Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Filipino Philosophy - Thesis Defense (2004)


The Title of my thesis is On the Nature and Significance of Filipino Philosophy 

We have always presupposed that our philosophy is more of the Western type than of that being an Eastern one. It is a fact that we denounce westernization and yet we practice it, but it does not mean that we do not have our own identity as a Filipino race or a Filipino being different from that of the other races. We have our own will and our own way of thinking. It is then appropriate to say that we have our own worldview, our own Philosophy. But what is this philosophy that we have? Is it the rich blend of western and eastern philosophy or is it 75% western and 25 % eastern-influenced philosophy; or let us say it is unique in itself. If it is unique in itself, then, it could be the pride of the Filipinos, despite of cultural and racial indifferences, we have our own Philosophical assertions in life as well as a “Philosophy of Life” itself.

The main contention of this thesis is that we have our own philosophy, but how do we know that this is our own unique way of thinking, our own way of philosophizing? Is it in contrast with Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle or of Krismamurti or Gandhi of India? Or is it just also a footnote of Plato as Whitehead have said, “all Philosophies are all but a footnote of Plato?”

For us to understand the nature of this discipline, I would like to segregate bit by bit the elements and the researches needed to understand it. Therefore this paper will attempt to analyze Filipino Philosophy based on the following questions:

1. Is there such a Filipino Philosophy and what is it?
2. What consists Filipino Philosophy?
3. What is the implication of having a philosophy of our own?
4. What are the major roles of Filipino Philosophy to Filipino Psychology, Sociology, and the Formation of Filipino Religious?

I would like to believe that this paper will give us pride as to the extent that we Filipinos indeed have our own homegrown philosophy just as other historical philosophies there are. In the end, this paper will be able to come up with a definition of what is Filipino Philosophy that would be useful as reference for further study of the discipline. It could be a source of criticism to scrutinize and detect hidden assumptions in my work and further formulate other alternatives to the findings of my research; a basis for arguments in the philosophical studies of the Filipino people; and will give rise to a more comprehensive point of view of what is really the nature of Filipino Philosophy and the branches there are.

Filipino Philosophy is a major tool in order to build up the main foundations of the different disciplines and arts of the Philippines like Psychology, Sociology, and all other Social and Applied Sciences. This discipline unique to the Philippines is a guide, an eye opener, and a path setter in order for other discipline to arrive at a Filipinized concept, theories, facts and truths that are applicable and appropriate to Filipinos.

However, Since we are more inclined to western philosophical traditions and critiquing, it may be a wrong interpretation of this paper if one will look at it in that way. So the very first thing to consider is to look at this paper in the eyes of a Filipino or in the eyes of an Eastern Mind.

It will not focus on the individual worldviews of the different 105 ethnolingusitic groups in the country, but instead, it will focus on the topic as discipline as compared to or as related to Chinese, Indian, and other Philosophies.

The main contention of the paper is explained further and clearly in the conceptual framework.



Owing to the fact that Eastern Philosophy is cyclical, the Schematic diagram shows a big circle and a smaller circle inside it. The small circle represents Filipino Philosophy, the nucleus of this thesis. Surrounding it are the factors that contribute to its nature. The big circle represents the cyclical contribution of the different factors affecting, or of that elements that make Filipino philosophy as it “is.” The two headed arrows found within the circumference of the big circle represent the dual contribution or cycle of the factors contributing to its nature. The factors contributing to the nature of Filipino Philosophy which are found within the circumference of the circle are: History and Anthropology of the Philippines, where we can find the rich transitions of culture and time from one generation to another and from one colonizer to another.

Next is Religion which may vary from paganism to Christianity and to Islam that dominantly conquers every heart of a Filipino individual;

Another is Language and Geography, which sets the Filipinos apart from each other giving the country a rich blend of different races, traditions, worldviews and mindsets;

And last but not the least are the Eastern and Western Philosophical Influences acquired through education, media and the society of which mostly imparted by our dear colonizers from the past until the present democratic way of living of Filipinos.

The first three factors that were mentioned shape Filipino Philosophy and vis a vis contributes to the enrichment of the three factors as shown by the two way arrow in between each factor and the smaller circle.

On the other hand, the factor Eastern - Western Philosophical Influences (Education/Media/Society) contributes to the nature of Filipino Philosophy more than that of the others which is represented by the bold one way arrow pointing to the big circle coming from the factor and a thin broken arrow coming from the small circle pointing to the factor. This is because it is not merely given importance and relevance in the real world

It is a sad fact and it is to be noted that this Eastern - Western Philosophical Influences factor is a major governing dynamics in Philippine Studies as shown in by arrows coming from the factor pointing down to the rectangular box representing Philippine Studies (Psychology, Sociology, Religious Formations).

It is realized and suggested then by this thesis that the factor Eastern and Western Philosophical Influences must not over-dominate Philippine Studies as represented by a very thin one headed arrow pointing to the rectangular box; but rather it should be the Filipino Philosophy that should govern in studying the Philippine Society as implied by the two bold-thick arrows coming from the big circle pointing to the rectangular box. This also implies that we must give importance to our own Philosophy rather than brainwash our own mindset and worldview by that of the other influential philosophies.

After the rigid studies and research conducted in libraries and internet, the following are transcribed to be the answers to the questions raised.

The first corresponds to question number one.

1. Filipino Philosophy Exists.

Filipino Philosophy as a discipline, the critical examination of the grounds for fundamental beliefs of Filipinos and an analysis of the basic concepts employed in the expression of the Filipino Worldviews.

As a behavioral worldview pattern of Filipinos, it is the attitude, worldview, and notion of the natural citizens of the Philippines towards the day-to-day experiences in life, religion, communication, survival, interrelationship with people and intra-relationship with his sakop or to oneself – the “I,” and the uplifting of one’s soul – the Filipino being.

And as an identity, it is the soul (self or “I” ) of Filipinos having “other-orientedness-centered-on-affinity-and-environment-self,” and feelings towards realities and illusions in life and one’s entity that is obviously evident in his endurance to be with his society, live the religious-spiritual aspects imposed and expected of him, and live-out the culture he/she has acquired from his ancestors and his current environment.

Finding number 2

2. Filipino Philosophy is mainly the fusion of the main elements brought about by the cultural changes of the Filipino people as they go through the history of time. It shapes the worldview of the Filipino, a worldview wherein the being or the individual is seen as others-oriented-kin-related-self.

Finding number 3

3. The very significance of having our own philosophy is that we have our own identity and to have a home-developed philosophy is a pride of the Filipinos and an assertion that we are not just influenced and run by the principles of the Western mind as dictated by the colonialization of the country to different nations.

Finding number 4

4. Filipino Philosophy is very important in studying the Psychology of Filipinos. It elucidates clearly the ethical standards or the moral values that Filipino have. It helps the Psychologists understand the behavior of the Filipino people by stating his worldview where the root of the behavior stems from. Filipino Philosophy is very important in Sociology. It enlightens the social mobility, the stratification, demography, and the social groupings in the Philippine setting. Filipino Philosophy is very important in rearing Filipino Religious and understanding the religiosity of the lay. In knowing the Filipino Mind or worldview, one will know the best way to bring religion to people; to form missionaries and teachers of the law (Islam); to properly motivate and inculturate the church.

After arriving at specific findings, the researcher would like to recommend the following:

1. That Filipino Philosophy must be enriched by developing it and further more studying its principles. It must be given priority rather than the Western and other Eastern Philosophies since it is our own. We should recognize our own worldviews and stand for them

2. We can’t do anything about being influenced by other worldviews but we can dig up the basic elements of that that makes a Filipino a Filipino by enriching our Culture since it is the main foundation of the worldview of the nation. We must see the Filipino being through the distinct characteristics he has in the point of view of the Filipino and not in the point of view of other scholars. The Filipino self, though may vary from ethnolinguistic groups must be understood in its own context.

3. We should be proud of having our own Philosophy and try to take a look on it. We must not solely rely on the standards of the Western countries because it often brings about contradictions and degrades the Filipino “self” compared to other nationalities. It is time to realize that we have our own and therefore we must nourish it in order for it to flourish.

4. Filipino Philosophy must be taught in all colleges and universities whether offering or not offering Philosophy courses, either as one of the minor subjects and a pre-requisite to graduate or as a course itself.

It is suggested that a subject good for one semester must be included in the curriculum of all Filipino Seminaries, Social Sciences and Psychology departments and colleges.

Knowing the mindset and the worldview of the Filipino a.k.a. Filipino Philosophy as a discipline and as an identity is a major tool in understanding Filipino behavioral patterns, social movements and in their religious inclination, a researcher on Philippine studies must consider the Filipino Philosophy beforehand to understand the realities and the context of the metaphysical and metalinguistic thoughts and ideas of Filipinos. Likewise, a shift of reference must be done – it must be in the point of reference of the Filipino mind, the Filipino heart and the Filipino concepts of time, space, and distance.

The Congregation of Missionaries of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, most popularly known as Claretian Missionaries has a mission in the Philippines for half a century now. In its mission, it must take into consideration what Filipino Philosophy is. In knowing Filipino Philosophy, it must go deep and further stipulate its studies of the Filipino people not according to what they believe, to what they think what is best for the people, but “what the Filipino people believe in”.

Filipino philosophy will help the congregation to know their people in the apostolate; to be able to submerge in the realm of the common people; to be able to propagate well the Word of God in the context where Filipinos will truly embrace and accept. The congregation may have its own ideals as of that of Claret but in order for the aims of the congregation to be most perfectly accepted by the people and be realized in thePhilippines, it must be leveled down into the Philippine setting, adopt the worldview of the Filipinos.

People accept more if they themselves are accepted. God gave the capacities of individuals to relate with others in order to spread His words of Love. If Filipinos value relationships and the self, then the Claretians must establish a relationship with the people in the light of Filipino Philosophy.

Ladies and Gentlemen this is the end of my report.

Thank You Very Much!
The researcher is now ready to answer questions from the panel.



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