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Filipino Philosophy


A Thesis Presented to
St. Anthony Mary Claret College

Louie R. Guades III

In partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the Degree

Bachelor of Arts
Major in Philosophy

March 2004

APPROVAL SHEET ……………………………………………………………… i
INVOCATION …………………………………………………………………….. ii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT ………………………………………………………… iii
DEDICATION ……………………………………………………………………... vi
THESIS ABSTRACT ……………………………………………………………… vii
A.    Background of the Study ……………………………….. 1
B.     Statement of the Problem ………………………………. 3
C.    Significance of the Study ………………………………... 5
D.    Scope and Limitation …………………………………… 6
E.     Review of Literature and Related Studies …………….. 8
F.     Conceptual Framework ………………………………… 11
G.    Methodology ……………………………………………... 14
A.    To be a Filipino ………………………………………….. 15
B.     Philosophy as Defined …………………………………... 16
C.    The Existence of Filipino Philosophy ………………….. 17
D.    Filipino Philosophy Defined ……………………………. 18
A.    The Philippines, Facts About the Country
                   and the Filipinos     ………………………………….. 22
B.     Distinct Elements of Filipino Culture ……………….. 27
1.      Filipino Personality …………………………... 28
2.      Indigenous Communities and Their Culture.. 31
3.      Physical and language Barriers ……………... 33
4.      Contributions to Filipino Philosophy
By the Culture of the Filipinos ……………… 34
C.    Other Major Factors Contributing to its Nature ….. 37
A.    Eastern and Western Worldviews …………………… 39
B.     The Filipino Worldview ………………………………. 40
C.    Influences of History and Culture to
Filipino Worldview ……………………………………. 41
D.    Where Does Filipino Philosophy Belongs? …………… 42
A.    Filipino Philosophy and Filipino Psychology …………. 44
B.     Filipino Philosophy on Sociological
Studies of the Philippines ……………………………… 45
C.    Filipino Philosophy on Filipino Religiosity ……………. 46
A.    Conclusion ………………………………………………. 52
B.     Findings …………………………………………………. 53
C.    Recommendations ………………………………………. 55
D.    Trends and Prospects to the Claretian Congregation … 56
E.     Areas of Further Study …………………………………. 57
BIBLIOGRAPHY …………………………………………………………………… 58
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH …………………………………………………… 60   

          The thesis attached hereto, entitled “ON THE NATURE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF FILIPINO PHILOSOPHY,” prepared and submitted by LOUIE RICAHUERTA GUADES III, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree BACHELOR OF ARTS major in Philosophy, is hereby accepted.

Dr. Arturo Perez 

Prof. Teresita Buensuceso                                                                   Fr. Alejandro Gobrin, CMF 
               Member                                                                                                       Member

             Accepted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Major in Philosophy.   
                                                                           Beulah D. Nuval, Ed. D.

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To my Family: Mommy, Daddy, Lola Erning and Lolo Jesus

To my Relatives:
Apoy Ichay
Lolos and Lolas: Luis Sr., Charing, Saling, Romeo, Puring, Luyo, Rining, Mimin, Alice, Pelagia, Esperanza, Azon, Mada
Titos: Dan, Rey, Gerry, Macky, Boboy, Rodel,
Titas: Mia, Cyn, Lea, Minia, Nemia, Analiza, Marites, Anabelle, Marlyn, Sherly,
Kuyas and Ates: Rene & Veri, Melani, Gi, Kulokoy: Shirley, Mark, Michael, Carl, Noni

To my Superiors:
Fr. Rene Manubag, CMF; Fr. Carlos de Rivas, CMF
Fr. Rowan Luza, CMF; Fr. Paulino B. Manila, Jr., CMF; Fr. Agapito Ferrero, CMF; Fr. Blanco, CMF; Fr. Angelito Ancla, CMF; Fr. Pedro Dodong, CMF; Bro. Angel Angeles, CMF, Bro. Eddie, CMF, Bro. Benedict Dilag, CMF; Bro. Rodel Salgado, CMF; Bro. Mauricio Ulep, CMF; Bro. Ian Shelly Alabanza, CMF; Jonas Centeno

To my Vocation Directors:
Fr. Angel Ochagavia, CMF, Fr. Ronnie Banaria, CMF, Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF

TO THE DEAN, DR. BEULAH D. NUVAL our dear Mother in the Seminary
To my Sponsors

To my Spiritual Directors:
Fr. Raleigh Siapno, Fr. Jesus Norman Apun, Fr. Jose Apin, Msgr. Rolando Diokno, H.P., Fr. Christopher Miranda, MF, Fr. Josefino Templado, Fr. Rex Hidalgo, Fr. Dennis Oraa, MF, Fr. Devadoss, Fr. Desiderio Martin, CMF, Fr. Rene Bron, MF, Fr. Harold Rentoria, OSA, Fr. Jun, Fr. Nick, Fr. Mariano Briones III, Fr. Neil, Fr. Ed Bellen

To my Professors:
Prof. Lilibeth Lumagbas, Prof. Ma.
Charo Garcia “Ate Charo,” Prof. James de la Cruz, Prof. Marilyn Bala, Prof. Luisa Saniel, Prof. Edgar Rocero, Sr. , Dr. Vicentita Cervera, Dr. Arturo Perez, Prof. Teresita Buensuceso,

To the SAMCC Staff :
Ate Amy Soldevilla and Ate Pet Losbaños

To all my brothers in the community since 2000:

Julius, Mike, Toti, Mark Milca, Apeng, Harold, Dovs, Ben, Adonis, Roy, Roland Llido, Phem, Ryan Rio, Lauro, Jonathan, Intoy, Roy, Mark Tagab, Eijan, Cornets, Alfred, Dodoy, Roel, Elmer, Edcel, Cj, Niño, Bosing, Tolstoy, Jong-Jong, Francis, Eugene, Dong, Jj, Percy, Kjell, Mark, Jigs, Victor, Ronald, Tata, Carlo, Kris, Ervs, Ray, Master, Jade, Angelo, Arvs, Darius, Andrian, Vj 21, Rubic, Ranny Boy, Joseph, Teo Vir, Giles, Leody, Sharks, Romeo, Kap, Rije, Serviam, Aldwin, Raymond, Leonel (The Voice), Endas, John Marco, James, Jac, Bryan, Nico, Jericho, Eric, Jade Casison, Michael, Budz, Yong, Roel Claravall, Bato, Em-em, Orwin, Bryan, Jaevrix, Ryan Gingco, Pen-pen, Alferdo, Landot, Julie Rey, Buboy Labordo, Rey Boqueña, Erwin Velarde, Jeff, Allan, Earl Pimentel, Arens,

To the Youth Ministry of St. Michael the Archangel Parish of Oas, of the Diocese of Legazpi, and the Bicol Secreatariat on Youth Affairs and Campus Ministry of the Archdiocese of Caceres and of Region V as well as the Focollare Movement who introduced to me “God in our midst” and the presence of Christ in the youth and the importance in forming them.

To all the people in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish especially Ate Cel, Nanay Gundi, Ate Charo including her Mom and siblings and niece, Ate Lyn Pasion, Ate Vi, Tita Nori and Family, Ate Marisa and Family, the PREX Family especially PREX 100 my batchmates, Kuyas and Ates in the IHMP Office, the PPC.

To all the people from the areas specially Nanay Paring and the people of Pinyahan; the youth and children of all the other areas – Botanicals, BIR, East Triangle, Pechayan, OCS, San Vicente, Malaya, Kalayaan, and Forestry; the people from the Center – T.V. East and West, Brgy. Central, U.P. Village

To Claret School especially Fr. Mon Libot, CMF for the services of the Computer Laboratories and its technicians, the LCD for the thesis defense, for the snacks every time we visit, for the Guidance Counseling services – Ate Marithel and the Staff. Also to the teachers who had been our friends.

To all the girls I loved before and all the sources of my inspiration.

To Emmy.

To all my teachers from preparatory to high school and to my professors in college outside Claret.

TO GOD ALMIGHTY who gave me all the wisdom and knowledge.

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The Filipino has its own Philosophy which is based on his being an “eastern man” with the influences of culture shaped by the rich history and nurtured by the major Filipino languages and dialects, and by the education imparted to the Filipino Mind. Filipino Philosophy is the rich blend of culture of the West and of the East. A statement good for developing and understanding a philosophy that could bridge the Western and the Eastern Mind.
The thesis entitled, “On the Nature and Significance of Filipino Philosophy” as suggested by the title itself, deals primarily with the contributing factors that make up Filipino Philosophy and its implication to the Filipinos in different dimensions – education, society, religion, and the like. Somehow, it gives an overview of the essence of nurturing our own Philosophy.
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 A. Background of the Study

            Filipinos have their own Origin myths where we can find the initial and the “now” values system, psychology, as well as the traits of an individual Filipino. These origin myths are the origins of the moral concepts of the Filipinos. Due to the wave of migration in the Philippines from the Pleistocene era, and the colonization of the country by the Spaniards and the Americans, as well as the invasion of the Japanese, the ancient Filipino culture was transformed into a varied, type with infusions of the colonizer’s own value system and cultures making it rich and progressive. From the historical and anthropological studies of the Philippines we were able to trace the foundations of our own worldviews and the advancement of Philosophy in the country.
               The Eastern ancient philosophical ideas and beliefs that were introduced by the Indians, Chinese and other Asians were somehow practiced by ancient Filipinos; but these philosophical views were overshadowed by the philosophical views of the Western Mind. In this standpoint, there had never been a full understanding of the Filipino worldview in our own point of view as Filipinos. We do not have a clear definition of what is Filipino Philosophy, first of all because there is the question, “Is there such a Filipino Philosophy?” “Does it exist?” Second is that our mindset is more of Western and we use these philosophical concepts and ideas in solving our national, social, political, technological problems and identity crisis, which sometimes are in contrast to the reality of the Filipino culture and mindset.

               There have been numerous attempts to bring about to the Filipino Mind that we, Filipinos, as an individual race has its own Philosophy. The Journal: State of Philosophy in the Philippines[1] said that Fr. Mercado[2] attempted to bring forth the birth of the term Filipino Philosophy and stated the working elements of Filipino Philosophy. Later on, he also further explored the applications of Filipino Philosophy in the different disciplines mostly used and applied in the Philippine setting. Some other individuals attempted to write and researched about this subject matter; but from these attempts, it only resulted to a Filipino Philosophy that is more on behavioral and sociological nature. But isn’t this the characteristics and nature of Filipino Philosophy? 

                In the course of study, social and ethical philosophy of the Filipino people bloomed, but there has never been a definite general description and comprehensive treatment of the nature of Filipino Philosophy. It is currently in its evolving state. 

             Geographical problem, language differences, and culture indifferences of the Filipino people are barriers to form a unified concept of what is to be a Filipino. These are hindrances in researching the different worldviews of the different ethnic groups that composes the Filipino society as a whole, which in turn makes it difficult to determine what is really Filipino Philosophy as a term or a philosophy itself. It would be even easier to define Bicolano Philosophy, Tagalog Philosophy, Cebuano Philosophy, et. al., but as we progress with this research, we will find out the ways in order to dig up and bring about Filipino Philosophy.

B. Statement of the Problem 

        The purpose of this paper is to present the creative and controlling agent, the force, or principle operating in the evolving Filipino Philosophy and determine wholly and chiefly its constitution, development, and well-being in order to show that we Filipinos indeed have our own philosophy that is distinct and worth living for; of which on the other hand is a useful tool in studying Filipino Psychology, Sociology and the formation of Religious. 

            It is a difficult task to really determine what is the core of this emerging discipline as a whole because of the background of the Filipino people. Considering too, the influence of post modernity to the mind of every individual living here and out of the country. 

            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 and that is our Philosophy. Then 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 itself? If it is unique in itself then, it could be the pride of the Filipinos that we, despite our cultural and racial indifferences, we have our own Philosophical assertions in life as well as a “Philosophy of Life” itself. 

             Now that we have asserted we have our own philosophy, how do we know then 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 Krisnamurti or Gandhi of India? Or is it just also a footnote of Plato as Whitehead 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 the emerging 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?

               All of these questions will be answered in the following chapters of this paper. Meanwhile, we shall first state the importance and the significance in knowing this discipline and on how it will help the reader or the Filipino people in general. 

C. Significance of the Study

            In order to study the notion and characteristic of an entity or of a discipline, we must be able to study clearly what is the real and true nature of that entity or of that discipline. As mentioned above, there have been many studies, researches conducted, books and articles published but there has never been a paper in the real nature of Filipino Philosophy; and there is the fact that there is already that emerging or that discipline being coined as Filipino Philosophy. This paper will study closely the notion, surface and root characteristic of a Filipino as an individual, as a being there is in order to fully understand the way of life of the people living in this archipelago. Likewise, it will try to synthesize all other researches made on Filipino Philosophy in different perspectives giving importance then to the concept of what is to be a Filipino in the philosophical point of view. Moreover, 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 of 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 could be 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.

D. Scope and Limitation

            Since we are more inclined to western philosophical traditions and critiquing, it may be a wrong interpretation of the paper if one will look at it 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. 

This paper may take into consideration almost all Filipino researches on Filipino Philosophy from Mercado to present, but it will limit itself to the contributing factors and materials in the surfacing and rooting out the real nature of Filipino Philosophy. It will briefly include the Historical and Anthropological studies of the country being one of the two biggest factors of the Filipino worldview. 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, Philosophies.

            In the second chapter of this study, we define the meaning of Filipino Philosophy from the different point of views of the Filipino thinkers and scholars. Likewise, it will discuss the working definition of Filipino Philosophy, which will be derived from the results of the methods of research conducted and from the different sources of materials gathered.  It tries to lay down the main core of the discipline and what is it all about. There we can find the three major definitions of Filipino Philosophy in different aspects of defining a term. It is to be noted that, since this is just a paper on the basic knowledge about Filipino Philosophy, I deemed it right to only expand the sub categories under the three definitions only into the first level of understanding terms and disciplines. 

After giving the definition of Philosophy chapter three will show the major influences and the factors contributing to the discipline. Historical and anthropological considerations are discussed here in briefs and the other factors that has a direct contribution in shaping the Filipino mind. 

History and culture may have shaped our mindset, our worldviews, and our being. Chapter four elucidates and compares the western and the eastern mind and then states where Filipino Philosophy belongs. It gives the main thought of what is Filipino worldview and how it was coined about by the Filipinos through time.

Since Filipino philosophy is not well known and only a few gives recognition to it, this paper will try to include some of the contrasting points in the study on which we can derive some other points of researches and for further studies. A chapter is devoted to focus on the influences of Filipino Philosophy as well as the criticisms that contend the discipline. 

            The last part of this paper, focuses on all the findings and therefore summarize the main points and ideas, the creative and controlling agents, the force or principles operating it paving the way to the raw nature of the Filipino Philosophy. It also points out some suggestions on how and what to do in order to further deepen, expand, develop, and progress this discipline.   
E. Review of Literature and Related Studies

Mercado, Leonardo N. Elements of Filipino Philosophy Tacloban City: Divine Word University Publications, 1974.

           The author explicitly established the Filipino identity by enumerating the elements therein in the study of Filipino Philosophy. The brought out ideas were based from metalinguistic method of research and phenomenological approach in discovering the Filipino behavior. Basically, the Philosophy implied in the whole book content is more of social and psychological identity of a Filipino.
           The basic source of the conclusions and findings of this book depended upon the metalinguistic studies that had been conducted. It was stated that language was one of the many barriers in the development of our own worldview. Furthermore, he also used the phenomenological behavioral study of the Filipino people resulting to the very essence of being a Filipino.
          This pioneering work on the discipline of Filipino Philosophy garnered a lot of criticisms and reactions from people especially to western-minded philosophers and scholars.

Mercado, Leonardo N. Applied Filipino Philosophy. Tacloban City: Divine Word University Publications, 1977.
           The book discusses the application of Filipino Philosophy to the daily life and to the different concepts of beauty, philosophy of history, work and leisure, personnel management and social philosophy, Filipino Psychology, national goals and philosophy of education, and postmodern Philippines. It’s a major source of reference to different philosophical studies in the Philippine context.

Mercado, Leonardo N. Elements of Filipino Ethics. Tacloban City: Divine Word University Publications, 1974.
            Elements of Filipino Ethics apply new Filipino values in solving ethical issues raised within the context of Philippine moral views. It gives ethical guidelines on problems such as issues on private property, justice, education, and marriage. 

Quito, Emerita S. The State of Philosophy in the Philippines. Manila: De La Salle University Research Center, 1983.
             This monograph series 5 describes the current state of philosophical research and the philosophical education in the Philippines. In one of its chapters, it gave the chronological development of Filipino Philosophy and how Filipino Philosophers started to discuss about particular concepts in the context in the Philippines.

             Leonardo Mercado’s philosophical teachings on Filipino Philosophy was adopted and incorporated in the library of the Catholic University of America. It presents the Filipino mind in different perspective, mainly in metaphysical approach. It also uses studies the Philosophy of Man in the context of the Filipino people. Moreover, It further discusses the sakop and the individual personality of a Filipino and his identity as a being.


             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 contributes to the nature of Filipino philosophy. The big circle represents the cyclical contribution of the different factors affecting or that elements that makes Filipino philosophy as it is. The two headed arrows found within the circumference of the big circle represents the dual contribution or cycle of the factors contributing to the nature of Filipino Philosophy. These factors are: History and Anthropology of the Philippines where we can find the rich transitions of culture and time from one generation to another and form one colonizer to another; Religion which may vary from animism, Christianity or Islam that dominantly conquers every heart of a Filipino individual; Language and Geography that sets the Filipinos apart from each other giving the country a rich blend of different races, traditions, worldviews and mindsets; 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 the Filipinos.   

         The first three factors mentioned shapes Filipino Philosophy and vis a vis as shown by the two way arrow in between each factor and the small circle. On the other hand, the factor Eastern & Western Philosophical Influences (Education/Media/Society) contributes more to the nature of Filipino Philosophy which is shown by the big bold one way arrow pointing to the big circle coming from the factor. Thin broken arrow coming from the small circle pointing to the factor indicates the low influence or contribution of Filipino Philosophy to the factor. This is because it is not merely given importance and relevance in the real world. It is a sad fact that 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. 



The methodology used in this paper is the historical method of research using library research as the major method. Variety of printed, published, and on-line articles, journals, and books from the libraries and archives of the St. Anthony Mary Claret College, Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines, University of Sto. Thomas, De La Salle University, San Beda College, Catholic University of America, and other Internet accessible Filipino Philosophy html documents were also used to gather all the information need for this paper.

After enumerating and trying to bring about the rationale of this paper and after stating our main thesis and problems to respond with, we shall now try to expand our understanding of the nature of Filipino Philosophy by stating the key concepts governing the words Filipino Philosophy. We shall define the concept word by word in the next chapter.



A. To Be A Filipino

             To be a Filipino is to be a citizen of the country either living in the archipelago or in other country.[3] September 1, 2003 law of dual citizenship states that a Filipino citizen may be naturally born of the country or born by a Filipina outside of the country and or any Filipino who is also a citizen of another country.

               People from the Philippines are called Filipinos and also known as Pinoys. “The Spaniards first used the term Filipino after calling the archipelago Felipinas in honor of the King of Spain at the time of the archipelago’s rediscovery. It was then reserved as a calling name for Spaniards living in the archipelago, where the natives were called Indios. The Americans in 1900s accepted the word Filipinas as official name of the country and translated it into the now name of the country – Philippines. Filipino became the basis of native national identity and citizenship of the people living in the country.”[4]

              There are distinct characteristics of Filipinos that may vary from one island to another. Influences from the environment, ancestral traditions, and cultural and religious traditions are a few of these.

           The Filipinos, in any language use “loob” as the basis of life and other expressions therein. Any Filipino, with exceptions of those who were born in other countries and lived there - without any “bahid” of the Filipino culture on Mainland, has a self who is an interpersonal and “other centered” for western thinking, but a reality to them. Internal organs and the body itself is consciously and unconsciously expressed by Filipinos by its use of terms. It has been incorporated in the different languages and the dialects found in the whole archipelago. Examples of these are the use of “utang na loob,” “malayo pa sa kasukasuan” – used when somebody is wounded or hurt, and many more which can be found in the many studies conducted on the Filipino individual and the Filipino people.

B. Philosophy as defined
               Philosophy is from Greek, by way of Latin, philosophia, "love of wisdom," the critical examination of the grounds for fundamental beliefs and an analysis of the basic concepts employed in the expression of such beliefs.[5]

                 Philosophy is an enterprise of constructing and assessing philosophical categorical systems.[6]

C. The Existence of Filipino Philosophy

                Filipino Philosophy exists by the nature that every human individual has his own philosophy in life. A Filipino is a human individual. Therefore there is a Filipino Philosophy. It may not be as established as other philosophies do, but at least, it is under development and emerging.
               The Filipino individual, citizen in political and societal terms, composes the nation or the society. The fusion of the moral laws and norms of the individual Filipino beings, as in the context of the social contract of Hobbes, brings about the moral philosophy of the Filipino people. Moral philosophy is within the realm of the philosophical discipline.

D. Filipino Philosophy Defined 

              According to Mercado Filipino Philosophy or the people’s “diwa” is what is, not what should be, and as such it has its weaknesses and strengths. It is both dynamic and static. Other scholars do not give a definite definition of what is Filipino Philosophy. But here we shall define the terms in order for us to have a clear and determined notion of what Filipino Philosophy is all about.

            Basing from aforementioned definitions of what is “a” or “to be a Filipino” and the definitions of Philosophy, we now define Filipino Philosophy as the critical examination of the grounds for the fundamental beliefs of Filipino being as an individual and as a universal; likewise it is an analysis of the basic concepts employed in the expression of their worldview. 

              Filipino Philosophy is 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.

Furthermore, I would like to define it into three dimensions:

1.      Filipino Philosophy as a discipline.
2.      Filipino Philosophy as a behavioral worldview pattern of Filipinos.
3.      Filipino Philosophy as an identity.

Filipino Philosophy as a discipline. It is the critical examination of the grounds for the fundamental beliefs of Filipino being as an individual and as a universal; likewise it is an analysis of the basic concepts employed in the expression of their worldview. Included in this study is the study of Filipino worldview from different tribal groups to mainland people and to the new generation of the modern times. Since it is a study and the Filipinos have a diversity of life as it has a seven thousand one hundred islands, there should also be different branches of Filipino Philosophy of which I categorize as:

(1) Ethnolinguistic-Tribal Philosophy where Bicolano, Cebuano, Tagalog, Ilocano Philosphies would fall under; 
(2) Filipino Philosophy of Religion; 
(4) Animism and Practices of Filipinos; and 
(5) other Filipino Phylosophies that  Filipino scholars may add and institutionalize that is not or  only partially influenced by the Western Philosophy and purely in the Filipino context.

Ethnolinguistic-Tribal Philosophy will further explain and discuss the main ideas and the worldviews of the linguistic groups in the country. Particulars bring about the general. Each particular small group philosophies combines into one distinct philosophy which is the Filipino Philosophy. What unites it or what is common among the philosophies? The self or the “I,” or that individual characteristic – sakop orientedness.

Knowing that the Filipinos are animalistic, owing its culture to the eastern practice, ‘Filipino Philosophy of Religion’ and ‘Animism and Practices of the Filipinos’ would explain further the motives why an individual does his or her thightings or his adoration of his or her God and attributes. It will further explain the way Filipinos think or give importance to their religious experience and how orthrodox it is to the true orthrodox religion. It must be the tool in understanding the Filipino’s attitude on feasts, religious activities such as Christmas, Holy Week, Ramadan, and that amazing attitude of adoring mountains and making places sacred. Questions like, ‘Where do these attitudes come from? Is it from the hospitality?  the fear of God? or Filipino’s attitude of harmony?” are to be answered more clearly by this branch of Filipino Philosophy.
Filipino Philosophy as a behavioral worldview pattern of Filipinos. Filipino Philosophy 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.
Filipinos are used to be stereotyped as the bamboo grass for it always sway with the wind. The Filipino people has gone through tough and rough times, good and bounty years, and yet they always stand as firm as it was on the day our ancestors fought Magellan. Our own worldview explains why we stand all erect despite economic downfall, political crisis, natural calamities. One thing that is to be observed, everything revolves in relationships, in the sakop, in the upliftment of one’s soul. Justice for the Filipino people is the satisfaction of the needs of the self and his relations. These and more is the pattern of Filipinos which leads to the general behavior of the nation – the philosophy of the Filipinos.   

Filipino Philosophy as an identity. Filipino Philosophy is the soul (self or “I” ) of humans living in the Philippines 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.

We are used to presuppose that our philosophy is a western philosophy and yet I say that it is not. It is a pride to say that we have our own, our very own identity, our sense of existence and our own line of thoughts. Having our own worldview and our own way of looking at things and experiences is a mere fact that we are having our own true identity, we have our own pride. We may owe some of its components from our past but it does not mean it conquers all. The past is only a part of it and not the whole so we can call Filipino philosophy as ours.

It is wrong to say that Filipino philosophy may not be as what it is now or before because it has its own identity. But we have to accept the fact that we have no other choice but to recognize the contributing factors to its nature. Historical knowledge as said by Croce, is considered as complete knowledge. Filipinos having his own mind and having his own way of thinking has gained knowledge. He may have gained it from his history as he judge his day-to-day life and experiences and perceptions, but we can consider it as knowledge it self.

Culture sets off from the split of a second measured in the historical timeline of an individual or of a nation. Culture brings about variations in languages and in religious notions. All of these affect in one-way or another the Filipino mind. The next chapter will further expand and discuss these major factors in the coining of a Filipino worldview.


Major Influences To Filipino Philosophy

A. The Philippines: Facts About The Country and People

The History of a country has something to do with the worldview and way of thinking of its citizens. It is now appropriate to lay down the historical influences and foundations of Filipino Philosophy. But first let us state the geopgraphical situation of the country.

The Philippines has a total land area of 300,780 square kilometers (115,600 square miles), and is totally surrounded by water; composed of 7,107 islands with a total land area of 296,912 square kilometers (1.6 kilometers equal 1 mile); and is about 160 kilometers (100 miles) below Taiwan, and 24 kilometers above Borneo. Being above the equator, aside from having numerous active volcanoes, the Philippines is also in the typhoon belt. The annual range of typhoon visits is 20 to 30 times.

The Philippines has a population of 82 million which is rather unevenly distributed on the larger islands due to livelihood opportunities, social and economic organizations and historical factors. Her biggest islands in addition to the three (3) main islands - Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao - are Mindoro, Samar, Panay, Cebu, Palawan, Leyte, Bohol and Masbate. Her largest cities are Manila, Quezon, Davao and Cebu.

The Philippines has for its languages Filipino, English and Spanish; it have 87 major languages and hundreds of different major dialects. English is widely spoken; in fact, this country is the third largest English-speaking nation in the world. Filipino is the current national language of the country. Philippines is the first democratic country in Asia[7] and the first Republic.

The country was inhabited by ancient Filipinos who were then called natives of the Philippines who originated from nearby lands in the South East and Eatern Regions of Asia. From the data collected during archeological excavations, Tabon cave proposes that men inhabited the country far way back 24, 000 to 22, 000 BC.[8] The pre-spanic Filipinos had established primitive norms in tribes. The primitive Filipinos behaved as its ethical and moral standards are dictated by the leader of the tribe. The identity of the individual Filipino is in consonance or identical with the group.

The country was rediscoverd by the Spaniards by the Spaniards in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan and his men. There were fights, wars. It was a manifestation of the human instinct of man, what ever race he may be, defend his right and his own land. There were fights. Due to the arabic and islamic blood running through the Visayans and Mindanaons, war broke up upon invasion but later some submitted to the hands of the conquerors. There are two major reasons for submission, first because the Filipinos are animistic and the Spaniards made use of techniques that could encourage the natives to subdue to their powers; second is that they were defeated because of the higher technology used by the Spaniards.

When the country was rediscoverd, a new religion was introduced which is contrasting and conflicting to the animism and the islam present in the south and in the archepelago. Catholic Religion was introduced to the pagans and from this religion rooted the many “now attitudes” and Psyche of the Filipino people – due to the lenghty years of Spanis rule. Today we have the folk Catholicism that may be divided into two – official and unofficial – leading to many questions on the authenticity of the faith of the individual Filipinos.

Oppressions stimulated revolts until the country became a United States colony after it bought the Philippines from Spain to finish the Spanish-American War in 1898. Filipinos were under Spanish rule for 333 years before Americans came to the Philippines. The United States stayed in the Philippines until 1946. As a result of 48 years of American rule, most Filipinos know English and are familiar with American culture.

The Americans introduced education to the Filipinos and mostly introduced  their culture and values. It is to be noted that most of the Filipinos except for those who were in the tribal uplands and lowlands where no Americans were able to go, became American in ways, lifestyle and in living. Filipinos got the sense of pragmatism from their American colonizer.

The country suffered from the invasion of the Japanese and its involvement in the World War II where many were shocked and many were deprived of freedom and dignity of life. Later when the war was over and when the Filipinos found out that they were just used by the Americans during the war, their war, comes the attitude of disapointment and grievances of some national leaders that compelled the nation to eliminate the American presence in the country.

Communism, and Narcicism came about in the Philippines as well as Marxism which changed the view of Filipinos towards National freedom and national identity. Morality, on which before streams from the Church, was then started to be based from the relationships between workers and the employees, landlords and tenants, and from the societal laws.   

In order to get the main trend and the main thinking brought about by the revolutionaries and insurgents, we shall take note that the rise of the philosophical trends in the world particularly in Asia, also influences people’s behavior most especially the lowland who went upland.

In todays part of History, we see the rise of individualism among Filipinos brought about by the emergence of technology – cellular phones – where one can be alone and have a friend without seing him  - true to the urban and civilized rural areas; and the emergence of the information superhighway.

The changes in politics and the corruptions there are; the debt of the country to the World Bank; the political instability and the malfunction of the functions of the different branches of the government have lead the people to unite themselves and go back to the main behavior of Filipinos – to have harmony in the community; sakop orientation is evident in the political arena, euphemism.

As the Church of the Philippines is rocked, so is the religiosity of the people most specially the Catholics and the Protestant Christians. But despite the changes in times, there still exists the tribal minorities who preserve their identities and their way of life.

The Filipinos are being divided by the changes of times as the country passes through the timeline of History of today. But regardless of this dividedness, the identity of a Filipino – the self as other centeredness - is there, well preserved and shining.  

Among the major contributing factors to the nature of Filipino Philosophy are the religious inclinations, educational system and the way of value transmition, pragmatism of Americans as practiced by Filipinos specially in the modern times, attitudes towards nationalism, communism of the insurgents and of the separatists, and the inclination to freedom demonstrated in the recent revolutions at EDSA . Likewise it is evident in the societal laws and the way Filipinos treat their fellow “ka-barangay” or “kabayan.”

The differences of contributing forces from different colonizers and from the different deposits of time, one can say that the philosophy of Filipinos is fragmented and indifferent. In the surface level of understanding and analyzing, it may be true but as we can see the present philosophy of the Filipinos is unique to other nationalities. One perfect manifestation of this is our own way of changing the Government and the peaceful revolutions made in the country. “Filipino is the end-product of his historical past.” [9]

Aside from the historical factors that contribute to the formation of our Philosophy, we have to consider the cultural or the anthropological factors contributing to it. In the next part, we shall discuss briefly the culture of the Filipinos that contributes much in the shaping of the Filipino self and the society.
B. Distinct Elements of Filipino Culture
The Filipinos are a happy blend of several races, basically Malay with Chinese, Spanish, Indian and American admixtures. Their values and ways of life were shaped by several, sometimes-conflicting cultures and the resulting blend is what makes their own uniquely Filipino. In their veins run the rich Christian values of Spain and Europe, the pragmatic and democratic values of America, and the spiritual and animistic values of Asia.
Filipino elements of culture are: values, basic personality, basic social unit, politics, economics, technology and ecology. The content of the Filipino social unit is the family, groups and community life while the structure is the lineage, marriage descent, neighborhood, peer group and villages.

The Philippines, since it is an agricultural country by nature, her inhabitants values temperature, type of soil, amount of moisture, types of crops that can be grown or types of animals and other environmental features – these become part of their concept of time, distance and relations. Filipinos value nature and its structure including hunting, fishing, nature worship and irrigation.

1. Filipino Personality

The Filipino is more others-centered than self-centered.[10] Filipino basic personality is made up of Filipino beliefs and knowledge that are equated and related to various rituals and formal and informal education passed from generation to generation.

The family contributes to and maintains the Filipino values and to the individual self most specially that the Family is part of the “self” being the “sakop.” Filipinos value family highly and rely on family relations in defining and seeking help for problems or disorders. The family name is valued more highly than that of the individual. These values bind the individual to the family, making him/her to consider how a decision will impact the family. 

There are three Filipino characteristics: (1) personalism, which can be explained as the placement of the subject over the object; (2) authoritarianism, which refers to the high value placed on a person in authority -- the boss or the expert; (3) small-group centeredness where the unit thought and actions within the nation is not so much of the individual, nor of the big group but of the small primary group. Filipinos like to have or are self-loving, getting along, individuality, embarrassment, euphemism, cleanliness, and reciprocity.

The Filipino cannot be discussed on a person by person basis. Unlike western practices, a Filipino is not complete   without    his  relationships A Filipino cannot be defined sans family ... these are his essential relationships -- with one another, with family -- and no Pinoy is truly Pinoy without them. This relationship-seeking attitude is most evident when introducing Filipinos in every corner of the country.
The basic unit of the Philippine social organization is the family that includes the mother, father and children, and the bilateral extended family that embraces all relatives of the father and the mother. Of special importance is the sibling group, the unit formed by brothers and sisters. There are no clans or similar unilateral kinship groups in the Philippines. The elementary family and the sibling group form the primary bases of corporate action.

The Philippine society is characterized as familial. This means that the influence of kinship, which centers on the family, is far-reaching. The Filipino family is the nuclear unit around which social activities are organized – it is the basic unit of corporate action. The interests of the individual in Philippine society are secondary to those of the family.

Filipinos have a unique way of establishing kinship without actual blood relations. “Pakikiramdam” or known as Smooth Interpersonal Relationships is the core identity of the Filipino. It is a natural skill for all Filipinos to read between the lines. He has this internal language to sense the surrounding.

Filipinos rarely get involved if they have no personal concern regarding the activity or the project. A Filipino will exert more effort when he/she is related to that specific given task or his name and the name of the “sakop” is involved. Along with this also arises the need for a personal touch. A simple personal invitation is a hundred times more regarded than any formal written invitation. Filipinos likes to be invited even if it is only a joke and even if it is an occasion within the clan or nearby neighborhood. A neglect of this personality leads to misunderstanding or “pagdaramdam.”

Filipinos usually like to associate themselves with a higher power and, in return, submit to this higher person if the need arises. This is most likely true to the “Masa” and even to elite people of the Philippines. It becomes the source of their strength and the source of a wall to lean on in times of crisis and in job seeking opportunities. 

Filipinos value small-group centeredness which can be seen from the word of kami. A Filipino has a "barkada" aside from his immediate family where he/she can pour out his/her angst and happy moments with. It is the ultimate manifestation of small-group centeredness because it is a tight bond among friends which dictate what the group would think, do or say.

Amor propio, the stubborn pride that Filipinos possess and hold on to despite the situation is another distinct element of being a Filipino. The expression wala ka namang pakikisama easily coerces Filipinos to act in peculiar manners especially if the pakikisama is determined by the barkada. Pakikisama is very important in a group, in a workplace, and in areas where there is a social group.  

Another characteristic is that Filipinos seek to succeed and make himself a person in his own right. It may be a show of being bida and sikat all the time that is a manifestation of pasiklaban, the Filipino does this only to share his glory with his family. Therefore, the Filipino is not inconsistent with the established fact that Filipinos are others-centered because his pagsasarili is a result of his desire to uplift his family or his loved ones – others-centeredness-responsibility.

Hiya is a Filipino social behavior regulator that prevents a Filipino from violating a norm, a family value, and a group goal. This is also the root of the Smooth Interpersonal Relationships that Filipinos highly prize. This is the golden rule among Filipinos in the sense that a Filipino makes it a point not to intentionally embarass a person just as he wouldn’t want to be embarassed by another.

Euphemism is an important Filipino procedure for all relationships. This tactfulness mirrors the Smooth Interpersonal Relationship that Filipinos highly regard.

In the interdependent Philippine society, reciprocity is an essential to all relationships. Utang-na-loob, a Filipino is indebted to another until such a favor is returned in kind. This utang na loob is very much rampant in 95 % of Filipinos specially those who are native of the Philippines and among Filipinos in other countries. Utang na loob may stem from Hiya or mainly from the uniqueness of the Filipino “self.”

2. Indigenous Communities and Their Culture

              Lowland Filipinos, both Muslim and Christian, grew in numbers and expanded into the interiors of Luzon, Mindoro, Mindanao, and other islands, they isolated upland tribal communities in pockets that later, over the centuries developed their own special identities. Upland tribal groups were a blend in ethnic origin like other Filipinos, although they did not, as a rule, have as much contact with the outside world. They displayed great variety in social organization, cultural expression, and artistic skills that showed a high degree of creativity, usually employed to embellish utilitarian objects, such as bowls, baskets, clothing, weapons, and even spoons. Technologically, these groups ranged from the highly sophisticated Bontocs and Ifugaos, who engineered the extraordinary rice terraces, to more primitive groups.

There were ten principal cultural groups living in the Cordillera Central of Luzon in 1990. Of the ten groups, the Ifugaos of Ifugao Province, the Bontocs of Mountain and Kalinga-Apayao provinces, and the Kankanays and Ibalois of Benguet Province were all wet-rice farmers who worked the elaborate rice terraces they had constructed over the centuries. The Kankanays and Ibalois were the most influenced by Spanish and American colonialism and lowland Filipino culture because of the extensive gold mines in Benguet, the proximity of Baguio, good roads and schools, and a consumer industry in search of folk art. Other mountain peoples of Luzon were the Kalingas of KalingaApayao Province and the Tinguians of Abra Province, who employed both wet-rice and dry-rice growing techniques. The Isnegs of northern Kalinga-Apayao Province, the Gaddangs of the border between Kalinga-Apayao and Isabela provinces, and the Ilongots of Nueva Vizcaya Province all practiced shifting cultivation. Negritos completed the picture for Luzon. South of Luzon, upland tribal groups were concentrated on Mindanao, although there was an important population of mountain peoples with the generic name Mangyan living on Mindoro. Among the most important groups in Mindanao were the Manobos (a general name for many tribal groups in southern Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur provinces); the Bukidnons of Bukidnon Province; the Bagobos, Mandayas, Atas, and Mansakas, who inhabited mountains bordering the Davao Gulf; the Subanuns of upland areas in the Zamboanga provinces; the Mamanuas of the Agusan-Surigao border region; and the Bila-ans, Tirurays, and T-Bolis of the area of the Cotabato provinces. Tribal groups on Luzon were widely known for their carved wooden figures, baskets, and weaving; Mindanao tribes were renowned for their elaborate embroidery, appliqué, and bead work.

Contact between primitive and modern groups usually resulted in weakening or destroying tribal culture without assimilating the tribal groups into modern society.

3. Physical and Language Barriers

Many of the provinces of the Philippines are separated from each other by water because the Philippines is an archipelago. Large islands, Luzon and Mindanao have mountain ranges also separate different land areas. As a result of the physical isolation from each other, Filipinos have a rich, multi-cultural heritage and speak 150 different languages and dialects. It must be noted that even though Filipinos speak many languages, there are only eight major languages based on the number of speakers: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon/Ilonggo, Waray, Bikolano, Pangasinense, and Kapampangan. Of these, Filipino, which is based on Tagalog and was formerly spelled as 'Pilipino,’ is the official language along with English. Most textbooks, laws, signboards and mass media are either in English or Filipino.

From this language barrier and indifferences come out regionalism which dates back from the the colonial past of the Philippines under Spain and the United States. Spaniards encouraged regionalism to dissipate any nationalist revolt against them. They practiced a "divide and rule" policy wherein they employed Filipino soldiers from one region to put down an uprising in another region. In addition, Spanish friars, in their desire to evangelize, studied the native tongues and incorporated Catholicism into Filipino social customs and religious observances. In doing so, the Spaniards preserved the native languages and dialects of the Filipinos. They also implanted Roman Catholicism in the Philippines, and influenced the Philippine legal system, social institutions, literature and arts. Meanwhile, the American colonial rule also unwittingly encouraged regionalism.[11]

Language differences and regionalism are just a few factors of the rich cultural herritage and behaviors of individual – tribes in context – that give color and blend of Filipino Philosophy.

4. Contributions to Filipino Philosophy by the Culture of Filipinos

           The myth stories of the primitive people of the country give an overview of the type of family we have – bilateral, communal, same level of responsibility between father and mother.
        The persuasive influence of the family upon all segments of Philippine social organization can be illustrated in many ways. Religious responsibility, for example, is familial rather than church-centered. Each home has a family shrine. The influence of the family upon economic and entrepreneurial business activities is also great. The so-called "corporations" found in urban areas are generally family holdings. The prevailing family structure emphasizes loyalty and support of the family, not of any higher level of social organization.

              Moreover, the myths and stories of the cultural past and the present, shows the split personality of the Filipino people in religion and its way of life. Split level Christianity was brought about by the mixture of animism that has been long practiced by ancient Filipinos fused with the Catholicism of Spain and Protestantism of America giving a rich blend of official and unofficial folk Catholicism which most of the time criticized but give rise to deeper faith and relationship with God. One thing that may be untrue with this is that new age people and Filipino unbelievers would negate this assertion. But that is not our concern. 
              Filipino hospitality, reciprocity, religious inclinations, “bayanihan” are some of the other contributions brought about by culture to the main nature of the Filipino Psyche. More of these are studied and researched by numerous Psychologists and Anthropologists and so therefore we shall not tackle theme anymore.

            Culture has its share in the body symbolism. The body has been used as metaphor and usually found in the languages expressed by people.
Each culture has been so embodied that the emotional expressions of its culture-bearers are also relative. Since Philippine languages and reasoning border on the symbolical and metaphorical, the body has its share. Thus people with `malaking tiyan' (big bellies) are corrupt government officials such as grafters and bad policemen. `Magkapantay ang paa' (the feet on even length) or `una ang paa' (feet first) is a corpse. The use of the body as metaphor of society is quite old. The president is the head (`pangulo'). Undertakings need brains (`utak') and a trusted, indispensable aide as right hand (`kanang kamay'). The followers literally are the fingers (`galamay'). While `kabiyak ng dibdib' (half of one's heart) or `kapilas ng puso' (a piece of one's heart) means spouse. A cooperative undertaking rests on `collective shoulders' (`balikatan') or with linked arms (`kapit-bisig'). The labor force is the `arm of the worker' (`bisig ng manggagawa'). [12]

            As of the present, when Filipino culture is discussed, one tends to see the negative connotations. It is only recently that the nation has focused on the positive values that the Filipinos inherently possess. For the pessimists, they will agree with James Fallows that the Filipinos have a damaged culture, leaving the Filipinos to believe that they aren’t really responsible for their country’s fate. A survey conducted by the Social Weather Station reports that survey results do not support the "damage culture" allegations.

The Filipinos, compared with Westerners, prefer a "structured" way of life rather than one in which he can be assertive of his own individuality. Thus, a Westerner will find the Filipino less autonomous and more dependent. This is because of the social concept of the Filipino self-esteem. His concept of self is identified with his family. Right from childhood he is made to believe that he belongs to the family. Since childhood a Filipino is encouraged to tell all of his thoughts to his parents and submit to his parents’ direction, counsel and advice. In times of misfortune he is assured of his family’s support, sympathy and love.
By western standards, the Filipino parents can be considered overprotective and sometimes intrusive. However, if one understands this seemingly unreasonable control in the context of the Philippine culture wherein exists the belief in the primacy of the extended family over that of the individual and that the only source of emotional, economic, and moral support is the family, one will be more tolerant and respectful of such actuation.

Women in the Philippines occupy a high status. Women are highly respected in the Philippines.

Filipinos are fond of giving and attending parties.  These may be a foreign attitude but it’s just a manifestation of the happy-cheerful way of life of Filipinos that is rooted from within the self. Filipinos have always viewed and based their culture on foreign standards. This unconscious point of view will obviously yield a conclusion that our own culture is flawed.

But despite all of these as it is said, “The Filipino culture is neither inferior nor superior to other cultures but rather it is simply the way Filipinos are.” [13]

C. Other Major Factors Contributing to its Nature

            Other major factors influencing Filipino Philosophy are its Education, Language and Geography, Western and Eastern Philosophies, and most especially Religion. 
            Education shapes the mind of individuals. It is the way of acquiring and disseminating knowledge. Through education, cultures, thoughts and ideas, concepts and theories are handed down from one generation to another. It is by education that we learn the Western thoughts and their civilization which we try to imitate and to live-out. It is by education that we inculcate to the next generation, the ideal self and the justified and unjustified, true and false beliefs.
           Language and Geography determine the type of the desires, the taste and the perceptions of the people. It is one of the major factors contributing to the indifferences of major cultures in the Philippines most especially that the country is separated by water.     

Culture takes part in the molding of history and of man. And the rest, together with culture and history runs in circle around the development and of the nature of Filipino Philosophy.

After stating the basic and the major influences and foundation of Filipino Philosophy or the Filipino Worldview, it is now better to elaborate and to study what is this Filipino Worldview is all about or what does it contain. The historical, anthropological and other major influences to the Filipino way of thinking will make us understand the Filipino worldview, which will be discussed in the next chapter.


The Filipino Worldview and Being

A. Eastern and Western Worldview

          It is at first proper to see the difference between the eastern philosophy where Filipino philosophy belongs; and of the western philosophies where Filipinos mostly inherit their values and philosophy. 

         Western philosophies in general connote and denote of being materialistic. It values pragmatism and gives more value of what is there that is useful to man and its existence. That is why it is most often said that western philosophy is extroverted. It also tends to separate things or to seek for the particulars rather than to make a general thought of something. Although in the early days, generalization was the trend, but in the advent of time when contemporary philosophy emerged, a new way of looking at things has evolved that changed the world and the beings in the world. Western Philosophy seeks for knowledge for information sake and not for the benefit of having something for the upliftment of one’s soul or lifestyle. Furthermore, the way of thinking for western philosophers is linear. It looks at time as linear as with the distance and with space.

          On the other hand, the Eastern philosophies connote and denote spirituality; it is mostly introverted – always towards self rather than outward; no separation of things, there is oneness in everything or in other words everything is interconnected; gaining of knowledge is for the transformation of the individual; and the way of thinking is cyclical – time, distance, and space are measured by experiences.

           Filipinos are more alike with the eastern people in the philosophical sense and even in culture. Filipinos conceptualize time as cyclical and everything is measured through experiences. There may be instances of contrast but it is only for the sake of work that are to be in congruent and parallel to the official international time and for western ethically based policies at work, at which most of the time only written in paper but seldom practiced by individuals.

           And so, we should understand why Filipinos are always thought of as contradictory to what it is living for or at the ethical sense of view. For us to be able to understand certain circumstances in the Filipino lifestyle and line of thought, we should take look at the Filipino worldview.

B. The Filipino Worldview

The traditional Filipino primal (animistic) worldview states that the world is full of spirits. The divine energy that permeates the universe is manifested in "every aspect of the natural world, in stones, trees, clouds, and fire." Mountains, caves, rivers, plants, animals, and people have power. This divine presence or power as permeating the universe can be actualized or concentrated in objects and persons.

            The soul or the being of a Filipino as said, theorized, and probability proven by Filipino researchers, Psychologists and proponents of Filipino Philosophy, as I should say it, is composed of the matter and the soul (as in the rational monads of Leibniz); the identity of the nuclear family – mother, father, siblings; the identity of the extended family and all kin either by blood or recognitional ties; the values internalized, infused by education, culture and society, and history as well; looks into the harmonious interdependence in nature and in environment just as other Eastern Philosophies do while not denying the animism and the supernatural being wandering internally and externally of him. 

C. Influences of History and Culture to Filipino Worldview

History gradually modifies the Filipino worldview from the self even up to the religious and societal way of viewing of things. It has been said that the cave was an original venue of acquiring the amulet or the anting-anting and the security from danger (danger as in from the wrath that may be brought by aswang, and other supernatural beings in the area). When the colonizers introduced religion, the new venue for these protections and for the acquiring of strength and power is the "cave" of the church. Prayer and ritual is a source of power.

History changes the worldview of the Filipinos towards his environment, the national sovereignty, the governance of the country. But one thing history has not changed – the “I” of the Filipinos. The others-oriented-kin-related self remains the same.

        Culture, like history, modifies the worldview of the Filipinos. For every ethno-linguistic community, society, province or region whatever you want to call it, every individual or the whole group has its own worldview on how to enrich, practice, and show his or her own culture. Despite the indifferences of cultural background and ancestral indifferences, the Filipino worldview in the context of the self has never changed. Culture is passed from generation to generation through time (history), through psychological time, but the self being that self, which is others-oriented-kin-related-self, remains the same as it is. 

         In this regard, the Filipino self is unique and his worldview, which is to be in harmony with all that is around him or her, is true to every Filipino from age to age and from culture to culture.

D. Where does Filipino Philosophy Belong?        

        Now the question of where does Filipino Philosophy belong, is it to the Western or to the Eastern world? My answer is in the Eastern Philosophy. You may contend that we have that western thoughts, yes there is that present western thought and it is 75% if we are to base our comparison of the two worlds – eastern and western. But my point is that we only have one world; and can a single individual or a single country from the east not have a unique philosophy that is a blend of western and eastern worldviews? Is it not a fact that for every philosopher there is a counter philosopher. Although one can question me here that I may be saying that Filipino Philosophy is an anti philosophy of the eastern philosophy or of the western philosophy. Well it may be yes in a minimal sense. But if I would go back to the nature of Filipino Philosophy, it tends to be in harmony of what is there. It may have engulfed the realm of western and the eastern mind, still it focuses on its “self”, the Filipino self. It does not contradict the two major “connoted” worlds but instead it’s a bridge. Another question may arise from my assertion that it is a bridge. The bridge does not mean to say that it has not established its own self or own identity. No, it is not. Lets take for example a real material bridge. The bridge exists and by its existence it is unique on its own and has its own identity different from the other things in the world. It has its own purpose in its existence and has established its being there. Compared to the way of life, Filipino Philosophy, exists there in the world of Philosophies as a unique philosophy. Its uniqueness is the fact that it is a blend of eastern and western worldviews, and where else can you find that? Isn’t it as the line goes “only in the Philippines.” Then it is something to be proud of. We must realize that our Philosophy may be criticized, but through criticisms we find our way to defend our own ideals and to further strengthen the ideals that we have already established and acquired. 
          Filipino Philosophy is unique in itself and is a pride of the Filipino people. It doesn’t matter which general worldview it belongs. What matters is that the country that belongs to the eastern coast has a philosophy that is distinct and rich in itself. The choice is left to the people whether to take it as a material for its national pride and left to the critics, the Filipino philosophers and scholars if they push our philosophy to the limits and to the level of other philosophies or to drag it down. For it shapes the Philippine politics, economics, justice system, and the rest of that which revolves in the society of the country. 

         The Filipino worldview is vis a vis the identity of a Filipino. This worldview is the major tool in understanding the behavior, the demography and the attitudes of the Filipino. The next chapter will state the usage and the importance of Filipino Philosophy various Philippine studies.



A. Filipino Philosophy and Filipino Psychology

          Filipino Philosophy is very important in studying the Psychology of Filipinos. It elucidates clearly the ethical standards or the moral values that Filipinos have. Let us take into consideration the ethical issues regarding the owning of things or properties.

             Personal property is property of the “I” (“I” as we have been discussing from the start of this paper). Getting one’s belongings by others who are considered as hindi ibang tao is considered none offensive and not an act of stealing. This is due to the view of the interpersonal relations of Filipinos.

           A Filipino has two major ways of dealing with his society depending upon the basis of relatedness to the self. Individuals always value pakikitungo, pakikisalamuha, pakikisama to people whom he does not know; and likewise, he/she deals on how to be in harmony with the related individuals to his life - involvement and “pakikiisa” are two very important values to consider.
            Having this glimpse of the relatedness of Filipino Philosophy to our Psychology I would like to quote Fr. Mercado’s words:

The role of Filipino philosophy in Filipino Psychology is twofold: negative and positive. The negative role is to point out the philosophical presuppositions of the imported psychological approaches as used in the Philippines. 

Positively, Filipino philosophy reveals the Filipino’s worldview to the psychologist. Philosophy points out the road for psychology to investigate. And conversely, the Filipino psychologist shows his findings to the philosopher, who in turn will try to correlate the findings in a wider perspective.[14]

In studying the Filipino Psych, one has to look in to the Filipino way of life and must read between the lines of the Filipino mind. “Both Filipino psychologists and philosophers – if they wish to be really Filipino – have to follow the wisdom of Filipino culture.”[15]

B. Filipino Philosophy on Sociological Studies of the Philippines

     The Filipino society is stratified into different classes and social statuses.  The stratification is based on the setting of the citizens. The citizen who is also equated as the individuals has the common worldview and the individual worldview, which is the same as mentioned in the previous chapters.

     Considering therefore this premise, in order to understand and in studying the society, the philosophy of the particular stratific divisions of the country must be clearly studied and devised. Likewise,  it must be studied also in the general term.  Understanding the worldview of the Filipinos is very important so that it would not be difficult to understand why the mases is indifferent with the elite and why there as such division.

C. Filipino Philosophy on Filipino Religiosity

             The Philippines is the sole Catholic Country in Asia. The country is populated by Christians, largely by Catholics followed by Protestants, by Muslims, and by the nomads. Religiousity is very much evident in every single Filipino except for few who are converted atheists and confessed agnostics. From every See in the ecclesial region of the country, various practices are to be observed up to the extent that we can find a split personality in Filipinos in terms of religiousity and an ironic Folk-Catholicism.

              In order to understand the religiousity of the Filipinos, we have to make use of Filipino Philosophy as a tool for understanding such religiousity and spirituality. It is for the reason that the Filipino worldview as manifested by the self or the “I” who is others-oriented-kin-related-self elucidates and lay down the elements of the religious aspect of a citizen/s of the Republic of the Philippines which is historically and anthropologically molded as manifested in time being.

            Pope John Paul II, in his meeting with the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, in Manila, on January 15, 1995, made his appeal to the Pastors of the Church in Asia to foster what is generally called the mission ad gentes. The Church can never be content as a small minority or an inward-looking community. The Church firmly believes that every person has the right to know the riches of the mystery of Christ - riches in which the whole of humanity can find an unsuspected fullness, everything that man is gropingly searching for concerning God, and his destiny, life and death, and truth.[16] In closing, he reminded the Catholic Asian bishops' conferences that, as the dawn of the third millennium draws near, it is particularly in Asia towards which the Church's mission ad gentes ought to be chiefly directed.[17]
1. On the Formation of Priests

The very first step is to check the formation of the Filipino priests in the country who in turn will deal with the Filipino people, who are by themselves carriers of these traits that were sediments of the changes in culture through time. The aforementioned Filipino culture and history in the first pages of this paper have to be considered.

The molding starts with the seminary. Hence, seminaries are encouraged to renew their programs according to the demands of the times of their respective locality in view of the global situation and in view of the worldview of a Filipino individual.

Globalization is affecting the Filipino people; its worldview and its culture as it go through time. The seminarians have to know what is there that is happening with the “Filipino world.” 

The seminarians who will become pastors of God's people in their respective region will have to learn about the phenomenon now known as "globalization." They must know how to handle the implications of such a situation. They should know how to help the people placed under their care. They should teach these people how to protect themselves from the adverse effects of globalization, as well as to recognize the positive dimensions of the same reality in the promotion of what is good for the community and for the world. [18]

Aside from knowing the phenomenology of the Philippine situation in the time being, the seminarian’s formation must also be based on the Filipino Philosophical terms. The “term” means context. A non-consideration to this matter brings conflict to the individual, which is most often a problem in seminary formations. There is just one major problem and that is, with the exemption of the Diocesans, the Religious follows the Philosophy of the West in philosophical terms (sense). A suggestion, which might be good or irrelevant and inapplicable for conservative congregations and orders, is to conceptualize their formation in the local setting (Filipino Setting).

The priest is a man of dialogue. This implies a certain degree of availability and openness by the priest. He must pursue dialogue with depth. To be able to do this, the priest should learn the necessary skills for creative and effective dialogical understanding. The end in view is a dialogue with philosophical systems, cultures and religions.
 The priest is a man of humble service. A lowly attitude is required of a priest who wants to render humble service. His lowly attitude has to emanate from a humble character. Likewise, he must be familiar with the signs of the times. He must acquire a true understanding of such signs. The acquisition of skills to serve effectively the Church and society is a must. Social concerns for the needy hopefully would be enhanced.[19]

In order to enhance this, one must be able to recognize the Filipino Worldview in general and in particular.

Studies within the framework of the Filipino mind must be carried on. Filipinos follow an organic approach to the understanding of things rather than an architectonic one. The program of philosophy taught in the colleges in seminaries must put emphasis on Oriental philosophy and cultures.
           As suggested in the paper submitted for the Formation of Priests in Asia, following topics or subjects must be taught in the college level: (a) Theories of Evidence; (b) Organic and Architectonic Approaches to Science/Knowledge; (c) Ancient World and Philosophy; d) Some Lights from the Dark Ages; (e) Nirvana in Hinduism and Buddhism; f) Empiricism and Logical Positivism;[20] and I shall add (g) Filipino Philosophy and its branches.

Furthermore elements of Philosophy in Filipino Folk Stories/Sayings like the Traditional Religions among Native Tribes, Secularism and Materialism, Islamic Religion; the animistic world of primitive Filipinos, the Family and the Society must be studied.

The family, being part of the “I” or part of the sakop where values are nurtured and passed, is the seedbed of priestly vocation. The mother and the father are primary factors in the formation of the vocation of individuals. The grandparents and the relatives would also have a special role since they are not “ibang-tao.” They are part of the “I” or the Filipino self. The extended part of the self affects the vocation of the individual.

Likewise, for non-religious, still the above is evident. It is when the sakop encourages the individual Filipino to practice their religion that the individual does his religious acts (except for those who are religious by heart) but most common than not, it is the reality – people, family in particular attend mass because it is a family tradition.

It was mentioned that a Filipino individual identifies himself with peers or a group. In the seminary formation, the idea of accompaniment is one sound mode and strategy in spiritual guidance. Young people love to be accompanied. The idea of being accompanied in the journey of faith and life in fact is very biblical in origin and in orientation.

It is with the peer that a Filipino would open up their aspirations and problems in life. If an individual could not see this in their Formators, the problem of secrecy and uneasiness to openness comes in the picture.

It is with the peer where one is led to the church or to be out of the church. The formation of youth in the church is very much feasible and fruitful when the Filipino worldview is applied. Because young people specially the postmodern youth of the country live in individualism, one main solution is to tap the attitude of a Pinoy ascribing oneself to others who are considered part of the sakop will somehow bring people to church and to prayer.

Muslims manifest this “group” attitude. It is evident in their worships and in their daily lives (religious context). So why not with the Christians? The Catholics in particular?

            Many examples and assertions have been made. But one more thing to add is the strategies on how to deal with people. Filipinos like story telling. The event of salvation could be well imparted to students and to the Philippine “Church” using story-telling approach that should go with strict chronological pointers so that the gradual unfolding of the plan of salvation will be grasped with utmost clarity.
          There may have been many assertions and premises as stated above, in the long run, what we are trying to assert here is that one, either a scholar, a seminarian, a religious or simply a lay, must know the Filipino worldview before he/she could judge that the faith of an individual Filipino is authentic based on his actions which might be indifferent with the known norms in the Western oriented Catholicism or Protestantism or whatever religion he/she may have.
          Filipino Philosophy as mentioned in the first pages of this paper, helps to understand the inner motivation and or of the assertions and notion of a Filipino towards the practice of the teachings, rituals, and norms of his/her religion. It is helpful in the formation of priests who will soon be the head of the “Church” where in this church is the composition of individuals who are others-oriented-kin-related-self forming a diverse culture, dwelling in the Land of the Morning as contained in the physical, psychological, and historical time.


Summary, Findings and Recommendations

A. Summary

              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 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.

          Filipinos must be proud that we have our own philosophy. It’s just that we do not give much importance to it. We do not see it because we are blinded and overshadowed by the mere fact that we have that colonial mentality and the different exercise of democracy.

              Our philosophy may be a blend of western thought and eastern worldview, but that’s what makes it unique from other philosophies in the world. There can never be like other than Filipino Philosophy.

B. Findings

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

1.      Filipino Philosophy Exists.    

Filipino Philosophy as a discipline is 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.

As an identity, it is the soul 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.


C. Recommendations

            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 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.

D. Trends and Prospects to the Claretian Congregation

             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 believes 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 the Philippines, 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 the Filipinos values relationships and the self, then the Claretians must establish a relationship with the people in the light of Filipino Philosophy.

A. Books and Pamphlets

Abueva, Jose Veloso and de Guzman, Raul P. Foundations and Dynamics of
Filipino Government and Politics. Manila: Book Mark Inc., 1969.

Agapay, Ramon B. Ethichs and the Filipino (A Manual on Morals for Students
and Educators). Metro Manila: National Book Store, 1991.

Casal, Gabriel, The People and Art of the Philippines. Los Angeles, 1981.

Foronda, Marcelino A. The Filipino and His Society in Philippine History: Some
Personal Reflections in Filipino Thought on Man and Society. Tacloban City: Divine Word Press, 1980.

Gorospe, Vitalino S.J. Filipino Values Revisited. Metro Manila: National Book
Store, 1988

Jocano, F. Landa. Filipino Prehistory “Rediscovering Precolonial Heritage.”
Quezon City: Punlad Research House, 1998.

_______Ethnography Of Local Knowledge. Quezon City: Punlad Research House, 1997.

Medina, Belen T., ed. The Filipino Family. Quezon City: U.P. Press, 1991.

Mercado, Leonardo N. Aplied Filipino Philosophy. Tacloban City: Divine Word
University Publications, 1977.

_______Elements of Filipino Ethics.Tacloban City: Divine Word University Publications, 1979.

_______Elements of Filipino Philosophy. Tacloban City: Divine Word University Publications, 1974.

_______The Filipino Mind (Philippine Philosophical Studies II). USA: Council for research in Values and Philosophy, 1994.

Molina, Antonio M. The Philippines Through the Centuries. Manila: UST
Cooperative, 1960.

National Historical Institute at ADHIKA ng Pilipinas. Kasaysayang Bayan: Sampung Aralin sa Kasaysayang Pilipino, 1st edition. Quezon City: National Historical Institute at ADHIKA ng Pilipinas, 2001.

PCP II Council. Second Plenary Council of the Philippines. Manila: St. Paul’s Press, 1981.

Pe-Pua Rogelia, ed. Sikolohiyang Pilipino (teorya, Metodo at Gamit). Quezon
City U.P. Press, 1982.

Philippines (Republic).Philippine Constitution of 1987. Manila: National Book Store, 1987.

Vatican II Council. Vatican II Documents. Manila: St. Paul’s Press, 1965.

B. Electronic Sources

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\\net data server\\samcc\library\main archives\religiousity.htm

[1] Emerita S. Quito, The State of Philosophy in the Philippines ( Manila: De La Salle University Research Center, 1983).

[2]  Leonardo Mercado is a Roman Catholic priest, member of the Society of Divine Word.

[3] 1987 Philippine Constitution (Quezon City: National Printing Press, 1987).

[4] F. Landa Jocano, Filipino Prehistory (Quezon City: Punlad Research House, 1998), p. 20.

[5] Britanica Encyclopedia CD 2000

[6] Kieth Yandel


[8] F. Landa Jocano, Filipino Prehistory (Quezon City: Punlad Research House, 1998)

[9] Marcelino Foronda, The Filipino and His Society in Philippine History (Tacloban City: Divine Word Press,1980),  pp.1-9.

[11] Sheila de Torres, “Understanding Persons of Philippine Origin: A Prinier for Rehabilitation Service Providers” (Master’s thesis,University of the Philippines, Quezon City, 2002).



[14]  Leonardo N. Mercado, Applied Filipino Philosophy (Tacloban City: Divine Word University Press, 1977), p. 57.

[15]   Ibid., p. 64

[16] Evangelii Nuntiandi (Manila, St. Pauls Press, 1965), n. 53, p.

[17] Redemptoris Missio,(Manila, St. Pauls Press, 1965), n. 34, p.


[19] Ibid.


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ON THE NATURE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF FILIPINO PHILOSOPHY by Louie Guades III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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