The Filipino Toxic Culture and How to Deal With It.

I have been married to a Filipina for 20 years now and I know a thing or two about the Philippines and its culture.

I do love the Philippines and its outstanding landscapes, its mixture of Spanish, Asian and American architectures, its cuisine and so much more, and I would go back there one million times to explore every nook and cranny of the archipelago.

What are some of the toxic traits of the Filipino mentality?

But, unfortunately, the Philippines is not just those amazing and fascinating things.

It is also some of the nasty things that, from time to time, I mention in my blog and that qualify as "toxic". These include:

Bahala-na (basically leaving things to chance and then expecting a higher power to take care of the consequences)

Ningas kugon (when Filipinos have no clear plans or goals and their plans and goals easily fizzle out)

Filipino time (the habit of always showing up late at an appointment or not showing up at all)

Pwede na iyan (basically the habit of doing low-quality work and the assumption that the crappy result can suffice)

Ako muna ("me first")

Tsismis ("gossip")

Inuman (binge drinking)

....and much more (unfortunately).

Why are some of the attitudes and mindsets of many Filipinos so toxic?

The reason why the word "toxic" fits things like bahala-na, ningas kugon, Filipino time, pwede na iyan, ako muna, tsismis, inuman and so on is because these things are the very ones that stunt the growth of the Philippines as a country, as well as the progress of many Filipino expats and, in fact, one of the definitions of "toxic culture" is "an environment that is plagued by mindsets that affect the well-being and the progress of those who live in that environment".

Toxicity among Filipino expats

Because I am married to a Filipina and we don't live in the Philippines, nor do we have any plans (at least not at the moment) to move to the Philippines, I am primarily addressing this issue from the perspective of someone who has more regular interactions with Pinoy expats than with Filipinos who live in their homeland.

And I actually notice that the very same things that stunt the progress of Filipinos in the Philippines also keep many expats from improving the quality of their lives.

Traits like bahala-na, tsismis, ningas kugon and so on linger in the mindset of Filipinos who have been working in my country (Italy) for decades.

For example I know Filipinos who have the latest electronic gadgets and expensive cars but they have debts to pay and zero money in the bank, and this is just one example out of many.

Filipinos spend big money to eat out rather often

As for Filipino time, well, I could write a book about the instances in which I spent hours waiting for a Filipino who repeatedly promised that he was on his way but never showed up.

The crab mentality is definitely one of the things that account for the fact that most Filipinos here in Italy remain stuck forever in domestic jobs.

And the list could go on for hours

Toxicity within the family

In the Philippines there is little or zero privacy, as Filipino family units live in house compounds where other relatives show up all the time and dole out advice, criticism, they gossip and do other things that are not very encouraging and uplifting.

The in-laws lean very heavily toward pakikialam, or toward interfering with how their offspring's spouses are running the family and this can create all kinds of tension and arguments.

The Filipino toxic working culture

I have no experience of working in the Philippines but I know, by reading various blogs, that this issue of the "toxic working culture" is a very hot topic, and I can easily imagine why, given the mindsets that I have mention, which affect all kinds of social interactions, including, evidently, the work environment.

The Filipino toxic money culture

The idea that Filipino expats should support the entire extended family, combined with the inability of many Filipino expats to budget their money and the habit of spending it on non-essentials that give instant gratification definitely keeps Filipinos who have been working hard overseas for decades from reaping the benefits of their hard work.

How to deal with this toxic culture

This is an issue both for Filipinos who have lofty goals and ambitions and feel that the toxic environment they are part of keeps them from realizing their full potential and, obviously, even for Westerners who are married to a Filipina and, perhaps, live in a big city like Rome where there is a huge Pinoy community.

There are no easy answers because, once you are in a family relationship with Filipinos, because Filipinos are highly people oriented, you can't just ignore them.

If you are a Filipino you can't just move to another country and ignore your family and the Pinoy community of fellow expats.

If you are interested in marrying a Filipina watch out for potential dangers of toxicity before committing...and, if you are already married to a Filipina, and find yourself surrounded by people who are not very uplifting, study books that talk about the concept of "acceptance" in a relationship.

One thing that can be done is to have "virtual associations" in the form of books of personal improvement and anything else that can help you keep your sanity while doing the best you can to accept these people and their ways and stretch your ability to deal with a toxic environment by adopting the philosophy of learning how to dance in the rain rather than wait for the storm to pass.


  1. This really helps and very true

  2. As Filipino residing in Canada I agree that Filipino culture of gossiping and backbiting is widespread among Filipinos abroad

    1. Opo sir, nakakalungkot talaga. Bilang asawa ng isang Pilipina gusto ko sanang tulungan ang mga kabayan ni misis na sumulong...kaso matigas ang ulo


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