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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.

Although expanded through bilateral lineage, the extended family system is further enlarged by the compadrazgo system, a legacy of Spanish colonial Catholicism. In addition to relatives by blood and marriage, each Pilipino gains relatives through godparent rituals and ceremonies. Typically, more wealthy and powerful acquaintances close friend or neighbor of the natural parent is called on to serve as a godparent (known as ninong or ninang to the child) and as surrogate parental relationship to the child by virtue of acting as a sponsor at the religious rites of baptism, confirmation, and marriage. Godparents or compadres also assume more active roles as benefactors who may be expected to participate in their godly socialization, oversee his or her religious education, assist in times of financial need, contribute to the cost of the child's education and assist in finding him or her employment. In addition to compadres, landlords and employers may further be viewed as surrogate parents to adult family members ; thus, other social institutions and relationships also become incorporated into the extended family system. The compadrazgo system extends and binds family ties, loyalties, obligations, reciprocity, and interdependence among people in the community). Through this expanded network of kinship relationships, a is likely to consider 100 or more individuals as relatives.

The extended family is, in effect, the basic unit of Philippine society. Within given households, nuclear families average six to eight members in size. Unmarried adult daughters and sons typically remain in their parents' home and contribute to family support. Additional extended family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins also may live in the same house and assume vital roles. Unfortunately, for increasing numbers of Filipino-Americans, the role of extended family in the Philippines has become that of caregivers for problem adolescents who are sent back home to live with them. Lack of parental supervision (with two parents working full time), the need for economic survival, and the stress of acculturation have compelled many parents to remove their teenagers' from the home and draw on the family support system in the Philippines.

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