A nation empowers itself depending on the beliefs, goals, ideals, aspirations, and values of its citizens. In order to achieve national unity and progress, it needs the full cooperation of its people. Values as a people and as a nation gives the identity that differentiates one race from the others. These values may improve or hinder development and progress but nonetheless, with unity of diversity, development and progress are achievable.
A Filipino holds strengths that most other nationalities admire but there are also weakness that makes him a laughing stock of its foreign neighbors.
Close Kinship - a Filipino considers family as an important social structure that they must love and care. Close family ties results to the family still being intact regardless that the children are old and with families of their own.
- Respect for Elders - the use of “po” and “opo” in conversing or addressing older people is a sign of a Filipino’s respect for the elders. Filipinos do not send their elders to nursing homes because they still value the worth and presence of the elders at home.
- Hospitality – the Filipino community are very warm and hospitable. They even give “pasalubong” (welcome gifts) and “pabaon” (farewell gifts) to guests. At times, they sacrifice their own comfort to accommodate their guests very well.
- Strong Faith in God - their faith in God keeps them united to overcome all the problems and challenges of life.
- Flexibility / Adaptability / Resiliency - the Filipinos have the trait to laugh at themselves and their misfortunes or failures. This is a coping mechanism to balance emotional stress and to boost the capacity to survive. They can smile in midst of problems and hardships. They can still crack jokes despite the stresses of their daily lives and during calamities. They are strong and cheerful people.
- Ingenuity and Creativity - they are good inventors. They often improvise and make productive use of available resources.
- Patience and Self-sacrifice - a remarkable quality of a Filipino is his capacity to endure difficulties and hardships. Maybe related to the long suffering they endured during the many colonization in Philippine history. They are patient enough to wait for their turn to be blessed with greener pastures as long as they do what is right and good.
- Hard work and Industry - Filipinos are globally recognized for their excellent performance in any physical and technical tasks. Maybe visible due to the desire for economic security and advancement for one’s self and family.
- Fairness and Justice – they always show concern for the well-being of others. They uphold the humanity of all people and regard everyone with respect and empathy. They are keen on interpersonal relationships, their primary source of security and happiness.Fairness & Justice –> Equality –> Social Justice –> Development & Progress.
- Readiness to Share and Help - they re always ready to lend a hand, not only in times of need (calamities or disasters) but also in festive occasions (“fiestas”, baptisms and weddings). The “bayanihan” spirit, or giving help without expecting something in return, of a Filipino is widely admired.
- “Bahala Na” – this is also synonymous to the phrase “Que sera sera” (Whatever will be, will be), or “Hakuna Matata” (No Worries). It leaves everything to chance or just let the circumstances take care of themselves, embracing luck over good reason.
- “Ningas Kugon” – “kugon” is a kind of grass that burns easily when dry but extinguished easily as well. Like the cogon grass, Filipinos start things with great enthusiasm but at the first sign of difficulty, the enthusiasm is consumed as fast as it has ignited.
- Colonial Mentality – Filipinos prefer foreign-made products instead of patronizing Philippine-made ones. This result to higher gains for foreign businessmen than local businessmen. Thus, it motivates Filipino businessmen to improve the quality of their products to make it more competitive against foreign ones.
- “Mamaya Na” or “Bukas Na Lang” Habit - a poor habit, a sign of laziness, of leaving for a later time what can be done at the moment or today. Thus resulting to stacked workload to be done and then complain about it.
- Crab Mentality - a troublesome trait evident in a Filipino where when one sees the progress of a comrade, the other becomes resentful rather than happy for the achievement. Rather than to praise, he would highlight everything negative about that person in an effort to bring him down or destroy his reputation. They would focus on other’s own faults rather their own inadequacies.
- “Patigasan” - most Filipinos find it hard to say “I’m sorry” or “pasensya na”. Their precious pride always gets the best of them.
- “Kanya kanya” - a trait which shows self-centeredness and lack of regard for others. There are Filipinos who give priority to what they and their families could have, rather than what they can do to share their wealth and serve others better. This trait shows poor signs of patriotism, loyalty to community, and concern for the needs of others.
Passivity (submission to others or to outside influences)
Indebtedness “Utang Na Loob” – Filipinos are fond of asking for personal favors from others. It is ingrained for them to acknowledge the person who had helped them in times of need. This is a good act but if forced to repay with something bad to show gratitude then it becomes a problem. “Utang na loob” must not be paid with unlawful acts.
- Interpersonal Relationships “Pakikisama” - every person wants to belong to a group where they can share ideas, jokes and feelings but sometimes it becomes a negative thing when the group is the one that influences the person to do unlawful or foolish things in order to belong or to gain approval. This is usually evident in the Filipino youth where peer pressure challenges someone’s morality.
- Lack of Self-confidence “Hiya” - the Filipinos are shy to boast their achievements because they might be regarded as show-offs. They prefer to just hide those achievements and call the idea “being humble”. This is actually a sign of lack of self-confidence.
These characteristics are a challenge for every Filipino. In order to attain development and progress, they must value and prioritize their strengths rather than hide under the clutches of their weaknesses. Embracing the strengths and conquering their weaknesses will truly help the Filipino nation go forward in attaining its plans and aspirations for a richer and more fun Philippines where most foreign countries will be jealous of.
Reference: Fajardo J., Balagtas M., Belarde R., Flora A., Ubiña M., dela Cruz, S. (2013). Philippines’ Pride 6 (Ed). Manila, Philippines: Rex Book Store.