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CHAPTER IX<br /> <br />PAKIKIRAMDAM: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS<br /> <br /> <br />RAJ MANSUKHANI<br /> <br /> <br />In this article, the author presents a philosophical analysis of a concept deeply entrenched in the psyche of the Filipino—pakikiramdam. Drawing primarily from the seminal work on the subject by Mataragnon, the author shows that pakikiramdam can be understood in many ways. He offers “ten plus one” interrelated senses of the concept and then, towards the end, he provides a critique which shows both the positive and negative aspects of pakikiramdam.<br /> <br /> <br />INTRODUCTION<br /> <br />There are many ways to understand a concept. The most common way, of course, is by providing adequate definitions for it and then providing numerous examples of the concept in varying situations. I shall use this approach to tackle the subject matter of pakikiramdam, but I have also felt the need to go further. Aside from definitions and examples, it is best to get across the meaning of a concept—particularly to those who have little or no understanding of it—by comparing it with concepts that are already familiar, and then going beyond the resemblances. In short, one must show how the concept being analyzed is both similar to, and different from, familiar concepts. Apart from this, it might be necessary to provide analogies and metaphors to get across some of the more complex nuances of the concept. Plato, for example, found the need to use an allegory to describe the ascent to truth. All these methods are attempts to fish out the essential features of the concept in question—and I shall employ all of them in my analysis of pakikiramdam.<br />The methods I used for my critical analysis of pakikiramdam are the following. First, I gathered as many relevant materials as I could from books, periodicals, and the internet. Of all the books and articles that I gathered, the one which seemed most important (because it was quoted by many other authors) was the article entitled “Pakikiramdam in Filipino Social Interaction” by Rita H. Mataragnon of Ateneo de Manila University. This seemed to be the seminal work on the topic. I found it necessary, however, to synthesize views from as many authors as I could and to supplement these with ideas gathered from two interviews. The persons I chose to interview were both psychologists who have had extensive experience using pakikiramdam as a research method for the social sciences.<br />For the sake of clarity, I have decided to divide this paper into manageable parts. The first section provides a list of definitions of pakikiramdam from various sources. This gives the reader a workable ground or context (a fore-understanding, as Heidegger would put it), for subsequent analysis of pakikiramdam. The next section brings out “ten plus one” senses of pakikiramdam, followed by a set of words and images associated with the concept. Then, pakikiramdam is compared and contrasted with empathy to better understand the concept. A discussion of pakikiramdam as a method for gathering data in the social sciences then follows. Towards the end, pakikiramdam is evaluated by bringing out both its positive and negative aspects. The paper ends with conclusions and recommendations. <br /> <br />SOME DEFINITIONS<br /> <br />1. Pakikiramdam is “the capacity for compassion, empathy, and sympathy” (Strobel 1998).<br />2. “Pakikiramdam is the pivotal value of shared inner perception. It refers to heightened awareness and sensitivity” (Enriquez 1992).<br />3. “Pakikiramdam [is] a covert individual process by which a person tries to feel and understand the feelings and intentions of another” (Mataragnon 1987).<br />4. Paraphrasing Mataragnon, Butalid-Echaves (1999) defines pakikiramdam as a “heightened awareness and sensitivity for the other. It is an active and dynamic process involving great care and deliberation, paying attention to subtle cues and non-verbal behavior, and employing mental role playing (as in ‘if I were in the other’s situation, how would I feel?’)<br />5. “Simply speaking, pakikiramdam means feeling for another…literally…pakikiramdam is a request to feel or to be sensitive to. It is a shared feeling, a kind of ‘emotional a priori.’ (Mataragnon 1987).<br />6. Concerning pakikiramdam as a crucial aspect of research in the social sciences: “One essential ability that every researcher must possess, whatever method he is using, is pakikiramdam, a special kind of sensitivity to cues which will guide him in his interaction with people in a group, especially with Filipinos who are used to the indirect and non-verbal manner of communicating feelings and emotions.” (Pe-Pua, “Indiginizing the social sciences—ABSTRACT”)<br /> <br />The definitions above show that pakikiramdam is a social skill highly valued among Filipinos who are known for expressing themselves as much nonverbally as verbally. Pakikiramdam is the skill which enables us to sense what another person feels. This is accomplished primarily by being aware of the nonverbal cues sent by others, although—as we shall see later—this “sensing” may actually come about by being attentive to one’s own inner cues. In this sense, pakikiramdam can be viewed as a skill associated with high emotional intelligence. It is a skill associated with empathy or, to use a term popularized by Dilthey, with verstehen or “sympathetic understanding.” It is the ability to sense and feel what another person feels if the other does not explicitly state that feeling or is attempting to hide it. It is tempting therefore to understand pakikiramdam simply as an aspect of emotional intelligence and end there. To do so, however, would prevent a deeper understanding of the concept.<br />In order to bring out the various nuances of pakikiramdam, it is important to look at it from as many perspectives as possible. <br /> <br />TEN PLUS ONE SENSES OF PAKIKIRAMDAM<br /> <br />1. Pakikiramdam as the ability to sense nonverbal cues from others. It is a well-known fact that persons from all cultures communicate with one another both verbally and non-verbally. Verbal messages refer to the meaning of spoken words while non-verbal messages refer to metalinguistic cues that are not spoken. These message-carrying cues include tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, postures, breathing patterns, and physical proximity. From this perspective, pakikiramdam simply refers to the ability to recognize the presence of such cues and to factor them into the understanding of the meaning of a speaker’s utterances. It is these metalinguistic cues which guide listeners to detect hidden intentions, sarcasms, ironies, and various other connotations not present in the uttered words themselves. Those who are not sensitive to these cues have difficulty reading between the lines and often misunderstand a speaker’s true intentions.<br />2. Pakikiramdam as a way of reconstructing another person’s feeling state or state of being. Apart from being a mere sensitivity to nonverbal cues, pakikiramdam is also the active attempt to reconstruct the speaker’s internal state. The sensitivity to cues, therefore, has as its goal the appreciation for, and the understanding of, the other person’s state of being. It is an act akin to empathy. What is constructed in pakikiramdam, however, cannot be put into words. The person who engages in it simply has a strong felt sense of what the other person is feeling and going through. This felt sense (see Gendlin 1982) is often expressed—if at all—through images and metaphors. It is often described as a “gut feeling” for the other. One knows without knowing exactly why or how. It is as if one were groping in the dark to feel the shape of something that cannot be seen, and then having some sense of what this object might be like using the limitations of touch.<br /> <br />3. Pakikiramdam as a right-brained activity or skill. This follows directly from the discussion above. When the person who uses pakikiramdam reconstructs another person’s feeling state using nonverbal cues as a guide, the empathetic understanding of the other person comes about not through a process of argumentation. Neither deduction nor induction is used in the process. What is used instead is intuition. Mataragnon (1987) says that:<br /> <br />Since pakikiramdam is used in social interaction or situations that involve unknown unpredictable or ambiguous elements, logic takes a back seat in intuition and affect. In pakikiramdam, one involves the senses in an extraordinary way, seeing more than one sees, hearing more than one hears. For instance, one sees the flush of excitement, one hears the emotional tone. Although pakikiramdam obviously needs some input of some sorts, and although observation is important (part of deliberateness), the user can not give all the reasons for feeling certain things about a person or event. It is not analytic. Psychologists interviewed claim pakikiramdam is more of a right-brain acitivity than a left-brain activity. In this respect pakikiramdam is considered by many to be an art, although it is generally agreed to be an art that is cultivated and acquired rather than inborn.<br /> <br />The manner in which Mataragnon characterizes pakikiramdam should remind us of the act of “listening with the third ear,” a phrase used by psychologists to describe the manner in which therapists try to get “beneath” or “underneath” a client’s persona. In psychotherapeutic situations, psychologists often find it necessary to engage in this sort of listening in order to catch not only what the other is saying but also what the other is not saying, particularly if this has some significance to what is going on in the therapeutic process. Since this activity is largely right-brained, it always has a tentative quality to it. This leads us to the fourth characteristic of pakikiramdam.<br /> <br />4. Pakikiramdam as an activity or skill which has a hesitating, tentative quality to it. Since pakikiramdam requires careful adjustments and readjustments to the behaviors and messages of another person, it does not come about by direct, impulsive action but rather by “testing the waters” and by careful, deliberate, and patient waiting for the right moment to act or to speak. If one wants to sense another’s state of being, one cannot be completely certain of what is sensed unless one continuously corrects first impressions and makes modifications along the way. Human interactions are, after all, dynamic. Moods and intentions change very quickly. Mataragnon (1987) is right when she says:<br /> <br />Pakikiramdam requires care and deliberation as opposed to impetuous or impulsive action. This care and deliberation is usually reflected in some hesitation to react, in attention to subtle cues and non-verbal behavior, in mental role-playing (if I were the other, how would I feel?). One could very spontaneously use pakikiramdam but the words and actions in pakikiramdam are never careless. A person high in pakikiramdam is often described as thoughtful and caring while a person low in pakikiramdam could be accused of being thoughtless and uncaring.<br /> <br />The care that a person shows stems from being wary of making rash judgments about the other or making statements which are inappropriate to the situation. In order to accomplish this, participants in a social interaction must always be attuned to what goes on in the interaction while it happens. This brings us to the fifth feature of pakikiramdam.<br /> <br />5. Pakikiramdam as an improvisational skill. There is much in common between Filipinos engaged in pakikiramdam and the jazz musician. As Mataragnon (1987) puts it:<br />Pakikiramdam always involves tentative, exploratory, and improvisatory behavior. Pakikiramdam is a tracking and adjusting kind of response; what one senses and feels at a given moment determines what is to be done next. This is not to imply that pakikiramdam is a wishy-washy, weak, or ambiguous response. It is the situation, not the response, which is ambiguous. Pakikiramdam actually seeks clarification and appropriateness of response.<br /> <br />If this is the case, it is not possible to say, beforehand, how one should act in a certain situation. Someone skilled at pakikiramdam always assesses the situation and tries to respond to it as appropriately as possible. This is probably what makes Filipinos highly flexible and adaptable in social situations. This flexibility and sensitivity to the environment leads to the sixth feature of pakikiramdam.<br /> <br />6. Pakikiramdam as attentiveness to contexts. At another level, pakikiramdam can be regarded as the ability to be attentive to contexts and respond appropriately to them. Pakikiramdam in this case refers not only to the sensing of the emotions and cues coming from another person but also to the sensing of the entire context in which the communication or interaction takes place. In this case, a person uses pakikiramdam to understand that certain words, mannerisms, topics, or communication patterns are appropriate in one context but not in another. The person who uses pakikiramdam in this case must take a whole plethora of indicators into account: the time of day, the location of the interaction, the other people present, the manner in which the conversation goes, and so forth. It is through such sensitivity to contexts that one is able to know that even though a luncheon has been set to discuss business matters, it may be more appropriate to begin with informal chatter. Pakikiramdam, then, is what informs me that although it is late in the day and we already have had a few drinks, it is still inappropriate to discuss sensitive personal topics because two other persons have just joined in and have been around only for half an hour. It is pakikiramdam in this sense which tells me whether or not I am in rapport with another person and whether I need to mend any rifts in rapport by statements like “biro lang iyon!” [Just kidding!]. This leads us to the seventh feature of pakikiramdam.<br /> <br />7. Pakikiramdam as a skill used to maintain smooth and harmonious interpersonal relationships. It is pakikiramdam which ensures that relationships are not broken by rash, inappropriate remarks, improper criticisms, or direct commands. It is this aspect of pakikiramdam which informs Filipinos that messages must be indirect in order to let the other save face. As Mataragnon (1987) puts it:<br /> <br />Pakikiramdam is considered to be a stepping-stone to pakikiisa (being one with others) and definitely a sign of pakikipagkapwa (other-orientation, sense of fellow-being)…. It is a sign of respect—one does not want to impose oneself. One does not speak of one’s own interests when one’s friend is hurting from an insult.<br /> <br />This aspect of pakikiramdam arises out of the recognition that to get along in the world and obtain one’s goal, one requires the cooperation and support of others. It is thus extremely disadvantageous to alienate or estrange others—something Filipinos are taught from a very early age. This leads us to the eighth important feature of pakikiramdam. <br />8. Pakikiramdam as a covert mode of communication. When two persons engaged in pakikiramdam interact, two things always occur simultaneously. At one level, they may converse about seemingly trivial topics and inanities, but at some other level, they will be engaged in trying to sense each other’s feelings and state of mind—none of which is discussed directly. In short, no matter what the topic of conversation, something else is always happening underneath, something with no apparent relation to the topic being discussed. One can be speaking about the weather at one level and be sizing up the other from another level. This form of communication takes place because in the Filipino culture, direct expressions of feelings are discouraged right from childhood. <br /> <br />The Filipino is famous for his/her myriad ways of expressing emotions without quite “telling it like it is.” Sometimes accused of not being frank, candid or open by his Western counterparts, the Filipino nevertheless does not see this issue as a matter of honesty or openness, but as a matter of sensitivity for feelings (others and his included) and as a matter of delicadeza (delicate, discreet manner of communication as opposed to brashness and crassness). Expressing wishes as well as anger or discontent in an indirect manner saves one’s face as well as that of the other person, leaving the other person a way out (Mataragnon 1987).<br /> <br />This being the case, children are forced to intuit what their parents are feeling, and friends are forced, as well, to guess what their companions are feeling. Indirect forms of communication are so pervasive in Filipino culture that its members are required to engage in such intuitions.<br /> <br />Filipinos also differ from Westerners in the way they communicate their desire/offer to comfort or to help. It is common, for instance, among Americans to ask, “Want to talk?” or to say “I’ll be around if you want to talk” (or if you need help). These expressions are not common to Filipinos. One knows without asking. If a friend or relative needs comfort or help one would not let him ask for it; one knows by means of pakikiramdam. If a person in emotional distress cannot talk at the moment one does not ask “Want to talk?” One hovers around and is unobtrusively present, sharing the feeling and sensing the right moment to speak.<br /> <br />Since indirect communication is so pervasive in Filipino culture, one learns not only to speak indirectly towards others and engage in pakikiramdam in relation to them; one also expects that others do the same thing. This leads us to the ninth feature of pakikiramdam.<br /> <br />9. Pakikiramdam as a sensitivity that is expected of another. Members of the Filipino culture not only try to gauge others’ feelings through pakikiramdam; they also expect that others be equally adept at this skill. For this reason, Filipinos do not feel the need to express themselves directly, and yet they expect others to know exactly what they feel. If the other does not sense what is not explicitly said, that is, if the other is unable to grasp my real intentions, then it is the other who is at fault. In this case, the other is accused of being manhid, or insensitive. One is therefore inclined to use euphemisms and drop hints, all the while expecting the other to “get it.” <br /> <br />The sender sends what cannot be used by using paramdam with the hope that the receiver has enough pakiramdam to pick up his message. Western books on communication often stress the importance of giving clear, direct, and immediate feedback. This is somewhat alien to the Filipino’s nature, especially where close relationships and negative feedback are involved. Subtle cues on how for instance a job could be done better, the use of intermediaries, or a parinig (insinuation) on what is expected/desired are likely to take the place of a direct confrontation in the interest of preventing hiya (shame) and respecting amor propio (self-esteem). Such prevents the negative feedback from becoming an immediately identifiable, painful issue between two people. <br /> <br />This leads us to the tenth feature of pakikiramdam.<br /> <br />10. Pakikiramdam as part of a larger cultural expectation to be indirect and ambiguous. In a culture where indirect forms of communication are highly valued, direct forms of communication are held with suspicion. If I tell you exactly what I feel at the moment I feel it, I will be regarded as harsh, forward, and insensitive. Moreover, the other may perceive my act as manipulative, since direct expressions are not the norm. Mercado (1974: 98) tells us that:<br /> <br />…frankness in general does not seem to be a Filipino virtue. For instance, an older man who did not like a young professional’s advice told him: “I have drunk more water than you.” Courteous insincerity (dile-dile/hele-hele) belongs to Filipino etiquette. To this belongs replying to please the interrogator, such as never saying “No.” The diplomatic approach can also be through humor and teasing. Likewise, concern for not hurting the feelings of others is approached by indirect ways and imprecise, vague words. There was a time—and still is practiced in some parts of rural Philippines—when courting was done indirectly by metaphors. Euphemism concerning sexual matters is universal. But Filipino euphemisms, besides the sexual, abound because of diplomatic concern.<br /> <br />What all this shows is that Filipinos regard indirect communication as the norm. This is what is expected of them. Some say that this is the result of the Filipino’s being colonized by foreigners, but this explanation is highly debatable. In any case, pakikiramdam can be viewed as a survival mechanism, as the only way one can proceed given the preference for indirection and ambiguities.<br />The foregoing discussion may lead us to think that the Filipino way of communicating and relating is a form of game-playing. One is always, it seems, trying to second-guess the other while hiding underneath a pleasant persona. The next feature of pakikiramdam, however, will show that this view is at best misleading. I have labeled it not as the eleventh feature but rather an extra one with its own category because it is hardly mentioned in the literature. It is based solely on an interview with a respectable psychologist who has a deep familiarity and understanding of the intricate dynamics of pakikiramdam.<br /> <br />10 + 1. Pakikiramdam as deep interpersonal connection. At its most profound level, pakikiramdam can be understood as a deep connection with another human being free from the constraints of social roles. At its core, then, pakikiramdam is a relational and dialogical process by which I come to a deeper understanding of the personhood of the other, and by so doing, come to a deeper understanding of my own personhood as well. We both reach a point where each of us sense not only a deep connection but understand that we share in a common humanity, that we participate in a shared self. This notion of shared self, or kapwa, is important to our understanding of pakikiramdam, and so we need to understand this related concept as well.<br /> <br />It should be noted…that when asked for the closest English equivalent of kapwa, one word that comes to mind is the English word “others.” However, the Filipino word kapwa is very different from the English word “others” because kapwa is the unity of the “self” and “others.” The English “others” is actually used in opposition to the “self,” and implies the recognition of the self as a separate identity. In contrast, kapwa is a recognition of shared identity (Enriquez 1982: 246).<br /> <br />Fr. Jaime Bulatao of Ateneo de Manila University describes the shared self by using an interesting metaphor. We can regard the self, he says, as an egg yolk, and the shared self is what results when you break a number of eggs over a pan in such a way that the boundaries between the egg whites disappear while the egg yolks remain intact. For him, the shared self is the breaking of strict boundaries between me and others. Although I maintain my identity, I share so much in between. Contrast this with the usual Eurocentric view of individuality, which regards the self as a separate, self-contained Cartesian egg yolk in its own frying pan, separate from other egg yolks. Bulatao’s metaphor, however, does not seem to go far enough because those who experience pakikiramdam at the deepest level feel as if the separate, individual self begins to disappear, and both participants of the interaction sense that they are participating in something greater than each of them can experience separately. Those with a religious orientation even regard this as the experience of the “Christ in all.” In any case, pakikiramdam is often talked about at this level with a sense of awe and mystery. It is experienced as something transpersonal.<br />The connection that one feels with the other at this level, then, is deeper than the I-Thou relation spoken of by Buber, since in the I-Thou encounter, the other is still experienced as an other who is separate from me. In the Filipino psyche, however:<br />The ako (ego) and the iba-sa-akin (others) are one and the same in kapwa psychology: Hindi ako iba sa aking kapwa (I am no different from others). Once ako starts thinking of himself as separate from kapwa, the Filipino “self” gets to be individuated in the Western sense and, in effect, denies the status of kapwa to the other. By the same token, the status of kapwa is also denied to the self (Enriquez 1992: 43).<br /> <br />When asked about what they feel when they engage in deep pakikiramdam, some Filipinos say that they invariably feel deeply affirmed by the other. Inevitably, the other also feels deeply affirmed in the encounter. It seems as if self and other disappear, and both share in a common humanity. At this level, pakikiramdam is difficult to put into words and can best be regarded as a felt sense (see Gendlin 1982), a gut-feeling or pre-intellectual understanding of the core of the other. This felt sense or deep understanding is not possible, however, unless both the participants in a dialogue or social interaction decide to make themselves vulnerable to the other, without attempting to impress, persuade, or charm. What results is a connection so deep that the alienation one often feels between self and others or between self and world begins to disappear. Pakikiramdam can therefore be regarded as an antidote to such feelings of alienation—feelings more common, it seems, in European cultures. Pakikiramdam allows Filipinos to recognize the importance of others, because without the other, it would not be possible to have a transpersonal sense of something greater. Pakikiramdam is also what makes relationships both interesting and necessary. Whether Filipinos have developed pakikiramdam as a means to survive is something evolutionary psychologists can speculate about, but it is certainly something worth looking into as a viable alternative to other types of interactions we are used to.<br /> <br />WORDS AND IMAGES ASSOCIATED WITH PAKIKIRAMDAM<br /> <br />In order to develop a deeper understanding of pakikiramdam, it is important to bring into our discussion some words and images which illuminate the intricate nuances of the concept. What follows is not a complete list, but it should suffice for our purpose.<br /> <br />1. Pangangapa [to grope]. This word lends itself to the image of putting one’s hand into a dark box and trying to sense what’s there inside. Although what is sensed is not directly visible, it can be used as data to develop quick impressions about what goes on in a given situation.<br />2. Pagtatantiya [to estimate]. The image that comes to mind here is that of trying to approximate the weight of an object in one’s hand without making use of instruments like a weighing scale. In order to get an indication of the weight of the object, one needs to be aware of the resistance it gives as the hands are lowered and raised. The actual weight, of course, cannot be precisely determined. In the same way, the feeling state of the other—the entire gestalt of the other’s state of being—cannot be expressed precisely in words, but it can nonetheless be sensed.<br />3. Tiyempuhan [to wait for the right timing]. The image that comes to mind here is that of children playing jump rope. The timing of the up-and-down motion of the legs must be in step with the movement of the rope. Without this timing, the game stops. In the same way, without proper timing [resulting from pakikiramdam], social interactions among Filipinos come to some abrupt or embarrassing end.<br />4. Tiyakin [to ascertain]. The connotation here is of being certain but wanting to make doubly sure nonetheless. The image that comes to mind here is that of a double-take. When you recognize someone at first glance and know you have seen him as you move on to a different field of vision but then turn back and face that person again in order to ascertain that you have not been mistaken—that is the sense in which pakikiramdam is to be taken. This, of course, is only an analogy.<br />5. Pagsusuri [to investigate]. The image that comes to mind here is that of circumnavigating an object in front of you and looking at it from as many perspectives as possible. Pakikiramdam is akin to this.<br />6. Pakikibagay [to deal with; to be on a par with]. The image which best brings out the meaning of this word is that of a costume or dress with a color scheme that matches. Pakikiramdam can be compared to colors that go together as opposed to colors that clash.<br />7. Pakikisakay [to catch on; to ride on]. The image that comes to mind here is that of round pegs fitting round holes. Someone says something and you immediately get what is intended even if it is ironic or sarcastic.<br />8. Timplahin [to blend or season till the right taste is achieved]. The image here is that of cooking food and using just the right amount of seasoning and condiments to bring out the best flavor of the dish. With pakikiramdam, the individual knows what words, and in what combination, will bring about the desired effect.<br />9. Singhot [to smell; to sniff out]. The image that comes to mind here is that of entering a room where coffee is being brewed. You cannot see the coffee at all, but you know that it is there because you sense it. With pakikiramdam, you immediately sense whether or not you’re welcome in a social situation. As soon as you enter a room, you have a sense of what is going on and how to conduct yourself.<br /> <br />PAKIKIRAMDAM AND EMPATHY<br /> <br />This section shows the similarities and differences between pakikiramdam and empathy. Since empathy is a familiar concept, it would be useful to compare pakikiramdam with it and then to show in what way the two concepts are different. To begin the discussion, I would like to quote a passage from Mataragnon (1987):<br /> <br />The concept of pakikiramdam and the phenomenon of pakikiramdam are very probably not uniquely Filipino. What should be noted is their important role and their pervasiveness in all aspects of social interaction. English-speaking people speak of related concepts such as empathy, sensitivity, discernment, subtlety, testing the waters/limits, sending out feelers, picking up the vibes, sounding off, playing it by ear, etc. Not one of these terms, however, quite means the same thing or has the same connotations as pakikiramdam. Empathy, like pakikiramdam, connotes identification or being one with another; however, empathy does not have the broadness and pervasiveness of pakikiramdam, neither does it have the same tentativeness and open-endedness. Sensitivity usually implies being sensitive to some stimulus input which pakikiramdam does not always require; moreover, sensitivity has a passive (receiving) connotation whereas pakikiramdam has a more active and dynamic orientation. Intuition on the other hand usually connotes a virtual absence of stimulus input, which pakikiramdam actually could have; besides, how often does one use intuition in everyday social interaction. Discernment is too intellectual, not affective enough. Exercising subtlety, testing the water/limits, sending out feelers, picking out vibes, sounding off. Playing it by ear—all sound too cognitive and too intellectual, lacking in affect and in pervasiveness.<br /> <br />What Mataragnon points out in the passage above is that the English words used to compare pakikiramdam with are inadequate because they lack a sense of pervasiveness. Moreover, many of the English words associated with pakikiramdam are too intellectual in orientation to capture its affective components. When we compare pakikiramdam with empathy, one of its closest English equivalents, we find that it is too active and directive. Also, it does not occur as often as pakikiramdam, which is pervasive in Filipino interactions.<br /> <br />PAKIKIRAMDAM AS A METHOD OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES<br /> <br />Following the suggestions of Dilthey and other hermeneuts, social scientists have felt the need to engage in sympathetic understanding or empathy (verstehen) in their attempt to understand human beings. According to this new framework, it is not enough to put research subjects into categories and perform statistical analyses. What is required is a deeply felt connection with others in order to understand them in their own terms. Besides, the usual objective stance taken in the natural sciences may not work in the social sciences. As Sevilla (1982) points out:<br /> <br />…studies [have] brought out the need for the researchers to be credible and trustworthy in the eyes of…participants. This requires genuine interest and reciprocal honesty on the part of the researcher; without these qualities he cannot expect the relationship between himself and the participant to develop. Corpuz (in Pe-Pua 1978) notes that detachment (aloofness) on the researcher’s part toward his MSS will make it difficult for him to get reliable data. It should also be remembered that involvement with the participants continues even after the study is done, for they are not like dispensable guinea pigs (as Corpuz puts it); they can very much influence the outcomes of future researches if they discover they have been merely manipulated for the researcher’s own needs and purposes.<br /> <br />In an attempt to address these issues, social scientists have found the need to use pakikiramdam in their approach to the study of human beings. In this sense, then, pakikiramdam can be regarded as something akin to Dilthey’s verstehen, except that differences between the two concepts abound if we keep in mind our discussions in the preceding section.<br /> <br />POSITIVE ASPECTS OF PAKIKIRAMDAM<br /> <br />1. Pakikiramdam makes Filipinos more flexible and enables them to adapt quickly to changing situations.<br />2. Pakikiramdam makes relationships smoother because hurtful criticisms are held at bay and one always looks for similarities and common interests.<br />3. Pakikiramdam is good training for emotional intelligence. It improves intuition and sensitivity.<br />4. Pakikiramdam ought to make Filipinos more open-minded, especially with regard to other cultures.<br /> <br />NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF PAKIKIRAMDAM<br /> <br />1. Pakikiramdam may encourage hypocrisy. If communication always goes on at two levels, persons will always try to put on a good front. Pretension becomes easier since it is expected. <br />2. Pakikiramdam may make communication more tedious since people who engage in it are not willing to go straight to the point. This may cause unnecessary delays even in important situations like business meetings, court cases, and group discussions. <br />3. Pakikiramdam may actually encourage gossip. If pakikiramdam reveals undercurrents from the other which one is not allowed to address directly, perhaps the only way to address what has been sensed is by talking about it with a third party. This is in fact a common phenomenon in Filipino culture.<br />4. Intuitions based on pakikiramdam may be mistaken, particularly if one is not adept with the skill. This may actually cause irreparable harm if it becomes the basis for future interactions—a harm which could have been prevented had communication been more direct.<br />5. Pakikiramdam may generate outlandish expectations that could not humanly be met, particularly if persons who engage in indirect methods of communication expect that their implied messages will always be understood. This would lead to unnecessary frustrations. <br />6. Communication patterns based on pakikiramdam could be confusing, particularly for foreigners who want to interact with Filipinos. Such cases occur frequently with mixed marriages—for example, with Filipinas who marry Americans or Europeans.<br />7. Pakikiramdam may actually give people in authority more power than they deserve, since Filipinos will allow themselves to be direct towards priests, doctors, and the rapists. These persons with authority will therefore have direct access to what others can only guess at. <br />8. Pakikiramdam makes direct criticism of others—or even others’ ideas—difficult. This makes change difficult and tedious, because one must always try to see to it that no one gets offended.<br />9. Pakikiramdam may encourage conformity because one will not want to make others think that one is different or superior. <br />10. Because pakikiramdam is pervasive, Filipinos might get the impression that someone who is trying to be frank (someone who “calls a spade a spade”) is being manipulative and harsh even if that is the kind of language necessary for a particular situation. For example, part of the reason why President Macapagal-Arroyo is perceived as anti-poor or pro-American is that her manner of speaking on television is more direct than former President Joseph Estrada’s.<br />11. Because pakikiramdam is largely a right-brain activity, it discourages criticisms. People used to making compromises or keeping a good front may be less willing to question the status quo and be critical of the way things are done. Is it a wonder then that corruption in the Philippines is so difficult to eradicate?<br />12. Finally, because of pakikiramdam, social interactions will always run the risk of degenerating into game-playing.<br /> <br />CONCLUSION<br /> <br />It appears that pakikiramdam is a skill valued not only by Filipinos but by other cultures as well. It is easy to imagine, for instance, that the Japanese and Chinese cultures would regard indirect modes of communication as something preferable to direct ones. What makes pakikiramdam uniquely Filipino, though is its relation with other Filipino values and skills. Pakikiramdam also has many positive features, but it can have negative ones as well. It is important to be aware of these negative features so that Filipinos can make changes for the better.<br /> <br />REFERENCES<br /> <br />Butalid-Echaves, Maya. 1999. “Cross-cultural counseling: Applications to overseas Filipinos in the Netherlands.” <http://home.planet.nl/~butal000/M_thesis/counseling.html>. Accessed: 15 August 2001.<br />Enriquez, Virgilio. 1992. From colonial to liberation psychology: The Philippine experience. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press.<br />Gendlin, Eugene T. 1982. Focusing. New York: Bantam Books.<br />Sevilla, J. 1982. “Indigenous research methods: Evaluating first returns.” In Filipino psychology: Theory, method, and application. Edited by Rogelia Pe-Pua. Manila: Printon Press.<br />Strobel, Leny. 1998. “A new twist to Filipino American ecolonization: Eileen Tabios’s poetry.” <http://home.jps.net/~nada/strobel.htm>. Accessed: 15 August 2001.<br />Pe-Pua, Rogelia. 1982. “Indigenizing the social sciences: Achievements in the development of indigenous social research methods.” In Filipino psychology: Theory, method, and application. Manila: Printon Press.<br />