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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.

Child Rearing

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.


Similar to many other Asian ethnic groups, Filipinos traditionally view the more severe disabilities with considerable stigma. In fact, according to selected Pilipino American professionals working in the field of developmental disabilities, this profound stigma partially explains the paucity of Pilipino literature pertaining to disability issues (Fuentes, 1990; Soldevilla, 1989). Such stigma derives, in part, from traditional attributions linking specific disabilities to various causes.

Authority In The Culture

Traditional families and other social systems are highly authoritarian. Age, power, prestige, and wealth are the chief sources of authority (Santos, 1983, p. 140). Within the family, age determines a hierarchical system of authority that flows downward from oldest to youngest. Outside the family, other factors such as social class, professional status or official government affiliation, and ecclesiastical positions may supersede age as determining factors in the locus of authority.

The relationship between those in authority and those subject to it is further permeated by utang na loob. Authority figures enjoy many privileges and prerogatives such as obedience; respect; adulation; and gifts in the form of money, material items, and personal services. These gifts are given to seek or return favors or to acknowledge a person's position of authority (Santos, 1983). Those in authority must, in turn, ensure that this reciprocity is created in a socially acceptable manner; one that conveys mutual respect and achieves the overall objective (for both the authority figure and the subordinates) of maintaining group harmony. Thus, individuals are subservient to parents, elders, leaders, and officials but look to them for support and assistance (Harper and Fullerton, 1994).

The Double Standard Of Morality

The growing financial independence of working mothers is bringing about a change in the double standard of morality. Looking back to early Philippine society a single standard was once prevalent and the aggrieved wife could always file for a divorce without prejudice to her social standing. The centuries of Spanish rule changed this system and any non-marital relationship was considered infidelity. However, the restriction applied only to women; men could carry on discreet extramarital relations which were generally termed the "querida system". Thus, the so called "double standard of morality" was established. As long as extramarital activities were quiet and discreet wives tolerated it in the hope that they were just flings and eventually the husbands would return.

Alternatives Concepts And Other Values

Critics of the 1960s values studies maintain that concepts such as pakikisama, hiya, amor propio, and utang na loob have been inappropriately generalized from vernacular terms associated with specific behaviors and situations into all pervading, organizing values and trait complexes (Lawless, 1969). They have been perceived as a central core of fundamental culture traits that create and define an almost stereotypic Pilipino character and have further been accepted as valid by scholars, foreigners, and Pilipino in general (Okamura and Agbayani, 1991).

As one of the most outspoken critics of studies of Philippine values, Enriquez (1987, p. 30) argued that most of these studies (which were presented in English) employ the colonizer's perspective and colonial language rather than making use of indigenous concepts available in native Philippine languages. Thus, the organization and logic of the value system from a Pilipino perspective is lacking. He further contended that the four values described in the literature represent only surface values that derive their significance from the core value of kapwa (shared identity).

The Changing Pattern of Kin Relationships

Modernization will bring about changes in attitudes toward kinship and the degree of mutual dependency among kinfolk. Geographic mobility where heads of families change their residence to follow work opportunities is increasing. Distance from kinfolk will strengthen the ties within the nuclear family and the extended family will be concentrated more on the ascendants: and descendants of the family of orientation (grandparents and children).



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