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Language And Linguistic Origin

Throughout the 7,100 island archipelagos, Filipinos speak nearly 90 languages and dialects. The three major dialects are Ilocano (northern Luzon, also the dialect spoken most commonly by Filipinos in Hawaii and on the U.S. mainland); Tagalog (central and southern Luzon); and Cebuano (southern islands) (BYU, 1986). Linguistically, these three dialects and all major indigenous languages are historically related ; they derive from Original Indonesian as a subfamily of the Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian languages and share most of their basic grammatical features (Harper and Fullerton, 1994; Li, 1983). Despite their similarities in grammar and pronunciation, centuries of isolation have produced distinct and mutually unintelligible native languages (Gochenour, 1990). Regional divisions and linguistic differences and barriers have thus endured to the present; they have created major difficulties in promoting educational and cultural development (PAPEP, 1982).

Issues Of Language

The receiver oriented and relatively indirect style of most Asian languages is characteristic of communication patterns. These patterns are integrally related to primary values such as family, authority, interpersonal harmony, concern for others' well-being, and the importance of saving face. Similar to other Asian ethnic groups, Filipinos typically employ formality and honorific language that conveys proper respect for authority, status, and positions by terms of address and titles. For example, a physician or a lawyer will continue to be addressed as Dr. Cruz or Attorney Ramos by clients, friends, and colleagues well after more personalized and informal relationships have been established (in contrast to the American tendency to move more rapidly toward a first name basis) (Santos, 1983).

Filipino Society Culture Quick Overview

Filipino Values

  • The family is the center of the social structure and includes the nuclear family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and honorary relations such as godparents, sponsors, and close family friends often called aunts and uncles though they are not.
  • People get strength and stability from their family. As such, many children have several godparents, the more the better.

  • Concern for the extended family is seen in the patronage provided to family members when they seek employment.

Infancy And Harmony

In the Pilipino culture, the birth of children is an expected and desired outcome of marriage. Most couples prefer to have children of both sexes, and there is typically no special preference for males over females. Children are considered a special gift from God,and a large family is proof of God's favor and blessing (Guthrie and Jacobs, 1966). The newborn child's vulnerability contributes to the use of folk practices by many Filipina mothers, such as keeping garlic and salt near the baby to protect him or her from evil spirits, pinning religious medals on a baby's clothing to offer the protection of angels, wrapping a 50 cents coin on the baby's umbilicus with a belly band to make it heal faster, and avoiding exposing the infant to the bright colors to prevent strabismus. A baby's clothes are loose and comfortable and preferably white in color to symbolize the purity God gives to every newborn (Affonso, 1978).

Early Childhood And Death

A shift from a highly indulgent to a more authoritarian parental stance occurs as the child approaches school age, which is when it is believed that children develop isip, or thoughts. Particularly after the child is weaned, older brothers, sisters, relatives, and neighborhood children become substitutes for the mother's constant attention. Older children, regardless of their sex, are expected to help with household chores and to care for younger siblings. The younger child, in turn, must learn to conform to family expectations of respect for elders and obedience to authority, adults, parents, older siblings, and other substitute caregivers. The child is further expected to know the difference between good and bad behavior and is subject to various discipline practices (PAPEP, 1982) in traditional Pilipino homes depends a great deal on appeals to duties and obligations of family members based on their respective roles.



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