Monday, June 2, 2008


Third in a series of Articles, see Philippine culture category at right

Hiya, pronounced “heeyah” is ‘shame” or the loss of Amor Propio. Individuals in the Philippine culture behave in a way to prevent hiya or loss of respect. Filipinos believe they must live up to the accepted standards of behavior, and if they fail to do so they bring shame not only upon themselves, but also upon their family. In order not to bring upon Hiya, Filipinos will share sometimes more than they can afford at a party in order to avoid losing respect among peers. It is why in part, at Fiesta time even the poorest families invite all the neighbors into their house for food and drink. It is also why you see extravagant graduation parties for sons and daughters and lavish “Debute” 18 birthday parties for their daughters. It is all part of maintaining Status and avoiding Hiya.

On the other hand, if you were to insult or verbally accost a Filipino in front of others, he or she would immediately suffer Hiya. More than simple embarrassment it means loss of Amor Propio or “face”. The result might be anger or rage, or a strong resentment. It is considered rude and inappropriate to argue or insult someone in public. It is why there is so much discussion when there is a disagreement among individuals or groups; everyone is trying to maintain Amor Propio while at the same time trying to avoid inflicting Hiya on others.

I have seen an occasion where Hiya was unintentionally inflicted on an individual by a very good friend. A comment was taken in the wrong manner. Completely out of character, and without warning, he picked up a bottle and threw it at the unsuspecting fellow. It is thankful that friends were there to intervene. Volatile reactions are often the result of inflicting Hiya. This should not be confused with simple anger as might be the case in other cultures. Once the basic concepts of Pakikisama, Amor propio, and Hiya are understood one can begin to understand how the Philippine social structure works.

See also:
Amor Propio

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