The communist bugaboo of the Russian kind has not been working anymore on Filipinos for many years, since soon after the Fall of the Berlin Wall about 20 years ago.
Our friendship for Russians, who mostly disdain their past communist overlords, was once more apparent when visiting Russian Marines demonstrated their combat skills before the Jose Rizal monument at Rizal Park (Luneta) in Manila on Thursday. Filipinos—and Filipinas—hugged the Russkys and took selfies with them.
Such effrontery, before 1989, would have elicited strident protest actions from local rightwingers, especially because the audacity was displayed in front of the acknowledged national hero of the Philippines, not before the monument to Andres Bonifacio, who perhaps to Lenin’s countrymen was more “revolutionary” than Rizal was.
The Russian Marines were treated like celebrities, not some eastern Slav giants who got stranded at the South Harbor while on a five-day port call here.
To be seen in the old days with Russians, Marines or not, was a sure ticket to being labeled a Red coddler or a communist sympathizer, a passport in turn to social ostracism, if not outright condemnation.
Besides, in that historical past, to be caught even just an arm’s length of Marxists–Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese or Cuban–constituted a risky and reckless disregard for one’s personal safety.
The Russian Marines aboard two destroyers are in the Philippines because President Rodrigo Duterte wants expanded military ties with Moscow in line with his own pivot to Russia, as well as to capitalist-roading
Communist Party-ruled China. On Friday, the President climbed up the Admiral Tributs, probably the first time that a Philippine leader had set foot on a foreign naval boat, Russian or American.
Well, the President once advertised himself as a “socialist,” a fact that he apparently wants to be known to the United States, a long-time ally of the Philippines, which, however, is seen as restricting Manila from pursuing an independent foreign policy that from DU30’s verbiage – separation! — could consist of disregarding US-Philippine agreements, treaties and customary details of decades-long friendship.
This pursuit, of course, has not shocked Filipino conservatives as unobservant Filipinos might think. These Filipinos lack the facts because they do not deign to know what the Center for Research and Communication and the University of Asia & the Pacific espouse. Conservatives are ALL wrongly and unjustly seen to be political and business surrogates of US interests. The fact is conservatives are just as patriotic as the Leftists and their idea of an independent Philippine foreign and economic policy is one that is free from anyone’s control, whether of Russia, China, Japan or the United States.
The DU30 policies resonate with members of the Philippine radical Left who have apparently given up the thought that Moscow and Beijing are led by “revisionists” and traitors to the doctrines espoused by Lenin and Mao.
There are no Bayan Muna marches to the Russian Embassy. A few moons ago, BM would have denounced any apparatchik transiting through Manila by ship or airplane. There are no incendiary speeches in the Philippine Congress warning about a Russian invasion.
Times they are a-changing. It would be a sad exercise in self-destructive parochialism for the Philippines to
ignore that there are more countries than it ever imagined that could offer Manila better trade, economic and political deals.
To President DU30, Russia, as well as China, could help “make this world peaceful,” says Malacañang spokesman Ernesto Abella. This is a remarkably extremely late realization, considering that the USA itself and Russia have been having a honeymoon for years now, although the marriage experiences, like any other marriage does, a souring up every now and then, caused by such things as the defeated Democrats’ insistence that Russia had hacked the recent elections. This, however, the US president-elect, Mr. Donald Trump, who is sweet on Russian President Putin, calls ridiculous.
Russian Ambassador to Manila Igor Khovaev of course likes DU30’s apparently anti-American acts and pronouncements. The envoy says the more the merrier it would be if the Philippines freed itself from America’s embrace.
Straight into the hug of the Russian bear?
Not necessarily, according to Khovaev, who recently explained to reporters, “Diversification of partners doesn’t mean choosing between old and new but having good relations with many.”
Good advice. This is precisely what Russia has done (after it shredded Das Kapital and the Marxist-Leninist tomes), following the example of America and Europe.