CONTEXTUALIZING THE FILIPINO VALUES
OF PAGKALINGA, PAG-AARUGA, PAKIALAM,
AND THE FEMINIST ETHICS OF CARE1
NATIVIDAD DOMINIQUE G. MANAUAT
In this article, the author looks carefully into the Filipino value system as it relates to caring. A critique of traditional value theory yields the conclusion that reason-based values have primacy over those that are based on emotion, such as caring. Feminist philosophy’s contribution is to cast a critical eye on the way traditional Western philosophy uses standards. It is revealed that philosophy and value theory are gendered. In looking at the Filipino values of caring such as pagkalinga, pagaaruga, and pakialam, the author puts them in context via her own life experiences. She argues that caring ought to be recognized and re-valued but finds that most Filipinos have yet to take the value of pakikipagkapwa more seriously. She adds that although caring is important, it is not independent of other value systems such as justice-based ethics.
Filipino values have been around throughout generations, as these are what the Filipino people deem as ideal and desirable. I maintain that such values are never static, they mutate and evolve and are subject to changes as human interactions shape them. These are values that individuals consider as good, important, proper, and suitable and there are as many Filipino values depending upon the many things that are valued (Timbreza 2001: 1). However these values have been interpreted in various ways, often in terms of consequences. That is, the result of valuing and knowing which values actually do us good and which do us harm. Many find it difficult to truly appreciate the positive functions of our traditional values because we only have a vague understanding of value system itself (Jocano 2000: 2). Some have even managed to trace the country’s current problems to our culture’s value system and pronounce it as “damaged” (Fallows: 1987).2 According to Jocano (2000: 19), Filipino values may be roughly translated to kahalagahan (valuing) and it has one important feature; as a value paradigm, it sets standards of behavior, or “pamantayan.” This is the term that Felipe Landa Jocano prefers over halaga as it is the “most appropriate term for standard (2000: 19-20).” He also notes that these values do set internal rules, act as directive forces, are themselves sources of meanings, and act as a system of meanings. Jocano will figure prominently in my discussion of the Filipino value system as he has made an elaborate discussion of the pamantayan’s important elements, viz., halaga (evaluative core), asal (expressive core), and diwa (spiritual core). This discussion is vital in understanding how closely our value system ties in with the Feminist Ethics of Care. Some of the examples of Filipino values that we are most familiar with and which easily come to mind are utang na loob (debt of gratitude) and delicadeza (propriety). We know what these mean and realize that these are valued because the Filipino is mindful about others. These Filipino values arise out of our concern for the people around us, our “kapwa-tao.” Kapwa (fellow person) is a relational standard. Importance is given to smooth inter-personal relationships because although we may be dealing with “others,” we recognize them as our fellow persons worthy of consideration. This relational aspect is not unlike the emphasis on the value of caring, espoused by Feminists, where the moral voice speaks a language of care that stresses relationships and responsibilities rather than personal autonomy. Needless to say, a lot has already been written about Filipino values—these studies involve in-depth analyses of these core values and different ways of interpreting them. But I am focusing my research on values that are ever-present but seldom acknowledged, much less recognized in Filipino society. I have also narrowed the scope into a particular field...
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