Filipino Philosophy is the attitude, worldview, and notion of the natural citizens of the Philippines towards the day-to-day experiences in life, religion, communication, survival, interrelationship with people and intra-relationship with his sakop or to oneself – the “I,” and the uplifting of one’s soul – the Filipino being. Filipinos are used to be stereotyped as the bamboo grass for it always sway with the wind. The Filipino people has gone through tough and rough times, good and bounty years, and yet they always stand as firm as it was on the day our ancestors fought Magellan.
Our own worldview explains why we stand all erect despite economic downfall, political crisis, natural calamities. One thing that is to be observed, everything revolves in relationships, in the sakop, in the upliftment of one’s soul. Justice for the Filipino people is the satisfaction of the needs of the self and his relations. These and more is the pattern of Filipinos which leads to the general behavior of the nation – the philosophy of the Filipinos.
It is the critical examination of the grounds for the fundamental beliefs of Filipino being as an individual and as a universal; likewise it is an analysis of the basic concepts employed in the expression of their worldview. Included in this study is the study of Filipino worldview from different tribal groups to mainland people and to the new generation of the modern times. Since it is a study and the Filipinos have a diversity of life as it has a seven thousand one hundred islands, there should also be different branches of Filipino Philosophy of which I categorize as:
(1) Ethnolinguistic-Tribal Philosophy where Bicolano, Cebuano, Tagalog, Ilocano Philosphies would fall under; (2) Filipino Philosophy of Religion;
(4) Animism and Practices of Filipinos; and
(5) other Filipino Phylosophies that Filipino scholars may add and institutionalize that is not or only partially influenced by the Western Philosophy and purely in the Filipino context.
Ethnolinguistic-Tribal Philosophy will further explain and discuss the main ideas and the worldviews of the linguistic groups in the country. Particulars bring about the general. Each particular small group philosophies combines into one distinct philosophy which is the Filipino Philosophy. What unites it or what is common among the philosophies? The self or the “I,” or that individual characteristic – sakop orientedness.
The Filipino is more others-centered than self-centered. Filipino basic personality is made up of Filipino beliefs and knowledge that are equated and related to various rituals and formal and informal education passed from generation to generation. The family contributes to and maintains the Filipino values and to the individual self most specially that the Family is part of the “self” being the “sakop.” Filipinos value family highly and rely on family relations in defining and seeking help for problems or disorders. The family name is valued more highly than that of the individual.
These values bind the individual to the family, making him/her to consider how a decision will impact the family. The Filipino cannot be discussed on a person by person basis. Unlike western practices, a Filipino is not complete without his relationships A Filipino cannot be defined sans family … these are his essential relationships — with one another, with family — and no Pinoy is truly Pinoy without them. This relationship-seeking attitude is most evident when introducing Filipinos in every corner of the country.
The basic unit of the Philippine social organization is the family that includes the mother, father and children, and the bilateral extended family that embraces all relatives of the father and the mother. Of special importance is the sibling group, the unit formed by brothers and sisters. There are no clans or similar unilateral kinship groups in the Philippines. The elementary family and the sibling group form the primary bases of corporate action.
The Philippine society is characterized as familial. This means that the influence of kinship, which centers on the family, is far-reaching. The Filipino family is the nuclear unit around which social activities are organized – it is the basic unit of corporate action. The interests of the individual in Philippine society are secondary to those of the family.
Filipinos have a unique way of establishing kinship without actual blood relations. “Pakikiramdam” or known as Smooth Interpersonal Relationships is the core identity of the Filipino. It is a natural skill for all Filipinos to read between the lines. He has this internal language to sense the surrounding.
Filipinos rarely get involved if they have no personal concern regarding the activity or the project. A Filipino will exert more effort when he/she is related to that specific given task or his name and the name of the “sakop” is involved. Along with this also arises the need for a personal touch. A simple personal invitation is a hundred times more regarded than any formal written invitation.
Filipinos likes to be invited even if it is only a joke and even if it is an occasion within the clan or nearby neighborhood. A neglect of this personality leads to misunderstanding or “pagdaramdam.” Filipinos usually like to associate themselves with a higher power and, in return, submit to this higher person if the need arises. This is most likely true to the “Masa” and even to elite people of the Philippines. It becomes the source of their strength and the source of a wall to lean on in times of crisis and in job seeking opportunities.
Filipinos value small-group centeredness which can be seen from the word ofkami. A Filipino has a “barkada” aside from his immediate family where he/she can pour out his/her angst and happy moments with. It is the ultimate manifestation of small-group centeredness because it is a tight bond among friends which dictate what the group would think, do or say.
Amor propio, the stubborn pride that Filipinos possess and hold on to despite the situation is another distinct element of being a Filipino. The expression wala ka namang pakikisama easily coerces Filipinos to act in peculiar manners especially if the pakikisama is determined by the barkada. Pakikisama is very important in a group, in a workplace, and in areas where there is a social group.
Another characteristic is that Filipinos seek to succeed and make himself a person in his own right. It may be a show of being bida and sikat all the time that is a manifestation of pasiklaban, the Filipino does this only to share his glory with his family. Therefore, the Filipino is not inconsistent with the established fact that Filipinos are others-centered because his pagsasarili is a result of his desire to uplift his family or his loved ones – others-centeredness-responsibility.
Hiya is a Filipino social behavior regulator that prevents a Filipino from violating a norm, a family value, and a group goal. This is also the root of the Smooth Interpersonal Relationships that Filipinos highly prize. This is the golden rule among Filipinos in the sense that a Filipino makes it a point not to intentionally embarass a person just as he wouldn’t want to be embarassed by another.
Euphemism is an important Filipino procedure for all relationships. This tactfulness mirrors the Smooth Interpersonal Relationship that Filipinos highly regard. In the interdependent Philippine society, reciprocity is an essential to all relationships. Utang-na-loob, a Filipino is indebted to another until such a favor is returned in kind. This utang na loob is very much rampant in 95 % of Filipinos specially those who are native of the Philippines and among Filipinos in other countries. Utang na loob may stem from Hiya or mainly from the uniqueness of the Filipino “self.”
Many of the provinces of the Philippines are separated from each other by water because the Philippines is an archipelago. Large islands, Luzon and Mindanao have mountain ranges also separate different land areas. As a result of the physical isolation from each other, Filipinos have a rich, multi-cultural heritage and speak 150 different languages and dialects.
It must be noted that even though Filipinos speak many languages, there are only eight major languages based on the number of speakers: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon/Ilonggo, Waray, Bikolano, Pangasinense, and Kapampangan. Of these, Filipino, which is based onTagalog and was formerly spelled as ‘Pilipino,’ is the official language along with English. Most textbooks, laws, signboards and mass media are either in English or Filipino.
From this language barrier and indifferences come out regionalism which dates back from the the colonial past of the Philippines under Spain and the United States. Spaniards encouraged regionalism to dissipate any nationalist revolt against them. They practiced a “divide and rule” policy wherein they employed Filipino soldiers from one region to put down an uprising in another region.
In addition, Spanish friars, in their desire to evangelize, studied the native tongues and incorporated Catholicism into Filipino social customs and religious observances. In doing so, the Spaniards preserved the native languages and dialects of the Filipinos. They also implanted Roman Catholicism in the Philippines, and influenced the Philippine legal system, social institutions, literature and arts. Meanwhile, the American colonial rule also unwittingly encouraged regionalism..
Language differences and regionalism are just a few factors of the rich cultural herritage and behaviors of individual – tribes in context – that give color and blend of Filipino Philosophy.
major factors influencing Filipino Philosophy are its Education, Language and Geography, Western and Eastern Philosophies, and most especially Religion. Education shapes the mind of individuals. It is the way of acquiring and disseminating knowledge. Through education, cultures, thoughts and ideas, concepts and theories are handed down from one generation to another. It is by education that we learn the Western thoughts and their civilization which we try to imitate and to live-out. It is by education that we inculcate to the next generation, the ideal self and the justified and unjustified, true and false beliefs.
Language and Geography determine the type of the desires, the taste and the perceptions of the people. It is one of the major factors contributing to the indifferences of major cultures in the Philippines most especially that the country is separated by water. Culture takes part in the molding of history and of man. And the rest, together with culture and history runs in circle around the development and of the nature of Filipino Philosophy.
Culture, like history, modifies the worldview of the Filipinos. For every ethno-linguistic community, society, province or region whatever you want to call it, every individual or the whole group has its own worldview on how to enrich, practice, and show his or her own culture. Despite the indifferences of cultural background and ancestral indifferences, the Filipino worldview in the context of the self has never changed.
Culture is passed from generation to generation through time (history), through psychological time, but the self being that self, which is others-oriented-kin-related-self, remains the same as it is. In this regard, the Filipino self is unique and his worldview, which is to be in harmony with all that is around him or her, is true to every Filipino from age to age and from culture to culture.
Filipino Philosophy is unique in itself and is a pride of the Filipino people. It doesn’t matter which general worldview it belongs. What matters is that the country that belongs to the eastern coast has a philosophy that is distinct and rich in itself. The choice is left to the people whether to take it as a material for its national pride and left to the critics, the Filipino philosophers and scholars if they push our philosophy to the limits and to the level of other philosophies or to drag it down. For it shapes the Philippine politics, economics, justice system, and the rest of that which revolves in the society of the country.
A Filipino has two major ways of dealing with his society depending upon the basis of relatedness to the self. Individuals always value pakikitungo, pakikisalamuha, pakikisama to people whom he does not know; and likewise, he/she deals on how to be in harmony with the related individuals to his life – involvement and “pakikiisa” are two very important values to consider.