What happens to Filipinos when they can no longer “make sumbong”?

Baby boy crying --- Image by © Bernd Vogel/Corbis

Baby boy crying — Image by © Bernd Vogel/Corbis

There is something to be said about Filipinos and their ability to engage opponents fairly.

In a fair engagement, you recognize the situation and the position you’re currently in, and assess them. You discuss possible options. You recall your strengths and weaknesses, and how to use the former for leverage, and how to best minimize the effects of the latter. You also analyze the situation and position of your opponents, recognize their strengths and weaknesses, and move them into positions, such that they are neutralized and exposed, respectively. And you do this all without external help.

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From the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, we’ve come to see how Filipinos collectively engage their opponents:

1) We’ve seen that the Liberal Party (LP), made up of many supporters of Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino, has repeatedly called on the United Nations (UN) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to intervene, in what they perceive as a spate of extra-judicial killings (EJKs), people who have been killed in the time Duterte has been conducting his anti-drug drive;

2) We’ve seen the contrasting methods in which the Philippines would have engaged China, under both the Aquino and the Duterte administrations;

3) We’ve seen how the Duterte opposition – a convenient catch-all term for several disjoint groups of anti-Duterte sentiment – has attempted to silence prominent Duterte supporter Mocha Uson by calling for, and supporting, a petition to shut down her Facebook page, and;

4) We’ve seen how Maria Ressa and her hen party blog, Rappler, have complained about online trolls whom “the Internet needs to be taken back from”.

Especially in the first three instances, the behavior of making sumbong – calling on an external entity that could be a “higher power” (think  of a summoned Deus Ex Machina) – is very pronounced.

The LP is attempting to make the issue of EJKs persist, despite the absence of a conclusive link between Duterte and the killings (i.e., that the killings are state-sanctioned policy). It has become widespread public perception, however, that the reason the LP is doing so is because it didn’t take the loss of its presidential candidate, Mar Roxas, too well. The LP knows, all too well, that public perception is against them in the Philippines because of the previous administration’s failures, so they’re calling on external entities like the UN and the ICC to help them get Duterte out of the chair, that’s supposed to be theirs.

In engaging China, the Aquino administration was seemingly banking on US intervention – something which was never explicitly assured – in order to save the Philippines’ sorry ass. Never mind that it was the Philippines that, not only came out the aggressor, but also, seemed unable to live up to its word of “wanting to talk” and stay consistent.

The Duterte opposition, in its current disjoint state, has simply been unable to make any sort of effective counter to Mocha Uson’s influence. They have brushed her off as a slut. They have labeled her and her followers “stupid” and as “trolls”. They have lampooned her and made her a subject of satire. None of it worked to diminish her influence. So, the opposition pulled out its most desperate card – to get her page shut down by Facebook.

The fourth case mentioned is, from a certain point of view, a case of Rappler’s “making sumbong” to its reader base (or what’s left of it). But it really fits more into the mold of whining about them getting a dose of their own medicine, still not coming to terms with their loss of credibility, and being unable to counter the opponent effectively.

While all the examples above come from the Yellow-aligned opposition, this sort of behavior is not exclusive to them. Many Filipinos who grew up in the streets are familiar with the concepts of “resbak” – calling for backup and for “the posse”.

It is important to emphasize that what is being called out here is the behavior of Filipinos, wherein they “make sumbong” and ask for intervention when:

a) They’re the ones who instigate the situation;
b) They are doing so simply because they are not used to being on the disadvantaged side of the equation, and;
c) They have not, net result, exhausted all the means with which to fight fairly and squarely.

Whereas calling in for reinforcements is normally considered a last resort, certain Filipinos make it their default mode.

That says a lot about those Filipinos and the sort of collective social intelligence that they are capable of.

So, at this point, let’s answer the question posted in the title.

They will most certainly lose face, and/or they will, most likely, give up something that they hold dear, unnecessarily. And that’s never a good thing.

2 Replies to “What happens to Filipinos when they can no longer “make sumbong”?”

  1. The Aquino-Cojuangco political axis tactic, is to foment chaos, like the “Hakot Demonstrators” at the U.S. Embassy. From that chaos; they expect the U.S., or the U.N. or the I.C.C., will intervene. And they will grab back the power…

    Like in the time of Cory Aquino. Political opportunists; like: Ramos, Enrile, Honasan, etc…will help, to hand them over the power; with the aid of the : Roman Catholic Church, the U.S./C.I.A. and the U.S. Dept. of State…

    Conversely, things have changed already in our world. The U.S. is embroiled in too much meddling in other countries. Their meddling produced more ISIS terrorists; and other terrorists of all kinds.

    By bringing down a celebrity, who is a follower of a politician; will never bring down the politician.

    Maria Reesa is complaining about internet trolls. If you are a blogger,or have a political website (Rappler.com). Some nasty and vicious trolls will be at your “tail”…

    Stop complaining that you are a victim of such and such…the HyperSpace will not change, because you complain…it is part of the job; and you have to LIVE with those wicked trolls of all kinds , in the CyberSpace!

  2. If you are a troll-tard there is no way you can lose your so-called “faith” without losing face, you are considered the devil incarnate by your former “throng”.

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