The Jealous Filipino

A dictionary definition of the word “jealousy” is the “mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims.” In the American Heritage Dictionary, jealousy means “close vigilance”; in Webster’s Revised Unabridged, it is an “earnest concern or solicitude.”

Tie all these together and what do you have? An oft-stereotyped behaviour in Filipino relationships.


I say it not because I believe it, but because I’ve heard it, countless times, from university sociologists and from Westerners with Filipina wives and girlfriends (or boyfriends). Apparently, Filipinos are very hot-blooded.

You know that piercing look. You have seen that grit of the teeth. You hear that strain or that quiet rage in a voice that says, “Everything is okay,” especially when, to the person who utters it, something is, in fact, not okay.

“In no other country,” a British friend observed, “have I witnessed people going such great lengths to confirm their jealous suspicions: checking a lover’s cell phone on the sly, sifting through the other’s private E-mail.”

As a Filipino, I’d be none the more patriotic for saying this, but there’s something in my friend’s observation, I suppose, which rings painfully true. Just read the papers. On the front page, players in the political arena are bringing each other down (“fear of rivalry”), and officials are matched against others in fierce power struggles. In the showbiz and entertainment section, celebrity romances are sensationalised by introducing infidelity rumours: break up, make up, break up again. In the comics section, caricatures of various Filipino characters depict the dark comedy of love triangles and other infidelities. And stories written by metro beat writers often report a homicide in this barangay (the smallest administrative division in the Philippines) and that, carried out by an otherwise good-natured husband in a drunken fit of jealousy. Wives, too; one of the craziest headlines I’ve ever read was about a woman who castrated her philandering partner. (The thing eventually had to be sewn back to place.)


This is not to say that Filipinos are inherently murderous monogamists. It’s just that most are disposed to – well, express “earnest concern.”

Whether suspicions are warranted or unfounded is sometimes beside the point. Jealousy has its case-by-case origins, but here’s another important question to ponder: does it have a locale? Is it a weakness of the Filipino character? (Or – gasp – a strength?)

A closer look at the cultural makeup of the Philippines could shed some light. In a country that is predominantly Roman Catholic (majority of the 94-million-strong Philippine population have been baptized in a Catholic church) and with a soap opera culture that glamourises love forevermore, people here have learned to find security in faith and loyalty – and to fear the most minor departure from this norm. In a close-knit setting that emphasizes extended families, unconditional devotion to parents, and happy domesticity, many Filipinos nurture a great anxiety over abandonment. And in a tradition where love may exist without jealousy but rarely the other way around, the people here live to love the best way – perhaps the only way – they know how.

So don’t be surprised if you happen to have a Pinay sweetheart who cares for you hotly, uneasily, vigilantly. Instead be kind and thankful. In the dictionary of the Filipino, jealousy is the most twisted – and perhaps truest – form of flattery.

By a Filipino author


Jeff is registered migration agent who has been helping couples with visas to Australia ... Jeff is the owner / operator of Down Under Visa. If you would like to SUBSCRIBE, please click HERE.

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6 comments on “The Jealous Filipino
  1. Reggie says:

    As a foreigner with a good share of relationship experience with women from other cultures, I must first say my Filipina fiancee is the sweetest, most devoted woman I have ever been with. She is beautiful, and she is relatively young compared to me (she’s 31 and I am 62).

    We don’t have any problems, but the jealousy thing does rear it’s head at least once a week. “Do you really love me?”, “That woman is much skinnier than me. That’s your weakness”, “Are you going to leave me”, etc. are all common lead ins to a longer conversation reassuring my lady that she is the only woman of my life. When I moved to the PI, I did so to marry her. I gave up friends, family, a teaching job and all my possessions to be with her, and I’m not sure, other than daily closeness and attention what more I can give to show I really adore her and just her.

    Like most things in life that challenge us, sometimes these jealousy incidents come when I’m mellow, and sometimes they come when I’m tired and have heard the jealousy thing one time too many. I try not to complain, because my girl is so terrific, but sometimes it’s smothering, and I wish she would tone it back a little, as it makes me feel uncomfortable to always be dealing with it.

    • Firechef says:

      It’s called insecurity, most young women have that affliction and eventually they get over it. Been there also, asawa ko is 38 now, met her at 32 and she grew out of it. More important things to do like raising our 3 teenagers, no time for jealousy, hahahah!

  2. christopher says:

    I know for a fact Filipina women are insanely jealous and can turn into a stone cold killer. I am not even exaggerating! She may be youthful,attractive and loyal all of those things but if you break her heart she may go to the extreme so be mindful of what you are getting yourself into. She is not playing games with you she is serious about her marriage and her family so don’t do ANYTHING to jeopardize that. These women are from some of the roughest living areas on the planet, true poverty and struggle often breeds very strong and competitive women.

  3. jig says:

    i must say that this is true. and yes, i am a filipina, but i grew up reading european books so i think differently from my ancestors

  4. JJ says:

    Hi, thinking about moving to Dapa, Dapa, Surigao del Norte area. Need a job there as well and met someone. I think these are some amazing tips and what to look our for and things. My girl to is very Jealous and i give her the insurance all is good. Shes a good woman thus far. any other helpful hints and job tips, i would happy to know.

  5. Matt says:

    Same here. Filipinas get very jealous. They suspect everyone. There is not cure for it but constant love