The “Ningas Kugon” Mentality of Filipino People

“Kugon” is a material similar to the one used to build a “bahay kubo”

Ningas Kugon is basically the tendency of Filipinos to get super excited about an idea a project for, maybe, one week or two, maximum few months. They lay a foundation then the wander off and lay another foundation.

So, it may occur, for example, that your Filipino wife wants to take you to the Philippines to live there for good and start a negosyo. She could even get you to invest some money there. Then she may change her mind and, perhaps, decide to stay in your Western country. After a while she may reconsider going to the Philippines for good. Then reconsider that again.

More often their not Filipinos don’t have a life mission and a clear vision. They undertake myriads of projects that easily fizzle out and never stick around.

If you marry a Filipina this may cost you unnecessary money. For example, about 15 years ago, my wife set up an eatery in front of the Bulacan Agricultural State College and turned the ground floor of her big house into some sort of hostel for college students, because we were supposed to move there for good. Since then there has been an alternation of moments in which she wanted to follow through on that project and moments in which she seemed to be more interested in staying here in Italy and (after 15 years) I don’t know yet what is going to happen.

The expression ningas kugon fittingly describes this Filipino trait: ningas basically means fire while kugon is basically the material used to build the roof of a bahay kubo which is, essentially, cogon grass, a type of material that kindles very easily and brightly and, after a short while, it extinguishes.

We in the Western world are generally more inclined toward making long-term plans and following through on those plans while, as I’ve just said, most Filipinos are the exact opposite.

So, if you are interested in marrying a Filipina, one of the many things you have to take into account is the fact that making long-term plans with a Filipino wife might prove to be extremely difficult.

The mindset that I have chosen to operate from, to deal with this and other aspects of the Filipino culture, that are difficult to accept from a Western standpoint, is acceptance (which is, by the way, one of the pillars of a thriving marriage according to many relationship experts).

As I keep repeating in my blog, Filipinos are the way they are and getting angry, pissed off and upset with them only creates friction and endangers the relationship and so the counsel I’d give to Westerners who are considering the possibility to enter this kind of relationship is to gather as much information as you can about the Filipino culture and mentality before embarking in this kind of relationship (and not make the mistake I initially made of assuming that I would figure things out down the road) and weigh very carefully if you are ready and willing to cope with the many traits of your future Filipino wife that are at odds with the Western ways.


8 thoughts on “The “Ningas Kugon” Mentality of Filipino People

    1. My wife is Filipina but often I use Tagalog words she never heard. It’s strange. I think the reason is because my wife was raised in the Philippines and she just learned how to speak but she never bothered about going deep into the structure and the etymology of the language while us foreigners who study the language are probably more rigorous….baka ito ang dahilan


      1. It’s a sad reality. I had a hard time in my Filipino classes, too, in college, mostly because I had to look up a lot of words, but the language is actually rich in meaning and is flexible to use. When I stumble upon etymologies, like what you wrote about, I’m fascinated. We read an article in college about the jeepney, the ride, and what it entails (being too close to each other, almost every moment in a jeep is shared, even intimate). I wish I could read that article again. It’s also great to know foreigners are fascinated with the language. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. A lot of Filipinos want a place in the PH to go back to. 🙂 My bf and I often talk about working and moving abroad where the quality of living is better but he still wants to build an apartment here for business, even tho I tell him that will be problematic. Notice the same in other locals too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As a Westerner I wouldn’t mind moving to the Philippines even at the cost of lowering my standard of living. Here in the Western world having a higher standard of living has a lot of strings attached and the overall quality of life is everything but high (at least in my country). It is just that I don’t know yet what my wife wants to do, I am ready to move (maybe not to Bulacan…Bohol(acan) would be better!)


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