I was reading up on Filipino psychology the other day and found myself fascinated by this very interesting race once again. I try to not limit myself to the world view I hold, which is based on my society, culture and upbringing. It is one world view and valid, yet not the only one and other’s world views are just as valid as mine, surely? If you are planning on spending the rest of your life with a Filipina, either there or even more challenging, in Australia or any other western country, it would make sense, surely, to try and gain as much of an education about your life partner as possible.
First of all the study of psychology in the Philippines is very much a postcolonial discipline. Not a lot was done prior to Independence in 1946, possibly because more attention was made on assimilating to their Spanish and later, American, rulers. With independence has come a growing need to understand what being a Filipino is all about and there is considerable reading matter you can hunt down on the web, most of it academic, scientific and not exactly light reading.
Filipinos Are Group Oriented
The one thing I noticed early on was that Filipino research into the psyche of the Pinoy is very much like the society itself, very group oriented. That shouldn’t be surprising as group behaviour is preferred to doing things on one’s own by all Filipinos. Even going across the street to the sari sari store, I have observed Filipinos take a companion with them. Even if it is just a baby who can do very little to assist them should the need arise, having someone with you is more comforting than going it alone. Now you might begin to understand why your Filipina is hesitant to do anything on her own, at least for the first year or two when she arrives in your country.
This is a core value of Filipino culture and life and it has a name; ‘kapwa’. Togetherness. Just like the old joke of how many Filipinos can you fit in a jeepney (one more) there is always room for more people in the group. Individualism, ‘kanya-kanya’, is something that was introduced to Filipino society by western colonisers. Perhaps now you can see why incompetence and the inability to get things done that seems so endemic in everyday situations is virtually non-existent among Filipinos abroad. Let me explain.
Pakikisama Means Group Harmony
There is a thing called ‘pakikisama’, or group harmony that means it is more important for everyone to feel good than for anyone to feel bad. Doing something as a group, however badly or ineffectually, is always better than doing anything, no matter how well, individually. When the pinoy becomes an OFW or migrates abroad, this group harmony is no longer as important and the same individual who earlier couldn’t get the job done right and on time, all of a sudden becomes the most valuable employee in the business! We’ll explore this in more detail in Part II of Understanding The Filipino Psyche.
Perry Gamsby, D.Lit, MA(Writing), Dip.Bus, Dip. Mktg is a writer and lecturer who lives with his Cebuana wife and five Aus-Fil daughters in Western Sydney. The author of a series of best-selling ‘self-help’ books for expats and those married to Filipinas, he is also a Master of Filipino Martial Arts and a former World Stickfighting Champion who has lived, worked and vacationed in the Philippines since 1988. Perry and his family return to the Philippines on a yearly basis. You can read more of his writing on Philippines topics at www.streetwisephilippines.biz
This article and website sponsored by Down Under Visa, Australian Registered Migration Agents in Manila – The Australian Partner Visa Specialists