Personal Branding Across Cultures Blogathon – Day 18 / Janet Brent
I am a multicultural third culture kid, having been born in the Philippines and raised in the United States for 22+ years, well past college and my early career. Since then, I’ve been living 3 years in the Philippines to build up my online design business and I’ve learned a thing or two about personal branding since reading “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin for college. Much less, in the lens of a different culture.
My general perception of personal branding in the Philippines is that it’s not very well received in the mainstream. Many people still have worker drone mentality, and don’t really take the effort to establish their own brand.
Philippine culture is very community and family oriented. You’re expected to stick within the unit and contribute for the overall good of the family. It’s your “duty”. Some might even think of having children as an “investment” in their later years; why have retirement when your family (children) can take care of you? This attitude, coupled by the rote learning system which is prevalent in their education, adds up to a group of people who simply don’t think about how to stand out. Instead, they are being encouraged to stay within the family, and thus wouldn’t have any reason to have a “personal brand” because they are taken care of.
“As long as they have a stable source of income, it’s ok,” Robbie, a freelance illustrator, designer, and blogger noted.
Having a rich social life and family is more important than building a career and personal branding hasn’t caught on.
As a people, Filipinos are very good at copying others. Tons of cover bands without original music, TV shows based on popular reality shows in the US, and other pop culture make it clear that for as much natural creativity that Filipinos possess, they use their efforts towards copying others rather than original or ethnically cultural ideas.
Another major challenge is the infamous “crab mentality” of Filipinos. Out of jealousy or insecurity, success is often looked down upon as being elite and snobbish. Rather than helping each other as a whole, Filipinos will often tear each other down, which leads to their inevitable demise and keeps them stuck in victimized thinking rather than solutions-based thinking.
When Ferdinand Magellan crossed the Philippines in 1521 in the hopes of conquest, he was faced with his untimely death under the hands and sword of Lapu-Lapu, Philippines’ first national hero. Many have said his technique was the first form of Arnis, or a weapon-based Filipino Martial Arts. Yet today, Filipino Martial Arts in the Philippines is often considered a “poor man’s” art. Lapu-Lapu is branded as a National Hero and warrior, and yet his very own techniques are lost in the hustle and bustle of the Philippines trying to be westernized. While Filipino Martial Arts thrives in the West, and is even one of the top choice choreographers for Hollywood action films (most notably in the Bourne Trilogy, and Book of Eli), and training for the U.S. Army and Russian special forces, it is still bottom rung to the more popularized Tae Kwon Do and karate in the Philippines itself.
The disregard for ones own culture and hypocritical pride yet self-disempowerment suggests a culture that is lost and confused for its own identity. Personal branding is a way out of this quagmire; a way to take back control.
It is entirely possible for the Philippines to remain a community oriented society and still embrace individualized personal branding. My belief is that it will only help family, community and country ten-fold because of the vast earning potential when embracing personal branding rather than being limited to a low paying monthly salary. Personal branding helps you become an expert in your chosen field or interest.
All is not lost. Younger generations who are more tech savvy are starting to catch on. Filipinos should embrace the 21st century in order to empower themselves. Pinoy travel blogging are noted arenas where personal branding has excelled.
Take Journeying James or We Are Sole Sisters, both popular Pinoy travel bloggers who have leveraged their personalities and travel experiences into a successful brand that has garnered local media attention, and entrepreneurial ventures.
Or other travel tourism enthusiasts like Raf Dionisio who co-built Circle Hostel, a low-budget surfer’s destination to promote local eco-tourism and provide jobs for the local community.
Raf’s passion for his Filipino roots shows in the type of community he has helped build at the Circle Hostel, whose tagline is “There are No Strangers”. His personal brand as a surf and travel enthusiast has helped him to connect with other likeminded people who eventually lead him to co-found Circle Hostel and other adventurous pursuits.
An empowered people starts with an empowered personal brand. Know thyself.