Filipino Values The Filipino value system arises from our culture or way of life, our distinctive way of becoming human in this particular place and time. We speak of Filipino values in a fourfold sense. First, although mankind shares universal human values, it is obvious that certain values take on for us a distinctively Filipino flavor. Secondly, when we speak of Filipino values, we do not mean that elements of these Filipino values are absent in the value systems of other peoples and cultures. All people eat, talk and sing, but they eat different foods, speak various languages and sing different songs. Thus, we easily recognize Filipino, American, Chinese, Japanese or any other foreign food, language or music. The difference lies in the way these elements are ranked, combined or emphasized so that they take on a distinctively Filipino slant or cast. For instance, in China, honesty and hard work may rank highest; Chinese and Japanese cultures give great value to politeness and beauty; American culture to promptness and efficiency; and Filipino culture to trust in God and family centeredness. In this sense of value-ranking and priority of values, we can speak of dominant Filipino values. Thirdly, universal human values in a Filipino context (historical, cultural, socio-economic, political, moral and religious) take on a distinctive set of Filipino meanings and motivations. This is true not only of the aims and goals, beliefs, convictions, and social principles of the traditional value system of the lowland rural family but also of what Fr. Horacio de la Costa, S. J. alls the Filipino “nationalistic” tradition(pagsasarili,pagkakaisa,pakikisama, pakikipagkapwa-tao, and pagkabayani. ) A Filipino value or disvalue does not exist alone, in isolation or in a vacuum. Filipino values like bahala na, utang na loob, hiya, pakikisama, pakiusap are clustered around core values like social acceptance, economic security, social mobility, and are always found in a definite context or set of circumstances. Fourthly, we can speak of Filipino values in the sense that the historical consciousness of values has evolved among our people. The Filipino concept of justice has evolved from inequality to equality, and to human dignity; from the tribe, to the family, and to the nation. Filipino consciousness of these different values varies at different periods of our history. It is only in the last two decades that the Filipino people have become more conscious of overpopulation and family planning, environmental pollution (Kawasaki sintering plant) and wildlife conservation (Calauit Island), and the violation of human rights (Martial Law), active non-violence and People Power (1986 non-violent Revolution). Filipino Values Filipino values are rooted in a system that focuses on family, friends, faith and the individual’s obligation to this trinity. The family is the main social structure in the country. The value of family and close family ties is illustrated in children having many godparents to watch out for their welfare. Additionally, members of the same family often work at the same place. This is one way that elders in the community provide opportunities and support for younger individuals. Kapwa The term Kapwa in Filipino society means togetherness. Togetherness within the family means mutual trust and making time to be together. Outside the family this concept translates into being civil toward others, recognizing that all are part of the greater group: humankind. Behavioral Value One driving factor in Filipino society is the idea of Hiya or shame. There are certain standards that citizens are expected to strive to meet or exceed. Failing to do so brings dishonor to both the person and his or her family. Hiya also figures into etiquette and morals in that it creates a sense of what is proper and right. The way in which favors are repaid is one example. Whether or not a person asked for aid, when its given that gift must be balanced somehow; this is reciprocity. Balancing this there is also Puri, the way in which people illustrate their dignity through word and deed. It is by those actions that individuals judge another, which in turn affects personal honor. Values Reflected in Etiquette As is often the case in other cultures, a great deal of Filipino values manifests in their etiquette and customs. Without words, these gestures speak volumes about what this culture treasures and respects. For example, when meeting people for the first time, one greets the eldest first, showing respect. At this juncture you use full formal names – surnames are for individuals with whom you are more personally acquainted. In fact, it’s a faux pas to use surnames until you’ve been asked to. If this meeting takes place in a Filipino home, remember to bring a small gift for the host and hostess. Sweets are common as our flowers, with the exception of white lilies. Avoid large gifts of food as this may be interpreted as an insult (i.e. your host cannot provide for his or her guests). Upon arriving, wait for direction as to where to sit, and likewise wait to eat until asked to do so. Make sure to compliment the house and the food as this brings honor to the home. Beyond that, following basic Western table manners should keep you in good stead. Business vs. Social The business world also has a set of guidelines. One thing that makes Filipino society vastly different than American is the business dealings are fully intended and expected to build relationships that include networking and favors. While this can (and does) occur in the US, there is also a sense of professional distance and impersonalization. For example, while companies regularly hold telephone conferences and online conferences in the US, the Filipino community prefers face-to-face meetings with a pre-sent agenda and some form of hospitality. Throughout business affairs one may or may not meet the decision maker, at least not until negotiations progress quite far. It’s dishonorable to exaggerate, loose your temper or turn down any offered refreshments during this process. Summary Filipino values focus on maintaining family, the economy of the Nation, and in personal honor. There are many subtleties of practical etiquette that one may never know until fully emerged in the culture, or given guidance by citizens. When in doubt, return to your mantra of respect and thoughtfulness. Those two cornerstones achieve much, no matter where you travel.