sikolohiyang pilipino developing philippine psychology

Sikolohiyang Pilipino: Developing Philippine Psychology

            The human mind and behavior has always been an interest for many scientists and most of what we know about psychology today came from the Western thinking of Freud, Maslow, Adler, Bandura, Pavlov, Jung and many more. Their theories, concepts and ideas, however, also reflect the everyday thinking, behavior and way of life of those in the Western countries. Those who have different cultures and way of life from the Western countries have different ways of thinking and act differently, hence, they may have their own psychology.

            The Philippines is a country that has been occupied for more than 300 years by the Spaniards, 50 years by the Americans and three years by the Japanese. During these times, different cultural influences have been absorbed by the inhabitants from their colonizers and from those who have traded with them, particularly the Chinese, Indians and Arabs. The Filipino people are therefore of  a mix of mostly Malay (brown skin), Chinese, Spanish, American, Arab or Indian decent and the Chinese are the biggest ethnic race in the country (US Department of State, n.d.). The Filipino people are very friendly, hospitable and conservative people. They are also the only dominant Catholic nation in Asia and their values reflect the influences that have been brought upon them. They have a pilosopo or philosophical nature; they have plenty of myths and folktales that are applied to their everyday lives; they have many sayings that describe their way of life such as nasa tao ang gawa, nasa Diyos ang awa and means that people will do the work and everything is then left to God’s mercy; and have values such as family closeness, openness to nature, kasi (because) alliby, and bahala na (come what may) attitude (Macaranas, 2008). The various cultural influences in the country has made it a place of interest for social scientists and through studies over the years regarding Filipino culture and way of life, Philippine Psychology has emerged.

            The history of Philippine Psychology, its developments, major areas of research, status of psychological practice in the Philippines, and the educational requirements for psychologists in the country will be stated in this paper to give a brief insight and understanding of what Sikolohiyang Pilipino or the psychology of the Filipino people is like.

History of Sikolohiyang Pilipino

            Filipino psychology is the psychology and values of the Filipinos, “particularly meaningful concepts relevant to Filipino culture and experience…it is a psychology based on the experience, ideas and orientation of the Filipino people” (Psychology Department of De La Salle University, n.d.). It is a psychology born out o the experience, thought and orientation of the Filipinos that is based on the full use of the Filipino culture and language (Pe-Pua & Protacio-Marcelino, 2000).  An indigenization from within approach is used whereby the theoretical framework and methodology emerge from the experiences of the people from the indigenous culture (ibid).

            Sikolohiyang Pilipino did not formally emerge until the 20th century but the teaching of psychology in the Philippines started as early as the 17th century in the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and the University of San Carlos in Cebu wherein Spanish friars brought in Philosophical psychology (Stevens & Wedding, 2004). The formal records of the establishment of psychology as a discipline in the Philippines, however, only dates back to the founding years of the University of the Philippines in 1908 where Psychology was part of philosophy in the university’s School of Education (ibid). It was only in 1926 when the Department of Psychology in the university was established with Agustin Alonzo as chairman, (ibid; Psychology Association of the Philippines [PAP], 2006). Psychology was further brought into the country by those who have had the opportunity to study abroad, and Agustin Alonzo was one of them, if not the first one. He had a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Chicago and came back to the county to head the first department of psychology in the Philippines (Stevens & Wedding, 2004). The University of Santo Tomas and the Far Easter University soon followed the University of the Philippines by establishing their own departments of psychology in the early 1930s (ibid).

Other Ph.D. graduates from the US followed in the footsteps of Alonzo and started making the presence of psychology felt in the country. Sinforoso Padilla, a Ph.D. graduate from the University of Michigan in 1928, established the first Psychological clinic at the University of the Philippines in 1932; in 1933, Jesus Perpinan, who graduated with a Ph.D. in psychology from the Iowa State University, organized the Far Eastern University Psychological Clinic and he was also the chairman of the Department of Psychology in the same university (ibid; PAP, 2006). In 1938, a Dominican priest named Angel de Blas sets up an Experimental Psychology Laboratory in the University of Santo Tomas and after the second world war in 1948 Estefania Aldaba-Lim sets up the Institute of Human Relations at the Philippine Women’s University (PAP, 2006). Aldaba-Lim had her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Michigan (Stevens & Wedding, 2004) and in 1962 she started the Philippine Psychological Corporation, which offers psychological services and is the main retailer of psychological tests in the country (PAP, 2006). In 1954, Joseph Goertz established the Department of Psychology at the University of San Carlos in the province of Cebu and in 1961 Fr. Jamie Bulatao, a Ph.D graduate of clinical psychology in Fordham University (Stevens & Wedding, 2004), established the Department of Psychology in the private university of Ateneo De Manila (PAP, 2006).

The first psychological association in the country, the Psychological Association of the Philippines or PAP was founded in 1962 by the early psychologists in the country namely Agustin Alonzo, Fr. Jaime Bulatao, Dr. Sinforoso Padilla, Dr. Jesus Perpiñan, Dr. Mariano Obias and Dr. Alredo Lagmay (ibid). The PAP commits itself to the promotion of excellence in the teaching, research, and practice of Psychology in the country, and to promote human development and nation building, as well as to cooperate with other scientists and be instrumental in the understanding and problem-solving efforts in areas of mutual concern (Stevens & Wedding, 2004). The PAP also helped introduced a bill in the Batasan Pambansa or House of Congress in 1982 to establish control in the practice of psychology in the Philippines by requiring practicing psychologists, particularly clinical and psychometricians to be licensed (Bernardo, 2007). There have been several versions of the Psychology Bill in the Philippine Congress since the 1980s, and the latest one that has reached the House of Senate is the 2007 Bill on Psychology Board or the “act to regulate the practice of psychology, creating for this purpose a psychology board” but none of the bills have been enacted into law due to the difficulty on agreeing on several factors such as standards, scope of responsibilities, on procedures and requirements for licensing, and due to the prioritization of more important bills (ibid; Senate of the Philippines, 2007). Other problems and issues that face the bill include the government’s lack of understanding psychology as a discipline and profession since psychologists are automatically thought of as guidance counselors and the difficulty in understanding the need of characterizing psychology in the same category as medical doctors or lawyers with generic requirements; professionalization of the discipline is low in priority; the archaic system of professional regulation in the country also hampers the development of the bill (Bernardo, 2007;Senate of the Philippines, 2007).

The establishment of the PAP led to the first ever psychological convention in the country, which was the Symposium on the Filipino Personality held in 1962, and the first psychological publication published by PAP- the Philippine Journal of Psychology (PAP, 2006). By the 1970s, psychology has become a popular undergraduate major in numerous colleges and universities and psychological testing flourishes in the country, particularly due to the beginning of the diaspora of Filipino workers (ibid).

After fifty years of psychology being formally present in the country, a man named Virgilio G. Enriquez thought to indigenize the field in the Philippines (Pe-Pua and Protacio-Marcelino, 2000). The influence of the American model of psychology was very evident in the psychology curriculum of many schools in the Philippines, and this has been due to the U.S. educated pioneers of psychology in the country and despite the masteral and doctoral degree of Enriquez from Northwestern University in Illinois, he wanted to indigenize Philippine psychology (ibid). Indigenization, for Enriquez, includes returning to oral traditions and folklore and returning to the use of Filipino languages (Root, 1997). The use of Filipino languages was done first by Enriquez at the University of the Philippines where he and the rest of the department of psychology, which he was the chairman of from 1978 to 1982, taught some Psychology classes in the national language of Filipino or Tagalog (University of the Philippines Department of Psychology [UPDP], 2001; Pe-Pua and Protacio-Marcelino, 2000). Aside from teaching in the local language, materials were being translated into Filipino, local materials were compiled, and appropriate word in the local dialect were chosen for technical terms; however, the original technical term is sometimes retained when there is no equivalence in the local language (UPDP, 2001). The teaching of Psychology in Filipino started the development of a psychology with a Filipino orientation or what is now known as Sikolohiyang Pilipino (ibid).

Early problems with Sikolohiyang Pilipino were mostly centered on the classroom since it started with the teaching of psychology in the national language. There was difficulty in expressing or explaining some Western concepts and theories in Filipino; there were negative reactions from students who occasionally felt that their skill in speaking and writing in Filipino is inadequate; and the students’ fluency with the language (ibid). Sikolohiyang Pilipino, however, was further developed since there were benefits to this in the classroom such as the better rapport between teacher and student; easier expression of opinions, thoughts, and actual experiences; Filipino perspective was introduced into the course; and discussion became more concrete in relation to Philippine reality (ibid).

Subsequent to the start of Sikolohiyang Pilipino, Enriquez also established the Pambansang Samahan ng Sikolohiyang Pilipino (PSSP) or the National Association of Philippine Psychology in 1975 (PAP, 2006; Stevens & Wedding, 2004). Enriquez led the movement to study indigenous Filipino psychology and its applications to modern life (Root, 1997). Sikolohiyang Pilipino is based on “assessing historical and socio-cultural realities, understanding the local language, unraveling Filipino characteristics, and explaining them through the eyes of the native Filipino” (Pe-Pua and Protacio-Marcelino, 2000, p. 1). Through PSSP, developments in sikolohiyan Pilipino not only incorporates indigenous psychology, values and concepts relevant to Filipinos in the country, but also to Filipinos around the world (Root, 1997). Some of the outcomes of the efforts of Enriquez and PSSP are: “a body of knowledge including indigenous concepts, development of indigenous research methods and indigenous personality testing, new directions in teaching psychology, and an active participation in organisations among Filipino psychologists and social scientists, both in the Philippines and overseas” (Pe-Pua and Protacio-Marcelino, 2000).

“Enriquez’s remarkable intellectual and professional leadership created an indigenous orientation in psychological research, founded on culturally sensitive data-gathering methods and analysis” (Stevens & Wedding, 2004, p. 478). The efforts of Enriquez led him to be called the Father of Filipino Psychology (Pe-Pua and Protacio-Marcelino, 2000).

With the start of Sikolohiyang Pilipino and the increasing popularity of psychology as an undergraduate degree, several universities in the regional islands of Visayas and Mindanao established their own psychology departments by the late 1970s. In 1985, historian Zeus Salazar, formulated the four traditions that rooted Philippine Psychology and these are: Akademiko-siyentipikal na Sikolohiya or the academic-scientific psychology, which follows the tradition of Wilhelm Wundt and is the American-oriented Western Psychology studied in the Philippines; Akademiko-pilosopiya na Sikolohiya or the Academic-philosophic psychology that was started by the priest-professors in the University of Santo Tomas in the 17th century and is focused on rational psychology; Taal na Sikolohiya or Ethnic Psychology, which is the primary basis of Philippine psychology since it refers to the indigenous concepts studied using indigenous psychological orientations and methods; lastly, the Relihiyosong Sikolohiyang Siko-medikal or the Psycho-Medical Religious Psychology that is a tradition that combines native healing techniques such as hilot, the use of massage to relieve physical pain or to aid delivery of a baby, or pasma, which is the concept of heat and cold and how the bleding of the two can result to sweaty palms and in illnesses such as arthritis or rheumatism, and explains it in an indigenous religious context (Salazar, 1985).

Numerous studies have then been conducted in Sikolohiyang Pilipino and each study aims to contribute to the further development of the indigenized discipline. PAP and PSSP conduct symposiums and conferences to progress Sikolohiyang Pilipino and psychology as a discipline and profession in the country. PAP even gives out awards to outstanding Filipino psychologists to recognize their efforts in the field (PAP, 2006). In 1992, the PAP and nine other national psychological association established the Asia-Oceania Psychological Association and in 2006, the PAP also became a founding member of the ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ibid); this showed that developments in the field are being undertaken in the country. Sikolohiyang Pilipino, however, still has a long way to go. PSSP still “has failed to revolutionize psychological thinking in the Philippines with its followers remaining a minority voice in the field…there are some areas that remain relatively untouched by the move towards indigenization and these are the applied fields of industrial psychology…because foreign tests have a powerful distribution system through the Philippine Psychological Corporation rather than because of a shortage of psychometrically sound tests in the country” (Stevens & Wedding, 2004, p. 478).

Major Areas of Research

            The start of Sikolohiyang Pilipino (sikopil) in the 1970s led to numerous studies regarding Filipino behavior, way of thinking and way of life that all contribute to the development of Philippine psychology. The first Philippine Journal of Psychology, which is published semi-annually, came out in 1968 (PAP, 2006) but this was not yet in the light of Sikolohiyang Pilipino. The areas of research for sikopil revolved around issues that would help progress the discipline such as indigenization of psychology in the Philippines and what the basic tenets of sikopil would be, the major approaches and methods to be used to make it truly Filipino, and what are the common Filipino values and an explanation of such values.

            The initial proposal of Enriquez emphasized a Filipino concept of personhood that centered on the core value that is expressed in the Tagalog word kapwa or togetherness; it is a word that covers the concepts of both self and others and is the core construct of Filipino Psychology (Pe-Pua & Protacio-Marcelino, 2000; Root, 1997). The concepts of self/ego or ako and the others or iba sa akin are one and the same in kapwa (Root, 1997); however, kapwa has two categories with domains in each construct- ibang tao or other people and hindi ibang tao or not other people (Enriquez, 1976). Ibang tao has five domains of Filipino values and these are pakikitungo or transacting or being civil with others; pakikisalamuha or act of mixing or socializing; pakikilahok or the act of joining/engaging in activities; pakikibagay or the act of conformity or knowing how to deal with others; and pakikisama which is an accommodative value and is defined later on (ibid; Paranjpe, Ho & Rieber, 1988). Hindi ibang tao has three domains and these are pakikipagpalagayang-loob or the act of mutual trust; pakikisangkot or the act of joining others in a group; and pakikipagisa or being one with others (Paranjpe et al, 1988; Enriquez, 1976).

The students of Enriquez, however, expanded the definition of kapwa in their studies that resulted to an entire system that seeks to describe the Filipino’s sense of being a person, and to the entire field that differentiates the Filipino sense of being from other cultures (Pe-Pua & Protacio-Marcelino, 2000). Values that were thought to be significant Filipino values were found only to be mere colonial/accommodative values and these are: hiya or sense of shame or propriety; utang na loob or literally translated to a debt inside oneself, it is the debt of gratitude or sense of gratitude; and pakikisama or conforming, going along with, or yielding to the leader or the majority (Root, 1997; Paranjpe et al, 1988). Accommodative surface values of Filipinos that were found were bahala na, an attitude that is construed as resignation and is translated as “so be it”, and reflects the fatalistic nature of Filipinos since it came from the phrase bathala na or let God take care of things; lakas ng loob, which is an attitude that is characterized by courage in the midst of problems and uncertainties; and pakikibaka or literally translated to “concurrent clashes” and it refers to the Filipino ability to undertake revolutions and uprisings against a common enemy (Pe-Pua & Protacio-Marcelino, 2000; Paranjpe, Ho & Rieber, 1988).

The lapit or approaches and the pamamaraan or methods of Philippine Psychology are different from the approaches and methods of Western Psychology and took several years of study by different Filipino psychologists to be identified, validated and accepted (Pe-Pua & Protacio-Marcelino, 2000). There are six common approaches in the study of Filipino Psychology and these are pakikipagkuwentuhan, panunuluyan, pagdadalaw-dalaw, pagtatanong-tanong, pakikiramdam, and pakap-kapa. The subjects in a Philippine psychology study are called kalahok or participants and are considered as equal in status to the researcher; the participants are included in the research as a group and not as individuals so the natural cluster or umpukan are required to serve as the participants (Guanzon, 1985). The research is then introduced to the natural cluster by a bridge or tulay, who is a part of the umpukan and must be a well-respected man in the community.

Pakikipagkuwentuhan came from the root word kuwento that literally means story and it is a method wherein the researches engages in a narrative or story-telling session with an umpukan; the researcher merely serves as the facilitator while the participants are the ones who will talk and tell their story (ibid). Panunuluyan is a method that allows the researcher to stay in the home of a participant, with the consent of the family, while conducting the research; the head of the family serves as the tulay or bridge to the umpukan (ibid). Pagtatanung-tanong or is derived from the root word tanong that literally is translated to question; this is a method where the researcher undergoes a kind of questioning session with the participants but lead questions should not be asked, instead, the questions must have been derived from the participants’ answers (ibid). Pakikiramdam came from the root word damdam that means to feel, and is a method where the researcher uses his/her emotions the entire time to know if the participants are ready to be part of the research or not (ibid; Paranjpe et al, 1988). Pakapa-kapa or groping is a method that makes the researches “grope” a mixture of feelings and circumstances to justify the interest or intrusion into the life of the participants (Guanzon, 1985).

Other studies in sikopil were conducted over the years and each study that contributes to the understanding of the Filipino way of life and thinking and is applicable in the Philippine context is greatly appreciated in the field of Philippine psychology, and are even published in the Philippine Journal of Psychology. In 1987, a book about Filipino children suffering from stress written by Ma. Lourdes Arrellano-Carandang was given a Catholic Mass Media Award in the country for highlighting the problems Filipino children go through and for showing deep care about the children (PAP, 2006). In 1991, Ma. Cecilia Conaco, was awarded as an Outstanding Young Scientist by the NAST “In recognition of her pioneering works on ethnicity and fertility which led to the development of models and ethnic-specific…population control strategies…in the Philippines” (ibid). She also has conducted research on the psychology of Filipino women and social cognition (ibid).

Studies in I-O or Industrial-Organization in the country has been a growing interest in the past two decades since the term I-O is still largely alien to most lay people in the country and there is a lack of further research in this field in the country (Stevens & Wedding, 2004; Steiner, 1999); only five percent of all psychological research in the Philippines is about I-O (Steiner, 1999). I-O studies in the Philippines have dealt with the concept of work and productivity; the Filipino worker and their performance, problems, working conditions, and satisfaction; the work improvement on teams; the influence of managers; Filipino corporate culture; and organization development (ibid). Amaryllis T. Torres was even awarded as an Outstanding Young Scientist by the NAST in 1985 for her researches in population, industrial psychology and works on human development training (PAP, 2006).

            Other major areas of research in sikopil are the indigenous groups in the Philippines, the multi-culturality of Filipinos particularly in other countries (Root, 1997), the Filipino language and morals, politics and sexuality (Psychology Department of De La Salle University, n.d.).

Psychology as a Profession in the Philippines

Psychology as a profession in the Philippines is not yet regulated though, as mentioned earlier, there have already been attempts to regulate clinical psychologists and psychometricians in the country. Psychologists take on a variety of responsibilities in different sectors of Philippine society and these are in the domains of: psychotherapy and clinical psychology; group and individual counseling; industrial psychology, which has a scope on human resource development, training, organizational development, etc; psychological assessment; and teaching (Bernardo, 2007). Schools and other institutions of learning use counseling programs that enhance the learner’s intellectual and emotional stability, and “penal institutions are able to draw on psychology’s vast resources in order to prepare inmates for the eventual reintegration into society” (Pimentel, 2007, p. 1). The various sectors where psychologists in the country are employed are in schools, government offices, military and police offices, hospitals, business and commercial industries, legal services, private practice, consulting, media, non-government and people’s organizations, and others such as firms, church, etc (Bernardo, 2007).

The PAP has almost 2000 names on its roster of psychologists but there is no reliable statistic as to the number of practicing psychologists in the Philippines (ibid). The background of each psychologist is also not known if it is fit for the industry he or she is working in since there is no regulation in the practice of psychology in the country (ibid; Pimentel, 2007). Different sectors require different educational backgrounds or credentials but most require at least a bachelor’s degree, whether a B.A. or B.S., in psychology or organizational development or human resources management (Bernardo, 2007). Government offices, hospitals, social services, military and the police require a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in the field before entering into the profession whereas most businesses/industries require a B.A. or B.S. in entry level positions but a masters degree or higher to enter into higher positions in the organization where psychology will be practiced (ibid). In most schools, particularly, universities, a master’s degree is essential to be accepted as an instructor (ibid). Other fields do no specify their requirements as to the educational credentials, such fields are expert witness in legal proceedings, private practice and consultancy; but there are conventional requirements that are typically associated with advanced degrees and professional experience, depending on what kind of job is to be filled or entered (ibid).

            The profession is still not regulated and educational curricula have problems in relation to standardized undergraduate and graduate programs, the lack of qualified and competent faculty and inadequate facilities (Stevens and Wedding, 2004). Sikopil is still young and is still developing through the research efforts of Filipino psychologists and will hopefully become a known psychological field in the near future once Western influence is clearly kept out of the way in its advancement.


Bernardo, A. B. I. (2007). Current efforts to professionalize psychology in the Philippines. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

Enriquez, V. (1976). Sikolohiyang Pilipino: Perspektibo at direksiyon. In R. Pe-Pua (Ed), Sikolohiyang Pilipino: Teorya, metodo, at gamit (p. 5-21). Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1995.

Guanzon, M.A. (1985). Paggamit ng panukat na sikolohikal sa Pilipinas: Kalagayan at mga isyu. In A. Aganaon and M.A. David (Eds), New directions in Indigenous Psychology: Sikolohiyang Pilipino, isyu, pananaw at kaalaman (p. 341-362). Manila: National Bookstore.

Macaranas, J.R. (2008, January). Understanding and appreciating our Filipino philosophy. Philippine National Philosophical Research Society Lecture Series. Lecture conducted for Philosophy Department of DLSU, Manila.

Paranjpe, A. C., Ho, D. Y.F. and Riebert, R. W. (1988). Asian contributions to psychology. New York: Praeger Publishers.

Pe-Pua, R. and Protacio-Marcelino, E. A. (2000). Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Filipino psychology): A legacy of Virgilio G. Enriquez. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 3(1). Retrieved May 16, 2008, from ingentaconnect.

Pimentel, A. (2007). S.No. 1168: Introduced by Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

Psychology Association of the Philippines. (2006). Chronology of Philippine psychology. Retrieved May 16, 2008, from

Psychology Department of De La Salle University. (n.d.). Sikolohiyang Pilipino-Filipino Psychology. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

Root, M. P. P. (1997). Filipino Americans: Transformation and identity. California: Sage Publications.

Salazar, Z. (1985). Hiya: Panlapi at salita. In A. Aganon and M.A. David (Eds), New directions in indigenous Psychology:Sikolohiyang Pilipino, isyu, pananaw at kaalaman (p. 288-296). Manila: National Bookstore.

Stevens, M. J. and Wedding, D. (2004). Handbook of international psychology. New York: Routledge.

University of the Philippines Department of Psychology. (2001). UPDP history. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

U.S. Department of State. (n.d.). Background note: Philippines. Retrieved May 17, 2008, from

"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Order now and Get a Discount!

Place New Order
It's Free, Fast & Safe

"Looking for a Similar Assignment? Order now and Get a Discount!