Facets of Filipino identity | Inquirer Opinion
Social Climate

Facets of Filipino identity

/ 04:05 AM April 24, 2021

When peoples engage each other (see my “Engage the Chinese people,” Inquirer.net, 4/17/21), it is good to learn about each other as much as possible, using not only popular sources but also scientific sources of information.

For Filipinos to learn more about the Chinese people, one starting point is to learn more about ourselves first.


This is not as straightforward as it may seem. Doesn’t every Filipino already know, consciously or not, what it means to be Filipino? Each of us, alone, has a personal perspective, varying from person to person. But all of us, together, also have a collective perspective on what it means to be a Filipino.

A collective perspective is scientifically obtainable from a statistically representative national survey of adults, as was done by Social Weather Stations on Feb. 19-23, 2014, within the National Identity module of the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). That module had, among other things, a battery of eight facets or characteristics of national identity, and asked respondents to grade the importance of each facet for being truly Filipino (sa pagiging isang tunay na Pilipino).


The results were as follows, listed in the order of the national percentages of adult respondents calling them Very Important (Napakaimportante):

1. To have been born in the Philippines (Ang maipanganak sa Pilipinas): 83%.

2. To be able to speak Filipino (Ang makapagsalita ng Pilipino): 81%.

3. To feel Filipino (Ang madama ang pagka-Pilipino): 79%.

4. To have Filipino citizenship (Ang magkaroon ng pagkamamamayang Pilipino o Filipino citizenship): 78%.

5. To have Filipino ancestry (Ang magkaroon ng lahing Pilipino): 77%.

6. To have lived in the Philippines for most of one’s life (Ang pagtira sa Pilipinas nang halos buong buhay ng isang tao): 74%.


7. To be a Catholic (Ang maging Katoliko): 73%.

8. To respect Philippine political institutions and laws (Ang igalang ang mga institusyong pulitikal at mga batas ng Pilipinas): 65%.

The list of facets tested by the survey had been agreed upon by the ISSP member institutes, by democratic vote. The list is specifically meant for cross-country analysis: Comparison with other peoples is part of the process of learning about one’s own people. Item 7 is mandated to be whatever religion is most common in the country.

The people’s perspective on the meaning of Filipino identity is definitely not unanimous. Anywhere from one-third to one-fifth of the people do not regard a specific facet as Very Important. Yet one can see a clear consensus about it: To us Filipinos, the most important facets are birthplace and speech, while the least important are religion and the laws. I will compare the Filipino perspective to the global perspective in future columns. I do not know if this particular survey was also done in China.

The ISSP module on national identity has been implemented three times already, since 1993, and is set next for 2023. Every new replication keeps two-thirds of the previous questionnaire, to allow scientific monitoring of social change over time.


Update from the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, 4/1/21:

“1. The research team previously operating under The University of Hong Kong and now under HKPORI has always abided by the law, and will continue to do so.

“2. HKPORI considers it important to promote the spirit of Science and Democracy under all circumstances, and it will continue to conduct independent and scientific studies on public opinion in Hong Kong and around the world in order to let people’s voices [be] heard.

“3. In light of the changing socio-political environment in Hong Kong, HKPORI considers its role as an independent scientific researcher more important than ever. It will constantly review and revise its research methodologies, data security policies and public engagement initiatives accordingly in order to stay at the forefront of local and international research.

“4. Because the freedom of the press, of speech, publication, communication and conducting academic research are guaranteed by the Basic Law, HKPORI will continue to encourage its members, associates and Hong Kong people in all walks of life to express themselves freely under the law.”

HKPORI’s CEO Robert Chung, current vice president of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), and past president of the WAPOR-Asia Chapter, is not retired. I erred in naming him as lifetime awardee, but I think the error will self-correct in due time.

Contact: [email protected]

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Filipino, Mangahas, Social Climate, SWS
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2021 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.