Getting by With a Smile

Liezel Porras
April 1, 2022

Besides being known for our hospitality, we are also known for our optimism and cheery demeanor no matter what the situation is. Whether it is enduring typhoons or sitting through seemingly endless traffic, we always find a reason to smile.

Because of our positive outlook on life, Filipinos believe that no matter what happens, the light will shine again even after the darkest of times.

Relationships: Our Treasured Gifts

Relationships or any connection we form and nurture, serve as the foundation for our success and happiness. It’s in how we share our achievements with others to inspire, motivate, and encourage them to be better. It’s letting our colleagues know about the significance of their work and the impact it has. For a lot of Filipinos, it’s all about the small things, like celebrating a friend’s success by going out to dinner or singing karaoke with another who is going through a difficult time. Even passing by a friend on the street can result in hours-long catching up, as small talk is never small for us. It can be the foundation upon which some big relationships are built. And those are priceless gifts.

Happiness in Giving More

Filipinos are naturally hospitable, so it comes as no surprise that we are generous. Even when we don’t have much, we always share with those around us.

It’s not uncommon to see grandparents dig deep into their pockets to give money to their grandchildren, for friends to pay for each other’s fares or meals, or for strangers to get invited to weddings or parties to share the fun. Sharing is something that comes naturally to us and is what we base our values around.

Pasalubong, or welcome gifts, are also a common Filipino tradition that allows us to express generosity. Usually, travelers or parents working abroad will bring gifts to their family, friends, and coworkers. For many Filipinos, the anticipation of receiving a gift from a parent returning home after being away is often a cherished childhood memory.

Generosity is simply ingrained in our culture and our value system. And we are happiest when we give more.

Behind Every Mask, There’s a Smile

Since the pandemic began, many people have struggled to keep their spirits up and smile out into the world. In times of crisis, unity among Filipinos reigns supreme because there’s strength in the community. Even those who don’t have much to begin with come together to help those in need. We become each other’s beacon to see the silver lining amid adversity.

Smiling is more than just a way for us to show our joy. We smile to express gratitude, friendship, compassion, empathy, or safety—a nonverbal supplement to what words alone cannot express.

Even though our smiles had to hide behind our masks, that didn’t stop us from being compassionate and kind towards others. We still uphold the same values and have just learned to express them in different ways.


Liezel is a senior writer at Xillium, holding a degree in literature. Prior to joining the company, she spent six years mentoring foreign Asian students to improve their English communication skills in a web-based education. Her academic involvement included developing and revising instructional materials and content. Liezel's career in distance learning has honed her skills in communication, management, research, and technology.

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