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Pakikipagkapwa–Tao and Bayanihan Spirit in Community Pantries: Paul Ricoeur on Filipinos as Responsible Human Beings

ARC Team 02
2023-08-05 05:51 237

Religion and Social Communication 21, no. 1 (2023)

Christian U. Solis


ABSTRACT 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of Filipinos, especially the poor. While waiting for what the government can do for its constituents, the Filipinos acted on charity toward one’s neighbors. The rise of community pantries has been helping the poor and the needy through these challenging times. The paper defined pakikipagkapwatao2 and bayanihan spirit3 as the motivation behind the community pantry movement. Such virtue is both personal and social. This paper employs Paul Ricoeur’s philosophy of capable human being specifically on man’s capacity to be responsible. It aims to bring to the fore the values of pakikipagkapwatao and bayanihan spirit as expressions of Filipino’s strong sense of responsibility. It also employs a phenomenological-descriptive method to go back to Filipino’s lived experiences of community pantries during the pandemic. This paper aims: (1) to present the Filipino’s lived experiences during the pandemic and appropriate Paul Ricoeur’s philosophy of capable human being; (2) to prove that the values of pakikipagkapwa–tao and bayanihan spirit are expressions of Filipino’s strong sense of responsibility; and (3) to demonstrate that Filipino’s sense of responsibility finds expression in Paul Ricoeur’s capable human being as responsible self.   

Keywords: Pakikipagkapwa–tao, bayanihan spirit, community pantries, capacity to be responsible 

  

1.  Introduction: The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Filipino People 

The COVID-19 pandemic4 has had a profound impact on Filipinos and people worldwide, limiting children’s mobility to play, students’ ability to study, and adults’ capacity to work. In the Philippines, life was even more challenging because the pandemic occurred right after Taal Volcano’s eruption and three strong typhoons5  hit the National Capital Region, Ilocos Region, and Bicol Region. During the typhoon, safety protocols, and health regulations were compromised in some way as people were evacuated, rescued, and attended to. The natural calamities had worsened the situation in these areas.   

The Philippine government made efforts to alleviate the suffering of its people, especially the poor, through ayuda (aid to the poor). However, this aid program was not enough. Fortunately, there are non-government organizations (NGOs), private companies, and even private individuals and groups that responded to the needs of the people. While the government tried to assist, it was the help coming from their neighbors, i.e., kapwa, that kept the needy people alive. The pandemic tested Filipinos' patience and fortitude, bringing more Filipino values and traits to the fore. Filipinos chose to live meaningfully by responding to the challenges brought about by the pandemic by living out their core human values. Instead of hate, anger, and blame games, core human values enabled them to transcend personal interests and reach out to others in need.   

In this paper, I will present three main points. First, I will describe the lived experiences of Filipinos during the pandemic using Paul Ricoeur’s philosophy of capable human being. Second, I will argue that the values of pakikipagkapwa–tao and bayanihan spirit are expressions of Filipinos’ strong sense of responsibility. Finally, I will prove that Filipinos’ sense of responsibility finds expression in Paul Ricoeur’s capable human being as a responsible self. To accomplish these goals, I will use a phenomenological-qualitative method to examine Filipinos’ lived experiences during the pandemic and conduct a textual analysis of Paul Ricoeur’s books The Course of Recognition and Oneself as Another, as well as other secondary sources including works by Filipino authors and academicians such as Enriquez, Aguas, Ang and Pe-Pua (et al).6 Additionally, I will reference internet broadcasts, online broadsheets, and cyber news7 to provide context for Filipinos’ lived experiences during the pandemic. 

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