De Leon: A Heritage of well-being: The connectivity of the Filipino (part 4)

Filipinos Like to Experience the Multidimensional Wholeness of Life

Filipinos do not like a partial, fragmented view of life. We respond to life synergistically, that is, a cooperative action of all the senses, faculties, or levels of being. That is why a Filipino is not happy just knowing another person's name. He would also inquire about his work, hometown, relatives, marital status, even his salary!

We do not like to belong to only one side of a relationship because it is incomplete. Our kinship system is bilateral. For most parents, having two kids is enough as long as they are a boy and a girl. If not, the number of children may multiply indefinitely until the desired balance is attained.

In hosting shows, Filipinos traditionally pair a man and a woman rather than just have one or the other as in Western countries. The West is beginning to catch on but mixed gender hosting is still a novelty in the U.S.

Our desire for wholeness is very much reflected in gender equality in Filipino society, which is the highest in Asia-Pacific and one of the highest in the world. In the World Ranking of Women in Managerial Positions, we are always in the top ten.

Our holistic logic makes us psychologically healthy, relatively stress-free and not prone to depression and neurosis. We know how to balance the opposites of animus and anima, as strongly embodied in our myth of the first man and woman, Si Ka Lak and Si Ka Bay, emerging from a bamboo tube fully grown and absolutely equal, at least in principle.

Filipinos are Highly Participatory

Filipinos demand collective, equal participation in decision-making and self-determination. No one must have a monopoly of the decision-making process. In Filipino society, everybody is a participant or performer. Nobody likes to be a mere spectator. Thus, we prefer consensus as a mode of reaching decisions or settling conflicts. In this participatory culture, the norm is pantay-pantay, walang lamangan, pagbibigayan or sharing, interdependence, equitable distribution of resources. Violate this norm and pandemonium will ensue. Discipline in Philippine society is premised on fairness and justice. The privilege of one must be the privilege of all. Equal application of the law is a must.

Development as the Proliferation of Options

The deepest social aspirations of the Filipino are freedom, justice, and dignity. Monopoly, dictatorship and the curtailment of choices are anathema. Decision-making is participatory.

Arrogance is a No-no

The Filipino concept of kapwa (shared identity/goodness) and non-duality of life make people absolutely equal in principle and nobody has a right to regard himself as above or more important than others. Humility is highly-prized, at least outwardly. Even Manny Pacquiao is very modest about his skills. After his world title victory over Briton Rick Hatton, he said, "I'm just lucky I hit first. A right hook."

A Healing Culture: Life as a Celebration

* We are highly relational; social interconnectedness leads to longevity
* Expressiveness, especially through music and dance, releases harmful emotions
* Everyday creativity promotes well-being
* Touching as a way of life increases immunity to disease
* Deep belief in God makes Filipinos optimistic and provides meaning to life
* Strong sense of humor and joy of life enable us to rebound easily from any tragedy

Promoting the Local but Thinking National or Global: Human Communities, not the State, are the Ultimate Actors in the Development Process

We have to encourage celebration of the unique cultural identities of our cultural communities through various activities and expressive forms to provide for communication and sustainable development. Failure to do this may lead to violence, deviant behavior, depression, and suicide. Positive programs can encourage harmony and engagement in society. Underlying these programs is the attitude of tolerance and respect for cultural diversity. A nation's development, then, can be viewed as proceeding along apparently divergent directions, one, towards a shared cultural universe at the national level and two, towards the greatest possible intra-cultural diversity at the local level.

Social Self-Images as Self-Fulfilling: The Need to Develop a Strong Shared Vision

It is the image a people create of themselves that is the psycho-cultural basis of their strengths and weaknesses, triumphs and failures. For a nation's self-image tends to be self-fulfilling (Kenneth Boulding, The Image). If in our minds we think we will be defeated, we have already lost. If we think we are an inferior people, we will tend to lower our standards and be satisfied with good enough. Negative self-images, whether individual or collective, can cause untold social and cultural damage.

Social Self-Images as Self-Fulfilling: The Need to Develop a Strong Shared Vision

We have nothing to lose by creating and working for the most exalted and inspiring images of ourselves, especially because we are a highly relational, holistic, participatory and creative people with a strong nurturing and caring orientation.
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