Filipino psychology

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Filipino psychology, or Sikolohiyang Pilipino, in Filipino, is defined as the psychology rooted on the experience, ideas, and cultural orientation of the Filipinos. It is regulated by the Pambansang Samahan sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino, (corporate name: National Association for Sikolohiyang Pilipino, Inc.), which was established in 1975 by Virgilio Enriquez, regarded by many as the Father of Filipino Psychology.


Filipino Psychology emerged and grew as part of the nationalist indigenization movement in the Philippines that was formalized in 1975.

The roots of Filipino Psychology can be traced back to the introduction of the American education system in the Philippines. Agustin Alonzo was among the first Filipino psychologist to return from his education in America 1925 to teach at the College of Education in the University of the Philippines. Arriving with them psychological knowledge rooted in the American tradition of psychology. Western psychology is taught in schools as universal and scientific despite being insensitive and inappropriate to Philippine culture. This hegemony of Western American Psychology is referred to as Colonial Psychology.

During the 1960s, many Filipino intellectuals and scholars were already aware of the limitations and inapplicability of Western Psychology. Western-oriented approaches in research in particular, had lead scholars to paint the Filipino through the “judgmental and impressionistic views of the colonizers.”[1] It is with the use of American categories and standards that “the native Filipino invariably suffers from the comparison in not too subtle attempts to put forward Western behavior patterns as models for the Filipino.”[2] Early efforts to correct the traditional way of teaching and studying psychology in the 1960s include the translation of foreign materials and the use of the Filipino language as a mode of instruction, however, these efforts fails to address the problems brought about by colonial psychology as these efforts were sparse and not collaborated upon by psychologists.

It was only in the 1970s when a concerted effort to address colonial psychology in the form of Filipino Psychology. It was during the time of Ferdinand Marcos’ presidency when Nationalist sentiment among scholars had allowed Filipino Psychology to emerge. Filipino Psychology, along with advances in Filipinology and similarly History’s Pantayong Pananaw, led by Virgilio Enriquez, Prospero Covar, and Zeus Salazar in the indigenization movement of their respective fields.

Enriquez returned from his studies to the Philippines in 1971 and established the Philippine Psychology Research House (now Philippine Psychology Research and Training House, PPRTH). In 1975, the very first annual national conference on Filipino Psychology was held by the Pambansang Samahan sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino (PSSP) marking the formalization of Filipino Psychology.

Basic orientation and context[edit]

Filipino psychology is usually thought of as a branch of Asian psychology, the placement, determined primarily on culture. However, there is an ongoing debate on the make-up of Philippine culture, because this will generally determine whether Philippine Psychology is to be placed under the realms of either Asian psychology or Eastern psychology.

The view of Philippine Psychology is largely postcolonial and is seen as a kind of liberation psychology.

Four traditions[edit]

In 1985, historian Zeus A.Salazar identified four traditions upon which Philippine psychology is rooted:

  • Academic Scientific Psychology or Akademiko-siyentipikal na Sikolohiya: Western Tradition: This follows the tradition of Wilhelm Wundt in 1876 and is essentially the American-oriented Western psychology being studied in the Philippines.
  • Academic Philosophic Psychology or Akademiko-pilosopiya na Sikolohiya: Western Tradition: This was started by priest-professors at the University of Santo Tomas. This tradition is mainly focused on what is called 'Rational psychology'.
  • Ethnic Psychology or Taal na Sikolohiya: This is the tradition on which Philippine psychology is primarily based. This refers to the indigenous concepts that are studied using indigenous psychological orientation and methodologies.
  • Psycho-medical Religious Psychology or Sikolohiyang Siko-medikal: The tradition that fuses native healing techniques and explains it in an indigenous religious context. A social scientist[who?] suggested that many poor Filipinos are considered superstitious as a result of Catholic dogmatism, characterized by a vague combination of animism and Catholic beliefs. The majority of Filipinos are poor and religion has become an important facet of life, to the extent that some disbelieve in science. Many foreigners look down on Filipinos, going as far as calling them slaves. That is why when working as domestic helpers, many Filipinos report cases of work-related abuse.[citation needed]

Basic tenets[edit]

Core value or Kapwa (shared inner self)[edit]

Kapwa is the core construct of Filipino Psychology. Kapwa has two categories, Ibang Tao and Hindi Ibang Tao.

  • Ibang Tao ("outsider") There are five interaction levels under this category:
    • Pakikitungo: civility - In Confucian ethics, right behavior meant right demeanor towards authorities (Parents, Elders, etc.).
    • Pakikisalamuha: act of mixing - This is a social value that is primarily communitarian and Confucian. It espouses the ability to adapt.
    • Pakikilahok: act of joining - This translates to participation of the entire community to help a person.
    • Pakikibagay: conformity - This runs into conflict with individuality which many Filipinos in fact willingly throw away in favor of conformity with demands of those who are in charge.
    • Pakikisama: being united with the group.
  • Hindi Ibang Tao ("one-of-us") There are three interaction levels under this category:
    • Pakikipagpalagayang-loob: act of mutual trust
    • Pakikisangkot: act of joining others
    • Pakikipagkaisa: being one with others

Pivotal interpersonal value[edit]

  • Pakiramdam: Shared inner perceptions. Filipinos use damdam, or the inner perception of others' emotions, as a basic tool to guide his dealings with other people.

Linking socio-personal value[edit]

  • Kagandahang-Loob: Shared humanity. This refers to being able to help other people in dire need due to a perception of being together as a part of one Filipino humanity.

Accommodative surface values[edit]

  • Hiya: Loosely translated as 'shyness' by most Western psychologists, Hiya is actually 'sense of propriety'.
  • Utang na loob: Norm of reciprocity. Filipinos are expected by their neighbors to return favors—whether these were asked for or not—when it is needed or wanted.
  • Pakikisama and Pakikipagkapwa: Smooth Interpersonal Relationship, or SIR, as coined by Lynch (1961 and 1973). This attitude is primarily guided by conformity with the majority.

Confrontative surface values[edit]

  • Bahala na: Bahala Na translates literally as "leave it up to God (Bathala)" and it is used as an expression, almost universally, in Filipino culture. Filipinos engage in the bahala na attitude as a culture-influenced adaptive coping strategy when faced with challenging situations.
  • Lakas ng loob: This attitude is characterized by being courageous in the midst of problems and uncertainties.
  • Pakikibaka: Literally in English, it means concurrent clashes. It refers to the ability of the Filipino to undertake revolutions and uprisings against a common enemy.

Societal values[edit]

  • Karangalan: Loosely translated to dignity, this actually refers to what other people see in a person and how they use that information to make a stand or judge about his/her worth.
    • Puri: the external aspect of dignity. May refer to how other people judge a person of his/her worth. This compels a common Filipino to conform to social norms, regardless how obsolete they are.
    • Dangal: the internal aspect of dignity. May refer to how a person judges his own worth.
  • Katarungan: Loosely translated to justice, this actually refers to equity in giving rewards to a person.
  • Kalayaan: Freedom and mobility. Ironically, this may clash with the less important value of pakikisama or pakikibagay (conformity).

Approaches and methods[edit]

Approaches, or lapit, and methods, or pamamaraan, in Filipino Psychology are different from that of Western Psychology. In Filipino Psychology, the subjects, or participants, called kalahok, are considered as equal in status to the researcher.

The participants are included in the research as a group, and not as individuals - hence, an umpukan, or natural cluster, is required to serve as the participants, per se. The researcher is introduced to a natural cluster by a tulay (bridge), who is a part of the umpukan and is a well-respected man in the community.

Some of the approaches and methods used in Filipino Psychology are:

  • Pakikipagkuwentuhan: In this method, the researcher engages in a story-telling with an umpukan. The researcher merely serves as the facilitator, while the kalahok or participants are the one who are to talk. The term kwento, from the Spanish word cuento, literally means 'to tell a story'.
  • Panunuluyan: In this method, the researcher stays in the home of his kalahok or participant while he conducts the research with consent by the host family, whose head serves as the tulay to an umpukan. The term tuloy, which is the root word of the term panunuluyan, literally means 'to go in'.
  • Pagdadalaw-dalaw: In this method, the researcher occasionally visits the house of his host or tulay, as opposed to staying in the house. The term dalaw literally means 'visit'.
  • Pagtatanung-tanong: In this method, the researcher undergoes a kind of questioning session with his kalahok or participants. In this method, however, 'lead questions' (those questions which directly refer to the topic being studied) are not supposed to be asked, instead the questions to be asked are supposed to have been derived from the kalahok's answers themselves. The word tanong literally means 'question'.
  • Pakikiramdam: In this approach, the researcher uses entirely his/her own feelings or emotions to justify if his participants or kalahok are ready to be part of his research or not. The term damdam literally means 'inner perception of emotions'.


Filipino psychopathology, or sikopatolohiya in Filipino, from Spanish psicopatologia, is the study of abnormal psychology in the Filipino context. Several mental disorders have been identified that culture-bound syndromes, and can therefore be found only in the Philippines or in other societies with which Filipinos share cultural connections. Examples of such are:

  • Amok: Malayan mood disorder, more aptly called "Austronesian Mood Disorder", in which a person suddenly loses control of himself and goes into a killing frenzy, after which he/she hallucinates and falls into a trance. After he/she wakes up, he has absolutely no memory of the event.
  • Bangungot: A relatively common occurrence in which a person suddenly loses control of his respiration and digestion, and falls into a coma and ultimately to death. The person is believed to dream of falling into a deep abyss at the onset of his death. This syndrome has been repeatedly linked to Thailand's Brugada syndrome and to the ingestion of rice. However, no such medical ties have been proven.

Manifestation of universal mental disorders[edit]

Filipino psychopathology also refers to the different manifestations of mental disorders in Filipino people. One example of such is the manifestation of depression and schizophrenia in Filipinos, which are, for the most part, less violent.

Psycho-medicine and faith healers[edit]

Filipino psychomedicine, or sikomedikal na sikolohiya in Filipino, is the application of basic psychology to native healing practices loosely considered as 'medicine'. These practices are closely tied to the faith healers, as well as to the native pagan priestesses like the babaylan or katalonan, who were suppressed by the Spaniards during their colonization of the Philippines.

Examples of such practices include:

  • Hilot: The use of massage to aid a pregnant mother in the delivery of her child.
  • Kulam: Hex or bewitchment.
  • Lihi: An intense craving for something or someone during pregnancy. Faith healers or manghihilot testify that if the craving is not satisfied, abnormality of the child may result.
  • Pasma: A concept that explains how init (heat) and lamig (cold) together can result in illness, especially rheumatism.
  • Susto: Soul-flight. Derived from Latin American traditions.
  • Pagtatawas: A method of diagnosing illness wherein alum (called tawas) is ritualistically used by the albularyo or medicine man for diagnosis of a variety of health conditions. The tawas is used to 'cross' (sign of the cross) the forehead and other suspicious or ailing parts of the body as prayers are being whispered (bulong or oracion). It is then placed on glowing embers, removed when it starts to crack, then transferred to a small receptacle of water. As it cools, its softened form spreads on the water surface and assumes a shape that may suggest the cause of the illness, often one of several indigenous forces: dwarfs, devils or other evil spirits (na-nuno, na-kulam, na-demonyo). The water in the vehicle is then used to anoint the ailing part or parts of the body to counteract the evil forces or illness. The tawas is then discarded and thrown westward, preferably into the setting sun.
  • Usog: A concept that explains how a baby who has been greeted by a stranger acquires a mysterious illness. Apparently derived from the Spanish tradition of Mal de Ojo.
  • Gabâ or gabaa: The Visayan concept of negative Karma.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Enriquez, V.G. (1992). From Colonial to Liberation Psychology. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. p.57
  2. ^ Enriquez, V.G. (1992). From Colonial to Liberation Psychology. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. p.57
  • Casuga, S., Rhodius, A., & Vogel, E. (2011). The experience of the bahala na attitude among Filipino athletes in international sporting competition (Doctoral dissertation). John F. Kennedy University, Pleasant Hill, California. ISBN 978-126-745-839-1
  • Enriquez, V. (2004) "Indigenous Psychology and National Consciousness" Chapters 1, 2, 3 & 6 in From Colonial To Liberation Psychology: The Philippine Experience. De La Salle University Books, Dasmariñas, Cavite. ISBN 971-542-002-8
  • Enriquez, V. (1976) "Sikolohiyang Pilipino: Perspektibo at Direksiyon" pp 5–21. Sikolohiyang Pilipino: Teorya, Metodo, at Gamit. Inedit ni R. Pe-Pua. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1995.
  • Guanzon, M.A. (1985) "Paggamit ng Panukat na Sikolohikal sa Pilipinas: Kalagayan at mg Isyu" pp 341–362 nasa New Directions in Indigenous Psychology: Sikolohiyang Pilipino, Isyu, Pananaw at Kaalaman. Inedit nina A. Aganon at M.A. David. Manila: National Bookstore.
  • Mendoza, S. L. (2007). Theoretical Advances in the Discourse of Indigenization. Mga Babasahin Sa Agham Panlipunang Pilipino: Sikolohiyang Pilipino, Pilipinolohiya, at Pantayong Pananaw., 241-297.
  • Orteza, G. (1997) "Pakikipagkuwentuhan: Isang Pamamaraaan ng Sama-samahang Pananaliksik, Pagpapatotoo at Pagtulong sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino" nasa PPRTH Occasional Papers Series 1997, No.
  • Orteza, G. at D. Tuazon "Ang Pagmamasid Bilang Katutubong Pamamaraan ng Pananaliksik sa Sikolohiya" pp 74–90 nasa Mga Piling Babasahin sa Panlarangang Pananaliksik. Tinipon ni R. Pe-Pua. Lungsod Quezon: Unibersidad ng Pilipinas.
  • Pe-Pua, R. at E. Protacio-Marcelino (1998) "Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Filipino Psychology): A legacy of Virgilio G. Enriquez. Papel na binasa sa International Association on Cross-Cultural Psychology Conference sa Bellingham, Washington State, US, 3–8 August 1998. Fulltext at: Blackwell-Synergy and IngentaConnect
  • Pe-Pua, R. (1985) "Pagtatanong-tanong: Katutubong Metodo ng Pananaliksik" pp 416–430 nasa New Directions in Indigenous Psychology: Sikolohiyang Pilipino, Isyu, Pananaw at Kaalaman. Inedit nina A. Aganon at M.A. David. Manila: National Bookstore.
  • Salazar, Z. (1985) "Hiya: Panlapi at Salita" pp 288–296 nasa New Directions in Indigenous Psychology: Sikolohiyang Pilipino, Isyu, Pananaw at Kaalaman. Inedit nina A. Aganon at M. A. David. Manila: National Bookstore.
  • Salazar, Z. A. (1980). Faith Healing in the Philippines. Asian Studies Journal. Retrieved September 21, 2018, from
  • Sta. Maria, Madelene and Carlo Magno. Dimensions of Filipino Negative Social Emotions, 7th Conference of the Asian Association of Social Psychology, July 25–28, 2007, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia,
  • Yacat, J. (2016). Retrieved 18 August 2016, from

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