3 Toxic Filipino Behaviors Across Generations

A woman cringing at toxic Filipino behaviors.

In every culture, certain behaviors are passed down through generations, shaping the way we interact with one another and perceive the world around us. While some of these practices are harmless or even beneficial, others may be toxic and negatively impact our relationships and personal growth. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at three toxic Filipino behaviors that have persisted across generations, affecting Filipinos of all ages.

Toxic Filipino Culture

Firstly, we’ll explore the seemingly innocuous yet potentially harmful practice of greeting relatives with comments on their weight, such as “You gained weight?” or “You lost weight?” Although this may seem like a simple observation, it can have lasting effects on an individual’s self-esteem and body image.

Next, we’ll delve into the habit of nitpicking on choices, whether it’s about career paths, romantic partners, or even what someone chooses to wear. This behavior can create a culture of judgment and limit one’s ability to make independent decisions.

Finally, we will discuss the widespread craving for status symbols in Filipino society. This drive to showcase wealth and success often leads to a never-ending cycle of consumerism and can hinder genuine connections with others.

By shedding light on these toxic Filipino behaviors, we hope to encourage self-reflection and promote positive change across generations. Join us as we uncover the impact of these practices on toxic Filipino culture and explore ways to break the cycle for a healthier, more harmonious society.

Shall we start?

[1] Toxic Filipino Culture of Greeting Relatives or Friends with: “You gained weight?” or “You lost weight?”

Two women crippled by society's standards. It's a toxic Filipino culture of greeting someone by commenting on their weight.
A woman worried about her weight. It's a toxic Filipino culture of greeting someone by commenting on their weight.

In my most honest opinion, this is one of the most toxic Filipino trait that I’ve observed in most cases. Aside from experiencing it first-hand, I’ve seen other people do this to others. It’s really bothering because I know most of us were taught about how to interact and show respect, but these days, I sense that it’s flown out of their minds.

Generally, older relatives like your aunts and uncles would greet you by commenting on your weight without asking if how are you doing in life. It seemingly has been one of the most notorious practices that the members of previous generations have been doing. I’m honestly disappointed that some of my relatives do this. During this year’s Holy Week, I’ve been shot this question roughly three times in the same day. Pretty awesome, right?

Nevertheless, I never faltered to call them out, even though they’re much older than me. If not calling them out, I would respond to them by telling them that I don’t starve myself. I don’t understand why most people think that it’s “nice” to greet someone they’ve never seen for a long time with a remark about their weight. These people don’t even know if that person is struggling or sick (e.g., PCOS), and they just comment on your weight without looking at themselves in the mirror.

What’s more abysmal about this is that some of those relatives are somehow religious. I can’t fathom how they are religious but fail to practice empathy. Is it a lack of morality or something else? It makes me wonder how they transformed or morphed into these toxic people sputtering these audacious comments without looking at themselves in the mirror.

It’s as if that they’re enabling and normalizing this toxic trait to the point that young kids are exposed to this wrongdoing. How could some religious people end up becoming so toxic like that? I don’t even remember that Jesus said that it’s a nice thing to do. Right?

So, how to fight this toxic Filipino culture?

In my vast experience battling this toxic trait, I’ve learned from my aunt one good response to the religious relatives who do this. She said, respond to them withAnd also with you,” which is a response in the Holy Mass. I admit that was witty of my aunt to think of that response.

Another clap back that I’ve been saying is: “At least I have the resources to take care or feed myself.” Not only this show that you are independent and able to take care of yourselves, but at least, you’re telling them that I’m not taking anybody else’s money to feed myself. Occasionally, they try to rebut with “Nevertheless,” but they never come up with a good clap back to that.

One of my friends told me this burn response, “So?” I think saying that will just leave their jaws open, and an insect might just fly into their mouths.

[2] Toxic Filipino Culture of Nitpicking on Choices

Toxic Filipino culture of questioning every choice you make.

Another case that I don’t understand with the previous generations or with other people is that they criticize your choices no matter what. It’s as if we are not entitled to decide which path to take for ourselves. It got me thinking, it’s not them who’s living this life — it’s us. Why do they need to comment on that?

I remember once, I was wearing comfortable clothes since I was flying back home. Then, when I went to a relative’s house with my family, they commented on my clothes. I was wearing a tank top and a jumpsuit. Someone said that I’m showing too much cleavage. I was like, what the actual f. Would you wear something so uncomfortable when traveling? Who does that?

Honestly, my mom got offended by that remark. She told me when we got home, and I told her that it didn’t affect me she thought it would, and she should just ignore it. Plus, I think people who comment like that lack the confidence to wear clothes that others are wearing. Or, maybe, they weren’t loved by their families altogether.

Overcoming this toxic Filipino culture

I believe that everyone must have the right to express themselves how they please. No one should prevent them from living their best lives, right?

It’s okay to share your thoughts, but please — ensure that you’re giving constructive criticism and not making the people you talk to, feel so small. Do this by remembering that the person you’re talking to has feelings. Be empathetic and think before you speak.

It would be nice if you thought you’re at the receiving end of your remark. Think of how you’ll feel when someone does that to you.

[3] Toxic Filipino culture of craving status symbols or undermining others because of their roots

Another item in this list of toxic Filipino culture would be looking down at people because of their initial status symbol. Some Filipinos undermine someone because of how they were brought up. It’s as if they won’t evolve or progress in life. If you’re born into a family who’s not well-off, some Filipino families factor that in your life choices.

I’m uncertain if this is part of being colonized by Spaniards all those centuries ago. But, it’s the 21st century already. People should be given a chance to evolve and embrace change. I think, it’s also how most people are portrayed in TV series in the country.

Filipinos are big on their TV series and love the cliché of a happy ending. So, they’ll write stories of people coming from the working class, and let them face different atrocities in life for redemption. Some are big on revenge, but that’s how it is in the series.

In real life, some people want valuable things to show that they’re doing better in life. I remember this quote that resonates with that.

Don’t go broke looking rich.


It is indeed one of the toxic Filipino behaviors that is very much visible even up to date. Some would succumb to peer pressure or to the toxic environment that they need to look like they’re doing well even though they aren’t. I don’t understand, why would you let yourself go through that? Sacrificing your quality of life and your well-being, so people will see a curated version of you.

How to debunk this?

My most honest thoughts will leave me giving you a piece of my mind. I think this list will help you live your most authentic life.

  • Create stronger boundaries. Not only it will help you remain sane, it will also save you money. You don’t need to live according to somebody else’s standards. Live according to how you want your life be.
  • Things will be just objects you can’t bring when you die.
  • Try exploring of living purposefully, and not a curated life because of what you see on social media.

Ensuring your sanity is still better than succumbing to these toxic Filipino behaviors that have been present throughout different generations.

Overcoming toxic Filipino behaviors

It’s tough at first because I think most of us were raised in that kind of environment. You’re fortunate if you grew up in an environment without all of these. Believe me, there are still more toxic Filipino behaviors that are present today that still needs debunking.

Most of us strive to beat the stigma and these toxic Filipino behaviors. My friends who have kids strive to raise their children according to their accords. They let them voice out their thoughts with every ounce of respect they have. I applaud those friends of mine, as they didn’t take away the one thing that all kids have, honesty.

The toxic Filipino culture is getting called out slowly as more and more people share their stories. They become more authentic without letting what they see on social media get to them. Moreover, that’s another side of social media as far my honest thoughts are concerned.

Remember, you’re living your life and not theirs. As the younger generation would say, stay woke and fight the good fight. It may take a lot of courage to go out of your comfort zone and start speaking up. Let’s continue to encourage everyone to overcome these behaviors and educate them.

Character development is still, by far, the most important thing in a person. If you let yourself get stuck with the societal standards, ask yourself. Who are you living for? Will you sleep peacefully at night, knowing you may probably be lying to yourself all this time?

I thought of writing this as a newsletter, but if you like more of my unfiltered thoughts — subscribe to my Substack!

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