Finding Filipino Fervor

Manila Bulletin, June 11, 2018 | Go to article overview

Finding Filipino Fervor


By Johannes L. Chua

What makes us truly Pinoy? Is it the way we speak? The way we dress? Or the way we eat? Is it the way we laugh when we are with friends, or the way we celebrate occasions with family?

Foreigners are always perplexed about the identity of Pinoys as a lot of us are like "chameleons" - we can easily adapt to another nation's culture and ways. Is it because we were influenced heavily by other countries who have colonized us - Spain, the US, Japan - making their culture our own, and creating a colorful tapestry of traditions and beliefs that have redefined who we are as a nation?

Again, what makes us truly Pinoy?

Political scientist and historian Benedict Anderson, who wrote the 1983 book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, defined a nation as "...an imagined political community and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign. It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion..."

Considering this together with the present political climate where the country seems to be divided in two separate poles, Filipinos continue to evolve, but they are bound by the culture, language, and norms that they grew up with.

Multi-cultural origin

The Filipino people are fascinating because their background didn't come from a single origin. As the country entered several phases in history, it resulted in a polychromatic identity.

Currently, the Philippines is inhabited by more than 175 ethnolinguistic groups with the Tagalog, settlers of Manila and its surrounding areas, as the largest group in the island. Cebuano comes in second and they live largely in the Visayas, and followed by the Ilocano who are mostly found in the northern part of the country. Aside from the three major ethnic groups, the Bisaya/Binisaya, Hiligaynon, Ilonggo, Bikol, Waray are also the majority groups in the country, all of whom are defined by their own language and local norms.

Sociologist and UP Professor Samuel Cabbuag, pointed to culture, language, norms and even cuisine as the common identity markers of being a Filipino. This includes moral values, folkways, and localized norms. Being a predominantly Catholic country, many of these norms are influenced by the Church.

"In terms of characteristics, we take pride in having a national language, which some countries do not have (i.e. the US) and our cuisine that many nations particularly Western countries are just discovering," Cabbuag said.

With a very diverse group of people living in the country, different languages are used apart from the national language, Tagalog and one of the official languages, English. …

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