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Bayanihan: The distinctive camaraderie of Filipino employees

Photo by Leon on Unsplash

What is Bayanihan?

Bayanihan comes from the root word Bayan which means town or community. The word is closely related to damayan which is the capacity to be compassionate with one another. Bayanihan then is compassionate solidarity, a type of solidarity that is uniquely Filipino. The word manifests itself the most during crises and catastrophes where Filipinos will come together and extend a helping hand. This may come in the form of forming donations drives, repacking of relief goods, and even risking one’s life to save another. The resilience of the Filipinos is built on Bayanihan because they know that their family and community will empathize with them and will help them move on. It shows how in the darkest moments the Filipino community will derive their strength from each other.

What are the origins?

The Philippines, like other Asian countries, are collective societies. However, each country has its own brand of collectivism. Bayanihan is unique in its own way it is because of the history that made it. In the pre-colonial era, Filipinos live in small communities or villages. The community had no sense of private property. The land they till for sustenance and the crops they reap from it was shared by everybody, even outside their immediate family. Remnants of these practices in the Budol feast and Lechon. Lechon was the ideal food back then because it can feed a small community depending on the size of the pig. Budol feast is the act of eating using banana leaves and no plates. This no division shows how close and reliant the members are on each other. The Bayanihan was something Filipinos relied on during the colonial period. Due to colonialization, many Filipinos were left to fend for themselves and had systems working against them. In order to get by, Filipinos look into their immediate family and their communities in getting through hardships. During festivals, many matriarchs of Filipino families would exchange dishes throughout the neighborhood. In times of war or turmoil, men are usually bound together in small groups which the locals call “tanod” or guard, to protect the neighborhood or community.

How does it manifest now in the corporate world?

Bayanihan is instilled in the Filipino identity and it is very present today, even in the corporate setup. There are many ways Bayanihan is seen in the office environment. In peak seasons, where the stress and paperwork continue to pile up. Filipino co-workers will always be there to stretch a helping hand. They will try to help their co-workers the best that they can. They are willing to cover-shits to help you during troubled times, such as a family emergency or in times of sickness. Filipino bosses are even lenient with deadlines and will push it further if they see you struggling. Bayanihan is most felt when you can confide with your Filipino co-worker when you are struggling with your mental health.

Bayanihan is the sincere teamwork that is present in the Filipino community. It is instilled in every Filipino young or old. Having a Filipino worker will create an atmosphere of collaboration and empathy. They will create a safe and warm environment to make the grueling hours of work more tolerable.

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