Ill-mannered UPLB student cops online abuse from balasubas Durterte supporters!

Again another outrage fad is erupting and this time it centres around a student of the University of the Philippines Los Banos campus (UPLB) confronting presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte with some pointed questions recently. The media drama which climaxed with a spate of online bullying this student copped from furious Duterte supporters and the spectacular apology for mis-reporting the incident issued by “social news network” is now the stuff of legend and one for the “online journalism” textbooks.

To be fair, the propriety (or impropriety) in the manner with which the UPLB student fielded his questions to Duterte is open to debate with Duterte’s supporters claiming it was bastos (rude) and showed little respect for a presidential candidate. Observers are, rightly so, left to render their own judgment over how rude or proper this student conducted himself.

In terms of the actual content of the student’s address to Duterte, the phrase that attracted the most outrage and sparked the most debate was this snippet:

Sir, sana pakisagot lang po ng diretso kasi nagtatanong po kami ng diretso dito para po makauwi na kayo.

[Translated by “Sir, I hope you will answer my question directly. I am asking it in a straightforward manner so you may be able to go already.”]

Understandably, to some extent, some have empathised with possible offense Duterte could have taken to being addressed this way by a young person. In the Philippines, after all, there remains a deeply-ingrained culture of deference to the elderly. Needless to say, the sight of a young person addressing a significantly older person in a confronting manner still rubs most Filipinos the wrong way.

Just the same, this does not excuse the orgy of online bullying allegedly perpetrated by Duterte’s supporters since. Some have decried the “biased” reporting Rappler reporter Pia Ranada was perceived to have applied to her original report. Duterte’s supporters insist that Ranada purposely painted Duterte in a bad light by highlighting the awkwardness of the situation and did not take into account the fuller context of what had transpired.

Neither does it help that UPLB students (being part of an elite university) are perceived to be arrogant and elitist by the wider community of Filipino youth activists and campaign volunteers. Indeed, observers were quick to point out that the manner with which the student delivered his questions revealed a less-than-proficient command of the English language thanks to the evidently flawed grammar and sentence construction observed.

Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte: Victim of Luzon-centric snobbery?
Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte: Victim of Luzon-centric snobbery?
This quickness to judge people on the basis of their school and English twang (or lack of it) is a broader and deeper malaise that plagues Philippine society and is a social monster that has a habit of rearing its ugly head in incidents like this. Perhaps what makes Duterte’s camp particularly sensitive when it comes to the reality of the Philippines’ profound cancer of social stratification and the elitism of Luzon’s Tagalog-speaking residents is that Duterte is a product and stalwart of the Philippines’ south which, historically, has long been derrided as provincianos by Filipinos hailing from the Philippines’ northern parts where its capital and commercial and business centre, Manila, is situated.

Indeed, it is hardly surprising that Duterte’s Bisaya accent is a source of amusement for an influential circle of Filipinos who sustain a deliberate effort to see the deep cultural divide between north and south continue to fester in the national consciousness.

Considering that at the epicentre of this circus is a UPLB student who, by most accounts, failed to behave to a standard an elite university like the UPLB is held to (fairly or unfairly) by the Philippine public at large, it may be worth Filipinos’ time to reflect on why eloquence, good manners, and proper breeding seem to be in increasingly short supply nowadays. Suffice to say, this bad breeding on the part of the UPLB student was, itself, met with even more appalling demonstrations of the savage and balasubas behaviour that Duterte supporters have come to be associated with.

We could therefore conclude that the protagonists and antagonists in this latest spectacle are merely engaged in a tit for tat backdropped by a society not exactly renowned for a citizenry blessed with social grace.


Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of

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25 Comments on "Ill-mannered UPLB student cops online abuse from balasubas Durterte supporters!"

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I agree. After all, there is light and dark inside all of us. What matters is what we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.

Well, if that is the elitism we have, then this society is sick and rotten. They equally deserve the balasubas supporters of DU30 who must be out-of-school kids. Look at what just happened in BGC with kids of supposedly prominent families, all trying to be hambog. If you are really prominent, no need to be hambog; you actually try to be humble, and possibly be kind of low profile. This is really the influence of Kris, Boy Abundat and Vice Ganda, a trio of guys with money, but have the lowest class mentality. Then, you have the trio of Tito,… Read more »
Niall R
Using this article as sole source,I think that this ‘debate’ and Benign0 miss a number of points. Is asking ‘If I ask a straight question,can I have a straight answer,not the usual speaking a lot and saying very little?’really that insulting? What was the question actually asked? Something Duterte was not prepared to answer? Might the question open the possibility of serious debate over policies rather than personality? Does the Philippines actually want this? Might the questioning of ‘Granny knows best’not be worthwhile?After all,the current generation of politicians do not seem to have advanced the country greatly since Marcos. Should… Read more »

Duterte is very humble guy, he just said to his supporters that they should stop this UPLB guy to bully him on social media after this incident. But a great damage had been shown.


It is a university after all. People being abrasive or even confrontational is par for the course.


It is Political Zarzuela, at its finest…Young people tend not to be respectful to the elderly ,nowadays. It is the influence of the Information Technology…most of those Western countries, have young people, not to have respect for the elderly…Duterte is in his seventies…he is from a bygone era…where children pay homage and respect for the elderly.

Actually, some of the elderly , possess “wisdom”. Because, they have lived long enough. They have experienced the ups and downs of life. Except, those who spend most of their lives, watching “telenovelas”, Kris Aquino, Boy Abundia, Vice Ganda, Sotto, etc…


Hmmm…. I clicked on the Rappler link on the first paragraph and I got this pop up:
Thank you for voting!
Rody Duterte 67.73%
Mar Roxas 17.3%
Miriam Santiago 6.9%
Grace Poe 4.76%
Jojo Binay 1.71%
None of the choices 1.6%

Looks like Rappler is pro-somebody

Yeah, some uplb students can be too full of themselves. Somebody should teach the next generation some manners.

William E Jackson

Answer these questions please.Did you know that a lot of the elite universities here in the Philippines is not accredited by international organizations, but some of the lessor elite schools are? Did you know this is why some doctors go overseas and can only be nurses instead of doctors; doctors What makes a university here a elite university? Is it the name or the money spent on education? Why is it not the credentials and certifications? When you education system that goes by money spent as being elite versus certification, how do you expect students to behave. .

Deep Throat
I believe this shouldn’t focus on the student asking the correct question but rather Duterte’s inconsistencies in his programs. 1) we didn’t watch nor go to the UPLB for the student but to listen to Duterte 2) the issue could easily be avoided if Duterte stops over promising or at least prepared for questions to avoid inconsistencies. This was shown in the first debate, when Duterte speaks convincgly but he was and still is inconsistent. If we focused on the student on how one should act, we forgot the focus or question how should a president act. Less focus on… Read more »
Charles Paul
You cop out by first “leaving it up to the viewers” to decide whether the student was disrespectful or not (he wasn’t)… then closing with “bad breeding on the part of the UPLB student”. Benign0, I question your suitability as a judge of “breeding”, especially so after reading that throwback, ass-licking, i-write-for-food article on Sandro Marcos. Don’t get me wrong, I respect your stance on free will and English as a force for bridging the Philippines with the world… but the *petty* sophistry in these articles is painful to read… heart-breakingly for those who remember how bad the Philippines were… Read more »

When the first force, social feeling and community expectation, is ignored or affronted, the person concerned will reveal certain aggressive character traits: vanity, ambition, envy, jealousy, playing God, or greed; or non-aggressive traits: withdrawal, anxiety, timidity, or absence of social graces. When any of these forces gains the upper hand, it is usually because of deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. Yet the forces also create an intensity or tension that can give tremendous energy.