Embodying Filipino Values in the Workplace

8 May 2023

The Filipino people have such a distinct culture. They are known for their hospitality, care, and an overall sense of warmth and belongingness wherever they go. This is because Filipinos always embody the values they hold dear. The Filipino values remain the same wherever they go, and in whatever setting. How do we take these values and incorporate them into a place like our office?

Researcher F. Landa Jocano stated in his book, Towards Developing a Filipino Corporate Culture in 1999, that culture cannot be separate from work habits. Workplace strategy thrives when our office culture matches the culture of our everyday lives. This includes the Filipino values we hold dear such as “bayanihan“, hospitality, and Pinoy pride.

Bayanihan: The Filipino Value for the People

From the words “bayan” (community) and “bayani ” (hero), bayanihan is the spirit and drive of a community to help individuals in need. Without being asked, without the forethought of a reward, and whether it be to someone in the community or a complete stranger. Even just from the etymology alone, it’s impossible to separate the community from heroism. 

We can trace the concept of bayanihan to pre-colonial Philippines when the town’s people would be asked to help a family move houses. When we mean move houses, we mean that literally. Small communities would carry a house (a small nipa hut) from one place to another as a group, holding onto the foundation from beneath. Contemporary examples of bayanihan would be during typhoons, which are especially common in an archipelagic country like the Philippines. Communities affected by the typhoon would be rescued and helped by neighbouring communities, or even those that are a ways away!

Of course, it doesn’t take a natural disaster or feats of strength to foster the bayanihan spirit. It can also just happen in everyday places, like your office. 

Ways to Embody Workplace Bayanihan

Tour the New Hires. It’s intimidating to be the new person at the office. But the bayanihan spirit lets us take in the new hires, tour them around, and show them that our workplace is not only an office but a community. Tell them the names of people, where to go, and the best spots around the block. These are small but impactful things to ease their way into the community.

Bayanihan is making sure everyone collaborates in a productive meeting.

Participate in meetings. Meetings are difficult to get through if no one participates. The Filipino value of bayanihan shows us that it takes a community to move houses. All you need to do is listen in, ask questions, and voice out your own opinions. Bonus points if you ask your fellow attendees their insights and have a nice brainstorming session.

Hospitality: Filipino Values Make You Feel Right at Home

If you’ve ever entered a Filipino’s home during lunch hour, you will hear one of the sweetest one-word sentences ever uttered. “Kain!” (or “Eat!”) may sound like an order on paper, but it is both a genuine invitation and a question of concern; a mixture of “have you eaten?” and “eat with us!” Filipinos do this not only because it is polite, but because it’s almost reflexive to be concerned for the wellbeing of another person, especially a guest. The Filipino hospitality to foreigners or guests is something else, almost unique and natural to the culture.

Filipinos know how to make you feel right at home, and it definitely does not end with visitors. Hospitality is a value that they also provide to the people that they see every day; which can help an intimidating setting like an office. By making people feel at home in the workplace, you can cultivate a fun and relaxed workplace. 

Ways to Embody Workplace Hospitality 

Eat Together. The way to show affection and care for Filipinos is through food. Sharing a meal, asking if a co-worker has eaten or offering to buy lunch when you can. It opens up nice conversations and a good little ritual for co-workers to spend time together and feel even just a little bit at home. 

Sharing a cup of coffee is the Filipino way to start off the day!

Show Concern. One surefire way to get to know people and make a place feel like home is to ask about their well-being. You’ll familiarise yourself with the people around you, learn about their lives, and show that you care; in turn, they’ll care about you. Nothing feels more like home than someone genuinely asking, “kumain ka na ba?” (“Did you eat yet?”).

Pinoy Pride: A Filipino Values Passion

Being emotionally connected to what you do and the people that surround you, that is what Pinoy Pride is all about. We know what pride is, but Pinoy is basically a Filipino calling themselves a Filipino, a self-reference that you are related to or have origins in the Philippines. So, Pinoy Pride is about the passion and the drive to celebrate the accomplishments of where you are from. Filipinos are known to travel far and wide, which is why when Filipinos hear news of a fellow “kababayan” (countrymen) and their accomplishments across the globe, it is often a cause for celebration no matter how far. Even in the local setting, when someone in the “barangay” (a small town) has an achievement, it’s a cause for celebration. If you’ve finally graduated, it’s common to hear that the whole barangay will be there when you come home with a whole “fiesta” (community-wide party) to greet you! 

Passion for what you do is a must for any workplace environment. It bands people together to improve the workplace and celebrate the development and progress of the organisation. The Filipino value of being proud is a feat rooted in passion. No matter how small and how far, Filipinos are always proud of the accomplishments of others. 

Ways to Embody Pinoy Pride at Work

Celebrating Achievements. Did your co-worker earn a raise? Did your boss present the project that the entire team worked hard on successfully? Ending the quarter with a bang? That’s a cause for celebration! Even if it’s small, it’s always nice to pat someone on the back for good work. Be proud of your office’s achievements, because that’s what Pinoy pride is all about.

Motivate Others. The thing about Pinoy Pride is that it is not only present during the good times. Through peak seasons and heavy workloads, motivating your team through it all is still being proud and having that classic Filipino passion in what you do. 

Filipino Values Make for a Supportive and Warm Workplace

Bayanihan, hospitality, Pinoy pride. What these all boil down to is that the values of a Filipino make for a supportive workplace. One that motivates teammates, helps out those in need, and even simply makes sure that everyone is comfortable in the space they are in. Even though you learn all of these values in school or at home and use it for local holidays, it does not mean that it should end there. Because being a Filipino does not stop as soon as you enter the office. It continues everywhere we go, and can even make for a wonderful, more together workplace.