Saving Face and Saving Money: Navigating Filipino Culture

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When it comes to Filipino culture, there’s one concept you need to know: saving face. It’s a big deal, a really big deal. It’s about maintaining your dignity, avoiding public embarrassment, and showing respect for others. And let me tell you, it affects everything. From the way you communicate to the way you do business to the way you interact with your friends and family.

Now, let’s talk about communication. Filipinos have a unique way of talking, using vague language and non-verbal cues to avoid confrontation or criticism. It can be confusing for outsiders, but for Filipinos, it’s all about saving face. They don’t want to embarrass themselves or others, so they use indirect communication to avoid hurt feelings or conflict.

But saving face goes beyond just communication. It’s about hierarchy and respect for authority. You’ve got to show deference to those in positions of power, whether it’s your elders or those with higher social status. That means using titles like respect, much like we did in the South until very recently.

And then there’s the concept of getting along with others and maintaining harmonious relationships. Filipinos will go out of their way to help others and make sacrifices for the sake of the group. It’s a beautiful thing, really. But sometimes, it can lead to a lack of individual initiative or creativity because people hesitate to suggest new ideas or challenge the status quo.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Saving face can have its downsides, too. It can lead to a reluctance to admit mistakes or seek help when needed. And it can sometimes hinder progress or innovation. But at the end of the day, it’s an integral part of Filipino culture. It’s a reflection of their deep respect for others and their desire to maintain social harmony.

Appearing greedy can be a major faux pas. Filipinos value humility and modesty, and flaunting your wealth or success can come across as arrogant or boastful.

Now, that’s not to say that you can’t enjoy the finer things in life. Filipinos love to celebrate and indulge, especially when it comes to food and drink. But it’s all about balance and discretion. You don’t want to be seen as someone who is only out for themselves or who is willing to trample over others to get what they want.

So, when you’re in the Philippines, keep this in mind. Be gracious and humble, even when you’re enjoying the good life. Don’t show off your wealth or success, and don’t make others feel inferior or left out. Instead, be generous and inclusive, and show respect for those around you.

And if you do find yourself in a situation where you need to assert yourself or negotiate for something, do so with tact and sensitivity. Don’t come across as pushy or entitled; don’t try to take advantage of others. Remember, saving face is all about maintaining social harmony and respect for others.

Here’s the thing: Filipinos are known for being generous and giving, often to a fault. It’s a cultural trait that’s deeply ingrained in their way of life, and it’s something that’s celebrated and admired by many. But this generosity can also lead to bad financial decisions, as Filipinos may feel pressure to give or spend money in order to save face or maintain relationships.

For example, let’s say a Filipino family is struggling to make ends meet, but they’re invited to a family celebration or fiesta. In order to save face and maintain their social standing, they may feel obligated to attend and bring gifts or food, even if it means stretching their budget thin or going into debt. Or, let’s say a friend or relative asks for financial assistance. Even if the Filipino in question can’t afford to give the full amount, they may feel pressured to do so in order to avoid appearing greedy or selfish.

This emphasis on saving face and maintaining social harmony can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it fosters a sense of community and connection, where people are willing to help each other out and support one another. But on the other hand, it can lead to financial stress, debt, and even poverty, as people may prioritize appearances over their own financial well-being. It can also lead to major conflicts between a Filipina and her foreign partner if he’s supporting her financially. You can say, “that money is for you, babe,” until you’re blue in the face, and it will make very little difference. A Filipina will often sincerely thank you for “sharing your blessings,” but it is a difficult battle if you don’t want her to share her blessings in turn.

So, when you’re in the Philippines, keep this in mind. Show respect for authority, use indirect communication when necessary, and strive to get along with others. It’s all about saving face, and it’s what makes Filipino culture unique and special. So dig in, enjoy the food, and soak up the culture. It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s something to be savored. Take a deep breath, and don’t let yourself get mad when things don’t go the American way. If you are going to be in a relationship with a Filipina, your sanity depends on recognizing you aren’t in America anymore.

Interested in other articles about Filipino culture? Check this one out to discover why she gives away money.

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