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.
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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.
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.