The Concept of Ownership in the Philippines

Business Cultural Notes

The Concept of Ownership

Ownership in Filipino culture has a number of dimensions. There is ownership or possession of things, such as personal belongings, that are not shared with anybody else, including members of one’s family. Personal na gamit is the term used to describe personal effects, such as clothes, toiletries, books, etc. One has to respect an individual’s ownership of these things, even in the context of the family.

There are, however, things that may be owned by one member of the family (such as a car or money) that are expected to be shared with other members of the family, especially in times of need. The Tagalog term hiram (borrow or loan) is commonly used to refer to the sharing of things or possession within the family. 

Mapagbigay (generous) is the term used to describe someone who is always willing to share his or her stuff with the rest of the family. Manghiram (to borrow) is a way of asking permission to use another person’s things, including money. 

A member of the family who refuses to share his things is considered to be maramot (not generous), or sakim (greedy) if he or she wants to take possession of all the inheritance left behind by the parents. Someone who is greedy or not generous is frowned upon in Filipino culture. 

Beyond the family, there is also another level of sharing one’s possessions with his or her neighbors. The Tagalog term pakikisama refers to a social virtue in Filipino culture where everybody is expected to know how to help or empathize with his fellowmen, both in good times and in bad. 

The Filipino term bayanihan (from the term bayani, “hero”) aptly describes the highest form of pakikisama because one gives help to others without expecting anything in return. This is best captured in some traditional Filipino paintings of bayanihan where a group of men carry on their shoulders a traditional nipa hut (house) to move it to another place.

Bayanihan painting by Jose E. Barcelona, 1993

During good times, one is expected to share his blessings (through donations, sponsorship, etc.), which is commonly demonstrated during town fiestas, holidays, etc. In bad times, one is expected to help other people who are in need through donations (in monetary terms or in kind), especially in times of disasters, calamities, and other forms of suffering.  The Tagalog term that aptly describes this form of empathy is pakikiramay. To some extent, it also refers to one’s ability to share his possessions with the less fortunate.

Some Tagalog words and expressions related to ownership and possession are:

  • may-ari (owner)
  • nagmamay-ari (one who owns)
  • gamit (things)
  • hiram (borrow)
  • humiram (to borrow)
  • pahiramin (to lend)
  • pagbibigay (the act of generosity)
  • pagbigyan (to be generous to someone)
  • magpaalam (to ask permission to borrow something)
  • magpahiram (to lend something to someone)
  • maramot (not generous, stingy)
  • sakim (greedy)
  • makiramay (to feel the suffering of others)
  • pakikisama (to empathize with others)
  • utang (loan, debt)
  • pautangin (to loan someone money)
  • bayaran (to pay)
  • limos (alms, for beggars)
  • tulong (help, assistance)
  • di marunong magbayad (doesn’t know how to pay his debts)
  • walang pakikisama (doesn’t know how to empathize)
  • pahiram naman (please, may I borrow)
  • pahiramin mo siya (you lend him)
  • pasensya na wala akong pera ngayon (I am sorry but I have no money now)
  • patawad po pero di ako makalimos (I am sorry but I cannot give alms)
  • sa susunod na lang (till next time)
  • walang-wala ako ngayong pera (I really have no money now)
  • tulungan natin sila (let us help/assist them)

Ways of asking about or asserting possession/ownership:

  • Sa akin ba iyan?/Akin ba iyan? (Is that mine?)
  • Sa iyo/kanya/kanila ba ito? (Is this yours/his/theirs?)
  • Parang sa kaniya iyan. (It looks like it is his/hers.)
  • Sa kaniya ata ito. (This seems to be his/hers.)
  • Hoy! hindi iyan sa ‘yo! (Hey! That is not yours!)
  • Hoy! sa akin iyan! (Hey! That is mine!)
  • Ito ba ang sa iyo? (Is this one yours?)
  • Hindi, ‘yung isa ang sa akin. (No, the other is the one that’s mine.)
  • Meron bang may-ari nito? (Is there anyone who owns this?)
  • Wala, pero hindi mo pwedeng kunin. (Nobody owns it, but you cannot take it.)
  • Wala, kaya sa iyo na lang. (Nobody owns it, so you can have it.)
  • Kung wala, akin na lang ito. (If nobody owns it, then I can have it.)
  • Alin dito ang sa iyo/akin/kaniya? (Which of these is yours/mine/his or hers?)
  • ‘Yung puting bag ang sa iyo/akin/kaniya. (The white bag is yours/mine/his or hers.
  • Akin na lang ito, sige na.  (May I have this, please.)
  • Hindi pwede, kasi regalo ‘yan sa akin ng nanay ko. (No, you can’t, because that is a gift from my mother.)
  • Pahiram naman ng libro mo. (May I please borrow your book.)
  • Sige, pero pakisauli mo agad ha. (Okay, but please return it soon, ok?)
  • Pasensiya ka na, pero gagamitin ko kasi ang libro ko. (I’m sorry, but I am also using my book.)
  • Pahingi naman ng papel. (May I ask for a sheet of paper.)
  • Heto, bibigyan kita ng isa. (Here, I will give you a sheet.)
  • Pasensiya ka na, naubusan ako. (I am sorry, but I ran out of paper.)
  • Ayaw ko nga, kasi galit ako sa iyo. (I don’t want to, because I am mad at you.)
  • Ang damot mo naman! (You are so selfish!)
  • E ano ngayon?  (So what?)