Sama-sama, Kasama

What's with the sama-sama, kasama mindset? 

A foreigner to the Filipino culture might wonder at why locals would be so concerned about people not having companions in a journey, a visit, a shopping spree, a party, etc. 

Some anthropologists say that in ancient times of warring tribes, inhabitants in a Filipino community were discouraged to travel alone. If people would insist, the first question they had to answer was, "Saan ka pupunta?" (Where are you going?), followed by,"Sino'ng kasama mo?" (Who will be with you?) This inquisitiveness seems highly intrusive today but it was important for one's safety then.


The sama-sama, kasama mindset is deeply entrenched in Filipino culture. From birth to death, a Filipino must always have a kasama. A baby must have a yaya, but the yaya stays even when the baby has grown up. She becomes the kasambahay- or kasama sa bahay (a helper or caretaker).

Most Filipinos aren't comfortable alone, and are less likely inclined to bring a book to read while waiting or traveling.  They tend to seek the crowd of other Filipino communities and will patronize places which will allow loud and noisy conversations. Families don't mind overpopulated beaches and overcrowded fast-food centers. They routinely flock to the malls on weekends to dine and shop or window shop together, sometimes even wheeling their lolo and lola, and pushing their toddlers in carts with the toddler's yayas in tow.

When mourning for a loved one ang mga kasamahan ng pamilya - most relatives, friends, and friends of friends are present at the wake to watch over the dead for as many days as the wake would last as a gesture of pakikisama. Then, a final sama-sama happens at the burial. Up to the very last slap of cement on the tomb, people will be there - nakikisama.  Forty days after the burial, people gather for another prayer for the dead (padasal). On the first year death anniversary family and relatives will have another sama-sama for another feast that celebrates the end of mourning (pagbababang-luksa).


Feasts are always opportune times to gather people around the host, and hosts relish the idea of having many guests, since this is also a sign of popularity. The sama-sama, kasama mentality is extended to the relationships brought about by any political exercise where a prospective candidate's charisma is evidenced by his huge number of followers (maraming sumasama). Indeed, every political campaign involves a chain of relations and a loyal circle of hangers on, friends or acquaintances-turned-supporters, all getting out on a limb together in support of their patrons.

The Filipino sama-sama, kasama trait has been pointed as a weakness. Some say that this culture of herd mentality or flock syndrome hinders independence, self-reliance, and freedom. It has been compared with the western culture of highly private, individualistic, and self-propelled motivation which seem to accomplish more and achieve goals faster.  

But the deep context culture of Filipino sama-sama, kasama dynamics can't be explained using this polarized comparison. In this culture, both values - an independence of mind and spirit and a zest for cultivating a host of loving relationships are necessary in the conduct of a life that will impact a person and/ or an institution for the better.

The banner cry during the EDSA revolution was, "Ninoy, hindi ka nag-iisa!" (Ninoy, you are not alone!) "People Power I" happened because every Filipino who went to EDSA  felt assured in his heart that he was not alone in his desperate plea for justice. This collective sama-sama cry for reform made a huge impact even in world history.

Mga kasama. Imbitado kayo sa Wordhouse, kapuso man kayo o kapamilya.