have travelled from different parts of the country to live and work where your operation is located. This means that they are often living away from family and friends and strive to forge strong bonds with their work mates who become their family away from home. There is a tendency to work long hours and have little separation from the work environment and so it is especially important as a manager to understand these dynamics and foster a supportive work place.

It is challenging at times to know how staff view you, especially as there is a tendency to avoid directness and hesitation to address issues or concerns. However, the more you engage with your staff, build trust and foster strong relationships, the more likely they will be to speak openly with you.

Cultural Information - Hierarchy and Decision-making

Question: In the workplace, how are decisions taken and by whom? Is it acceptable to go to my immediate supervisor for answers or feedback?

Local Perspective:

There is an expectation that one would respect the structure of hierarchy in an office setting. So supervisors expect that matters are discussed with them first instead of with their subordinates. It is acceptable and expected that employees approach their immediate supervisor (and not the upper management) for answers or feedback.

Filipinos put a tremendous value on consensus. They prefer decision-making within the group and to solicit advice from someone senior (in position, social standing, or age). While discussions are held to collectively reach certain decisions, the general pattern of decision-making is still a top-down approach.

Canadian Perspective:

In general, it is acceptable to go to your immediate supervisor for answers or feedback. However, if you are seeking constructive criticism/suggestions for improvement this may be challenging as there is a tendency to be less direct and to avoid causing you to lose face.  The hierarchy and decision making of an organization varies widely depending on the type and size of business.

Cultural Information - Religion, Class, Ethnicity, & Gender

Question: Briefly describe the local culture’s attitudes regarding the following: Gender, Class, Religion and Ethnicity. What impact would the above attitudes have on the workplace?

Local Perspective:

Gender:

The Philippines has a matriarchal society. Women occupy high positions in society, politics, the academe and in the professional world. The Philippines have had two lady Presidents. Strong Philippine women’s NGOs have played dominant roles. While there is gender equality in the Philippines, there is great appreciation for gentlemanly manners of giving way to women while walking or offering seats.

Class:

Based on income and wealth, Filipinos, can generally be classified into upper class, middle class and the lower class or the poor.  While the very rich or upper class comprise of a very small percentage of the population, they own or earn the majority of the wealth of the country.  Majority of the population are in the lower class who own or earn very little of the country’s wealth.

A sizable amount of Filipinos employed overseas are able to sustain their family through overseas remittance.

Religion:

The Philippines is predominantly Roman Catholic. Other religions include Islam, Protestant, Aglipay, Church of Christ and Buddhism.  There are Catholic Chapels and Mosques in the shopping malls.

The Filipinos observe holidays during holy week (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday), All Saints Day (November 1) and Christmas. During those times, people are involved in church activities and family life so do not expect them to do business or work.

Ethnicity:

The Philippines is one of the most ethnically diverse population in the world. With 7,107 islands, about eleven languages and eighty-seven dialects are spoken in the Philippines.

There are strong ties for people of the same ethnic groups. There are also varied pockets of indigenous population in remote hilly and mountain areas.

Canadian Perspective:

Gender: There have been significant gains in gender equality in the Philippines, with improvements in gender balance in key decision making roles and government commitment to advancing women’s status. Men are still viewed as the “head’ of the household, but women are often also income earners along with managers of the household affairs. However, there is still work to be done to achieve true gender equality, and it is particularly challenging to address among families with limited resources who tend to prioritize opportunities for their sons over their daughters.

Class: Filipino society can be broadly categorized into three classes; the powerful and affluent elite, the small but growing middle class, and the lower class. The elite class controls the majority of the country’s business, economic and political sectors and while only making up around a small fraction of the population, they control the majority of the country’s wealth. The poor and lower income classes make up over a half of the households of the Philippines but account for less than a quarter of the wealth. 

Religion: The Philippines is a deeply religious country, with a large majority of the population being Roman Catholic. There are a number of other Christian groups along Hindus, Buddhists and non-religious groups. The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is the region of the Philippines with predominantly Muslim provinces and is the only region with its own government. Religion is extremely important to Filipinos, and it permeates many aspects of both personal and work life. Prayers are common before events, conferences and some meetings. Sunday is a day for religion and family and it is disrespectful to ask someone to work this day.

Ethnicity: The Philippines is one of the most diverse countries in terms of ethnicity. Ethnic identity is based on a number of factors, two of the most significant being regionality and language. While Filipino (based on Tagalog) and English are the national language, the Philippines has over 150 different languages. Locals often speak their mother tongue (depending on what region they are from) amongst one another but will switch to Filipino or English depending on who is present. It is also common to hear mixing both English and Filipino.

Cultural Information - Relationship-building

Question: How important is it to establish a personal relationship with a colleague or client before getting to business?

Local Perspective:

Building personal relationship is very important to Filipinos. Trust is key in establishing work or business relationships. A sincere interest in the person’s family life can help establish a good relationship.

Spending time with colleagues during coffee break and lunch times is a good opportunity to get to know more about the staff.  Not only will the staff be at ease and relaxed in such an informal situation but Filipinos generally enjoy eating and taking snacks.

Filipinos like to be addressed formally with their titles such as Attorney, Doctor, Professor, Director, etc. to convey respect for authority, status or position.

Canadian Perspective:

It is important to establish an amiable relationship before getting to business. At times business is done based on these relationships rather than specifically the organization, which means when people change jobs/organizations there may be a need to start relationship building from scratch with the new person. Building trust is essential before you can expect to have effective work relationships. Showing respect for the other, and humility, is important in building trust. Take opportunities to engage in informal conversations with your team members, for example during breaks or if you are invited to social events.

Cultural Information - Privileges and Favouritism

Question: Would a colleague or employee expect special privileges or considerations given our personal relationship or friendship?

Local Perspective:

Filipinos would generally expect special privileges or considerations given their personal relationship or friendships, among other co-Filipinos but not with non-Filipinos.  This behaviour is entrenched in the many interrelated Filipino values and core beliefs. One is the concept of “Bayanihan” (cooperation).  Another is “Pakikisama” (one with the group) where Filipinos need to maintain a smooth interpersonal relationship with one another, even when others are wrong.   There is also “Utang na Loob” (a deep sense of gratitude) to show appreciation or return a favour to someone. The “Padrino” (godfather) system uses a person of influence or position to get things done faster.

These Filipino values and beliefs are not expected from non-Filipinos.  What is important in the work place is to be firm and transparent about expectations, operational procedures and standards.

Canadian Perspective:

It is not uncommon for a local colleague or employee to expect favours from one another but this is less likely with a foreigner. There may be an expectation for leniency in work or timelines based on your personal friendship, but this is unlikely to extend to more significant personal favours.

Recruitment at times can be challenging as oftentimes there is sometimes an expectation to recruit those with ties either to family or friends of employees, or to provide opportunities to long-standing employees of the organization who may not be qualified or suited for the position. Transparency with staff is important during any dealing, ensuring that you are following organizational protocols and standards.

Cultural Information - Conflicts in the Workplace

Question: I have a work-related problem with a colleague. Do I confront him or her directly? Privately or publicly?

Local Perspective:

Filipinos prefer to avoid confrontation. They also have difficulty rejecting or disagreeing, especially when conversing with someone considered superior.

Filipinos prefer to “save face (self-pride) than to feel “shame (hiya)”.  When they feel that the truth will offend or embarrass someone, they will respond in an indirect way (not to deceive but just to avoid confrontation).

One-on-one discussion (not confrontation) and constructive feedback in private would be a better way of dealing with work-related issues. Avoid using the word “problem” as the staff might take it personally. Use positive words like “strategies for better work implementation”.

Canadian Perspective:

It is not recommended to confront a colleague publicly. Filipinos have a strong sense of shame, or ‘hiya’, which is felt in situations where they are publicly criticised or embarrassed. This can lead to significant resentment that may not be apparent behind friendly appearances.   In general, they avoid confrontation and may not come to you with difficulties they may be having. Feedback should be provided in a positive and constructive manner, with solutions proposed that will not cause your colleague to lose face.

Cultural Information - Motivating Local Colleagues

Question: What motivates my local colleagues to perform well on the job?

Local Perspective:

Filipinos are defined by their work. They have difficulty dissociating themselves from their work.  It is important to motivate Filipinos by recognizing work well done. Criticism of one’s work maybe taken as a personal failure. Self-esteem (also called “amor-propio”) and image are important to Filipinos.

Filipinos put a high value in their education which is perceived as a way to greatly improve their status in life and social standing. Family members even contribute towards the education of a sibling and their extended family.

Canadian Perspective:

Monetary compensation is often more important than job satisfaction. In many cases Filipinos are quite open about discussing their salaries, making transparency on wage decisions important.

Recognition and praise is important to help motivate staff, along with building strong team work.

Public criticism and confrontation can be major demotivating factors.

Cultural Information - Recommended Books, Films & Foods

Question: To help me learn more about the local culture(s), please recommend: books, films, television shows, music and foods.

Local Perspective:

Books:

Philippine History and Government (Fifth Edition) by Gregorio Zaide

History of the Filipino People (Eight Edition) by Teodoro Agoncillo

A History of the Philippines by Renato Constantino, Letizia R. Constantino

The Philippines: A Singular and a Plural Place, 4th Edtiion (Nations of the Modern World) by David Joel Steinberg

In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines by Stanley Karnow

Films:

Heneral Luna

Magnifico

Himala

Bagong Bayani (Unsung Heroes)

Baler

Mga Munting Tinig (Small Voices)

Tanging Yaman

Muro_Ami

Rizal sa Dapitan

Aguila

Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Light)

Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (Weighed But Found Wanting)

Television shows:

TV Patrol

Eat Bulaga

Maalala Mo Kaya

I-Witness

Extra Challenge

ASAP

Magpakailanman

Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho

Music:

Anak

Dahil Sa Iyo

Kay Ganda Ng Musika

Sino Ang Baliw

You Made Me Live Again

Till I Met You

Luha

Nandito Na Ako

Food:

The well-known Filipino dish is “adobo” which can be pork and/or chicken.

Sinigang (mainly fish but an also be shrimp or pork) tamarind-based soup is a must-try.

Other regions in the Philippines use a lot of coconut and the dish is called “Ginataan” (vegetables and  pork).

Pork Lechon is a favorite during Fiestas and social  gatherings.

For snacks, “Halo-halo: (a mixture of fruits and ice) is a must during the hot summer season.

The Mangoes from Guimaras, Iloilo.

Lanzones in September.

Canadian Perspective:

Books: Novels by F. Sionel Jose (the Philippines’ most widely translated author), Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and El Filibusterismo (The Filibuster) which are both books by one of the Philippines National Heroes, Jose Rizal; Awaiting Trespass, by Linda Casper; Dusk by F Sionel Jose (follows a Philippines family over 100 years; Illustrado by Miguel Syjuco (set in modern Manila) and When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard.

There are a few public libraries in Manila that have a good selection of Filipina books on art and culture, including the Cultural Center of the Philippines Library and the Quezon City Public library which has many different branches.

Films: The Philippines has a large number of award winning directors, including Marilou Diaz Abaya (her film Jose Rizal is recommended) and Ishmael Bernal who directed the classic film Himala. The Philippines has a growing independent film industry. Some internationally critically acclaimed independent films include Perfumed Nightmare (1977), Anino (2001) and Kinatay (2009).

TV, radio and written media: Many radio and TV shows are in English along with most newspapers and magazines, making it easy to quickly tap into current events and activities where you are. The Philippine Inquirer and Philippines Star are two good newspapers to check.

Music: Music is the backbone to Filipino culture and you can see live music throughout the country. Don’t be surprised if during workshops ice-breakers will revolve around music and dancing which can lead to very entertaining moments and plenty of laughs. No stay in the Philippines is complete without a visit to the karaoke/videoke clubs. Be prepared to get up and sing your heart out with a fun loving group of people.

Some of the most well-known loved musicians are Freddie Aguilar who led the Filipino folk music scene and Regine Velasquez was known as Asia’s Songbird and won many awards over her career. Aside from a wide range of original music from well-known Filipino artists, there are also many excellent cover bands that can be seen at hotels, bars and restaurants.

Food: Food in the Philppines is strongly influenced by the region, with seafood and pork playing a role in the majority of dishes. If you’re fortunate to be invited to a party or take part in a local fiesta Lechon (entire spit-roasted pig) is likely to be featured. One of the most well-known and loved Filipino dish is Adobo (usually chicken/pork with vinegar, soy, garlic, pepper). Other specialities are Sisig (sizzling dish of innards), Bulalo (beef broth soup), Sinigang (light, delicately sour stew of fish/prawns/beef with vegetables), crispy pata (fried pork leg), Kare Kare (oxtail soup flavoured with peanut butter), Pancit (stir fried glass noodles), Halo Halo (Means ‘mix-mix’ in Tagalog which is what you do with this layered dessert made of shaved ice, candied fruits and beans, purple yam ice cream and evaporated milk).

If you hear vendors offering Balut be prepared to be adventurous – this delicacy is a 17-day old duck embryo that is boiled and served with salt or vinegar. Rice is a staple – even in fast food restaurants where rice often replaces French Fries as a standard side in North American chains. You will often see a small bowl of calamani (small juicy round limes) and chilis brought to your table. Filipinos often mix a side dish of the calamansi juice, soy and chilis to dip their meat into. You may be surprised to see the plethora of North American chains across the cities, particularly McDonalds and Krispy Kreme which are extremely popular. A fork and spoon are the common eating utensils.

Cultural Information - In-country Activities

Question: When in this country, I want to learn more about the culture(s) and people. What activities can you recommend?

Local Perspective:

A visit to the walled city of Intramuros in Manila provides a glimpse of the Old Spanish history. It features the Manila Cathedral with detailed stone carvings and stained glass mosaics; Fort Santiago, an old fortress built by the Spaniards which is the site of torture chambers and dungeons; and San Agustin Church, a favorite wedding spot.

There are festivals known as “fiestas” following a tradition dating back to the Spanish colonial period when the community always had a patron saints. The famous festivals includes the following:

  1. Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan
  2. Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City
  3. Sinulog in Cebu City

Holy Week in the Philippines is a significant religious observance for the Roman Catholic majority and most Protestant groups.

Canadian Perspective:

In Manila – the historic walled city of Intermuros is the main draw for visitors and was the original city of Manila. While distances may seem close on the map, heavy traffic can make what looks like a 10 minute drives a two-hour excursion. A great food experiences in Manila was visiting Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay City which is an open air fish market where you can wander and select your seafood from a range of vendors and then choose from many different restaurants who will cook your seafood however you would like it. The Ayala museum is excellent, and can be followed by a stroll around the extensive Greenbelt mall complex which is packed on the weekends with families wandering and enjoying time together after church.

For trips outside of Manila, Philippines Airlines or Cebu Pacific fly to most parts of the county. For crystal clear waters and spectacular coral reefs, head to El Nido, Palawan. The 2,000-year-old rice terraces of Banaue and Batad are breathtaking. They are registered as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Celebrations – Each village has at least one festival of its own, usually to honour its patron saint. People are often busy for weeks preparing the fiesta, which brings friends and family together for mass and procession followed by a day of music, dancing and food.  The Christmas celebrations start early, and the excitement is palpable throughout December as families and communities get ready. The Easter processions are not to be missed.

Cultural Information - National Heroes

Question: Who are this country's national heroes?

Local Perspective:

The Philippines’ National Hero is Dr. Jose Rizal -  a highly educated surgeon and novelist who could speak more than 20 languages. He was a central figure in the reform movement against the Spaniards.

Other heroes that fought for Philippine Independence during the Spanish regime include Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Gabriela Silang and Tandang Sora.

Canadian Perspective:

August 25 is National Heroes in the Philippines Day, a national holiday to honour those who have sacrificed their lives for Philippines freedom. Some of the most well-known heroes are Jose Rizal (a nationalist and advocate for Philippines reform advocacy during the Spanish colonial era) and Andres Bonifacio (revolutionary). Others recommended by the National Heroes Committee to be recognized as national heroes included Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. (despite a record of violent means to attain power), Emilio Aguinaldo, Gabriela Silang and Apolinario Mabini, among others.

Cultural Information - Shared Historical Events with Canada

Question: Are there shared historical events between this country and Canada that could affect work or social relations?

Local Perspective:

Filipinos have a very positive attitude towards Canadians.  Canadian Aid Programs, especially in Typhoon Haiyan calamity have show-cased Canadians’ generosity.

Recent interest in immigration and on-going Canada Education Fairs have highlighted Canada as a potential destination to study, work and live for international students.

Canadian Perspective:

Canadians do not have many significant historical ties to the Philippines, and are not associated with heavy political involvement as the Americans are. Contrary to other countries where there is little distinction between Canadians and Americans, the heavy involvement of the US over past century, and military bases in the Philippines have meant that there is a more evident distinction between Canada and the US.

Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos have immigrated to Canada over the past few decades. You will rarely go far without meeting someone who has a friend or family members from Canada and their experiences in Canada may help to shape their attitude towards you. In general Filipinos have a positive view of Canada.

Cultural Information - Stereotypes

Question: What stereotypes do Canadians have about the local culture that might be harmful to effective relations?

Local Perspective:

There is perception of widespread corruption in the Philippines that may hinder Canadian’s ability to transact business with Filipinos. However, the Philippines is a country where values of honesty and truthfulness are espoused.

Canadian Perspective:

A common misconception is that corruption is rife in the Philippines. While corruption exists, and reasonable precautions should be taken when conducting business in the Philippines. Filipinos in general are professional and moral individuals who are committed to their work.

Cultural Information - About the Cultural Interpreters

Local Perspective:

The SME is an international development specialist and had the experience of working in the Philippine government as development assistance coordinator, working with an international agency providing development aid in the Philippines and working with an organization in Canada as implementing agency of development projects. The SME had worked with the education sector in Canada and is currently involved in the Philippines in promoting Canada as destination of choice for international students to study, work and live in Canada.

The SME is a graduate of electrical engineering in the Philippines and Master of Public Policy and Public Administration in the US.

Canadian Perspective:

The SME was born in Ottawa, Canada and was raised in Toronto until she was nine years old. She then moved to the Netherlands with her family, where she lived until she was 18. She studied Commerce at Queen’s University in Canada and then moved to India to work with a local non-profit. She later moved to the UK to pursue a Master’s Degree in International Development Management at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Over the following years she worked for different international development organizations, working and living in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Philippines, Cambodia and Laos.

She is currently living in Toronto with her husband and travels often to the Philippines for work.

Disclaimer

Country Insights - Intercultural Issues are intended to provide snapshots of the overall social and cultural norms as well as the workplace environment that a Canadian might face working in a specific country. For each country, two perspectives are provided: one by a Canadian and the other by a person born in the selected country. By comparing the "local point of view" with the "Canadian point of view", you will begin to form a picture of that country's culture. We encourage you to continue your research using a variety of other sources and to use Triangulation as an evaluation process. Although cultural informants were asked to draw on as broad a base of experience as possible in formulating their answers, these should be understood as one perspective that reflects the particular context and life experiences of that person; they are not intended to be a comment on any particular group or society.

You may disagree with or object to the content of some responses. This is to be expected given the complexity of the subject and the problems associated with speaking generally about an entire country and its people. We would encourage you to share your experiences; your contributions will help to make Country Insights a richer environment for learning.

The content of Country Insights in no way reflects official policy or opinions of the Government of Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada or the Centre for Intercultural Learning.

Date Modified:

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