In the previous student philosophy congress held last year at the University of Santo Tomas, the proponents presented a research paper that made an analysis on the state and conditions of Filipino philosophy as manifested in the undergraduate thesis works in four academic institutions, namely, San Beda College, the University of Santo Tomas, the University of the Philippines, and the De La Salle University.
Through the use of statistical data and tabular illustrations, it was observed that there is an emerging trend within these academic institutions that focuses on, and thus contributes to, the arts and literature of the Filipino people- in other words, Filipino culture. Furthermore, these studies reflected the ideological leanings of each institution as readily seen in the titles of each thesis work.
A thorough discussion of that paper need not be presented here; suffice to say, it was generally viewed that while Filipino philosophy remained underdeveloped, the initial findings of that paper suggest a promising field for future studies. What is crucial in this paper, however, has little to do with those findings inasmuch as that paper failed to address the subtle issue concerning the ambiguity of Filipino philosophy as a legitimate philosophical enterprise- an issue which, the proponents believe, is the cornerstone not only of this paper but of the entire activity as well.
Thus, while the previous paper undeniably made an exposition on the state and conditions of Filipino philosophy in the academic context, the significance of its findings are put into question by its hasty assumption of the existence of Filipino philosophy. A proper exposition of the matter therefore requires an inquiry and analysis of its grounding assumptions, that is, the assumption of the existence of Filipino philosophy. It is in this conceptual background that this paper centers on two focal topics on this issue, namely, 1) the concept of Filipino philosophy and 2) its present state and conditions.
The former shall be subdivided into three sections focusing on a) the signifier ‘Filipino’, b) the philosophical enterprise and c) the existence and legitimacy of Filipino philosophy as a field of endeavor while the succeeding section shall focus on the discussion of the present state and condition of Filipino philosophy. In the end, the proponents shall demonstrate the existence, and legitimacy thereof, of Filipino philosophy as a legitimate philosophical enterprise. These shall be treated in turn. The Signifier Filipino
In the essay ‘The Primitivization of the Indio Mind and the Explosion of Rationalities: The Politics of Knowledge in the Spanish Colonial Philippines’ Feorillo Demeterio attempts, through historical analysis, to demonstrate how the Filipino mind had been “systematically made to remain pre-modern by the colonial regime”1 through an ideological and discursive boundary that prevented the passage of modern knowledge and simultaneously reinforced a state of mind characterized by fanaticism, superstition and absurdity.
Moreover, in its attempt to legitimize its hegemonic rule, the Spanish colonizers identified themselves through the conceptual construction of the Filipino as its ontological other- the indio. Needless to say, these efforts made a profound effect in the Filipino psyche, “making this mind maladjusted to the nuances of a society that had been drastically transformed by the same regime from being tribal to modern”.
2 Following this historical perspective, and in utilizing the Gramscian notion of hegemony, it is apparent that the difficulty of ascertaining what the term Filipino signifies may be traced in the colonizer’s tremendous resolve to dominate through the destruction of any unifying component that may pose a significant challenge to their hegemonic rule.