According to a Social Weather Stations survey from the Asian Development Bank, 45% of Filipinos consider themselves poor. While there are legitimate reasons as to why we remain a poor country (corruption, politics, and natural disasters among them), we also have to look into our Filipino traits and values.
Whether we admit it or not, we've cultivated negative Filipino traits that affect how we handle money and our financial situation. It’s time to acknowledge and get rid of them once and for all.
11 Negative Filipino Traits That Affect Your Finances
👉 Filipino Time
It’s ironic that the first item on the list is Filipino time, our tendency to be late. We're so obnoxious about failing to respect other people’s time that we've even invented a nickname for it and made it a national identity.
Have you ever organized an outing with your friends and set up a meeting time, only for them to show up an hour after?
It’s all fun and games until you keep this negative trait on a professional level. Practice Filipino time during a job interview, and you’ll get yourself a one-way ticket to the unemployment line. Consistent tardiness at work also leads to salary deductions. Lastly, you'll find that habitually arriving late to client meetings can cause you to lose them.
This type of behavior indicates laziness, and you’ll get nowhere if you don’t change it this instant. Successful people don’t wait for success to come to them, you know.
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👉 Mañana Habit
What’s the source of Filipino time, you ask? It’s another of our enduring negative Filipino traits: the mañana habit.
It’s a shortened version of “Mamaya na,” a phrase we usually say when we have things to do but fail to attend to them immediately. Basically, we're expert procrastinators.
The country’s weather isn’t helping. When it’s hot outside, we tend to stay at home to avoid the scorching heat outdoors. When it’s pouring outside, we tend to stay at home to avoid floods and crowded modes of public transportation.
Add the fact that smartphones always distract us, and we have ourselves a generation of slackers. Not really a good Filipino trait to have if you want to succeed in life.
The mañana habit applies not just to chores or work tasks. You can also see this negative Filipino habit in effect when we postpone investing money or starting an emergency fund. We fail to grab the opportunity to grow our money early on—we only scramble to do so once we run into accidents or realize we don't have enough for retirement.
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👉 Fiesta Culture
Despite being a poor country, other nations consider the Philippines one of the happiest countries in the world. Why? Probably because of our many feasts and celebrations. Provinces have monthly fiestas dedicated to their patron saints, while cities spend on extravagant parties.
Nothing wrong with celebrating, as long as you can afford it. However, our propensity for celebrations—which at times can be a negative aspect of Filipino culture—tends to make us overspend and borrow money, even on occasions that don’t really warrant a big feast.
Birthdays, for instance, become a contained fiesta when we overblow our budget on extravagant outings or lavish catering for the whole family and even baranggay.
👉 Crab Mentality
If there’s a hall of fame for negative Filipino traits, the crab mentality will be the first inductee. Often referenced in culture textbooks, it's our tendency to knock down everyone above us.
Have you ever felt jealous of your neighbor’s good fortune that you stopped talking to them? That’s crab mentality in action. It’s not a great feeling to foster.
Focusing on other people’s achievements makes you lose sight of your own goals. Try focusing on your own thing instead. Have you set your goals for the future? Are you living the best life?
Appreciate what you have and improve on the things that you feel need some fixing. Investing in yourself will give you a better chance of getting what others already have. Learn new things and look for new opportunities to upskill so you can enjoy a better life yourself.
👉 Hiya Factor
Another negative Filipino value is our cultural shyness. As a conservative country, we were told to act accordingly to avoid bringing shame to the family.
This resulted in a generation that doesn’t know how to demand what they want because of a fear of being judged. Filipinos are so shy about asking questions, they end up not learning anything at all.
Our hiya factor is also a reason why most Filipinos stay dormant when it comes to growing their money. Instead of exploring different investment opportunities, they stick to usual methods like hiding their cash at home.
Don’t let your shyness get the best of you. Speak up, educate yourself, and achieve the life you want.
👉 Bahala na si Batman Mentality
Move over, Superman. For Filipinos, Batman is the strongest superhero ever. Why? Because we tend to entrust literally anything to the caped crusader, apparently.
Ever caught yourself saying “Bahala na si Batman!” every time you’re making a crucial decision? That’s you being dismissive of your future. That’s a negative Filipino trait that needs correcting.
Successful individuals never relied on others—let alone fictional characters—to get to where they are. They always plan for everything and take their time making financial decisions. Stop leaving everything to fate and take control of your own life.
For instance, you can't just breezily dismiss the importance of a retirement fund since it's decades away anyway. Batman won't be there to save you once you eventually find your pension isn't enough to cover your needs.
Leave your "Bahala na" attitude behind and start taking responsibility for your actions. You’ll thank yourself for doing so.
👉 Colonial Mentality
Anything that's foreign is better—that’s the colonial mentality in a nutshell. After centuries of being conquered by other nations, we developed this belief that imported goods are superior. We need to archive this negative Filipino trait because it hinders us from exploring our own products and saving a lot of money.
Colonial mentality in the Philippines still persists today and it affects our financial decisions. Instead of choosing to support local and save money, some of us still buy imported goods that are way too expensive. We need to start supporting our own brands because the Philippines is capable of producing quality products as well.
👉 Attitude Toward Utang
Everyone’s idea of a good life is having enough money to afford not just their needs, but their wants. The problem comes when some of us choose to drown ourselves in debt to achieve just that. Whenever we want something, our course of action is to borrow money and avoid our lenders for the next couple of months.
If you really want something, learn how to save up for it instead of asking for another utang. You don't want to burden yourselves with debt and strain your relationships with friends and family. Work hard to sustain the lifestyle you want.
👉 Splurging After Payday
Who doesn't want to treat themselves after payday? After weeks of hard work, you deserve it! However, if you find yourself skimping on meals just so you can pay rent a week after payday, you're probably spending a little too much on your wants.
You don't have to give up treats entirely—it's important to enjoy the fruits of your hard labor, after all. The key is to strike a balance.
To avoid this negative Filipino trait of lavish spending, decide on your priorities and split your budget accordingly. Once you get your salary, cover all the essentials first. This way, you won't run out of money for the important stuff.
👉 Kuripot Attitude
Alternatively, Filipinos can be quite kuripot or stingy. All very well and good if you're planning to save, but if you're tight-fisted when it comes to things that actually matter—such as insurance and investments—then that's a different story.
Insurance serves as financial protection against unexpected illnesses or deaths. Meanwhile, investments grow one's money for retirement, education, and other future needs.
But since their financial benefits aren't immediately apparent, plenty of Filipinos remain reluctant to spend money on these two things. They prefer to keep a close eye on their money in a bank account, where it unfortunately stagnates due to lower interest rates.
If your budget is already strained as it is, see if you can earn money, which you can then use on insurance or investments, through a side hustle.
👉 Overdependence on Family
Filipino families are a tight-knit bunch. Even after starting their own families, children remain close to their parents.
However, such devotion to family has its downsides. Sometimes it fosters financial codependency, such as when an OFW or a relatively better-off family member becomes the whole clan's piggy bank. In some cases, these breadwinners have to support not just their immediate family but also distant relatives.
This negative Filipino trait is harder to break than most of the others on this list. It requires recognizing that such values are toxic in the first place. Each family member needs access to education so that everyone can eventually support themselves.
Change always starts within ourselves. We need to review our values to see which ones need to stay and which ones need to go. Once we identify our negative Filipino traits, we should all work hard to curb them for the betterment of our lives.
We can’t always stay poor just because it’s the status quo. Our traits should never hinder us from having a better and more fruitful life.
Source:  Filipino families who rate themselves as ‘poor’ steady at 51% —SWS (GMA News, 2023)