The Spirit of Being Resilient in Filipino Culture
There are plenty of people who, after witnessing Filipinos up close enduring typhoons and floods and fires, would say that being resilient is simply part of being Filipino. These become even more clear when the country experiences a natural calamity which is at least once or twice a year. It wasn’t too long ago that the enormous superstorm in recorded history steamed through the country leaving massive destruction in its wake. It wasn’t too long after that when another typhoon called Ondoy ravaged Metro Manila, creating floods that covered houses. And just this week, another storm called typhoon Ulysses rivalled the massive floods of typhoon Ondoy, leaving swaths of Metro Manila under 10 feet of water again.
It is during these calamities when the resiliency of a Filipino shines through. They pick up where they left off and get to work. They save what they can and fix what has been damaged, but they keep moving forward. Some might wonder where this resilience of Filipino spirit comes from, but some would say that it is part of the culture honed by hundreds of years of living under the thumb of more immense, more powerful nations. Others might say that while Filipinos understand suffering, they also realise that joy can be found in the little things in life and that those little things that make us happy, when put together, can make all the difference in the world.
Understanding Being Resilient in Filipino People
It’s effortless to spot examples of the resilience of Filipino people. You can see it in a lot of pictures that often make it to magazines only because it looks so strange from an outsiders’ perspective. These pictures depict children playing basketball while waist-deep in floodwater, it shows people offering what little food they have after a calamity to anyone who happens to be walking by. It shows Filipinos caring for their pets amid natural disasters.
For Filipinos, these are not newsworthy pictures which is why they often only make the news in foreign newspapers or websites. For Filipinos, this is common in everyday life. There is a mix of the natural spirit of being resilient in Filipino, of culture, and of the simple Filipino act of finding moments of peace even during a disaster.
It might be best understood with an age-old story where someone takes a glass jar and pours sand into it, saying that the sand represents different things in life – school, career, commitment, and so on. And then at the end, when the jar is full, they take a bottle of beer and pour it in, saying that the lesson is you always have time for a beer and conversation with friends. It’s the same for the resilience of a Filipino – no matter what happens, there are family and friends to enjoy a meal and even a bit of conversation.
The Resiliency of a Filipino is Built into the Culture
A little-known fact about Filipinos is that a polite way of greeting someone is to invite them to share your food. When you approach Filipinos while they’re enjoying a meal, they will greet you with a cheery “Kain tayo or Kaon ta,” which translates to “Let’s eat.” Small gestures like this are built into the Filipino culture, one of which is the ironclad habit of helping your neighbours or giving food to those who don’t have it.
But more than generosity and innate friendliness, Filipinos are also some of the most practical people in the world. In the face of hardships, Filipinos are less likely to question why such difficulties could happen but are more likely to accept that bad things do happen. The real question for a Filipino is, what should we do next?
These can be seen during the corona pandemic when so many people lost their jobs. Instead of throwing their hands up, the resilience of the Filipino spirit showed in how most people adapted to their change in circumstances. Whether it’s to sell baked goods online or to learn to buy and sell items via popular eCommerce websites or to find work online, most people in the Philippines looked at what needed to be done and took the next step.
The Resiliency of the Filipino is Finding Strength in Family
There are times when the Filipino culture of having a close-knit family can be a pain, like when your Auntie asks when you’re getting married, something that happens often enough during the holidays. But the great thing about having a close-knit family as most Filipinos do is that there’s always someone to lend you a sympathetic ear and even a helping hand when times get tough.
But the most important thing about having a Filipino family is that you will always have someplace to go, even if it’s your third or fourth cousin from your mom’s side whom you haven’t seen in fifteen years. For Filipinos, when family shows up at your door, you let them in. Much like how Robert Frost’s famous poem goes, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
Seeing the Resilience of the Filipino Spirit in a Different Light
Some would say that the resilience of the Filipino spirit may be holding the country back. Instead of reacting as most cultures do, Filipinos tend to take things in stride which could open the doors for abuse and neglect. While there is a grain of truth in saying that resilience in Filipinos can be taken advantage of, it has proven its real value, especially during the struggles and difficulties of the Corona pandemic.
As other cultures face staggering increases in unemployment, most of the Philippines explored other avenues of making a living and moved on with their lives. And even in a ‘dark horse’ disaster like the current pandemic, Filipinos continue to find small pleasures throughout their day, as expected from the resilience of the Filipino spirit.
For you bayan, What is the meaning of Resiliency in Filipino? I’d love to hear it from you. Please comment below.
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