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Alton Melvar M.

BS Education – English 1

Essay: The Filipino and Western Humanism

Author: Fr. Miguel A. Bernad, SJ
Approach: Socio-historical approach


A HYBRID CIVILIZATION: That is how we are illustrated. Occidental in disposition, Oriental in

culture; Asian in mind, Western at heart! That makes us truly FILIPINOS. After more than three
centuries of bowing our heads over the King of Spain, a decade (continual, though) of submitting
our loyalty to the President of the United States of America, who would not become westernized
by those? We must add a month of British rule in Manila, though.

In this essay, the term Humanism of the West was not merely the Humanism of the fourteenth to
sixteenth centuries (or the Renaissance), but the whole of the Western culture, especially the
arts. Certain names were mentioned here with their respective fields:

a. Raphael and Michelangelo

• As we know, Michelangelo Buonarroti is an exceptional artist ranging his expertise
and genius in a myriad of arts’ genres; sculpture, architecture, poetry and painting.
a. Cervantes and Shakespeare (in literatures)
b. Saints Thomas Aquinas, Edmund Campion and Augustine

The Humanism of the West, in a holistic point of view, however could not be credited only to
these great men. They may be one of the major contributors for the Renaissance to be declared
as the Golden Age of the Western world, they do have the predecessors whom they look up to
and came before them and hence, greatly influenced their works. Thus, an all-sided account of
the Western humanism unites:

a. Aristotle with Saint Thomas Aquinas

b. Vergil with Dante
• The latter even met the former, in the latter’s The Divine Comedy
a. Cicero with Saint Edmund Campion
b. Aeschylus with Shakespeare
c. Boticelli with Michelangelo

There were inevitable fallbacks, however, in this Golden Age, as slavery was introduced and
Puritanism was stepped into the Americas. It would have been better, though, if “the Plymouth
rock landed on the Puritans.”

Moreover, the formulation of a liberalistic view of man (also called the Western concept of Man)

a. Man is a Free Being, with innate dignity and an eternal destiny

• “ .. Men .. inalienable rights .. of Love, Life and the Pursuit of Happiness .. “ (The
Declaration of Independence, People of the United States of the America)
a. Society is a help to Man, not as his master
b. Art is Man’s way of creating Beauty
• Still, it is made clear that Art was created for and by Man, and Man, therefore is not
created for Art’s sake. This is adapted by Christianity (a very foreign principle for
paganism). Thus, the abolishment of slavery (otherwise, discretion); a real
manifestation between the difference of the Christian sarcophagus and the
Egyptian pyramids.
In a Philippine-centric point of view, we could conclude that with the great influences of the
Catholic Spain and the Protestant America, we have become what we are now, our history, the
adaptation of their lifestyles, mindset, mentalities, values and beliefs – call it culture. It was as if
the Western culture was genetically programmed and innate to our systems from then on, yet
we still remained full-blooded Asians. Thus, we could say that we are Western in Realism and
Eastern in Idealism. Still, no matter how these influences we have had from the Westerners
(Spaniards and Americans) and Easterners (Chinese, Japanese and Indians) have shaped our
lives and may totally change our course of Fate forever, we still are thankful for having such a
rich culture of Grandeur (Rome) and Glory (Greece). These waves of Humanism, either from
West to East, or vice versa, they are clear proofs that our human nature has ever been so caring
and functioning in its society where he belongs, where he is not at all alienated and where he is
Free to be someone; Lahing Kayumanggi – a Filipino.