Panatag basically means a state of mental peace.
Mental peace is the result of being free from worry.
Under certain aspects Filipinos go through life not worrying or planning for the future. I’ve touched on bahala na (a “carpe diem” attitude of just letting go and letting things take care of themselves or, perhaps, let God or some other unseen force take over) and isang kahig isang tuka (basically just busy yourself with putting food on the table for today) in my previous posts.
Theoretically these two attitudes should produce high levels of kapanatagan.
Letting go and letting God is one of the most powerful ways to ward off anxiety and experience inner calm or kapanatagan.
As Jesus Christ said, never being anxious is the result of being concerned with today and keeping worries of what will happen tomorrow at bay.
So, what’s missing in Filipinos?
How come that although they have a “carpe diem” approach to life they rarely seem to live in a state of kapanatagan and seem to have an undercurrent of uneasiness that causes them to constantly seek refuge in some kind of distraction?
The same person who said that we should not worry about tomorrow, namely Jesus, the one whom most Filipinos believe in, also said that in order to be happy (thereby experiencing kapanatagan or better yet a condition that the apostle Paul called “the peace of God that excels all thoughts”) one needs to be conscious of his spiritual needs.
Filipinos do live in the present but don’t enjoy the present moment, rather they tend to escape from it by constantly seeking some form of distraction, food, alcohol, TV, music, social media.
It is by fully injecting oneself in the present moment by dwelling on uplifting thoughts and practicing some form of meditation that one gets to experience inner stillness or kapanatagan.
Letting go of excessive worry certainly does produce peace but total lack of planning ahead and thinking long-term does not. Bahala na gets Filipinos to find themselves in a constant state of emergency that spoils the present moment because of total lack of past planning ahead. Although the God Filipinos worship says that we must let go of worry he also said that “the diligent makes plans” and that when one wants to “build a tower (like having many kids for example) he must also calculate the expense”.
Yes, the Filipino mindset has some of the ingredients of kapanatagan but because other essential ingredients are seriously missing kapanatagan keeps eluding most Filipinos.