The Downside of Excessive “Pakikisama”

One of the aspects that I keep mentioning about my Filipino wife’s culture is the fact that Filipinos can’t be comfortable being alone.

Pakikisama or “togetherness” is one of the top traits of Filipinos.

Filipinos like to fit in and being part of a barkada, part of the kin-group and having smooth and strong interpersonal relationships is at the center of the Filipino model of the world.

I have already mentioned quite a few times that, by marrying a Filipina, you will most certainly have a very rich social life. Never does a week go by without my family and I being invited somewhere and, most of the times, this also happens during week-days.

As husband of a Filipina I certainly can’t complain about not having enough association. On the other hand, I need to regularly run away from it a little bit.

I think that while pakikisama has its virtues as it fosters a spirit of bayanihan which is such that, whenever you need practical help, you can bank on the whole samahan ng mga Pilipino (association of Filipinos).

But an excess of pakikisama has its downside because the reality is that the great artists, the great geniuses, the great entrepreneurs they all have one thing in common: they spend regular time in solitude. There is no way that creativity, insight, productivity can be found in a noisy environment where everyone is talking, singing karaoke, dancing or checking their electronic devices. And most of all, in a noisy environment, it is difficult to have energy and peace.

Excessive pakikisama also gets in the way of quality communication. Too much chit-chatting and tsismissing at large gatherings and too much chatting through electronic devices tend to keep communication at a shallow level.

Pascal said: “most of man’s misery is derived by his inability to sit quiet in a room by himself”.

I think that the tough socio-economic conditions of the Philippines are partly the result of an environment that encourages a lot of association and little time for productive loneliness where people can find the inner fuel for peace, growth, productivity, insight and genius.