Filipinos need to work on their ego

The Filipino mind is Philippine society’s greatest enemy. If you read Philippine publications, watch local talk shows on TV or even just peruse other popular collective Filipino blogsites, you can pretty much tell what the national preoccupation is about. The national preoccupation is centered on the Filipino ego. To be specific, it’s all about who has offended who and who needs to apologise to whom. This preoccupation pretty much prevents our country from moving forward.

The late master of psychology, Sigmund Freud would have had a field day studying the complexities of the Filipino mind if he were still alive today. The Filipino mind is full of convolution and contradiction, which is the reason why we remain who we are today, a nation of braggarts and show-offs. A simple misunderstanding can turn a non-issue into a nasty national spectacle. If you don’t believe me, just google the name “Ampatuan” or look up that fight at the Valley Golf Club in Manila that turned really violent when two prominent families just couldn’t stand each other’s presence. Even the funeral of the late President Corazon Aquino was all about bruised egoes for it was said that the family wanted to heed her wishes not to have a state funeral just to spite President Gloria Arroyo. The Aquino siblings couldn’t seem to emphasize this enough to the Media during their mother’s wake.

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Even in Philippine forums or the Philippine blogosphere, there are so many participants who can’t seem to discuss things in a more civilised way. Who cares what these people are bickering about? Apparently, almost everyone in the Philippines does. Indeed, the behaviour of some people reflect what truly is in the minds of every Filipino: The bruised ego and how to get back at someone.

Rather than focus on ideas or the concept of what a person is saying, most Filipinos focus more on whether or not the person was disrespectful or polite. They can’t seem to shrug things off and take things with a grain of salt. It is a characteristic that seems to defy our Catholic upbringing. Jesus Christ needs to come back down to earth to reiterate a lesson or two in humility to Filipinos.

There seems to be something wrong with a psyche that makes us so vulnerable to getting upset or offended so easily. Most Filipinos get offended so easily from a perceived indiscretion and are often unable to move on to something bigger or higher than such trivial pursuits. We tend to be consumed with words that should mean nothing to us if they were untrue. This demonstrates a real sign of having an unhealthy ego and insecurity. As someone aptly put it, Filipinos can be onion skinned cry-babies.

I am therefore inclined to believe that we have not evolved well as a people. The Filipino intellect is still at a lower level in the hierarchy of development. We can attribute it to the simple fact that most Filipinos are not properly educated yet. Due to poverty, most people are more concerned with just satisfying basic human needs like food, shelter and clothing. There are also those Filipinos who have received excellent formal education yet are incapable of harbouring the occasional existential musing or thought that extends beyond their inner primate inclinations. It is not surprising then that only a few are not resistant to change. Indeed, traditional Filipino thinking styles are to blame for our lack of ability to change and to accept the truth. One would think that we somehow prefer to stay the way we are than risk being offended by the truth.

Our tradition plays a major role in what we value: our own sense of self-importance. We place too much value on how other people see us and how our actions are perceived. Filipino culture is averse to being direct to the point. We hate it when someone is totally frank. We tend to contradict ourselves when we project our coyness and at the same time, try so hard to read between the lines and end up failing at this miserably. This is evident in the way most Filipinos offer food to someone as a show of graciousness. Accepting the offer or rejecting the offer of food can mean two things to most Filipinos. If a person rejects the food being offered, a Filipino will tend to think that he or she was snubbed. Often times, the recipient is actually forced to accept the food even if she doesn’t want it. If the food was accepted, the person who offered the food might then actually think that the recipient was greedy.

Whatever course of action was taken can sometimes lead to feelings of anger and hate between the two parties because most Filipinos tend to not really mean what they say and they just do things out of “politeness”. There is no concept of being totally honest for fear of being rude or being offensive. Why can’t we just eat our food in front of others even without offering to give some of it away? Why can’t we just take the answer “no” for what it is and move on to eating our food? This solution, for the small minded, is not simple, really.

An ego is invisible. No one has actually seen it. We are sometimes not aware that our egos are taking us over or consuming us. Filipinos tend to be subsumed by their egos. We can’t seem to make mistakes without blaming others. We pride ourselves in being happy-go-lucky or a people always wearing a smile. But truly, it is what lurks behind those smiles that is scary. Do we really smile because we are happy or because we just want people to see that we are happy? This is another contradiction in itself because we like our soap operas so much and we relate well to the fictional characters that are victims of greed and misfortune but do very little to uplift our circumstances.

A lot of Filipinos tend to put themselves forward too eagerly or bring every conversation back into the context of their own experience. They are always looking for sympathy. They can’t seem to live without other people’s attention. They always want to play the victim even though they actually act like an aggressor. They don’t have any other achievement or purpose in the world other than to consume peoples’ times. The whole nation is not short of people like this.

A person with a healthy ego is someone who is aware that he or she is not the centre of the universe. A person with a healthy ego is someone who can step back and take stock and reflect on whether all of his or her anxieties are really just that person’s own mind messing with him or her. A person with a healthy ego doesn’t have to dominate every situation or doesn’t require constant applause. A person with a healthy ego can easily shrug off criticism and move forward to something more constructive and meaningful. The Philippines is so short of people with healthy egos.

[This is a reprise of an article previously published by the author on the 10th March 2010.]

188 Replies to “Filipinos need to work on their ego”

  1. i really admire you miss ilda.

    those who have ‘unhealthy ego’ would be contradicting everything you say, especially in this article.

      1. Your insights about our handicapping culture on food offering to another, inane conversations even if it is only socialization, our noticeable aversion to profound dialogue is a bulls eye. Keep on writing and sharing your findings about our foibles as a people. I find it useful in my own work as a Court Appointed Mediator.

    1. hi ilda
      i truly agree with you. you have pointed out the fault..kudos to you…
      and now the second question…how do you solve it??? filipinos cannot just simply change….guys…we need solution..and realistic ones..i propose…re-education..matagal na process…but we been talking about these filipino traits for more than hundred years since spanish time…there should be a beginning to change….kudos to filipino…we can do it.

      1. Thanks Cris!

        Well, we can start with ourselves. We have to learn to practice taking the high road. It’s not easy because as I said in my article, we can’t always tell that it’s our ego taking over us. But we need to talk to people we can trust who can be objective enough to tell us if we are being too emotional with how we react to things.

        1. Hi Ilda,

          i would say that our history has somewhat to be blame for , we have been occupied by many countries ,many influences that challenge pinoy culture…

        2. We can’t move forward if we keep looking back. Let’s deal with our problems now by acknowledging our shortfalls and taking steps to fix it.

      2. Well, this may come off as racist, and i admit I am somewhat joking, but there is a grain of truth to this. Want to be better able to shrug off insults? Have Fillipino’s befriend more white males. I’m not saying our tempers are any less, but there simply is not really anything you can say to piss us off if there isn’t malice in it. No white guy really cares if you call him “cracker”, unless maybe you are in a heated argument or about to fight-but any slur would work at that point. This may be a luxury of “being at the top”, but we don’t feel anywhere near the sting of “being disrespected”.

        1. This is so true! I was just in the “nth” incident that made me google pinoy+ego.
          I attempted a joke with a tita about her “being realy old”on her birthday (she’s only 3 years older than I am btw) and instead of shrugging it off or making a good comeback, she contacted my girlfriend to get her to tell me to stop the insults!
          I mean: seriously?
          ….time to grow some objectivity/ a sense of humor!

  2. Just look at how our Political Leaders behave; and you can understand the way Filipinos think and act. We have not grown up; as : mature people, mature leaders. We don’t accept reponsibilities. So, we blame others, for our failures…We have no inclination to work for the good of all. So, we ransack the National Treasury, when we are in power. We want to hold on to power. So, we build our own Family Political Dynasty…

    1. Thanks, Miss Ilda. I appreciate that the BlogSites are getting better, because of your articles…they leave a punch on the thick skulls of our political leaders…

    2. hyden, don’t drag me into your “we”. so maybe you should say,
      “I have not grown up; as : mature people, mature leaders. I don’t accept reponsibilities. So, I blame others, for our failures…I have no inclination to work for the good of all. So, I ransack the National Treasury, when I am in power. I want to hold on to power. So, I build our own Family Political Dynasty…

      1. hi ilda. speaking of victim mentality, remember when i was, well, overtly against joeam’s antics in the past (which i hope he has tired of completely because i’ve already shown him i respect him and his ideas) when cutting pnoy a break was quite the subject for hot debate? i’ve just been thinking about how pnoy and his administration has handled nearly everything, and it’s all pa-victim style. from telling people he can’t do stuff because gloria took his budget, to being supposedly up against massive corruption and abject poverty inherited from previous administrations (which, in a sense, is partly true, but he’s done squat to create some meaningful change in those areas), to being oversensitive to people’s disapproval and deflecting all forms of criticism and feedback despite not accomplishing anything real and substantial as earlier overpromised. pnoy could not, for the life of him, do anything without playing the victim card. he even does it when he visits other countries, gives a speech, blames gloria for anything and everything to make himself look good (which kinda makes sense as he really can’t make himself look good, figuratively speaking, without putting someone else down). knowing this, it’s lacierda’s job to b.s. people day in and day out, because surprise! – the president is a victim.

        sadly, the worst things about filipino culture, we see in the leadership itself as if this guy was chosen because he’s da pinoy posterboy. just a thought.

        1. @Parallax

          You bring back happy days…haha.

          Unfortunately, regular folks tend to emulate the behaviour of the so-called “leader” of Philippine society. When the leader indulges in the “blame-game”, the rest of the population have an excuse to use the same tactic.

          Unless PNoy becomes more accountable and more responsible, there is very little chance the rest will change their ways.

          I wrote about PNoy’s habit of blaming GMA in this article:

          PNoy blames Arroyo but takes credit for her work in a speech in Singapore

      2. happy days indeed, ilda. 🙂 those were like the jungle gym days of online debates – some clunked their own heads, some joined in and fell off, some hung on with a big “kick me i’m a point-misser” taped on the back, and some comfortably stayed on with a firm grip.

        you used the most exact terms that are virtually impossible to describe pnoy with – accountable and responsible. the people who put him where he is did so as even they aspire to not be accountable or responsible (by letting some saviour poseur do all the work in bring about meaningful change), and expect some kind of something-for-nothing deal. the nothingness most definitely is there.

        1. Some of those who were very vocal about Noynoy being “the one” are very silent now. It’s annoying that they can’t even own up to their mistake.

          They were probably hoping to get a position in his administration but did not get one.

        1. We don’t exactly look around for flaws either, it just lands on our laps. Your rational in giving him latitude because of your military background makes sense only if you live in a society with a people that actually honors their word.

          He had no business running for the Presidency in the first place. The rabid Aquino supporters only forced him to run and the biggest clue that he does not have a mind of his own is when he agreed to do it.

      3. joe, if “keeping a balanced view” means treating the president like a child who cannot be held responsible for anything he does then you’ve got a “balanced” view right there, absolutely! “huwag mo naman patulan ‘yan, bata lang ‘yan” (“do’t be so hard on him, he’s just a child”) is an expression you’ve probably heard many times.

        don’t you find it embarrassing that the most powerful “man” in the country (if he isn’t the most powerful man here then your president is lame, correct?) has to be defended and excused that way?

        want him to make even more mistakes and remain oblivious about his shortcomings? let’s get off his case and stop all this “howling” shall we, because our close attention to his (lack of) attempt on delivering even ONE of his campaign promises will surely result in his failure, right? oooh we’re undermining the president by showing him an unhappy facial expression, ooooh. joe, you’ll make good money being playwright for a hardcore pinoy audience, i tell you. never mind the firm grasp of reality, as long as it tugs on pinoy heartstrings eh? (whoops, sorry. that last sentence was meant for pnoy. but then, remember what i said about a buckshot?)

      4. Parallellaxe, please read my blog cited above, where I state that critics serve a constructive purpose. I don’t want him to be treated like a baby, nor do I want him beat up weekly for a mistake he made last year, whilst people remain oblivious to the constructive things that are going on.

      5. addendum. If people are critical to defend their own ego, and justify their prior arguments, rather than assess a situation accurately, today, then it is not constructive criticism.

      6. treating him like a baby is exactly what you’re doing, pillsbury joeboy. all the coddling his loyalists are doing to him convinces him he doesn’t have to outgrow his diapees. he must outgrow the diapees, so stop the ego-feeding and put your shirt back on, joe. time to make him burp and get on with real work.

        the positives you gush about are worth the praise if and when they are followed through and the effects are felt, because until then, all he has to do is act like he’s busy with stuff we care about.

        addendum: don’t get us started on this “constructive” criticism drama again. if he’s a president who “listens” like you say he does, explain why he has ignored and abandoned thousands of banco filipino depositors and employees (most especially the employees) whom his buddy finance secretary purisima and bsp cohorts have instantly plunged into poverty, joe. the ego boost is most certainly undeserved as he allows obvious injustice on his watch.

      7. Parallelaxe, I really do strive not to gush, but to recognize that most people have good and bad in them, and do good and bad, and anyone who paints them all black or all white is generally blind to something. Macro, I’d say President Aquino is an improvement over predecessor presidents; micro, I’d say he is inexperienced, subject to the trappings of Filipino culture, and makes mistakes . . . and he is doing a lot of good things . . . which you determine is “gush” on my part, if I recognize them.

      8. strive as you might, a joe america gush is a gush. and blind you call the ones critical of your chicken (pun not intended, but looks quite fitting), but you’re exactly what you’ve described – “[one] who paints them all black or all white,” most especially when it comes to gloria arroyo. you might as well quit the bad acting, and answer the question. (or maybe you think his letting his buddies act with impunity is perfectly fine, huh joe?)

  3. The nation is formed of a collective of self-engagement, and therefore behaves as the collective behaves. Markets are created when one takes care of the needs of OTHERS. Markets are not created in the Philippines. If they were, there would be a drive for customer service and courtesy, for efficiency (like making appointments), for productivity, for innovation. So the ego-blockage to which you refer rolls up to create the lackadaisacal approach to everything.

    1. Ironically, customer service went out of fashion in the Philippines when globalisation went into full gear. 🙁

  4. the philippines comes oit in surveys as the most narcissistic nation and this is carried through into the brand of narcissistic politics practised by the country.
    narcissism does not mean the most beautiful but the most self obsessed and insecure.
    the island mentality combined with an envy of 1st world countries and the inability to create or contribute anything unique or meaningful makes people feel inferior but overcompensate by being proud at making the biggest mango pie or any minor success.

    1. @Anon

      One of the reasons why some people are so sensitive about being criticised is because they really do not have the ability to do the things they say they can do. They want to shut up the people who point out the obvious.

  5. I like the article, and also the picture placed in it. In addition to what you said, the Philippine Entertainment and Media isn’t also helping uplifting a sense of true nationalism. Just look at the local soap opera that they usually broadcast in TV, leading actors are poor and victimized by the antagonist, and then with some *fortunate turn of events (like being a bastard offspring of some rich business man or gov’t official or something) becomes instant millionaires. Now how does this affect the Filipino minds? They would just wait for the Fortuitous event to happen in their own lives rather than really earning that success. Its just sad, because its the same plot over and over again, and they sometimes run those shows 5 hours straight, and much worst children are being sucked into that twisted reality television are showing. Not to mention the news, they are so very sensationalize, making every small issues so big, and the important ones brushed away…

    1. @Just observing

      Yes, the media plays a big role in shaping the Filipino mind. There is hardly anything worth watching, which will help enlighten the viewer’s thinking skills.

      The society has remained catatonic for decades now because of stupid shows on air.

    2. Ban those TELENOVELAS. It does nothing but makes the Filipinos complacent, lazy and delusional. Worse, the destitute instead of striving to makes their lives better get suck to that Filipino drama crap. Children emulate what they watch on those trashy drama shows. No wonder why Philippine society is as dysfunctional as it is.

  6. Very nice article maam. Nice bec it is true. The problem is not just politcal but in our culture etc as you have said. Everything you said haha. Imho, marami pa rin unggoy and egos consisting of air. Mahangin nga lang as they say ika nga. If i see the world like this, am i like this too?? Haha. If there is self worth and all its common morals then the Filipino ego will not be insecure. Esp because of the insignificant things.

    Unfortunately, i think the reason why we are ofthis nature is bec of our subconcious consciousness (haha) of the truth. We are in a bad truth (to generally summarize it).
    I guess you are right mam, we still need to evolve. And stop acting like a bunch of self centered monkey babies.

  7. I’m glad I watched the video by PinoyMonkeyPride that my cousin posted in facebook which led me to this article.

    It is refreshing to finally read something worthwhile. These are the kinds of thought that pass through my mind everytime I encounter those scenarios mentioned in the article. Every word stings with the truthfulness every Filipinos should feel. I’m sure that some have had these kinds of thoughts too, once in a while, but have never actually tried to improve on those things for fear of being outcast or be termed ‘mayabang’, ‘walang pakisama’ and other so commonly-used words to prevent those people who have started to think with their own minds, from actually using their own brains.

    If only there is some kind of vaccine against this kind of mentality. A truth accepting serum which when injected will make people know the truth and accept the truth. Unfortunately, there isn’t such a thing. Thank you for writing this article. I will most certainly be reading more from this blog. I think, if Rizal is still alive, these will be the kind of things he would be writing about. Hats off to you, Ms. Ilda and to all who share your view.

    1. @Kikee

      Hmmm…a vaccine. Now that is a thought 😉

      Unfortunately, we have to enlighten our compatriots the hard way. I hope you can help spread the word.


  8. It’s quite a big mess. I even got blocked for telling someone to stop complaining/blaming and start brainstorming solutions. I have been so irritated with the media for a very long time–rarely watch the news, can’t stand teledrama. Even tonight, it’s all about the poor, relocated flood victims + a poll on people’s “contentment” with the govt.
    At least now, I can produce and share solutions rather than complain about complaints. Thank God for Wealth Course.

  9. Spot on Ilda! I agree with you, we are a nation of show-offs. Another word for it is self-righteousness. Filipinos are too impressed of themselves. And loves calling attention to their righteousness, so that others might ooohhhhh and aahhhh over them.
    No wonder,Jesus Christ reserved His strongest and longest sermon not for struggling sinners or discouraged disciples but for hypocrites . . . for glory hogs. Unfortunately, most of them never change because they don’t hear what God says to them. Show-offs, you see, are terribly hard-of-hearing!

    over them.

    1. I think most Filipinos believe that everything is going to be alright once they go to Church. Most are religious but not spiritual. Meaning, they do not reflect on their action or inaction.


  10. Reminds me of the recent European Elections. We had one candidate who placed his name for the vote and wanted to persuade the Pinoy community, in London, to support him.

    Lo and behold, we ended up with another candidate, very young at nineteen, who wanted the same. The older wanted to met with the younger and the latter refused.

    How many would have voted for a child setting out to become a career politician?

    Neither reached the required votes, but it does show the Pinoy mentality.

  11. i think we filipinos must focus on developing our own personal emotional intelligence..that’s what we really need, learn to accept things the way they are, and move forward…
    the fact is…karamihan sa mga pinoy ay masyadong madrama…it shows our lack of emotional intelligence

  12. I loved your article. Spot on. I have been married to a Filipino for 38 years (I am of European decent). He is the one Filipino I have met who possesses an ego in a very natural healthy way. He does not take things personally, he ignores the constant infighting of his own people. He does not try to keep up with the Jones’s, he is who he is and is happy in his skin. I on the other hand take umbrage with Filipino’s that are rude and argumentative. In our many years we have had the rudest comments made about our marriage, about how we do not aspire to be who we are not. The backbiting and infighting spans all socio-economic levels in the Philippines. Even to Filipino’s living in the USA. The gossips and rumor mongering is intolerable. We do not befreind Filipino’s as a rule as we find then very narrow minded and not well versed in social graces. By the way, I am generally the brunt of the shunning becasue I do say no to a food offering. Not because I am rude, but becasue we are Vegans and we do not eat the food that will give you diabetes, diabetes, gout and hypertension. It makes me ill just looking at it. I adore my husband and it has nothing to do with whether or not he is a Filipino…he is a fine man, a great husband and a wonderful father and grandfather. He is humble…a rare thing in the Filipino community.

    1. Hi Diana

      Thank you for reading the article. I am glad you found a decent Filipino and also glad that you recognise that not all Filipinos need to work on their ego.


    2. Interesting view. It is sad that many of my countrymen are that way… 🙁 Glad you found a man (who happens to be Filipino) who’s right for you… Stay strong you two…

  13. me as a student of elementary level is thinking to go outside because of them.. filipinos who are not happy here in philipines.. ashishi.. me japanese by the way..

  14. I’m sure many were offended by this critique itself. It’s sad. We will never acknowledge this problem because when people tell us that it is a problem, we start being irrational and in the end fail to realize this fault. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s something for the few who know better, to act upon and change.

  15. When you said Filipinos need to work on their ego, I thought you were going to say that we need more of it.

    The majority of Filipinos are disappointingly plagued with inferiority complexes. We as a race collectively strive to not be who we are (whitening lotions)

    Any nation has its big egos. You named a few, and that’s not representative of the rest of the country.

    Those people you mentioned really need to do something about their egos. The rest of the country needs to learn to be proud of who they are.

    1. When you said Filipinos need to work on their ego, I thought you were going to say that we need more of it.

      Que horror! Hahaha.

      The majority of Filipinos are disappointingly plagued with inferiority complexes.

      And they mask this with arrogance, unfortunately. They try to appear overconfident just to make up for their mediocrity.

  16. Hi,

    I loved your article.

    As a half filipino who came back in the Philippines after growing up in Europe, i couldn’t agree more.

    I recently told my wife this is the main difference between Europe and the Philippines: ego. In my other country, we usually don’t even think to pretend to be something better than we are but here in the Philippines, it’s the daily game that is at the end useless, non productive and silly.

    It’s all about attitudes and facing the reality. No need to pretend.

    1. Hi

      Thanks! I wrote this awhile back but lately it has gone viral again thanks to the video 20 things I hate about the Philippines.

      It seems like this article will be included in the “classic” section of the archives because the “ego” problem in the Philippines is unlikely to go away.

      Take care not to get the “ego” bug. 😉


      1. Oh yes, I saw his video. I believe if we could fix only one of those 20 things in his list, the Philippines will be a better place. As for me, it is the way Filipinos drive. I notice that a majority of drivers don’t respect themselves and others. I stop enjoying driving since I’m here.

        Also, something that I don’t understand is the use and abuse of guards. Usually, the guards always find a way to annoy me with IDs, with pass, with parkings, with touching me to find guns or checking my bag and much more. It’s annoying but the worst is when you need their help, in general, they’ll always find an excuse to not do what they are supposed to do like running after a thief. In short, I find them useless but always there to annoy you with little things.

        1. Some of the things he pointed out are so easy to fix. One of them is the litter on the streets. Filipinos don’t need to wait for the government to tell them what to do. They just need to stop throwing garbage irresponsibly or pick up whatever garbage they see along the way. If everyone did that collectively, then the Philippines will be cleaner and nicer.

          Obviously, majority don’t care enough to do anything about the mess around them.

        2. True. It comes down to discipline and education. In my humble opinion, the only way to fix the Philippines is universal education. Free and compulsary education to every one until they reach 16 or 18.

          That’s how European people went from poor and working in mines or fields to being successful. They DEMANDED free education.

  17. Pride is a very destructive emotion at it’s worst and your article has shown that we Filipinos are heavily cursed with it. I can’t help thinking that this attitude on focusing on the criticism’s form rather than it’s substance is kinda related to an old superstition says that harmony can exist if there is no dissension. As you have stated our culture has its share of blame for this kind of thinking, next thing you know our curse has reach the point that any positive criticism is regardless at worst subversive or at best a non-conformist. Need I say that the USA is suffering from this, but it is known by another name “political correctness”. Heaven help us if it reach to that point.

    1. Most Pinoys are uncomfortable with the truth. They think their happy-go-lucky demeanour can make up for the dysfunctional behaviour.

  18. Thank you for an entertainingly enlightening article. I shall e-mail this to people who I believe deserve it. From your article, I can already deduce what their reactions will be. lol

    I hope to read more intelligent articles from you, keep it up!

  19. Very well said Ms. Ilda! You nailed it.

    Sometimes I felt that this attitude of Filipinos can be traced back in our history during the time that Filipinos were called “Indios”. Filipinos carried ‘this’ that as time passed by they always wanted to prove themselves that they are better off than being “Indios”. So if other races are criticizing the Philippines or the Filipinos, they cannot easily accept it, they tend to be defensive most of the times. Unknowingly, this defensive Filipinos end up showing or exposing their [major] weakness – which is EGO.

    Thank you again for this post. Hope that this will enlighten some of our “Kababayans.”

  20. We should definitely change our tourism slogan from: “Wow Philippines!” to “Dramatic Philippines!”.

  21. This is an icredibly perceptive and straightforward post. Agree with you completely! I must admit, I’m guilty of some of these faults, haha.

  22. Basically this is why the show “Face to Face” is such a big hit to us Filipinos. I am also a guilty being for indulging in that show. But I really agreed to this article and I give you Ms. Ilda the greatest admiration for pointing this out.

  23. It’s true that some filipinos would like to see their egos rubbed constantly; but this is not the absolute truth for everyone else. You can put into context that our nation was under the influence of two colonial regime for centuries which may be a factor to understand this so-called filipino ego. =)

  24. Just red in the news that the American guy who made the “20 things i hate about the Philippines” apologized because he was threatened by a Cebu councellor. It really goes back to your article. Filipinos can’t face the reality because of their ego. I’m sorry, but most of the things he complained about make sense. That is what people coming from first world country think. Why not listening to them and try to fix the problem? Why do Filipinos have to threaten people in order for them not to hear the reality. Filipino ego is really a barrier for improvement. Are Filipinos delusional to the point to prefer living in a dirty country than accept external opinions and try to improve the living conditions.

    Anyway, it’s hopeless. There are too much stupid people here that i don’t even now if it’s possible to start a positive change in this country!

    1. People who take umbrage at J. Sieczka’s video are complete bums. Same people who would rather live proudly in trash in the name of loud Pinoy Brown Pride, than live humbly and quietly in cleanliness and order.

      But if it is any consolation, the smarter, cultured segment of Filipino society actually takes Sieczka’s side.

    2. @Erik

      It is frustrating, indeed. Especially when you get crucified for helping. But change will not happen overnight.

      Like what I always say, things worth pursuing is hard and takes time.

    3. how about i beat your head with a lead pipe erik?
      too much stupid people?
      you are half filipino?
      you are half stupid?

      you hypocrites! thinking you are any better than the Filipinos you stoop down on! look at the mirror and throw the stones you hold on yourselves! you bunch of pharisees!

  25. Hi Ilda. Your points conveys very well to the sane and lacking negative or absurd egos. What happens to the majority? How can they comprehend this?

    I agree that educating citizens is a long process but the only way in many cases. Lets start from ppl that already have the same observation and ask to heed on passing the mentality forward. Knowledge and understanding, afterall, is contagious. But first thing first. Let this message be translated in Filipino. Pass it on to Elementary School as part of personal conduct or social studies. Pass it on to High Schools. Then if there is a need to translate in other dialects, do so.

    1. I’m not too sure if our language can handle complicated concepts. I haven’t tried it. I agree it is certainly worth doing. I will try it when I find the time.


      1. Sure it can. There are professional interpreters. If chemistry books with scientific words can be translated this should be peanuts. Points are clear to show that what lacking is addressing issues like this to the general population. Many times intellectual words only make sense to those that have intellectual understanding (but do not have open minds).

        I hope you and others that writes like you do fun a way to make their writing for general public of the Philippines.

        Good luck.

  26. If you want to expand consciousness and make people more self aware, why not try mushrooms? Also look into DMT. In a safe guided setting, these substances can help individuals explore parts of their inner thoughts, and often help sort out some kinks in personalities. I quite serious, although it’s not for everyone. It also requires a certain minimum of intelligence in order to analyze the experience.

  27. Miss Ilda,

    You wrote a very insightful article. I have always known that there is something dysfunctional in the Filipino psyche. The kind that will not work in a global culture.

    Kudos to you, Ilda. Please keep me posted about your next article.

    Sincerely, Edgardo.

    1. @Edgardo

      The problem is with the majority. They cannot accept that there is something wrong, which is why they do not care for criticisms.


  28. Thank you for synthesizing all my thoughts in one article, Ms.Ilda.
    I really hope that we Filipinos will be brave enough to face our demons and accept painful realities.
    God bless you.

  29. sana matuloy na super earthquake sa sentro ng katangahan- metro manila- para maubos na yung mga tangang Pinoy eh noh. kailangan natin ng Purging at cleansing. kaya lang sad to say, sa bulok na imprastuktura at urban planning natin, yari ang manilacentric society at pati mga matitino at nagiisip tigok din . tas sana masira na mga transmitter ng mga television networks para di na kumalat ang katangahan. suko na ako. san ba ok tumakas na lugar o bansa? yung tipong walang pikon at bully? maganda daw sa cebu eh kaso diba yun yung may youtube video nung sinindak na kano? napikon ang govt ampf. trololololol

  30. Thank you so much for writing this. I’ve shared it on Facebook, hoping that the strong currents of social media carries it to those who need to read it. I was actually quite disappointed with Jimmy Sieczka’s apology, and right now I’m just consoling myself by thinking that he did that just to avoid compromising his safety. I know you must already be expecting to earn the ire of some of our countrymen, just wanted to tell you that you’re doing this country a great service.

  31. The Filipino mind has always been a study in contradictions. Thick-faced yet onion-skinned. Appears larger-than-life but in reality is smaller-than-squat.

    If the Filipino were a giant fire-breathing excrement-dumping monster, it would have one big weakness: the criticism cannon.

    You would think that the Filipino’s aversion for frankness would have made them more sensitive, and more perceptive of other people. Unfortunately, they also developed “thickness” and “density”.

  32. I feel you might be stretching it a little, though you do raise some excellent points. I am wondering if perhaps this attitude was something that was passed onto us by the Spanish. Might do some good to compare our country with other former colonies.

    1. I am wondering if perhaps this attitude was something that was passed onto us by the Spanish.

      I think we should move on from having a “victim” mentality. We just need to deal with the reality and start doing something to improve our lot.

  33. this explains why I don’t have much filipino friends.
    n just a handful of facebook friends for everyone else is ACQUAINTANCE. i don’t have the need to read peoples beeswax and i was raised as “the less people know the better” theory then they got nothin to talk about you. just focusing within. i’m glad i’m a mutt and not raised the filipino way. filipinos find me very blunt

  34. You have generalized pinoys and you were right in some points but not totally correct. you just described humanity and nature has made them act like that. i guess all people were born mindless of their surrounding but when malice gets in the way, their true colors prevail. But, your journalistic skills are by far extraordinaire. Use it to wake up our countrymen and we might triumph at the end. Pinas society has been like that eversince we were occupied by the spaniards, americans, japanese and now, koreans. Pinoy is not an orig kind of people. We are a mixture of so many races. I guess that’s why, we act like you described because of the mix up. Solving it? Not in this generation, may be, in our next one???

    1. Sorry, but I find this contradictory:

      “Pinas society has been like that eversince we were occupied by the spaniards, americans, japanese and now, koreans. Pinoy is not an orig kind of people. We are a mixture of so many races. I guess that’s why, we act like you described because of the mix up.”

      And I really don’t like blaming this on race.

      1. Hi Ilda,

        Great article, thank you for posting. I’m a foreign white guy so have got into lots of trouble saying the same things since I have lived here, in Philippines, the last 6 years.

        One point in your article which really strikes me, from personal experience

        “most Filipinos tend to not really mean what they say and they just do things out of “politeness”

        Totally agree and then they either sulk for weeks or never talk to you again when you don’t do what they intended you to do. If you want to offer me food and I’m hungry I’ll eat or won’t if I’m not. How the hell am I supposed to know what your motives are when they are dishonest.

        That won’t stop them gossiping about you to every neighbor. Here is a saying that should be taught in every Filipino school.

        “Offense is not given, it is taken.”

        Stop taking offense and blaming everyone for your life. Maybe if you stopped spending every peso trying to dress like a Hollywood star and invested it in your kids education, things might start to change here.

        I always hear, we can’t send our kids to good schools from people who have more than 60% wardrobe space in their houses and the latest dual sim, wifi cell phone. How can life start changing when 4 out of 5 people in one household sit around all day doing nothing except what the cows grow, while mama works her butt off.

        As for me accepting your culture, if it’s wrong it’s wrong and I have a mind and will speak up. I came from UK and have had on many occasions the same discussion with able bodied people who live totally off state benefits by cheating the system. You think cause I’m from UK I approve of all the lazy basta$%^ there that walk around in designer clothes bought by taxpayers like me? No

        Every country has it’s fair share of ego maniacs who think that it is their God given right to get everything for nothing. Sad thing is that is the norm here in Philippines.

        This could be one of the best countries in the world if only people started taking responsibility for their own lives. Stop crying about government corruption, the fact you came from a poor family, you didn’t have a good education and do something about it. Did you know Bill Gates never finished college and Henry Ford never even completed schooling.

        And no I don’t live off a pension, I work for a living. Something that I had to learn to do here when I came. So please no comments about how my life is easy here. I never have and never will ask for a hand out from anyone. It’s called having some dignity.

        Unless you are disabled in some way I have no sympathy for the state of your life. Stop looking in the mirror all day and start improving your life.

        1. @JustJoe

          Thanks for the insights. You have validated some of my statements.

          Unfortunately, most Filipinos are too focused on how you say things and who is saying it rather than the point of what you are saying. They can also be very selective. They only listen to people who say good things about the country and us as a people. Everything else is too “negative” for them. They’ll declared you persona non grata if you insist on giving them a piece of your mind.

        2. Hi IIda, thanks for the positive reply. I know my initial post was not the most positive about life in Philippines and the Filipino people.

          That said I love Philippines otherwise after so many years I wouldn’t still be living here but change is good and I try to change things where I live in a positive way. Doesn’t always happen that way:-)

          Example: Who likes having scabby dogs running around the street(dirt road in my case) especially when you have a young child and take him for a walk and there are “packs” of dogs that, lets be honest, would look better in a Chinese restaurant.

          I haven’t tried dog but I have eaten shark, crocodile, mopane worms and a lot of other “exotic” food including balot so I’m on the other side of judgmental on that one. Ginamos, no way…… As my favorite poet said,

          “Some hae meat and canna eat,
          And some wad eat that want it,
          But we hae meat and we can eat,
          And sae the Lord be thankit.”…Robert Burns

          What do you do? I found that approaching the owners and asking them to please keep their non-rabies-inoculated dogs inside was an ice breaker. Funny looks and lots of murmuring later it obviously wasn’t working.

          What did I do then? Carried large boulders in my hand when I went for a walk threw them as hard as I could at the dogs. 1 year later, the owners may not like me, but when I take my 3 year old son for a walk the dogs are very quickly called inside. What else could I have done? Anyone??????????

          Before questioning my “foreign”, if you don’t like our country go home mentality, does everyone reading this blog understand the dangers of rabies? Do you know how many of “your” children die every year from rabies, I do. Do you know how many children die from rabies in UK (not a perfect county, I would say less than perfect that Philippines if we can change some things) none. Why? Stray dogs are dangerous and need to be killed, not great if you are an animal rights activists, but then most of them are teenagers and don’t have a 3 year old in danger every time he walks the street. 2 million dead stray dogs and my son is safe, I can live with that.

          Is that my mean, horrible, grumpy, I hate Philippines side coming through? No that is my, I love my son enough to stand up to people who don’t care if their children are bitten by their own rabies infected dogs. I care about my son. Do you love your children enough to stand up against your neighbors and risk being outcast as a dissident. If yes, good on you, if no, why did you have kids in the first place? It surely wasn’t just for the 30 seconds your boyfriend could keep it in his pants, or was it?

          I’ll leave my lesson about keeping it in the pants for next time.

    2. I know this is old but: You’re exactly the kind she was describing about, not sure if you were self aware at the time. I found this post 70-80% accurate. The majority I had/have problems with were/are Filipinos.

  35. You do have some seemingly valid points but your opinion is based on the portrayal of Filipinos by mainstream media, western mentality, as well your own ego. Things go deeper, obviously way beyond your train of thought on this article. A brief analysis of your articles reveal your subconscious self-scrutiny on this one. 🙂

      1. Your reply is as expected. Where did you base your article on? Opinion. Opinion based on whatever information you have collected from mass media. Oh please.

        1. You still haven’t given us anything that can refute what I wrote. Tough luck.

          You can’t convince people I’m wrong with just one liners. Come back when you can write something with more substance 😉

      1. Or maybe it was YOU. Honestly, this blog isn’t like ABS-CBN or something. Even the mainstream media sucks so this is a better alternative.

        Fact is you prefer a government whored by media and loves to be a part of a mediocrity. That is how Yellow minds work. So who’s the idiot now?

  36. nice article Ilda… An article about PHL’s EGO and it’s side effect of being EMO would come fit next to this…

  37. Very nice article particularly the last paragraph!

    I’d add to the ouch as well since I’m guilty in a few ways.

  38. all have said in here…
    again, another thumbs up for you ate ilda!

    anyway, don’t mind those trollfags, they really need to work on with their ego also… 😀

  39. I think this isnt exclusive to filipinos i live in winnipeg canada where there are many different cultures and i get the same stories about their people and ego.

  40. While I may say there is some relevance to your article I would say it doesnt represent every Filipinos in the land take for example Miriam Defensor Santiago she is very straightforward in what she thinks and say what she means. I have been brought out in an old fashioned way where my parents would emphasize that we talk what we mean and that we act who we are, and I am from Cavite so please dont generalized. This is not how i see the people in my province. Caviteneous are fighters as you know we started the revolution and we are just as outspoken as the other people from the other side of the globe.

  41. I like the picture. It describes most of the people I know here in Philippines. And to the people who say don’t generalize, if a majority of people are like that then I do not think that is generalization.

  42. The Philippine ego is not based on accomplishment but on insecurity. How do you tell an entire nation, “You’ve never achieved anything. You stand for nothing. Your culture and society produces nothing of value. You’re only famous for selling your wives, sisters, daughters and nieces into prostitution.” The Philippine ego is just a defence mechanism against the truth of the simple fact that Filipinos have failed.

  43. I fully agree with the author’s observation. Thank God, I lived abroad more than half of
    my life, exposed to several nationalities that I realized at an early stage how we, Filipinos, perceived ourselves as people enabling me to undergo a deeper self-introspection of the Filipino’s psyche. It then gave me the opportunity and sheer determination to make myself a better person. Applying such concepts in the actual Philippine setting, however, proves difficult. There is always a possibility that you’ll be treated like an outcasts for being different in the way you approach ones day to day lives and dealings with people. The Filipinos of today are not ready to face such challenge as yet. The move should start in school.

  44. Your article is based that you judge all the filipinos! Its stereotyping and very negative..

    and ofcourse not all filipinos have lower level in the hierarchy of development..

    So dont assume that all filpinos are like that

  45. I remember a psych teacher back in high school who told my class that “no one likes criticism” (she’s Indian actually), and it’s kind of true – even I react badly when I feel mocked by the criticism or its delivery. One just needs to look at any internet forum at all to note that this aversion towards others criticizing them is an all-too human condition. Or advice sites such as this which talks about criticism and how to deal with it (ex: The only difference is how well we take it, both individually and collectively.

    But to be fair it’s kind of hard to be objective in the face of criticism when far too many people in the world today like tearing people down for the sake of it and to boost their own egos – perhaps a bad side-effect of the digital age when people can hide behind an online alter-ego to prevent possible physical retribution for doing such things.

    All in all, good job playing devil’s advocate here with this piece.

  46. At the end of the day, there is no perfect culture, perfect customs and traditions, perfect way of life, perfect nationality nor perfect race….we all continuously evolve based on our biological/genetical make-up, inter-actions to our environment, education and experiences that make learning a truly wonderful process. Positive comments should be taken constructively all the time. It enable us to see ourselves more objectively in the eyes of other people. It give us that rare opportunity to do a deeper introspection of our psyche and core and in the end be a better person. Thank you.

  47. “unhealthy ego….”.. I don’t agree with this. Fabricated or not, we should not let others get away with insulting us. Filipinos are basically humble and good people. Perhaps this is why we are often exploited and insulted by others.

  48. As an American living in the Philippines for the past two years, I can say that even though this place (and it’s people), needs a lot of help, it is home to me. So different indeed. That’s what makes it so interesting. I spend much time helping and educating anyway I can. I have so many Filipino friends and they are ALL good people. It feels good to help people. Try it sometime.

      1. I rather you accuse us of being negative rather than making stuff up. In my opinion pinoys exaggerate the truth to the point it’s not true anymore .
        We poke holes in that. You can call it negative if you wish But you can never call it fabrication.

  49. Good read, thanks Ilda! 🙂

    2 years later and all the points are still dead on, sadly though, I don’t see this being outdated in the foreseeable future…

  50. There is no problem with generalizing if the generalization can be observed in the majority…it doesn’t have to be all. The characteristics mentioned can be observed in all societies. The relevant point is to what degree they are common in other societies and within the Philippine population.

    Unfortunately observational and anecdotal evidence is all that is available rather than hard data.

    I have been a keen observer of my own country’s character all my life. I haven’t just accepted how my countrymen see themselves. Having lived in PH for 5 years my personal experience and observation can be summed up as:

    1) a high level of narcissism. Probably developed in childhood by either being treated as a prince or princess or (ironically) being neglected. The evidence of the prince/princess treatment is everywhere and ranges from having a yaya to putting up billboard size displays congratulating someone for graduating. And a myriad of behaviours in between. You don’t have to be rich to be treated like a prince or princess.

    2) a high level of co-dependency. Again developed during childhood usually when a child is browbeaten by parents into believing they (the child) are responsible for things for which no child should be responsible. Guilt and shame are common weapons here…even if the parent feels no guilt or shame that their daughter goes of to work as a prostitute.

    Alternatively co-dependents are produced by Narcissistic parents. These parents expect/demand only the best (their interpretation). What it is really about is that parent desiring the accolade and admiration reflected from the child.

    3. Schadenfreude. For all their protestations of being loving caring people the filipino is as happy from the failure of another as they might be from personal achievement. Indeed one requires personal effort, the other nothing except standing around waiting for fate.

    4. Jingoistic thin skin. Probably related to 1 and 2. All countries have a degree of jingoism. The reasonably healthy ones also have an ability to question this. When my country’s swimming team did poorly at the last olympics we didn’t say we were robbed, cheated blah blah. We looked at why “we” failed.

    There would seem to be a lot of deep seated problems in the filipino psyche generally. More OFW, more champion boxers, more celebrity, even a better economy will not change any of this…at least in the next few generations. It really does require the filipino people to think hard and question themselves as individuals and as a nation.

    1. Absolutely true, perfectly complementing the article above. Weave this comment into the main article, translate to Filipino/local dialects, then run as an op-ed in the regional dailies/weeklies. We need some form of education–young or old–that lets us confront the truths of life constructively.

  51. Maybe I misunderstood, but I don’t think “Ampatuan” is a non-issue…???

    I agree with a lot of your points, we’re a nation full of contradictions. We whine and complain about our country’s condition, yet we keep electing the same politicians. We want change yet we’re so afraid to take risks (most would rather vote for celebrities or the ones who gave ‘yellow ballers’ – barf!!!)

    1. Myla Valencia,
      Agree with you. Let me add that truth is attainable except people don’t value is as much so they settle with perception. Values is key. People rather spend time and effort on trivial instead of pursuing truth, that’s why people get away with what they do.

  52. The best lesson i learned from my American boss, some 30 yrs ago, was to not react when being criticized and to take the criticism for what it was worth…then move on. Now…i pass the lesson to my new staff and to my own child.

  53. I saw the articles regarding the South Korean national reaction to the recent plane crash in San Francisco.

    I can surmise that they actually feel the same “collective pride” as we do. HOWEVER they also couple that with a national sense of shame, which we clearly do NOT seem to have.

  54. Thank ilda. All of what you wrote in this article is dead on. Very insightful and accurate. The Filipino should your article a must read in schools and businesses. The Filipinos false pride and ego is what makes the country weak. We need a very hard lesson in Humility.

  55. The author also needs to work on her citizenship, along with the commenters on this article who agree with her crab mentality.

    1. iaj, let me get this straight. Ilda wants to suggest some standards on a mediocre culture and you call it crab?? Look at Senate right now. They are doing fine on their own?? A congressman/ boxer/ singer/ movie maker is now appointed a professional basketball coach and you find no truth or relevance in what Ilda is saying??? It is you who are crab from those of us who are cynical but still yet hope that things might improve. Mediocrity is your flavor of the month every month.

    2. wow, just because your brain cells didn’t worked properly to digest the articles content, you are calling the author ‘crab’? i feel sorry for you, must be a sad childhood you had.

    3. iaj> Please expound more on your conclusion about this article. The author i believe was very precise on her objectivity on the issue. Unless, she just accidentally or accurately described YOU ?

  56. good read, as expected from Ilda. It’s been 4 years since I last visited this site.
    and this article is so true. sigh. is it wrong to hope for some sort of change for our country, our people? probably.

  57. GREAT ARTICLE!!! Plus that fact that we have Double Standards. Or during a tournament, that if we lose, we were cheated, and if we won, we did our best. I mean, can we just be NOT winners all the time? That there are other nationalities that are better than us? That IN FACT, we are NOT superior (not implying inferior as well) in the world.

  58. The Filipino ego (a.k.a “Pinoy Pride” or “Makapal/Manipis”) is well-known for its arrogance (kahambugan) and over-sensivity (maramdamin) traits. Pinoy ego is what keeps our country from moving forward, because it keeps us from setting aside our self-interests and differences to rebuild our country

  59. This definition explains the Filipino attitude well- Island mentality refers to the notion of isolated communities perceiving themselves as superior or exceptional to the rest of the world. This term does not directly refer to a geographically confined society, but to the cultural, moral, or ideological superiority of a community lacking social exposure. Island mentality can be characterized by narrow-mindedness, ignorance, or outright hostility towards any artifact (concept, ideology, lifestyle choice, art form, etc.) originating from outside the geographic area inhabited by the society.

  60. This definition pretty much sums things up -Island mentality refers to the notion of isolated communities perceiving themselves as superior or exceptional to the rest of the world. This term does not directly refer to a geographically confined society, but to the cultural, moral, or ideological superiority of a community lacking social exposure. Island mentality can be characterized by narrow-mindedness, ignorance, or outright hostility towards any artifact (concept, ideology, lifestyle choice, art form, etc.) originating from outside the geographic area inhabited by the society.

  61. This website is blocked, probably because of real world experiences from international travelers and business owners in Phils? I found this website after I took a trip for a month to the Philippines to visit a woman I had met on I personally feel that there is a big whitewashing of reality for people traveling there with good intentions. I have street smarts, and I would feel people out, most of it was plastic, even in her family. The only thing they seem to be interested in was my wallet and my white skin. Of course they are obsessed with porn, and everyone wants to know if you have, “a big one”, but they get offended nonetheless if you send such attitudes their way. Just recently we had an argument where I basically told her to take a hike because she shows no reguard for my well being, or my friends suicide, but her friends and culture are totally center court. I guess there is a market for the white man who is looking to buy a bride, but I was looking for a real person. My month there showed me that you cannot trust a travel brochure, website claiming to be a Christian dating site, or a person who has been raised with this brainwashing effect that happens from childhood about how wonderful the white man is. Heck, I had her friend’s daughter was forced to kiss me on the lips.. weird. There is potential for Filipinos, but you have to undo your thinking and realize that no one will be close to you or respect you if you do not see equal humanity in them.
    P.S. I have met a few Filipino’s who are decent. My family friends in Saudi Arabia from when I was a boy were like our adopted family. Just for haters who would like to say I am ignorant.

  62. Damn, you’ve nailed it and this is the shit I have to deal with at work (and back in school). I couldn’t understand why they got their feelings hurt in the most complex manner(wouldn’t know if I did), nor understand why they seethed over what they perceived in their narrow minds as “disrespectful”. This usually wouldn’t be a problem to me if they did not try to subtlety try to “get back” at me(sometimes for no reason) It’s irritating and I can only feel frustrated workin with them(only five out of 60 that I met were easy to work with). I’d say the problem also lies in the environment or your country full of fuckin snakes. Corruption deeply runs in the Philippines like a third world country(I’d say it’s a third world country). In other words, your race is fucked if you people don’t get your shit together and have an open civil discussion. I have lots of Filipino friends who aren’t like this and are open minded so it’s def possible… but the chances seem so slim. Thanks for sharing.

  63. Hi there. I don’t know much about the Filipino culture. There are many many aspects I don’t understand and probably never will, but is it possible these people tend to have a lot of things to prove to others? It’s like they try so hard to show this and that:’Look at me, I bought a new car, my makeup, my Louis Vuitton, my this, my that’. I saw a fresh off the boat in America who was super proud to make a 20 minutes video on youtube about her new vacuum. She was talking about it like she just discovered that vacuums exist. It’s common to see some living in an crappy apartment but they have a BMWs. The funny thing is they’re using these things to give themselves some importance. If you read between the lines with these people, the message they bring is: ‘Look, I’m a very ordinary person with very limited knowledge, a poor sense of humor, a shallow mentality and delusional opinions, but look what I have: A coffee from Starbucks and a BMW! Chiching! So take me seriously and don’t be shy to send me a huge bouquet of flower. I deserve it.

    Little bonus:
    He Gives To The Poor Because He Loves Them.

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