Five Toxic Filipino Mindset

By Abel Pagaling 


One of my favorite quotes is from the book As a Man Thinketh.

“A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”

I spent the first 12 years of my life in the Philippines before coming to Canada. Although it was a brief period, it was enough to be fully immersed in the culture. To this day I still speak 3 dialects and observe many of the Filipino traditions.

I will admit that my mental attitude is more Western than Filipino. While I can honestly say that I’m very proud of my ethnic heritage, there are several things I honestly dislike.   There are mindsets I’ve observed that are prevalent amongst Filipinos that I believe holds us down. Here’s my top five:

  1. “Bahala na ang Diyos”

I’m a born and bred Christian. I understand Filipinos’ strong love for the Almighty. But I find it irresponsible to use this as a default response to difficult circumstances in life.   It’s disempowering. It says I’m a victim. It says bad things are meant to be.

advertiseRemember the story of David in the Bible? While the Israelites stood in fear at the sight of Goliath and cried “Bahala na ang Diyos”, David took action and faced the challenge head on with the belief that his God is greater.   We all know the outcome of his bravery.

So when faced with a difficult situation, asked yourself what role you are playing in your situation. Are you Goliath (the trouble maker), the Israelites (“bahala na ang Diyos”), or David (the brave one)?



  1. “Darating Din ang Araw”

I’ve heard Filipinos say this in a negative context as to indirectly wish or hope for someone to suffer. I will admit, I used it a few times.   I will also admit, it’s a toxic mentality.

People who wish that one day someone they dislike will get their butt kicked hold grudges. And grudges are like army backpacks that weigh a ton. Imagine carrying this around with you all the time.

People with this mentally are fixated on the wrongs instead of what could go right. It robs them from seeing the beauty in others.

  1. “Wala Akong Magagawa”

This thinking is another self-defeating mentality. It reeks of powerlessness.   The reality is almost everyone can do something about their circumstance. If you don’t believe me, just look at all the successful people around you. It’s a matter of willingness to do something.

It frustrates me when I hear Filipinos say this.   They’ve forgotten how talented they are. They’ve given up control and responsibility for what goes on around them.

In my opinion, saying “wala akong magagawa” is an excuse. It’s an easy way out that lets a person dismiss his responsibility to face his situation.

  1. “Mas Matanda sa Akin”

At some point, we all become adults. But the Filipino culture has this invisible ceiling on age. If someone is older than you, there is this expectation that you should give them more respect. If it’s an older Filipino, you’re expected to abide by their advice.

While I believe in giving respect, the mentally of “mas matanda sa akin” discourages critical thinking. I don’t know how many times I’ve run into issues with older Filipinos for questioning their thinking. Somehow age is seen as proof of wisdom, and that challenging the thought of an older Filipino is disrespectful.

Filipinos who surrender to this mentality become victims of flawed decisions. Their ability to think critically has not developed. They lack the confidence needed to speak critically but respectfully. They make good followers but have difficulty leading people who can think for themselves. This mentally creates passive followers and creates a “dictatorship” mentally among older Filipinos towards younger people.

  1. “Nahihiya Ako”

Filipinos who say this show lack of confidence in themselves. Growing up, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this from my “barkadas” who just recently immigrated. To this day it bothers me when I see someone with this mentality.   People who say this would rather protect their ego and self-image than ask for something they need.

A person with this mentality restricts his ability to move forward, excel, or even become successful in life.

The Master once said, “Ask, and ye shall receive.”   If you want to be successful and make it big in life, abandon this mentality. As the saying goes, “You can’t feed five thousand if you’re too shy to ask for two fishes and five loaves of bread.”



Abel Pagaling is a co-founder of FCM.

He is a manager, an entrepreneur, a writer, a community servant, and a motivational speaker. His passion is personal development and leadership.





#Filipino Canadian Magazine #filcanmagazine #FCM magazine

5 Comments on Five Toxic Filipino Mindset

  1. You hit the nail right on its head with this article. Keep up the good work, ‘Nong! (Parang kelan lang karga2 kita. I am proud of you!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.