I would like to share one of my reflection papers in my post-grad class, where we were required to read about Filipino values, norms and relations and analyze its implications to community development. This is somewhat related to holy week and my stance on religion in the Philippines.

The article by Pe-Pua and Protacio-Marcelino (2000) gave an overview of the beginnings of Sikolohiyang Pilipino, primarily focused on the significant contributions of Virgilio G. Enriquez, as the pioneer of an indigenous psychology that is Filipino in origin, orientation, significance, and application. Decades before, even during the time of Spanish colonization, Filipino intellectuals such as Jose Rizal and Apolinario Mabini have already noted the denigrating observations from the West (Pe-Pua & Protacio-Marcelino, 2000). Rizal, in fact, has defended the Filipino nature most notably in his work “La Indolencia de los Filipinos” (“The Indolence of the Filipino), which was written in 1890. However, it was not until the 1970s, through Enriquez, that a serious move towards altering the inadequate and biased academic psychology was done. Thus, Sikolohiyang Pilipino was chiefly established both as a response to the limited applicability of Western models and disparaging views of Western authors. It seeks to “foster national identity and consciousness, social involvement, and psychology of language and culture, and applications and bases of Filipino psychology in health practices, agriculture, art, mass media, religion, etc.” (Pe-Pua & Protacio-Marcelino, 2000, p. 53).

Upon its establishment, Sikolohiyang Pilipino has significantly contributed in changing both foreign and local perspectives on the Filipino personality and Filipino values such as “bahala na”, “hiya”, “utang na loob”, “pakikisama” and “pakikipagkapwa” by presenting the historical-cultural context and linguistic morphology from authentic sources that are Filipino and home-grown (Pe-Pua & Protacio-Marcelino, 2000).  It should be noted that Pe-Pua and Protacio-Marcelino’s article, first and foremost, was focused on the legacy left behind by Enriquez. However, it still provided a good background of Sikolohiyang Pilipino, its applications and future directions. Its potential for community development is immense, especially for planning, community organizing, leadership and governance, implementation as well as sustainability of programs/services in the community.

Quisumbing’s discussion (n.d.) on the other hand, is noted to have substantial Christian underpinnings. She was primarily raised and educated in Christian (to be accurate, Catholic) environments, which seemed to have largely influenced her philosophy and approaches on education. One of the statements in her article I feel strongly about and I would like to underscore is that values education, as an element of “social transformation towards building a culture of peace”, aims to develop among others, an individual who is “a believer in a supreme being”. For me, this seems to imply that those who do not believe in a deity, e.g. atheists and agnostics, cannot contribute to social transformation and by extension, to a culture of peace. Viewed in this perspective, and considering Quisumbing’s strong Catholic background, values education appears to give the impression that it is a tool and a good excuse for evangelization in schools. Taken to a lower level, even with a well-designed “universal” curriculum, the implemented curriculum, executed by school teachers, will vary considerably. Hence, teaching of values education will be highly colored by the teacher’s own beliefs. To illustrate, a values education teacher who is a devout Catholic will most likely teach students values which are considered desirable in his/her religion despite having several Christian, Muslim or lumad students in a class.

In addition, the definition of “global spirituality” as one of the value clusters identified by the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines (1997) contains explicit bias towards monotheistic religions. The term “God” was used, not “gods”. The entire framework appears to disregard the existence of other Filipinos who worship several deities, like indigenous tribes, as well as atheists and agnostics. I firmly believe that having a religious affiliation is not a necessary pre-requisite for one to be able to contribute to values formation and peace building.

Looking at the Philippines’ historical context, religion has been utilized extensively by the Spanish to manipulate native Filipinos towards subservience, with punishments further reinforcing the “desire to please and to conform”. Hence, Filipinos have likely chosen to be passive and docile out of fear—an external reason, rather than an innate value. The Catholic doctrines of suffering and tolerance with the promise of entry to heaven in the afterlife were very valuable tools used by the Spanish to perpetuate submissiveness and douse whatever fire left in the hearts of the people. A colonizer’s initial objective is to eradicate the cultural memories of the conquered people, to produce a “collective amnesia”, in order to replace their culture with the colonizer’s own (de Leon Jr., 2011). Whatever remnants left of our precolonial culture today were the result of the excellent job of our colonizers. Little is known of the Filipino culture before the Spanish came. We do not know what the values of the original and authentic Filipinos were. What we are now, the Filipino identity—inferiority complex and the tendency to imitate anything Western by Filipinos—a colonial mentality, is traced back to our historical roots (de Leon Jr., 2011).

Nationalism, both as a feeling and as a movement (including Sikolohiyang Pilipino), is difficult to fortify more than ever because of globalization. Going back to Quisumbing’s article (n.d.), one cannot help but scoff at the irony of including globalism as of one the related values in the 1997 framework, with UNESCO sponsoring the revision to incorporate a “national and global agenda that was more relevant and responsive to present day situations and needs”. Using the 1986 People Power Revolution as a springboard for the development of a values education program during the term of former President Corazon Aquino, with a framework heavily influenced by elitist religious and economic agenda, it becomes clear why a solid national identity and a collective concern for the country have been grueling to achieve. While I do agree with Quisumbing’s call for inner transformation, for values education to contribute effectively to peace and development, it is imperative to formulate a national framework that is participatory, inclusive and culturally-sensitive—one that is genuinely anchored on the Filipino psychology.


de Leon, F. M. Jr. (2011). Culture in Development Planning. Retrieved from http://www.ncca.gov.ph/about-culture-and-arts/articles-on-c-n-a/article.php?subcat=13&i=378

Pe-Pua, R. and Protacio-Marcelino, E. (2000). Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Filipino Psychology): A legacy of Virgilio G. Enriquez. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 3, 49-71.

Quisumbing, L. (n.d.) Chapter Eight: Peace, Tolerance and Harmony as Core Values of Philippine Culture.

Rizal, J. (1890). The Indolence of the Filipino (“La Indolencia los Filipinos” in English). Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/ebooks/download/7358250?doc=6346


4 thoughts on “

    1. Thank you. 🙂 I shared this hoping it could help others, especially my fellow Filipinos, think about some issues more deeply and question critically–not just readily accept things as they are.

      1. I’m in the development field kaya when I read it, I can perfectly relate. It’s enlightening ❤

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