When we were young students, we often heard or read about the so-called Filipino Traits such as bahala na, pakikisama, ningas cogon, hiya, mañana habit, etc. Maybe our very own elementary teachers then pointed it to us that these traits were the culprits, the scapegoat of the Filipino failures, or basically the weak characteristics of being Filipinos.
When I was in secondary, although there were no Values Education taught as a subject, our Homeroom Adviser would inculcate the values of hard work and teamwork. I remember, however, distinctly in a Social Studies class that these same Filipino traits—bahala na, ningas cogon, hiya, etc.—were made the explanation for lagging behind more successful Asian neighbors.
My own martinet father instilled in me the value of discipline, palabra de honor [word of honor], attention to details, persistence, and hard work; while my mother gave me the sense of cleanliness is next to godliness. Meanwhile, while attending a military academy, the values of courage, loyalty and integrity were part of the academy creed.
Quito (1994) notes:
In Quito’s paper, she presented an exposition of the Filipino traits as an ambivalence of positive and negative aspects. I quote here only the positive aspects:
Annotation: What is greater than peace? Peace of mind, peace with oneself, and peace with others. Peace is what most people pray or crave for.
Annotation: Strength that comes from within ourselves, or from a belief that something is more superior than us? It makes us more human and humane.
Annotation: Why delve into a guilt-trip? Guilt is unhealthy if it becomes our only passion. With hiya, at least we truly know our own faults and failings. That should be enough!
Annotation: Families make communities, without which nations cannot exist. As Dancel (2005) notes: “the Filipino is nothing if he is not grateful. . . The Filipino sense of gratitude is uniquely Filipino, just as we are uniquely Filipino because of our sense of gratitude.”
In conclusion, Quito asks:
Annotation: Should we be ashamed, that’s hiya again, of our Filipino behaviors, or as some researchers label them as Filipino values? All these, without exception to the color of our skin, makes us unique. Without them, are we still Filipinos? Or the question should be: Are we Filipinos because of or despite of these?
Edit: Please refer to this Reprise posted on 11 August 2009 for more details.
Dancel, Francis. (2005). Utang na Loob: A Philosophical Analysis, Filipino Cultural Traits: Claro R. Ceniza Lectures. Rolando M. Gripaldo, (ed.) Washington, D.C.: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 2005. 205p. back to text
Quito, Emerita S. (1994). The Ambivalence of Filipino Traits and Values, Values in Philippine Culture and Education, Philippine Philosophical Studies I. Manuel B. Dy, Jr., (ed.) Washington, D.C.: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 1994. 205p. back to text
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