Learning and Development/Filipino Identity

From Filipino Student Council of NSW

< Learning and Development

Why is the Filipino Identity important in the midst of Globalisation?

Globalisation is a concept that seems to counter a lot of values that we may associate with the Filipino identity. Family and relationships are of the utmost importance in Filipino society, as opposed to individualistic tendencies developed and promoted in Western cultures. This, collectivism, can be seen as disadvantageous in a globalised world because of the Filipino tendency to interact primarily with others of the same nationality, or even limit it to those of the same region or province, rather than branching out. Another difficulty of the Filipino identity in globalisation is that there is no “one” recognised and accepted identity that all Filipinos subscribe to; Cultures, languages, and traditions differ from province to province, each held together loosely under the banner of the “Philippines.” However, despite these perceived disadvantages, what shines through is the concept of bayanihan, an aspect of the Filipino identity shaped by the factors mentioned above.

Bayanihan, community, was most recently exhibited with Taal Volcano’s surprise eruption. Though there were instances of sellers overpricing masks, bayanihan was exhibited in numerous initiatives to raise money and donations in kind for the victims of the natural disaster. Bayanihan is an integral part of the Filipino identity because at the end of the day, we Filipinos set aside our differences and come to each other’s aid. There were individuals who lined up along the path from Taal to power wash windshields of cars covered in ash, there were initiatives to raise money for fairly priced masks, and many raised money and donated in kind for the affected communities. Bayanihan means that we Filipinos come together in the most difficult of times. This facet of our identity may have been shaped by our shared colonised history, bloody revolution, and brutal martial law. We have been drawn together time and time again to fight and brave all that we face together.

The concept of bayanihan can be argued to be quite disadvantageous in this era of ever increasing globalisation. In a world of expansion, Filipinos draw closer together, which goes against globalisation’s creed of continuous movement outward. Bayanihan may limit Filipinos’ abilities to adapt to the changing world, as we stick to who and what we know: our traditions, communities, customs, and opportunities are anchors. Furthermore, those who are not ready for the rapidly changing world can cling to them as a lifeline, refusing to accept change and others who are not Filipino. However, upon closer inspection, bayanihan is what allows Filipinos to adapt to globalisation in a country and culture that remains consistent and constant.

Globalisation and bayanihan are not mutually exclusive: one can be entrenched in the world as it is now, but also have something to return to when it all gets too fast, loud, and messy. Bayanihan gives those of us who have moved away a home away from home, a place and community to recuperate and recover. It also gives Filipinos in the Philippines the value and initiative to help each other in the face of change that we can’t control. In the midst of globalisation, everything can feel like too much, too fast. Bayanihan, as a major part of the Filipino identity is important in the midst of globalisation because we have roots that tie us together, a culture that encourages us to help each other no matter where we may be in the world, in the midst of a world that may seem rootless and daunting. We know that we, as Filipinos, are looking out for each other, through what we all experience together.

- Written by Sofie Barrera