Constructing Identity Through Language and Superstition

by Colleen Calizo, Matthew Palabrica, and Angeline Tupas

Identity can be defined as a social process constructed in and through communication. In terms of the collective, it is based on social organization and shared group memberships (Hecht & Choi, 2012). Since identity thus draws from a certain community’s culture, it shares culture’s attributes of being fluid rather than fixed. In other words, it is not something static but is constantly changing or dynamic. One aspect under the body of collective identity is national identity. National identity is socially constructed and conveyed in language rather than blood ( Wodak et. al, 2009). Drawing from this notion, aspects of Filipino identity that inspired the memes we made are rooted in modes of communication: language and superstition. 

According to the Komisyon sa Wikang Pilipino, there are approximately 130 Filipino languages. It is furthermore stated in the 1967 Constitution the evolution of Filipino, which is the national language of the Philippines, shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing languages in the country. Since language is used as a means for communication and constructing identity, the existence of numerous languages in the Philippines therefore corresponds to these characteristics of the communities which speak them.

Superstitious beliefs or pamahiin in the Philippines are rooted in the idea of the afterlife, which is a belief that developed during the pre-colonial era. Religious customs such as burial rites, for example, are known to be practiced and observed by communities across the country. Despite the urbanization and modernization of society, the reality that certain superstitious beliefs are still embedded in Filipinos’ way of life shows how this aspect of culture is held in common by groups. In other words, pamahiin reflects the communal frame of Filipino identity.

The first meme shows the common act of knowing how to speak Filipino and English among the other Philippine languages, most probably because we were accustomed to those two languages growing up due to their use in the education. By presenting this relatable content, the meme pokes fun at the notion that the construction of national identity is only limited to communicating in Filipino and English. It also implies how this Luzon-centric view erases representation of other languages in the country.

The second meme reflects a common pamahiin in Philippine society, which is that a butterfly is the spirit of one’s dead relative that has come to visit them. It points to the lasting continuity of superstitions on life after death, and also uses humor to portray how it has become a common belief even in today’s times. To conclude, the construction of Filipino identity in the memes are based on the ways and means in which people communicate.


Hecht, M., & Choi, H. (2014). Communication Theory of Identity. In Encyclopedia of Health Communication. (Vol. 1, pp. 137-152). California, U.S.A. SAGE Reference.

Pelagio, E. Philippine Languages and Dialects [PDF file]. Retrieved from

Wodak, R., Reisigl, M., De Cillia, R., & Liebhart, K. (1998). The Discursive Construction of National Identity. Edinburg, UK: Edinburg University Press.

Encapsulating the Filipino Identity in Memes

By: Hazel Joy Nono and Myla Mae Pahamutang

Quality #1 : Generosity

Filipinos can be very generous, especially if they have the money to do so. There are several TV shows presenting the situation of several Filipino people, most especially the less privileged. The most noteworthy ones for us are: a) a segment of TV Patrol which focuses on people who are currently having difficulties in their lives and b) some episodes of MMK, which may oftentimes feature people undergoing through a difficult situation and how they are coping with it on a daily basis or how they managed to overcome it.

There were several reports featuring children who were suffering from diseases such as leukemia, gigantism, tumors, etc. Their parents did not have any money to give their children the treatment they needed. However, after they were featured on the said show, they caught the attention of various Filipinos and even gained financial support from them. This was proven as every time, the reporters would give updates on their situation and usually they would give the viewers the news that the said families had received enough money to get their treatment (with clips provided and sometimes, an entire documentary separate from the show).

This meme, which somehow exaggerates how money is given, represents just how much effort or what extra mile Filipinos are willing to go through just to help others and sometimes, it is at the cost of their own comfort. They also do not question the situation heavily or have a hard time deciding whether to help those persons or not as they solely focus on how to uplift those people from that situation.

It is truly heartwarming to see just how Filipinos are willing to help their fellowmen whenever they are in need. This, of course, is not only limited to financial help as Filipinos can mostly be seen lending a hand to other people (regardless of whether they know them or not) physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually etc. We are one of the few countries who have empathy and manifest in upon our actions as well as our interactions with other people. With the world taking advantage of this specific value at present, we truly hope that Filipinos will remain firm and stick with this attribute up until the very end.

Quality #2: Optimism

Filipinos are one of the most resilient people in the world and along with that resilience comes the quality of optimism or the ability to see the best out of any situation.

This was mostly inspired by several clips shown on television. During 2013, when Typhoon Yolanda struck the country, a lot of damage was brought upon our lands. Many houses were destroyed, a lot of livelihoods were in peril, and there were a lot of people who either died, were injured or were declared missing.

At that point, almost anyone would have grieved or would have lost all hope of ever living a good life again. However, Filipinos were different. As reporters went to the affected areas of the typhoon and reported about their situation, several bystanders were seen waving at the camera and even smiling, seemingly ecstatic that they managed to be seen on TV. It wasn’t obvious that they were deeply affected by that tragedy.

As depicted by our chosen meme, a balloon which is usually known as a fragile and easily destroyed object was used to represent Filipinos. When everyone was expecting them to be shattered by the difficulties they were facing (as represented by the blade), they stood strong and remained optimistic through it all.

Even in the case of our goals, oftentimes we Filipinos might not get what we want or we were hoping for something but it didn’t come true. Instead of giving up there, we used that failure as a motivation to improve our performance the next time around so that in the end, we may eventually achieve our goals.

We think that this particular trait is very special and we, as Filipinos are lucky to have it because it allows us to enjoy the little things, to enhance our skills even more, and to overall just enjoy life to the fullest. After all, what makes life memorable are not the successful moments but rather the difficult ones and how me managed to overcome them.

“Thrifty”: A Filipino Identity

by: Era Mae B. Suarez & Macy L. Tagaduar

Many disasters, phenomena, and trials had taught every Filipino to think critically. One of the positive characteristics of Filipino is being thrifty or matipid. It is not only a usual and ordinary personality one Pinoy must have but it is called “diskarte”. It is our own way to overcome poverty and to develop practicality.
According to Abrugar, 2014 “Thriftiness teaches us to be prepared for the next emergency or calamity that will strike us. We become money wise in budgeting and saving money. Some Filipinos can live beyond their means. But on the other side, there are also many Filipinos who are living frugal. We shop wisely to save money for future uses. We are conscious on price tag, discounts, and quality of the products we buy to get most out of our money. Filipino parents also do sacrifices like skipping the stuff they want to buy for themselves just to save their money to buy things that can make their children happy.”

In addition, many Filipinos are sale crazy. We usually get coupons, seat sales, and grabs buy 2 take 1 offers. Often we buy second hand stuffs like ukay-ukay and cell phones. Also, Pinoy are segurista in many things that they will never buy a thing unless they had tried it. For example, they buy food after eating a bunch of free taste. Likewise, we keep an alkansya where serves as bank where we can deposit and withdraw money easily without long transactions. This just proves that Filipinos are wise enough to manage their money in case of unforeseen emergencies that requires it.

Abrugar, V. (2014). 14 Good Filipino Habits that Make the Philippines a Great Country. Retrieved from

Meme Me Up! The Filipino Way

Jessamine Kay Palomo & Anaiah Rhima D. Palomata

The Filipinos are abundant of diverse cultures seasoned with beliefs and cultural practices. These cultures run in the blood that makes up the lifeline of Filipinos, the ‘smiling faces’ amidst the hardships and troubles. It is evident during times of emergency and disasters that even in the middle of life and death situations, Filipinos still remember to give the most absurd way of laughing off a problem.

A meme, as defined by Oxford Dictionary, is a humorous image, text or video that is replicated and spread on the internet. Filipinos continue to dominate social media platforms. Exposure to the internet combined with their creative juices show how inventive and colorful Philippine culture can be.

The Philippines, although heavily influenced by the Spaniards and Americans, still has its own distinct cultural practices. One of these is the great significance Filipinos give to one’s birth dates and birthday celebrations. This practice often leads Filipinos to associate meal invitations and food especially spaghetti with occasions, such as birthdays and whatnot. Most of the time, spaghetti is served due to the belief that it represents long life along with other pasta meals like pancit.

Another thing is the Filipino’s hospitable character and their love to bond and socialize. Birthday celebrations offer the venue and time for people to be around with others. This reflects the character of Filipinos having close family ties and close relationship with neighbors, friends, relatives, colleagues, and many other people.

Filipinos are commonly family-oriented individuals and that there exists strong bonds between family ties that Filipinos hold. This is true because even if it’s a distant relative, everyone knows everyone. This is manifested usually during family reunions where all the women that you saw are your Aunts while all the men are your Uncles and the rest may be your cousin, nephew, niece, grandparents. etc. In short, everyone is related to you even if your familial relationship to them can be compared to the relationship of the north and south poles.

Filipinos tend to associate one another based on ancestral traces and find common grounds based on blood and in-law relationships.

They are fond of occasions and gatherings that can be linked to the culture of having tight family relations. Since there are gatherings, delicious food from the host of the occasion also had become an unwritten rule over the past years. During birthdays, reunions, fiestas and even social gatherings, guests usually look for different local favorites such as KBL (karne, baboy, langka), lauya, valenciana, buko pandan as dessert and most of all, the all time favorite of many, lumpia (spring rolls). Thus, these foods somehow were the norm in the table.

Side remarks from your tita and tito telling how fat you’ve become or maybe asking if you’re in a relationship or not will always be present in every family gathering. This may come off as one of the most annoying thing for every Filipino teenager out there but it has also become part of the tita and tito culture which Filipinos are aware of.

It is undeniable how inventive Filipinos can be. They have proven that internet memes have turned into a communication tool which are effective in conveying messages, ideas, and meaningful discourse. It has also shown how Filipinos presented their identity in the internet. Through memes, Filipinos are able to utilize their humorous and creative sides. Filipino meme culture has become a platform in showcasing and highlighting social issues, culture and tradition.


Ma. Luz Villegas

Just like what is written on the meme above, Filipinos would carry you inside their home(figuratively) and you would definitely recieve a five-star accomodation and treatment. You are that special, you would really feel important and loved.

Hospitality is being friendly by providing generous reception and entertainment to visitors and guests.

Oxford Ditionary

Filipino hospitality goes beyond the mediocre way of accommodating guest, may it be foreigners, a long-time-no-see relatives or an acquaintance who just dropped by. If you planned to visit Filipinos and had informed them ahead of the time, they would prepare shiny floors, dust and cobwebs free furniture and of course prepare feast-like foods. If you visit them by surprise, they would practically scold you a little for not telling them, apologize for what you had seen (may it be their house and their appearance and not preparing something), and would rush to the nearest store to buy you something to eat.

To point out, Filipino Hospitality are always going on extra. Never settling for less and overreact on things. They aren’t just being friendly with warm welcomes as you enter the door, it pretty much looked like they are welcoming you to be part of their home and feel the freedom as if it’s your own.


By Freden Javelona, Keseiah Joy Tavera, and Trina Villaflor

Meme no. 1: Hospitality

screenshots from

Filipinos are known for their friendliness, hospitality and strong family values. And so, we have always been very fond of big gatherings such as reunions and fiestas. In such occasions, it would not really matter if you were immediate family or a distant relative; a Filipino household will be more than happy to welcome you in. It has become a courtesy to treat anyone who has even the slightest hint of familial relation to you (or even none) with the same respect and hospitality as you would your immediate family.

Meme no. 2: Dining etiquette

Marie Kondo meme format taken from

One of the strongest positive traits Filipinos possess is our strong family values. Ever since we were children, we were taught to always eat meals together at the dining table. First to wash our hands, then to wait for everyone, and last, to pray together before eating. Meal time is treated as a form of bonding in the family so as we eat, stories and the happenings in our daily lives are shared. It is in the mindset of Filipinos that it is merrier to eat with the ones you love, especially with your family.

Working with Resilience

By Maria Divina Tabasin and Jullienne Rose Tambirao

Filipinos always have a strong work ethic (jujanester, 2016) which could be attributed to their resilience. They could stand against adversities and smile despite what they are going through. Filipino workers are doing their job to the best that they can regardless of the hardships that they encounter.

The above picture of a man colored in black and white shades with a signage of help on the right side represents other people who are experiencing loneliness, emptiness, and other negative perspectives in life as he struggles to live. While the lower part which is Filipinos kneeling, praying, thanking the Above for His blessings, and other personal intentions that might include for asking right decisions in life.

There are some things we cannot predict or wish to happen in our daily life just like the calamities, and things that we might have a physical control yet we can’t oppose fate and destiny to take us to the road where we are meant to be while teaching us lessons in life.

In regards to the rising cases of suicide, depression, and other emotional and mental states, as a Filipino, we should keep in our mind our trait of having a strong faith in God. This also explains our resiliency in facing whatever situation we are dealing and will be encountering. We shouldn’t seclude ourselves in a space where we can’t voice out our bottled up emotions. We sought to our support system. And if it is still not working, we should never forget the Almighty Above for He will guide us to the right path, a clearer view to the right path.

Among the most hardworking people, farmers are closely and might already be on the top of the list. During the recent issue regarding the Rice Tariffication Law, farmers proved their strong work ethic despite the lack of government support. Our farmers were and are still able to feed a significant number of our countrymen. Even though their earnings are little, they still work hard and honest unlike most undeserving “servants” of this country.

The farmer meme reflects on how hard farming is and how much our farmers suffer. But more than that, it tells us how noble and how honest the work is because a crop doesn’t grow when it isn’t tended. It requires time and effort that could only be seen in their results.

These memes might have been used for fun, but one could not deny the fact that information are still being disseminated. Messages of such memes are vital for they bring about enlightenment to the masses that they reach.


jujanester. (2016, June 9). Pinoy Life: 8 Classic Filipino Traits and Characteristics [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Filipino Identity in Memes

by: Mara Cheriz Arcenal and Keziah Gallo

Negative Filipino traits outweigh positive characteristics in relation to identity. In fact, this meme is Twitter-inspired due to “Toxic Filipino Culture” content. Consequently, it was difficult to find such an example, but being “caring” and “supportive” are decidedly part of the Filipino identity. The first meme is basically an opposite take of the Twitter trend.

This meme reflects the development of identity from a toxic Filipino culture to a more empowering, uplifting and inspiring Filipino mindset. Saying “Sana all” magnifies a more positive and progressive way of thinking in the hope that many will be able to attain the same level of success. Instead of criticizing others for their accolades and eventful experiences by stating “Edi wow”, Filipinos are learning to be more wholesome and supportive of each other. What was once perceived to be toxic culture among Filipinos has brought about character development in terms of statements and perspectives. This shift in mentality in the communal Filipino identity radiates positivity rather than collective negativity. Praising people is better than bringing others down and according to this meme, Filipinos are starting to realize that, and embrace that each of us has its own blessings to be thankful for and believe that our “time” will come.

Photo Courtesy: Ice cream pictures from @AkoSiIbarraWP on twitter and

Another distinct trait of Filipinos is resourcefulness. This meme is inspired from our homes. Filipinos often recycle and reuse ice cream containers to store pork, beef, chicken, fish, etc. I know there are times that kids felt betrayed and disappointed because what they thought as ice cream turned out to be a raw fish. Take note also that it’s not just ice cream containers but every plastic container with lid is reused by Filipinos in their respective homes.

This meme imply that Filipinos have the ability to make use of something that seemed to be useless and improvise things when needed. Our resourcefulness is not limited to only reusing ice cream containers. Filipinos are more than that. Examples are collecting and sewing empty tetra pack juices to make a bag and using recyclable materials in order to make a dress or gown, lanterns, and organizers. These are only the few things that is common to Filipinos.

These two traits are some of the traits that makes us Filipinos and we should be proud with it. Lastly, we should also continue to show it so that our identity will not vanish and will remain through time.

Positive Memes About the Filipino Identity

by: Leannah Andrea Toroy & Riz Arianne Santisteban


Every country has its own identity and for us Filipinos, one identity that we embody is being late at all times, the reason for us to have our own “Filipino time”, which is true to every one of us. But despite of this, we are also known for some of our positive traits like us being respectful.

Respect is often observed in us Filipinos. We are taught to say “po” and “opo” since we’re still a child when talking to elders, and we are known to say “mano po” and “bless” to our elders for us to show respect. In this meme, it shows that we, Filipinos embody respect and it runs in our blood. We are born this way and giving respect is always part of our culture and contributes to our nation’s identity.


Filipinos are known for their family oriented trait. We tend to live with our parents even though we have our own families already. Our bond as families is strong and stable that no time can defy.

Inalienable Filipino Identity

by: Joshpeare Icon Roquero, Christopher John Ovas and JV James Ramos

Photo Courtesy: Synapse

Philippines is archipelagic country with 7646 islands. We belong to different regions and localities diversifying our language with our mother tongue. As Filipinos we are not afraid to show our true identity that we naturally bring everywhere we go in this case it would be our accent in the way we speak.

This meme tells us that we as Filipinos have unique identity that is fascinating and interesting on its own. In the way we speak or the way we act we inject our roots it could speaking English in “kinamatis” way or the thick crunchy accent of karay-a people.

Photo Courtesy: Synapse

As Filipinos we are known for our worldwide affiliations it could either be working abroad for our families to whom we termed as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) or travelling as tourists to roam other foreign lands. We always seek for our “kababayans” and finding one would feel like home with exaggerated emotions we would come and embrace them like long lost family members.

This meme show cases that we Filipinos in order to lessen our homesickness or to survive in foreign lands we seek for companions and treat them like our siblings. Through unity we alleviate each others sadness and problems because together we bring a piece of our mother land closer to our hearts even if we are thousands of miles away from it.