The majority of early emigrants from the Philippines cultural awareness came from rural regions that were characterized by strong traditional social organizations based on the extended family, village, and barrio memberships. The patterns of settlement in somewhat isolated, self-sufficient communities probably engendered a strong sense of local loyalty and identification, which was retained by the immigrants and carried over to the new country. The tradition of cooperation among families and villagers around the need for pooled labor evolved into a complex set of social values based on reciprocity and the avoidance of conflict within the group. The priority placed on social acceptance coupled with an avoidance of situations of shaming, humiliation, and embarrassment to and by others is one expression of traditional values. The enormous emphasis placed on getting along with others, of evincing appropriate sensitivity to interpersonal needs, and the use of indirection in speech to avoid potential conflict and embarrassment all point to the ultimate priority placed on harmonious relationships and the importance of maintaining group memberships.
Traditional Pilipino society, like that of the Chinese and the Japanese, is strongly family-centered. The interests of the individual are secondary to those of family welfare, and the reputation of families and their members is to be watch-fully maintained through circumspect behavior on the part of family members. In return, the family can be expected to meet the basic needs of the individual. Trust, aid in times of need, acceptance, and the right to share in the good name of one’s family are some of the personal benefits that are derived from family membership. The priority of social and family values operating can be expressed by a quotation from the work of Nydegger and Nydegger : “To strengthen and extend the bonds of neighborliness, and to make them secure, to establish a family of which one may be justifiably proud, to improve one’s socioeconomic position if possible, largely as a legacy to the next generation….” Reflecting the priorities of social life found in the Locos areas of the Philippines, a major donor region of early immigrants, this quotation makes clear the great value placed on family, its continuity, and the importance of strong extra familial Social bonds. Indeed, the motivations resulting in immigration to the U.S. reflected such values as the strong desire to improve the fortunes of family.
Among Filipino, kinship relationships extend beyond the set of relations generally suggested by the concept of an extended family among Asian groups. Rather than reckoning family membership only by patrimonial descent, Filipino families tend toward bilateral equality in family relationships, with the relatives of both parents being incorporated into the extended family. Relatives acquired by marriage play roles of importance equal to those related by blood tics. An additional source of members is the “compadrazgo” system. In which trusted friends and allies can be recruited to serve as godparents to children. Thus incorporated into the family network, the godparent also assumes the responsibilities and obligations attendant to the role. Within the family, great respect and deference is due to elders and the family head. Among children, deference to any older person is both desired and enforced. All persons involved in rearing and teaching children are entitled to the love and respect usually accorded to one’s parents. Deference toward and recognition of people with special relationships to the family are expressed through language and in general interpersonal behavior. The Filipino child is reared within a complex system of interdependent and highly defined social roles and relationships, and receives a great deal of love and protection from older siblings and adults. The ideal child should be respectful and submissive toward those in authority and in superior statuses, and should also be reticent with adults. In the Filipino family, marriage is considered to be an alliance between kin networks.
Each family is involved in determining the appropriateness of the marriage, through consideration of such factors as the reputations and social statuses of the respective families and the personal suitability of the individuals concerned. Formal negotiations involve the use of a go-between, since the negotiations could be potentially embarrassing or contentious for family members.