This word has multiple meanings in the dictionary. The most common is given below.
blame, scold, criticize
sinusumbat nila sa akin
they always reminding me of (that thing)
Lagi nilang sinusumbat sa akin ang ibinigay nilang tulong.
They’re always coarsely reminding me of the help they gave.
Huwag mo akong sumbatan.
Don’t scold me.
Cultural note: To engage in sumbat is to ungraciously, even rudely, remind someone of an unpleasant thing that the listener wouldn’t want to hear about.
Just to give one example… You helped someone. As the person who offered the help, you should be gracious about it and not keep reminding the person that you helped him/her. Doing so is considered very crude behavior in Filipino culture. The person who was helped already feels bad inside about receiving your favor… that you would keep rubbing it into the poor soul’s face is really bad form.
Another example: An employee made a big mistake. He apologized and made amends. That should be the end of it. It should be forgotten. If you keep reminding the employee that he made that mistake, you are engaging in sumbat.
Huwag mo laging sumbatan.
Don’t always reproach him/her.
In Philippine culture, if you’re the powerful person in a social dynamic (if you’re the prettier one or the richer one), you’re the one who should be gracious to the inferior person. Why? Because the inferior person is already inferior! Nothing can change his poverty or ugliness. The least you can do is not make him or her feel bad about it.
Sure, you can choose to throw your weight around, but then you deserve criticism. On the other hand, if you’re gracious to those less powerful than you, you will be respected and admired for it. Humility is a considered a virtue. If you want to engage in blustery badassness, you better be in a really very powerful position that people can’t hit back at you.
Sumbat also often happens among friends… and that’s in that casual, friendly situation that the person on the receiving end can answer back and question why you’re engaging in sumbat.
Bakit mo ako laging sinusumbatan?
Why are you always reproaching me?
The simple Tagalog word for “blame” is bintang.