Doing Business in The Philippines
In the Philippines it is best to deal with people face to face in an agreeable environment.
For Western businessmen time is money and want to get things done fast, on the other hand Filipinos speak about friends and family, share a few jokes and chitchat a bit before getting down to business. Filipino business culture is about making friends and creating personal relations. Doing business in the Philippines is a blend of the Eastern and Western.
Use a Local Businessman to Move Fast
It is best to get an intermediary who already knows the persons you would like to meet to set your appointments and make an introduction for you. This is especially true in government offices. Mid-morning and afternoon meetings are the preference and always confirm your meeting the day before. Be flexible, on meeting times if a meeting is scheduled for 9am don't expect everyone to be there before 9:20 or later.
Once the introductions and small talk are over, the meeting will center on the business agenda. Most probably the first meeting will not give any specific results, though if there is an interest in your business proposal a second meeting will be set. Contracts take a lot longer time to finalize than in the west.
Philippines Business Etiquette
Businessmen in the Philippines tend to avoid direct confrontation. It is extremely important that you never cause a potential Filipino business partner “loss of face. In a business conversation a “yes” can mean many things depending on its delivery. A polite yes with a smile may mean no this is a way to avoid confrontation.
When addressing someone always use their titles: Attorney, Doctor, Director, Secretary, Under Secretary, General.
It is usual to exchange business cards in the Philippines and done quite informally compared to most other Asian cultures. When a Filipino contact gives you a personal mobile or home phone number which is not on his business card, this is usually a good sign that he would like you to give him a call and wants to further the relationship.
Foreign businessmen should avoid dealing personally if possible with the local bureaucracy. Have a competent member of the staff of your Philippine registered company to navigate though the maze of permits, make sure he is adept at smiling and handing out small tokens of appreciation to ensure that your business dealings do not suffer delays.