How Do Filipinos Behave with Foreign Students and Workers?

What do we know about the behavior of Filipino people towards foreign students who are in the Philippines for English language learning, study English or for any other English course and workers?

You will find a lot of foreigners (lately we see a lot of Chinese working professionals) entering the Philippines. Some are here to learn English or work and earn more money and some are here to study. How do Filipinos behave with foreign students and workers? Do they accept them, do they tolerate them, or do they dislike them? Are Filipinos rude or accommodating with foreigners? How are foreigners treated by Filipinos in general? 


What is it like to work or study in the Philippines? How do Filipinos behave with foreign students and workers?

How do Filipinos Behave with Foreigners?

I learned a lot of interesting things from my time in the Philippines. One of those things was the way that the Filipino people behave with foreigners. The thing I noticed first is that they are generally friendly towards foreigners, especially if they are Caucasian.

They would be very happy to help you with anything you need, and they will offer to do almost everything for you without even being asked. They are helpful in a way that seems natural to them.

To start, there are certain things Filipinos tend to do that foreigners do not. When interacting with someone from another country, they might speak English well but struggle with the cultural nuances of communicating. Also, they may feel a little intimidated by the stranger they are interacting with. This could be a problem for both Filipinos and Foreigners, especially when a Foreigner is having a hard time speaking in English.

Many Filipinos are friendly towards foreigners, as well as with those from neighboring countries. As different as it may sound, Filipinos frequently perceive non-Filipinos as very different people on a cultural perspective. That’s why sometimes a welcoming attitude could turn into a shy or embarrassed one. When you make a comment, it’s important that you express appreciation and an open mind to help them break the ice.

How Do Filipinos Feel about Foreign Students and Workers?

The first thing that comes to my mind is the fact that they’re taking jobs away from local students. With the recent wave of foreign students and workers flooding our shores, it was only natural that Filipinos started talking about it.

So, I decided to ask them. And what did I find?

In general, Filipinos love foreigners, but some have some serious concerns about them. The main thing was a feeling of uncertainty, both about the foreigners themselves, and about the government.

I’m going to list three reasons, but there are many more. First, it’s simply bad for our country to be dependent on foreign labor. That would be like saying that the United States should depend on Saudi Arabia for oil or that our economy should be based on Chinese manufacturing. It just doesn’t make sense. We’d need an influx of talent and capital in exchange for these jobs. Second, many foreign workers have come here to seek a better life for themselves and their families. This is something we should support. Finally, many Filipinos have had negative experiences with foreigners. Some are lazy, dishonest, and uneducated. Others are arrogant and taking advantage of our work force. 

What Can Employers Do to Help the Filipino Employee?

Filipino employees can do everything to make the foreign employee feel comfortable, and vice versa. Filipinos are known to be warm and hospitable, but you need to set the ground rules. Filipino workers can be very friendly and easygoing, which could work to their advantage or disadvantage.

However, if you’re not prepared, you can risk making yourself the target of a lot of hostility and resentment, especially if you make it clear that you don’t approve of their behavior.

In any relationship, it is always best to establish trust. But this is even more essential in a business setting because of the power differentials between employees and management. Filipino companies can be very rigid when dealing with their overseas workers and managers.

This kind of behavior can affect productivity, morale, and the culture of the workplace. Filipinos should be allowed to develop trust in their foreign counterparts. They can begin by being friendly and courteous. They can be flexible with their schedules, communicate clearly and effectively, and allow their counterparts the same respect.

What Can Foreigners Do to Help the Filipino Worker?

We can all help out our fellow Filipinos by simply being a good listener and communicator. Communication skills are very important so please try to speak in Tagalog or at least English.

Let’s not be afraid to talk to people who might not speak English and offer a helping hand. And while we’re at it, let’s stop telling people that foreigners cannot understand our culture. That’s just not true.

Here are some other things you can do as a foreigner helping Filipino workers. You can volunteer your skills and time.

You can teach English or another native language in a school or business setting. You can find a place where there is an immediate need and provide your services. You can give someone a chance. You can pay attention and be involved in the lives of people who don’t look like you. You can show up and be there. You can volunteer your talents and energy to help those less fortunate than you. You can be a friend.

Besides all that, there is one single particular thing we like to remind foreigners: when you encounter problems and conflicts, make sure you are not being loud. The Filipinos usually approach you in a calm, relaxed and gentle way: that’s how Filipinos are, but they expect you to act the same.

If the restaurant’s food was wrong, or the hotel forgot to change your towel, if something else wasn’t right in your experience, try your best to address the situation in a way that is not over-the-top or confrontational.

Many foreigners behave badly when we’re stressed, and scream and shout at people. It’s probably because we’re not used to screaming and shouting in public.

Some people just don’t like the idea of being put down in front of others. They prefer to keep problems private and calmly, so their problems are solved, they’ll do anything to avoid humiliation in front of others.

Are You Ready to Work in the Philippines?

I think that the most important thing to consider in the Philippines when deciding whether to stay or move abroad is that you must be ready to adapt to the culture in which you live.

The Philippines is an archipelago composed of over 7,000 islands. It is the largest Asian country in area, with an average land area of only 9.9 million square kilometers, yet the population is only 115 million people. This makes it difficult to travel to different regions of the country, especially if you are unfamiliar with the Filipino culture.

If you wish to study or work in the Philippines, you must adapt to the lifestyle of the locals. You must know the language at least basic english speaking, understand the customs, and be willing to practice the local ways.

Why is it Important to Smile as a foreigner staying in the Philippines?

When I started my new job in Manila, I was told to smile a lot. I didn’t understand why, but they said that if I smiled when people looked at me and even when I wasn’t talking to them, people would be more likely to say hello back to me. Of course, I didn’t really understand that either. So I just smiled. After a couple of weeks, I finally got it. In the Philippines, people smile when they see a stranger. 

Smiling makes others feel better and happier about themselves. In addition to making others feel good, smiling can also have a positive effect on yourself. One study found that smiling can help boost your immune system, lower your stress levels, and help your mood, among other things.

How to be Friendly as a foreigner when staying in the Philippines?

I’ve been living in the Philippines for a long time now, but I still can’t help but feel a bit nervous when meeting new people or dealing with customs. Luckily, most of my friends and colleagues in the Philippines are always very friendly and accommodating when we come visit.

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years to help me feel more at ease and enjoy my visits.

You can avoid being nervous in the Philippines by remembering a few things. First, it is important to know that you are in another country. Learn the language of the place you are visiting.

Also, be prepared for anything. Dress appropriately for the weather. It’s important to take off your shoes when entering someone’s house. 

Do you know the local customs? Remember to follow them! Some people might not think you are polite if you don’t do that. Always say “good morning” and “thank you” in the Philippines. Say “salaam alaikum” instead of “good afternoon.” You can say “merci” instead of “thank you” when you receive a gift.

Always show appreciation. Say thank you after you have received something. It means a lot to the receiver. You should be respectful of the customs of the place. Be polite and remember to say thank you. It’s important to show respect to everyone you meet. If you don’t, then you might regret it later.

How to be Polite as a foreigner in the Philippines?

One thing I learned after living in another country for over 16 years is that you don’t have to be an expert to act polite and friendly, especially if you smile. If you are lost, ask the person who is helping you for directions, thank them and smile. 

Filipinos are often perceived to be very friendly and welcoming. While it’s true that they are very friendly, they are also quite polite and formal when it comes to making new acquaintances. Use the word po, thank you po, o po, maraming salamt po etc. Filipinos are using the word po when being polite.

The key to being successful in dealing with people of all sorts is to be honest but tactful when making new acquaintances. In fact, it’s easier to make friends in the Philippines than it is in the Netherlands. There are so many people here that you’re bound to find someone who likes you, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with strangers.

How to Be Respectful as a foreigner in the Philippines?

You’re a foreign visitor to the Philippines. You’re not a local, you don’t speak Tagalog, you may not be able to understand Filipino culture, and you may not be able to tell that the language is called Filipino. You’re here to learn and explore, and you don’t intend to make life difficult for yourself.

So, how can you live happily and respectfully in the Philippines without being disrespectful towards Filipinos? You might not be able to change your skin color, but you can change your attitude towards Filipinos.

As a foreigner living in the Philippines, it is really important that you are mindful and respectful when you encounter Filipinos who do not know you. If you know that the persons you are talking to are not from your home country and you have no idea how they supposed to act, try to refrain from making any statements that you know will upset them. Just smile, nod, and move on.

In conclusion 

There’s a saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Or as the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” If you’ve been to a foreign country and experienced its culture, then you know that it’s very hard to figure out what the locals are thinking and feeling. We are all different, but most of us think and behave similarly. What I find fascinating is how people from other countries behave towards foreigners. In my experience, I found that people from the Philippines have a very welcoming, kind, and open personality. A lot of Filipinos are not only friendly to foreigners, but also enjoy interacting with them

I hope this blog will encourage you to go beyond what you know and explore new opportunities, new horizons, new experiences. You will find yourself in places where you could have never imagined.


Peter Buijs

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I am a proud blogger and company owner. I am managing, together with a great team of marketing specialists from GON all marketing activities for American English Skills Development Center and I am mostly working from home. When I’m not working, you’ll find me enjoying time playing guitar, traveling, diving and drinking a delicious Pale Pilsen beer which I consider the best beer in the Philippines. My biggest wish is to ride a big bike and buy a boat and sail to all 7107 islands in the Philippines. 

Speak to you soon!

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