The end of the year always brings us to self-examination or introspection which leads to everyone’s most favorite personal tradition – the New Year’s Resolution which is basically how we, humans identify things within ourselves that needs to change for the better.  An old cliche that currently don’t mean diddly-squat these days because if you’re most people, you might lack one crucial element in this process – a follow-through!

Change For The Better

But Filipinos might have an advantage when it comes to achieving resolutions to Change For The Better!  Dr. Mina Ramirez, President of the Asian Social Institute, tells us last week during a special forum for the Change For The Better Campaign organized by Alaska Milk Corporation’s Krem-Top at Romulo’s Cafe in Makati City.

Sociologist Dr. Ramirez through her study “The Filipino Worldview and Values” identified five core values that defines the Filipino as a people based on their basic common aspirations.  These values make Filipinos stand out from the rest of the world and are absolutely vital for nation-building.

Here are the 5 Core Filipino Values Needed To Change For The Better:

1. Mapagpasalamat

This is based on Filipinos’ aspiration for “Pamumuhay” (Life) and “Pananalig sa Diyos at Kapwa” (Faith in God and people).  Filipinos know how to enjoy life.  Filipinos are cheerful and naturally sociable.  We are a happy race.   We wear smiles on our faces even in depressing situations. This is because we always look at the bright side of life. We always have a positive outlook because we always find things to be thankful for, even in the smallest things. We would always say “Salamat sa Diyos” (Thank God) whenever good things happen because Filipinos, from whatever religion, would attribute life’s blessings to the Higher Being. We also acknowledge the good deeds of other people towards us and we do our best to return the favor.

2. Matatag

Being in a country prone to natural disasters, Filipinos have adapted and learned to be strong in times of need and in hard situations life throws at us. We continue to stand up, be firm, and fight because we have our loved ones and life’s aspirations to be strong for. This strength is drawn from our love for our family and to the higher being we believe in. This is based on Filipino’s aspiration for “Kaayusan” (Order).  In fact, Filipinos’ common expression is “Ayos Na”.  When we are able to get through difficulties, we say “Ayos Na”.  We, Filipinos long for “Kaayusan” and we will endure everything and be strong amidst hardships and challenges until we surpass the obstacles.

3. Masigasig

When Filipinos dream of something, we do everything possible to get it. We do it for our families and loved ones.   This is based on Filipinos’ aspiration for “Kasaganaan” (Abundance) and “Ginhawa” (Relief).  A Filipino aspires for abundance not for himself but for his family.  The Filipino translation for Happy New Year is Masaganang Bagong Taon (Bountiful New Year) because we equate happiness and celebration with abundance.  “Ginhawa” according to lay theologian Dr. Jose de Mesa is the feeling of well-being in a Filipino.  An example would be Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who endure being away from home to give their families a good life – abundance and relief from hardships.

4. Mapagmalasakit

It is because of our love for the family extended to friends, neighbors and other people that make Filipinos naturally compassionate. This compassion enables us to help other people without asking for anything in return. This is based on Filipinos’ aspiration for “Loob at Damdamin” and “Kapwa” (Other People).  “Loob” is the seat of Filipinos’ dignity.  The personhood of Filipino is manifested in his “kalooban”.  Filipinos tune in each other’s “kalooban” by checking on each other’s condition and chatting about each other’s lives.  Filipinos reach out to other people.  Due to our familistic culture, Filipinos use “kapwa” to refer not just to a stranger but to a relative, a next-door neighbor, a distant relative or a friend.  Our “Mapagmalasakit” trait makes it easy for us to champion the Bayanihan spirit – to unite and help each other during calamities and celebrate together during special occasions.

5. Magalang

The use of po, opo, and pagmamano (kissing of the hand) are distinct Filipino ways of respect. We say these words and use this gesture to show our respect and love for the elderly. The Filipinos’ respect is not just limited to the elderly but also to other people’s properties, emotions, and ideas. We are polite people.  Our language itself is also respectful because it does not have any gender bias. Examples would be the words kapatid (brother / sister) or asawa (husband / wife) or biyenan (father-in-law / mother-in-law) or anak (son / daughter) which do not manifest differences in gender.  These words are uniquely Filipino definitely respectful of the sexes. Our respect for other individuals is embedded in our culture and in our language.  This is based on our aspiration for “Lakas ng Loob” or “Kagandahang Loob”.  Malakas and Maganda, Filipinos’ original creation story brings dignity to both the Filipino and Filipina.

Filipino musician, writer and educator Jim Paredes who was one of the speakers during the Change For The Better forum stressed on the Filipino traits Bayanihan, Respect for Elders and the Filipino ‘I Can Do It’ attitude.  He said as an example, that the great Pyramids of Egypt were built through slavery while the Philippine’s Banaue Rice Terraces were built through the Bayanihan Spirit.

So the idea is to tap into these values that are inherent in our culture as Filipinos and make it stronger.  The indirect consequence of this action would be the realization of all the resolutions that we have listed.  It makes us better equipped to take on the challenge to Change For The Better.

I guess globalization or westernization, made a lot Filipinos forget about these basic values that we have as a people.  We indeed have our work cut out for us and it will take a lot of re-orientation to get back those values into our system.  Filipino Hospitality and the ‘Bayanihan’ spirit are already scarce but still Filipino resiliency can still get us back on track.  And with the help of groups and organizations like Alaska Milk Corporation through Krem-Top and its Change For The Better campaign we hope that one day, these values will finally show the world how great we Filipinos are – not individually but as a nation!

“The year 2015 is harvest time – harvesting all what is good about the Filipino to transform our country into a great nation.” – Dr. Mina Ramirez, PhD

For more about the Krem-Top Change For The Better Campaign LIKE them of Facebook and FOLLOW them on Twitter at @kremtopPH

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