Filipino Values Essays

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. 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 (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(pagsasarili,pagkakaisa,pakikisama, pakikipagkapwa-tao, and pagkabayani. )

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. 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).

"Many Filipinos are what I call Sunday-religious, that is they go to church every Sunday, take in confession and communion, but the rest of the week they bribe and do corrupt deeds..." - Dr. Pura Santillan-Castrence


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Hi All,

 I have noted that this particular posting about our Filipino traits and values has been/is very popular among visitors and I guess the popularity stems from the desire of seriously concerned fellow native Filipinos to: learn, have deeper understanding, find solutions to stop and reverse the national predicaments suffered and being inflicted on the lives of past, present and foreseeable future generations of our fellow native Filipino majority. 

With such understanding, it is hoped that it will lead to an appreciation and realization that a great part of the problem is ourselves.  I think and believe that  many of our national problems are created and/or heightened, knowingly or unknowingly, by our so-called Filipino Norm of Morality. 

Although we may explain our behavior by referring to traits or values, to those of us who have some exposure in psychology we may define traits as more about dispositions or tendencies; while values as generally what we consider important and thus prioritize and use as standard for behavior or justification/rationalization for actions or choices. 

We appreciate and realize that traits and values may influence one another reciprocally, but I believe and think that the latter have greater influence in more instances (a thinking person tend to behave more consistently according to his values).

Let us hope and work for --in our own little way at the very least-- this realization to come sooner (as it is almost too late), and recognize the urgent need for changes in our Filipino traits and values, more fundamentally to re-examine our values: 

  1. to employ their positive and dampen their negative potentials in our culture and society, 
  2. to appreciate acting with less individualistic, personal selfishness; and instead
  3. to recognize the higher need for a strong sense of national community which we desperately miss; and
  4. to express in terms of national unity, i.e. Filipino nationalism; the sine qua non for national progress, that is, the attainment of the common good.
This post actually touches the issue of culture, i.e. our native Filipino culture. As we know, it is imperative that we obtain a deep awareness of our native history and society/culture; our society which embed in the subconscious Filipino mind within each of us --through our home, church and school, etc.--  a culture, our native society's worldview: the source of our values, attitudes and behaviors- which has been formed by a complex mix of geography, still primitive/traditional economic relations, religion, and long, divisive colonial history, etc. 

Here our native culture is looked at just from the religious point of view. Frankly, I see this point of view as limited or inadequate, based on what I have alluded to regarding source in the preceding paragraph.  I will go back, try a broader and deeper look into the issue of our native Filipino culture, i.e. cultural aspects which I see as obstacles to national development sometime later.

[ ADDENDUM: As I commented in Split-level Christianity, Part 2 of 2, below essay is similarly a synthesis of Christian/Catholic theology and social science; thus expectedly with a Christian spin.

I add that I personally think and believe that (personal and social) ethics and morality do NOT necessarily emanate only out of having a religion or being a believer in a "God" (for us: the monotheistic Christian God as traditionally or Biblically understood or other). 

Contrary to the assumption or belief of many Christians, native or not, there are atheists, agnostics, so-called pagans, non-Christians and what have you who were/are more ethical/moral and unselfishly act for social justice than those who are self-proclaimed or supposedly religious Christians of various shades: Catholics, mainline Protestants, Pentecostals or Evangelicals.

In short, I believe in the possibility of a Godless morality, though I admit that it is much more difficult to attain. With religion that stresses fear of supernatural justice or retribution, then believers will tend to follow what they think or are taught as God's (or gods') command.]

- Bert, 9/18/2013


Forwarding the posts to relatives and friends, ESPECIALLY in the homeland, is greatly appreciated. Use emails, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc. THANK YOU !!!

"The selfish spirit of commerce knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain" - Thomas Jefferson, 1809

"Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual; the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country." - Karl Kraus, 1874-1936.

"I either want less corruption, or more chance to participate in it." - Ashleigh Brilliant, 1933

"The accomplish to the crime of corruption is frequently our own indifference." - Bess Myerson, 1924-present

“They do not easily rise whose abilities are repressed by poverty at home.” - Decimus Juvenalis, 120 AD (CE)


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  1. THE FILIPINO MIND blog contains 532 published postings you can view, as of December 12, 2012. 
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"Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual; the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country." - Karl Kraus, 1874-1936.

"We shall be better and braver and less helpless if we think that we ought to enquire, than we should have been if we indulged in the idle fancy that there was no knowing and no use in seeking to know what we do not know..." – SOCRATES

“In the long-run every Government is the exact symbol of its People, with their WISDOM and UNWISDOM; we have to say, Like People like Government. “ - Thomas Carlyle, 1795-1881, Scottish Philosopher, Author


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