The Son

The role of the Filipino son or. more specifically, the role of a good Filipino son is placed above all the other male role It is more important to be a good son than a good father or a good husband. Filipinos stress the importance of remembering your past, where you came from and what your parents have done for you.

The farmer's lad who becomes a rich and famous doctor will buy his parents a nice house in the city or, if they don't want to move, will visit them once a week and give material support, possibly expanding the farm into a great hacienda. If his parents put hint through medical school, he owes them even more. Being a doctor he would have to personally see to his parents whenever they need any medical aid. (He also becomes the personal physician of the rest of the family-by the Filipino definition of the word, a service for which he never charges and which is often a personal inconvenience.) His great accomplishments as a doctor are nothing if he does not perform his duties as a son. First he must be a good son. Then, and only then, may he be successful.

Unlike American and other Western cultures, where sons are pushed to early autonomy, independence is not a matter of urgency. In some cases it is not an issue at all. Sons are not expected to leave the family home, fend for themselves and find their own place in life. They are expected to help their parents on the farm or in the family business when they are old enough while continuing to live off, and with, their parents.

It is when the son himself attempts autonomy and independence, - that commotion arises. Such a move is interpreted by the parents to mean he does not like living with them. The parents take a what's- wrong-with-us-dont-you-love-us-anymore attitude. They also worry that the neighbors will think they cannot support their children, marking them as parent failures. Most Filipino sons live with their parents until they get married. Where a son leaves school early to get a job, it would be because the father is unable to support the family due to illness or death, or his pay is inadequate to cover the cost involved in bringing up a large family. It is usually the eldest son who is assigned this duty.

Note the cultural difference here: the American boy leaves home to get a job to support himself thus lightening his father's burden; the Filipino boy leaves home to get a job in the city so he can support not only his parents but all his brothers and sisters. You will find many drivers, maids, salesgirls. etc. in Manila who are working so they can put their younger brothers and sisters through school.

The difference in cultural emphasis-autonomy (American) vs. dependence (Filipino}-is illustrated by Dr Lapis's example: In American culture, parents force autonomy upon their offspring at an early age with early severance of dependency ties. It is not unusual, for example, to see young people with moneyed parents working in order to have money of their own. In the Philippines, if a boy has parents with money, it hardly occurs to him to work. Sons are expected to grow up loyal to their parents, look after them, help younger siblings and generally be unselfish.