Covar, Prospero. 1998. Larangan

Covar, Prospero. 1998. Larangan: Seminal Essays on Philippine Culture, Manila: Sampaguita Press.

Pilipinolohiya (Chapter 4) is the systematic study of the Filipino psyche, and of Philippine culture and society. The Filipino, Covar writes, is like a banga (vessel), and s/he has: labas (exteriority), loob (interiority), and lalim (depth). Using structural functionalism and concepts from indigenous scholarship, he questions the applicability of Western theories in studying the Filipino. For instance, these fail to adequately explain the “Great and Little Traditions.” For Covar, the Philippines as a nation-state did not follow a unilinear evolution. Instead, it consists of social units which operate according to their own internal mechanisms (77). For the author, the Philippines is composed of various batis (streams) of cultures (32), and there is still a need to research the cultural equivalents of concepts found in the various provinces (e.g. the concept of loob (interiority) in the Tagalog areas versus the concept of nakem of the Ilokanos) (63). Similar concepts appear to be the sambahayan (family/household), samahan (interests), pamayanan (community), and sambayanan (nation). In the study of Filipino social organization, there are distinct terms for each family member, thereby arguing that the linguistic idiosyncrasies reveals the distinctness of a certain culture. Also in the Filipino family, individuals are lumped together according to generation (68), revealing the importance of age and seniority. The sambahayan (family) is the “strength of the nation”, and “to undermine the Filipino family is to undermine the nation” (22). These levels of socio-political organization carry out the following functions: recruitment of members; enculturation; allocation of goods and services, and; allocation of power and authority (23). Culture, Covar writes, has two parts: likas (natural, inherent, biological), and likha (created, man-made). There are also three kinds of knowledge in the Philippines: the knowledge relating to God (incontestable); the knowledge possessed by humans (natural, achieved by studying the environment and nature), and; forced knowledge (not according to the will of God, such as that used to create “miracle rice” or nuclear energy).


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