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Variation in Philippine values: A Western Bisayan case-study


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F. Landa Jocano National Museum


In a separate paper (6) we have called for a “ rethink­

ing” of some sociological assumptions relative to the na­

ture of Filipino values and value-orientations which many students of contemporary Philippine society uphold as fundamental in understanding the pattern of Filipino cul­

tural behavior, if only on the grounds that these general­

izations have been formulated on the basis of inadequate data. This paper is intended to supplement this earlier proposal with a specific case-study from Malitbog, a small barrio in Western Bisayas (2 ). In order to have greater control over our theoretical frame of references we shall limit our discussion, in this respect, to three major rela­

tional imperatives involved in local dyadic relations. These are the concepts of iningod (neighborhood), huya (shame, self-esteem, etc.) and the two-level definition of normative behavior: the utang nga kabubut-on and the utang nga ka- baraslan.

The ka-ingod/iningod complex

Let us begin with the kaingod (pl. iningod) or the concept of “ being neighbors.” The concept of neighbor­

hood is basic to the social life of the people in Malitbog;

that is, the residents attach high value to “ living together,”

irrespective of the prevailing economic difficulties that characterize this togetherness. As most of our inform­

ants put it:

Even if we have to eat leaves of grass (i.e., vegetables) if we are all together, it would not matter much at all.



The Southeast Asia Quarterly July 1 9 6 6

Sociologically, this aphorism embodies not only the nor­

mative principle o f togetherness but it also characterizes indirectly, the structure of being “ kaingod” or “ iningod”

Malitbog is composed of five sitios. Within each sitio are clusters of houses that constitute one’s immediate neighbors (i.e., his iningod or kaingod). The identity of each of these subgroups is revealed by the statements in­

formants give when asked about their relationship should it be known that they are not kin: “ Ah, magiringod k ami.”

(Ah, we are neighbors) or “ Kaingod ko day-a s i... ” ( ... is my neighbor). The term is derived from the root-word “ ingod,” meaning “ to be close” . Suffix ka or ining indicates the degree of closeness. Kaingod is much closer than being iningod, spatially. The closest translation of the latter is “ within the environs” and the former is

“ next door.” These linguistic categories suggest that the kaingod or iningod, to be meaningful, has to be perceived as a frame of reference in terms of physical proximity of household units. It is this spatial propinquity that, as among the people in Tzintzuntzan, Mexico.

. . .establishes ties between villagers and creates, if only on a low level, bonds of common interest.

A suspicious character in the street, is a matter of concern to all, as is a householder’s vicious and dangerous dog, or an arroyo made impassable by a flash flood, thus preventing passage to a maize mill. Neighborhood interaction is often the basis of friendship but not all neighbors are friends.


In spite of sentiments attached to being close to each other, the iningod or kaingod has no autonomous exist­

ence of itself if only because it is not bound by fixed so­

cial, legal, traditional, or physical landmark within the bar­

rio. Its existence is wholly dependent upon the intensity of interactions obtaining between members of the unit and of the social content involved in the relationship. Should anyone become disgruntled with the neighborhood, he can move to other groups and there establishes local attach­

ments. In a word, it is the kind of relational categories that define local groupings and that in spite o f the com-

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Variation in Philippine Va lu e s: A Western Bisayan Case Study

munal orientation of the barrio relative to the municipal government, it is still within the context of these small, contiguous neighborhood units that Malitbog society oper­

ates. For one thing, the kaingod is deeply rooted, on the whole, to the “ life-sphere” of the farmers; and, for another, the neighborhood represents the most effective segment of the rural society where collective responsibility and social control are best carried out.

The iningod functions primarily in areas of group life which is not served by the immediate nuclear family or household unit on the one hand and by the entire com­

munity on the other. It may therefore be characterized as a sociological construct — a conceptual frame of refer­

ence which, even if it is not verbalized by the people unless pressed for explanations of their actions, serves as an out­

line in defining set of relationships that are vital to the functioning of the barrio as a whole. Although the iningod is a cohesive force insofar as physical proximity is con­

cerned, it is, at the same time, a fragmenting mechanism insofar as institutionalized behavior is concerned. It sub­

divides the barrio or even the sitio into a number of small, compact units or segments, defined in terms of traditional patterns of living and behaving. This we think underlies the stable adaptation and traditional practices to the pre­

vailing conditions. For as soon as concensus about almost anything is formed among them, the iningod members do not allow much lattitude for deviancy in behavior without sanctions.

Moreover, spatial proximity influences the intensity of interactions that underlie the configuration of the peo­

ple’s world view relative to specific value-orientations (7).

Values are developed through group interactions and are normally expressed in the manner in which people agree and disagree about specific things, beliefs, and actions.

Once a common understanding is reached about these things, beliefs, and actions, these become important to the functioning of group life. They become the constituent ele­

ments of common ends and “ values toward which all mem­

bers are oriented and in terms of which the life of the


The Southeast Asia Quarterly July 1 9 6 6

group is organized” (1:115).

Functionally, group norms are not only ways of doing tilings, but they are also the right ways. They include folkways, mores, laws, beliefs, and assumptions which un­

derlie the recurrent and consistent behaviors of the mem­

bers of the group. They are, as Robert Redfield defined them, “ the conventional understandings, manifest in acts and artifacts that characterize societies” (10:132). By understanding is meant the meaning which one attaches to any act or to any object under observation. Since society is composed of interacting individuals, the meanings which can be abstracted from any cultural form are expressed in actions.

This brings us to the nature of the rights and obliga­

tions accruing from the fact that persons or group of per­

sons are neighbors. We stated that the iningod principle is best exemplified in terms of how one regards another.

Next to consanguineal relations, friendship is another strong iningod norm. It reinforces neighborhood affilia­

tions. Neighbors are expected to help one another in time of great need or even in ordinary chores which require the assistance of another person. It is not uncommon, in this respect, to hear someone call for the neighbor to

“ please keep watch over our house while we are away.” A mother would normally request the neighbor to keep an eye on her child or children while she is away — in the market or in the field. A person who is delayed by other pressing business transactions in the town during market days would usually look for a neighbor and send through him or her what he had purchased. This is known as the ulayhon.

During special occasions neighbors are expected to come and offer their assistance. They help in the kitchen, butcher the livestocks, fetch water, gather fuel, and assist in all other jobs that are necessary in making the occasions fit­

ting and successful. On other occasions, they are as inter­

mediaries for the marriage arrangements (pamalayi), as retinue of the bride-groom and the bride during marriage, and so on. Should a carabao get loose during the night, a

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Variation in Philippine Va lu e s: A Western Bisayan Case Study

neighbor is called to help search for it. The people also unite in time of need against the common enemy like cat­

tle rustlers, bandits, and other “ gangs” from the outside by organizing themselves into night patrols known locally as runda.

The trait which is most expressive of iningod senti­

ment and of the selective nature of the system is the recip­

rocal exchange of food (the garalwanay). Every time a person brings home some not-too-ordinary foodstuff, cook­

ed or uncooked, he sends a plateful or a slice to the neigh­

bor with whom he maintains closer ties. Among the cook­

ed food being exchanged are: chicken, beef, pork, sea­

foods, pansit (noddles) and canned goods. The norm under­

lying this reciprocity is discussed at length in the succeed­

ing section. At any rate, it might be said here that food exchange strengthens the iningod 'relationship. That it can also weaken such relationship is quite true. For the mo­

ment one fails to meet his expected obligations, he disap­

points the other individual and conflicts emerge. The for­

mer is branded by the latter as “ kuum” (stingy) “ maha- kug” (greedy) and other terms signifying “ unwillingness to share.” This can mean the end of the good relation.

The significance of the iningod as a primary unit of interactions to the generalized Malitbog society may be summed up in the words of Raymond Firth when he w rote:

Such primary groups are socially vital. They offer many types of personal satisfaction — in opportunities of feeling secure amid group sup­

port, of exercising power over others, of show­

ing skill and petty inventiveness in adapting things to immediate group needs, in getting g r a t­

ifications of a moral kind, through the display of love and self-sacrifice. They are essential also for cooperation, in economic and other fields

(3:4 4).

The significance of iningod to cooperation, especially in economic pursuits, is best exemplified in the field of group work known as the sul-ug or dagyaw. As we have stated earlier, sul-ug is a freely offered, reciprocal serv-


The Southeast Asia Quarterly July 19G6 ice rendered to any member of the barrio in the spirit of neighborliness. By freely we mean without compensation in cash or in kind. It is moreover either solicited or vol­

untarily given, but whosoever initiates this group work imposes upon himself the obligation to return the labors of those who responded to his request or who volunteered to do him a favor. Although the dag-yaw or sul-ug is free, the host serves the laborers three meals during the day and coconut beverage (tuba) in the afternoon after the work is over.

Apparently more work is done during the sul-ug. The individual who lags behind during the sul-ug work is likely to be branded as uya-ya, or “ slow-foot” by his fellow work­

ers and this is an affront to his dignity and social pres­

tige. Added to this is the spirit of kasadya, which means center of group attention. In this way, sul-ug also operates work, the men sing, tell stories, relate interesting exper­

iences, discuss problems concerning the welfare of the bar­

rio, the forthcoming fiesta, and many other things, all of which enliven group activity. A man with many jokes or possessed with a good sense of humor or wit becomes the center of group attention. In this way, sul-og also operates as an occasion where one can display his talents and com­

mand the admiration of his fellows.

The kumbuya is another kind of communal labor, wherein a group of men or women pool their resources and undertake certain projects with the end in view of gain­

ing profit from their joint labor. Unlike the sul-ug, the kumbuya is formalized as a partnership with profit-sharing in mind. This kind of group work is generally employed in harvesting rice and corn, in building a house, and in catching fresh-water fish. Another term for this kind of group among neighbors is pakyaw. Non-fulfillment of this reciprocal obligation is one of the major causes of the break­

down of the iningod sentiment.

This introduces us to two other fundamental concepts which are crucial in understanding the recurrent and con­

sistent behavior in Malitbog. These are the huya (Tag.

hiya) and the two-level feeling of personal obligations 54



Variation in Philippine Valu e s: A Western Bisayan Case Study

the utang nga kabaraslan and the utang nga kabubut-on.

These concepts function side by side in determining social relations between neighbors and also in general conflicts between them. They constitute the framework upon which beliefs, values, symbols, and meanings are organized, em­

phasized and repressed in and for the individual members of the iningod in particular and of the barrio in general.

They may be considered, furthermore, as the conceptual blue-prints from which emanate the spontaneous figuring out, so to speak, of which belief, which value, which sym­

bol is called for at a given moment in order to make the consequent action proper, and of which appropriate mean­

ing should be attached to any proper belief, value, or sym­

bol in order to make the action justifiable.

Hu y a

In a generic sense huya may be translated as “ self- esteem” , dignidad, amor-propio, dongog (honor) and in other terms which involve a breach of self or group ex­

pectations. Specifically, huya is put into operation when what is infringed upon deals with relationships pertaining to (1) personal dignity or honor of the individual; (2) status or position of the principal actor relative to other people; (3) the internal cohesion of the family as unit;

and (4) the reputation of the entire kin-group relative to the outside world. Violation of linguistic etiquette — i. e., the tone of the voice, the choice of words, etc., — also gen­

erates huya. For the latter, however, the Malitbog people have a specific term — the saklaw. It is close to the Eng­

lish term “ embarass.”

As we have stated, huya ramifies throughout Malitbog life-ways. It is expressed in the attitudes, emotional at­

tachments, and behavior relative to socio-economic life, re­

ligion, morality, and individual decorum.

Huya and socio-economic status. Our first encounter with huya connected with the people’s socio-economic status came in 1956. When we arrived in Malitbog, it was the end of the planting season. This time of the year is always (as has been) critical in that food is scarce and


The Southeast Asia Quarterly July 1966 the prices of staples are high. Even the economically well- o ff in the barrio during this part of the year complain about economic hardships in life. This is the time of the year when even tubers and roots are not yet ripe for food.

Local term for this is maganas.” Water from continuous rain has been absorbed by the roots so that when these are cooked they will not become soft. Corn is not yet ripe, either. Thus, when we arrived, our host did not have any­

thing to offer us in terms of staple food and this was con­

sidered the most humiliating situation. Although we men­

tioned we brought our own food supply, our host told us to keep it for the time being. Surreptiously, the wife sent one of the small boys to the pastor’s house to borrow ( li- ngit) a tin-can-ful of white rice. When this was cooked, none cf the children joined us in the meal. But they all gathered around, looking hungrily and having occasional guttural swallows, but they were told to stay away. And they did.

Later we learned that having nothing to offer to strangers as soon as they arrive in one’s house is shame­

ful. “ Kahuruya” is term for it. Unless there are visitors, the people in Malitbog would seldom borrow staples from other people, unless they are close relatives or kaingod with whom they carry reciprocal food exchange. Asked why, Tia P said: “ Mayad kun pahuramon kaw, pay kong indi gani, mahuy-an ka lang. Daw parihv ka nagatinda ka lang ka kinawara mo. Hambalon ka lang ka iba” (Free transl.:

“ It is good if they will lend you, but if not, you will be shamed. It is like ‘selling’ (i.e., making public) your shortcomings; people will talk.” )

In other words, all kinds of social camouflage have to be done in order not to reveal one’s economic difficulties to other people, especially to newcomers in the area. Among themselves, there is some degree of levelling process which minimizes the sentiments attached to huya. For one thing everyone knows that during certain parts of the year al­

most everyone is in difficulty. Everybody is in need. It is thus not so shameful to admit that one has nothing to eat. In fact, it is to one’s advantage, in the final analysis,



Variation in Philippine Va lu e s: A Western Bisayan Case Study

in that potential borrowers, if one is well-off, are forward­

ed about the difficulty. Hence, they would not come to press the issue on borrowing rice. But this is done only to a certain extent. Because the people know who are well-off and who are not, certain amount of reservation is placed on statements of those who are known to be well- off regarding their economic difficulty. Many seldom take the “ rich” man’s words seriously. The concept of huya is used as an instrument to make an individual reveal him­

self and to rend wider the screen of pretentions. It re­

verses the situation where the well-off will feel “ ashamed”

of himself for not being a good neighbor, a generous re­

lative. As Itik the owner of the rice-mill admitted: “ Kis-a daw ikaw do malang mahuya sa lawas mo. Kon pabalik- balik ang tawo waay kaw it mahimo. Malooy ka man. Ti taw-an mo do lang eh. Daad kabaribad kaw apay ti anhon mo hay naga-pakiluoy.” (Free transl.: “ Sometimes you feel ashamed of yourself if the person returns several times. So you give him whatever he asks because you take pity on him. Of course you have said no but well, what can you do because he is ‘insisting’ ” ).

Generally, to be insistent is humiliating. In normal circumstances the people in Malitbog would never do this.

But in difficult times, one forgets the norm. As the barrio captain said: “ Ginapatay mo lang ang huya mo” . (Transl.:

You ‘kill’ — i.e., to bear the brunt o f — your shame).

Thus such statements as “ waay huya” (without shame) or

“ patay it huya” (bereft of shame) are commonly heard from the lenders when the borrowers fail to meet their obligations after several attempts to collect. From the borrower’s point of view the collector is also “ waay it hu­

ya” in that he keeps coming back, even if he has been promised payment. These points of view are oftentimes the root of quarrels in the area. What is most resented is not the fact that one cannot meet his obligations but that his presence “ shames” the debtor before other people.

Ginapakahuy-an mo a.ko” (You are putting me to shame) is the most frequently used phrase when one cannot take the interaction any more.


The Southeast Asia Quarterly July 1 9 6 6

As we have stated the people in Malitbog are keen about huya associated with economic status. This conscious­

ness wields tremendous influence over local behavior so that it is almost possible to predict the type or kind of reaction an individual will have as soon as the problem of eco­

nomic status comes to fore. Thus, when Tio C came home one evening and told Tia P that a group of town officials were passing through the barrio and would like to spend the night with them, the latter was upset. She did not say anything of course but she started kicking things around and shouted at the dogs and cats. Picking this as a cue, Tio C approached her and said: “ What shall we do ? They are passing by. They will stay long, anyway.” Tia P stood up, picked up her chewing pouch (maram-an) and sat by the window. Then she looked back at Tio C and curtly said: “ What will you serve them for meals, sand?

Bha — you are ‘advertising’ your kinawara ( ‘poverty’ ) to other people.” Tio C did not answer. He went down the house.

Several minutes later he came back carrying a bundle of kasasava-roots. While we were roasting the roots in the kitchen, the Barrio Captain came up. He told Tia P and Tio C that he had received word from the town officials that they were coming. “ Could you please accomodate them?

My house is very small,” the Barrio Captain said. There­

upon, Tio C confronted him : “ And what do you think of our house? It is very small, too. Besides Mr. Ukano is already staying with us.” The Barrio Captain smiled at us and said: “ That’s all right. I think Mr. Ukano wouldn’t mind.” “ What do you mean all right,” Tia P put in again.

“ It is all right ha! It doesn’t matter to you because you have enough food to serve them. But us, — Bha — we have nothing to eat. Go to the kitchen and see for your­

self. We are eating kassava. What shall we give the visi­

tors, roots?”

Tio C suggested that if the Barrio Captain and other members of the barrio contributed rice and chicken, they would be willing to accommodate the town officials. The Barrio Captain said he would do “ the best I can — I will go around the barrio.” Then he left. When he came back,

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Variation in Philippine Va lu e s: Jocano A Western Bisayan Case Study

he had three gantas of red rice and two small chickens.

When Tia P saw the rice, she told the Barrio Captain to

“ bring it to Itik, the rice-mill owner, and have it changed to white rice.” She added: “ It is shameful to serve this kind of grains to visitors.”

Another incident worthy of mention because of its implication for huya arising from economic status of the people was the coming of a group of researchers who iden­

tified themselves as fieldworkers doing “ nutrition survey.”

Before they came to the area, the leader of the team wrote the town mayor. The mayor picked Malitbog as one of the barrios where they could work. He sent word to the Bar­

rio Captain, informing him about the arrival of the team.

In turn, the Barrio Captain made the round of the barrio and asked the well-to-do members if they would accommo­

date the researchers. There was consternation among the people in the barrio. No one wanted to have visitors stay in their place. “ You know this is the most difficult time of the year. We have nothing to eat,” many complained.

“ We will be shamed if they know what we are eating — or how many times we eat during the day. Can’t you ask the mayor to tell these people to go elsewhere?”

In spite of this local concern the researchers came.

The Barrio Captain immediately brought them to Itik, the rice-mill owner, whom he coerced into accommodating the newcomers.. Then he introduced them to the families among whom they would “ like to measure food eaten by the people in terms of nutritional content.” These measurements, the families were informed, would be done three times a day, three days a week. Nobody said “ No,” if only because each was huya to protest. Should they protest, the visitors’ cu­

riosity might be aroused and they would be asked to ex­

plain. Their economic “ inadequacy” therefore would be found out.

During the first day, the team went to visit Tio C’ s family in the morning. Measurements of the food eaten, left-overs, and those fed to the domestic animals were made.

The day’s menu consisted suddenly (we did not have it before) of eggs, dried fish, rice, salt, and tomatoes. From



The Southeast Asia Quarterly July 1966 our supply Tia P served coffee and sugar. After breakfast, the researchers stayed for a while and asked a number of questions: “ How many times do you eat a day?” “ What constitutes your breakfast, lunch, and supper?” “ How often do you have meat, fish, vegetables, noddles and others in your meal?” “ What are your food preferences?”

There were many other questions.

By this time a number of people had gathered in the house. Tia P was hard put in answering the questions.

She hedged questions and gave generalized answers. Then she would look at the people around who, taking the cue perhaps, would contribute an answer which they thought the researchers wanted. There was, apparently, always a ready answer for the questions asked. When the research­

ers finally left, the people started talking among them­

selves. Tia P and her neighbor C borrowed money from Sambe so they could purchase in town the things they told the researchers they serve each mealtime. “ They are com­

ing back tomorrow and it would be shameful if they found that we are not really eating the things we told them.”

We were surprised over this statement which was uttered unguardedly. We never realized until this incident that for a stranger to ask about what people eat, how many times they eat, and so forth is a breach of proper conduct. What was interesting, in this connection, was that in the course of our stay, we heard people ask and in­

form each other about food — i.e., whether a neighbor had already cooked lunch or supper and what it consisted of.

In fact, we had watched them exchange cooked viands.

Small boys did not wash their hands should they chanced to have sardines for viands and they went about in their games making other children smell their hands. It is, we learned later, considered prestigious to have canned food for viands.

In about the same manner that the people feel huya when they do not have food that they feel huya if they fail to share with the kaingod whatever extra food they have. This brings us to exchange of food among imme­

diate neighbors. We have already discussed the social im­

plications of this system. Suffice it to say here that ex- 60



Variation in Ph ilippine Va lu e s: A Western Bisayan Case Study

changing food with the neighbor is a sign of generosity and anyone who violates this expectation is considered

“ waay et huya.” Aside from cooked food, staple and meat are also exchanged raw. When bigger livestock is butcher­

ed, every iningod receives his share. This bolsters the fam­

ily’s prestige and position in the community.

The kind of staple or dish which is served during mealtime is a measure of the family’s economic status. Red rice ( bahay) is considered a low-status variety. Should an individual chance to come up the house when the family is eating, he would be invited to “ come and eat, but our rice is bahay. You should excuse us for this.” White rice ( bisaya) is considered prestigious and is oftentimes re­

served for visitors. Corn is not considered a staple; it is a supplementary cereal and it is of low status. Young corn — roasted or boiled — is for snacks. When ripe corn is ground and mixed with rice ( lamud), it is served only to members of the family. Should a visitor come un­

announced, an apology is made about the kind of cereal being served. When we insisted on eating mixed rice- and-corn meal, our host said: “ Do not try to make fun of us. We will feel bad if you do so. You are not used to this kind of cereal. You might have stomach ache. This is a poor man’s meal.”

The value which people place on food they eat affects the kind of staple they raise. Corn is raised for sale. It is considered fitting only for fowls and pigs. No one will cook ground corn for meals unless it is during the most difficult part of the year. Red rice variety is not consider­

ed desirable because “ even the Insik (Chinaman) would not buy it.” Interestingly enough, the storekeepers (three Chinamen and ten Filipinos) we interviewed in the pob- lacion agreed that red rice variety {bahay) was one of the difficult varieties to sell. Hence they gave us a very low and discouraging price. Only few farmers plant the red rice variety. This variety is known for its yield and resistance to pests.

Huya and attire. How one dresses himself in the barrio is closely rooted in how one feels other people would


The Southeast Asia Quarterly ____July 1966 feel about him. To wear a clean dress every day is to in­

voke such comments as: “ Daw si sin-o ka gid. Indi kaw mahuya magpadayaw-dayaw diyan sa baryo” (Transl.:

“ You think as if you are somebody. Are you not ashamed of yourself — showing o ff in the barrio ?). Corresponding­

ly, a newcomer who immediately dons dirty clothes hoping that he would be accepted by the people as one of them in that everyone wears dirty work-clothes is apt to be re­

garded as “ naka-insulto” (very insulting). Not being part of the group, he is expected to behave differently. To im itate the way the barrio folks dress is a breach of proper conduct: the act is oftentimes interpreted as adding insult to injury. This is more so if the newcomer comes from the city or is educated.

During occasions, however, everyone is expected to don the appropriate attire. This means clean shirt, trou­

sers for males, and clean blouse and skirt for females.

Wanting to impress her peer group that she just arrived from the city where she had been studying, A ’s daughter put on her black jeans and thin blouse and went to the party held in honor of her newly baptized nephew. When her father stepped out of the kitchen and saw her in her attire immediately he upbraided her.

“ Hoy kahuruya kaw. Uli tu kag mag-ilis. Karaw­

ay kadang bisti mo. Daw sa urag-uragan kaw. Ano ang gusto mo hambalon kaw ka, tawo doon?”

(Free transl.: You are shameful. Go home and dress properly. You look humiliating in that dress.

You look like an ill-repute. Do you like to be the talk of the people here?)

The girl tried to reason out. Hut her mother came to her father’s defense. Soon every relative was commenting on her attire. While they admit it was nice on her and that it was the ‘fashion’ of the time, yet, as her aunt stated:

“ It is good if we are only among ourselves. But there are visitors and what will they think? It is indeed shameful.

Go home and change it.” The girl relented.

The awareness about hvya related to dress is devel­

oped early in childhood when children are impressed with the need of dress. A child who goes around naked is at



Variation in Philippine Va lu e s: Jocano A Western Bisayan Case Study

once scolded and told not to display his genitals. “ You are now old enough to be ashamed of yourself.” This is in­

teresting in that many male children run around the bar­

rio without any pants at all. By the time the children be­

come adults they are fully aware of the huya and its im­

plications in terms of one’s self-esteem and of one’s family position in the community. It needs to be emphasized in this connection that an individual’s wrong-doing reflects not only his personal concern but it also reflects how the parents have trained him.

Huya and social interaction. Fundamental to Malitbog social interactions is the observance of the existing form of conduct prescribed by the values set down by tradition.

One of the mechanisms through which this is achieved, we have already said, is through the huya. Huya may be viewed in Redcliffe-Brown’s terms as the “ the reactions to­

ward the particular or general behavior of a member of the community which constitute judgments of disappro­

val.” (9:206). This involves one’s feelings about or eval­

uation of the situation relative to his relationship with other people. As social psychologist Tomatsu Shibutani has expressed it:

Each person attempts to guide his conduct in a deliberate effort to maintain an acceptable view of himself; [each] perceives his surroundings as well as himself from the standpoint of the group in which he is participating; he takes into ac­

count certain expectations that can be reasonab­

ly imputed to others. (11)

Huya, from this standpoint, functions as a cultural­

ly-defined code of self- or group- appraisal that underlies in­

teractions. Social action is dependent on the degree to which an individual or groups of individuals take into ac­

count and respond to another individual or groups of in­

dividuals. Relationship in this context is more than the physical contact in that each person does something to another. It encompasses the expectations which members of the group have of each others, which, as soon as they become standardized, they take on elements of right and



The Southeast Asia Quarterly July 1966 w rong; they become social norms — the principle which reinforces the ability of an individual or groups of indi­

viduals to anticipate the behavior of others and to adjust their own behavior accordingly.

The comomn expression “ mahuya ta or kita” (we will be ashamed) clearly states this pattern of expectations. In fact, when an individual is requested to approach someone for something, the first statement he or she utters is:

“ Ahnahuya takon” (I am ashamed). Or if a person is persuading another not to do what he plans to do, he simply reminds the latter: “ Indi day-a pagpadayona, ma­

huya kita sa tao.” (Don’t proceed with your plans, we would be shamed before other people). To show disap­

proval for another’s behavior, the expression “ kahuruya ang ginbuhat mo” (Your actions are shameful) is used to make the individual stop. In other words, the term huya is used as a means of sanctioning all types of be­

havior in the barrio.

There are two levels of actions which are the common source of conflicts, due to the huya they generate among the people. One involves breach of linguistic etiquette and the other is trespass of approved mode of conduct. The former is referred to as saklaw. It is often used to charac­

terize an offended feeling due to a comment or statement made, intentional or non-intentional, about another per­

son’s action, including ways of speaking, manner of at­

tire, physical deformity, and so on. It is not so much an individual’s shortcoming that is considered hurting as an overt statement of a concensus about the shortcoming that is nakasaklaw (embarassing or being shameful).

During a Sunday school meeting, a group of men were listening to the Pastor emphasize a point in the Bible. A discussion followed between E and the pastor. The latter strongly argued his position that in the end, E accepted having mis­

interpreted the Biblical passage: “ Hu-u, ah, belid r on ko” (Yes, ah, I do believe now).

Near him were seated B and A. Upon hearing E’s ay belid (for believe) they laughed. E was embarassed because present in the crowd were his 64


Variation in Philippine Va lu e s: Jocano A Western Bisayan Case Study

relatives. When B and A further teased him for saying “ belid” instead of “ believe” , E stepped out of the Church and refused to go to church any­

more. When the pastor tried to persuade him, he said: “ I’d rather worship at home; anyway the people in the church are making fun of me.”

“ Well, for that simple thing you are offend­

ed. We are no longer boys,” the pastor tried to appease him.

“ Ofended? Huh- it is not what they said that really hurt me; it is the fact that they know I do not know and yet they have to say it in public.

And in front of all my relatives! Bha — who they really think they are? If that happens to you, Pastor, you will also do the same.”

To be more direct in speaking to people, one is likely to generate the saklaw feeling. Choice of words is another aspect in the conversation which causes troubles between people. Malitbog dialect does not possess respect terms sim­

ilar to the Tagalog “ po.” Instead, respect (or breach of it) is expressed in the tone of the voice when speaking.

Malitbog people speak in soft, cool tone (similar to what the Tagalogs call ‘malambing’ and anyone who speaks in a loud, harsh manner transgresses the prescribed linguistic etiquette. He saklaws the fellow he is speaking to or even his friends who hear him do it.

Related to saklaw but much deeper in implication for dyadic relations is the pasipala. This is to upbraid some­

one in public. Younger people are oftentimes afraid to con­

tradict older men in group gatherings because of pasi- pala. As one of our informants said: “ You like to be shamed in the public then sublang (contradict) the old people in public discussions.” The reason why Badu nearly boloed Mal-am Itik was that the latter upbraided him for his public misdeameanor. Badu was somewhat drunk (tip­

sy) when he entered the house of Mal-am Itik to join the group of young people who came to visit the old man. Be­

cause he did not call out ( “ panagbalay” ) before coming in, Mal-am Itik was mad. He spoke to him in a loud voice:

“ Waat batasan, waat huya. Bisan managbalay indi.”


The Southeast Asia Quarterly July 1966 (Transl.: ‘No character, no shame. Even to call out before entering you did not bother!” ). Badu unsheathed his bolo and laughed at the old man. Cool and quicker hands pre­

vented him from inflicting harm to the old man. When subdued, Badu kept saying: “ Why did he shame me, why did he shame me.”

Another easily noticed Malitbog behavior is the ex­

tending of the hand(s) downward when passing between two or more people who are conversing. This is known as panabi-tabi. Its implication ramifies from observance of simple politeness to recognition of social status. Which­

ever is emphasized one obtains an explanation involving huya. It is improper for one not to do this. And those who trespass this norm are immediately reprimanded. If it is a child who does it, he receives a pinch; if it is a grown up, he is scolded and told that he has no ‘huya.’ So deeply internalized is this mode of conduct that almost all people in Malitbog unconsciously and spontaneously extend their hands, stoop a little, and ask permission to be allowed to walk between two persons conversing.

Learning this norm starts early during childhood. E f­

forts are made by the parents and other members of the family to impress on the child the proper mode of behav­

ior. When a child cries in the presence of visitors, the mother tells him to stop because it is “ kahuruya” (shame­

ful) to the visitors. He is also told to obey what the elder people tell him to do because “ it is shameful for children to be lazy.” To answer back an older member of the family is to receive physical punishment — pinching, slapping, beating across the mouth, etc. — followed by a repri­

mand: “ Next time learn to check your behavior because it is makahuruya (shameful).” The underlying principle here is, we learned later, that the person is not only held re­

sponsible for his behavior but his family, especially the parents, are blamed for it as well.

Thus when Clarit’s little boy brought home the toy- dog of the neighbor, she was very mad. She scolded the boy. “ Go — return that toy or I will peel your buttocks with a beating-stick. What will people in the neighborhood

6 6


Variation in Ph ilippine Va lu e s: Jocano _______________ A Western Bisayan Case Study

think — I am not teaching you good conduct?” The boy ran back and returned the plaything.

We believe no one will object to the assumption that an individual’s standing in the community is largely a matter of accepted social usage. Clarit’s deep concern over what her little boy did exemplifies this. Her alarm was less on what the boy did, but more so on what people would say about the act. In this context, then, even the behavior of the child is considered a reflection of the fam­

ily’s standing in the community; that is, they are good or bad, depending upon how well-behaved the members are.

And this is so, too, in the mature world of the adults.

Whatever an individual does also involves the reputation of the family. It is the “ shame” of the family, in fact, that matters in the final analysis.

2.2 Utang nga kabaraslan and Utang nga kabubut-on Closely associated with huya are two other fundamen­

tal norms that underlie Malitbog dyadic and group behavior.

These are utang nga kabaraslan and utang nga kabubut- on (buot). They form the basic framework of reciprocity in the barrio. The term reciprocity is used here to mean the tendency to perceive and anticipate social relations.

As a system of social usage, utang nga kabaraslan and utang nga kabubut-on constitute the conventional rules that govern a wide variety of transactions in the barrio, with strong emotional overtones.

There are no English equivalents into which the terms may be translated without clarifications. Their basic fea­

tures are likewise difficult to isolate, describe and analyze with precision in that they ramify throughout all facets o f local value-orientations and system of actions. Our pre- ent analysis must therefore be taken as suggestive of the pattern and not as a conclusive statement about them.

Be this as it may, it is nevertheless the best approximation of what we can deduce from the people’s overt behavior, reinforced by their statements about reciprocal obligations.

For one thing, the people in Malitbog utilize either of these concepts to define the nature of their orientation toward each other and to delimit the extent of socially accepted


The Southeast Asia Quarterly July 1966

patterns of responses and modes of choices.

Semantic base — A good grasp of the functional dy­

namics of utang nga kabaraslan and the utang nga buot ( kabubut-on) may be had by first describing the semantic base of the terms. Both types of reciprocal obligations — the kabaraslan and the kabubut-on (buot) — are anchor­

ed on the basic concept of utang. Utang is a generic term for “ debt” or “ obligations” , incurred as a result of a be­

havior done, a service rendered, a material object handed out as a loan or given as a gift. It must be pointed out that the people in Malitbog do not utang without a good reason for doing so. It may be to meet a previous obliga­

tion, to help another individual (friend or kin), to provide for his current needs, and so forth. Normally, a business transaction like obtaining a loan from loan shark or a government agency is conceived to be devoid of sentiments.

Business is business. But in Malitbog, the fact that some­

one in the community, however disliked at other occasions, or, in the agency however condemned for his acts, is of assistance in time of need is enough to establish a senti­

mental bond between that particular person and the one in need. For in the transaction that follows both orient their relationships not purely on the business is business proposition but on the extra-business sentiments of the utang. Sentiment is used here behavioristically “ not so much in terms of any particular act but through their or­

ganization” (11:333). It constitutes, in other words, the organization of attitudes and perception, as well as nor­

mative expectations that surround the utang. Functionally, it provides us with cues for the proper understanding of the component tendencies underlying Malitbog behavior re­

lated to the utang.

The second word in both phrases is nga. It corre­

sponds roughly to the English preposition “ o f” and its func­

tion is to show relationship between the utang (obligation) and the nature of indebtedness. That is, whether the utang has been incurred by soliciting for material loans, gifts or services, or be receiving a voluntary assistance from someone without asking for it. The sentiment underlying the configuration of responses involved in the former is 68


Variation in Philippine Va lu e s: Jocano A Western Bisayan Case Study

known as kabaraslan, that of the later is kabubut-on, or plainly buot. There is a wider lattitude of choice in the latter. Kabaraslan is derived from the root-word balos which means “ to reciprocate, to return, to give back, to vindicate.”

Ka- is a prefix which indicates the futurity of the action and -an is a suffix signifying “ state of being or the condi­

tion” of the act. There is an internal lexical shift from la­

teral “ l” to thrill “ r” but this phonetic alternation does not, in any way, affect the meaning of the term. It is more structural than semantic. The term kabaraslan there­

fore would mean “ something to be repaid, reciprocated, or vindicated” in the future — be it a favor, a service, or a material object.

Kabubut-on is similarly derived from the root-word buot, the closest English equivalent of which are “ state of being good, possessing goodwill, generosity of the heart, having conscience.” Ka- is a prefix indicating futurity and -0n is a suffix indicating the condition of the fact. Hence, kabubut-on may be translated as- “ goodwill, goodness, or generosity of the heart.”

Utang nga kabubut-on would then approximate any of these English phrase: “ debt of goodwill, debt of gratitude, or debt of generosity of the heart,” while utang nga kaba­

raslan would men “ debt to be repaid, reciprocated, or vin­

dicated.” The term “ debt of gratitude” which has been associated with the Tagalog term utang na loob applies to both types of Malitbog utang- the kabaraslan and the ka- bubut-on. Linguistically, Malitbog dialect (Kinaray-a) has apparently no term (or least we have not found any) sim­

ilar to the Tagalog specifying-term “ kaloob” for gift.

The Spanish term “ regalo” is used; hence, it is difficult to be precise about the behavioral attributes of the “ gift”

in translating the term associated with it. At any rate, the most important thing to keep in mind is that utang nga kabubut-on is established through unsolicited extension of assistance in the form of either gift or services while utang nga kabaraslan is created through solicitation of another’s help or services in realizing the goals desired.


The Southeast Asia Quarterly July 1 9 6 6

Structure of the relationship. — As we have stated the basic unit of our analysis of utang nga kabaraslan and utang nga kabubut-on as functional concepts in Malitbog is the sentiment of reciprocity underlying the interactions associated with them. How things are done, how security is achieved, how local power is manipulated to meet one’s ends and so forth — all these, in the final analysis, are dependent upon the quality and number of reciprocal ties one has established with his iningod (neighbors), friends, relatives, people with higher economic and social status in and outside the barrio, and with government officials like the municipal mayor, the chief of police and his staff, the forest rangers, and the health officers. Non-govern­

ment officials who are regarded with equally high status are Catholic priests and Protestant ministers. Contractual obligations are similarly established with the environment spirits (the engkanto, tomawo, etc.), saints and Virgin Mary. Jesus Christ is acknowledged as the Redemeer but the Virgin Mary is regarded as the more powerful person if only because the former is her son.

The creation and validation of these contractual ties is done through reciprocal exchange of goods, services, and

“ goodwill” (kabubut-on). Once instituted each contract- ants expect to receive something from the other “ at times in ways and in forms that are clearly understood by both. . . or in ways and forms that are a function of the type of relationship involved (4:1281).” We have said ear­

lier that there are two types of reciprocal obligations oper­

ating in the barrio: the kabaraslan, which arises through exchange of material objects or solicited services, and ka­

bubut-on, through exchanges of goodwill and unsolicited services. The degree of involvement in this system is pro­

portionate with the length of the relationship and the status of the persons involved.

If the kabaraslan is carried out with friends, relatives and neighbors, the psychological commitment is o f shorter duration. As soon as repayment in kind or services has been made, the relationship ceases to be defined in the context of reciprocity. None o f the participants feel the qualms of obligations and the underlying feeling of huya

7 0



Variation in Philippine Va lu e s: A Western Bisayan Case Study

(shame) to each other does not come to fore in face-to- face interactions. This is best exemplified in communal work in agriculture, in house building or transferring, and in other odd jobs. As soon as the kabaraslan is repaid the commitment is terminated. Another situation is needed in order to create another reciprocal obligation. The injunc­

tion warat kabaraslan cannot be used or invoked to sanc­

tion an unfavorable response. In this respect, the system is operating on a horizontal base in that those who are involved are of some economic and social status.

On the other hand, if the principal actors are of dif­

ferent socio-economic status, the sense of obligations in­

volved in kabaraslan is of longer duration on the part of the initiator while it may be minimal on the part of the respondent. The vertical nature of the base accounts for this unequal involvement in the value system. For exam­

ple, if the farmer requests the clerk at the municipal trea­

surer’s office in town to facilitate his land tax clearance or the processing of whatever papers he needs, he creates an utang nga kabaraslan obligation. Next time he comes to town the farmer brings to the clerk’s house eggs, chick­

ens, vegetables, and so forth. But the feeling of obligation is not terminated here. The status of the clerk is much higher and the services rendered are beyond the capacity of the farmer to perform. Morever, the fact that the clerk attended to his request is proof enough that former has

“ maayo nga kabubut-on” (of generous [heart] conscience).

Here the commitment shifts somewhat from pure kabaras­

lan to kabubut-on. Thus even if the title of his land and other papers pertaining to it were done five years ago Baldis still reminisce his relationships with the clerk in town. He would shake his head and say: “ Man hanggod ang kabaraslan hay ... (mentions the name of the clerk) nga day-a.” (Free translation: “ You see, my debt of obligation to ... is indeed big” ).

On the other hand, the utang nga kabubut-on is more emotionally laden and of longer duration than the utang nga kabaraslan. It transcends the relationship between the contractants. That is, even if social relations are termi-


The Southeast Asia Quarterly July 1966 nated, some people in Malitbog still remember how well re­

ceived they were when they went to the house of a friend acquaintance, or an official’s house and that they have an utang nga kabubut-on to them. The reasons for “ part­

ing way” are always given and these have two individ­

uals. The alternative term for kabubut-on is amuma. The transcendental quality of the kabubut-on obligations ema­

nates from the fact that those who are involved in the pro­

cess are not required, by custom, concensus or traditional norm, to repay the obligations right away. It is incurred in the first place, through voluntary offering of assistance or of giving gifts. If a farmer is overtaken by night or rain near a friend’s or an acquaintance’s house and he is requested or offered to pass the night, and he accepts it, he immediately incurs an utang nga kabubut-on to that friend or acquaintance. In a similar circumstance or in any situation in the future, he must reciprocate even if the choice is open for him to do so or not. If he does not, he may be branded as warat utang nga kabubut-on but not openly as in the case of utang nga kabaraslan. The same norm operates when an individual voluntarily contributes to baptismal, wedding or funeral rites.

It must be pointed out that utang nga kabubut-on does not operate within the nuclear family. It is utang nga ka­

baraslan which is weighted as the reinforcing principle in inter-family relationships. As we see it, this is perhaps due to the fact that inherent in the structural relationships of the individuals involved are specific rights and obliga­

tions. These rights and obligations are kinship-defined, making the relationship, first of all, a required one. That is, it is the right of the children to demand support and protection from the parents and it is the parent’s obliga­

tion to provide them these in return for their right to demand obedience and respect. The nexus of relationship, in other words, is oftentimes expressed in material goods and “ kinship-obligated” services. Birth and siblinghood are considered as gift and forced-situation (i.e., the choice o f sibling is not voluntary). Hence, the value-commitment in the relationship is kabaraslan rather than kabubut-on. Out­

side of the family, however, as well as within the narrow 72


Variation in Philippine Va lu e s: Jocano A Western Bisayan Case Study

confines of close relatives, it is the utang nga kabaraslan which is the main conceptual frame of reference of inter­

actions. In other words, the boundaries of these two con­

cepts are largely determined by the kind of relationship the contractants have, the propinquity of residence, the frequency of interactions and the level of socio-economic status in the community.


Thus far we have discussed the various aspects of so­

cial relations wherein the concepts of iningod or kaingod (neighborhood), huya (shame, self-esteem, amor propio), and utang nga kabaraslan and utang nga kabubut-on are best exemplified. We wish to state here that this discus­

sion is not the last statement relative to the nature and function of these concepts; we are still involved in an on­

going research in this respect. Hence no conclusion is in order. It needs to be pointed out nevertheless that what­

ever positive relationships and inter-personal conflicts are generated by these cultural norms are resolved in terms of contingency principle — i.e. wider lattitude of choice- patterns — emanating from local definitions and evalua­

tions of social categories involved in the interactions of people. It is, in other words, the circumstances or the sit­

uations surrounding the mode of interaction — (and which are normally of moment) — that define the kind of type 6f relationships among the people, at least in this barrio, and not merely the presence of these conceptual categories as many writers have argued that leaves them no other recourse but to act accordingly. After all

“ the basic life task facing the individual is . .. given only a finite store of time and other re­

sources, to juggle the multitudinous commitments and demands of his position and relationships and demands following from his role-identity hierar­

chies in such a way as to negotiate a ‘ safe’ and

‘meaningful’ passage through life” (8:234).



1. R obert C. Angell. “ The M oral Integration o f A m erican Cities,” Special Supplem ent. The A m erica n Journal o f S °- ciological R eview . V ol. 75, Ju ly 1951. 140 pp.

2. F ieldw ork in M alitbog has been supported by a g ra n t from the the Com m unity D evelopm ent Council (C D R C ) o f the U ni­

v ersity o f the Philippines. O pinions expressed in this are those o f the w riter and have noth ing to do w ith the policies o f the sponsoring agency.

3. R aym ond F irth . E lem en ts o f S ocial O rganization. L on don : W a tts & Co., 1951.

4. G eorge M. Foster . “ D yadic Contracts in Tzintzuntzan, I I : P atron -C lient R elationship,” A m erica n A n th rop olog ists.

V ol. 65 (1 9 6 3 ).

5. G eorge M. F oster. “ The D yadic C on tract: A Model f o r the Social Structure o f a M exican Peasant V illa g e,” A m erica n A n th rop olog ists. V ol. 3, D ecem ber 1961.

6. See F. Landa Jocano. “ R ethinking Smooth Interpersonal Rela­

tion s” ( S I R ) , T ypescript, 25 pages.

7. F lorence R. K luckohohn and Fred Strodtbeck. V ariation s in V alu e O rientations. E vanston, Illinois: R ow , Peterson and Com pany, 1961.

8. G eorge J. M cCall and J.L . Simmons. Id en tities and I n te r ­ actions. N ew Y o r k : The F ree Press, 1966.

9. R a d cliffe-B row n . S tru ctu re and F u n ction in P rim itive S ociety.

The F ree Press, 1952.

10. R obert R edfield A .R . The F olk C ulture o f Y ucata. C h ig a g o:

The U n iversity o f C hicago Press, 1961.

11. Tam atsu Shibutani and K.M . K wan. E th n ic S tra tifica tion . M acm illan, 1965.


Mga Sanggunian


From the ideas presented on the “Maka- Kalikasan” vision of DepEd and how it was translated Table 1 Profile of Science Education Experts Expert Participant Role and Affiliation

Cusa This study was conducted from January 26 to April 20,1982 atthe Poultry Project of the College of Agriculture, Central Philippine University, Jaro, Iloilo City to de­ termine the