by: Loreta Garrote-Trinidad, R.N.


[Page 10]


Culture significantly affects the planning, use, and delivery of social services; it even affects how disorders are typified and expressed. For this reason, and because Filipinos constitute the largest Asian group in California, there needs to be a better understanding of Filipino culture in order to facilitate the delivery of better and more relevant social services to Filipinos.

There is a dearth of research given to Filipinos in the U.S. The information contained in this brief primarily comes from a study, Filipino American Culture and Family: Guidelines for Practitioners, done in 1994 by Dr. Pauline Agbayani-Stewart, who is currently an Associate Professor in Social Welfare at UCLA. Her study focuses on the need for more family-centered therapy when serving Filipino families and individuals.

Filipino Family and Cultural Values

Key Point: Filipinos value family highly and rely on family relations - whether real or fictive - in defining and seeking help for problems or disorders. The well-being of the family (or the family name) is valued more highly than that of the individual. The following values bind the individual to the family, making him/her to consider how a decision will impact the family.

Values relevant to practice:

Utang na loob: debt of gratitude and reciprocal obligation

-- drives the individual to reciprocate any real of perceived favor or service; this value drives children to care for their elderly.
Hiya: sense of shame
-- drives the individual to reciprocate any real of perceived favor or service; this value drives children to care for their elderly.
Amor propio: sense of self-esteem
-- drives the individual to protect his/her personal reputation.
Pakikisama and Pakiramdam: ability to facilitate smooth interpersonal relations and to sense other people's desires or feelings.
-- drives the individual to protect his/her social relations with the closest and dear to him/her.

Practice Guidelines

Practitioner needs to be aware of the role of utang na loob in responding to client expression of gratitude, and in general conduct of the client during the treatment plan.

Be aware of how direct and confrontational language will be received and interpreted. In order to reach and not to offend Filipino clients, the practitioner needs to be aware of hiya, and amor propio.

Be aware of how pakikisama may or may not interfere with compliance to treatment. Practitioner must build trust so that clients do not seemly agree in order to get along.

Family-centered therapy is more effective than individual-centered therapy when serving this population. The role of the family is taken into account in reaching the client and guiding him/her to recovery.

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