Pakikisama is the Filipino trait of getting along with others. Smooth interpersonal relationships (SIR) is an important Filipino value, and pakikisama plays a large part in ensuring that. For example, we do not see the need to express our disagreement with others because this may disrupt our SIR with them. Instead, we simply try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes in an effort to keep the peace. Accommodation, at least on the surface, is accorded  to conform with the majority.

Pakikialam, on the other hand, is seen as the act of meddling, interfering, or intruding. Pakikialam may be done with good intentions; but generally it is unwelcome. For example, when a neighbor gives you unsolicited advice on how to treat your children, you conclude that that person is nakikialam, even if the advice is extremely sound and helpful. 

Do we see pakikisama and pakikialam among the prophets of Israel in the Old Testament? I believe so.

The primary responsibility of a prophet was to proclaim the Word of God. They were expected to be truth-tellers, especially to the nation’s kings and leaders. Regarded as mouthpieces of God, prophets gave counsel to kings about any and every aspect of nation-building. That is why when King Jehoshaphat of Judah was invited by King Ahab of Israel to join him in battle, Jehoshaphat said, “First, let’s find out what the Lord says.” 

So the king of Israel summoned the prophets, about 400 of them, and asked them, “Should I go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?” (2 Kings 22:5-6).

Back then, there were at least two classes of prophets. One of them is known as “court prophets.” They served at the king’s court and were at the king’s service. They were government employees. These 400 prophets that Ahab summoned were court prophets. Having sensed the plans of Ahab, these prophets simply said, “Yes, go right ahead! The Lord will give the king victory.” There was no record of them consulting the Lord; they simply took their cue from their benefactor. What they did was a classic example of pakikisama, albeit wrongly applied. They depended on the king for their livelihood and future; therefore, the pressure toward pakikisama was strong.

Another class of prophets was the “independent prophets.” They were not affiliated with political and religious institutions. One of them was Micaiah, who when pressed for his advice, replied to Ahab and Jeshoshaphat—“In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘Their master has been killed” (v. 17). In short, Micaiah said that this battle plan was not from the Lord. Because of his contrary, though God-given, advice, he was regarded as walang pakisama and pakialamero (meddler). Micaiah was subsequently censured and ordered arrested.

We are at a crucial time in our nation’s history. Even our President said that our country is now in the precipice of annihilation. But what do our elected officials normally do in regard to issues that the citizenry has strong opinions about? They toe the party line. I’m sure some have had their reservations but they obviously want to get along with those in authority. That’s pakikisama.

Do we have a word from the Lord that could guide our leaders in moving forward with God’s stated agenda for nation-rebuilding? Does God have something to say about taking us away from the precipice of annihilation? I am sure there is. Who will deliver this message? Any truth-teller who would be willing to risk pakikialam by demanding our leaders to live up to God’s purpose for them as revealed in Micah 6:8.

“To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Any pakialamero out there who wants to rise up and say, “Thus says the Lord!”?

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