The Concept of Ownership

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Ownership in Filipino culture has a number of dimensions.   There is ownerhip 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.

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A 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:

Ways of asking about or asserting possession/ownership: