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- Category: Philippine Culture
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Traditional values pertaining to family, authority, and harmony reflect collectivist values characteristic of many Asian cultures. However, descriptions of surface versus core values indicate contrast, complexity, and possible stereotypic portrayals of the character in literature. A more detailed examination of traditional values and related issues follows.
To understand Filipinos is to accept the complete centrality of the family and that means the extended family, including several generations. No other single aspect of life is likely to be as important, lasting or influential on choices and decisions from childhood to old age. The typical Filipino individual exists first as a member of a family and looks to the family as the only reliable protection against the uncertainties of life.
Reliance on the family for love, support, and refuge has historically been as much an economic necessity as it is a cultural tradition. However, the relationship to family is not just a practical trade off autonomy for social security. It transcends socioeconomic, educational, and regional differences and is part of a collectivistic cultural orientation or way of perceiving the place of the individual in the social context. For Filipinos, the family is the source of one's personal identity and of emotional and material support; it is the focus of one's primary duty and commitment. Dependence on, loyalty to, and solidarity with the family and kin group are of the highest priority.
Concern for the welfare of the family is expressed in the honor and respect bestowed on parents and older relatives, the care provided to children, and the individual sacrifices that is made on behalf of family members. A primary focus on the needs of immediate as well as extended family members may translate into behaviors such as considerable sharing of material things. A Filipina, for example, can walk into a store to buy a blouse for herself and come out with one for her sister instead. Filipinos living in the United States will routinely send money, clothes, household goods, and other items as well as bring many gifts on personal visits to extended family members left behind in the Philippines.
In fact, the vast majority of Filipino-Americans, particularly the most recent immigrants, send large sums of money back home to their kin; these remittance dollars add up to billions a year and are the biggest source of hard currency in the Philippines [Schoenberger, 1994]. Examples of individual sacrifices on the part of various family members might include postponing marriage or passing up a job promotion that would entail transferring to another location away from the family. However, family loyalty also might dictate that a young parent temporarily leave his or her family and children in order to pursue better educational, training, or employment opportunities in the United States or other countries. This sense of family obligation begins early on when children are conditioned to be grateful to their parents for their birth. A lifelong debt of gratitude or utang na loob (debt from within) thereby creates binding relationships of love, respect, and obedience.
Since the above is on the subject of Values, I post this from an expat List member living here in Manila. This is on bribery, corruption, and others things hard for foreigners to get in perspective when living here. He writes: Lets not get confused between tipping somebody for good service, or tipping a Government official to break a law or be for the direct benefit of both parties involved. The former you normally tip after the service is provided, i.e. to the taxi driver, waitress, hairdresser etc. the later is arranged before the service. The later is not a tip but is a bribe. It is not normal in the US to give tips to Government officials such as Customs Officers, IRS inspectors etc. but more to those people in the service industry. By tipping a taxi driver etc, it is legal by giving certain gifts to Government Officials is illegal, not only in the Philippines, but also a US person giving a tip to Foreign Government officials is also violating US law read Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Whether it is legal or not is not the big issue, as small time tippers are unlikely to be penalized.
The major issue is the affect it is having on the Philippine economy. Corruption adversely affects individual segments in an economy; high-level corruption is particularly damaging the Philippine economy and development. It is undermining efforts to establish and strengthen market-based economic systems; interfere with the international community's efforts to support and promote economic development; discourage foreign private investment; and foster a climate conducive to financial crime and other forms of lawlessness.
The Philippine economy has a major problem with lack of tax collection. Furthermore, the Philippines have been blacklisted as one of the worst countries in the world for money laundering, not because of drug dealing or terrorism but because of Corruption. It was one of three countries threatened with sanctions last year if it did not put anti-money laundering laws in place, why did it take so long? Because some of the government officials responsible for approving the law were concerned of their own doings. They finally introduced a law on the deadline day, therefore avoiding the sanctions. It is not the poor and lower paid who are gaining, it is the poor who are suffering. Money is being stolen from the Government, money that should be used for developing the country, help build hospitals, roads, create jobs etc.
The following is a statement from The World Bank and this was when Estrada was in charge!
Why a Stronger Anti-corruption Program Now? From an international perspective, a vigorous and credible program to combat corruption in the Philippines is vital for three reasons:
The Philippines is cited with increasing frequency (by business surveys, the media, and anti-corruption watchdog agencies) as a country where corruption is a factor that inhibits foreign and domestic investment and which may be eroding the country's competitive position. Such investment is vital to economic growth and social well being.
Because corruption undeniably saps resources available for development, distorts access to services for poor communities, and undermines public confidence in the government's will and capacity to serve the poor, an anti-corruption strategy is an essential complement to the Estrada administration's pro-poor and pro growth stance.
Corruption has emerged as a pivotal international criterion for allocating scarce development aid resources, and countries will increasingly be judged by their actions in combating corruption.
To think bribing/corruption is part of the culture, is not something to be proud of, however, I do not believe it is part of the culture, just look at the number of people on the streets during the people power, demonstrating against corruption by their President. So next time you are giving a tip to the customs officer, for yours and the officers benefit just remember you are participating in the economic woes of the country and hurting the people you say you love. Its easy to say other people are doing it especially the rich, but two wrongs do not make a right. The way to stop it, is stop paying the bribes and punish those who participate. Jon Speaks, expat Living in Manila.