Friday, May 23, 2008

Amor Propio

Article 2 in a series, See Label “Philippine culture” at right

Amor Propio

As it is almost impossible to talk about any one of these traits or societal behaviors individually with out invoking the others, this section about Amor propio will include several other terms. Bear with me, each will have its own article but will be briefly defined this time.

Filipinos are known for being sensitive to insults, and criticisms, whether constructive or not. Insinuating racial superiority or exhibiting an arrogant nature can easily offend a Filipino. Amor propio can be looked at as self-esteem or pride. To make sure this is not damaged, the Filipino is expected to be sensitive about the feelings of others. Shame and embarrassment, called hiya, should not be inflicted on others. Often the sudden and intense violence in Filipino relations is caused by "damaged" amor propio.

Ego is another way of looking at amor propio. But juxtaposed to the European individualistic sense of ego and self, the Filipino protects not only his Amor Propio, but is expected to protect everyone else’s as well. In fact the emphasis is on not offending others. This act in itself boosts one’s own Amor propio.

Amor propio, connects the traits pakikisama, hiya, and utang na loob (or debt of honor). All of these affect his amor propio. If you have helped a Filipino in a way that cannot be repaid materially, he will constantly thank you for the favor done. The pride to return the good deeds he received nurtures his amor propio, which sometimes leads to showing off especially in the presence of peers and subordinates. amor propio propels the Filipino to be overly sensitive.

If you would list Amor proprio at the top, the other social behaviors and attitudes serve to maintain one sense of self and esteem in the community. As we begin to decode the inter connectedness of these social constructs, the complex and seemingly mysterious Filipino ways can be slowly understood.

Another way of looking at Amor Propio is to compare it to “Face” in other Asian cultures. Saving Face is a term most expats can relate to. If one loses Face, it brings shame and may cause a violent reaction. The difference is In Japanese society, self destructive behavior is often manifested instead. Suicide is still seen occasionally as a reaction to loss of face or the onset of shame in Japan. Amor propio is similar but not exactly like saving face (or gaining Amor Propio). There is the inner self in these other cultures that represents a Taoist influence or dualism, in other words the opposite of “Face”.

As it can be seen, almost all of these cultural value systems centers on the welfare of the larger group, whether it be family, clan, or community. Historically one might envision a time when practical necessity demanded all social interactions preserve the well being of the collective society.

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