It is a constant challenge for me as an entrepreneur who hires from the local community to resolve the disparity in values between management and our employees. Every weekend, I help my parents run their sustainable heritage destination in San Pablo, Laguna, and every weekend, I am faced with the many human resource issues that confront our business.
When we opened in 2004, recruitment was always a challenge because of the location of the restaurant. Situated in Barangay Santa Cruz “Putol” (population: 2365, as of May 2010), we are several kilometers from San Pablo City proper. We realized early on that acquiring experienced personnel from the immediate area would not be an option, and proceeded to develop necessary skills in our new hires by following these HR objectives: 1) To professionalize service operations by incorporating the positive Filipino values of hospitality, courtesy, and respect for family and tradition into international service standards. 2) To create an inspiring and empowering work environment for our employees for the purpose of improving their quality of life, with the aspiration of achieving goal congruence within the organization.
Easier said than done
I decided to turn to the late great anthropologist and guru on Filipino values, F. Landa Jocano, for guidance. The problem, he says, is that Filipinos have a tendency to hate their own kind, which is typically caused by colonial mentality. We tend to see our indigenous traits as negative, corrupt, uncouth and irrational, all of which embody a conventional belief system as seen from the perspective of foreigners. This self-loathing only causes us to further lose touch with our true nature, which is, in fact, rife with positive Filipino values.
In his seminal work, Filipino Value System: A Cultural Definition (1997), Landa Jocano defined values as: “standards of excellence; ideas of the desirable, characteristics of the individual or the group, which people use to make decisions and guide their actions, and; ideals people want to achieve” (page 19). In fact, he firmly asserted that we must endeavor to re-understand our values through romancing our culture, and we can do this in two ways:
Going back to basics
He goes on to point out that these norms are intrinsic in Filipinos in that as we grow up, we learn them in our homes from our elders, and in our community from various reference groups. Therefore, these values lie deep in our subconscious, and can be used to discern right from wrong behavior in the work place by differentiating magandang asal (good behavior) from masamang asal (bad behavior), respectively.
When hiring from the surrounding community, one must become more sensitive to our indigenous values. The new challenge is to relearn these values so that these can be properly applied in the customer service culture of the business. At the end of the day, Landa Jocano asks why in the first place would we desire to practice values that we know would not be true, good, and beautiful? “Desirability is culture-bound. It is one of the mechanisms by which society enables its members to share common standards so that they can interact without much conflict—so that they can order their lives within the realm of personal and community experiences.”
Paz Esperanza Tesoro-Poblador is a faculty member of the Marketing Management Department of De La Salle University’s Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. She is currently taking her Doctorate in Business Administration. Her fields of interest are sustainable development, entrepreneurship, and digital marketing. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.
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