Philippine and American Culture

The differences in American culture and the culture of the Philippines are massive. One should not believe they are going to a country much like the USA. People learn that the Philippines is an English speaking country. That is more in theory than reality though. While the Philippines have two official languages, those being Filipino and English there are hundreds of languages in the Philippines. The number varies depending on which expert you ask.

Well educated and some other Filipinos will be able to speak English well. You will be able to function in large department stores and transact what you need to with government agencies in English. Once you step into the streets of the Philippines, English will do you very little good. Thousands of people that speak only English live here though.

It is much more complex than that though, anthropologist often group cultures into low context and high context cultures. The USA is a low context culture. People in low context cultures tend to express themselves with more words. They are more animated and colorful in their speech. They may say the same thing in more than one way to make sure their meaning is understood. In a high context culture like the Philippines, fewer words are spoken.  A Filipino expects you to understand them with fewer words. If you try to expound on their meaning, they will likely politely repeat what they already said.

This can cause a foreigner to think the Filipino is being rude when they are not.  They think you are rude for going on and on about something they already explained. They are unlikely to change the position. “This is our policy,” accept it or move on.



Showing respect in every situation is critical in the culture of the Philippines. They are forgiving of foreigners because we don’t know their ways. Respect is absolute and if not given much trouble can follow. A foreigner can be thrown out of the Philippines for disrespecting a Filipino. That is rare but it can happen.

Family is sometimes above the law here. When there are disputes within the family, the police will generally not get involved unless a family member asks for it. I have even seen this happen in cases of murder. If you find a significant other in the Philippines, you may never become more important to her than her family. Generally she is terrified of bringing shame to her family and this will rule much of what she does.

Of course, with any culture there are wide variances and nobody will be in the center of the culture in every way. Each person must be dealt with an as individual but these principles can guide you. These things I’ve discussed here will serve you as a launching point to further pursue if you are interested in the culture of the Philippines.

There are many differences between the U.S  and  The Philippines, even the US Taxes behave differently!

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