Pride, Amor Propio and Hiya: 3 Characteristics of Filipinos that Massively Affect how you Relate to them.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, Filipinos see themselves at the center of an intricate network of social and family connections and every action or decision they make takes into account how it may affect their reputation and their face.

Filipinos are definitely more “people oriented” than “goal oriented” or “cause oriented”.

This entails that if you are too direct and blunt with your Filipino spouse or with their relatives, even if you are dead right and they are dead wrong, your being blunt and straightforward will elicit resistance and will cause them to get offended and to harbor resentment toward you.

Pride is closely related to amor propio (love of self) and hiya (shame) that basically mean that the worst form of disgrace for Filipinos is when someone wounds their reputation and causes them to feel shame.

An ancient scripture says that “pride is before a crash”. In order to avoid a crash one has to admit that he is headed in the wrong direction no matter how embarrassing this maybe.

A characteristic of Filipinos that I’ve noticed many times in my intimate relationship and, more in general, in my dealings with my wife’s Filipino friends and relatives, is that they seem more afraid of embarrassment than failure.

Those who are motivated by fear of failure work to solve their problems, even if this entails admitting that they are wrong thereby losing face, while those who fear shame sweep them under the rug.

When a well-meaning person notices that something is not quite right with the way Filipinos behave and offers advice, (perhaps suggesting that they avoid getting into debt or that they carefully weigh who is in real need and who is driven by wants before sending their money to their relatives in the Philippines, just to mention a couple of examples) instead of admitting that they have a problem they get angry and resentful and blame the person who has given the counsel.

I know Filipinos who have been holding a grudge for years toward people who dared to give them advice.

To make any kind of progress as an individual, as a family or as a group, the exact opposite of pride and amor propio is required, and that is humility, humility to admit in front of others, that one is wrong and preferring avoidance of ultimate failure to the short-term avoidance of wounding one’s or someone else’s amor propio and facing hiya and embarrassment, if necessary, for the sake of improvement.

Obviously Filipinos are not the only ones who resent counsel and react angrily to it. This is a very widespread disease, but amor propio and hiya cause Filipinos to have a very strong tendency toward sacrificing progress and sweeping problems and weaknesses that need to be dealt with under the rug to save face.

If you are married to a Filipina and have regular dealings with her extended family you need to be aware that, even if you notice behaviour that is totally unacceptable and destructive, you cannot just rant and flash the counsel in their face.

I’ve learned, by trial and error, that with Filipinos one has to be extremely careful to offer well-meaning advice in the smoothest way possible because wounding their amor propio and causing hiya will definitely drive a serious wedge between you and them.