Is It Child Abuse or Discipline in the Philippines?

Rainy days have always allowed me to do some deep thinking and to envision just where I see myself in the future. As I am sitting by the window, I can’t help but notice the strong flow of the rain and the thunder’s magnetic force. It is like two powers combined into one, but without “discipline”, those powers lack the desired outcome of their efforts. Upon my arrival at Cambridge, Massachusetts yesterday, I cannot help but notice the differences between my home state of California and this state. As I don my suit and tie to face my upcoming university today, a feeling of restlessness came rushing through my spine.

It obviously does not help that in the past 3 days I have only had 17 hours of sleep from flying repeatedly. However, I stood in front of the Harvard University campus and realized the “discipline” it took to get accepted into this institution. It reminds me of a speech I once heard and it said “two roads diverged and the one I took was the less traveled.” This path I took is truly less traveled as personal sacrifices were made to meet the academic criterias. At times, sacrificing personal time on the weekends was not an uncommon trend, but it had to be accomplished.

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Many have identified me as very “disciplined” and this is not because I serve my country in the profession of arms, neither does it mean that I have placed academics as my top priority, but my late mother who taught me what “discipline” is and why she did so.

In the Philippines, is it child abuse when parents spank their children? Have you seen mothers run outside on the street and literally grab her son’s ear while she yells at him at the same time? From personal experience, I can tell you that I have seen these things first hand. Though I only lived in the Philippines until I was 9, I often wondered just why do parents openly spank their children in public. I used to think that it was customary and the parents just did it out of love since they want their children to be “disciplined.” My mother would always tell me that she spanked us because she loved us dearly and did not want us to repeat the same infractions. Back then, we had neighbors from Pangasinan and our family became very close to them. In fact, we still visit them whenever I am back in the homeland. I recall Manang Nina (the mother) yelling outside to get her daughter’s attention because she had done something wrong. She yelled out “MARRRRIAAAAAAAA” in that accent and I ran with Maria to go to her house. Her mom took a sandal and spanked her rear end because she did not do her assigned chores.

As a young boy, I was very rambunctious and was a daddy’s boy. In fact, I think I still am today:o) I definitely got the belt growing up and everything my mother could get her hands on, you can bet she used it on me. After my spanking, I would go to the corner, cry and tell myself that my mommy did not love me anymore. I wanted to run away and never come back, but my dad picked me up and would always say “mommy did that because you were being a bad boy and she loves you anak, like daddy does.” “Now stop crying and give daddy a kiss” as he would always say. We moved to America and of course I was still very young and didn’t want to do anything but play Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt on my brand new NES. We would go to church on Sundays at 8:00 AM so you can imagine how much fun it was for a 9 year old to get up at 7 and be ready. My sister and I obviously did not pay attention to the church hearings so we ended up playing rock, paper, scissors. My mom is very religious and wanted us to be close to GOD, which is understandable. While we were playing and giggling during the sermon, mom turned to us and said “okay, keep having your fun because when we get home, I’m gonna have my fun with the both of you.” I don’t need to explain what happened when we arrived home.

Nowadays, there are numerous rules when it comes to disciplining children in the Philippines. The Anti-Corporal Punishment Act of 2009 (House Bill 6699) prohibits the use of physical force to reprimand children. In addition to that, it also prevents the usage of verbal assault and placing children in degrading situations to rectify inappropriate behaviors. Many have specified that a simple smacking escalates into a beating and this can cause trauma for a child. Moreover, there are people who disagree and say spanking is essential because they don’t believe “time out” is effective. Opinions continue to flow and another group of individuals say verbal abuse is far worse because bruises heal, but harsh words stir up anger. They defend it by insisting it is hard enough to enter the adolescent years and to grow up with insecurities from verbal abuse. The Anti-Corporal Punishment Act of 2009 states that positive discipline should be enforced and
I will provide you with two examples it touches on. The first one is understanding how the child thinks and feels, while the second is discussing the problem with the child and identify effective approaches to solve it.

On a final note, I do not fault my late mother for the “discipline” she has instilled in me. I see now why she did it and I truly believe it was out of love and those were her ways to show me not to do bad things. I am thankful for that and I know she is instrumental with how my life is now. A lot of you will have mixed feelings with this topic, but I can assure you that in my family, spanking still does occur and my old school relatives believe it is an efficient way to correct a child who has stepped out of boundaries. For the child receiving the punishment, can we actually read what is on his or her mind? But that’s another chapter that awaits to be read…

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  • Scotsbloke

    There is a world of difference between disciplining children and hitting children.

    You can hit without discipline and discipline without hitting and I know which I prefer.

    My kids are aged 10, 11 and 13. They are polite, and well-mannered. I travel a lot with them and they are alway good company. They have never been hit by me or my ex wife but they have been given guidelines and an ethical framework. They know what’s right and what’s wrong without the need to strike them.

    Knocking the shit out of kids is always wrong.

  • OnlyMe

    I know this is a very hard topic, but that exact word was the same words our parents used to tell us. ” WE SPANK YOU BECAUSE WE LOVE YOU ” resentment oozes out in every pore of your being, can’t feel that love when your hide stings. Now that I’m a parent I felt sorry for my parents because I felt sorry for myself everytime I spank my kids. Horrible disgust, felt so sad, and mind you I don’t spank like the way my (more like my Mom, never my Dad) mother did, I warn my kids how many spanking( Limit to 3, threats 10) and strickly on the buns. Everytime the need for spanking arises I will gear myself that it is a necessary evil. it’s depressing…what to do, what to do, what is right what is wrong. I talked to a lot of parents on this and still it remains an open ended questions. I have to end this with a note that I still love my parents very dearly and did not resent them one single bit, actually thankful for what we they did to us all siblings.

  • James Sowerby


  • Diepor

    people that cant raise a child without violence shouldnt be allowed to have kids

    • shineamen

      Anyone can raise his childs like spoiled brat, they just have to know they’ll pay high price afterwards,,, no violence of course but legitimate and adapted severity and control needed.