Work Relationships in the Philippines: Who is the boss?

Business Cultural Notes

In Filipino culture, people in authority are normally the ones who give instructions. Subordinates, particularly in office settings, are the ones who receive and follow instructions. Deference to people in authority is very much valued in Filipino society, as in most Asian societies.

It is important to remember, however, that those who are in authority are expected not to abuse their power. They are supposed to treat their subordinates with respect and caring attitude, able to understand their feelings and sensibilities. Filipinos in general hate managers who are bossy or slave drivers. They are considered as diktador (dictator) if they have no regard for the feelings or sensibilities of their subordinates, or walang malasakit (unable to feel). People in authority are also expected to act as a patriarch or matriarch to their subordinates, rather than as cold, objective, and unfeeling managers. They should know how to treat their subordinates as though they belong to one big family.

Subordinates, on the other hand, are expected to respect their supervisors like a son or daughter respects his or her parents. Answering back is taboo, unless there is really abuse of power or authority on the part of supervisors. A subordinate who is unreasonably rude to his supervisors is called bastos (rude, without proper breeding), or walang galang (without respect). 

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