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Filipino Customs


The Filipinos are a helpful people. They live the members of their family, their relatives, neighbors, friends and even strangers. If the family is poor, the members help one another and the elders sacrifice for the education of the younger ones.

The bayanihan spirit makes it possible for the people to build houses, move houses, plant crops, harvest crops, build roads and other things with little expense. The people of the community help one another in doing this. Bayanihan is also an occasion for fun because it brings the people of the community together. It means getting together or helping one another in a common project or work. Many hands make light work is the idea behind the bayanihan.

Beliefs, Disability And Causation

Beliefs, Disability And Causation Of The Filipinos


Traditional Pilipino values have clearly influenced beliefs and practices pertaining to child rearing, medical care, disability, and death and dying. Each of these areas is detailed in the following sections with respect to more traditional views.


Formal studies of Pilipino child-rearing beliefs and practices have shown considerable consistency in their findings (Church, 1986). Moreover, the specific socialization patterns and training for desirable childhood traits and behaviors (particularly during infancy/toddlerhood and early childhood) are highly consistent with other Asian cultural groups. However, Pilipino child-rearing beliefs and practices are reinforced within a traditional family structure and extended family system with characteristic similarities and differences relative to other Asian cultures.

Culture & Arts

The arts of the Philippines reflect a society with diverse cultural influences and traditions. The Malayan peoples had early contact with traders who introduced Chinese and Indian influences. Islamic traditions were first introduced to the Malays of the southern Philippine Islands in the 14th century. Most modern aspects of Philippine cultural life evolved under the foreign rule of Spain and, later, the United States. In the 16th century the Spanish imposed a foreign culture based in Catholicism. While the lowland peoples were acculturated through religious conversion, the Muslims and some upland tribal groups maintained cultural independence. Among those who were assimilated arose an educated elite who began to establish a modern Filipino literary tradition. During the first half of the 20th century, American influence made the Philippines one of the most Westernized nations in Southeast Asia. The cultural movements of Europe and the United States profoundly influenced Filipino artists, even after independence in 1946. While drawing on Western forms, however, the works of Filipino painters, writers, and musicians are imbued with distinctly Philippine themes. By expressing the cultural richness of the archipelago in all its diversity, Filipino artists have helped to shape a sense of national identity. Many Malay cultural traditions have survived despite centuries of foreign rule. Muslims and upland tribal groups maintain distinct traditions in music, dance, and sculpture. In addition, many Filipino artists incorporate indigenous folk motifs into modern forms.

Family Structure

The complete centrality of family life and the importance of family loyalty, obligation, and interdependence are previously described. These values are supported by a family structure and kinship ties that reflect the multicultural Pilipino heritage. Having withstood Hispanic Catholic influence, the ancient Malay tradition of equality between men and women translates into a bilateral extended kinship system. Both the mother's and father's lineages are of equal importance. Thus, for example, names may be inherited through the male line or both the father's and mother's family name; it is not unusual for the mother's maiden name to be given as a child's middle name. Inheritance patterns further call for equal division between daughters and sons.

Happines Is Power

YESTERDAY'S column was titled "Happiness is power.” Yes, it is power. Not just as a "saleable" trait for Filipina domestic workers whose cheerfulness is an unstated but sought for quality among foreign employers, but also as a personal bulwark against the vicissitudes of loneliness and alienation.

It is a power that can be harnessed not just for personal protection and morale boosting, but also for organizing and consciousness raising. And it is a power that is puzzling for, according to an article in The Economist, in Hong Kong at least it is wielded by those who should by all rights be the most miserable. (And the planned reduction in the minimum wage for domestics should make them all the more miserable.)



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