President Aquino made the right move after the bloody attacks in Paris. Which was to declare oneness with the French people and the embattled city of lights. Our media outlets, setting aside the parochial mind-set for once, also headlined the Paris attacks and the bloody aftermath. And wrote good-to-passable editorials on the senselessness of the jihadist attacks.
We declared what every country that believes in democracy and secularism should declare. We showed that we were a responsible member of the global community. In short, we said “We Are Parisians Now.”
If you were observant enough, though, you will notice one thing. The dominant global media outlets never took notice of our expression of oneness and solidarity with the French people. Our newspaper headlines were not in the collection of headlines gathered from around the world and carried by the global media players. It seems that the only institution that took notice of our expression of solidarity with the Parisians was the French Embassy in Manila.
Not that we were seeking some recognition for our efforts. No. Our expression of solidarity was a from-the-heart thing. But still you have to wonder why one of the most populous nations on earth with over a 100 million people remains a blur on the global stage. The global media have failed to notice our lining up with the community of nations on the expression of solidarity with the French people. No one in the outside world seemed to notice.
Then we realize this sad fact. Our weak voice and unfelt presence are the direct opposite of Mr. Aquino’s claim on our new-found global status.
Mr. Aquino, in his yearend statement claimed that his years as President have been noticed by the world, in the form of a “magnified global presence.” Implied in that statement is that we are now part of the world’s movers and shakers, truly emergent, truly recognized.
That’s truthess, not the truth. We were a pigmy in 2010 and we remain a pigmy now. Mr. Aquino gets notice from the Davos Crowd, true, but that Crowd is essentially a networking circuit and does not at stand for “global presence.” Ok, what’s true? It is the same old story.
We get attention when a great tragedy strikes us, Pinatubo, Yolanda etc. When an overloaded ship, a floating coffin really, sinks in the high seas with barely any life saver. When our troops are massacred. and when the Left’s Army reports a surge in new recruits (yes, in this age of Bitcoin and planned trips to Mars we still have an active communist insurgency). But when we offer a voice of sympathy and oneness with a world gone awry, we are never heard. Most Filipinos are agnostic about the recognition thing and they don’t simply care. For as long as our overseas diasporas bring in the hard currency and play a major role in overseas employment, we are content. But to say that our status is now of a “magnified global presence” is pure fiction.
Why we don’t get global recognition is due to a combination of many things and many factors. And the first is our failure to offer to the world something of great value, a global-changing offering, be it a product, be it an idea or be it an overachieving Filipino. We have failed to turn out a “Samsung.” We have not written a “Love in the Time of Cholera.” We can’t even study in-depth the weighty global issues that have bearing on us and the world. Let us go back to the caliphate-building agenda of Islamic jihadists to illustrate the paucity of ideas of so-called Filipino intellectuals.
Yes, we have beauty queens and boxing champions. We text like mad and inane TV shows get 20 million plus tweets. But to call those hollow victories as “greatness” is a stretch.
Look at this. As the world is torn apart by the brutal wages of religious fundamentalism, our think-tanks and research universities, if you can really call them by those names, have failed to turn out a single universally-reviewed and recognized research on Islamic fundamentalism. Despite the fact that we were one of the first countries in the world to get a taste of fundamentalist-induced violence.
Despite the MNLF’s public agenda of secularism, there was no doubt that the secessionist agenda that resulted into long-drawn wars with the military in Muslim Mindanao starting in the 70s was not without strains of fundamentalism.
In fact, it was the ultra-religious within the original MNLF that broke away from the mainline group to form the MILF. And the most radical and violence-prone elements of the MILF, broke away to form the ultra-violent strains such as the Abu Sayyaf.
Despite all these, we have not contributed valuable inputs and expert guidance on Islamic extremism. And failed to provide coherent answer to this question. Why, in the age of Bitcoins, is there an urge to establish caliphates.
What “smart anything” has been turned out by local factories or techno-hubs, a product that has taken the globe by storm and could have placed the name Philippines on the list of global innovators? Zero.
Can you identify a native -born leader, mover and shaker outside the realm of fashion design and performing? A Nobel prize winner relocated here, only to die due to lack of medical care. The gold standard for Silicon Valley investing has been Dado Banatao, the one and only and he is not even in the league of Peter Thiel. Again, I ask this question. Why can’t we turn out the likes of Sundar and Satya?
While it is not a bad thing, we seem to have been under the grip of underwhelming aspirations, such as the main supplier of DH and marine officers to the world.
With pigmy aspirations is a pigmy status on the global stage.
China has been mocking us by building all those massive and permanent structures in areas that have been ours from time immemorial. Right now we can say this with accuracy: China is doing the most aggressive infra buildup within PH territory. We respond two ways. Cry a river and go to the UN for arbitration. Let out a whimper and seek US assistance.
Or, timidly claim that at least the Benham Rise is ours as it is outside of China’s line of sight.
Ah, the world is a stage and we are not even stage hands. “Magnified global presence” is, unfortunately, part of the items on Mr. Aquino’s list of imagined greatness.