Poe, Paredes, and Aquino: The trivialization of citizenship


First of a series

“I will answer in the proper forum,” Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares replied to media inquiries regarding her citizenship, three months ago — as if the issue was not of paramount importance, and the lawyers will explain it.

And this former US citizen even thinks she can be President? Not several years from now as she accumulates experience to enrich her understanding of the Philippines that she had renounced, but next year?

The 1970s singer Jim Paredes in 2006 denounced the Philippines as one where “there’s nothing new and so much cynicism,” so that he decided, he said, “to migrate to Australia.” He “was taking a vacation from being a Filipino,” he said in an interview with a Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism writer. Recently, he’s back trying to convince people whom to vote for President of the nation he had left.

The President of the Republic never pinning the nation’s emblem on his chest, instead his “Yellow Ribbon” of Americana lore.

Llamanzares is in her 40s, Paredes in his 60s, and President Aquino in his 50s are of different generations, but all reflect a sad phenomenon in the country, which is really one of it biggest obstacles to prosperity.

Filipino citizenship has been trivialized.


Signs of the times: Senator Llamanzares’ US passport; 1970s singer Paredes’ announcement he’s giving up on the country; Brooklyn Nets basketball player becoming Filipino to play in the national team; and, President Aquino III who has never pinned the Philippine emblem on his chest. Insets: The Yellow Ribbon takes over the 60-year old Liberal Party logo; Paredes’ trio in nationalist garb, in a more nationalist era.

So much so that it has reached disgusting levels, as when foreign basketball players are given Filipino citizenship in order to play in the national team  – and nobody thinks something is wrong with that.

And when people of a country trivialize its citizenship, it marks the nadir of nationalism — the sense that we belong to an exclusive organization called the nation-state, whose members’ fate becomes tied up with each other precisely because of their membership. And if nationalism is weakened, it’s every man for himself.

Llamanzares doesn’t even feel she has to explain exhaustively and present documents, as soon as the issue was raised, that she is truly Filipino, not just in sentiment but in actual, legal reality.

Paredes for his part didn’t like the country’s two presidents before this one, so he put down the country, and told the world he would become an Australian instead.

But when he liked the country’s president, the present one, he returned to tell us all who had been left here whom to vote for as president and whom not to. But what happens if his candidate Manuel Roxas II, in a tantrum, does something that triggers a war or an economic collapse, will Paredes remain here, or give an excuse that his family in Australia needs him?

Llamanzares hasn’t said whether her husband also has denounced his US citizenship. If she doesn’t become president or vice president in 2016 and fades into obscurity, will she also say, like Paredes, she’s tired of the country and so they’ll return to America, or “take a vacation from being Filipino”?

Sad and tragic
To see Llamanzares and Paredes trivialize Filipino citizenship is indeed sad — and tragic, since their backgrounds should have put them at the nationalist vanguard of the country.

Llamanzares’ father Fernando Poe’s acting career of course made him rich, but it still helped the masses’ be proud to be Filipino with his portrayal of a distinctively Filipino mythological hero, “Panday.” Although confusing the real person with his movie character, columnist Randy David described Panday’s impact: “He showed them what a Filipino in these times could be.” Today it’s American comic and movie heroes — Ironman, Spider Man, Luke Skywalker.

The name and songs of Paredes’ trio, the APO Hiking Society emerged out of the “Filipinization” movement at the Ateneo in the 1970s. (Under that movement, we even got Filipino as the language used in the college paper Guidon and its literary magazine, something which Ateneans now do not even know happened.) Paredes wouldn’t have been the celebrity he was, if the APO Hiking sang American or British songs and aped the Everly Brothers or the Dave Clark Five.

They sang Filipino songs, not of course kundiman songs, but in the language the youth used, which therefore made Pilipino and being Filipino, well — cool. APO in its nationalist ethos wasn’t unique though. Believe it or not, a hit song in that era was by the Hotdogs, which celebrated going back to the country and its traffic, that “there’s no place like Manila.” Your fellow commuters at the MRT-3 will throw you out of the window, if you sang that now.

APO Hiking Society’s original name was actually Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society, Danny Javier’s brilliant and humorous idea of paying homage to the paraplegic Filipino hero, but not being solemn about it. They were accused making fun of Mabini, but they were already getting popular with the name, so they changed it to the politically correct Apo (as in Mt. Apo) Hiking Society.

Yet even with those kinds of background, Filipino citizenship has become trivialized for Poe and Paredes. And to say citizenship has been trivialized is the same thing as saying that nationalism in our country has declined.

Much sadder for us is that the President of the Republic is himself a reflection of the decline of nationalism. Yes, his speeches are in Filipino, but one can sense that he does that only because his advisers told him that would endear him to the masses, thus his propensity to use street lingo in his speeches like “E di Wow.”

Never wore the Philippine emblem
Aquino has never pinned the country’s emblem on his left chest, as all his predecessors have, and heads of other states do. His sigil is not that of the Philippine Republic, but the “Yellow Ribbon,” an advertising kind of branding concocted in 1985 by an American political consultancy firm Sawyer-Miller [See note on this below], which originated from an American folk tale of a freed convict unsure of the loyalty of his beloved.

The yellow-ribbon would have been dismissed as inappropriate, corny Americana, and forgotten fast if Marcos had not fallen, or if Cory Aquino made good on her promise to let Salvador Laurel be President. Yet Aquino prefers that to the Philippine flag that represents the blood of thousands of heroes sacrificing their lives to create a nation.

The Yellow Ribbon in fact has even taken over the Liberal Party’s logo, nearly obliterating the Philippine flag. If a Daang Matuwid candidate wins in 2016, will he pass a law putting the Yellow Ribbon on our flag?

“Filipino First,” “This Nation can be great again,” “Philippines 2000,” “Strong Republic” — these are some of the slogans Aquino’s predecessors tried to disseminate to strengthen our sense of nationalism. For Aquino though it is just “Daang Matuwid,” a moral notion, rather than a vision of what the Filipino nation could be.

Even the new car plates reveal how little this administration feels about the idea and the ideal of a Philippine Republic. Nearly all past administrations wisely saw the plates as a means for developing Filipino nationalism as these are seen everywhere, and these had a flag, a nationalist slogan, and even a portrayal of Rizal’s monument. Nothing in Aquino’s plates indicate that the Philippine Republic issues them.

If that is the kind of President we have, it is no wonder that Paredes has been rooting for him, and so does — or did — Poe.

Next in these series: (1) Why nationalism has been in decline; (2) What nationalism is in this day and age; and (3) Why its slump explains much of the economic morass we’re submerged in.

[For more on Sawyer-Miller see James Harding, "Alpha Dogs: The Americans Who Turned Political Spin into a Global Business.”]
FB: Bobi Tiglao


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  1. Pnoy is only an accidental leader. He has no vision, as he is myopic. He has no substance (as in his speeches), as he is just a blabbermouth, whose attention span is as short as the number of hairs in his head. I did not vote for him as I can never take part in an emotional euphoria triggered by Cory’s death.

  2. Wala na sigurong makuha si Jim Paredes sa mga amo niyang dilawan tulad ni Abnoy kaya lumayas na siya ssa Pinas.. Good for the Filipino people. Hindi namin kailangan ang mga taong tulad mo lalong lalo na ang mga dilawan na walang pagmamahal sa bayang pilipinas kundi ang pagmamahal nila sa pangungarakot ng salapi ng bayan at pahirapan ang ating mga manggagawa. kaya siniraan nila ng husto si FeM pero ngayon alam na nang taong bayan ang kasinungalingan ng mga dilawan sa pumumuno ng mga aquino family.. to hell and karma sa mga dilawan na kaanib nitong abnormal na presidente ng pinas, na peste sa mamayang filipino. Get out of our country esp abnoy presidente.

  3. Mr. Tiglao, sir, now I can understand why it is easy for Aquino to give parts of the country to anybody who wants it. In particular the MILF wanted a piece of land in Mindanao to be their own state. And Aquino happy grant their desire by handing them the BBL. In Aquino’s mind there is no Philippine flag to honor but the Yellow ribbon that signifies the Philippines belongs to the Aquinos. Its high time to remove this wolf and his cabal from Malacanang having a yellow mentality.

  4. As I said before and will again, I am not fan of Grace Poe Llamanares, Grace Poe Llamanares knows that, she said she is a Political Science graduate Boston College, as is she knows very well her limitations.

  5. Ke Pnoy, I am wondering bakit nga ayaw nyang mag suot ng philippine flag emblem sa damit nya. Is he a cult master or he has no respect in our flag?

    Ke Grace, kung palusutin ng Comelec at ng SC si Grace na tumakbo bilang presidente at manalo, ngayon lang tayo magkakaruon ng presidenteng dating kana at me pamilyang kano. Ah gusto ng mga Kano yan.

  6. Amnata Pundit on

    Ang patunay na itong mga anti-Marcos na mga dilaw ay walang pagmamahal sa bayan ay ang pilit nilang ginagawang kahiya-hiya ang maging Pilipino ngayon. Di ba nakakapagtaka na pinupuri sila ng Western press sa pangunguna ng Kano, maski na parang tsonggo ang palakad nila sa gobyerno? Para nila tayong ginagago. Dahil dito maliwanag na hindi maganda ang pakay ng mga puti dito sa atin, at ito ay isang bagay na alam ng sinoman na bihasa sa tunay na kasaysayan ng Pilipinas. Ang sagot dito ay isang Filipinismo movement, at ang magandang simulan nito ay ang Comelec/Smartmatic. Filipinize the election system and get rid of Smartmatic. It is their Achilles heel even if at the same time it is their source strength as it assures them of their hold on power permanently. All the energies of every patriotic Filipino should be focused towards this end.

  7. I had two opportunities to migrate to America and Australia in the late 1980s and mid-1990s. But I opted to stay in the Philippines where I believe I can contribute my share to help our country and people.

    On the citizenship of the husband and children of Senator Grace Poe. I was told by an authoritative source that they are ALL American citizens. Wow! When Ms. Poe becomes president of the Phiippines, she will be the very first to have a completely American family. That should be good for Filipino-American friendship/ He-he. :-)

  8. Danny Cascolan on

    XBakit maraming Pilipino di alam kung anu tlaga ibig sabihin ng ‘natural born’ as the constitution defined?
    Maraming Pilipino di alam na our Constitution reserved the Presidency, VP, senatorial, congressional, chair in chr, audit etc., for natural borns only? Of which Poe is flagrantly blatantly violating in her full moral knowledge? Umpisa pa lang wala nang integrity si Poe. Bakit for what sensical reason na many want to vote for someone like Poe in a fact of moral violation and loss of integrity? Dont we hate to be dumb all over again?

    Excerpt Commentary,
    Pa repost kc inedit ko for addtl clarity i hope,
    So please review your contention of Jus Soli, its american law not Ph law.
    And as I explained for the sake of rudimentary logical ll of what citizenship is from previous commentaries, theres the matter where Poe lost filipino citizenship in 2001 when Poe became an erican citizen( even before there was republic act on dual citizenship, automatically losing a citizenship loses all subclassification ciempre at that moment, that the circumstance of jus soli jus sanguine is also extinguished and loses relevance kc nga artifices ito, irrelevant na when the citizenship doesnt exist anymore . One needs to be reborn to acquire the perfect circumstance again-di biological ang citizenship kc, citizenship specifically ‘natural born’-classification is an entitlement by State law according to present circumstances that fulfills the requirement as a baby is born, the law cant entitle the same for a 2nd time without the required circumstance, 2nd time around would be aptly an application for citizenship would be an operation of naturalization.)

    Excerpt commentary,

    even in an event that Poe for example claims her blood parents are Marcos and Sonora or any other, the admission shall amount to a moot and academic argument. Because no one should claim being a ‘natural born citizen’ of the Philippines when by law is no longer a citizen of our nation in the first place. Citizenship po ang pinag uusapan hindi biological roots.
    Dont be But filipinos that do not respect rule of Law and morals. Take the Grace Poe example. Many Filipinos would rather break the laws, filipinos that would rather not follow national moral rules ( compare to Japanese, american, german, vietnamese, koreans, singaporeans etc ). This demonstrates that Filipinos dont even respect their Constitution.

  9. apolonio reyes on

    I know that most Filipinos who went to USA, Canada, Australia, etc., and denouncing their Filipino citizenship and became a citizen of that country were mostly due to economic reason, they don’t have good employment here and to help sponsors their parents & siblings. However, those who were already rich like Poe and Paredes have no reason at all to denounced their Filipino Citizenship except they are fed up of the country and being a Filipino. They return here for convenient ONLY.
    Please give us a good reason why we will vote for you as our next President, Grace Poe Llamansarez ? Youn imbestigation mo sa Mamasapano ay bitin, maliban sa sinabi mo na may responsibilidad si Pnoy. Ano pa Sen. Grace nagawa mo para iboto ka naming president come 2016, maliban na anak ka ( naniniwala ako ) ni Ronald Alan Poe?

  10. When hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are toiling while being abused by their employers across the globe because the leaders of the country they accidentally were born in never really attended to creating fulfilling employment because the very notion of equitably paid labor force is anathema to the interest of the rich and powerful bankrollers, how then can one instill nationalism?

    Nowadays, there are so many “mestizasized” Filipinas – brown hair and whitened skin. Obviously, these people have long lost, assuming they ever did, their sense of identity as Filipinas.

    We still have to produce an engineering or medical textbook written in our national language. Ergo, the essential ingredient to solidify our sense of identity as a Filipino is much lacking.

    We proclaim “I am proud to be a Filipino,” whenever a Pinoy boxer wins or a singer lands on America’s mainstream media. A good boxer and a good singer have nothing to do with nationalism. Skills and talent of individuals are not a foundation for nationhood.

    When a significant number of taxpayers are subjected daily to the horror of taking MRT to and fro their workplace, how can one believe we have leaders who care for the working class? How can one claim pride in one’s citizenship when a simple fixing and upgrading of those trains is bogged down because there those who cannot arrive at an acceptable “hatian?”

    Simply put, the powers that pull the strings find it extremely profitable to Jello-lized the brains of the mob through mass media. Jose Rizal’s “pagasa ng Inang Bayan,” given the chance, will be so happy and excited to hop on a plane to whichever country will grant them a working visa. That is, after they finish watching a Korean telenovela. How can you blame them? Their classmates have the latest gadgets and branded rubber shoes because the parents of their classmates are OFWs.

    Iniibig ko ang Pilpinas ay walang batayan kung ang mga namumuno sa ating bansa ay walang humpay sa pagaabuso ng kanilang kapangyarihan. Paano mo iibigin ang isang bansa na ang dumadami ay hindi ang mga tao na may marangal na hanapbuhay na sumasapat sa pangaraw-araw na pangangailangan, na nagbibigay ng sapat na pagkakataon na iangat ang antas ng pagiisip para sa makabuluhan at aktibong pakikisali sa paghubog sa tinutunong “national vision.”

  11. Nationalism was replaced by commercialism. You can see it around. The people are more concerned of what they will have on the present.

    Religion also contributed to this decline. The religious groups teaches its adherents ‘ipagdasal na lang’, turn your cheek etc. They teach for spiritual salvation, not the physical salvation from this oppressive government pretending to look after the needs of the people. just my opinion though.

  12. Pinoy is not nationalistic but PILIPINONG ABNOY. Mas mahal niya ang simbolong yellow ribbon kaysa ang sagisag ng ating bayan. Kaya binibigyan niya ng pansin at kahalagaan ang kanyang KKK kaysa ang kabayanihan ng MAMASAPANO 40. Kay malas talaga ng ating bansa sa pagkakaroon ng pangulo sa katauhan ni ABNOY.

    • Correct ka dyan Banyagang Pinoy sa halip pag isahin ni Abnoy lahat ng mga Filipino to forever get rid of this f____ng yellow ribbon after assuming his PCOS won presidency. Sa patuloy niyang pagsusuot ng yellow ribbon na yan instead of the national symbol it signified his being president only of the Noytards but not of the whole country. I feel sorry for the country for having been under the helm of misguided individual/s whose only aim to governance are mostly vindictiveness and not public service.

  13. Justimagine if grace poe wins we will have an American first gentlemman really only in the Philippines wow wow,

  14. Kaya lang Sir Tiglao maraming Filipino kuno na mga pulitiko pero merong nakatagong greencard. Saka asal hayop sa pagnanakaw ng pera ng kaban ng bayan. Yan ang mas masahol pa sa mga questionable na Pilipinong sinasabi mo na si Grace at Jim.

  15. “Strong Republic” the slogan of the Arroyo administration meant that morals do not matter, the Filipino people be damned. Vision without morals?

    Reframe, reframe.

  16. Every man for himself I believe is exactly what we see now. The kleptocracy has seen the writing on the wall and is out to extract as much wealth out of our failed nation state before its eventual implosion. The demographic advantage we were supposed to have will soon turn to be a big liability and risk to the ruling class. Soon, the masses won’t be able to endure much more and rise up. By then, they could safely exit and retire elsewhere.

  17. In the pass days i seen in my friends in FB liked Jim Paredes page. I became curious checked his page and it’s full of praises on Abnoys. He critiicize people who goes against abnoy. I wonder he does not post the dilapidated MRT the long queues of people waiting under the rain or sun . Also no post in his page about the Mamapasano massacre. JIM Paredes is a hypocrite like his brother ducky.

  18. That was generous of you to have given space in your column to somebody as unimportant as Jim Paredes. He was a member of the APO, the great singing group that catered to Filipino nationalists. And that is all he is. His views are better ignored than heard.

  19. I really like the way you write Mr. Tiglao because you support your reasoning with facts. It’s not just an opinion but a conviction of your true passion in serving the Filipino people with your fine writing. You are a modern way of Jose Rizal who attacked the Spanish government with his mightiest writing.

  20. you never fail to impress me Mr. Tiglao.. I hope we have more writer, opinion maker like you… A true Pilipino…. MABUHAY KA !

  21. It could be too much to expect someone like Benigno Simeon Ko Hwang Ko Aquino to be nationalistic. It’s just not in his genes.