Filipino Culture

Do's and Don'ts


  • Observe hierarchical relations determined by age and status. Showing respect is a core part of Filipino culture and is often demonstrated through speech.
  • Show an interest into the wellbeing of your Filipino counterpart’s family. In the Philippines, family is an important component in an individual’s life.
  • Acknowledge your counterpart’s education and English proficiency. Many Filipinos are fluent in English. Avoid talking to them in overly simplified English as this may be interpreted as patronising.
  • Smile when meeting people. Filipinos are renowned for being joyful people who try to show warmth where they can.
  • Compliment people’s efforts and hospitality. For Filipinos, hospitality is an essential component of interaction and they will often go to extreme lengths to be hospitable to their company.


  • Approach questions about income, standard of living or things that would often be considered personal in Australia with sensitivity. These topics are not always welcomed in discussion. However, it is not uncommon for Filipinos to ask questions relating to age, work and level of education to ensure they address you correctly in future interactions.
  • Avoid directly criticising the Philippines as a country. This may not be well received and criticisms from a foreigner may be interpreted as an insult.
  • Do not publicly display signs of anger, raising your voice or shouting in front of those older or superior to you. Any confrontational or aggressive behaviour may bring hiya (shame or embarrassment), tarnishing your reputation.
  • Try not to be offended if your Filipino counterpart makes frank comments about people’s body shape. Unlike in Australia, it is not considered taboo or rude to make comments such as, “Oh, you’ve put on weight” or "Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?". Such comments are not intended to be hurtful, invasive or offensive.

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