Unit 15 - Kaugalian, Halagahin, at Pagkatao (Customs, Values & Character)

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Kaugalian, Halagahin, at Pagkatao
Customs, Values and Character

            Every nation, every people, has its own customs and traditions handed down from ancestors of old to the present generation that enabled the race to survive and prosper.  The equivalent of customs in Filipino is kaugalian, with root word ugali or behavior, habits that can have the force of law.  Traditions on the other hand are established inherited way of thinking and acting.  These can be in the form of proverbs, beliefs, legends, handed down from generation to generation.  These customs, values and traditions have also shaped Filipino identity or “national character.” No doubt, “nurture” and nature, as well as geography can influence behavior and character. People from the southern Philippines seem to be more easy-going and the people from the north are hardier and more careful of their resources. Some people believe that this is because the south has a more amiable weather and fertile land while the north has a harsh weather and less arable land

Some age old customs and traditions are abandoned due to changing mores and effect of modernity, development and present-day globalization. In the past, women would say to their paramours, “Filipino custom, No Touch.” Today, this may not be true anymore due to the widespread influence of media essaying differing types of morality and behavior in film, television internet, and print. Certain Filipino distinct customs persist like Mano po, the custom of touching the elder’s hand to the forehead.  But this custom is also being replaced with a buzz on the cheek or with a hug. Respect for elders is a universal value.  In almost all cultures, the elders are highly regarded and respected for their wisdom and experience.  In Filipino culture, repect is deeply rooted linguistically.  There are the honorific particles po and ho; respectful responses opo and oho for “yes sir/ ma’am” and the terms of addressing a man “Mang,” and a woman “Aling” before their first names.

In the field of culture and personality studies, Virgilio G. Enriquez, considered the Father of Filipino Psychology, identified KAPWA, “shared inner self,” as the core value of the Filipino personality. In kapwa psychology, the “other” is not regarded as different from one’s self but acknowledges the similarity of one’s self with another human being.  All the other Filipino customs and values ascribed to Filipinos by foreigners such as Filipino hospitality, hiya (shame), pakikisama (going with the flow or agreeing with the majority), utang na loob (debt of gratitude) emanate from the core value kapwa. (Enriquez 54, 1992).  (Tita Pambid)


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