The Philippines and Some Filipino Characteristics

The Filipinos (Pinoys) are a mixture of many races although are chiefly Malays. They are a racial mix mainly of Indonesians and Malays. Some received additional blood infiltrations from the Negritos, Hindus, Chinese, Japanese and Arabs.

The form the Spanish conquest to the present, they further received blood enrichments through marriage with people of the West, such as the Spaniards, the Americans, the British, the French, the Germans, the Italians, and many others. Thus, one can say that the Filipino people of today are a beautiful blend of East and West, with the Malay strain predominating. Despite certain regional, linguistic, and religious variations, the Filipinos are a homogeneous people. The represent unity in diversity.

The mixture of racial strains has led to traits that have made the Filipinos what they are today.

The Filipinos are a peace-loving but brave people. They prefer a serene life to one of disorder and violence. They ordinarily settle court litigation instead of bloody combat. But when they are provoked to defend their freedom, they can fight fiercely to death. They eloquently proved their courage during World War II, in their earlier revolution against Spain, and when they fought the far better-equipped Americans from 1899 to 1913.

The Filipinos are a hospitable people. They welcome their visitors with open arms and a warm heart. They give the best of what they have to their guests. They give them their best food, the best place in their homes to sleep in, and the best things and facilities just to make them enjoy their stay. They do these things to the extent f borrowing money. “Our home is your home,” they tell their guests and mean it too.

The Filipinos are famous for their courtesy and respect for their elders. To them, respect for one’s elders is a law. As a result, Filipino parents and grandparents have strong moral influence on the children. The children willingly obey their elders and faithfully help them do their work. Filipinos do nothing important without the advice and consent of their parents and other elders. The elders believe-and demand-that they should be obeyed. The Filipino use of “po” and “opo” in his speech signifies his respect.

The Filipinos have close family ties. The Filipino family is a firm basic unit of Philippine society, and everything revolves around it. Ordinarily, the family is composed of the parents, children, grandparents, and other close relatives. Although the father is in name the head of the Filipino family, the Filipino mother manages or governs the Filipino home. There are proportionately far more Filipino women running government offices and business enterprises than there are in Europe and America. There were many women leaders during the Philippine revolution. The Spaniards made the Filipino women stay home, but the women swiftly won back their rights when the Americans came. Aside from those of the parents, the opinions of the grandparents, uncles, and aunts are sought on important matters in Philippine society.

The Filipinos have a fatalistic outlook on life. They firmly believe that what happens to them is the work of fate. For this reason, they display sense of resignation and indifference to what will happen. This fatalism is well expressed in the phrase Bahala na (Let fate decide).

Like other Asians, the Filipinos are hard-working but extravagant. They are fond of fiestas and merrymaking, expensive clothes and jewelry, nice homes, and good time. The will spend a whole year’s savings or even borrow money just to celebrate. A happy occasion gives them happiness and prestige. But though extravagant in their tastes and habits, the Filipinos make up for it by hard work. They do not mind if they work very hard all year provided they can have a good time.

Loyalty is another national trait of Filipinos. Do them even just a little favor and they will be grateful to you for it till they die. To them, loyalty out of friendship is sacred and implies mutual help and protection under all circumstances. To the Filipinos, a friend is a member of one’s family and is expected to share its misfortunes as well as its joys.

The Filipinos are a hardy and durable people. Over the centuries, they have been hit by all kinds of catastrophe-wars, invasions, pestilence, earthquakes, typhoons, floods and fires-and have survived them all. They may face mighty problems but they do not easily break down.

Proud and sensitive, the Filipinos feel no inferiority to any race. They resent racial prejudice and insult. They will fight to the death for their honor and freedom. The almost 400 years of Spanish occupation of the Philippines were marked by a great many revolts against the Spaniards. The other nationals fought by the Japanese in World War II quickly surrendered. The Filipinos continued fighting them till the end of the was in 1945.

Speaking of values, the Filipinos as a people have several admirable values. The most important of these are the following:

1. Pakikisama, or sense of comradeship or togetherness

2. Utang na Loob, or a sense of gratitude

3. Kahihiyan, or a sense of shame.

Pakikisama is doing somebody-whether a close friend or a stranger-a good deed. As a Filipino value, the main elements attached to pakikisama are unselfishness and good faith. Utang na loob is the custom of faithfully repaying favors given to one. Kahihiyan, or hiya is an Asian social vaue which prevents a person from doing anything foolish or bad so as not to place his family or relatives in an unpleasant situation.

The Filipinos respect law and order. They have a clear notion of right and wrong, of what is fair and unfair. They have a high moral code based on ethical values. They are dutiful to their elders, chivalrous to women, and law-abiding.

But the Filipinos have certain defects in their national character, too. They love gambling and politics, are addicted to luxurious living, lack patience and perseverance in business ventures, are prone to blind imitation, lack initiative, tend to be indolent, and lack foresight in planning for their future. But sociologists and the anthropologists say that these defects are merely an evidence of lack of development and can be overcome.

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