With the Philippine economy declared by the World Bank as one of the fastest-growing economies now, our current 3rd World label can no longer just be blamed on wealth. What truly makes the Philippines a 3rd World country is how 3rd World its people conduct their business. I don’t mind being hated for this comment but every Filipino here cannot deny that several pervasive extensive consistent bad business habits exist here.
And no, I will NOT accept the constant defense of Filipinos who say: “That’s how things are done here” or “Ganyan talaga dito.” No, unacceptable. Also, Filipinos who live here should find that unacceptable. To accept it quietly is a way of supporting its continuation.
And, do NOT even think that I am just a bitter ex-Filipino turned American citizen who’s simply being bitchy and is whining about many things. I am not coming from an elitist or foreign stance, rather a professional one. Mind you, being professional has NOTHING to do with your race, citizenship, wealth, the color of your skin, religion and age. A professional person IS a professional person.
In the past 3 months of being in Manila:
1) Why are most people at least 30 minutes late, without any text message courteously telling me that they are running late?
Actually, why are you late in the first place? When you set a time and date, factor in the traffic. Factor in your load at work. Factor in your time to put on makeup. And pls, just because I am on vacation mode and the person I am meeting is working is no excuse. When my friends from the Philippines visited New York, I was 99% of the time always 15 minutes early, despite my busy work schedule. It is basic respect.
2) Why are most Filipinos incapable of Yes or No answers?
It’s always a ‘Maybe.’ Instead of maybe, say that you’ll get back to me and need some time to think (but please advise me how long it’s going to take for you to make a decision). After giving a project to a local craftsman to manufacture a product for me, I asked: Can you be done by May 15? His answer, “Baka po” or in English, “Maybe.” I don’t understand. It’s either you can or you cannot. It’s not that hard.
3) Why are most Filipinos never specific?
This is worse than my second point. I asked a real estate agent recently, What time can you email me the quotes? He answered: “Baka mga hapon po.” or “Sometime in the afternoon.” I snapped back: “What time in the afternoon?” He answered: “Baka/maybe mga 4 or 5 po.” I lost it and snapped back: “Choose a time. 4 or 5?” He answered: “4pm” Why do we need to go through a lot of back and forth? This could have been avoided if he simply answered my first question directly when I asked, “What time?” Was the question not clear? I spoke in Filipino so it should have been clearer.
4) Why are most Filipinos bad with email confirmations and replies?
A Facebook friend recently asked me for advice. I told her that she’ll get a reply from me in 12 hours. I emailed it to her in less than 12. I texted to ask if she received the email. She neither texted nor emailed back to confirm receipt of email. If I made the effort to craft a long email to dispense the advice this girl badly needed, why can’t this woman have the courtesy to spend 5 seconds to text back one word: “Yes”
Another example, a restaurateur asked me for my design help on a brochure. I emailed the file of a draft. Did I hear anything back? No. Guess what, I see him 2 weeks after and he verbally confirmed that he got it.
Listen, if you don’t have internet at home or heaven forbid, at work, there’s no shame in it. Just tell me you prefer it sent through Facebook. All Filipinos seem to be super quick to comment and ‘Like’ stuff over there. Maybe all government and business processes in the Philippines should be conducted on Facebook for a significantly speedier response.
5) Worst of all, why are most Filipinos bad with keeping commitments?
A real estate agent promised to email me information. After much back and forth (see Point # 3), we agreed on July 17, 4pm. Guess what, 5pm passed and still no email. I texted. No answer. I called, he picked up. I asked him where the email was. He said he couldn’t right now since the rain was so hard and he’s inside the bus and traffic is bad. I asked: Why didn’t you email it when you were still at the office and had access to the internet? He answered that he forgot. I told him, find another client.
Yes, you can all argue that this is such an unfair and hasty generalization. That maybe, those that I conducted business with are just exceptions to the rule. I am sorry but the examples I gave you were just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, from my experience, this is more the rule than the exception.
In a country that severely needs people to invest (both local and foreign) not just in its present but also in its future, why are Filipinos making it so hard to conduct business here? I have no control over macroeconomic issues and policies but if a person here can’t even call me back at a time that we agreed on, that’s more important to me than any World Bank vote of confidence.
If the Philippines truly wants to join the league of developed nations, its professional values and ways of doing business should equally be ‘developed.’
Whenever other nationalities criticize the Philippines or its people, millions of Filipinos are quick to rally on Facebook and defend themselves with utmost urgency and passion. While some of those international insults are unwarranted, my beef with the professional conduct here is. Before you create an I Hate You facebook page dedicated to me, look at the mirror and ask yourself if you’ve ever been guilty of any of the points above.
The problem with the Philippines: We are a rich country who thinks and acts poor.
(If what I wrote is resonating with you, feel free to share. The points here, while painful, are important.)