The Real Reason for Pinoy “Inferiority Complex”

The topic of the Filipino “inferiority complex” has been mentioned by many as a core cause of Philippine society’s backwardness. Many writing about it would call it a legacy of the colonizers, who supposedly implanted this belief in us to make sure we don’t advance as a society. I have a different idea.

My mom told me about when she spoke before residents of the Payatas dump site as part of a church outreach program. The topic of her talk was, now that the dump site was being removed, the residents will have to work and not depend on dole-outs. She said that many of the Payatas residents were willing to do this. But she mentioned the younger generation were implanted with the inferiority complex. These younglings were shouted at with things like “wala kang kwenta (you’re useless)” and other demeaning words by their parents and elders.

When I heard this, I realized, aha, this is the current significant reason for the inferiority complex of Filipinos. It’s not foreigners or colonialism. It’s irresponsible parenting.

Part of Philippine tradition is for elderly people to stop working and to depend on their children to support them. However, this tradition can be abused. For example, we may have heard of parents who do nothing but drink, depending on their children for buying their drinks. Those children, if not working in legal jobs, may even be goaded to steal for that. If those children are unable to produce some money, they might be at the receiving end of parental violence. What if those irresponsible parents are using such money for illegal drugs and not just vices?

Let’s say there’s a moocher and tambay (standby, or jobless) father who abandoned his children and left the family to fend for themselves; then when he sees his children have jobs and earn well, he turns up to demand that they give him what he wants, because he gave birth to them. I would say the children have no obligation to give in to that. Thus I oppose that move to allow parents to charge in court children who they feel are not supporting them. That would prevent such irresponsibility from being properly addressed.

Some people may say, “but we Filipinos are good parents! We can never be bad, we are only good, because we are a special people!” Grandiose navel-gazing makes people unable to see the truth.

Like many other cases, it supports my assertion that the dysfunction of Filipinos can be traced to the family. If we are to fix some problems in society, one important place to start is the family. Perhaps we need to undo some traditions that we’ve long cherished as part of our “Filipino identity,” and replace them with better practices.

First, elder adults don’t need to stop working. Columnist James Lafferty himself says older people should still be part of the workforce, since some of them still want to work and be productive. Even people with disabilities have become willing workers. It would be worse if they were part of the moocher population.

Of course, there is the problem of lack of care by erring children. However, that still does not justify the proposed move to have parents sue their children in court. Between children and parents, the latter usually have more capability and power to carry out their responsibilities. One belief considered right is that parents should work to make the lives of their children easier, and not exploit them. I have also supported fellow blogger and Manila Times editor Ben Kritz’s proposal for expanded elderly benefits, because it makes better sense to take the burden off the children.

Authoritarian Family Culture

Perhaps one topic that needs to be brought up is the authoritarian culture of the Philippines. Perhaps people today are forgetting that Filipino culture is mainly oriented to authoritarian family principles. The parents are considered the monarchs of the family home, their word is law, and all that they should be served by their children. Sometimes, the parents have children solely for the purpose of providing for them and having servants to use.

I’d like to repeat that catchy comment of Marius: “(Such) Parents don’t seem to give their children any kind of moral guidance at all, except to remind them that they owe their existence to ma and pa, and are therefore responsible for bringing home the bacon, the iPhone, the Tanduay, and the new roof, or whatever ma and pa shall desire this week. Bashing the kids occasionally, and at random, is not the same thing as imposing discipline.”

Much has been said criticizing the authoritarian nature of Filipino family dynamics. Some people today may remember their own parents or grandparents wanting to dictate how they should dress, act, talk and what to believe. These believe it is their right to run the lives of other people. It would be no wonder why some of these older people approve of something like martial law: it agrees with their authoritarian beliefs. Irresponsible parents exploit this, making their children feel inferior in order to reduce them into servants and walking ATM machines. We at GRP blame the culture of seeking to have no work and to live by taking from others as the most glaring reason for the backwardness of our country.

The Myth of ‘Dependence is Love’

Perhaps there is a prevailing myth (or deliberate deception) prevalent in Filipino families that dependence leads to love. Some religious leaders believe this and thus prefer that Filipinos remain poor, on the assumption that family members will rush to aid them and that this is automatically an outpouring of love. Unfortunately, that is not always true. Providing for others could be done with strings attached; politicians, for instance. They do this for themselves and not others. That way, it is not love. People mooch not because they love someone else (I doubt mooching is love at all!). And the one being mooched on does not necessarily love the one they’re giving dole-outs to. This idea about dependence and love should be shattered, and Filipino ideas about love need to be changed.

Solving the inferiority complex of some Filipinos will need a massive change in culture. That change may even challenge things people believe as part of being “Filipino.” For example, some may believe the dictatorial nature of parents is Filipino and should not change. The younger generation tends to try and stand up to it, so the Bible reference to family members being turned against each other may even include the children correcting erring parents. Others may say the old generation is passing anyway, so it is up to the newer generation to be better examples once they become elders themselves.

My mom during her Payatas talk had told the children that they are not useless and deserve to be treated better. Such encouragement and assurances are neeeded in eradicating the so-called inferiority complex. It however may require some opportunities for the children in the form of jobs and recognition for their work. Also, the reason for the tradition of obliging children to care for elderly parents is that they are expecting hard times; what if such hard times are well prepared for with benefits for the elderly and other solutions? Or better yet, if times were not that hard? Then there likely won’t be a need for that tradition. It is an issue that tends to be multi-faceted, so the solution needs to be so as well. Starting with a few facets, such as our own cultural practices and actual habits, is still a good way to go.


About ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

Post Author: ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

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38 Comments on "The Real Reason for Pinoy “Inferiority Complex”"

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In Western countries…children are not obligated to provide for their parents. Parents kick their children out of the house , at the age of 21. Children at that, 21 years of age are on their own.. Family dependence is a culture and tradition in the Philippines. Relatives ask for help , from other relatives. If you don’t give help: you are heartless or a “kuripot”… In poor families; most of the parent don’t prepare the children to face life…or to better themselves. So, if the parent’s livelihood is looking for materials, in the garbage, to be sold in recycles. Their… Read more »

Filipinos love for corruption is inherently a way of life, Inferiority complex is only a result of how theiving politicians has kept Filipinos in perpetual state of poverty. Most Filipinos believes corrupt politicians are not corrupt so as long as it is use in charity, dole outs is far better than hard work, Anyway there are always theiving politicians and OFWS who are willing to sustain them. Only in the Philippines you can steal Trillions of Dollars and still get reelected. Edsa 123 will answer your question.


I have an idea about Filipino Inferiority Complex…’s because deep in the darkest reaches of their minds they really see themselves and their culture of what it is.

Robert Haighton
Hyden, I dont know where you get that fake story from (your source) but we are NOT kicked out by our parents. We leave the parental house out of free will at the age of 18 for practical reason(s) and because we want to live on our own. At home, we have no privacy and most times university is NOT around the corner PLUS its about time to stand on our own 2 feet. By law, we are adults now (by reaching the age of 18). That means, we can finally vote (elections), we can buy a car, a house… Read more »

Whoever believes that dependence is love should know the fact that it actually leads to slavery. You cannot always depend on people especially your family or friends. If you do that, and you’ll learn nothing besides religion.

Bad Will Jam
Okay, Okay, I wont disagree. Either way, children or parents, overly dependence on the other is a bad thing- but let us not generalize here. What you are talking about is actually representing only a portion of the Filipino society and that portion is usually the poor and the lazy! My Apology. But for, at least, those in the middle class and above, I don’t think that’s the case. I haven’t experienced that in my family, too. What I have been taught instead is to care for the family members – old or young, it’s the same. And this caring… Read more »
Mystique Girl

Exactly, I myself is a victim of toxic parenting. My parents yelled me whenever I reasoned out. For Pinoy parents, the children who argue are already turning against them. They verbally, mentally and emotionally their children. I’m having a social anxiety. I can’t imagine to have an employer because for me, I’m making myself small again. I’m doing self employment and trying to get publish my book Hopefully, I can escape this mental tormenting family sooner.

AYos to ah. Anyway I still hate bobong pinoys! colonial mentality, loud karaoke, escapism, survival mentality, pinoy low standard (nagtitiis sa mga bulok na Pinoy mainstream movies that in effect lumilitaw na parang ang ABS CBN and other Pignoy bulok stations na ang nagdidikta kung ano ang dapat panoorin ng Pinoys at kung hanggang saan lang dpat sila mag settle), Pinoy super duper sensitivity, Pinoy “sinasadyang kabobohan”/ point-missing-is-convenient mentality, Pignoy nonsense pride at lahat lahat na ng kabobohan sa mundo! I’m not very eudcated but it doesnt mean I am oblivious of shitty pinoy kabobohan! Anak ng p*ta brainwashed Pinoys!… Read more »
I knew one from our relative having seen this article! And there are these palamunin parents who demand from their children so much, much of what they have provided to them! I knew this certain person who was not educated and treated fairly by his parents. The parents seem to have no dream for their children though but this one is very much different than the rest of the siblings! The rest of the children are just the extension of their idiot parents, they dont have that sort of a high dream. this person stood to himself and strived to… Read more »
ChinoF: thanks for the quote :). I don’t always agree with you, but your arguments are invariably eloquent, logical, and interesting. You also avoid finger-pointing at random politicians, which is refreshing. They’re all corrupt criminals, so the endless articles pointing out that A is more corrupt and criminal than B get a bit tiresome. It’s just a pity that, for every ChinoF in the Philippines, there’s another 30 tambuays standing behind him with a bottle of red horse, and a big stick or a bolo, telling him to shut up. Anyway, I think your observations are spot-on. As I’ve mentioned… Read more »

Failipinos in the Failippines conscious of inferiority are always trying to impose themselves on others, because they know that underneath they are cowards or cretins.

Lol. The reference to Failippinos reminds me of the trendy phrase ‘Epic Fail’ – and as defined in urban dictionaries: – An epic fail is complete and total failure when success should have been reasonably easy to attain. – The highest form of fail known to man. – Reaching an extreme level of failage (is that a word?). – A mistake of such monumental proportions that it requires its own term in order to successfully point out the unfathomable shortcomings of an individual or group. – Something so pitiful or pathetic that some will either sympathize or won’t say anything,… Read more »
Gustavo Woltmann

Thank you for this article. I don’t like the mindset of other Filipinos.

– Gustavo Woltmann

Right 2B Grumpy
On the other side of the coin, there’s this: The endless blaming/complaining by some foreigners, of them having chosen being here, annoys and saddens me too! While there are few ungrateful all-knowing foreign scumbag commenters here in GRP who can only run their mouths, it’s good to know that there are still others out there who carry a different mindset, know how to blend and care a bit more and who can, truthfully and selflessly, run their business! Old Grumpy Nobody Mr. Marius can learn many things about life from those others! One of them is this American who chose… Read more »