“Ay nako…walang hiya ka!” or “Walang hiya si ________.”  Many of us have heard these phrases before.  It may be the ultimate insult, or the start of a juicy gossip story.  But what is hiya?

Hiya closely translates to “shame” in English.  To say “walang hiya” is to accuse someone of having no shame.  It’s a form of social relations embedded in Filipino culture with countless unwritten rules.  It’s a way for Filipinos to regulate themselves in a community.  It’s a tool to discipline and socialize their children.  While it’s also a vehicle to maintain class status and create false aspirations and desires, in some ways, hiya can also serve to level hierarchical power structures even for a brief moment.

In this TFAL episode, we discuss a bit of our experiences with this concept of hiya.  How does it bind us together?  How does is restrict us?  How do we navigate and negotiate the rules of hiya in our families?  How is hiya still with us in the United States?  We only scratch the surface, but hopefully it’ll lead to new revelations and discoveries.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here or subscribe to us on iTunes here!

What are your experiences with hiya? Let us know! Email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com, leave a voice message, or even text us your thoughts at (805) 394-TFAL.

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