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Development Of Psychological Thought In The Philippines

“If people lived in total isolation from other people, there would be no reason to study the effect that other people have on the behavior of individuals and groups. But human beings are social creatures. We live with others, work and play with others.” We as Filipinos are full of extraordinary but amusing traits and attitudes. Filipinos love interaction and relationship within the society that is why we and the society are one.

It is important because it is about us, the Filipinos. The way we influence, think and influence others. Secondly, it can help in educating and providing awareness in understanding the nature of people and experience. Thirdly, problems that we are facing nowadays such as societal problems, can be solved purely but this requires shift in human behavior. Lastly, it is important because it aims to deconstruct the Filipino mind’s way of thinking. It will serve as an eye opener for each and every Filipino. We personally expect that through this study we can understand the nature and causes of Filipino social behavior.

The objectives of this paper are to know what gave rise to this field particularly its history? What are the concepts of social psychology associated with our daily life and what are its applications in the Filipinos. The scope and limitation of this study is within the context of the Philippines but some concepts were adapted from the West.

It started during the 1980’s. In the context of Philippine colonial education, Filipinos believe that scientific psychology came from the West. Murray Bartlett, an American established undergraduate psychology courses in the College of Education, University of the Philippines. American textbooks and English language were used as the medium of instruction. The good thing here is that literary writing was in Filipino language that was in dominance. Francis Burton Harrison’s policy of attraction was also introduced during this time. [1]

Early American Psychology in the Philippines and the colonial culture on Philippine Psychology was because of Agustin Alonzo. The Filipino term “psicologia” was already a part of layman’s vocabulary.The works of del Pilar, Jacinto and Pardo de Tavera were rich sources of psychological theories even though they were propagandists and not psychologists. Even Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo mentioned the term “Psicologos del verbo Tagalog” in his speech. They were not title holders in Psychology but they still have this innate nature. The English language and the American system of Education were the instruments used. During the twenties American psychology teachers were replaced by Filipinos. [2]

The Philippine objection to uncritical importation of Americans’ Psychological models challenged some of the Filipinos. The first attempt was done by Sinsiforo Padilla who took over from Alonzo’s position as a chairman at the University of the Philippines. Nevertheless, it was his colleague Manuel Carreon who took the cudgels for appropriate relevant psychological testing. On 1926 the Philippine Studies in Mental Measurement was published.Some understood part of Carreon’s message were modified to fit the Philippine context. “change-apples-to-bananas” [3]

3 Isidoro Panlasigui identified the new culture of Psychology. The third generation of American brainwashed Filipino psychologists like Panlasigui. Due to this, Panlasigui admires America and it was clearly showed when he wrote about the psychology of the Filipino as he fought for the colonial language to be used.

Alfredo V. Lagmay and his colleagues were sent to the United States not to neutralize the department. During that time, the Department of Psychology in the University of the Philippines was part of the College of Education. It was him to transferred it to the College of Liberal Arts. The U.P Department of Psychology was perceived as behavioral orientation form the 50’s up to early 70’s. His students continued some remarkable and significant studies in the field. [4]

The History and Lines of Filiations in Philippine Psychological Thought

This aspect of psychology became part of university curriculum under Francisco Benitez during 1922. It was first taught in the University of the Philippines as a part of the education curriculum. During the year of 1954, Joseph Goertz established the Department of Psychology and used English as the medium of teaching. On the other hand, in the midst of its growth in Manila this discipline was also introduced as a course in the University of St. Louis in Cordillera. It was facilitated by Fr. Evarist Louis a missionary priest. [5]

Psychology-Academic Philosophy

However, Psychology-Academic Philosophy was established first at University of Sto. Tomas by Spaniards and improved by the Jesuits. This aspect was older than the aspect mentioned before. It started and founded in many universities like UST (University of Sto. Tomas) and other Spanish institutions like San Ignacio and San Jose. In such institutions the medical and philosophy courses started. The ideas and written records on that time were seen to be related to Psychology. In a deeper analysis those can contain the way of life before. It includes the language , how the “indio” perceive the concept of self ,its criticisms and the activities of the ancient civilization.

4Ethnic Psychology

The third aspect of Psychology known as Ethnic Psychology. It originates from the Filipinos and through the influence of other countries. It is not only older but also much complicated compared to the previous aspects. It has many strands to be entangled and one of those is the psychology that came from the Filipinos themselves. An indigenous psychology that is owned or influenced by other countries. The language is a cone attributing factor especially those activities that can show the collective experiences of Filipinos. [6]

Social Psychology

The study of Social Psychology is defined as a systematic study of the nature and causes of human social behavior. Primarily, its concern is about human social behavior. It includes a lot of matters regarding the individual’s impact on other people, the processes of social interaction and the relationship that exist between individuals in the society. It is not just concerned with the nature of social behavior but also with its causes. It relies on methodologies, findings, experiments and surveys. In asking what the study is all about its 4 main concerns were also considered as a means of knowing it clearly. Basically it is about the impact that one individual has on another, the impact that a group has on its members then vice versa and the impact of a group to another group.

In the context of the discipline in a working definition. Psychologists focus their attention in understanding the behavior of individuals within the context of society. It is primarily concerned with the understanding of the how and why individuals behave, think and feel as the way they do. In dealing with behavior we mean feelings and thoughts as well as overt actions.”

Consequently, it is defined as a scientific study of how a person’s behavior, thoughts and feelings are influenced by several factors that can be real or imagined in the form or the presence of others. The field looks at behavior and mental processes including the social world in which we exist, as we are surrounded by other whom we are connected and by whom we are influenced in so many ways. It focuses on influence. [7]

5An interview from Ms. Leslee Natividad from the Department of Social Sciences, University of the Philippines, Los Ba?”os

“First we have to define first what Social Psychology is soaˆ¦Social Psychology is the study of how individuals affect the society and how the society is affecting the individual .If we’re going to relate Filipino into that on how the Filipino is affected by the society that we have here in the Philippines and maybe in the world in general. Now the world and the Philippine society affect the Filipino individual. As a person, everything that we are experiencing around us. Things that we are seeing, things that we are hearing, things that are affecting each and every moment of our lives that is part of Filipino Social Psychology. All of our behavior is shaped by the kinds of experiences that we have.” [8]

3 Main Areas of Social Psychology
Social Influence

It is the way in which other people affect our behavior. It is a process through which the presence of others can directly or indirectly influence an individual. These are ways in which other people affect our behaviors through thoughts and actions. How we are raised by certain people to whom we interact can affect our behavior. It varies with Conformity, Compliance and Obedience.

Social Cognition

It is defined as the ways how people thinks about other people and how they act toward other individuals. It varies because of attitudes which consist of the way a person feels and thinks as well a person behaves. Impression formation is also a part of cognition which is forming the first knowledge or judgment about a person seen for the first time. Attribution is the process of explaining self behavior or others. They use this to make sense of the social world through mental processes. [9]

6 “What was once called the objective world is a sort of Rorschach ink blot, into which each culture, lack system of science and religion, each type of personality, reads a meaning only remotely derived from the shape and color of the blot itself.” [10]

Social Interaction

It is a way of knowing the positive and negative aspects of behavior. It is the area of Social Psychology which involves interaction and relationship between people. It includes prejudice which happens when an individual holds an unsupported and negative attitude towards other members of the society. It also varies with discrimination as treating people differently because of prejudice. Liking and loving, aggression were also developed here. [11]

The liking and loving in our society known as interpersonal attraction is widely observed. Each one of us is attracted to some personalities in our society. It can be influenced and proved by the similarities, position, physical appearance and familiarity of both sexes [12] .

According to psychologists they have identified three types of aggression. Firstly, is the Person-oriented aggression wherein the main goal is intentionally hurt someone. Secondly, is Pro active aggression when an aggressive behavior is done to achieve some desired outcome like gaining possession of an object. Lastly, is Reactive aggression is the reaction of an individual to an aggressive act. [13]

In a positive way one of the best examples of pro social behavior is Altruism. It is a helping behavior that is costly to an altruistic person. It is a desire to help even there no

7 possible reward. It is always expected to depend on empathy. Empathy is the ability to share emotions and understand another person. [14]

The Bases of Filipino Psychology

Primarily, Prior knowledge of Psychology was the first basis of Filipinos for it involves important parts of Filipino Social Psychology. The knowledge of psychology “Babaylan” or “Catalonan” for the native Filipino people was an important part of Filipino Psychology. The “Babaylan” was the first Filipino psychologists. Aside from this were the prayers and whispers of various ethnic groups in the Philippines. Those were rich sources and stream of Filipinos’ prior knowledge of Psychology. We were also used in the psychology of the Filipino literature, even if it was expressed in oral or written way. It includes proverbs, stories and legends. The values and attitudes that Filipinos inherited were significant bases of Psychology. It includes most of Ethnic Psychology. [15]

Man and his Thoughts

The second is the basis of man and his thoughts and it denotes giving importance to man and his or her ideas. This is where Filipino Psychology and Psychology in the Philippines met. Filipino psychology was a part and always been a part of the world’s psychology. This basis has a clear influence of rational psychology that has been developed and improved in the University of Sto. Tomas. This was considered as traditional philosophy rooted in the ideas of Descartes and written works of Aristotle. Psychology is an aspect of Filipino Psychology as an academic discipline in some universities in the Philippines. [16]

Period of changing mind

It was the third basis because it is associated with Filipino personality. There were a lot of bases seen in this period. Particularly, this basis was evident in the written works of some Filipino writers like Pedro Serrano Laktaw and Isabelo delos Reyes. Even before the psychology of language was seen in written outputs produced by Filipinos. It somehow showed the shallow orientation of Filipino in terms of experiences in researching and conducting studies. Filipinos should not dampen their spirits instead they should hope for some improvements.

8Period of giving value to societal problems

The time of giving importance to societal problems was the fourth basis because this serves as a witness of the society. Hartendorp is one of the American psychologists who become interested in our Psychology. The theory of Osias in 1940 is about the relation of language to the society and in connection of the knowledge of paralanguage in the actions of the individuals. However, his period is also the time of some Filipino psychologists. In such a way Filipino Psychology have this sure basis and it includes the works of Isidoro Panlasigui, Sinsiforo Padilla and Alfredo Lagmay who all gave importance to the acts and capabilities of an individual. [17]

Societal problems

Problems in the society were the fifth bases because it gave value for improvement and development. Aldaba- Lim is known for giving high value in societal problems. He often encourages Filipino psychologists to listen to the problems of the society. All doubts in his dedication will vanished if a person will examine all his efforts and contribution in some of his researches in Psychology. The period of Activism served as a witness of this basis.

Language, culture and Point of view

Language, culture and Point of view were the sixth bases because it is the most fundamental of all bases.Filipino language and dialect is very significant because it is a witness in the many studies conducted and translated into foreign language. The field must still use medium, system and ways to guarantee the wide scope of study. Regarding culture there are none or very few Filipinos who still doubt about the language and culture of the Philippines. According to some professors and psychologists there was this “acquiescence effect” in the can be seen in a scale used and answered by Filipinos. The American perspective was used in analyzing this. It must be done primarily in a Filipino oriented point of view. [18]


The Concept of Language

The concept of local language as a source of concept for Filipinos is a helpful tool because it gives a clear connection to their culture. Language is not just one effective way of communication but also a rich source of information. It is an affluent basis for the better understanding and orientation of culture. It is suggested to formulate a certain Filipino concept from the broader and wider scope it has. Language is the primary source in the study of Social Psychology of Filipinos.

The native language is a rich source of concepts meaningful for and significant to the local culture.” As a source of insight, some concepts were proven to be important in understanding the Filipino personality, worldview and behavior. Some of those were the concepts of “hiya”(shame), “utang na loob”(debt of gratitude) , “pakikisama”(yielding to the will of the leader or the majority, “bahala na” (fatalism) and “amor propio” (sensitivity to personal affront) which even some American psychologists attempted to study those. It still preferable to use the language as a main resource. [19]

The Concept of Kapwa

The concept of “kapwa” in Filipinos is an important aspect of Filipino social life. “Kapwa” is reflected because interaction among other individuals especially in the Philippines is an essential aspect of social life. Language reveals a lot about Filipino nature. For this reason, social interaction should be an evocative core of analysis in the process of classifying the concept of “kapwa”. The Filipino language in this notch, gives a conceptual division in several levels and modes of social interaction. Santiago and Enriquez identified eight in Filipino.

100The Levels of Interaction

Interaction of Filipinos were categorized into levels namely pakikitungo (transaction/civility with), pakikisalamuha (inter-action with), pakikilahok (joining/participating), pakikibagay (in- conformity with/ in- accord with), pakikisama (being along with), pakikipagpalagayan/pakikipagmalagayang-loob (being in rapport), pakikisangkot (getting involved) and pakikiisa (being one with). [20]

The concept of Kapwa as a shared inner self turns out to be very essential psychologically and philosophically speaking. While “pagtutunguhan” (dealing with/acting toward) is another term which can be used to refer to all levels of interaction. Besides, pagtutunguhan also connotes the most superficial level of interaction: the level of amenities while “pakikipagkapwa” refers to “humanness at its highest level” [21]

On the other hand aside from the concept of “kapwa” According to Russell, In 1922 there were several explanations in essay forms about the high Filipino Self Concept. One of the most ordinary is it being the character of race as Filipinos got from the Malays. In 1965 Fox said that this is a trait of Filipino culture that is paid to be in the social context because of its fortitude to produce close family ties. . [22]

The Concept of Human Interaction

The concept of Human Interaction includes the distinction between (Pakikisama or Pakikipagkapwa?) It is an essential part because it is very consistent in Filipinos. Aside from the good sides of interaction, previous work on Philippine values pointed our three evil characters in Philippine interpersonal relations. These are the “walang pakisama” (one inept at the level of adjustment); the “walang hiya”, (one who lacks a sense of propriety and “the walang utang na loob”, (one who lacks adeptness in reciprocating by way of gratitude.


11 In a deeper analysis some studies were conducted, It was argued that pakikipagkapwa is more important for Filipinos. In the Philippines we usually gave more importance to “pakikipagkapwa” than “pakikisama”. We probably want a person without pakikisama than a person without “kapwa tao”. Pakikipagkapwa is really important.It includes all the other mentioned modes and levels of interaction. In fact “pakikisalamuha” is even closer than “pakikisama” in meaning to “pakikipagkapwa.” [23]

Application of Filipino Social Psychology
Filipino Culture

The Social, Cultural and Ideational dimensions are diverse into aspects which were exhibited by Filipinos. The study of the customs and beliefs of Filipinos serves as a function of social and economic dimension of Filipino culture. The Philippine culture is such very rich. It was very evident in the following ways. In courtship and marriage most of the Filipinos regard this as a process of love as a parental affair. The marriage is the family affair which is measured as a success based on the number of children. Filipinos also believe in ” Babaylans and Catalonan” which were said to posses supernatural powers to supplicate God. They were also fond of charms and they believe that when they perform their rites particularly on the Good Friday they will gain magical powers like anting-anting, lucky cards, stones and other stuffs. As a part of their social life they celebrate feasts to commemorate important events like Fiestas, Holy Week, New Year, Christmas and etc. It really played an essential role in the economic security and social solidarity of Filipinos. They are also known for their superstitious beliefs which are greatly connected to their rituals and ceremonies.

In connection to supernatural beings they follow these beliefs to avoid bad luck. It was seen in birth, illness and death which control the psyche of Filipinos. In religion when Christianity was introduced by Spaniards, it became a driving force to the life of the Filipinos. They were also thoughtful especially when someone is sick and in need. They are afraid of what other people might say. Some of their practices include giving dowry, carrying of guns, choice of padrino and carrying bow and arrows, sibat and kris. During the time of our ethnic groups’ laws were also made with regards to property ownership an settling arguments. [24]


Filipino Family

The study of Filipino Family is valuable because they value family relationship. They have this behavior of close family ties. In an article written by Carlos P. Romulo entitled “What Filipinos have Done and are Doing to the Family”, The family will remain and prevail in spite of world cynicism and anxiety. The tradition must be preserved even in these modern times. He pointed out that this is one of the many serious challenges our society must face today. The people must also focus on improving and giving concern with our family life. It deserves the same amount of concern just like other sciences.

“The study of Phenomenology of the Filipino Family states that “In Philippine society, the family is the dominating influence with its value of socio-economic security. This value leads to an individualistic attitude towards one’s family which is manifested in doubt of hope, lack of commitment or lack of social awareness.”

The Future of Philippine Culture

The future of Philippine culture is still questionable. The Philippine culture is still standing despite some changes imposed and caused by colonizers. Is there a Filipino Psychology? Due to reason of great confusion of racial heritages, Filipino nation is full of differences and intertwined particular observances, creeds and traditions dominant in native groups. The making of a credible treatise on Filipino Psychology will require lots of analytic research. Any scholar who will try must sort out individual as well as social traits. Particularly, the native, dominantly native but colored by foreign influences and dominantly foreign adapted traits. It is not yet finished because the source and influence must be differentiated. [25]

13Marginalization of Filipino Identity

The hiding and denigrating of Filipino identity and values was sarcastically introduced by thanking Gov. Claveria who was the one who imposed in giving Filipinos surnames. In such a way the personality of Filipino was concealed in his very name. Felipe de Leon examined the way Filipino names describe the people and how names can hide Filipino identity. The disparagement of Filipino personality is continued and taught in schools reinforced by media. Remember the legend of Juan Tamad, the concept of Filipino time, Manna habit, to “talangka /crab mentality” and even innate criminality and distortion of Filipino squatters, barkadas, stupid yayas, maids and drivers. The Americans assumed that Filipinos were ethically mediocre and they should be educated in an American way because of their indolence. [26]

Marginalization of Filipino Literature

Marginalization of Filipino Literature was realized because of the concept that Filipinos did not have a body of literature which is not true. Filipinos might really be fortunate if they can escape the disparaging remark that Filipinos do not have an indigenous body of literature. The mere fact is that Filipinos have it. Similarly, they have written literature and unwritten oral tradition. Filipinos also enjoy not published outputs, but no less real and valid. A sense of psychological tradition apart from a published psychological literature.

14Marginalization of Filipino Theatre and Film

Marginalization of Filipino Theatre and Film is done by being refused as the world second big producer of film. The success of Filipino cinema and its influence on Philippine life and culture are grossly underestimated. The colonial responsiveness of the elite refuses to recognize the Philippines as the world’s second big producer of films. They cannot detain how a Tagalog movie can hold its own even against the most known popular grossed movies from Hollywood. They tremble in disbelief when confronted with the box office record of the original and authentic “Rambo” in person of Fernando Poe Jr. [27]

The generalization goes like this. We as Filipinos are thus faced with the questions about the mystery of our identity but through the study of Filipino Social Psychology we can unravel those. The study as a summary proves one thing and only one thing and that is the fact that even before, Filipinos have a rich culture and tradition. We have own knowledge and system but during the time of the colonizers they blot out all the memories of our cherished identity.

Nowadays, the Filipino concepts of “Language”, “Kapwa” and “Human Interaction” can be used as a means to improve better human relationship. The Application of Filipino Social Psychology is truly a reflection of what we are right now as Filipinos. It can be seen in the Social, Ideal and Cultural dimensions that we Filipinos are actually creating and improving from our history up to the contemporary period. The Filipino identity is marginalized but as long as we have this study to guide us it will


always make a point about Filipinos way of life that will lineate our past to our present and even to our future. This study can be a means in forging development. Development is not just concerned about progress. The logic must be it is about the Filipino people and for the Filipino people. Through, the help of this study we will become aware of the nature and causes of our attitude and behavior.

The problems that our country is currently facing can be solved purely by different ways but it requires shift in human behavior. Therefore, we must inculcate positive Filipino traits and values perhaps change the negative ones. In the end, it is not only us who will outlive the legacy of Filipino Social Psychology but even our children of tomorrow. Changes may occur but it will always remind us of who, what, when and where we are today as Filipinos.


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