Unit 4 - Pakikisama (Social Life & Interactions)

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In the Spirit of Camaraderie


In its most basic sense, ‘pakikisama’ means going along with others. Its basic etymological source is ‘sama’ (to go with). A derived term is ‘kasama’ (companion; together with). In the social interaction context, ‘pakikisama’ means ‘getting along with others’, and ideally getting along ‘well’ with others. The first part of the term ‘paki-’ is also significant, since it also happens to be the Tagalog affix for ‘please’. It’s as if the individual is being requested to ‘please’ get along well one’s fellow human beings.

Among friends and even relatives, it is considered obnoxious and unacceptable to give a direct command. To minimize the directness or “impact” of the command, Filipinos use paki nga or maki- so as not to offend. Even a boss in the office would use ‘paki-’ the equivalent of “please” in English, in giving a request to a subordinate.

Makikiabot nga (ako) ng dokumentong iyan.
Please pass (me) that document.
Pare, makikigamit nga ng cellphone mo, sandali?
Buddy, may I please use your cellphone briefly?
Makisama ka naman.
Join us, be one with us.
Wala ka namang pakikisama eh.
You have no sense of fellowship/camaraderie.

To be polite is to use paki- or maki-. This is part of the so-called “S.I.R.” coined by Filipino social scientists. SIR stands for Smooth Interpersonal Relationship. Filipinos go to great lengths to avoid offending another’s feelings which is why they have this linguistic social convention. It is also part of this whole system of pakikisama and pakikipagkapwa-tao. Pakikisama is the opposite of individualism. In Filipino culture, a person who has no pakikisama is a loner, an individualist disdained by others who seek his company. He does not know how to “go with the crowd.” A related word is makibagay, “to conform” with the group in order to maintain a Smooth Interpersonal Relationship.

Pakikisama is also sharing one’s wealth, talent, time and self with fellow human beings as in bayanihan, working together for a common good without regard for monetary remuneration. The wonderful feeling of having helped achieve something for the common good is its own reward. It is interesting to note that the root word for bayanihan is bayani, “hero;” hence, “being heroes.”

F. Landa Jocano in his book on Filipino World View (2001) relates pakikisama with two other concepts.

First, is pakikipagkawa where “a person is evaluated as good or bad, just or unjust right or wrong on the basis of how (one) regards …kapwa (the other person).” In the normative dimension, a golden rule-type is called for in relating to one’s kapwa-tao (fellow human being). The second concept is that of pakikiramay, where a person empathizes or sympathizes with fellow humans during critical periods (e.g. a death in the family).

Pakikipagkapwa-tao is a compound word that comes from kapwa “other” and tao “person” The prefix pakikpag- yields the social-participative meaning of essentially “being one in the other person’s humanity.” According to Dr. Virgilio G. Enriquez, considered the Father of Philippine Psychology, the worst insult that you could ever get from a Filipino is “Wala kang kapwa tao.” “You are devoid of humanity.”

(Leo Paz & Tita Pambid)


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