Filipino Culture


Primary Author
Chara Scroope,

Basic Etiquette

  • Filipinos tend to dress modestly, especially when in public.
  • It is expected that the elderly and those of a higher social status are treated with respect.
  • Given large family sizes and typically small living quarters, Filipinos are generally not demanding of privacy. Within one family, possessions are typically thought to be communal and shared. Thus, it is expected to be open about one’s possessions and space.
  • Many Filipinos avoid blasphemy and cursing as it may cause themselves to lose .
  • Filipinos typically have a relaxed approach towards timekeeping and punctuality. It is common for Filipinos to arrive an hour or two hours after the designated time. This is commonly referred to as ‘Filipino time’. However, Filipinos will observe punctuality in a formal context such as important business meetings, appointments or when visiting the doctor.


  • Do not refer to the woman of the house as ‘hostess’ as this has an alternative meaning in the Philippines that is offensive.
  • It is common practice to remove one’s shoes before entering someone’s home. The host may offer you slippers to wear inside the home.
  • Try to accept any refreshments offered. Refusing them is considered impolite.
  • To display their hospitality, Filipinos will often use their finest crockery and cutlery when they have a visitor. It would be polite to comment on it out of acknowledgement for their efforts.
  • If there is a visitor, Filipinos are reluctant to take the last serving of any shared food served at a meal.
  • If someone is eating and someone walks past, many Filipinos will offer the person passing by to stop and eat. However, this is not a literal offer but rather out of respect.


  • Nearly all meals are served with rice. If a meal is not served with rice, it is normally not considered a main meal but rather a snack.
  • Many Filipinos eat with their hands or with a spoon and fork. However, they will often try their best to accommodate for their guests by finding suitable cutlery for their guest.
  • It is considered rude to lean on one’s arms when present at the dinner table.
  • Filipinos may allow food to go cold before eating it as they wish to have all the dishes present on the table before serving.
  • It is common to leave food at the table just in case someone else arrives or is hungry later.

Gift Giving

  • Presentation is important, so Filipinos will take considerable effort to make sure their gifts are well presented and wrapped.
  • Filipinos will often put a lot of thought into their gifts and will give sentimental, thoughtful and/or practical gifts.
  • Gifts are generally not opened when received. Often one will thank the giver and set the gift aside.

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