Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


5 Filipino values that can change the Philippines for the better

Posted on January 08, 2015 by jimparedes

By Jim Paredes

The Krem-Top Campaign that calls on every Filipino to ‘Change for the Better’ was a challenge that was launched two years ago. It is a wonderful call. It encourages all Filipinos to institute positive change that will affect the direction of our country’s future. They can be small little resolutions that we can adopt which will not only change us individually but can result in a collective transformation.

I was asked to be a resource speaker during a press briefing they did a few weeks back. I was there with Dr. Mina Ramirez, phenomenological sociologist and President of Asian Social Institute and she talked about Filipino values that can help us not only cope but thrive as a nation.

She mentioned the following:

1) Mapagpasalamat
Having a sense of gratitude is a wonderful attitude to adopt. This is a Filipino trait that serves us well. It makes us more appreciative, and thankful for every gift that comes into our lives. We also become more positive and hopeful as a people. This perhaps explains why we can smile throughout tragedy. Foreign aid workers where in awe when they say Yolanda kids playing basketball two days after the tragedy and shouting with glee despite the squalor and the destruction around them. It is not only a great coping tool but is also thriving mechanism.

2) Matatag

This characteristic defines us quite accurately. With all the natural disasters that have come our way, we remain standing, firm and strong. This is because we live for our loved ones and we will be strong and resilient for them. Mayor Sandy Javier of Javier town cleared the road of debris that led to his town in Leyte 72 hours after Yolanda struck. He knew aid would not come if the road was blocked. But he felt that it was not the time to give in to despair so he acted swiftly.

3) Masigasig

The word implies diligence and zeal. We are capable of committing to long term efforts to do what needs to be done for our families and loved ones. The OFW who toils for years in another country is an example of what being masigasig is all about. He can live through hardship for years just to provide for the future.

4) Mapagmalasakit means compassionate. We are indeed a giving people. We open our homes to people in need. We respond to disasters with a giving heart. We adopt relatives. We offer help to friends when they are in dire straights.

One can’t ignore the fact that we offer every visitor in the house to join us during meals. You will not find this to be true in many other countries.

I think the concept of Bayanihan, a wonderful Filipino trait and practice is also part of being malasakit, but in a grander communal scale.. It is something that we do on a community level where we all move as one and do what needs to be done. A sociologist told me that the famous rice terraces is the only structure in the world of that magnitude that was not built with slave labor. They were built by neighbors who wanted to collectively enjoy the benefits that this type of farming could bring.

It meant pulling resources, time together to achieve common goals.
Bayanihan manifested itself too when we acted in EDSA and threw away the dictatorship. Bayanihan is also the operating system we use when disaster strikes. People come together and help the needy and the disaster-stricken.
My own daughter felt the need to convert our house into a center for collection of goods and packing meals during Ondoy and Yolanda. Together with her friends, they worked for many days, and networked with others to deliver the goods to those in need.

5) Magalang
We are respectful and polite. We love the elderly, and show respect to people whom we admire. We show politeness and civility quite often even in the presence of our enemies.

Dr. Mina Ramirez points out these intrinsic 5 qualities we Filipinos possess as tools we can use to change ourselves and our country for the better.

By being conscious of these values, and using them as strengths to move forward, we can do a lot of changes which will be tangible in our country.

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