USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Philipines’
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Bayanihan Spirit

Pauline is an international student from the Philippines. She is studying Chemical Engineering in the United States, and she plans to return to the Philippines once she graduates and receives her B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Her hobbies are watching anime, eating delicious food, and taking naps.

Original Script

So there’s this custom from the olden times in the Philippines that’s called Bayanihan. So before like people used to live in like really small bamboo huts and when like people wanted to move because maybe like the ground is not fertile anymore and they wanted to go to another place like near the shore or something. Like instead of just leaving their home and building a new one, it’s like actually portable—there’s sticks at the bottom—and then like you can like carry your house and then just move it. So the concept of Bayanihan is all your neighbors are like going to help you carry the house.

Background Information about the Performance from the Informant

The informant learned about the Bayanihan spirit in elementary school. Her teacher wished to teach this value to her students because it is an integral part of Filipino culture and possesses heavy historical importance.

Context of the Performance

I interviewed the informant in a study room at Parkside IRC.

The Bayanihan is a Filipino custom that refers to the spirit of communal unity, collaborating and working together to achieve a particular goal. “Bayan” means “community, nation, or town,” while bayanihan means “being in a bayan.” This concept can be traced back to the tradition of rural areas in the Philippines, where the town’s people would lend a hand to a family who is relocating. The Bayanihan spirit demonstrates the Filipino value of helping one another, especially in times of need, without expecting anything in return.

My Thoughts about the Performance

I really admire this quality valued by the Filipinos. When I visited the Philippines with my family a few years ago, I noticed that the Bayanihan spirit is still very much alive. While I was in the rural areas, the locals went out of their way to welcome and help my family and me. I also saw a group of Filipino men help a family move their house to another location.

Old age
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Respect for your Elders

S is a 21-year-old Filipino woman. She is currently majoring in Business Administration at the University of Southern California. She grew up in the Philippines and therefore identifies as Filipino, however, she also identifies as Chinese. S speaks English, Mandarin, Tagalog and Hokkien, the last being two of many languages specific to the Philippines.

S: Do rituals count as folklore?

Me: Yeah.

S: Ok, so like, one of the things is like when you meet an elderly person, you like place their hand on your forehead.

Me: Like your hand. on your forehead?

S: No, like I would take your hand and place it on my forehead, like the elderly person’s hand. Like, it’s called, um, Mano. M-a-n-o. Yeah, so it’s just like a sign of respect, you do that with everyone, like even people you don’t meet (know), like if their really elderly. And like you always add like the word po, p-o, at the end of every sentence.

Me: P-o?

S: Yeah, ’cause it’s just like a sign of respect for, like, regardless of gender, you just, you like add it. so you say like, oh, like in the Philippines you’d say like “Oh, come, let’s eat,” and then you would add po at the end. It’s just something like that. It has a lot to do with respect and just like valuing those kinds of uh, values.

Me: Valuing their age I guess. And like their wisdom maybe?

S: Yeah. Exactly.

S explains the ritual, or practice, in the Philippines when meeting an elderly person. You take their hand and place it on your forehead. You do this out of respect, to honor their years and their wisdom. Respect is a common theme in both the Chinese and Filipino traditions and rituals that S has talked about, as well as many other Asian cultures.