Colonial Legacies: Spanish, American, and Japanese Influences on Filipino Culture and the Modern Employee

The Philippines has a rich and diverse history marked by periods of colonization by foreign powers, including Spain, the United States, and Japan. Each of these colonizers left lasting legacies on Filipino culture, shaping the nation's identity and influencing the characteristics of the modern Filipino employee. This article delves into the Spanish, American, and Japanese influences on Filipino culture and examines their impact on the Filipino workforce today, particularly in global industries such as business process outsourcing (BPO).

Spanish Influence:

The Spanish colonization of the Philippines lasted for over 300 years, leaving an indelible mark on the nation's culture. Key aspects of Spanish influence on Filipino culture include:

  1. Religion: The introduction of Christianity, specifically Roman Catholicism, has become a cornerstone of Filipino culture. The predominantly Catholic faith influences many aspects of Filipino life, from personal values to community celebrations.
  1. Language: Spanish colonization also introduced the Spanish language, which has influenced the Filipino language and is still evident in many Filipino surnames, place names, and everyday vocabulary.
  1. Social Structure: Spanish colonization introduced a hierarchical social structure, with European elites at the top and indigenous populations at the bottom. This historical social hierarchy continues to impact Filipino society and the workplace, with an emphasis on respect for authority and deference to superiors.

American Influence:

Following the Spanish-American War, the Philippines became a colony of the United States. Key aspects of American influence on Filipino culture include:

  1. Education: The United States implemented a public education system that used English as the medium of instruction. This widespread English education has made the Philippines one of the largest English-speaking countries in Asia, with a highly bilingual workforce.
  1. Democratic Institutions: The American occupation introduced democratic ideals and institutions, shaping the political landscape of the Philippines and instilling values such as equality and individual rights.
  1. Pop Culture: American pop culture has had a significant impact on Filipino society, with widespread consumption of American movies, music, and other media. This familiarity with American culture makes Filipino employees highly adaptable in international work environments.

Japanese Influence:

Although Japan's occupation of the Philippines during World War II was brief in comparison to the Spanish and American colonization periods, it still left a lasting impact on Filipino culture. Key aspects of Japanese influence on Filipino culture include:

  1. Discipline and Work Ethic: Japanese culture emphasizes discipline, hard work, and perseverance. While the Japanese occupation was marked by violence and hardship, some elements of Japanese work ethic have been absorbed into Filipino culture, contributing to the strong work ethic observed in the Filipino workforce today.
  1. Appreciation for Art and Aesthetics: The Japanese occupation also exposed Filipinos to Japanese art and aesthetics, fostering an appreciation for craftsmanship and attention to detail. This influence can be seen in Filipino employees' dedication to delivering high-quality work.

Impact on the Modern Filipino Employee:

The colonial legacies of Spain, the United States, and Japan have left lasting impressions on Filipino culture, shaping the modern Filipino employee in various ways. Aspects such as strong work ethic, adaptability, bilingualism, and respect for authority can be traced back to the nation's colonial history. These traits have contributed to the success of Filipino employees in global industries such as BPO, where their unique blend of skills and cultural experiences make them valuable assets in international work environments.


By understanding and appreciating these historical influences, businesses can better harness the strengths of the Filipino workforce and foster successful cross-cultural collaborations.

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