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Filipinos Interpersonal Communication


Denise is a communication student, a poet and a book lover. She enjoys watching documentaries and film.

Melba Maggay has identified and discussed 10 indigenous Filipino ways of interpersonal communication. These ways of interpersonal communication is evident amongst us. I, myself have utilized some of these ways. For example, Pagpapahiwatig, this means getting a message across in an indirect manner, especially when the message is sensitive, embarrassing, or potentially offensive. When I get mad at someone I usually ignore that person or when he or she is talking to me I will be less attentive and responsive. Oftentimes, I keep silent to tell the person or hint the person that I am mad. My friends too use this way of interpersonal communication when they want to hint someone that they like them. Mensaheng may tagapamagitan has also identified by Maggay as another way of interpersonal communication among Filipinos. This means that communication is made through a third party who serves as a bridge, in order to avoid conflict. I will give a personal experience as an example for this. There was a time that I had a fight with a friend of mine in high school because of a guy. It sounds funny but it's true. I didn't know that she likes the person who I am dating with that time and so she got mad at me for she likes this guy as well. I tried to talk to her but she won't speak to me so instead telling the things I wanted to say directly to her, I asked another friend to tell it to her. And so this other friend returned to me and told me that she would only talk to me if I meet her at our school grounds. That other friend of mine warned me not to go because that friend of mine has a plan to get back at me and so I didn't go there and instead told her to tell that friend of mine that we can fix this if we will talk in our classroom instead. This is quite long already and so basically this is an example of Mensaheng may tagapamagitan. Anyways, we are still friends now. Another way of interpersonal communication that Maggay has identified is Pagbubunyag or bringing what is inside out to someone. It's like you are disclosing some secrets of yours to someone you trust. This could also mean that you are disclosing anxieties and other internal discomfort for relief or revealing information to the public or the authority. This also means reporting an organized narrative to another who is not necessarily a confidant. I think this way of interpersonal communication usually used when we vent out our problems or frustrations or share it to others so it would make you feel unloaded because it is actually helps you feel more at ease. Pagpapakitang-giliw is also another way of interpersonal communication that Maggay has observed amongst us. It is putting on a pleasant and gracious demeanor to create a good impression. We often do this during job interviews. Another way is Paglalantad ng sarili or showing off or displaying haughtiness when presenting oneself. Oftentimes, this happens to people who have achieved a lot or maybe instant fame. I would say that this people of this kind are annoying though sometimes I tend to understand them. Tuwirang pagsasagutan or argumentation in formal and public events is also another aspect of Filipinos interpersonal communication which I often observe in our university. I think this is not inclusive to formal or public events only but may also occur in a classroom with students that have conflicting ideas to each other. Another aspect is Pagsisiwalat ng mga pansariling impormasyon or the revelation of private information to the public, reflecting lack of the concept of privacy and a blurring of the line that separates information for a trusted circle and for the public. I will especially make my neighbors in my hometown or maybe your neighbors too as an example for this is because they tend to gossip a lot about the lives of our other people whom they have no right to meddle. I really hate this kind of behaviour because it often creates chaos. Pakikipag-sosyalan or engaging in social interaction, group conversation, and intimate conversations is also observed and evident in Filipinos' interpersonal communication. I think some Filipino celebrities tend to engage more into this interpersonal communication. Another interpersonal communication that is evident in us is Pagbibigay ng balita or reported or announcing news. I think this is not exclusively for television reporters or radio broadcasters but also for common people who has concern for others. I have this experience where I rode a tricycle on my way to school in my hometown. While we are travelling on the way, a tricycle driver passed by the other lane and told the other driver (the driver who is driving the tricycle I am riding) that there is a checkpoint for unrenewed licenses and operating licenses few meters away. I bet the driver hasn't renewed his license so he took the other route to get me to my school. Even though it could somehow be a negative action but it is still an example of Pagbibigay ng balita. Lastly, Maggay identified Katutubong retorika or indigenous rhetorical forms or discourses as another aspect of our interpersonal communication. Philippines is a very diverse country with very diverse culture. In the different parts of our country we have different ways of expressing ourselves or persuading people in our community. All that was observed by Maggay is actually apparent to us Filipinos and maybe that list could also be extended because through time and evolving technology, the way we communicate with each other is also evolving.

Sometimes, this set of interpersonal communication that we have helps us to preserve our culture and identity as Filipinos. It also breaks that language barriers that sometimes hinder us to understand each other well. However, this could also become a problem when in different regions in the country we tend to understand, interpret or comprehend these interpersonal communications differently which is actually happening in reality but it still could be limited through broadening our knowledge and understanding about the existence of one another. We also have to be sensible enough.

These communication behaviors that was described by Maggay can be observed in oral and face-to-face interpersonal interactions but it could also be seen and evident in our written and online communication behaviours. Pagpapahiwatig for example, some people I know write or post emojis in their statuses to express or hint people something that they wanted to share. A friend of mine posted a broken heart emoji and so it will hint me that something is wrong with her. It may indicate or tell me that she has broken up with her boyfriend if she does have one or maybe it means that she is simply broke. Mensaheng may tagapamagitan could also be possible online. For example, someone wants to invite their classmates in an event but this person is not friends in Facebook (for example) with one of them, so he would ask someone from the same class to invite this person since they are friends. It's only the platform that has changed I guess. Another manifestation of that is through Pagbubunyag online. Someone has issues with the other person and so he or she will possibly reveal something online about this person. We often call this as "rant." Especially on Facebook, you could see a lot of these confrontations.

I think that most of these traits are not really innately from us. We have been colonized for hundreds of years by different colonizers from Spaniards, to Americans and then to the Japanese. For me, as the world is continuously globalizing, I can say that we are also continuously influenced by foreign countries we engage with.

Compared Lacson's concept which identified five ways of interpersonal communication, Maggay's concept is more diverse and evident in our day to day communication. I am not against Lacson's concept but his observation is almost negative. Well, I am not saying that his observations are not evident in us but it's not as diverse as Maggay's. Maggay's identifications can be both seen positively and negatively whereas Lacson's denotes or attaches negative perspective only.


Maggay, M.P. (2002). Pahiwatig: Kagawiang pangkomunikasyon ng Filipino. Quezon City,
Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press