Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kapwa People

In her talk Indigenous Filipino Values: A Foundation for a Culture of Non-Violence" prepared for the forum "Towards a Culture of Non-Violence," Katrin de Guia defines several key concepts which underpin babaylan practices.


People, who practice kapwa in their life can be recognized by their genuine, people-centered orientation (magkatao), their service to others around them (matipon, matulungin), and by their commitment to their communities (pamathalaan). Among their barkada, they often are inspiring leaders and community organizers. As foot soldiers, they are the reliable ones, the ones who step forward to volunteer. They are quick to lend a hand and share their skills and knowledge freely (i.e. by teaching children, working with the urban poor, or facilitating community workshops on crafts, etc.) Their help usually comes with a big, gratis smile.

Community building and peace building is second nature to the people of such a bearing, as kapwa inspires them to facilitate at meetings, organize events and actively participate in civic affairs. How this kapwa works on a global scale can be seen in the people’s movements that unseated corrupt leaders— especially the People Power in 1986, which garnered for the Philippines the first-ever nomination of a whole country for the Peace Nobel Prize in 2000.But the same kapwa orientation also won the Philippine-Spanish War for Filipinos (even if it was followed by betrayal— the abuse of the trust that often invades the openness of kapwa.)

A notion of war may not fit into a forum on peace keeping and a Culture of Non Violence. But as historical figures like Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King or the Dalai Lama show—for the non-violent peace process you truly need the abilities to create networks, to build consent and to mobilize masses. And the kapwa orientation can come in mighty handy when you do that! Only if you manage to spread your peace ideas in a non-forceful manner (where you don’t buy or bully people, but where you motivate them with your good intentions and convictions) you will be effective in promoting a culture of non-violence. Then you are like running water hollowing out solid stone.

Back to kapwa: As the heart is central to the body, the shared Self nurtures the Filipino personality (or personhood.) But kapwa does not reside alone at the core. It manifests in pakiramdam, the pivotal interpersonal value that characterizes Filipino emotion. Enriquez named this emotional quality “shared perception.”

What is such a shared awareness all about? Pakiramdam matches the ocean-like expanse of kapwa with an equally large field of sensitive awareness.

Katrin M. de Guia performed her pioneering research on the Filipino culture-bearer artists all over the country while earning her PhD in Filipino Psychology (Sikolohiyang Pilipino) at the Unversity of the Philippines. She will be a featured speaker at the Center for Babaylan Studies 2010 Conference

Link accessed 6/24/2009

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