Business Culture of the Philippines

How to do Business in The Philippines

In the Philippines it is better to deal with people face to face in an agreeable environment.
For Western businessmen time is money and they want to get things done fast, on the other hand Filipinos speak about friends and family, share a few jokes and chitchat a bit before getting down to business. Filipino business culture is about making friends and creating personal relations. Doing business in the Philippines is a blend of the Eastern and Western. Breakfast meetings are popular.

Get the Assistance of a Local Businessman to Move Fast

It is best to get an intermediary who already knows the persons you would like to meet to set your appointments and make an introduction for you. This is especially true in government offices. Mid-morning and afternoon meetings are the preference and always confirm your meeting the day before. Be flexible, on meeting times if a meeting is scheduled for 9am don’t expect everyone to be there before 9:20 or later.

Once everyone has introduced themselves and small talk are over, the meeting will concentrate on the business agenda. There is a high probably that the first meeting will not give any specific results, though if there is an interest in your business proposal a second meeting will be set up. Contracts require more time to be finalized than in the west.

Philippines Business Etiquette Not Fully Eastern or Not Western

Businessmen in the Philippines tend to keep away from direct confrontation. It is essential that you never cause a potential Filipino business partner “loss of face. In a business conversation a “yes” can mean many things depending on its delivery. A polite yes with a smile may mean no this is a way to avoid confrontation.

When addressing someone always use their titles: Attorney, Doctor, Director, Secretary, Under Secretary, General.

It is usual to exchange business cards in the Philippines and done quite informally compared to most other Asian cultures. When a Filipino contact gives you a personal mobile or home phone number which is not on his business card, this is typically a good sign that he would like you to give him a call and wants to further the relationship.

Philippine Bureaucracy and Red Tape

Foreign businessmen should avoid dealing personally if possible with the local bureaucracy. Have a competent member of the staff of your Philippine registered company or a business consultant navigate though the maze of permits for you, make sure he is skilled at smiling and handing out small tokens of appreciation to ensure that your business dealings do not suffer delays.

English in Business

English is the official business language, so most foreign businessmen will not find it difficult to strike up a conversation. Almost all correspondence, contracts, and other documents are written in English. Among Filipinos, however, it is common to hear “Taglish” (a combination of Tagalog, a regional dialect from which the Filipino language is largely based, and English, or shifting back and forth between the two languages) during informal conversations. Body language and hand gestures (e.g., a raised eyebrow, a faint smile, a scratch in the head) are also integral to how Filipinos express themselves. Texting, or sending short messages through mobile phones, has now become a choice medium.