by: Gemma Dalayoan
Filipinos can be found in almost all parts of the world. When we’re in a foreign country or outside Canada, we rejoice at the sight of other co-Filipinos as if there’s something that binds us. Sometimes, if we’re not sure about the nationality of a person, but he/she looks like a Filipino, we often ask,” Filipino ka ba?” Then if he /she” yes”, we’re happy. If someone doesn’t meet our expectations in the way he/she answers questions or the way he/she behaves, we say in frustration, ‘kapwa Filipino pa naman siya?”
What makes us think that our co-Filipinos can be trusted to give help or answer questions if we’re lost in a foreign country? Why do we have so much expectation from our co-Filipinos? What binds us together?
The reason lies in the fact that we grew up being socialized or trained to practices and preserve our Filipino cultural values, norms, customs, and traditions which are inculcated to us since birth and passed from one generation to generations. Landa Jocano, a famous sociologist says that” there are no negative Filipino values, only the wrong use of values”.Values change slowly, but it depends on how strong families are in preserving, promoting, and passing on our cultural values from one generation to another. There are ways to preserve and promote culture, particularly through the language, religion, literature, music, arts, of a particular groups of people.
Language and culture are interrelated because embedded in the language are words that reflect cultural ways or life styles of the people that live in a common environment. Filipino or Pilipino carries words which cannot be translated exactly in English that show our cultural values of respect, regard for others, family solidarity, and other beautiful Filipino values . If parents want their children to address their elders with respect, they have to teach them how to speak Pilipino, the national language or their regional dialect.
Living in Canada allows us to preserve our cultural heritage, language, religious practices customs, and traditions as long as we stay within the parameters of the law, and we don’t infringe on others’ rights and safety. The government supports this preservation of our cultural heritage through different grants mostly through the Provincial Department of Culture, Heritage, Tourism and the Office of the Multiculturalism and federally through the Canadian Heritage Department.
There are many families who have become successful in having their children integrate to Canadian ways of life by guiding their children to strike a balance or a blend of what is useful in both Filipino and the Canadian cultures. Indeed, we have beautiful cultural values, such as those listed below. But sometimes these values should be occasionally re-visited , re-examined,to find out whether they facilitate or impede us from being successful in a new environment.
This re-examination of our traditional values and customs will be the aim of a workshop participated only by Filipino seniors on August 21 at PCCM. The seniors led by facilitators will analyze what are the cultural barriers that prevent them from living a safe life here in Canada free from abuse. Filipino Core Values that are to be discussed are: 1. Family solidarity 2. Respect for elders 3. Utang na loob or debt of gratitude.4. Hiya is a Filipino value that is difficult to translate in any Western language. Literally it connotes several meanings such as shy, timid, sensitive rather than ashamed. 5. Amor propio- self-esteem 6. Pakikisama or pakikikapwa. Other topics that will protect the safety and well-being of the seniors will also be discussed. The workshop will be carried out in Pilipino or Filipino.
An extensive and critical analysis of the Filipino core values is presented in a book soon to be published by the Knights of Rizal, Original Filipino Seniors’ Association ( OFSAM),Filipino Seniors Association of Manitoba ( FILCASA),and the Filipino Veterans Association entitled,
”Understanding Filipino Seniors in Manitoba: Their Immigration, Settlement, and Adaptation Process”