Philippines Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

The Philippines is one of the world’s largest archipelagos. It is located in Southeast Asia in the Western Pacific Ocean. Its islands are divided into three main geographical regions – Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Due to its archipelagic nature, the Philippines is a culturally diverse country. The country is the only Asian country with a dominant Christianity (Catholic Church, considerable interest in the Infant Jesus of Prague).

Addressing

Although virtually all educated Filipinos speak English, it would not be wise to expect European-style communication. It should be noted that the way Filipinos behave is indirect, much like elsewhere in Asia. Therefore, many people say “yes” even in a situation where they think “no”. The very frequent use of the phrase “yes sir” (even towards ladies) even in response to an ambiguous question can even upset an unaccustomed European businessman. Any consent must be viewed very carefully and, in the case of negotiations, should be accompanied by further proposals or instructions for negotiations. A corporate “handshake” is standard protocol in the Philippine business community, and individuals are addressed by their titles and surnames until further acquaintance is made. At least twice, a gift is welcome between business partners: the initial meeting and the conclusion of a business agreement. A gift doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be of good quality. The ideal gift can be something that bears your company’s logo and at the same time expresses a business intention and a friendly gesture. The presentation of the gift is very important, so wrap the gift in a nice package. Last but not least, don’t expect the recipient to open the gift in your presence.

Business meeting

Expressing yourself very politely is the rule in the Philippines. Direct commands without polite turns (please, can you, etc.) are not customary. In addition to nodding “yes”, the constant smile on the faces of Filipinos can also confuse the foreign visitor, which does not always indicate approval or pleasure, but often conceals disapproval or uncertainty. Respect for the elderly is strongly built into the local mentality, and in villages even nowadays you will commonly meet children who, when they meet on the street, put the hand of an elderly person (sometimes even a stranger) to their forehead in the form of a certain “blessing”. Children are a blessing to local families and women have a stronger position in this society than in some neighboring countries. The Philippines was the first country in Asia where women could vote. Is it appropriate to bring a lawyer to important meetings? In the case of advanced negotiations and the presence of the legal representative of the other party, it is certainly appropriate to proceed in the same way. Philippine law shall prevail upon judicial review. Repeated appeals against the judgment may lead to the dispute ending up before the Supreme Court. His decision is final. It is not uncommon for there to be frequent media lobbying during litigation. Non-traditional and violent methods of dispute resolution may also occur. The experience of some foreign companies indicates that even an impartial local court is influenced by the local environment by anti-nationalism. E.g. a few years ago, the court rejected McDonald’s lawsuit for infringement of the trademark of their Big Mac product by the Filipino firm Big Mak, which also sells hamburgers.

How is it during the meeting with refreshments? Light refreshments are often served at business meetings. The bottom line is never to offend your host by refusing, even if you just had a big breakfast or lunch before you arrived. In restaurants and private residences, always wait for instructions from your host and wait to be told where to sit, and in the case of a buffet, wait for instructions to remove food. While many Asian cultures believe that leaving a small portion of food on the plate at the end of a meal is a show of respect, Filipinos really don’t mind if you show your appreciation by eating the whole dish down to the last bite. A written thank you for the invitation is always followed.

What to wear to a restaurant? In addition to the regular suit, men in the Philippines wear traditional long shirts called “barong”, decorated with braids on the front and usually with pearl buttons. This shirt is worn out of the pants and has the same value as a jacket, which can be a nuisance in the local climate. Higher quality and more expensive barongs are usually made of pineapple fiber. This is similar to similar shirts from Spanish colonies elsewhere in the world (e.g. Cuba).

Communication

The concept of “pakisama” behavior (belonging, friendship, sharing) is a very strong part of the Filipino mentality, which does not behave individualistically. Many Europeans will appreciate the effort of Filipinos to always be helpful within the group. For this reason, it is also necessary to be constantly aware of the issue of honor, or the concept of “loss of face”, in which, moreover, an insult to one can be felt as an insult to all. It is not unusual to make an appointment even a month in advance. As a professional courtesy, always confirm the date by phone several days in advance and provide advance copies of any materials necessary to clarify the objectives of the meeting. Traffic in major Philippine cities is some of the worst in the world and you must always allow yourself enough time to get to your destination. For this reason, it is not wise to schedule several meetings a day, but rather limit the number and leave enough time to move. In addition to regular holidays, there are also floating religious holidays, which in the Philippines include Christian and Muslim holidays, considering the 5% minority of Filipino Muslims. Their date depends on the Islamic lunar calendar. Other days off are declared, e.g. election day, etc. These days off are often declared in such a way as to combine a regular holiday with a weekend. Individual parts of the Philippines incl. Manila, they also celebrate their local fiestas – usually patron saint holidays. These days are then local days off from work. Visit Animalerts for more information about Philippines culture and traditions.

Recommendation

The Philippine Islands are divided into three main geographical regions – Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Due to its archipelagic nature, the Philippines is a culturally diverse country, where most business activities are concentrated on the island of Luzon (accounting for 73% of GDP) and the largest cities such as Manila, Davao or Cebu City. Concessions are also provided for investments in special export and economic zones, where a general 5% gross income tax applies if domestic raw materials are used in production. Businesses located in duty-free zones such as Subic Bay Freeport, Clark Special Economic Zone and Port Point Special Economic and Freeport Zone.

Public Holidays

In addition to regular holidays, there are also movable religious holidays, which in the Philippines include Christian and Muslim holidays, with respect to the 5% minority of Filipino Muslims. Their date depends on the Islamic lunar calendar. Some holidays are declared ad-hoc by decision of the President.
The following 20 national holidays are declared in the Philippines:
January 1 New Year
Chinese New Year
February 25 EDSA Revolution
April 9 Day of Valor / Bataan and Corregidor Day – the anniversary of the fall of the defenders of the Philippines during World War II.
Maundy Thursday
Good Friday
Black Saturday
May 1st Labor Day
June 12 Independence Day – 1898 – the main national holiday, the date of independence from Spain (the final independence was not declared from the USA until 4/7/1946, it was also a holy holiday in the past)
Eid’l Fitr – the celebration of the breaking of the fast (End of Ramadan)
21.August Ninoy Aquino Day (Ninoy Aquino Day)
August 25 National Heroes
Day October 5 Feast of Sacrifice – Eidul Adha – commemoration of the Old Testament Abraham’s sacrifice of a ram instead of a son.
November 1 All Saints’
Day November 30 A. Bonifacio Day (Bonifacio Day)
December 25 1 Christmas Day
December 26 2 Christmas
Day December 30 J. Rizal Day
December 31 last day of the year.

Philippines Culture of Business