Resbak Mentality Keeps the Philippines backward

I wrote before about how the culture of retribution contributes to more violence in the world. It is one of the things keeping our own society backward as well. Not only in life, but in sports. People who are pro-Gilas brawl in Facebook keep raising up resbak as the justification. They say that because one player was elbowed, the whole team, even the coaches, was justified to rage off and brawl against the team. But no, that was wrong. It stopped becoming sports there and became a circus. If we were called “monkeys,” we actually fell into that trap and behaved like monkeys.

Relating this to other facets of Philippine dysfunction is not far-fetched. I also recently wrote that Filipinos probably harbor subconscious feelings of “resbak” against the world. They say, we are oppressed by other countries, so we have the right to retaliate. We feel that way about China. But this is wrong. Anyway, in that scenario, we didn’t live up to the principle of resbak, because all we could do was run to someone else for help, but it remains to be seen if that help will actually materialize. Also, these days, we are not being oppressed by other countries. We are allowing ourselves to be exploited, such as in the case of Overseas Filipino Workers. This was not imposed on us, but our society chose it.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

I also believe that Filipinos’ feeling of entitlement to be on top of others plays in. We like to be champions, considered the best. And we want to have it the easy way. But reality does not allow that, so it is frustrating. This frustration explodes into violence. They perceive someone else is blocking their way to the top unfairly, so they believe violence against that “blocker” is justified. But that is still wrong. It is the application of survival mentality to achieving pride, trying to reach the high ground using the low road. It’s the same attitude as say, a case of jealousy. A Filipino is beaten by a rival for the woman of his dreams, so he physically attacks or tries to kill his rival. He does resbak because he was a sore loser. Thus, resbak is both unethical and counterproductive. It only increases problems rather than solve them.

I argue that Resbak is very common in Philippine society and accounts for much of our violence. Fraternities and gangs, or even just groups of friends, often have resbaks which are typical of the violence among them. Even political killings, such as the recent killings of mayors, could be resbaks. If a mayor for example is bearing down on criminals or has successfully opposed a political opponent, those opponents do resbak, killing him. This should tell you that resbak is also a tambay, or more appropriately, kanto-boy and corrupt politico attitude. In fact, the ganging up of Gilas on Australian players is a manifestation of gang attitudes and mob mentality, not sportsmanship or camaraderie.

Some people say, some things such as sports hooliganism are common, so accept them. But no, there are rules. In FIBA, violence is grounds for ejection, so that sanction was rightly imposed. Things being so common doesn’t mean they are right.

This is more than pacifism. Even pragmatism states that resbak will only serve to escalate problems. To quote the Untouchables movie, “they send one of your men to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue;” then they send three of yours to the morgue, you try to send five of theirs to the morgue, but they can send all of you to the morgue. Life is not like the movies where the underdog always wins by sheer luck. You can’t win every fight you pick; in fact, you might lose them all, so stop picking fights.

Our webmaster Benign0 wrote that the best way to survive being a martial law victim is to not live like a victim. Same with keeping calm and carrying on after a terrorist attack as a way to insult terrorists and show them that one is not scared of them. Roll with the punches, let some things slide. But choose the right way to deliver a comeback. In basketball, the best resbak is winning against the opponent the next time. Perhaps an elbow could have been answered with another elbow or a counter-foul, although that is more like a concession to violent attitudes. But perhaps the Filipinos were so frustrated they could not win, so they lashed out. The loser attitude was already in them. They decided to allow “groupthink” (which is no thinking at all, ironically), or the adrenaline-based psychology of crowd riots to take over them. People should learn to suppress their own adrenaline.

Resbak culture needs to be cut down in Philippine society. Its difficulty is because of the sense of entitlement Filipinos have and their desire to get what they want the easy way. These attitudes need to be cut down. It is also something brought about by our victim mentality. We’ve had enough of this victim mentality, because it is making us further into victims and losers. It doesn’t save respect, but it actually displays a lack of self-respect. We are victims of our own self-pity. We need to pick ourselves up and strive to do better, as resorting to self-pity and then violence is actually not an attempt to save one’s own dignity, but an admission of defeat.

7 Replies to “Resbak Mentality Keeps the Philippines backward”

  1. Nice topic you’d made it ChinoF and yes, this is a sad reality of our cultural identity and it can apply anywhere from work, from schools, from sports, politics, etc., etc. Do you think we should correct this? Its hard to tell as what the old quote said: “When you;re in Rome, do what the Romans do.”

    As in the case of the Australian basketball team who’d played here in our home turf & fought against Gilas Pilipinas last Monday, they’d really followed the rules in our backyard LITERALLY!!! Don’t use sportsmanship, be PIKON!!! Show your arrogance in here, don’t use discipline. And show yourself that you are the KING OF THE WORLD & no one else, if someone wants to overthrown you, use violence instead of humility, forgiveness & delikadesa. And that’s the rule that you should follow in here, the Republic of the Philippines whether you’re a Filipino or not. #ProudlyPhilippineMade (P.S.: remember that tagline before during Pres. Cory Aquino’s administration?) ????

    And speaking of Australia vs. Gilas match, I’d found this very nice, down-to-earth & informative blog from Esquire Philippines written by Miguel Escobar & he wrote it on how the Gilas showed their true identity of bad Filipino cultures to the world on the night that they’d played against the Australian Boomers. Read it:

  2. Frustration in the mindsets of most Filipinos, is in their Psyche. They cannot be Champions; so they go to physically beat the winner of the game, that is , the real champion.

    We have all that kind of frustrations. The YellowTards, fail to oust, President Duterte, and replace him with the three times Bar Exam flunker, Leni Robredo. We have frustrations in being an OFW slaves in the world. We have frustrations in our political leaders, who are mostly corrupt and incompetent. In almost where you look, we have frustration in not solving the country’s problems, that are festering.

    So, these frustration are exhibited in our outbursts, in losing a basketball game. We are a nation of losers; and we tout: “Pinoy Pride”, to use it as our , “healing balm” , for our frustrations.

  3. My apologies guys but I really had to look it up (Resbak) to find out what it means.
    Likely from English, perhaps “resources” or “rest” and “backup”

    revenge an evil

    This slang Tagalog word means to gather reinforcements or back-up resources to take revenge on someone who did something wrong.

    For example, a large man said something vulgar to your girlfriend. You can’t punch the guy then and there because he’s bigger than you. So you call your friends or hire a few gangsters, give them a few beers, and then you all beat up the guy so he ends up in the hospital for days.

    I think (in my mind) a/the best example of this is still very common (but that doesnt make it right) and is called ‘crime passionnel’ (crime of passion).
    Translated that would mean: I can’t get the girl (rejected by her) so no one can have her and so I will kill her.
    Or: I caught her with another guy and hence I will kill her.

    1. “Resbak” outside the Filipino culture is common among rival gangs. Its a local slang used in place of the proper tagalog term “ganti” which literally means vengeance or getting back at someone who did you wrong.

      “Resbakan natin” is just the same as “Gantihan natin”. So in plain English, “Lets get back at them.”

    2. Here comes the dilemma we, as human beings, still face:

      (a) Do we just walk away and not let the guy get to us?


      (b) Do we stand up for ourselves and defend our pride?

      People view things in different shades of glasses. Some see (a) as being the better man but some see it as pure cowardice. Some see (b) as putting yourself into the aggressor’s level or making things worse while some see it as honorable and an act of chivalry. In my experience, I’d argue that context truly matters. We can’t always walk away so we need to learn to defend ourselves. We can’t always take aggressive measures so we need to play it smart.

      1. Interxavier,
        I never experienced my own given example (does that sound arrogant? Hope not). So I can only approach my own example in an intellectual way.

        When my partner/GF/wife, is having sex with another guy then the problem was caused already before that happened. The sex is just the result, not the cause (unless she considers me to be a lousy lover).

        For me this has nothing to do with pride (b) and walking away (a) also solves nothing. In my example, my partner and I needed to talk more with each other. And I had to look for the signs that she was/is unsatisfied with how our lives was evolving.

        So, I can only blame myself and knock my head into the wall for being a stupid guy. And eventually killing her also doesnt solve a thing. Because she cant be blamed. Although, it would have been better if she terminated the relationship before she started to have sex with another guy.

        But I know these things do happen and that is what I do accept. What else can I do? Jump between you and your wife and me getting the bullit intended for her? Sorry, no way Jose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.