What the Filipina wife thinks:
Filipinas usually make friends easily. They are warm and hospitable. They smile a lot, which makes it easier for strangers or foreigners to feel at ease with them. They can easily strike up a conversation with the person seated next to them, for example. Filipinas can communicate with people of other nations with ease because the majority of the population can fluently converse in English.
When meeting a Filipina for the first time, and you want to make a good impression, maintain a low profile, be friendly without being “artificial” and show a genuine interest in the culture. Do not flaunt your wealth (jewellery and other expensive looking personal belongings and cash). Avoid wearing immodest or revealing clothing, especially in Muslim-dominated areas where there is a clear standard for appropriate attire.
Filipinas have a knack for humour. They can always find something to laugh about. They even love to craft funny anecdotes about socio-economic-political situations and adversaries in life. But it is not appropriate for a foreigner to comment on the political situation nor discuss about religion. With regard to socio-cultural conflicts and issues, just listen during discussions and do not take sides. Good discussion topics include: family (Filipinos love to talk about their families), where you are from and the reason why you are in the Philippines (explain explicitly and clearly your organization’s aim.
Filipinas are very family-oriented, so are always interested in your own family and where you are from. Many Filipinas have family, relatives and friends working and or settled overseas and are interested—even anxious—to make (casual) linkages between their own overseas family and relatives with your family or friends, a brief discussion of your work and task is acceptable, but there is often reluctance to “get down to business” too quickly. They would like to get to “know” you first. It is often best to let your host to set the agenda or at least the initial timetable for work.
Filipinas are extremely social and hospitable; they also like to eat and drink often. You are likely to be offered a drink (coffee, soft drink, juice or water) and a snack (biscuit cake etc.) almost immediately on first meeting. It is socially wise to accept the offer; at least of the coffee or soft drink. If you are the host you should also be prepared to offer and serve a coffee/soft drink and snack. If invited to a family or other social occasion it is Filipino practice to bring along a small gift for the host and/or hostess, typically a cake or other small gift of very modest value.
Many Filipinas are uneasy about the Muslim minority communities in Mindanao and mainstream Malay communities often have equivocal attitudes toward indigenous minorities. While most Filipinos are Catholics and are openly religiously oriented, even in the work place, there are substantial minority religious groups. Discussion of religious issues, views and affiliation should be deferred for later conversations, unless specifically brought up.
There is wide spread frustration about corruption in both public and private sectors and the inability of government to address the issues. Corruption is politically sensitive and highly charged. Discussion should be avoided unless it affects one’s business directly.
Filipinas really enjoy humour and love to tell jokes in social settings, but less so in the context of business. Humour may be self-deprecating, often relies on puns, but is rarely dry or cynical. Irony is often not understood or is misinterpreted.