Filipino Culture and Its Impact on Nursing and Healthcare

The Filipino Culture

The culture of the people from the Philippines is a perfect example of a combination of values from the West and those that already existed in the East. Before the arrival of the Spanish, the culture was initially heavily influenced by the Malay heritage which was common in South East Asia. It was after the colonization of the islands by the Spanish, that the Hispanic influence spread and impacted the country, with Roman Catholicism becoming the dominant religion. After being under the Spanish and Mexican rule for nearly three decades, the United States of America (USA) took the island nation as part of their sphere of influence for 50 years a result of which is the English language that is presently widely used in this territory(Tan, 2009, p. 10).  The purpose of this research paper is to study the Filipino culture in relation to how individuals share thoughts ideas, taboo subjects in conversations, touch (between members of a family, the opposite sex, friends, healthcare providers) , gestures, acceptable ways of an individual standing while greeting people, temporal relation of the culture and the impact of the culture on health care and nursing.

Read also Filipino Americans Heritage Overview – PowerPoint Presentation

Sharing thoughts, ideas and taboos subjects in the Filipino Culture

            In the Filipino culture, the family is treated as the center of the complex social structure which includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sponsors, honorary relations (god-parents) and the nuclear family. The general idea behind such a structure is to ensure that there is a support system for a family, with the raising of a child becoming a communal task taken seriously by all. In the Filipino setting, strength within a family is derived from this structure that seeks to maintain stability for the young children growing up in this society. A person’s extended family acts as their patronage umbrella in situations of social importance such as when an individual is seeking an employment opportunity. It is from this premise that we elucidate the willingness to share of thoughts, feelings, and ideas within this culture, not forgetting areas of discussion that would be considered taboo. As mentioned earlier, the people in this culture happen to be highly family-oriented essentially making family the most important aspect of the life of any individual in this culture(Manuel & Philippineasian Society, 1995, p. 14). There is constant sharing of communication between family members who more often than not harbor feelings of love and care for their keen. The main reason why the sharing of information and feelings is important in the Filipino culture is to first to check whether or not the individuals I s experiencing an equilibrium or might be in dire need of assistance.

In the Filipino culture, it is common for family members to chat each other up, even if it means instituting small talk. Family comes first to all those who are from this culture, which means that the communication that takes place between members of the family is at times a precautionary measure meant to ensure that there is no weak link. If an individual seems distressed or expresses seems depressed throughout an interactive session between family members, an intervention is usually in the offing. It is the duty of the family to use the information gathered from the conversation to seek practical solutions to the debacles that a family member might be experiencing. Moreover, the Filipino culture is quite accepting of new ideas. In a family setting, the ideas that a family member might be having is put under discussion and subjected to an analysis mainly aimed to understand this point of view. Decades of foreign rule in the Philippines brought these people into direct contact with foreigners who also brought Roman Catholicism to these people(Manuel & Philippineasian Society, 1995, p. 14). Having said that, there are a couple of subjects that remain taboo in this society, most notably sex and death. Sex is a taboo subject that does not feature in most discourses, especially those involving the family members. There are many occasions in this culture where parents avoid the “sex talk” altogether as it is a lewd subject that is better left untouched. Children are thus expected not to bring this subject up in family conversation, lest they suffer disparagement from family members. Furthermore, death is a subject that is frowned upon by most individuals in this culture as the aspect of its inevitability is often ignored. Family members thus rarely share conversations that have death as a subject matter refusing to acknowledge that death always lurks in the corner, ready to rob individuals of their lives.

Personal spatial, distancing strategies and eye contact in the Filipino culture

In the Filipino culture, an individual’s personal space is considered quite vital. It is only during family interactions that this barrier is broken as members often interact cordially with each other in their quest tom ensure that the family members are of sound mental and physical health. The Filipino culture also brings forth a people that make friends easily and are hospitable and warm to any stranger with whom they might cross paths. Filipinos often strike up conversations with strangers or foreigners that they might come into contact with making a good impression with their humorous ways that show genuine kindness and modesty. However, it is important to note that in this culture, members maintain a reasonable distance between them and strangers as these are usually people they are not well conversant with. It is out of the respect that the accord a stranger’s personal space that they decide it is prudent to maintain a pragmatic distance between them and an individual that they have met. During interaction with strangers, it is typical of them to consider a seated position as most suitable as there is no difference in height between the two parties interacting. Additionally, the eye contact is also an important tenet of the Filipino culture. If the conversation taking place is between age-mates it is common for these individuals to maintain direct eye contact throughout the conversation to ensure that a level of involvement is established(Manuel & Philippineasian Society, 1995, p. 14). When holding a conversation with strangers, the Filipino culture requires that the individuals involved maintain frequent and brief eye contact. Older individuals often look down or away when talking to a person from a higher class or an authority figure as a sign of respect. Prolonged eye contact, can, however, be misinterpreted. For instance, if a Filipino male patient who is older maintains eye contact with a younger female nurse the interpretation often points to flirtation.

Gestures and Facial Expressions

One of the most common gestures in the Filipino culture is the paguma mano which is a usually a way of receiving blessings from the elders or a sign of respect. To add to this, the Filipino culture also features hand-kissing with the individual giving the greeting having to bow in the direction of the hand that has been offered by the elder while pressing their forehead onto the elder’s hand. An individual may request the recipient of the greeting to return the favor.  The younger generations in this culture often believe that it is the elders that are the custodians of the society’s wisdom and thus treat them with the utmost respect. Additionally, older family members can also be greeted using the paguma mano gesture as a sign of deference to their age. Facial expression also features greatly in the Filipina culture and is typically used to convey a specific message. To a foreigner, a smile might seem ambiguous, but to a seasoned Filipina eye, a smile can carry a lot of hidden messages that need to be decoded. It is common, for example, to encounter Filipinos who use their upper lip to point at something without using their hands. Similarly, raising one’s eyebrows with the head slightly leaning backward will be interpreted as a greeting with the recipient replying with a similar facial expression. Over the years, individuals in this intricate close-knit society, have incorporated the use of gestures to communicate and even express a wide range of emotions from one individual to another.

Greetings in the Filipino culture

In the Filipino culture, the most common form of greeting is the handshake. It cuts through individuals of all ages and can vary from soft to strong handshakes. Strong handshakes are often used to assert one’s self and indicate the higher position that they intend to take in a situation. When greeting another person, Filipino culture requires that one stand, especially when shaking hands. Standing is a sign of mutual respect between the two parties that have just met and it goes to show that both individuals are ready to act in a modest fashion. A pat on the back or shoulder is a common supplementary feature of these handshakes and is often used to reinforce the greeting(Ting-Toomey, 2002, p. 112). It is nonetheless dependent on the personal relationship that the two individuals share as it would be deemed rude by a stranger.

Filipino Culture’s Worldview

            The Filipino culture finds itself in a debacle; choosing the new western ways that were introduced by the foreign powers or holding on to their traditional Filipino culture. What is evident is the fact that these values and the culture as a whole cannot be discarded due to how deeply etched it is in the society. It is therefore very unlikely that the Filipino culture will be discarded altogether by this society owing to its deep-seated roots. The only likely outcome in future is the culture accepting some of the positive attributes of modern Western culture and incorporating them into the traditional one to forge a hybrid(Miranda-Feliciano, 1988). It is a culture that values personal interaction, particularism, a tolerance for ambiguity while valuing cooperation. Moreover, time in this society is considered fluid, which means deadlines and scheduling can be flexible( paki gs ama)- going with the flow.

Impacts of the Filipino culture on Nursing and Healthcare

As per the Filipino culture, health is mostly based on two principles; harmony and balance. In this culture, health is a result of balance in the body and illness is as a result of an imbalance in an individual’s body. They also believe that keeping the human body under warm conditions promotes health while a change of condition from cold to warm promotes illness and disease(Lopez, 2006, p. 350). The Filipino people normally have immense feelings of responsibility towards their families, which is a major reason why they seek health care. During the formative days of this culture, health would be maintained by following a strict diet while following a strict exercise routine. As it was the responsibility of the family to maintain the health of the all the individuals, a strong belief in Western medicine also developed amongst strict adherents of the Filipino culture to restore the body to its earlier form. It is their belief in Western medicine that has improved the health of people in this nation and lowered the mortality rate since its introduction. In the Filipino culture, decisions that center on the patient’s health, especially when death and dying are involved in healthcare centers is based on the family’s decision(Becker & Gay, n.d., p. 112). The Filipino culture requires information about a terminally ill individual being kept from them to avoid despair and make a last attempt at maintaining hope. As a result, it has been noted with great concern that this might be the main reason behind low hospice use in this culture. To provide care that is competent, all health care providers have to put all these points in consideration and be cognizant with the culture of those they are caring for. If health care providers respect the values and beliefs of those they are treating, a culturally competent care will be given ultimately.

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