College Hosts Lasallian Filipino Scholars

Three Filipino scholars from De La Salle University, Dasmariñas visited Saint Mary’s on Nov. 7. Ricardo Clores, Silfa Napicol, and Evangilina Castronuevo shared knowledge about indigenous Filipino psychology with a student lunch and coffee with Asian and Pacific Islander (API) faculty and staff. Their visit culminated with a lecture on the development and direction of indigenous Filipino psychology in a globalized context.

The student lunch consisted of representatives from the Psychology Department, Ethnic Studies, and the International Club, among others. Participants had the chance to engage with the visiting scholars, asking and answering questions. Clores asked students about their experiences as minorities in the United States, and he was particularly interested in Filipino-American experiences. Elijah Lagman ‘19, an international student from the Philippines, said, “It is interesting to see how Filipino-Americans interact with me. When I speak to other international students from the Philippines, there seems to be a cultural gap between Filipinos from the Philippines and Filipino-Americans, where the two groups seem to mistrust each other.”

Terrilyn Ho ’19 talked about how other Americans see many Asian-Americans as “perpetual foreigners.” She said, “I sometimes get asked, ‘Where did you learn to speak English so well?’ and it’s very frustrating.” This statement resonated with the scholars and with all the students at the table, and many attendees shared different experiences of being made to feel like a foreigner in their country of citizenship. The student lunch encouraged much fruitful discussion that was expounded upon in the lecture later that night.

The lecture, entitled “Indigenous Filipino Psychology in a Globalized Context: Development and Direction” took place in the Soda Center that evening. Clores, who led the psychology lecture, began by describing the indigenous culture of the Philippines, highlighting the collectivism and non-materialism of Precolonial Filipino culture. Clores said, “Collectivists believe that the family is attached to all successes, and that we all develop together instead of individually.” Of the nonmaterial nature of Filipino culture, he said, “Filipinos believe that there are spirits all around, and they connect with almost any religion because of the deep spirituality of the culture.” However, as the Spanish colonized the Philippines in the 1400s, they forced a colonial mindset upon Filipinos, what Clores described as a “culture of smallness and constant devaluing of indigenous values and culture.”

As colonization progressed in the Philippines and a university and higher education system grew, culturally dominant psychology, which consisted of European and American theorists, was taught in schools. Clores said, “This led to the marginalization, distortion, and alienation of the local experience.” Thus, the field of Filipino indigenous psychology, or Sikolohiyang Pilipino (SP) was founded. According to Clores, there are two types of indigenization: “from without,” which is to adapt mainstream psychological theories and modify them to fit the local cultural context, and “from within,” which is developed from the local cultural context, with the indigenous information as the primary source of knowledge. Thus, Sikolohiyang Pilipino’s objective is to create indigenous psychology from the bottom up, and formalize indigenous knowledge into the mainstream. One important concept from SP is kapwa, or a shared love and understanding of everyone’s well-being. With the rise of colonization in the Philippines, kapwa seems to have been lost, particularly in the world’s tenuous political climate. However, Clores hopes that with the spread of Sikolohiyang Pilipino, we can fight against the colonial mentality and any forces of oppression.