Global Filipinos: What Is Holding Filipinos Back?

Giovanni Palec, ESQ.

Deputy Consul General – Philippine Consulate General – Dubai & Northern Emirates

Giovanni Palec Deputy Consul General

Filipinos are not being held back from progressing and being able to compete globally. There are numerous examples of Filipinos who are recognized in their fields of competence.  Of course, the more popular ones who are known in the global stage are people like Leah Salonga, Monique Lhuillier, and Manny Pacquiao, and Michael Cinco.  They have shown that with drive, passion, and determination, Filipinos can progress and be globally competitive.  Ask employers here in Dubai and many, if not most, will express their preference for a Filipino because.  We are known to be hard-working, competent, skillful, adaptive and dependable.  This only emphasizes that the Filipino has the intellect, talent and qualifications to progress and be able to compete globally.

However, despite these shining examples, there is a perception that there are not enough Filipinos who are progressing and becoming globally competitive – there is a seeming lack of Filipino global achievers. What is hindering Filipinos from “blowing out the competition”?  There are so many factors which one can point to, but the one major factor that limits us is our mindset.  

One’s mindset determines our ambition, drive and persistence.  This is formed through experiences, culture, education, social background and even religion and also reflects our values, priorities and motivation in life.  How does this relate to the question? A distinct example comes to mind. A kabayan complains that her superior (another nationality relatively new to the job) is incompetent and relies heavily on her.  She says senior management had, in fact, considered her for that position when her previous superior left, as they were aware of her competence. But she passed the offer, not wanting the added responsibility.  She said she was already satisfied with the salary that she was receiving.

Some will call this is a missed opportunity.  Then there are those who will agree with her decision.  For them, it is enough to have a secured job and being able to provide for the needs of the family, although they might be more competent than others.  So what can be done to have more Filipinos advance?  For me it’s changing the latter mindset – making Filipinos believe that that they can actually do and achieve more and that, they should not to settle for less than they deserve.  

But how does one change?  First, become aware of your own mindset – reflect on your life, goals and aims and the steps you have to take.  I am encouraged that are now more Overseas Filipinos taking advantage of opportunities abroad.  There are also more organizations providing lessons on financial literacy, investment and entrepreneurship.  Hopefully, even our compatriots back home will be able to attend such sessions.  From there, we can evolve our mindsets into one that believes that we can be more; we can do more and achieve more in life.  Once that happens, the Philippines as well as the Filipino people, wherever they are, will be prosperous, successful and globally progressive.


Khadijah Salih

Freelance Journalist & Program Producer – Singapore

Khadija Salih Filipino Journalist Singapore

Filipinos have always been a part of the global arena. We have the history to prove it – from our multi-talented heroes to famous celebrities, couturiers, athletes, chefs and beauty queens to the rising number of Overseas Filipinos. So it’s not a question of how we can compete. We are already doing it. The better question for me is – how do we get more Filipinos, if not all, at the global level so we can be a progressive nation? As Filipinos, we should have a better understanding of our national identity. Instead of having pride, we should have more respect for being a Filipino. We should endeavor to improve ourselves in everything we do and stop the “ningas kugon” mindset. It’s no longer good enough to be hospitable and hardworking. We have the talent to do more. And I think these will be possible if we put a stop to complacency and playing the blame game; by being responsible citizens, ensuring that every child has access to quality education, holding one another accountable and promoting transparency in the country. When these happen, I can definitely say it will be more fun in the Philippines.


Rommel Pilapil Sergio

Professor, Canadian University – Dubai

Rommel Pilapil Sergio

Just like any cultural group on earth, Filipinos have strengths and setbacks.  We are renowned across the globe for our distinct interpersonal skills and hospitality, innate creativity, and world-class talent. Upfront, there are manifold factors that hold back a Filipino from progressing.  Being a global educator, I can bank on education.  The number of years of basic and pre-university education remains not within international standards (in the absence of K-12).  As a repercussion, Filipino aspirants fail to leverage opportunities for college scholarships or in post-graduate studies, even if they are qualified in terms of cognitive ability.  There is also an impact on employment as your degree may not be recognized due to the lacking two years of education.  Invariably, the doctorate degree in the Philippines in most cases is equivalent only to a master’s degree in Canada or in other western countries.  A response to this challenge is the government’s K-12 program tagged as “educational highway” that seeks to provide every Filipino, especially the impoverished, with the opportunity to receive globally sound quality education. Lastly, the Philippines still suffers from the stigma of corruption, being a source of cheap manual labor, and extreme poverty.  I can only think of ethical and spiritual revival as remedial measures. Strengthening our moral fiber calls for a change that starts from oneself.

Global Filipinos: What Is Holding Filipinos Back?

Mei Dabalos Cuntapay 

Academic Writer & Attorney III

Department of Education Division of Tuguegarao, Philippines

Mei Dabalos Cuntapay - Philippines

Filipinos have no problems in competing globally considering that we belong to a country full of brilliant citizens. The problem with Filipinos is their attitude towards progress, particularly the success of others. Despite the new age, what remains to be a perennial problem in our society is this – while most Filipinos are generally good-natured, such good-naturedness is destroyed when crab mentality prevails. This has always been the hindrance to our desire to move forward and be at par with other countries. It might seem like a minor problem but it is like a pest that slowly destroys the pillars of our society and our dream of becoming a better nation.  Crab mentality is the fruit of envy and discontent. If only Filipinos would take time to change from within then we could successfully eradicate crab mentality despite it being deeply embedded in our culture. This may seem possible only in a world where idealism reigns but it is my strong belief that if all Filipinos make an effort to change from within, we can conquer crab mentality and move forward as one great nation.


Rouie Villegas

Reporter – Balitang Middle East, TFC – Abu Dhabi

Rouie Villegas

A lot of external factors may hinder an individual to develop a sense of competitiveness. For example, a Filipino may see his own country and its government as a major cause of trouble to its people. We question the system and the motives of the people who run the system.  In my opinion, what remains to be the problem, for Filipinos specifically is our attitude towards the world. We tend to find fault in everyone and in everything.  We tend to forget that we are a contributing factor to the deteriorating system that we see. And this culture of finding fault gives an atmosphere of fear, instead of encouragement. Instead of looking around, why don’t we look inwardly? As individuals, have we changed for the better yet? It’s all in the mind, they say. Perhaps the deteriorating system that we see in the world is the product of its people’s minds.

We, Filipinos, have so much to offer the world. When each of us starts to become responsible for our own actions, that’s when we develop a spirit of support which, in turn will push us to achieve our full potential. After all, it is our very own selves that we must overcome.


1 comment

  1. My message is simple:

    “Pilipino parents raise their children to become good EMPLOYEES.
    Chinese parents raise their children to become good EMPLOYERS.”

    In our culture in the Philippines, education is important. But we must inspire our students and citizens to aspire to higher goals and not be contented to merely ‘follow’.

    One of my notable clients in Dubai once said to me, “Medardo, I know Filipinos very well. I employ 2000 of them. I can tell you this, “in the Philippines, the men are the women and the women are the men”. Go figure that.

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