, for the people in many parts of the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...
), is the concept of a non-human and non-divine, imminent retribution
Retributive justice is a theory of justice that considers that punishment, if proportionate, is a morally acceptable response to crime, with an eye to the satisfaction and psychological benefits it can bestow to the aggrieved party, its intimates and society....
. A sort of negative karma, it is generally seen as an evil effect on a person because of their wrongdoings or transgressions. The word has later been recycled for translating "divine retribution
" or "divine fury
" in the translations of the Bible to many local dialects in the Philippines. It is also translated as nemesis
The gabâ can be characterized through various Cebuano proverbs:
- It is not necessarily immediate in its effect. (Ang gabâ dili sama sa sili nga mohalang dayon.)
- It may come unexpectedly. (Ang gabâ dili magsaba.)
- It is not limited to transgressions against fellow human beings: objects considered holy can also cause gabâ, such as dropping on the ground a sacred root crop of ubi. (The concept was later extended to religious icons such as bibles or rosaries). Even the least-valued object may cause it. (Bisan ang ube makagabâ.)
- It could happen to persons who are important to the transgressor. For example, people would say "gigabân" of a womanizing father whose daughter has a child out of wedlock.
The source of gabâ is not a god or God or an absolute karmic principle, but in the spirits of nature. It must have arisen out of the animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....
of pre-Spanish Cebuanos. With the coming of Christianity into the Islands, gabâ became "absorbed" in the Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...
. In-depth examination, however, would show that it is incompatible with Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...
Gabâ and panghimaraot
Gabâ is distinct from panghimaraot
(curse) whereby a transgressed person pronounces a maldesyon
against the transgressor. In panghimaraot
, evil is asked to befall on the sinner; with gabâ, evil
Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...
is sure to befall on the sinner, even if it is not asked. Sometimes Cebuanos blurt out threats of gabâ, "Gabân ka gyod!
", but it is not taken to mean that gabâ is being asked; it is only a reminder to the transgressor that no one is excluded from it. Sometimes sinners also ask for exclusion in pidgin Spanish: Puyra gabâ!
Gabâ and karma
Gabâ is not synonymous with the Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...
law of karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....
: gabâ is only in the negative (a punishment), unlike karma which may be good or bad. Both concepts are known to the Visayan peoples, although gabâ is considered purely indigenous, while karma was historically imported.
Gabâ and divine retribution
Gabâ is not, strictly speaking, the same as punishment from a godhead, such as the monotheisms' God or the Greek goddess Nemesis
In Greek mythology, Nemesis , also called Rhamnousia/Rhamnusia at her sanctuary at Rhamnous, north of Marathon, was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris . The Greeks personified vengeful fate as a remorseless goddess: the goddess of revenge...
: gabâ does not presuppose an Ultimate Being.
Some sociologists believe that Gabâ is one of the causes of the complacency of Cebuanos: because of their belief in it, they prefer to be silent on abuses. It gives hope to the oppressed that someday the abuses will be paid for.