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CULTURE and development:


felipe m. de leon, jr.

What is Culture?
To culture is to cultivate, as in
agriculture, horticulture,
aquaculture, sericulture, beauty
culture, voice culture, etc.
Any activity, product or expression
attained through the application of
human skill is CULTURE, that
which is not is NATURE, such as
trees, rivers, mountains, birds.

UNESCO defines culture as:

The whole complex of
distinctive spiritual, material,
intellectual and emotional
features that characterize a
society or social group.
It includes not only the arts
and letters, but also modes of
life, the fundamental rights of
the human being, value
systems, traditions and beliefs.

The Three Levels of Culture

Any culture may be better
understood as having three
levels: Perception or world
view, which generates
values and attitudes, which
in turn manifest in symbols,
expressions, and skills.

The Meaning of Culture

Perception/ World View
Values, Attitudes >
Skills, Symbols, Expressions
(Culture is the genius of a

The Five Cultures

In any society, at least five types of
culture exist.
Two are fear-based:
Culture of Power
A culture addicted to power and
privilege, control and domination
Culture of Wealth
A culture addicted to wealth and
material goods, possessions,
pleasure and comfort

Trust-based Cultures
The other two are trust-based,
Culture of the Spirit (Pagpapakatao)
One is the culture devoted to the search
for wisdom, creativity, strength of
character, love and sharing - the culture
of the spirit.
Culture of Simple Needs (The Practical Life)
A fourth culture is the culture of simple
needs, where people are mainly concerned
with satisfying basic needs; does not have
much impact on the fate of societies.

Developing the Higher Self

How many perceptions, values and
skills of the culture of the higher
self or pagpapakatao (the truly
human level) are we able to impart
thru the school system?
Bringing out the truly human
(higher self) in us means
developing strength of character,
wellness, self-control, loving
kindness, wisdom, and creative

Different value-orientations promote

different indigenous skills
Fear-based cultures develop
manipulative, aggressive attitudes
and excel in fighting, military, and
security skills.
Trust-based cultures develop
harmonious, cooperative attitudes
and excel in sharing, collaboration
and partnerships, including respect
for ecological balance.

The Fifth Culture: Ethnicity or

Culture as Creative Construct
Through time a society
constructs a unifying vision of
life, which includes an object of
devotion and a map of reality.
From this arise a peoples core
values, which in turn promote
the cultivation (or culturing) of
skills that realize these values.

Cultural Identity
The unique totality of: the
world view and values, core
principles and ideas, beliefs
systems, knowledge, skills
and practices, shared by a
society - is what we call
cultural identity (or ethnicity)
of a people.

Intangible Cultural Heritage as the

Wellspring of Local Genius
According to the UNESCO 2003 convention, ICH is the
mainspring of cultural diversity and its maintenance a
guarantee for continuing cultural diversity. ICH is
manifested in the ff. domains:

Oral traditions and expressions including

languages as a vehicle of intangible
cultural heritage
Performing arts (such as traditional
music, dance and theatre)
Social Practices, rituals and festive events
Knowledge and practices concerning
nature and the universe
Traditional craftsmanship

Does our education instill in us a strong

sense of community and Filipino identity?
Traditional Filipino culture is rooted in a
strong sense of community and the
bayanihan spirit that enables us to live
and work together for a common good,
whether in the local or national level.
But it seems that our present educational
system, which is based on the
materialistic, individualistic culture of the
West, has seriously eroded our communal
values and sense of nationhood.
Many of our young people now tend to be
narcissistic, self-centered, impatient, and

Diminution of Self*

*Those who receive a well-rounded, interdisciplinary

education in which subjects are taught within a broad
social, cultural and humanistic context, showing the
interconnectedness of all things do not necessarily
succumb to this diminution process.

Alienation from the Community

As one ascends the academic ladder, the more
Westernized and alienated from his cultural roots
the Filipino becomes. That is why the more
specialized a Filipinos education is, the more
likely he or she will find his means of livelihood
away from his community, perhaps in Manila or
some other country.

An Ifugao child who receives only a high school

education is more likely to remain in his
community than another who finishes college.
And the reason for this is not just because the
latter has greater work opportunities, but
because his education is often not culturally
rooted in his community, especially if it is a
rural, indigenous village.

Constriction of Social Consiousness

Especially prone to the diminution of social
consciousness are professionals in highly
technical, narrow specializations. It used to be
that a doctor specialized in EENT medicine. But
eye specialists have since parted ways with the
ear-nose-throat doctors. And now there is even
a left-eye or right-eye specialist.

By reducing reality into small pieces, the narrow

specialist is in danger of losing all sense of
reality. He and his tiny circle of co-experts
tend to define their own limited field - that is,
their specialized theories and methods - as the
final reality or the representation of total reality

Specialistic Innocence
This naivete makes him utterly helpless
in facing many complex issues of today.
Thus, he is apt to surrender easily to all
sorts of ideologies. The modern
specialized intellectual gets nervous
outside his field of expertise where he
feels an awful sense of emptiness. All
throughout history, it has been the
technocratic scientists or engineers,
who, because of their ignorance of the
social processes and political contexts in
which they operated, easily succumbed
to the whims of dictators and fascists of
all kinds.

Professional Tribalism
Narrow technical, professional education
may develop expertise and the
professions but may also breed
selfishness, lack of social responsibility
and professional tribalism, which arises
from the cult of the professional ego
(promoting ones profession at the expense of
public good).

This is clearly a manifestation of the materialism

of industrial or industrializing societies where,
for instance, scientists advance science for its
own sake no matter what the social costs,
medical doctors gang up on outsiders to protect
the medical establishment, and businessmen
sacrifice valuable goods or form cartels just to
maintain enormous profits.

Professional Tribalism
Society becomes splintered into ruthlessly
competing self-interest tribes of experts, each
with its own
god or king (celebrity figures such as Stephen
Hawking in physics or Bill Gates in technology
and business)
church or temple (convention hall, opera house,
museum, etc.)
holy book (professional journal or manual),
sacred language (jargon) and
religious attire (business suit, white laboratory
gown, etc.).

Each tribe is after its own good alone.

Professional advancement is the highest good.
And financial success the highest reward (a
market of warring, competing tribes?)

Barbarism of Specialism*
The specialist and his small circle of coexperts are inclined to define their own
little field(i.e. their specialized theories
and methods) as the final reality or as the
representation of total reality. (Zejderveld,
Abstract Society).
Thus, he has a tendency toward arrogance
inspite of his naivete in all matters outside
his own limited field. Typically, he feels
detached from the larger communal, social
context in which he lives and become
solely devoted to the advancement of his

* Narrow specialization

Barbarism of Specialism
(or Narrow Specialization)

Who then cares for society as a whole?

It seems that with few exceptions, we have in
our midst economists who formulate policies
as if people do not matter, scientists who
pursue knowledge uninformed by social
considerations, artists who create for other
artists and art experts alone, politicians who
place party interests above all else, and
officials more worried about self-preservation
than their peoples well being.
These things are now common knowledge and much
thought and study have already been made on the
barbarism of specialism. Can we educate the Filipinos,
whether formally and non-formally, against this

Narrowing of the concept of

The division of labor and specialism
required by the industrial revolution
of the 18th century led to our present
educational system that emphasizes
I.Q. and the more mechanical,
analytic aspects of human
intelligence, neglecting the higher
faculties like self-awareness, control
of lower self, ecological intelligence,
and creativity.

LEFT BRAIN (Analytic, Sequential)

Linguistic(discursive) intelligence
(de Leon): a sensitivity to the literal
and technical meaning and order
of words.
intelligence (de Leon): ability in the
mechanical operations of
mathematics and other complex
logical systems of a quantitative

LEFT BRAIN (Analytic, Sequential)

Analytic intelligence (Stenberg) the
ability to break down problems into
component parts (Stenberg)

Naturalist intelligence(Gardner)refers to

the ability to recognize and classify

plants, minerals, and animals, including
rocks and grass and all variety of flora and
fauna. The ability to recognize cultural
artifacts like cars or sneakers may also
depend on the naturalist intelligence.

Filipino Polychronic Sense of Time

The multidisciplinary and
interdisciplinary nature of tasks or
activities in traditional Filipino
communal cultures also generates
highly creative insights and
Filipinos tend to be polychronic
(doing many things at the same
time) while Westerners are apt to
be monochronic (doing one thing
at a time)

Westerners are time people

The traditional concept of marking the
beginning, middle and end of a finite
segment of time is a much ingrained
habit of thought that manifests itself
even in the way food is served in the
The structure is chronological: with a
beginning (appetizer, soup), a crescendo
towards a climax (salad, fish, chicken,
and/or meat), and a steady progression
towards an anticipated end. When the
English serve tea, or American coffee,
they know dinner is over.

Filipinos are space people

The structure of Filipino meals is
entirely different, for everything is
served all at once, and we are free to
choose the combination of foods
that we would like to eat at any
given moment. It is thus a sense of
space rather than a sense of time
that is created.
the concept of time implied by the
structure or layout of Filipino is openended and non-finite.

Extemporaneous or
creativity comes
very naturally to
the Filipino who
has the finest
artistic yet
traditions such as
the duplo,
balitaw, tultul,
kulintang, kuntao
and okir. Creative
spontaneity is
highly valued.

RIGHT BRAIN (Integrative, Holistic)

Linguistic (experiential)
intelligence (de Leon): a
sensitivity to the metaphoric and
poetic meaning and order of

intelligence(de Leon): ability to
perceive the meaning of
numbers as qualities

RIGHT BRAIN (Integrative, Holistic)

Musical intelligence (Gardner): the
ability to understand and create
music. Musicians, composers and
dancers show a heightened musical
Spatial intelligence (Gardner): the ability

to "think in pictures," to perceive the

visual world accurately, and recreate (or
alter) it in the mind or on paper. Spatial
intelligence is highly developed in artists,
architects, designers and sculptors.

RIGHT BRAIN (Integrative, Holistic)

Bodily-kinesthetic (Gardner) intelligence:
the ability to use one's body in a skilled
way, for self-expression or toward a goal.
Mimes, dancers, basketball players, and
actors are among those who display
bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
Interpersonal intelligence (Gardner): an
ability to perceive and understand other
individuals -- their moods, desires, and
motivations. Political and religious
leaders, skilled parents and teachers, and
therapists use this intelligence.

RIGHT BRAIN (Integrative, Holistic)

Social intelligence (Stenberg) the
capacity to effectively navigate and
negotiate complex social relationships
and environments; it is also the ability to
get along well with others, and to get
them to cooperate with you or interacting
successfully with others in various
contexts. Sometimes referred to
simplistically as people skills

Communal intelligence (de Leon) the

capacity to perceive oneself and act as
part of a group or community; this is the
opposite of self-assertion, the desire for
privacy, and demand for individual

RIGHT BRAIN (Integrative, Holistic)

Ecological-animistic intelligence (de Leon)
the capacity to sense and harmonize
with the living energy of plants and
animals; to understand, respect, and
preserve the ecosystem
Intrapersonal intelligence (Gardner): an
understanding of one's own emotions.
Some novelists and or counselors use
their own experience to guide others.
Emotional intelligence (Goleman) the
ability to identify, assess, and control the
emotions of oneself, of others, and of

RIGHT BRAIN (Integrative, Holistic)

Existential intelligence (Gardner) -sensitivity and capacity to tackle
deep questions about human
existence, such as the meaning of
life, why do we die, and how did we
get here.

Practical intelligence (Stenberg)

common sense capabilities,
capacity to use and implement ideas;
the ability to solve problems and get
things done.

RIGHT BRAIN (Integrative, Holistic)

Psychic intelligence (de Leon) a
measure of how intuitively
perceptive we are and how willing
we are to trust and act on those
Spiritual (Mystical) intelligence (de
Leon) a sensitivity to or ability to
sense the interconnectedness of all
life, that all of life is one. This is the
most profound teaching of all the
great religions and spiritual

RIGHT BRAIN (Integrative, Holistic)

Aesthetic intelligence (de Leon) the
appreciation of form, design and
perception of congruence
Creative intelligence (de Leon) the
capacity to generate new ideas,
perceive unusual relationships, and
cope with new situations.. This is the
highest form of intelligence because
it goes beyond knowledge recall and
extends into knowledge creation.
Or, simply because it is the supreme
intelligence of the Creator.

Repressing deeper, more truly

human dimensions of intelligence
Since its inception alongside the
industrial revolution of the mid-19th c.
Britain, formal schooling has favored the
analytical, organizational abilities of the
mind, those abilities that are essential to
sorting, ordering and figuring out, which
can be measured by IQ tests.
In fostering these abilities and their way
of thinking about the world, schools
taught to repress other deeper, more
truly human dimensions of our

Materialistic values favor

mechanistic intelligence
Creative intelligence is more
difficult to facilitate and measure.
And schools and workplaces
favored analytical inelligence
because it trained us for efficiency
the highest value in the industrial
(19th c.) and information (20th c.)
economies. Now, as we move into
the more fluid and creative (21st c.)
economy, intelligence values are

Imagination is more important than

knowledge. Albert Einstein
Creativity is the highest form of
intelligence because it goes beyond
knowledge recall and extends into
knowledge creation.
Someone intelligent can be very
knowledgeable and have excellent
information recall (lets say for a
standardized test), but creativity and
innovation require some novel form of
intelligence that is of a higher order.
Einstein once said, Imagination is more
important than knowledge.

Creativity is the Highest Level in

Maslows Hierarchy of Needs
Studies have shown that highly
creative people are highly intelligent
but highly intelligent people are not
always creative.
The fact that highly creative people
have a higher correlation with
intelligence than vice versa suggests
creativity is simply a higher form of
intelligence. Creativity, in Maslows
hierarchy of needs, is the highest

Worship of Critical Thinking (Left Brain) at the

Expense of Creative Thinking (Right Brain)

Academic culture seems to be a perverse

legacy from the West which makes us
regard research and documentation,
paperwork, and the construction of
theories as a higher and loftier pursuit
than the creative practice of traditional
artists, healers, and masters, without
whose dedication to their disciplines,
many M.A. and Ph. D. holders would have
had nothing to write about for their
theses and dissertations.

Specialism Stunts Creativity

In studies on creativity, it has been
observed that it is not enough to
develop a critical, analytic mind alone.
What is more important is the capacity
to generate meanings, which can only
come from an integrated, rather than an
overly mental, being; an
interdisciplinary orientation and full
awareness and, better, immersion in
diverse, socio-cultural, political and
economic environments.

The Medici Effect

It has been well established that
creative breakthroughs happen
when fields, disciplines and
cultures intersect because you can
combine existing concepts into a
large number of extraordinary new
ideas. Writer Frans Johansson has
even given this phenomenon the
name Medici effect because it is
very well seen in the remarkable
burst of creativity in fifteenth
century Italy.

the interconnectedness of all

Kapwa, Kagandahang
loob, pakikiramdam
Culture of Sharing
Highest in religiosity
Superior in mental

the interconnectedness of all

A highly caring,
nurturing orientation
Genius in interpersonal
Excellence in service
Passion for freedom,
justice, dignity

culture of trust
Performance excellence
Life as a celebration

The worlds most emotional

The Philippines is the worlds most emotional
country. Its not even close; the heavily Catholic,
Southeast Asian nation, a former colony of Spain
and the U.S., scores well above second-ranked El
Singapore is the least emotional country in the
world. Singaporeans recognize they have a
problem, Bloomberg Businessweek writes of the
countrys emotional deficit, citing a culture in
which schools discourage students from
thinking of themselves as individuals.

Filipinos Most Emotional in the

World (Out of 150 Countries)

Countries where people feel

the most loved
Out of 136 countries, the three with
the very highest scores are, in this
order, the Philippines (93 percent),
Rwanda (92 percent) and Puerto Rico
(90 percent). The region that appears
to experience the most love is Latin
America, followed by Southeast Asia
and Western Europe.

Countries where people feel

the most and least loved

Interestingly, these findings seems

generally consistent with a 2009
Gallup survey that attempted to
determine the countries where
people experience the most and
least emotion on a daily basis

What about the countries where fewer

than half of respondents said theyd
experience a lot of love the previous day?
Most of them are former Soviet
republics: Russia, Central Asia, Eastern
Europe and the Caucuses region all
consistently scored poorly. Interestingly,
those countries also tend to have very
high smoking rates.
Other low-scoring countries included
Burma/Myanmar, Yemen, and three
African states: Ethiopia, Chad and

Filipinos Number One in

Feeling Loved (93%)

Facility for language
Prominence given to
language-based professions,
such as Law, Politics, management

Ict skills
Social networking
Passion for travel and

Holism, Integral view

of life
Polaristic logic,
unity of opposites
The absolute equality of
man and woman, sikalak at

Non-sexist languages
strong educational

productivity oriented
highly adaptable,
versatile, flexible
Art as a condition of
being human
A contagious joie-de-vivre
and optimistic attitude, a
great capacity for

a Healing Culture:
celebrating life
We are highly relational Social
interconnectedness leads to
Expressiveness, especially through
music and dance, releases harmful
Everyday creativity promotes
Touching as a way of life increases
immunity to disease
Deep belief in God makes Filipinos
optimistic and provides meaning to
Strong sense of humor and joy of
life enable us to rebound easily
from any tragedy


Salamat Po!