The Philippine Culture of Dependence

Here’s what I think: the reason why we have so many poor people in the Philippines is that our society has a pervasive culture of dependence and patronage.

It is uncommon for Filipinos, I believe, to take an active part in challenging the status quo, and be more involved in carving out a fortune for themselves- to be the master of their own fates, to be the architects of their own success.

It all starts at home: children don’t make an effort to leave the comforts of the household at age 18 to find work and carry their own weight.  In fact, the opposite is true- children will try to stay with their parents for as long as they can, even if they have their own family, and start to have their own kids.  On the flipside, elder adults don’t always plan for their retirement, and so many count on their kids to take care of them once they’ve grown old.

The concept of work for a regular Pinoy is hoping to find a company that would employ them for the rest of their lives- depending on a monthly, regular salary, which really is hardly enough for a comfortable lifestyle, and hoping that they also get all kinds of benefits and allowances, and that all their hard work would pay off- and lead to a lifelong stint with their employer.

Many Filipinos even depend on richer, more financially capable- often political- families to take care of them- which is why you have so many poor families sucking up to politicians to spring for anything from burial expenses to baptismal favors.

And it’s that twisted kind of mutally beneficial arrangement that forms the basis of Philippine politics, society and culture:  a patronage system where the rich and powerful keep the loyalty and support of the poor, who continually work for them, and the cycle just goes on and on.

It’s like the poor expect the rich- the ones with power and influence- to take care of their needs and provide for them

I believe it is precisely that kind of mindset that keeps 85% of Filipinos poor- the way of thinking that comes from a pervasive culture of dependence and patronage.

The same way of thinking that makes noontime variety shows so popular among the masses.  The exact same way of thinking that bloats up the Philippine bureaucracy.  The very same way of thinking that makes people think they can get away with breaking laws and simple ordinances.  The mindset that some higher power has their back, and that same higher power will take care of them.

Its what this blog is all about- a life of self-reliance, and breaking free from a pervasive Philippine culture of patronage and dependence.
It’s what this blog is all about- a life of self-reliance, and breaking free from a pervasive Philippine culture of patronage and dependence.

How else can we change our country and make things better?

1.  Make your own money.  Getting a job will serve that purpose for now, but your ultimate goal will be to come up with multiple income streams so you don’t have to be too dependent on any one source of cash.

2.  Live on your own.  Teach yourself to manage your own life and make your own decisions.  Break away from depending on your family.

3.  Get a life.  Remember there is life outside work.  Don’t allow your work to consume you.  Spend time with friends and loved ones.  Do the things you want to do.  Have some personal time.

4.  Expect no special treatment.  Show you’re a better person by not calling on your influential family connections.  Do things the right way.  Avoid getting yourself into trouble so you don’t get the temptation to call in favors.

5.  Build up your market value.  Keep learning new skills so you can secure yourself a more lucrative career.  Invest in books.  Network.  Turn your hobbies into money-making ventures.

Remember: change starts with us.  We have to take charge of our own lives and stop depending on others. We can make it our choice to break free from the Philippine culture of dependence and patronage.

And as we take care of our own needs, we shall then teach others to be just as self-reliant and independent.  It’s gonna take a while, I know.  So let’s get to it.

Cheers, everyone.

Press This


4 thoughts on “The Philippine Culture of Dependence

  1. Hello, I came across your comment, and you are 100 % correct. You must have some Western blood in you. I am from Canada, visited your country in September, and what a beautiful country it is, and the people are very friendly. Yes, I did notice problems as you described. The one thing I found problematic, was when I made friends with some one, it wasn’t long before they asked for money. In our culture, you would not be friends for very long, thats for sure. I am helping a good friend financialy that I met there, (he made my visit successful) so to give him a start in becoming independent by having a business of his own, but now he tells me his relatives are sucking him dry of money, asking for loans, which will never be paid back, his family demanding that he pay their bills. Well, what does that leave me to think. I cannot afford to support all his family and cousins. Now his capital that I gave him is almost gone. Maybe I dont understand the culture there, but I felt really disappointed. Im sure this attitude discourages investors from investing in the Philippines. I am not writing this as putting down your culture, it is just what I have experienced myself. I am glad to see your post, there is hope, I believe more people like you go out and encourage your country men to become independent.
    Blessing to you and your friends

  2. i came across your blog while searching for some decent fastfood that delivers as early as 7am. you see, i didnt go out of my condo yesterday so i ate what i got in my fridge -chocolates, pistachios, more junk. i live alone and had been financially dependent since i’m 21. i totally agree with you on this, OVERDEPENDENCE mentality of the typical filipino. Others would refer to it as “utang na loob”, i say, b**S**. It basically pulls us down to poverty even more. I travelled the world and met a few rich filipino families and guess what, their children work. They work to fend themselves and do not expect their parents to support them til their dying age. its not uncommon to hear a foreigner say that filipinos are lazy. it irks me everytime but somehow, its true. i hope our generation will look deeper & realize what is troubling our nation.

  3. I came across your blog by accident. I, myself, am not a blogger. I was just searching for materials for a thesis about businesses employing relatives and the relevant problems it entails. You are right about us Filipinos. It is all in our history. In fact, our leaders, pre-Hispanic down to the present, contributed to our culture of dependence. Even our leaders who claim to have worked for our independence, from Manuel Quezon onward, contributed to such culture. While they profess independence, they could not let go of the American skirt because the independence they know and value is their personal independence while subjugating their own countrymen.

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