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The Filipino According to National Scientist for History Teodoro A. Agoncillo (Birth Centennial November 9, 1912 – January 14, 1985)

The common traits are probably basically Malayan and characterize the Filipinos as a people.

One patently Filipino trait that immediately commends itself to the foreigner is his hospitality. All peoples the world over is hospitable in their won way, but Filipino hospitality is something that is almost a fault. This hospitality to a fault has been misunderstood by many foreigners, particularly by the Spanish adventurers of the previous century, who thought that such show profuse hospitality was a form of inferiority and obsequiousness.

The Filipino has very close family ties. The family has been the unit of society and everything revolves around it. The Filipino family ordinarily consists of grandparents, the parents, and the children. The father is the head of the family, but while he rules, the mother governs. For it is the mother that reigns in the home: she is the educator, the financial officer, the laundrywoman, and the cook.

Respect for the elders is one Filipino trait that has remained in the book of unwritten laws. The Filipino parent exercises absolute powers over the children. It is unthinkable for a Filipino to do an important thing without consulting his parents. The latter do not condone children talking back not only to them, but also to those older than they are.

The Filipino is naturally fatalistic. No amount of expostulation on the virtues of science or logic can dislodge him from his idea of fatalism. He believes that whatever happens to him is the work of Fate. This fatalism is best symbolized in the phrase, “Bahala na,” a phrase that defies translation but which may be rendered loosely as “come what may.”

Loyalty to a friend or to a benefactor is one trait that is very strong in the Filipino. Do him a little favor and he remembers you to the end of days. For to the Filipino, friendship is sacred and implies mutual help under any circumstances. A friend is expected to come to the aid not only of a personal friend, but also of the latter’s family. A man’s friend is considered a member of the family and is expected to share its tribulations as well as its prosperity and happiness. It is almost unthinkable for the Filipino to betray his friend, and if there be such one, he becomes a marked man: ostracism is the lightest punishment that can be meted out to him.

Text from the cover leaf of the book History of the Filipino People by Teodoro A. Agoncillo and Milagros C. Guerrero

Looking Back: Teodoro A. Agoncillo@100

Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines:
Teodoro A. Agoncillo: Birth Centennial

Cover design by MALANG