The Filipino Psyche–Part 2

So extensive is our social openness and interrelations that we have specific titles for ex-tended relations like hipag (sister-in-law’s spouse), balae (child-in-law’s parents), inaanak (godchild), ninong and ninang (godfather/godmother) kinakapatid (godparent’s child), and more. 

In addition, we have the profound ‘ka‘ institution, loosely translated as ‘equal to the same kind’ as in kasama (of the same company), kaisa (of the same cause), kapanalig (of the same belief), and a host of other similar terms too long to list here. 

Ingrained in our social fiber, we treat other people as co-equals regardless of skin colour, regardless of their accent. Filipinos, because of their long-standing social ‘weaving’ tradi-tions, make excellent team workers.

Filipinos are adventurers because we have a long tradition of separation. Our myths and legends speak of heroes and heroines who almost always get separated from their families and loved ones and are taken by circumstances to far-away lands where they find fame, wealth or power. 

Our Spanish colonial history (some 400 years, at least) is filled with separations caused by the reduccion (hamleting), and the forced migrations to build towns, churches, fortresses or galleons. American occupation (another 50 years following the Spanish) enlarged the space of Filipino wandering, including America. Even then, there is documented evidence of Filipino presence in America as far back as 1587.

Today, Filipinos compose the world’s largest population of overseas workers, populating major capitals, minor towns and even remote villages and islands around the world. Fili-pino adventurism has made us today’s citizens of the world, bringing the bagoong (salty shrimp paste), pansit (sautéed noodles), siopao (meat-filled dough), kare-kare (peanut-flavored dish), balut (unhatched duck egg), and adobong karne (meat vinaigrette), inc-luding the tabo (ladle) and tsinelas (slippers) all over the world. 

Filipinos are excellent at adjustments and improvisation, managing to recreate their home, or to feel at ease almost anywhere. That’s probably because Filipinos have pakiramdam (deep feeling/discernment). We know how to feel what others feel, sometimes even antici-pate what they will feel. 

Being manhid (dense) is another one of those labels any Filipino wants to avoid. Instinct-ively, we know when a guest is hungry though the insistence on being full is assured. We can tell if people are lovers even if they are miles apart. We know if a person is offended though he may purposely smile. We know because our our innate sixth sense. We feel these things naturally in our pakikipagkapwa (relating). We get, as the saying goes, not only to ‘wear another man’s shoe’ but to ‘feel his own heart’ too. 

We have a superbly developed and honored gift of discernment, making us excellent lead-ers, counselors, and go-betweens. So, it’s not surprising to learn that Filipinos are very spi-ritual too. We are transcendent – we transcend the physical world and see the unseen, hear the unheard. We have a deep sense of kaba (premonition) and kutob (hunch). A Fili-pino wife will instinctively feel her husband or child is going astray, whether or not telltale signs present themselves in the face of things. 

Filipino spirituality makes him invoke a divine presence or intervention at nearly every bend of his journey through life. Rightly or wrongly, Filipinos are almost always acknow-ledging, invoking God or driving away evil spirits into and from their lives. Seemingly tri-vial or even incoherent events can take on spiritual significance and will be given some space or consideration. The Filipino has a sophisticated, developed sense of pakiramdam or ‘feeling’. 

Though becoming more and more modern (hence, materialistic) Filipinos is still very spi-ritual in essence. This inherent and deep spirituality makes the Filipino, once correctly Christianized, a major exponent of the faith.

| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | HOME |

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