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Filipino psychology, or Sikolohiyang Pilipino, in Filipino, is defined as the psychology rooted on the experience, ideas, and cultural orientation of the Filipinos. It is regulated by the Pambansang Samahan sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino, (National Organization of Filipino Psychology), in English, which was established in 1975 by Virgilio Enriquez, regarded by many as the Father of Filipino Psychology.


Basic orientation and context

Filipino psychology is usually thought of as a branch of Asian psychology, the placement, determined primarily on culture. However, there is an ongoing debate on the make-up of Philippine culture, because this will generally determine whether Philippine Psychology is to be placed under the realms of either Asian psychology or Western psychology. The vast majority of Philippine psychologists seem to prefer to classify this field as Asian, but there is a steadily growing body that attempts to place the field as Eurasian.

Four traditions

De La Salle University-Manila was one of the few universities in the country to first offer Philippine Psychology as a course.

Zeus Salazar (1985), a historian, identified four traditions upon which Philippine psychology is rooted:

  • Academic Scientific Psychology or Akademiko-siyentipikal na Sikolohiya: Western Tradition: This follows the tradition of Wilhelm Wundt in 1876 and is essentially the American-oriented Western psychology being studied in the Philippines.
  • Academic Philosophic Psychology or Akademiko-pilosopiya na Sikolohiya: Western Tradition: This was started by priest-professors at the University of Santo Tomas. This tradition is mainly focused on what is called 'Rational psychology'.
  • Ethnic Psychology or Taal na Sikolohiya: This is the tradition on which Philippine psychology is primarily based. This refers to the indigenous concepts that are studied using indigenous psychological orientation and methodologies.
  • Psycho-medical Religious Psychology or Sikolohiyang Siko-medikal: The tradition that fuses native healing techniques and explains it in an indigenous religious context.

Basic tenets


Core value or Kapwa

Kapwa, meaning 'togetherness', is the core construct of Filipino Psychology. Kapwa has two categories, Ibang Tao (other people) and Hindi Ibang Tao (not other people).

  • Ibang Tao ("outsider")Tao sa Bahay: There are five domains in this construct:
    • Pakikitungo: civility
    • Pakikisalamuha: act of mixing
    • Pakikilahok: act of joining
    • Pakikibagay: conformity
    • Pakikisama: being united with the group.
  • Hindi Ibang Tao ("one-of-us")Taong Bahay: There are three domains in this construct:
    • Pakikipagpalagayang-loob: act of mutual trust
    • Pakikisangkot: act of joining others
    • Pakikipagkaisa: being one with others

Pivotal interpersonal value

  • Pakiramdam: Shared inner perceptions. Filipinos use damdam, or the inner perception of others' emotions, as a basic tool to guide his dealings with other people.

Linking socio-personal value

  • Kagandahang-Loob: Shared humanity. This refers to being able to help other people in dire need due to a perception of being together as a part of one Filipino humanity.

Accommodative surface values

  • hiya: Loosely translated as 'shame' by most Western psychologists, hiya is actually 'sense of propriety'.
  • Utang na Loob: Norm of reciprocity. Filipinos are expected by their neighbors to return favors-—whether these were asked for or not—-when it is needed or wanted.
  • Pakikisama and Pakikipagkapwa: Smooth Interpersonal Relationship, or SIR, as coined by Lynch (1961 and 1973). This attitude is primarily guided by conformity with the majority.

Confrontative surface values

  • Bahala Na: This attitude, loosely translated into English as 'fatalistic passiveness', actually describes the Filipino way of life, in which, he is determined to do his best, hence the term bahala na, which actually came from the phrase bathalan na, meaning 'I will do all my best, let God take care of the rest'.
  • Lakas ng Loob: This attitude is characterized by being courageous in the midst of problems and uncertainties.
  • Pakikibaka: Literally in English, it means concurrent clashes. It refers to the ability of the Filipino to undertake revolutions and uprisings against a common enemy.

Societal values

  • Karangalan: Loosely translated to dignity, this actually refers to what other people see in a person and how they use that information to make a stand or judge about his/her worth.
    • Puri: the external aspect of dignity. May refer to how other people judge a person of his/her worth.
    • Dangal: the internal aspect of dignity. May refer to how a person judges his own worth.
  • Katarungan: Loosely translated to justice, this actually refers to equity in giving rewards to a person.
  • Kalayaan: Freedom and mobility. Ironically, this may clash with the less important value of pakikisama or pakikibagay (conformity).

Approaches and methods

Approaches, or lapit, and methods, or pamamaraan, in Filipino Psychology are different from that of Western Psychology. In Filipino Psychology, the subjects, or participants, called kalahok, are considered as equal in status to the researcher. The participants are included in the research as a group, and not as individuals - hence, an umpukan, or natural cluster, is required to serve as the participants, per se. The researcher is introduced to a natural cluster by a tulay (bridge), who is a part of the umpukan and is a well-respected man in the community. Some of the many approaches and methods used in Filipino Psychology are:

  • Pakikipagkuwentuhan: In this method, the researcher engages in a story-telling with an umpukan. The researcher merely serves as the facilitator, while the kalahok or participants are the one who are to talk. The term kwento, from the Spanish word cuento, literally means 'to tell a story'.
  • Panunuluyan: In this method, the researcher stays in the home of his kalahok or participant while he conducts the research with consent by the host family, whose head serves as the tulay to an umpukan. The term tuloy, which is the root word of the term panunuluyan, literally means 'to go in'.
  • Pagdadalaw-dalaw: In this method, the researcher occasionally visits the house of his host or tulay, as opposed to staying in the house. The term dalaw literally means 'visit'.
  • Pagtatanung-tanong: In this method, the researcher undergoes a kind of questioning session with his kalahok or participants. In this method, however, 'lead questions' (those questions which directly refer to the topic being studied) are not supposed to be asked, instead the questions to be asked are supposed to have been derived from the kalahok's answers themselves. The word tanong literally means 'question'.
  • Pakikiramdam: In this approach, the researcher uses entirely his/her own feelings or emotions to justify if his participants or kalahok are ready to be part of his research or not. The term damdam literally means 'inner perception of emotions'.
  • Pakapa-kapa: In this approach, the researcher uses 'groping', or a mixture of feelings as well as circumstances, to justify his intrusion into the life of his/her participants or kalahok. The term kapa literally means 'to grope in the dark'.


Filipino psychopathology, or sikopatolohiya in Filipino, from Spanish psicopatologia, is the study of abnormal psychology in the Filipino context. Several 'mental' disorders have been identified that can be found only in the Philippines or in other nations with which Filipinos share racial connections. Examples of such are:

  • Amok: Malayan mood disorder, more aptly called 'Austronesian Mood Disorder', in which a person suddenly loses control of himself and goes into a killing frenzy, after which he/she hallucinates and falls into a trance. After he/she wakes up, he has absolutely no memory of the event.
  • Bangungot: A relatively common occurrence in which a person suddenly loses control of his respiration and digestion, and falls into a coma and ultimately to death. The person is believed to dream of falling into a deep abyss at the onset of his death. This syndrome has been repeatedly linked to Thailand's Brugada syndrome and to the ingestion of rice. However, no such medical ties have been proven.

Filipino psychopathology also refers to the different manifestations of mental disorders in Filipino people. One example of such is the manifestation of depression and Schizophrenia in Filipinos, which are for the most part, less violent.


See also: Philippine Mythology

Filipino psychomedicine, or sikomedikal na sikolohiya in Filipino, is the application of basic psychology to native healing practices loosely considered as 'medicine'. These practices are closely tied to the faith healers, as well as to the native pagan priestesses like the babaylan or katalonan, who were suppressed by the Spaniards during their colonization of the Philippines. Examples of such practices include:

  • Hilot: The use of massage to aid a pregnant mother in the delivery of her child.
  • Kulam: The use of voodoo of a mambabarang to conjure up a spell, which she is to recite while piercing the body of a ragdoll, supposedly representing that of the person she is to cause sickness.
  • Lihi: An intense craving for something or someone during pregnancy. Faith healers or manghihilot testify that if the craving is not satisfied, abnormality of the child may result.
  • Pasma: A concept that explains how init (heat) and lamig (cold) together can result in illness, especially rheumatism.
  • Susto: Soul-flight. Derived from Latin American traditions.
  • Pagtatawas: A method of diagnosing illness wherein alum (called tawas) is ritualistically used by the albularyo or medicine man for diagnosis of a variety of health conditions. The tawas is used to 'cross' (sign of the cross) the forehead and other suspicious or ailing parts of the body as prayers are being whispered (bulong or oracion). It is then placed on glowing embers, removed when it starts to crack, then transferred to a small receptacle of water. As it cools, its softened form spreads on the water surface and assumes a shape that may suggest the cause of the illness, often one of several indigenous forces: dwarfs, devils or other evil spirits (na-nuno, na-kulam, na-demonyo). The water in the vehicle is then used to anoint the ailing part or parts of the body to counteract the evil forces or illness. The tawas is then discarded and thrown westward, preferably into the setting sun.
  • Usog: A concept that explains how a baby who has been greeted by a stranger acquires a mysterious illness. Apparently derived from the Spanish tradition of Mal de Ojo.
  • Gabâ or gabaa: The Cebuano concept of negative Karma.


  • Pambansang Samahan Sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino
  • Tatsulok

See also


  • Enriquez, V. (2004) "Indigenous Psychology and National Consciousness" Chapters 1, 2, 3 & 6 in From Colonial To Liberation Psychology: The Philippine Experience. De La Salle University Books, Dasmariñas, Cavite. ISBN 971-542-002-8
  • Enriquez, V. (1976) "Sikolohiyang Pilipino: Perspektibo at Direksiyon" pp 5-21. Sikolohiyang Pilipino: Teorya, Metodo, at Gamit. Inedit ni R. Pe-Pua. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1995.
  • Guanzon, M.A. (1985) "Paggamit ng Panukat na Sikolohikal sa Pilipinas: Kalagayan at mg Isyu" pp 341-362 nasa New Directions in Indigenous Psychology: Sikolohiyang Pilipino, Isyu, Pananaw at Kaalaman. Inedit nina A. Aganon at M.A. David. Manila: National Bookstore.
  • Orteza, G. (1997) "Pakikipagkuwentuhan: Isang Pamamaraaan ng Sama-samahang Pananaliksik, Pagpapatotoo at Pagtulong sa Sikolohiyang Pilipino" nasa PPRTH Occasional Papers Series 1997, No.
  • Orteza, G. at D. Tuazon "Ang Pagmamasid Bilang Katutubong Pamamaraan ng Pananaliksik sa Sikolohiya" pp 74-90 nasa Mga Piling Babasahin sa Panlarangang Pananaliksik. Tinipon ni R. Pe-Pua. Lunsod Quezon: Unibersidad ng Pilipinas.
  • Pe-Pua, R. at E. Protacio-Marcelino (1998) "Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Filipino Psychology): A legacy of Virgilio G. Enriquez. Papel na binasa sa International Association on Cross-Cultural Psychology Conference sa Bellingham, Washington State, USA, 3-8 August 1998. Fulltext at: Blackwell-Synergy and IngentaConnect
  • Pe-Pua, R. (1985) "Pagtatanong-tanong: Katutubong Metodo ng Pananaliksik" pp 416-430 nasa New Directions in Indigenous Psychology: Sikolohiyang Pilipino, Isyu, Pananaw at Kaalaman. Inedit nina A. Aganon at M.A. David. Manila: National Bookstore.
  • Salazar, Z. (1985) "Hiya: Panlapi at Salita" pp 288-296 nasa New Directions in Indigenous Psychology: Sikolohiyang Pilipino, Isyu, Pananaw at Kaalaman. Inedit nina A. Aganon at M. A. David. Manila: National Bookstore.


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