Being a Filipino comes with great attachment to Filipino culture. As simple as it may seem to have a glimpse through their practices, Filipino culture has more to be discovered. With the identity that holds generations of tradition, how does this culture continue to emerge in the foreign land?

Whenever the Philippines is brought up, the rich practices and communication of the Filipinos take the top of the discussion, merely because of the common idea that every Filipino acts a certain way. However, is it safe to say that how other people view the “Filipinos” applies to all in such a way that everyone should be expected to uphold the popular Filipino culture?

In the United States, the biggest Filipino diaspora resides in California resulting in a diverse culture amongst Filipino Americans. Filipino culture focuses on the family unit, where one act of a family member affects all members of the family. This is why the Filipino American practices are highly influenced by Filipino family values brought back from the Philippines.

Filipino Americans are the second largest immigrant population in the United States, yet there is very limited literature on their culture and development. With this, some specific cultural traditions and practices that are valued by Filipinos have remained intact in the Filipino American culture.

Importance of the Family

When it comes to Filipino values, there are two major Filipino cultural traits that first come to mind: utang na loob (debt of gratitude) and pakikisama (harmony). The concept of debt of gratitude signifies the family member’s obligation, often in the act of kindness. Harmony, on the other hand, is the display of equal respect and mindfulness towards family members. The combination of these holds the Filipino identity of being family oriented.

Among the Filipino American population, the significance of family traditions treasured in the Philippines became a custom. There is no distinction among the extended family, friends, and visitors for they are all treated with genuine familial care–Filipino hospitality in one plate. 

Endless Food 

In every Filipino household, food becomes a part of bonding and welcoming of a visitor. One may hear, “kain pa” (eat more), a ubiquitous phrase that encourages someone to feel at home. Filipinos’ affinity for food reflects their hospitality merely because of the idea that the amount of food they have in a day is best shared with others. Filipinos usually have four meals a day, agahan (breakfast), tanghalian (lunch), merienda (afternoon snack), and hapunan (dinner). Of course, the infamous “rice” must be part of it, which is not common in the western countries. The generally petite Filipino can actually put away a large portion of food with rice. 

Undeniable Care

The value of “pagmamalasakit” (caring or empathizing) is taught to Filipinos at an early age. Regardless of age and status in life, they will automatically lend a hand whenever it is needed. For the Filipinos, taking care of elderly people is part of the culture and sending them out to Home for the Aged or any hospitals for the elders is never an option. Filipinos’ love and care can never be doubted, which is why most caregivers and nurses in America are Filipinos. 

Filipinos have had a very different journey in becoming part of the United States melting pot. Being a unique immigrant ethnic group, Filipinos in the U.S have faced many difficulties that no other cultural or ethnic minority groups have. Behind the kind words towards the Filipinos, the idea of discrimination and romaticization of the Filipino culture are usually overshadowed.

The large population of Filipino Americans usually resulted to discrimination by the American-born citizens as they are seen as “model minorities”—ambitious children of hardworking Asian parents who knew the importance of education. Apart from this, since Filipinos are known to be polite and hard workers, exploitation becomes a huge problem. Therefore, most of the Filipinos’ hardships go unnoticed because a simple complaint can be used as a negative connotation of Filipino identity.

Cultural practices differ in every nation, where influences can stem from experiences from familial or community they become part of. Whatever the glamor inflicted on the Filipino culture, it is not always on the positive side. Maybe the pride of being a Filipino is what is at stake that is why the other shades of the scheme are being neglected. But it is still a must to encapsulate the bold side of Filipino culture standing up for themselves just like how they stood up for the other’s sake.

Written by Karisma Primero

Karisma Primero is currently a Digital Marketing Intern of PS Media Enterprise, and a 3rd year Broadcasting student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines - Manila.

Andrei de Guzman

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