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- Category: Philippine Culture
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In an industrializing country like the Philippines, it is inevitable that the process of modernization will affect all aspects of life.
The kinship system: Many scholarly treatises have been written on the kinship system in the Philippines. Although different patterns exist due to sub-cultural differences, some similarities stand out. In the general context of kinship system, kinship group refers to the unit of society comprising those within consanguineal relationships. In terms of Philippine society, the concept of kinship group is extended to ritual relationships (compradrazgo) and even to individuals related to the family by close family ties.
The Filipino kinship system is bilateral. In a network of social obligations, the child is equally related to the sanguinely relatives of both parents who naturally enlarge the kinship group. All relatives on both sides of the father and the mother are relatives of the children in more or less equal degree. Among the relatives, there exists a strong reciprocal system of mutual assistance in carrying out their social and economic commitments. The different types of assistance exchanged by families are usually in the form of help in farm work (bayanihan), food, rice, money, cash loans, help in household chores, assistance during emergencies and family illness, help in sending children to school etc. Many couples feel obligated to send money to parents or lend to relatives. Sometimes, mutual assistance is viewed not only as an obligation but also carries future reciprocity.
While it is considered desirable to help needy relatives, "parasitism" and help for the irresponsible is strongly disapproved. Assistance is given to relatives a hierarchy of priority depending on closeness of ties; first, two sons and daughters then to relatives by propinquity of ties and residence. Although the extended family obligation may be a hindrance to individual aspiration and achievement, it can be supportive as in the case of siblings taking turns helping each other through college.
The extended kinship Group: Outside the (kamag-anakan), which refers to relationship by descent there are a number of kinship groups based on ritual affiliation systems known as (compadrazgo).
When a couple marries, the choice of wedding sponsors, the “ninong” and “ninang”, is very important. The status position and the assistance that may be expected s very important. The parents of the bride and groom and the wedding sponsors become (compadre) to each other, hence, the term (compadrazgo).
The (compadre system) imposes certain social obligations of support which are mutual and reciprocal. To a politician, having numerous ritual children (inaanak) is decided advantage because of the loyalty and support he can expect during elections.
The baptism of a child is another, important event in the compadrazgo system. Baptismal sponsors are also called “ninang” and “ninong” are “compadres” and “comadres” to the parents. As the second parents to the child, however, the baptismal sponsors acquire parental prerogatives and obligations. Their children and the child they sponsored become kin (kapatid sa binyag).
Closely related to the (compadrazgo) relationship is the (magkapitbahay) and (magkasambahay) system. The term (magkapitbahay) refers to neighbors, in physical proximity whose houses are near one another and who have varying degrees of reciprocal relationships. On the other hand, the term (magkasambahay) refers to individuals who live in the same house, whether or not related by blood, but who belong to the nuclear family units within the household. This is usually found in urban areas where housing facilities are at a premium and one or two nuclear families often share one house. These are loose and temporary arrangements and maybe broken by the transfer or moving of one or more of the families, but while the relationship lasts, reciprocal assistance exists In the absence of the mother, the children may be cared for and the house watched while the residents are away by the (kapitbahay). Neighbors share food, and household items borrow money from one another, engage in business together, and help in various ways in time of need. The children may call the elder neighbors “tiya” or “tiyo” (aunt, uncle) and the elder children “ate” or “kuya” (elder sister, elder brother) as they would those to whom they are related by descent.
The kinship relationships are spread that it is no wonder that everyone may be related to almost everyone else in small communities. This is the root of the Filipinos personality and individualistic attitudes toward the larger community.