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Focus : The Filipino Personality

By : Benny S. Soliman, MA Ed., RGC.

Learning Objectives
At the end of the lecture, the participants are expected to:

1. identify relevant indigenous/ Filipino concepts in understanding personality;

2. describe the strengths and weaknesses of the Filipino character; and

2. gain a deeper appreciation of the Filipino pagkatao;


Filipino psychologists have felt the need to re-examine several of the psychological
theories (and their applications) that were proposed as though they were universally applicable.
A development that has caught fire among many circles is that of indigenization.
Dr. Virgilio G. Enriquez noted that while various indigenization approaches can be
developed, there are basically two kinds of indigenization that can occur: indigenization from
within and from without.
Indigenization from without- refers to research studies applying western theoretical
models and methodologies to the local setting.
Indigenization from within- refers to indigenous research utilizing the local’s own
methods to elicit and study culture-specific social behaviors.
While both types of indigenization processes are aimed at making psychological
concepts, theories, and methods more culturally meaningful, the process of indigenization from
within is superior to that from without. When culture is the source of indigenous knowledge, a
model toward global psychology through a cross-indigenous perspective becomes more

Part I. Filipino Psychology Concepts and Methods

Filipino Psychology- it is an indigenous psychology. The scientific study of the ethnicity,
society and culture of a people and the application to psychological practice of indigenous
knowledge rooted in the people’s ethnic heritage and consciousness (Enriquez, 1994).
Distinctions among the forms of Psychology in the Philippines

1. Sikolohiya sa Pilipinas (Psychology in the Philippines) refers to a series of events related

to the field of psychology in the Philippines. (e.g. number of degree programs and journals, the
amount of research conducted). Ito ang pinakamalaki o kabuuang anyo ng sikolohiya sa
kontekstong Pilipino.
2. Sikolohiya ng mga Pilipino (Psychology of Filipinos) refers to any theories or knowledge
of Filipino nature regardless of source, Western or local. Ito ang palasak na anyo sapagkat
pinakakaraniwan o madaling makita.
3. Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Filipino Psychology) refers to a psychology based on the Filipino’s
true thoughts, feelings, behaviors and must be derived from indigenous Filipino sources,
language, and methods. Ito ang nilalayong anyo, sikolohiyang bunga ng karanasan, kaisipan at
oryentasyong Pilipino.
Kapwa: A core concept in Filipino Psychology

Enriquez (1978) defined kapwa as “the unity of the self and others, a recognition of
shared identity, an inner self shared with others.”

The ako (ego) and the iba-sa-akin (others) are one and the same in kapwa psychology:
“Hindi ako iba sa aking kapwa (I am no different from others).” Once ako starts thinking of
himself as different from kapwa, the self, in effect, denies the status of kapwa to the other
(Enriquez, 1978).
From the concept of shared inner self in kapwa emanates the social behavior of
pakikipagkapwa. This means “accepting and dealing with the other person as an equal.” This
also means “a regard for the dignity and being of others.”
Enriquez (1989) also linked the core value of kapwa (shared identity) to the socio-
personal value of kagandahang-loob (shared humanity) and other social values like karangalan
(dignity), katarungan (justice), and kalayaan (freedom).

Pakikiramdam: The Pivotal Aspect of Kapwa

Pakikiramdam refers to heightened awareness or sensitivity. An active process
involving a great care and deliberation manifested in “hesitation to react, inattention to subtle
cues, and non-verbal behavior in mental role-playing”

The Different Concepts in the Theory of Kapwa and their Interrelationships

CORE VALUE KAPWA “shared identity”
Pivotal Interpersonal value Pakikiramdam “shared inner perception”

Accommodative surface value Hiya “propriety/ dignity”

Utang na loob “gratitude”
Pakikisama “companionship”

Associated behavior pattern Biro “joke”

Lambing “sweetness”
Tampo “affective disappointment”

Confrontative surface values Bahala na “determination”

Sama/lakas ng loob “resentment/guts”
Pakikibaka “resistance”

Part II. Filipino Concepts in Understanding Personality

In defining the concept of Filipino personality, Enriquez (1994) notes that we have
actually a long tradition of theorizing. Three reflections on the Filipino personality which he
listed are as follows:
1. the Ma’aram concept of pagkatawo (personhood), which contains five elements: ginhawa
(vital principle), buot (perception), isip (mind), Dungan (sleep spirit), and kalag (life spirit);
2. Baltazar’s bait (sanity), muni (reflection), and hatol (judgment); and
3. Covar’s concept of Filipino personhood based on four elements: kaluluwa (spirit), budhi
(conscience), katauhang panlabas (external appearance), and katauhang panloob (innermost
Focusing on Covar’s conceptualization of Filipino personality, Enriquez goes on to say
that “the kaluluwa is life’s source, while budhi guides a person in his actions and judges the
life he leads. Katauhang panlabas refers to the physical characteristics associated with body
parts and its related meanings. Loob refers to the innermost feeling of an individual. The
complex interrelationship among these elements embodies fulfillment” (Enriquez, 1994, p. 55).

Filipino Concept of Loob

Concept Definition
Utang na loob Debt of gratitude
Ipagkaloob to entrust
Lagay ng Loob mood, state of the mind or feeling
Lakas-loob Courage
Tibay ng loob inner strength, resilience
Tining ng loob clarity of thinking and feeling
Kababaang loob Humility
Kabutihang loob good naturedness
Kusang loob initiative
Payapang loob calm; at peace
Kapalagayang loob confidant
Pampalubag loob something given to soothe
Saloobin inner feeling or thoughts
Masama ang loob angry, holding a grudge
Masamang loob crook (one belonging to criminal
Mahina ang loob coward
Labag sa kalooban unwilling
Maluwag sa kalooban willing

Part III. Indigenous Research Methods

In the article of Santiago and Enriquez (1982) titled “ Tungo sa Makapilipinong
Pananaliksik,” they noted the importance of using one’s own language to capture the nation’s
true culture. A major theme of the article is why western research methods may not be
sufficient for studying Filipino behavior. Those who possess the true spirit or soul of the Filipino
are the masses and the poor, who are often neglected in psychological research in favor of
college students in an urban setting.

Status of Filipino psychological Research (Santiago and Enriquez, 1982)

1. Most topics in Filipino psychological research are chosen based on the interest, goals, and
problems of the researcher rather than of the respondents who are the main focus of the study.
Most of the time, the research problem chosen has nothing to do with the respondents.
2. Aside from the choice of topics, the method of data gathering is sometimes inappropriate
because the measures used are from western cultures.

Recommendations/ Suggestions (Santiago and Enriquez, 1982)

1. Topics chosen must emanate from among the respondents themselves.
2. To use the two scales available to the Filipino researcher, namely, the Iskala ng Mananaliksik
(researcher/method scale) and the Iskala ng Patutunguhan ng Mananaliksik at Kalahok
(researcher-participant relationship scale).
Scale 1. The Iskala ng Mananaliksik includes research methods ranging from the
unobtrusive to the research-participative. The unobtrusive methods include:
a. pagmamasid (looking-around)
b. pakikiramdam (sensing, feeling what is happening)
From these two, more obtrusive methods may spring and be used which include:
c. pagtatanong-tanong (unstructured, informal questioning)
d. pagsubok (start talking/working with respondents).
The highest levels of research participation include:
e. pagdalaw-dalaw (visits to respondents’ home) and
f. pakikisangkot (deep involvement in the respondents’ activities)

Other research methods in this scale include pagmamatyag, pagsusubaybay, pakikialam,

pakikilahok, pakikisangkot, pakapa-kapa (suppositionless approach-groping, searching, and
probing) (Torres, 1982), pakikipanuluyan, pakikipagkwentuhan (Nicdao-Henson, 1982), and the
ginabayang talakayan (Galvez, 1986).

Scale 2. The Iskala ng Pagtutunguhan ng Mananaliksik at Kalahok is based on

the Filipino view of equality between the researcher and the respondents (Church & Katigbak,
2002). This scale includes the degrees of relationship between researcher and study
participants. The scale includes:
a. pakikitungo (transaction civility)
b. pakikisalamuha (interaction)
c. pakikilahok (participating, joining)
d. pakikibagay (conforming with)
e. pakikisama (being along with)
f. pakikipagpalagayang-loob (understanding, acceptance)
g. pakikisangkot (getting involved)
h. pakikiisa (being one with)

Santiago (1979) identified an underlying dimension to these interaction patterns and

came up with two summary categories:

a. Ibang-tao or outsider category (pakikitungo, pakikisalamuha, pakikilahok, pakikibagay,

and pakikisama).

b. Hindi-ibang-tao or insider category (pakikipagpalagayang-loob, pakikisangkot, and


Indigenous Personality Test/Scales

The Philippines has been a leader in the development of indigenous instruments and
research methods. Enriquez (1994) credits Sinforoso Padilla with the development of the first
local test, the Philippine Mental Abilities Test, which was developed in the1950s (Carlota, 1999).
Ortega and Guanzon-Lapeña (cited in Guanzon-Lapeña, Church, Carlota, & Katigbak, 1998)
noted that more than 200 local measures have now been developed. But according to Bernardo
(1997), many of these measures have not been described in published sources, so they are not
readily available and the extent to which they are valid and culture-specific is unclear.
The following are just some of the numerous indigenous personality tests/scales.
1. Panukat ng Ugali at Pagkatao or PUP (Enriquez, 1975)- in its present form, the 160-item PUP
is in Filipino with English translations for all of its items. Respondents indicate their level of
agreement with each item using a 5-point bipolar scale (Hinding-hindi or definitely no, Hindi or
no, Walang masabi or nothing to say, Totoo or true, and Totoong totoo or definitely true).

2. Panukat ng Pagkataong Pilipino or PPP (Carlota, 1985)- the most recent version of PPP has
210 items and is available in English and three other Philippine languages. Katigbak, Church,
Guanzon-Lapen˜a, Carlota, and del Pilar (2002) found that some ofthe PPP dimensions were
related to self-reported problem behaviors.

PPP Honesty negatively correlated with smoking and drinking habits, PPP
Thoughtfulness negatively correlated with the tendency to gamble, and PPP Intelligence and
Creativity negatively correlated with accident proneness. In contrast, PPP Sensitiveness
positively correlated with accident proneness. Other dimensions measured by the the PPP are
the following: Emotional Stability, Sociability, Risk Taking, Cheerfulness, and Respectfulness.

3. Panukat ng mga Katangian ng Personalidad or PKP also known as the Philippine Trait Rating
Form (Church, Reyes, Katigbak, & Grimm, 1997)- it measures the seven dimensions that were
supposed to be a complete representation of Filipino personality: Conscientiousness, Concern
for Others versus Egotism, Religiosity, Temperamentalness, Self-Assurance, Intellect, and
Gregariousness. Two additional dimensions, Negative Valence and Positive Valence, were also
included in the latest empirical study of the PKP.
It was found that some of the dimensions in the 253-item version of the PKP were
correlated with self-reported problem behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and gambling.

4. Student Rating Form (Katigbak, Church, & Akamine, 1996)- a multidimensional measure
based on Filipino college students’ conceptions of healthy and unhealthy personality.

The Big 5 dimensions of personality in the Philippine Context

Studies have shown some evidence for the relevance of the Big Five Dimensions in the
Philippine context. McCrae, Costa, del Pilar, Rolland, and Parker (1998) demonstrated this using
a Filipino version of McCrae and Costa’s NEO-PI-R. Also, the lexical domains of the Panukat ng
mga Katangian ng Personalidad and the healthy personality dimensions of the Student Rating
Form have already been related to the Big Five dimensions empirically.
The Revised NEO Personality Inventory, or NEO PI-R, is
a psychological ᄃ personality inventory ᄃ , first published in 1990 as a revised version of
inventories dating to 1978. The NEO PI-R consists of 240 questions intended to measure the Big
Five personality traits ᄃ : Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and
Openness to Experience. Additionally, the test measures six subordinate dimensions (known
as facets ᄃ ) of each of the main personality factors. The test was developed by Paul Costa,
Jr.ᄃ and Robert McCrae ᄃ for use with adult men and women without overt psychopathology ᄃ,
but was later shown to be potentially useful at younger ages. A shortened version, the NEO
Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI), uses 60 items (12 items per domain).

A table of the personality dimensions measured by the NEO PI-R, including facets, is as

Openness to
Neuroticism Extraversion Agreeableness Conscientiousness

Anxiety ᄃ Warmth Fantasy Trust Competence

Hostility Gregariousness ᄃ Aesthetics Straightforwardness Order

Depression ᄃ Assertiveness Feelings Altruism ᄃ Dutifulness

Self-consciousness Achievement
Activity Actions Compliance
ᄃ Striving

Impulsiveness Ideas Modesty ᄃ Self-Discipline ᄃ
Seeking ᄃ

Vulnerability to
Positive Emotion Values Tendermindedness Deliberation ᄃ

1. EXTRAVERSION/ SURGENCY. This trait includes characteristics such as excitability,

sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and high amounts of emotional expressiveness. Thus,
adjective pairs that characterize this factor would include “retiring-sociable,” “quiet-talkative,”
and “inhibited-spontaneous.
There are scales in Filipino indigenous tests of personality that may tap into the
Extraversion personality domain (Guanzon-Lapeña et al., 1998). These scales are:
a. PUP’s Lakas ng loob (guts and daring) , pagkamahiyain (shyness or timidity),
ambisyon (ambition), and pagkasunud-sunuran (excessive conformity).
b. PKP’s Pagiging kalog (gregariousness) and Tiwala sa Sarili (self-assurance)
c. Student Rating Form’s scale on Social Potency
d. PPP’s Pagkamadaldal (social curiosity) and pagkapalakaibigan (Sociability).

2. AGREEABLENESS. This personality dimension includes attributes such as trust, kindness,

affection, altruism and other prosocial behaviors. According to the Guanzon-Lapeña et al.
(1998) study, Filipino traits measured by the four indigenous personality tests described earlier
that may fall under the Agreeableness trait factor include the following:
a. PUP’s Pagkamagalang (respectfulness), pagkamatulungin (helpfulness),
pagkamapagkumbaba (humility), pagkamapagbigay (generosity) , pagkapalaaway (aggression),
hirap kausapin (unapproachability), and pagkamapunahin (criticalness)
b. PKP’s Makakapwa vs. makasarili (concern for others vs. egotistical)
c. The Student Rating Form’s scale on Concern for Others.
d. PPP’s pagkamaalalahanin (thoughtfulness), pagkamagalang (respectfulness),
pagkamatulungin (helpfulness), pagkamapagkumbaba (humility), pagkamatapat (honesty), and
pagkamaunawain (capacity for understanding).

3. CONSCIENTIOUSNESS. Common features of this dimension include good impulse control

and goal-directed behaviors. Those high in conscientiousness tend to be organized and mindful
of details. Pairs of characteristics categorized under this dimension are “careless-careful,”
“undependable-reliable,” and “negligent- conscientious”
There are scales in Filipino indigenous tests of personality that may tap into the
Conscientiousness personality domain (Guanzon-Lapeña et al., 1998). These scales are:
a. PUP’s Pagkaresponsable (responsibleness), pagkamatiyaga (perseverance),
pagkasigurista (non-risk taking), tigas ng ulo (stubborness), katipiran (thriftiness), and
pagkasalawahan (ficklemindedness).
b. PKP’s Disiplinado (conscientious)
c. Student Rating Form’s Responsibility scale
d. PPP’s Pagkamatiyaga (patience), pagkamapagsapalaran (risk taking),
pagkamasunurin (obedience), pagkaresponsable (responsibleness), pagkamasikap
(achievement orientation), and pagkamaayos (orderliness).

4. NEUROTICISM/EMOTIONAL STABILITY. Individuals high in this trait tend to experience

emotional instability, anxiety, moodiness, irritability, and sadness. Representative trait scales in
Western psychometric literature would tap trait adjectives such as “calm-worrying,” “hardy-
vulnerable,” and “secure- insecure”
Guanzon-Lapeňa, Church, Carlota, and Katigbak (1998) hypothesized that this
dimension would include the following measures:

a. PUP’s Pagkamapagtimpi (self-control or restraint), pagkamaramdamin (sensitiveness),

pagkapikon (low tolerance for teasing), sumpong (mood).
b.PKP’s Sumpungin (temperamental) scale
c. Student Rating Form scales on Emotional Control and Affective Well-being
d. PPP’s Pagkamahinahon (emotional stability), pagkamaramdamin (sensitiveness) and
pagkamasayahin (cheerfulness).

5. INTELLECT/ OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE. This trait features characteristics such as

imagination and insight, and those high in this trait also tend to have a broad range of
interests. Trait pairs tapped by this domain would thus include “conventional- original,”
conservative-liberal,” “concrete thinking- abstract thinking,” and “less intelligent-more

Guanzon-Lapeňa, Church, Carlota, and Katigbak (1998) hypothesized that this

dimension would include the following measures:
a. PUP’s Pagkamausisa (inquisitiveness), Pagkapalaisip (reflectiveness), and
pagkamalikhain (creativity).
b. PKP’s Matalino (intellect)
c. Student Rating Form’s Broadmindedness measure
d. PPP’s Pagkamatalino (intelligence), and pagkalamalikhain (creativity).


Ambivalence characterizes Filipino characters. It means Filipinos tolerates a double
standard mentality. Fr. Gorospe (1969) as cited by Palispis (1995) says, “Filipino values are
ambivalent in the sense that they are potential for good or evil”. They may help or hinder
personal and national development depending on how they are understood and practiced or

Strengths of the Filipino Character

1. Pakikipagkapwa-tao
This refers to pakikiramay or to the Filipino’s ability to empathize with others, intimating
helpfulness and generosity in times of need. Bayanihan or mutual assistance which reflects
the sensitivity to other people’s feelings and needs, is also a generally accepted trait of the
Filipino. Pakikiramdam, pagtitiwala or trust, and a sense of gratitude or utang na loob are
also aspects of the Filipino’s pakikipagkapwa-tao.

2. Family Orientation
Concern for the family is shown by the Filipino’s high regard accorded to the elderly, the
care given to women and children, sympathy towards relatives and the sacrifices they endure
for their family’s well-being.
3. Sense of Humor
The Filipino’s sense of humor is shown in his ability to laugh even at the worst
circumstances. This trait singles out the Filipino’s infectious, joyful disposition in almost all types
of varying situations.
4. Flexibility, Adaptability, Creativity
Creativity, resourcefulness and being a quick learner mark out the Filipino’s success in
his chosen field. His propensity to improvise new systems and products out of whatever
resources available makes him famous. His flexibility makes him easily adaptable to the foreign
work environment.
5. Hard work or Industry
Hard work or industry as a Filipino trait is considered superior to most nations. This is
not only proven by the Filipino’s willingness to take risks to work abroad but also by his
stubborn will and effort to survive in the most challenging times abroad.
6. Spirituality
The Filipino’s strong faith in God gives him a strong moral conscience. For example,
workers maintain their motivation to work by God’s unending mercy. The sayings, “Nasa Diyos
ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa,” “Bahala na ang Diyos,” and “God will provide” seem to govern
their decisions especially in times of uncertainties and difficulties.
7. Ability to Survive
The Filipino has the ability to survive and to live through the most challenging economic
and political situations. He has the ability to remain strong despite worst disasters.

Weaknesses of the Filipino Character

1. Extreme Personalism
This is manifested in the tendency to give personal interpretations to actions such as
pakiusap (request), palakasan (power and influence), nepotism & favoritism. Extreme
personalism leads to graft and corruption, which is now pronounced in Philippine society (Tulio,
2. Extreme Family Centeredness
Political dynasty, “compadreism,” “kamag-anak incorporated” are conspicuous
manifestations of this dysfunctional Filipino value. It is ever so strongly evident in the public
sphere that even the private organizations are not spared from its negative influence.
3. Lack of Discipline
Lack of discipline encompasses several related characteristics. We have the so-called
“Filipino time,” which is considered as poor time management. Another is the palusot
syndrome and the puede na yan syndrome. Another is the ningas cogon attitude, which
simply means starting out projects with full vigor and interest which will abruptly die down,
leaving things unfinished, resulting to waste of time and resources. The mañana habit or
mamaya na habit or saka na yan attitude, the habit of putting off what they need to do
which leads to an inefficient and wasteful work system, violation of rules, leading to more
serious wrongdoings, and a casual work ethic leading to carelessness and lack of follow-through
(Tulio, 2000).

4. Colonial Mentality
This is made up of two dimensions: lack of patriotism, and an actual preference for
foreign things like fashion, entertainment, lifestyle, technology, consumer, and so forth. This is
manifested by the Filipino’s penchant for buying imported goods instead of locally-made goods.
5. Kanya-Kanya Syndrome
This attribute is related to the so-called “crab mentality” (referring to the tendency of
crabs in a basket to pull each other down). Filipinos have the propensity to put others down
through gossips and destructive criticisms resulting in disunity and hindering group cooperation
in the workplace.
6. Lack of Self-analysis and Self-reflection
The Filipinos emphasis on form rather than substance misleads them into believing that
impossible things can be or are already made possible. Public as well as private lives are filled
with flowery, but meaningless arguments and assumptions.


Ramirez & Beltran (2004). Man, Values, Work Ethics, Bulacan, Philippines: Trinitas Publishing,

Teh, L.A. & Macapagal, M.J. (editors) (2008). General Psychology for Filipino Students. Manila,
Philippines: Ateneo De Manila University Press.


http://pprth-online.blogspot.com/2008/01/about-panukat-ng-ugali-at-pagkatao.html ᄃ


Prepared by:
Lecturer, Theories of Personality