Filipino paradox - extremely honest but extremely dishonest
From a western perspective, Filipinos are paradoxical. They are extremely honest and yet at the same time extremely dishonest. The politically incorrect reality is culture affects how the brain operates, there are countless studies which show this. If culture didn’t affect how the brain operates, books like Filipino American Psychology wouldn’t exist. In this post, I will examine the causes of this paradox and what you can do to make your dealings with Filipinos more amiable. Before we can get to that point, if is important to realize what appears rational to you might appear illogical to others.
empathy - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Due to modern Progressive, the word empathy, has changed meanings, unfortunately, it has misused to justify criminal behavior etc. I explored this in Fish and fishermen occupy different realities. With culture, language reflects the values and beliefs of that culture. There are certain Tagalog (One of the main languages of the Philipines) words which describe emotions and values which seem baffling to westerners. Empathy doesn’t mean you agree with these beliefs the emotions they cause. It means trying to look at the world with their reality.
Experiments have shown that Filipinos, when you factor in poverty, compared to other nations, are extremely honest. When they found a lost wallet or cell phone, they returned it to their own. There are countless stories of poor people who earn less than 300 pesos ($6 US) a day, returning millions of pesos they found.
Personally, I have experienced the same thing. Money has fallen out of my pocket, someone always says, excuse me, you lost your money. In one case the person even chased me down the street. I left my belongings at a budget hotel, a month later when I stayed there, the clerk said, sir you left some of your belongings here, I will get them for you. They said they tried to contact me, the phone number I gave didn’t work.
If Filipinos as individuals are extremely honest, why is it one of the most corrupt countries in the world? There is a problem with theft by employees, there are numbers of people being scammed by Filipinos. Do Filipinos behave differently within a group?
You hire five Filipino workers, you then notice that there are small thefts and they are growing. You observe the group, four of the workers are working hard, one appears to be malingering. You suspect that the one who is malingering is the thief. You also notice that the other workers are attempting to cover up for him. Why would they be attempting to cover up for a person who is making things harder for them? You might decide to fire the malingering worker. You fire the worker, the other four workers beg you to forgive him. They might point out, he has a family, if he isn’t working, his children will starve etc. In some cases, they might even threaten to quit. They will defend the guilty person. This behavior becomes more baffling when Filipinos vehemently defend other Filipinos who profiteered by selling them to an enemy to be raped, tortured or killed.
Benedict Arnold and Guy Fawkes are infamous American and British traitors respectively. In the case of Guy Fawkes, five hundred years after his treachery, his effigy is burned on Guy Fawkes Night. In the Philippines, there are similar traitors, except they become heroes. In 1946, upon being given independence by the USA, 53% of Filipinos elected Manuel Roxas a WW2 collaborator.
During World War II Roxas served in the pro-Japanese government of José Laurel by acquiring supplies of rice for the Japanese army. Although a court was established after the war to try collaborators, Roxas was defended by his friend General Douglas MacArthur. Encyclopædia Britannica
Roxas served a brutal regime which tortured, raped and killed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos and profited. When you cite the Encyclopædia Britannica entry, Filipinos will deny. He actually helped Filipinos during WW2. You then provide evidence that Roxas and his fellow ilk profited from collaborating with the Japanese. The Japanese when they occupied the Philipines printed their own currency, commonly known as Mickey Mouse Money. Upon the liberation of the Philippines by the Americans, this money became worthless. To the disgust of President Truman, the Philipines passed a law to allow collaborators to exchange mickey mouse money for Filipino pesos. President Truman was so disgusted, he issued a Presidental Proclamation denouncing this bill.
“it is my considered opinion that if this Act should become law, it would tend to retard rather than to advance the economic rehabilitation of the Philippine Islands, and would offer neither relief nor protection to loyal citizens of the Philippines, the United States, or other allied countries who were deprived of valuable rights and assets by the Japanese authorities during invasion of the Philippines.” 31. Statement by the President Upon Disapproving a Bill of the Philippine Congress
He then stated
It will benefit enemy collaborators and subjects of the Axis Powers; will ratify certain acts of Japanese liquidators, and will offer neither relief nor protection to many loyal Filipinos, American citizens, and citizens of allied countries who were deprived of valuable rights and assets by the Japanese authorities. 31. Statement by the President Upon Disapproving a Bill of the Philippine Congress
If you present a Filipino with this evidence, he will deny, claim it is from a fake site. If you press the issue, he will become highly emotional and irrational. He possibly might even become violent. Literally, he is defending someone who probably had members of his family raped, tortured and killed. Regardless of educational background, his behavior is the same. What causes this irrational behavior?
Westerners have a black and white view of truth. You ask a westerner the color of a chess piece, depending on the color of the chess piece, he will answer either black or white. If the chess piece was white and he answered it was black, you would assume that he is either a liar or is visually impaired. Filipinos, by contrast, have the concept of Pakiramdam which has no western equivalent.
Pakiramdam is another concept and value that, in English, can be most accurately translated into “feeling” or “intuition”. It refers to feeling the needs, desires, intentions, motivations, moods, emotions or other internal characteristics and states of other people. Pakiramdam has been defined as a shared inner perception that is driven by a heightened sense of awareness and sensitivity. Filipino - American Postcolonial Psychology: Oppression, Colonial Mentality, And Decolonization
E. J. R. David Ph.D. because of Pakiramdam has left out a key fact. The Wikipedia definition hints at it.
Pakiramdam: Shared inner perceptions. Filipinos use damdam, or the inner perception of others’ emotions, as a basic tool to guide his dealings with other people.
From Wikipedia definition, we see that Pakiramdam guides a Filipinos dealings with other people. A people pleaser tells people what they want people to hear for their own personal gain. With Filipinos, they do not want to cause people unhappiness. If the Filipino thinks that telling you the black chess piece is white will make you happier, he will tell you it is white, even though it is black.
People inherently want to conform. In the 1950s, Solomon Asch ran a conformity experiment to see if peer pressure could force a person to state the shortest line in a set of lines was the longest. With Filipinos, there is a greater pressure to conform to the group’s beliefs.
Aim: Solomon Asch (1951) conducted an experiment to investigate the extent to which social pressure from a majority group could affect a person to conform.
You can find the complete description of the Asch experiment on Asch Experiment .
Results: Asch measured the number of times each participant conformed to the majority view. On average, about one-third (32%) of the participants who were placed in this situation went along and confirmed with the clearly incorrect majority on the critical trials.
The test was conducted with westerners, on average 32% of the subjects conformed. Imagine how many westerns would have confirmed if their family and close friends would be telling them to conform? What if the person is unable to separate their own ego to the ego of their family and close friends? In my opinion, Filipinos have like a group consciousness or ego, they have problems separating their self from the group. This describes the concept of kapwa.
Kapwa is more accurately translated as “both” or “fellow being” (Kapwa-Tao) (Enriquez, 1994), and refers to the unity or oneness of a person with other people. It is the recognition that one shares an identity, or a shared inner self, with others and that one is not and should not be separated from others. In Enriquez’s own words:
A person starts having kapwa not so much because of a recognition of status given to them by others but more because of their awareness of shared identity. The ako (ego) and the iba-sa-akin (others) are one and the same in kapwa psychology: Hindi ako iba sa aking kapwa (I am no different from others). Once ako starts thinking of them self as separate from kapwa, the Filipino a “self” gets to be individuated in the Western sense and, in effect, denies the status of kapwa to the other. By the same token, the status of kapwa is also denied to the self. Filipino - American Postcolonial Psychology: Oppression, Colonial Mentality, And Decolonization
Here Enriquez states that the ego of oneself and others of the group is the same. From a western perspective, this seems baffling. The implications are, that the actions of your group are tied directly to your own self-image or ego.
You are in Manila, your cellphone is stolen by a snatcher (mugger). You then tell your Filipino friend, he replied. I am sorry that happened to you. I feel awful. Possibly they might even state, I feel responsible. He might even look guilty. Initially, you might think, he is just being polite but later you will realize he feels responsible. You then ask, why are you apologizing? Did you steal my wallet? He will look shocked, he might reply, I don’t know, I feel bad. Once you understand kapwa, your friend’s behavior makes sense. On some level, he feels responsible for stealing your wallet.
This then explains why Filipinos defend people who have harmed them. On some level, they feel responsible for the crime that has been committed. To get a complete understanding, one must understand, Filipinos attitude towards people who are older or of higher status.
Pakikitungo: civility - In Confucian ethics, right behavior meant right demeanor towards authorities
In the Philipines, it is considered rude to question people who are of a higher social status than you are. If you question the person, there might be comments like, who does he think he is? He doesn’t know his position, he isn’t being respectful. Even of Filipino forums or groups, a debate will quickly turn into who has a higher status. It then digresses into accusations the other person isn’t being respective and the discussion will go nowhere.
Higher status can mean a person who is older, the school they graduated from, the family they came from. A person who is related to a political figure possibly could have a higher status despite having less education. People of higher status are not to be questioned. In the case of dishonesty, if a person of higher status is stealing, it would be improper to question that person’s behavior. This results in what appears to be Stockholm syndrome from an outsider perspective. The victims tragically will defend the person who is exploiting them.
Both the Spanish and Americans attempted to force onto the Filipino a new belief system. In the case of the Americans, the intentions were actually good. As the economic paper The Philippine economic mystery shows, the American government invested billions of dollars in the Philippines. This money was used to construct roads, railways, schools, universities, hospitals etc. The living standards of the Filipino during this period improved in every way, life expectancy doubled, literacy went from 25% to 75% in 20 years etc. What went wrong?
A culture when it encounters new technology or ideas will find their own ways to adapt it into their society. Native Americans learned how to quickly adopt horses into their culture. As Custer at Little Big Horn can testify, Native Americans learn how to use Horses better than Europeans. As a result, most people do not realize horses did not exist in the Americas until they were brought over by Europeans.
Ironically the Progressives despite claiming tolerance differ little from the Americans one hundred years ago, and the Spanish five hundred years ago. This is fine you are saying, how am I going to fix the problems that are affecting me? I have a group of workers, I am having problems exactly how you described.
Now that you realize the causes of Filipino dishonesty, what are some practical solutions?
Assign individual accountability - describe the tasks each person is expected to complete. This will also encourage the person to work harder because of Kapwa, the malingerer will often steal credit of the harder workers.
Be strict but fair - if you attempt to fire a malingering worker, he will appeal to the other workers. The other workers might protest, point out that it isn’t fair to them. Follow a policy of two written warnings and then termination.
Use Pakikitungo to your advantage - in western society, we have largely done away with hierarchies. Some westerners might find this repulsive. Politely but firmly remind the workers that you are the boss. If they are unhappy with their job, they are free to find a new job.
You have to sometimes be a father - the other side of Pakikitungo is that you might be expected to offer advice. Firm boundaries should be maintained, make sure that it isn’t an excuse to abuse your generosity. Like a good father be fair but strict.
Make people feel they belong - this is the other side of Kapwa, Filipinos enjoy a sense of belonging. Celebrate birthday parties at work, it doesn’t have to be extravagant, pancit (noodles) or a cake is adequate. It is the thought that counts. It is also good to have work outings unlike their western counterparts, Filipinos enjoy these activities.
Check to make sure everyone is ok - a worker might have broken a tool, instead of telling you, he will attempt to work with the broken tool. Explain to him, it is dangerous to work with broken tools, it is his job to report to you broken tools so they can be replaced.
Try and stay calm - with the broken tool, when explaining things, try and stay calm. Westerners do not like dealing with angry people, with Filipinos because of Pakiramdam it magnifies problems. The reason the Filipino didn’t tell you about the broken tool is because he was worried you will get angry. Explain you are not angry, stay calm.
One must realize that when Filipinos hide the truth, it is usually not for personal self-gain. Realize that kapwa causes the Filipinos to defend what is happening. With Pakiramdam, he doesn’t want to tell you the uncomfortable truth because he is afraid you will be upset with him.
To deal with the Pakiramdam problem, get to know him. Maybe share uncomfortable realities in a none judgemental manner. Many Filipinos are naive in that they think western ways and methods are inherently better. If they ask me questions about western countries, I attempt to offer an honest, balanced view. Possibly they might be surprised that you would say something negative about your country. It is important to be sincere, Kapwa makes Filipinos perceptive when it comes to other people’s emotions.
Filipino culture sometimes causes Filipinos to become hypocrites. A Filipino might have a differing view from the rest of his group but it is extremely difficult for him to express himself. If a Filipino steps out of line, his family and friends will pester him repeatedly until he conforms. It is difficult for a westerner to comprehend the amount of social pressure they face.
When alone, Filipinos might start to voice opinions which differ from the group, but he has to see that you are ready for the truth.
My post is just an introduction, to simplify things, I have made generalizations. When looking at things, avoid having a black and white perspective. Remember, Fish and fishermen occupy different realities. As Kevin L. Nadal Ph.D. said in Filipino American Psychology, all other culture values center around Kapwa.
This value is what enables Filipinos to stick together. When General MacArthur said Give me ten thousand Filipinos and I shall conquer the world! it is this cultural value that makes it possible. With proper leadership and with good guidelines, Filipinos are extremely hard workers. As one Filipino said, a Filipino will put his heart and soul into his job.
For the other side of the coin. As the great Filipino writer FS Jose said:
You will find that our enemies are our own kin. It is they who betray us. So learn this most important lesson-in the end, our worst enemy is ourselves” Ben Singkol: A novel
If you read Kevin L. Nadal Ph.D.‘s book Filipino American Psychology, the is a lot of confusion and a lot of bitterness. The author is faced with two conflicting values. I am not sure if he realizes it but he has been sold a lie by Progressives. This is why I am now 100% against multiculturalism and western countries meddling in other cultures. Western Progressives intentions are good but they do insurmountable damage. Instead, let these countries find their own solutions which fit their culture. I will address these issues in future posts.
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