Why do we always fail to see things using the lens of a Filipino? Why should we be split over the formulation of being pro-American and hence anti-China or vice versa? Why can’t we see ourselves as being Filipino first and hence taking a position for the Filipino or because we are Filipinos?
Why do we see ourselves as small and Americans as big and, therefore, in a power relations framework, we don’t measure up to them? Why is our history littered with great Filipinos fighting their way for country and its inhabitants and yet today, taking a stand and saying enough is enough, we cower in fear? Don’t do that, it’ll not be good for our country. Since when is thinking country bad?
Can we do it alone? Will the Americans leave us? Who will defend us? The BPO industry will go. The OFW remittances will be affected. Filipinos will have no jobs. We won’t have the wherewithal to last as a nation without America. In this 21st Century, we worry because our leader displeased the master of our colonial past.
We cry for insulting America and we forget we are Filipinos first. We fear the Chinese and later, the Russians. They are the enemies? But communism is dead, right? China has one country, two systems because Deng Xiaoping saw the value of market economy. And the mighty Union of Soviet Socialist Republic is gone, a difficult and tumultuous end that occurred in 1991, an aftermath of Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika. And yet when a Filipino leader visits these two nations or even just a hint of being close with them, one is already anti-American? Can’t we see it as being Filipino? That we have grown up as a nation and are now willing to pursue an independent foreign policy? Isn’t it good for the Philippines to be friendly to all? Yes, even to those who occupied our territories with an arbitral award that we hold dear and can’t get anyone to implement it.
Think about it. The American enterprise is based on defense. Their number one industry is manufacturing guns, tanks, fighter planes, armaments. They need to produce these “products” and export them. They need wars in order for their economy to grow, from colonial wars to war on terrorism. In fact, “America has been at war 93% of the time – 222 out of 239 years since 1776.” The only time the US went five years without war (1935-40) was during the isolationist period of the Great Depression. The warfare and military procurement started to become a major permanent part of the American economy with the Spanish-American War and World War I. US President Dwight Eisenhower called it the “military-industrial complex” and today is more accurately described as the “financial-industrial-military-congressional” complex. And we are just a spec, a forward positioning platform in their so-called Asian pivot.
That is why the US has forward operating bases. The Philippines used to have one and was terminated in 1991. Now, under EDCA, “Manila had offered Washington eight bases where it could build facilities to store equipment: Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga; Clark Air Base, also in Pampanga; Fort Magsaysay in Palayan, Nueva Ecija; Camp Antonio Bautista and a naval base in Palawan; Camp Benito Ebuen and a naval base in Cebu, and Lumbia air field in Cagayan de Oro City. The Americans were also seeking access to three seaports, including Subic Bay, the former US naval base in Zambales, and airfields in Luzon.”
China, on the other hand, had their shares of war, as well as flexing muscles to show their military strength. But they have not occupied us and our relationship with them has always been trade since the Ming dynasty. China has been involved in 24 wars and conflicts from 1927 to the present. Five of the deadliest wars actually happened in China. But do we even know why China today has a seat in the permanent five on the United Nations Security Council, the top table of global diplomacy? “It is not because of anything that Chairman Mao did. It was because of the wartime efforts of Chiang Kai-shek, and essentially as a direct result of China’s involvement in the Allied side in World War II.”
So what is wrong with our national DNA? We seem unable to think in our frames but in the light of someone else’s. We think small when we can think big. We think vassal when we are a free nation, able to determine on our own what is to our best interest. If we pursue an independent foreign policy, are we not making our nation strong? Strong that we are treated as equals? Strong that we can bargain and do what a small nation like Israel has been doing all the years of its existence. Strong cause we know our strategic value to all and yet friendly, because we can’t go to any war, whether proxy or direct confrontations. Because going to war is not in our DNA. It takes decades before we snap.
There was a time when a Filipino President pursued Filipino First. Pilipino Muna was a policy first introduced and implemented by the administration of then President Carlos P. Garcia. Under the policy, Filipino-owned businesses were given more importance over their foreign counterparts, and patronizing Filipino-made products by Filipinos was promoted. The policy was a response to the impact of free trade and American economic dominance in the Philippines for years following World War II. It was meant to assert the Filipino role over the country’s economy, if not to gain control of it by promoting “Filipino business establishment.”
By virtue of Resolution No. 202 of the National Economic Council on Aug. 28, 1958, Garcia declared that, “Filipinos would have preference over non-Filipinos in receiving foreign exchange.” In line with the policy, Garcia pledged that his administration would “assist Filipino entrepreneurs to make ventures in industries dominated by non-Filipinos.” It received positive support from Filipino businessmen but earned negative reception with foreign businessmen, particularly the Americans, Chinese along with the Chinese-Filipino. Chinese Filipinos in particular accused the policy of discrimination over its interpretation of who is a “Filipino” and felt marginalized by the policy. Critics labeled the policy as being “anti-foreign.”
Garcia in response to his critics said that his policy was not meant to foster Filipino “exclusiveness” or was meant to be “anti-foreign,” and stated that the Philippines will not close itself to foreign capital. He asserts that the policy is meant to give Filipinos priority in relation to control over the country’s basic industries and their development.
That was 1958 or some 58 years ago and we still labor over the fact that we should think first about us than others. Us, Filipinos than others! Truly, as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
Whatever happened to us? Whatever happened to the Filipinos with courageous ancestry?