Filipino values are rooted in a system that focuses on family, friends, faith and the individual’s obligation to this trinity. The family is the main social structure in the country. The value of family and close family ties is illustrated in children having many godparents to watch out for their welfare. Additionally, members of the same family often work at the same place. This is one way that elders in the community provide opportunities and support for younger individuals.
KapwaThe term Kapwa in Filipino society means togetherness. Togetherness within the family means mutual trust and making time to be together. Outside the family this concept translates into being civil toward others, recognizing that all are part of the greater group: humankind.
Behavioral ValueOne driving factor in Filipino society is the idea of Hiya or shame. There are certain standards that citizens are expected to strive to meet or exceed. Failing to do so brings dishonor to both the person and his or her family. Hiya also figures into etiquette and morals in that it creates a sense of what is proper and right. The way in which favors are repaid is one example. Whether or not a person asked for aid, when its given that gift must be balanced somehow; this is reciprocity.
Balancing this there is also Puri, the way in which people illustrate their dignity through word and deed. It is by those actions that individuals judge another, which in turn affects personal honor.
Values Reflected in EtiquetteAs is often the case in other cultures, a great deal of Filipino values manifests in their etiquette and customs. Without words, these gestures speak volumes about what this culture treasures and respects. For example, when meeting people for the first time, one greets the eldest first, showing respect. At this juncture you use full formal names – surnames are for individuals with whom you are more personally acquainted. In fact, it’s a faux pas to use surnames until you’ve been asked to.
If this meeting takes place in a Filipino home, remember to bring a small gift for the host and hostess. Sweets are common as our flowers, with the exception of white lilies. Avoid large gifts of food as this may be interpreted as an insult (i.e. your host cannot provide for his or her guests). Upon arriving, wait for direction as to where to sit, and likewise wait to eat until asked to do so. Make sure to compliment the house and the food as this brings honor to the home. Beyond that, following basic Western table manners should keep you in good stead.
Business vs. SocialThe business world also has a set of guidelines. One thing that makes Filipino society vastly different than American is the business dealings are fully intended and expected to build relationships that include networking and favors. While this can (and does) occur in the US, there is also a sense of professional distance and impersonalization. For example, while companies regularly hold telephone conferences and online conferences in the US, the Filipino community prefers face-to-face meetings with a pre-sent agenda and some form of hospitality.
Throughout business affairs one may or may not meet the decision maker, at least not until negotiations progress quite far. It’s dishonorable to exaggerate, loose your temper or turn down any offered refreshments during this process.
SummaryFilipino values focus on maintaining family, the economy of the Nation, and in personal honor. There are many subtleties of practical etiquette that one may never know until fully emerged in the culture, or given guidance by citizens. When in doubt, return to your mantra of respect and thoughtfulness. Those two cornerstones achieve much, no matter where you travel.
Editor’s Note: In celebration of the Philippines’ 117th Independence Day, INQUIRER.net is publishing short essays submitted by our readers.
Gemma Louise Heaton, a teacher at The Lord of Grace Christian School, asked students under her History and Social Studies classes to answer our question: “What’s the best that you have done for our country?” Here are their responses.
‘Be proud of being a Filipino’
What is the best the thing I have done for my country? I actually don’t know because at my age, it is impossible to do something big. Then I realized it isn’t important on how big it is. I think the best thing I’ve done for my country is to be proud that I am a Filipino.
Being proud that I am a Filipino is not quite easy. Sometimes, I even doubt it because of our government. The people have to rally on the streets to get what they want. I feel like it is telling me that we have to go to war first before we can gain peace. When I was in Grade 7, we studied Philippine history. I then appreciated peace. It was not just about the Filipinos fighting the Spanish but how we fought for our independence.
Now, if someone will ask me what is the best thing that I have done for our country, I will tell him or her that I am proud to be a Filipino.
– Jen Denielle R. Hernandez, Grade 9
There are many heroes and heroines who have done big things for the Philippines: Andres Bonifacio, who sacrificed and gave everything for the sake of the Philippines; Melchora Aquino, who risked her life to help the Katipuneros; Dr. Jose Rizal, who is our national hero, and others who sacrificed their lives.
But what is the best thing a 13-year-old girl has done and can do for her country? I am not a mother who is a hero for neither her child nor a father who is a hero for his son. I am just a sophomore student, a girl who knows nothing but to eat, sleep, surf the Internet, watch television and fan-girl over Daniel Padilla. The things I have done for my country so far are to make my parents proud and to give respect. I study to make my parents, as well as my teachers, proud. It is not easy to make a person proud and, at the same time, happy.
I gave relief items to the victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” before. Yes, it is a big thing, but for me, giving respect is bigger. It is the biggest thing a 13-year-old girl can do and give. Giving respect, for me, is the sister of loving and loving is the root of caring.
Giving respect is the best thing I have done for my country and for the people around me.
– Maureen Omanito, Grade 8
‘Study our history, teach it to others’
What’s the best that I have done for my beautiful, loving country? Even if I can’t die for my country like Andres Bonifacio and Dr. Jose Rizal, here are best things that I have done for my country and I will continue to do for my country: In our house, we separate biodegradable, degradable and recyclable trash. For that, I contribute to saving our environment. I also use “po” and “opo” because it is one of our Filipino traits well-known by people around the world.
But really, what is the best that I have done for our country? It is to study about its history so that I can teach it to the future young Filipino kids, that they will never forget where they belong. It doesn’t matter if what you’ve done for your country is big or small. Small things can become big things.
You don’t have to die for your country; you can simply do small things that will help the future of the Philippines.
– Marie Gold Vivien M. Totanes, Grade 8
‘Do good in school’
When people ask that question, the answer really depends on who you are asking. When you ask an adult, he/she would probably answer something like: “I have donated to charity” or “I have beggars on the street.” But as a sophomore student, and not a financially fortunate one at that, there is only so much I can do.
A lot of people say it doesn’t matter how old you are and stuff like that, “you can do anything if you put your mind to it.” But in my perspective, I am just a little girl who is lost in a big world. What is there for a 14-year-old to do that will improve our country? After all the ups and downs in my 14 years of existence, I guess the best I can do is to do good in school, succeed as a student and be an obedient daughter to my family.
If I am an honor student, I can graduate with honors, and graduating with a scholarship is my goal. If I can make to the Dean’s List, I will succeed in the career I want to pursue. If I am going to be a film director in the future, as an adult I can change or improve the country by directing inspirational or motivational films.
– Anna Maria Mikaela Almirez, Grade 8
‘Pray for the nation, embrace our culture’
Praying for our nation is the best I can contribute to our country. When we had our field trip at Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, we were told not to fold the bills. By not folding our monetary bills, I am helping our economy. Embracing our culture is one of the best things I can do for our country.
– Jean Lalaine F. Rubio, Grade 9
‘Help victims of calamities’
I, with my dad and sister, participated in the “World Wide Walk” fund run to help the people who were affected by a typhoon in the Visayas, a run that broke the Guinness World Record for having a huge number of participants. This event helped the victims of the typhoon in Samar and Leyte. If there are more events like this in the future, I’ll be there to participate and help.
– VJ Bagani R. Villan, Grade 9
I think the best thing I have done for my country is to save electricity since the Philippines has a power supply problem.By simply turning off appliances when not in use, we are helping the country.
– Aira Joy L. Bercero, Grade 10
‘Pick up litter’
As a student, the simple things I can do for my country will snowball to bigger things.Something as simple as picking up candy wrappers affects us all. This should not be taken lightly, as throwing small things can lead to throwing bigger things. By picking up litter, if done little by little, we are also influencing others to do the same.
– Reimart C. Sarmiento, Grade 10
Being a citizen is a little difficult for the reason that you have to follow the rules implemented by your country. We know that people hate to follow them; if you don’t you, could be sent to jail or you will have to pay the price. You have to submit to the authorities. You have to be responsible and you need to contribute in the simplest way that you can do for your country. Actually, as a citizen, you need to be aware and remember a few things or rules.
As a student, I believe the things that I can do for my country are limitless, as long as I believe in myself. Honestly, when I’m at home, I dislike following the house rules; sometimes, even when I am in school. When I’m outside, I throw garbage anywhere. But when I entered high school, I realized I have to stop these practices because it is childish. I need to grow up in order to contribute to my country. So, I started following the rules, regardless of where I am.
Therefore, I conclude that our society has a lot of problems right now and I’m aware there will be a lot more as time goes by. So stop being a burden in our society: Follow rules and submit to our authorities. Our society has a lot to face they may not be able to help you right now. Grow up!
– Lois Corliss Q. Rivera, Grade 9
‘Make the right decisions’
Choosing what course to take up in college and which school to apply for are the main thoughts of a Grade 10 student like me, taking up exams in the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University and the University of Santo Tomas. Once we make the right decisions, we are doing the best we can do for our country.
– Joan Ellaine F. Rubio, Grade 10
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TAGS: 117th Independence Day, Essay, Independence Day, June 12, UGC