Our Filipino Values: a Connotation to the World

Our Filipino Values: A Connotation to the World What are Filipino values? What is distinctly Filipino in our value system? The Filipino value system arises from our culture or way of life, our distinctive way of becoming human in this particular place and time. We speak of Filipino values in a fourfold sense. First, although mankind shares universal human values, it is obvious that certain values take on for us a distinctively Filipino flavor.

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The Greek ideal of moderation or meden agan, the Roman in medio stat virtus, the Confucian and Buddhist “doctrine of the Middle”, find their Filipino equivalent in “hindi labis, hindi kulang, katamtaman lamang”. Secondly, when we speak of Filipino values, we do not mean that elements of these Filipino values are absent in the value systems of other peoples and cultures. All people eat, talk and sing, but they eat different foods, speak various languages and sing different songs.

Thus, we easily recognize Filipino, American, Chinese, Japanese or any other foreign food, language or music. The difference lies in the way these elements are ranked, combined or emphasized so that they take on a distinctively Filipino slant or cast. For instance, in China, honesty and hard work may rank highest; Chinese and Japanese cultures give great value to politeness and beauty; American culture to promptness and efficiency; and Filipino culture to trust in God and family centeredness.

In this sense of value-ranking and priority of values, we can speak of dominant Filipino values. Thirdly, universal human values in a Filipino context like being historical, cultural, socio-economic, political, moral and religious, take on a distinctive set of Filipino meanings and motivations. This is true not only of the aims and goals, beliefs, convictions, and social principles of the traditional value system of the lowland rural family but also of what Fr. Horacio de la Costa; S. J. alls the Filipino “nationalistic” tradition . A Filipino value or disvalue does not exist alone, in isolation or in a vacuum. Filipino values like “bahala na, utang na loob, hiya, pakikisama, pakiusap” are clustered around core values like social acceptance, economic security, social mobility, and are always found in a definite context or set of circumstances. Both positive values and negative disvalues together form a characteristic constellation in school (aralan at dasalan [studying and praying], kuwentuhan at laruan storytelling and game], inggitan at tsismisan [envying and gossiping]), which differs from the configuration found in government offices (pagkakaisa [unity] , pagkabayani [heroism], intriga [intrigue], palakasan [show of power], sipsipan [bribery], palusot), in business firms (palabra de honor [word of honor], delicadeza [finesse], “commission”, “kickback”, padulas [grease money], lagay [bribe], or in the barrio barangays paggalang [honoring], pagdadamayan [comforting], bayanihan [cooperation], bahala na [come what may], utang na loob [gratefulness], hiya [shame] palakasan [show of power].

To change a framework of values, it may be necessary to change the constellation and context of those negative values that hinder Filipino and Christian development. Fourthly, we can speak of Filipino values in the sense that the historical consciousness of values has evolved among our people. The Filipino concept of justice has evolved from inequality to equality, and to human dignity; from the tribe, to the family, and to the nation.

Filipino consciousness of these different values varies at different periods of our history. It is only in the last two decades that the Filipino people have become more conscious of overpopulation and family planning, environmental pollution (Kawasaki sintering plant) and wildlife conservation (Calauit Island), and the violation of human rights (Martial Law), active non-violence and People Power (1986 non-violent Revolution).

Notwithstanding the massive influx of western ideas and influences, our people have retained much of their native values and traditions. Isang duguan (one blood, one people), bayanihan (volunteerism), pagtutulungan (helping one another), pagbibigay galang (respectfulness), kasipagan (industriousness), mapagkakatiwalaan (trustworthiness), pakikipagkapwa-tao (neighborliness), katapatan (loyalty), kusang-loob (initiative), kapatiran (brotherhood), sama-sama (all together) are some of the many values embedded in Filipino culture and history.

Together, we indicate the humaneness innate in our people where kinship, family, and community ties are the core of their way of life. Other countries have enriched our storehouse of values. The Spaniards bequeathed to us their amor propio (pride), palabra de honor (word of honor), delicadeza (sense of propriety); the Americans their “American time” (not being late for one’s appointment), the Japanese their discipline and obligations; and the Chinese their entrepreneurial values.

Unfortunately, many of our people have copied the vices rather than the virtues of foreigners who came and lived with us. We took to gambling, ostentatious celebrations, among others. Dr. Jose P. Rizal highlighted these vices in his essays (“Message to the Young Women of Malolos and “The Indolence of the Filipinos) and cited them as the reasons for the backwardness of the Filipino people.

He stressed that positive values, especially respect for man’s dignity and honor, make men productive. Presidential Proclamation No. 479 declared November as Filipino Values Month. The proclamation stresses the message that positive values help a people to create their own future and preserve their freedom. Let us cultivate positive values in our children, in our people, in ourselves. They are the key to our nation’s growth and progress. By: John Paul R. Abad III-Newsvine


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