How to be Sumbat-Free

Sumbat is another of those Filipino words with no single-word equivalent in English. The best that Google Translate can come up with is guilt. Close, but sumbat is more than guilt. Sumbat, you see, is a verbal trick, one employed often by friends and family into getting you to use your talents for them by using past imagery invoking guilt and immaterial debt . This is how not to do networking.

Mothers are good with this. “You never call, you never write, you never text.” Old friends are next, “Sige na naman, para naman tayong walang pinagsamahan e. Hindi ba sabay pa tayong naninilip sa…” It can be taken to another level with “Para saan pang pinag-aral kita?”, which is a hostile attack at one’s self-assessment. All in all, people who make sumbat (I am sounding coñotic here but I don’t know an English equivalent) know you. They turn this knowledge of their association with you to force you into doing things you might not want to do. They might be right and justifiable, especially mothers, but the thing smacks of abuse and harassment.  Why would you have someone you love feel guilt?

Sumbat is not the most unpleasant thing in the world to feel, but it lasts longer than many people think. Once a person makes a sumbat to another, the object of sumbat will never feel the same way about it. He will always feel resentment for the one who made the sumbat, whether he complied with it or not.

And for the object of sumbat? There’s no defense! If you are Filipino and you have been helped in some way by another person, you will be prone to sumbat. Hopefully, I have made a guide here I have thought of, especially for high school students who are thinking of going to college. Clip and save:

What Course to Take to be Sumbat-Free:

– Biology (you will still be asked to help a nephew with an assignment)

– even better, Marine Biology

– Anthropology

– Philosophy

– Information Technology (you will still be asked to repair computers)

-Criminology, but practice privately.


– If you will be taking “normal” college courses, then take a gander at these suggestions:

a. Medicine? Specialize in Psychiatry

b.Engineering? Join the Army.

c. Law? too bad. Wala kang takas. Law thrives upon sumbat.


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