Three Filipino Traits We Can Be Proud Of
Unique Brand of Filipino Traits
Hospitality is known the world over as a mark of the Filipino people. Some Filipino historians would even go so far as to aver that this is one trait unique to Filipinos--a quality of a humble and generous people but bordering between the graciousness of a host and the obsequiousness of a servant, which some foreigners exploited to advance their own interest, as evidenced by the foreign colonizers who for centuries dominated and subjected Filipinos to dire poverty as well as to lack of cultural identity, while serving the whims and desires of the foreigners in our own land.
Notwithstanding that this trait has with it an associated negative connotation, it is nevertheless a great quality imbedded in the Filipino heart. Its deep-rootedness in our culture is an indicator of how we treat with respect, and perhaps with adulation to a fault, any foreigner who comes to our shores, but is a sign of how we value ourselves and our fellow human beings, be they wearing brown skin or other colors of skin.
The humility espoused by the idea of Filipino hospitality, along with our culture of meekness, in contrast with the superiority complex blatantly exhibited by other nationalities, is in fact a sign of strength of our character. To regard other people highly or to consider them above one’s self is to put oneself behind and is the core of others-centeredness, not of self-centeredness, for to put others ahead and be a servant to all is the only way to greatness, as was taught by no less than the founder of Christianity Himself. Filipino hospitality, then, is a trace of inherent goodness, humbleness, and, in a deeper sense, of religiousness of the Filipino people—a trait which we can truly be proud of.
The use of “po” and “opo” in our national language is another trait that is uniquely Filipino and of which we can also be proud. No other language in the world has incorporated in its vocabulary and semantics these terms of politeness by a person speaking to another regardless of age, number, or gender of his audience. The melody of these simple words when used by a native speaker manifests a sound that is in complete harmony with the kindness and gentleness of the Filipino heart. Yet, these small words are powerful enough to pacify the spirit of an angry man--soft words that can turn away wrath or fury.
The absence of these simple syllables in phrases where they are expected to be found is conspicuous and creates cacophony in the auditory nerves of the native Filipino ear accustomed to hearing them in a polite speech. A person is marked ill-mannered, uncultured, or disrespectful, if he does not observe the proper use of these two Tagalog terms in the language.
What makes this trait special and noteworthy is that it creates an avenue for expressing utmost respect to a person being spoken to and builds self-confidence as well as humility on the part of the speaker, which would otherwise be lacking or totally nil if no such words are employed in the communication process, especially when asking information or starting conversation between two people unknown to each other. This trait may have variants or equivalents in other languages of other races, but the Filipino nature of this trait, the trust, respect, and confidence it brings when communicating ideas or feelings, is a legacy all our own, surviving the tests of time and the sophistications of many generations.
Despite the onslaught of foreign trends, ideas, and fashions creeping their way up into the neural centers of the Filipino mind, despite the constant change in language, arts, and culture preferences, the use of these two words will always be a rich flavor to the Filipino tongue—ineffaceable, potent, and colorful, seasoning the speech of every Filipino with civility, kindheartedness, and respect.
Bayanihan, a term now becoming less commonly known to the new generation of Filipinos, is still a trait fixed in the Filipino consciousness and is another Filipino pride. No amount of poverty can diminish the Filipino’s willingness to share. Magnanimity and cooperation of most Filipinos when summoned to give help to the needy becomes easily evident. Even if one is bereft of cash to lend to the poor, this trait surfaces and is noticeable especially during hard times. This trait clearly manifests the unselfishness of Filipinos. It brings about the cheerfulness evident in the smiling faces of people in poverty- or calamity-stricken areas, and it also supplies the hope that giving help to others in need will be repaid by a just and loving Creator who generously provides for all so that nothing is expected in return for reaching out to the less-fortunate. Other peoples of the world may look downcast when hard-hit by calamitous times, but because of bayanihan which Filipinos expect from their neighbors, Filipinos remain cheerful and resilient.
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