How Deep-Rooted Filipino Traditions Impact Us as Individuals

Here is a harsh truth: subjecting Filipinos to unnecessary customs can end up hurting them in the long run. While “unlearning” takes time, it is possible for my fellow Pinoys to disregard some of the traditions that their siblings, parents, and other community members have inadvertently demanded of them.

Like customs in any other culture, Filipino customs can have both beneficial and detrimental effects on individual Pinoys, depending on the situation and the changing standards of society. Here are just a few ways that Pinoy youth could be adversely affected by some traditional expectations.

Family Obligation

The heavy focus on filial piety and utang na loob (debt of gratitude) can put a lot of strain on individuals, making them prioritize the needs of their families over their own goals. As many breadwinners know, this can result in monetary hardship, psychological strain, and difficulty in advancing both oneself and their career.

Conformity and Conservatism

Many Filipinos yearn for individuality but are stifled by traditional expectations of gender roles, sexual orientation, and lifestyle choices. It is tragic that fighting for personal happiness and peace could result in social exclusion and/or the disapproval of our families.

Hierarchy and Respect for Seniors

Although showing respect for seniors is a highly regarded custom, it occasionally prevents newer generations from voicing their ideas or questioning obsolete ideas. This has the potential to impede positive changes in our culture and maintain the status quo.

Religious Pressures

In the Philippines, deeply ingrained Catholic beliefs have a significant impact on individuals’ decisions regarding marriage, family planning, and sexual orientation. For people who have different beliefs or want to make decisions that deviate from these religious norms, this may cause difficulties.

Marianismo & Machismo

 Machismo and marianismo are two examples of conventional gender norms that require men to be the dominating providers and cast women in subordinate roles. Believe it or not, this negatively impacts the mental and emotional health of both sexes: it limits possibilities for women and puts undue pressure on men. A true lose-lose situation.

These days, “Marites culture” has a significant impact on an individual because Filipino communities are close-knit, and there may be social pressure to live up to expectations. This could influence the decisions people make about their way of life, line of work, and course of study, which could hinder their ambitions and keep them from feeling personally fulfilled.

Filipino customs encourage a strong sense of community and reverence for elders, but they can also hurt people by placing pressure on them to fit in. Religious conservatism, inflexible gender norms, and expectations of filial piety can all stifle personal expression, stunt personal development, and cause emotional strain. True progress means striking a balance between these traditions and contemporary values and individual freedom.

True progress means striking a balance between these traditions and contemporary values and individual freedom.

Of course, none of this takes away from the positive things that Filipino traditions have upheld, like fostering strong community bonds and respect for elders. It is all a matter of balance: sensibly putting together these traditions with modern values and individual freedom is crucial for pushing progress in Filipino society.

Cover Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

About the Author

Johnny Denden

Johnny Denden is a HAPIsko and a fierce Mindanaoan activist!

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