The Filipino Psyche-Part 3

Another remarkable trait of Filipinos is their timelessness. Despite the nearly half-a-mil-lennium encroachment of the western clock into their daily lives Filipinos, unless attending some very formal or official functions, still measures time not with hours and minutes, but with feeling. This style is ingrained deep in our psyche. Our time is diffused and flowing, not framed. Our appointments are defined by a longer umaga (morning), tanghali (noon), hapon (afternoon), or gabi (evening). Our most exact time reference is probably katang-haliang-tapat (high noon), which still allows many minutes of leeway. That is how Filipino meetings and occasions are timed – there is really no definite time! 

A Filipino event has no clear-cut beginning nor ending. We have a fiesta, but there is vispe-ras (eve), a day after the fiesta is still considered a good time to visit. The Filipino Christ-mas is not confined to December 25th; it somehow begins months before December and extends up to the first days off January.

Filipinos will say their good-bye’s to guests first at the head of the stairs, then down to the descanso (landing), to the entresuelo (mezzanine), to the pintuan (doorway), to the trang-kahan (gate), and if the departing persons are to take public transportation, up to the bus stop or bus station! 

In a way, other people’s tardiness and extended stays can really be annoying, but this pec-uliarity is the same charm of Filipinos who, being governed by timelessness, can show how to find more time to be nice, kind, and accommodating than his prompt and exact brothers elsewhere. 

Filipinos are spaceless. As in the concept of time, the Filipino concept of space is not num-erical. We will not usually express expanse of space with measurement of miles or kilome-ters but with feelings in how we say malayo (far) or malapit (near). Filipino’s also express the English phrase ‘over there’ in an number of ways. For example, if asked where the next chair beside him sits, he would say doon (pronounced like doo-un). If the chair is placed a bit farther, he’d say a much longer-sounding dooo-un. But if that chair is found on the other side of the room, you’d hear him say instead, doooo-uuuuun

Alongside with numberlessness, Filipino space is also boundless. The indigenous culture of the Philippines did not divide land into private lots but kept it open for all to partake of its abundance. 

The Filipino has avidly remained ‘spaceless’ in many ways. The interior of the bahay-kubo (nipa hut) can easily become receiving room, sleeping room, kitchen, dining room, chapel, wake parlor, and so on – all depending on the time of the day or the needs of the moment. 

The same is true with the bahay na bato (stone house). Space just flows from one into the next space that the divisions between the sala, caida, comedor, or vilada (all functional areas of a Filipino home) may only be faintly suggested by overhead arches of filigree. In much the same way, the Filipino concept of space can be so diffused that one’s party may creep into and actually expropriate the street! A family business like a sari-sari store (small retail outlet) or talyer (repair shop) may extend to the sidewalk and street. Pro-vincial folk in the Philippine Archipelago dry their palayan (rice grain) on the modern high-ways that criss-cross the many islands. 

In the Philippines, religious groups of various persuasions habitually and matter-of-factly commandeer streets for processions and parades. It is not uncommon to close a street to accommodate private functions, Filipinos eat. sleep, chat, socialise, and even argue amiably with themselves nearly everywhere or just about anywhere!

‘Spacelessness’, in the face of modern, especially urban life, can be unlawful and may really be counter-productive. But on the other hand, Filipino spacelessness, when viewed from his context, is just another manifestation of his spiritually and communal values. Adapted well in today’s context, which may mean unstoppable urbanization, Filipino spacelessness may even be the answer and counter-balance to humanity’s greed, selfishness and isola-tion. 

So what makes the Filipinos a little more than special? Spiritual, timelessness, spaceless, linguists, groupists, weavers, adventurers; seldom do all these profound qualities find per-sonification in a single people.

That’s why when Filipinos are allowed to contribute their special attributes to the world-wide community of men, they know how to go about doing things easily because, to begin with, they like others as much as they like themselves.

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

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