The Filipino Mentality

Posted by Javan Poblador | Posted on June 14, 2020


By Rado Gatchalian
Sydney, Australia


The word mentality derives from the root word mental, from Latin ‘mens’ which means ‘mind’. The mind is a process in our brain such as thinking, remembering, reasoning, reflecting, and all other cognitive activities.

Culturally and sociologically, certain groups of people or races have specific “collective thinking” or “social consciousness”. Through this dynamic and complex social evolution – the people have developed a mental habit in their subconsciousness. This subconsciousness is manifested in their behaviors and habits.

Among the Filipinos – we exhibit certain qualities such as crab mentality (pulling someone down), ‘ningas kugon’ (only good at the start), ‘manana’ habit (procrastination), Filipino time (tardiness), ‘bahala na’ (come what may), emotional or too sensitive, ‘tsismosa’ (gossiping), ‘epal’ (attention grabbing), ‘mayabang’ (arrogant), ‘feeling magaling’ (pretentious), ‘pintasero’ (fault-finder), etc.

This Filipino habit is a result of our social and psychological upbringing that it becomes part of who we are as individuals, and as a nation – and wherever we go, we carry this “genetic” trait. As we reflect how we behave, we will find out that our habit is a result of how we think.

We need to change the way we think. Once we develop our thinking process, we will improve our habits. We are what we think.



The most prominent characteristic of Filipinos is our EMOTIONALISM. We have this excessive tendency to be “seriously” emotional. The Filipino Mentality is based on Filipino Emotion. This is the very reason why we create so many problems within our family, in our group, community, and our country.

This means that we do not use our reason but instead resort to our emotions. It is a victory of the heart over the brain. This cripples us as a nation.

We love to argue and debate solely on how we feel and not because of how we think. Thinking involves serious analysis, reflection, logic, and research.

This doesn’t mean that we need to be highly “intelligent”. We just need to be reasonable and act decently. But somehow, we have lost the direction because we do not want to “see”. We become blind as we continue to use our hearts over our minds.

If we will examine how Filipinos post or comment in social media: we can conclude that majority of us lose our tempers, we do lots of ad hominem attacks, we do not really want to listen but we just want to talk, talk, and talk, we are so reactive, and we easily believe what we read.

This is dangerous. Very dangerous. And sometimes fatal. This could result to the extinction of our Filipino sensibility. We need to closely look at how we behave and think. Our future depends on it.



Because we love to resort to how we feel – we become blind followers. We become fanatics. We lose our sense of reality. Sadly. We only want to see what we want to see. We reject and disregard everything that goes against our beliefs. We become so much obsessed with what we want to possess – and we become so self-centered that we lose our opportunity to learn and know the truth.

We lose the proper lens because we fail to use our brain. Our mind is the window to truth, wisdom.

If we believe everything that is told to us – and we fail to use our ability to think for ourselves: we are no different from robots, machines, or lower animals.

Thus, it is critical that we exercise our reasoning. This is the only way for us to be free. Otherwise, we will forever become slaves, followers, to our masters.

As Filipinos, we need to cultivate our own ability to think – so that no one, politicians or celebrities, can influence the way we think. We are free yet many of us are bound by our illusion to worship and die for our leaders and the people we admire.

From here: we become like children without power. We follow everything that is told to us. We obey everything. We worship our master like a god.

Then, yes – we become blind followers.



For our nation to grow, Filipinos need to mature intellectually and politically.

Our only hope as a nation is to truly change – a change that is pure and internal. A change within. We cannot change everything outside of us such as the political system, education, and economy if we cannot change what is inside us.

This is the truth. And this is the key.

The key to being Free.

We need to find an honest interest in learning and reading. Let us hope and strive that majority of Filipinos will learn to love to read. Read, read, read. Reading will help us to exercise our thinking process. This is a tool for us to become free. If we see Filipinos, especially the youth, reading on the train and bus – we can see a glimpse of hope for our nation. Let us start with the basics.

If we fail as a nation of readers, we fail as a nation that is truly free.

Knowledge is power. Knowledge makes us free. This gives us the power to reason and use our logic. This gives us the power to control our emotions.

To end, let us reflect on what Jose Rizal wrote in 1888 to the young women of Malolos. Although he addressed the letter to the women, this wisdom is true to everyone. He said for us to be reasonable and open our eyes.

Here is an excerpt from his letter:

“I do not expect to be believed simply because it is I who am saying this; there are many people who do not listen to reason, but will listen only to those who wear the cassock or have gray hair or no teeth; but while it is true that the aged should be venerated, because of their travails and experience, yet the life I have lived, consecrated to the happiness of the people, adds some years, though not many of my age.  I do not pretend to be looked upon as an idol or fetish and to be believed and listened to with the eyes closed, the head bowed, and the arms crossed over the breast; what I ask of all is to reflect on what I tell him, think it over and shift it carefully through the sieve of reasons.

First of all.  That the tyranny of some is possible only through cowardice and negligence on the part of others.

Second.  What makes one contemptible is a lack of dignity and abject fear of him who holds one in contempt.

Third.  Ignorance is servitude, because as a man thinks, so he is; a man who does not think for himself and allowed himself to be guided by the thought of another is like the beast led by a halter.

Sixth.  All men are born equal, naked, without bonds.  God did not create man to be a slave; nor did he endow him with intelligence to have him hoodwinked, or adorn him with reason to have him deceived by others.  It is not fatuous to refuse to worship one’s equal, to cultivate one’s intellect, and to make use of reason in all things.  Fatuous is he who makes a god of him, who makes brutes of others, and who strives to submit to his whims all that is reasonable and just.”


[Entry was first published on the author’s blog on Facebook “The FILOsopher”]

Other good reads...

Contagious Superstitions

Contagious Superstitions by Glemir Sordilla Bacolod City   As a pungent smell from a tiny insect engulfed our small living room, we already know what we will hear. A groan from my grandmother can be heard following with her statement, that we have heard countless times, “Ara na ang baho ka changaw. May aswang gid […]

A Life Well-Lived: HAPI Founder Retires

In a culture dominated by religiosity, overt superstition, and fake news, it takes a truly ballsy person to fight against the noise. While pushing for secularism is by no means a competition, Marissa Torres Langseth, HAPI Founder and Chairperson Emeritus, was the first to openly advocate for a more secular Philippines in the public stage. […]

HAPI – Summer Camp Program: Recognition Day

  The moment that everyone had been waiting for had finally arrived. The HAPI Summer Class Program (HSCP) had a remarkable Recognition Day celebration last May 26, 2017 at the Milenyo Covered Court, Phase 8 North Fairview, Quezon City. The said event was organized by the Project Head Coordinator of HSCP, Ms. Jean Karla M. Tapao, […]

Thunberg Knock-Off, Never Fake

Angelo Greñas July 2020 Every day, as I walk my way to school, I have this habit of covering my nose with a handkerchief, fearing that the polluted air might kill me on the spot. This is me when I was in my junior high school years, and yes, that was a very naïve act […]