Why do Filipinos feel embarrassed when asking someone to sign a contract?

Weekly Show Episodes Business Law 14 min read , October 1, 2021

I want to talk about something that's wrong with our culture and that's the "hiya" factor, especially if it gets in the way of legal contracts and matters. Now I want you to do an exercise with me. Close your eyes and imagine for a moment, your best friend is standing in front of you and your best friend is asking for your financial help. You see that the need is true and genuine so you're okay with helping. Now I want you to imagine saying to your best friend that you will draft a contract for them to sign. Check how you feel. Next, I want you to imagine your best friend's face as you hold the pen, give it to him, and ask him to sign the document. Check how you feel.

Stop So that's the end of the exercise. Open your eyes. Now I want you to do a self-check. Be honest. What thoughts were circling in your head? How did you feel when I said: "Draft a contract" for your best friend? Did you cringe when I said, "Ask them to sign"? Did you feel embarrassed or get concerned as to what they would think about you. These are signs that you have an unsupportive mindset in your head about legal documents. So let's talk about how they hold you down and what to do instead.

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Why feel embarrassed?

Welcome to Legal Guide Philippines, where we simplify the law to help you make better choices. I'm Atty. Ramon Ramirez and I are with my partner Atty. Erwin Zagala. So today we're talking about legal documents attorney. So let's go back to our scenario. A friend is asking for money for debt but you realize there's hesitancy in creating a legal document for it and asking them to sign it. So why is that Atty? Erwin? Well, I can see three reasons why Filipinos in particular, feel this way. Are you interested to find out? Yes, absolutely. Okay, the first reason why you are ashamed to ask them to sign, you feel it shows a lack of trust.

Yes. If you ask them to sign something, you're afraid that they're going to say, "Don't you trust me?" "Do you not have any faith in me?" "You think I won't pay that?" Yes. Or even more guilt-inducing, "My word isn't good enough for you?" "And we've been friends for so long. Don't you remember when you were the one in need?" Yeah, I can relate.The second reason is that you feel it's a hassle. "Legal documents? Drafting of documents?" "I don't know how to do that. We'll have to look for an attorney. I can't even do Affidavit of loss, what more for these kinds of contracts?" After the papers are made, we have to consider notarization, we have to Xerox it. Even photocopying becomes an issue, right? But in our heads, it is a hassle.

And then the third reason is that you feel it's too formal for friends. For example, your best friend, you ask them, "Please sign." What does the person think? "Aren't we close enough? Does it have to be this way?" "You don't trust me?" "What is this? An office?" Yes. Or, "Brother, it's me, do you not know me? Again, when you were the one in need I was there... now why don't you trust me?" Now, those three beliefs are prevalent in our culture. Now, when it comes to beliefs, our stand is we don't judge whether it's right or wrong. Maybe you're correct to believe in that.

There may be a point. However, we would like to take a different stance. We would rather judge whether a belief is helpful to us or not. So those three beliefs, Atty. Ramon, let's give out some examples where in real life it appears as unsupportive. In case there are no papers because you were too shy to sign. Sometimes there's a conflict as to the details. Yes. "How much is my debt?" That might be the case. Or, he cannot follow instructions. Because he might not know what is it that you're talking about. Or, he might have forgotten. Usually, when these two ingredients are present There is only 1 way this story ends... the friends will stop talking to each other. They end up Fighting will happen. Yes.

So those are some of the things that we've seen in our practice as a result of lack of documentation. Yes. So our invitation in this video is for you to be open to the possibility of seeing legal documents in another way. So I would like to suggest when you are asking other people to sign a legal document... Instead of seeing it as imposing on them or calling into question their integrity, try to see it as helping them. What do you mean by helping them, Atty Erwin? You're helping them by making it easy. It's like a song. You remembered something. It's a 90's song, make it easy on me. Let's talk about the first way you make it easy for them.

Make it easy to understand

Make it easy to understand. You make it easy to understand when you start writing things down because you start setting expectations. Okay, so these are our responsibilities here in the transactions. Expectations are set. And the effect is no "hiyaan" factor. We have nothing to be ashamed of because this is what we agreed on. And this calls to mind one of my favorite author's quotes from Stephen Covey. Seven Habits. Stephen says "Writing distills, crystallizes and clarifies thought." From my experience, that is very true.

When there's a legal transaction, once you start writing it down, it prompts you to think about the other aspects that you and the other party initially didn't consider. So the more that you can flesh out or come to an agreement on, the smoother the transaction will become. Let me give one example. How will the payment be made? Is it Gcash? Cash? Deposit? You might expect the payment in your bank account. While the other party is waiting for the payment at his home. He's thinking, "Why hasn't my friend arrived?" Why is he not asking for his money? Sometimes there is a conflict there. You can also consider the question of "when". Is it on your payday or the end of the month?

It just hasn't been discussed. The other is just waiting and thinking "The nerve of this person! He already got his salary yet he didn't arrange to pay me." When all along the other thought that he was supposed to pay at the end of the month. We see that in a lot of posts like, for example, he lent money and then he expected that he'll get paid next payday. Because there is no discussion about that, the person who has a debt, first bought a cellphone. So you'll find a lot of comments. All along the person had the money for the payment. Both of them understood differently. Another thing to consider is "who". Who is the one who'll pay? For example, I owe you some money, and then my understanding is that my wife will be the one who will pay. Because she owes me money.

It's like that, we haven't clarified it. You might receive a text saying, "Don't you have anything to say to me?" "Do you not remember anything you're supposed to be doing today?" I thought the one who will pay will be a different person. Because it was not clarified. Yes. It's possible to get confused with "what" the payment is. What will be the manner of payment? You assumed that money will be the manner of payment, right? The person has a shoe store, so when you get home There is a dozen boxes filled with shoes as payment. So it was not discussed properly. What the matter of payment will be? In what form should the payment be done. So that's the first way of making it easy. Make it easy to understand by writing it down.

Make it easy to follow

The second, make it easy to follow. When you have legal documents the benefit is you have integrated instructions to make them easy to follow. Right. Because the document is there. So it's scheduled here. When is the payment? This is the date, the amount. This is the exact amount, date, and how. Well, assuming you put it in your contract, so you should put that in your document. What's the positive side effect of this? The positive effect is there's no more need to ask a question or go back to the other party to clarify. The steps are there for you to use. So if you want to apply, you'll just read it, and then you're good to go.

There is no need for questions. Actually, it's already indicated there what happens if you can't pay on time. Maybe there are provisions, there's interest, possibly. Depends on what is written there. But it eliminates the need for excessive questions. We will stick to what we talked about. And I think the need for follow-up is also eliminated. Because the dates are already there that you should be paying.

Make it easy to avoid conflict

Then finally the third way you're helping is you make it easy to avoid conflict. This is my favorite. Why? Because you get a referee. Who is the referee Atty. Erwin? The paper. How does this work out in real life? This calls to mind my favorite quotes. You have another quote. Alright. Get ready. "The palest ink is better than the best memory." It's an ancient Chinese proverb. What is the meaning? Even if the ink is blurred or faded that's always better than simply relying on memory. Even if you're a bar passer, even a bar top notcher. I would still rely on written documents. Why? Memory, human memory, in particular, is by nature frail. It's frail. What happened today, give it six months, you might not be able to tell me in detail what happened then.

That's true, I agree with that. And the difficult thing is, people may remember things differently. Yes, there's no intention to deceive. It's merely "no, my recollection is right!" There is a conflict. Honestly, they just remembered differently. You remember, the other day, we were at 7/11 Yes. You ordered then you didn't have change so you asked for one hundred pesos. I think you were the one who owes me.

Do you see? We already have a conflict there for those kinds of things, especially for the smaller things. A week later, I ask "Bro, the one hundred that you owe me last week in 7/11, can I have it? I haven't withdrawn from the ATM yet." What can you answer? That's it, you were the one who owes me money. It is confusing. That's a cute example involving small amounts but it's not that cute when it's ten thousand, twenty thousand, or more. Now the paper serves as the referee because in case we remember differently, we can go back to the paper.

"Oh right, this is what we agreed upon." So that's how the paper serves as your referee. So I hope you guys were able to appreciate the three ways that you make it easy for the other party when you insist on legal documents. Nice. So thank you Atty. Erwin.


So Atty. Erwin just talked about how to view legal documents as not a hindrance or a show of doubt, but it's actually helping each other. It's helping the party that lent money and the party that borrowed money. At least in that example.

So it makes it easy how first it makes it easy for the parties involved to understand what we talked about. It's written so just refer to it. Next is basically to not only to understand but be able to follow a set or makes it easy to follow a set of instructions. Even if I want to comply, if I don't know what to do I won't be able to do it. It's already in the document.

And lastly, it makes it easy for the parties to avoid conflict. Because there is a referee. And that referee is the document. Is it the right attorney? Yes. Okay. Knowing that, why should you shy away from helping others and putting stuff in a legal document? And Atty. Ramon, we just chose debt because it's one of the most common transactions but I believe this applies to all kinds of legal transactions. Absolutely.

For example, rent We should put some sort of document to understand how much the rent is. Who will pay for the water, electricity bill? How about when something gets broken, who will fix it? It also applies to employment relationships. You might be shocked, there are a lot of employers who don't issue employment contracts. There should be something like that. It also applies to purchase orders and services. We have clients who don't have contracts.

That's a bit dangerous. Very difficult situation. It also applies donations, even, Atty. Erwin, in a lot of our negotiations, we have compromise agreements and settlements. Very important that it's laid out in the agreement. It also applies to deeds of sale. It's already being purchased but there's no paper. That's very important. I remembered another one. You're favorite... Special Power of Attorney (SPA) So that should be in a contract. So it applies to a whole host of legal transactions.

Additional Resources

For most of you, this video was more than enough. And if it makes your life easier then great. But there are some of you who will watch end up asking more questions, such as an attorney, what do you watch out for before you sign documents? Or, attorney, where can we get templates for everyday transactions? Or, attorney, what will happen if we have the documents notarized? If that's you, then I invite you to check out the book, "Notary not included" where we give a crash course when dealing with legal documents. We'll talk about the lawyer's secret to making good legal documents, the three biggest myths about legal documents, and the three rules we follow when drafting for clients.

Plus, we give you a simplified template set of the seven most requested documents that you can keep forever. Get the book now at info.legalguide.ph/notary today. Now to add to that, if you want us to tackle your question in our show, go to www.legalguide.ph and click the "Submit Topic" Button. Next, we'd like to know what's your biggest takeaway from today's video, so please write it down in the comments and let's talk about it. Lastly, if you feel we've earned a good rating, please give us a like and subscribe because it gives us feedback that we're doing a good job and it encourages us to do more videos.

One last thing, it's a good thing to examine your beliefs from time to time, especially if they affect your relationships with people that you care about. The next time you have a legal transaction, stop and think whether giving in shyness or "pakikisama" is supportive for you. After listening to this video, I'm hoping you choose differently and choose to document it to help yourself and the other person. So wasn't that simple?

Now go make better choices.