Filipino Facts – An Introduction To Business Etiquette In The Philippines

The Philippines is comprised of 7,000 islands, islands that speak of the beauty, serenity, and diversion that defines the country and people that make up this nation. From coast to city, Filipino culture and history have made it a draw for tourism from around the world. From the beaches to the boardroom, the country is also an attractive place for business.

Locations such as Manila are hot spots for international business as seen in the following link Those travelling to the country on business might find that, while this is an international locale for business, there are guidelines that govern many aspects of the business sphere. Mastering business etiquette in the Philippines can be one way to attract business, but more importantly, build relationships, which are the core of building partnerships within the community.   

Let’s take a closer look at Filipino business culture and etiquette so you can be armed with the correct knowledge before you do business in the Philippines.

Conversation In The Workspace

Filipinos love conversation, and they will pretty much ask you very personal questions. For example, if they ask “How was your day?” they aren’t simply making small talk and want you to explain your day in detail. Common conversation topics might relate to your job, marital status, and children. While it might seem intrusive or nosy, especially in the context of business, really they just like to get to know the person they are speaking with, not necessarily to pry into a person’s private affairs.

At the same time, saving face is very important in Filipino business culture. Shouting and arguing typically doesn’t happen because it is considered humiliating for the person and can be undermining. Professionals working in the business environment will not see Filipino businessmen or businesswomen raising their voice in the business context.

Business Casual

Typically, men wear business suits and trousers, and women wear dresses or skirts and blouses. However, because of the humidity, it is also very appropriate to wear business casual outside of suits and dresses. Women and men can also wear the Barong Tagalog, a traditional Filipino white shirt.

Business Meetings

Meetings are usually scheduled as far off as a month in advance. Then, a few days prior to the meeting make sure that attendees get copies of documents and other material needed for the meeting. While businessmen expect punctuality, deliberation over decisions that need to be made can take forever.

Also, meeting members might treat you like a newcomer, regardless of the length of the relationship you have had with the company. Finally, meetings are unlikely to be held during the morning or evening simply because traffic in the country can be congested, especially in Manila, so the likelihood that you would have a morning, lunch, or dinner meeting is rare. For a first meeting, coffee or tea might be served.


When giving gifts, make sure that care is given when wrapping the item. Carefully wrapped presents indicate that time and consideration was placed in preparing the gift. Great gifts like books, small electronics, flowers if invited to someone’s home, and edible gifts like chocolates, fruit or sticky rice cakes, a common Asian dessert, are all good choices.

The Importance Of Family And Friends

Familial relationships take priority over others, and that is why you might find that Filipinos hire family members and then friends. Building relationships before doing business is a major practice in the Philippines, so it is not uncommon to see partnerships with friends and family in business flourish. In fact, most of the country’s conglomerates are family-owned businesses.  

Doing Business In The Philippines

The business culture is both serious and relaxed with great appreciation shown for respecting decorum. Those doing business in the country can find variations on these guidelines depending on what part of the country you are visiting. If in doubt, though, ask your host to get clarification.

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