Blog Entry #6
June 18, 2016
Pakikisama is a word that can literally be translated to ‘to get along with,’ but I like to think it means ‘keeping the peace.’ Pakikisama is a Filipino cultural value that has no comparative value in the United States. If I had to describe it from a westernized mindset, I would use the words, ‘don’t rustle any feathers,’ or ‘don’t be the odd man out.’ For me, this is what pakikisama is- keeping a low profile and refraining from being the one to ‘call things out.’ Understanding how to keep the pakikisama and making a strong effort to do so, has proven essential to earning respect and friendships here in the Philippines.
Filipinos are communal people. They look out for eachother, they care about eachother, and they are always seeking the good on behalf of eachother. There is no such thing as ‘I’m going to do what is best for me.’ It is always about doing what is best for the greater common good- doing what is best for others. When Filipinos make decisions about how to spend their money or their time, they do it always thinking first about how their decision is going to affect those who are closest to them. The concept of ‘entitlement,’ or ‘this is what I deserve,’ does not exist. If it does you are going against the social grain- and ignoring the pakikisama.
As someone who is pursuing a masters degree in International Peace Studies, I am very interested to see how the concept of ‘keeping the peace’ intersects with the intricacies of peacebuilding work here in the Philippines. I look forward to continuing to explore the concept more through my work in Davao City, Philippines.
*Photo of Rizal Park in Downtown Manila, Philippines.