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Many of our laws are copied or mimicries from American laws.  Since we use the English language in school and used American books, we always take it for granted that what is stated in American books are also applicable to the Filipinos.  We forget to consider that our native languages are the conveyors of our culture that might not be the same as the Americans.

Among the recently passed laws is the Anti-Bullying Law.  It is now a crime if you will bully another person.  However, in our culture there are many shades or levels of bullying.  Many of these levels are considered harmless and in fact useful for the discipline of children and other people.  Only very few types of bullying are considered harmful and ought to be punished.

However our Anti-Bullying Law copied from the Americans, do not differentiate the harmless types from the harmful type of bullying.  Since our Courts of Law are interpreting our laws based on American jurisprudence, many are found guilty even if what was done was allowable in our culture.



A bully is a person who terrorizes the weak.  Our equivalent words in Binisayâ are “marámà” and “matón”.  The marámà is an Arabic word for bully while matón is a Spanish word for bully.

The Sugboánon Bisáyà has also the words batód, bágis, bugóy, haring gángis, sígà, and tigás.

The batód, bágis, and bugóy are bullies that are more of a prankster and are not dangerous.  The haring gángis is more like a notable or notorious person in a locality.  It could be applied for good and not so good persons.  The sígà and the tigás are the bullies that are dangerous.

The trouble is that the law does not distinguish the different kinds of bullies because in the English language there are no different shades of bullies.  I just hope that the Court Judge will be conscious of his Bisayan culture and applies the law in accordance to our culture.



Bullying is the act of terrorizing the weak.  In our culture it can be used to reprimand or to molest.


In Binisayâ there are three levels of bullying, which are the Sulímbat, the Hurat, and the Huraw.

The sulímbat is similar to that done by a mother to her child by giving a stern look, a grimacing face, and sometimes with a growl.  It is usually done as a reprimand.  Any Boholano child can look at his mother and can distinguish whether the sulímbat is just a joke, a warning, or a reprimand.  In the American context that we copied in our laws, it is already bullying with the same level of punishment as the other levels.

A húrat is just a threat with no intention to harm.  It is similar to the English adage of “Saber rattling”.  It could be a menacing situation but the doer does not really intend to harm but only to scare or do a prank.


A húraw is the real bullying in the Bisayan context.  It is a terrorizing act that will be put into action if the terrorized person will resist.  When we say “Nanghúraw si Pedro didto sa tulunghaán = Pedro did a bullying act at school” it connotes that Pedro threatened the children in school and actually molested those who resisted.



Sometime in year 2000 we conducted a research among the parents in all the towns of Bohol. We took about 17,000 samples.

The parents (84% to 98%) were still agreeable with the sulímbat and húrat done by teachers because they knew that it was for the discipline of the children.  The parents were no longer agreeable with the húraw, especially when the teacher will actually strike or beat the child.

In the Anti-Bullying Law a sulímbat is already punishable with the same severity as a húraw.

I am not against an Anti-Bullying Law.  What I want to see is a law that is culturally sensitive.  It should not be copied hook-line-and-sinker from that of the Americans.

A sulímbat is still acceptable in our culture because it can only be a joke, a prank, or a mild reprimand.  It is only at the level of a menacing look. (By Jes B. Tirol)

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