“I love my own native land
Philippines, my Philippines
To thee I give my heart and hand
Philippines, my Philippines
the trees that crown thy mountains grand,
the seas that beat upon thy strand
Awake my heart to thy command,
Philippines, my Philippines.”
*From PHILIPPINES, MY PHILPPINES
WHEN I was kid at the Catarman, Central School then of Catarman, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, my classmates and I used to sing that song with gusto, always with the feeling that we were living in a great country. The mountains of the area were pretty high and lush with vegetation, (Camiguin has 11 volcanoes), and the waters of the sea that separated us from the Mindanao mainland were crystal clear and blue, abounding with the wonders of God’s creations. They were golden days for the country, for me and my friends. Kids were talking about love of God and country, truth and honesty, fidelity to friendship and loyalty to country, discipline and obedience to rules that the town, the schools, the Church and the family prescribed.
It is in this school where I had my encounters with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Arrow and the Song, Voltaire’s Candide, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Jefferson’s American Declaration of Independence, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms, Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, O. Henry’s Short stories, Alfred Kazin’s On Native Grounds, Guy d’ Mauppasant’s A Piece of String, Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to Her Children and many other books and authors too long to enumerate without sounding pedantic.
One might wonder how I got to read all these books. Well, my older sister, Loreta, was in grade seven and she had many of these books with her. My mother, Rufina, an elementary school teacher who studied at the Cebu Normal College, had many books, too. During the Second World War, all the books of our school were just dumped into one of the rooms and during the weekly visit of my father, Pedro, who was the town mayor, to the center of the town, I used to sneak into that room and spend my whole day reading the books that tickled my fancy.
When the Americans came during Liberation, once a month a PT-boat used to visit our town and the captain of the patrol boat brought boxes full of books to my delight and that of my father, who was an avid reader. We were exceedingly happy and grateful.
I have not stopped buying books and reading them all these years. With a great immodesty, but I am only stating a fact, I have no less than 15,000 books in four places – in my residence in Quezon City, in my law office also in Quezon and in my family’s old houses in Camiguin and Cagayan de Oro City. Incidentally, many of the books I read confirm the validity and viability of my ideas.
PDU30 imbroglio with US officials
It’s time for our government to put foreigners and foreign officials in the right places. They can do what they want in their countries – it is none of our business, unless they want to incinerate the world, including our country, with nuclear weapons. In our country, no foreigner or foreign official should interfere with the way we run our country. They have no business issuing statements about how the country is run or issue a comment on any Philippine personality, except to praise him. Any critical comment is absolutely taboo. This is our country, it is not theirs. As Lee Kwan Yew told an American media correspondent once when the latter raised the human rights record of his government, he said: “This is not your country. It is none of your business.”
I am glad PDU30 put the American ambassador in Manila in his right place. Ambassador Goldberg should learn a lesson from this experience – that we are not American stooges, especially in our own country. The American government can condemn PDU30 in its own soil – that is their right. But the US Ambassador or any other American official has no right to give any critical or pejorative comment on our country or any Filipino in Philippine soil. That is absolutely taboo.
PDU30’s reaction to Secretary John Kerry’s offer of a $30-million aid is right. This country is not for sale. We can stand on our feet, if we know how. We should know how. All we need to do is have balls in our brains and brains in our balls. PDU30 has a lot of balls. He has basic brains but can he stand a long drawn fight? It is not enough to have basic brains. He has yet to prove that he has more than the basics. Otherwise, he should seek counsel from those who are better equipped on that level.
There is nothing wrong with seeking counsel. John F. Kennedy, one of the best intellectually prepared Presidents of America, sought counsel from his brother, Bobby, and the best and the brightest that the American academe and other similar institutions could offer. Franklin Delano Roosevelt did the same; he had in his government some of the brightest stars in America. No one has a monopoly of knowledge or expertise – even of balls.
America is not a reliable ally
Just look at the record of America in many places in the world. They lost China. They abandoned Chiang-Kai-Sek, though they helped him escape to Formosa. They lost South Vietnam by abandoning Van Doung Minh and his generals. They lost part of Korea to Kim Il Sung with the help of Mao’s China. They lost Cuba by abandoning General Fulgencio Batista. They lost Cambodia by abandoning Prince Norodom Sihanouk and his boys.
In the Philippines, they refused to give this country a Nato-type defense treaty where an attack on the Philippines is considered an attack on the United States, and vice-versa. If they really are our friends, they should have prevented China from constructing islands and facilities in the Spratlys, including a major installation at the Scarborough Shoal, which is part of the Chinese forward military facilities not far away from Philippine shores. Our fishermen are bombarded by Chinese water cannons and America does nothing except to make useless media warnings, with no effects on the Chinese.
Even on the simple issue of American visas Filipinos have to work so hard to get to America while Germans, Italians and Japanese, their enemies during the Second World War, have automatic visas of 59 days. Why does not the Philippine government demand the same visa privilege that the Germans, Italians and Japanese enjoy under the international rules of the most favored nation clause and reciprocity? As the old saying goes, Gold help us from our friends, we can take care of our enemies.
With the PDU30 stand on these America officials, maybe this is a dawn of a new era where Filipinos cease to be slaves in their own country and shed off the undesirable cerebral imprisonment known as colonial mentality.
Burying Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani
This controversy over the issue of whether President Ferdinand E. Marcos should be buried in the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani is one of the most useless controversies in our time. The controversy lies on whether Marcos is a hero or not. To get rid of the controversy, why doesn’t the President just change the name of the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani to Libingan Ng Mga Presidente at Iba Pa, which I suggested more than six months ago!? I am glad Nene Pimentel took up the suggestion, which appeared in the front page of another Manila daily. The renaming of the place will solve the problem. Who is the fool who will object to the burial of Marcos in Libingan Ng Mga Presidente at Iba Pa?
More than any other President in this country, Marcos was elected and proclaimed President three times and proclaimed once as President after a disputed election – which means that the man was proclaimed President four times. So he deserves, more than any other President, to be buried in a burial ground for Presidents. This will end the arguments and put closure to this useless controversy.
Going beyond Marcos, why the hell should we be debating about who should be our heroes? One man’s hero is another man’s heel, vice-versa. The Americans, through the Philippine Commission, started this irrational choice by naming Dr. Rizal as the number one national hero. Many dispute the choice but years have embedded Rizal into the Filipino consciousness that it takes something like the de-Maoization, such as what happened in China many years ago, or the de-Stalinization in the USSR, which took place decades back. As President Carlos P.Garcia told me in Malacanang sometime ago when I got into trouble with UP authorities on what I wrote on the pages of the Philippine Collegian (that Andres Bonifacio should be the Number One Filipino hero because he fought for Philippine Independence, while Rizal advocated cooperation with Spain): “You know Homobono, I agree with you but there is no sense fighting a dead hero.”
Heroes are dead, and so we should preoccupy ourselves with the problem of the living. The reason why there is dispute over whether Marcos should be buried in the graveyard of heroes is that there is, likewise, a continuing national debate whether he is a hero or not. There is no sense dividing the country over this issue, which would only prejudice the important projects of the current administration for the country and the people.
It is bad enough that the current administration is suffering from deadly blows over extrajudicial killings. It is even worse for this administration to split the country over the burial of Marcos at the graveyard of heroes. Use the simple solution to a simple problem – just rename the place to Libingan Ng Mga Presidente at Iba Pa. Let PDU30 bury his hero and friend there and the issue will be put to rest.
Let’s concentrate on rebuilding this country
We need systemic change. Everybody knows that. Let us work together in rebuilding this country. This is the biggest task. The people should support the administration but PDU30 must shape up before he can get united support. First, he should stop extrajudicial killings and investigate the erring policemen and officials who are guilty of the murders of helpless illegal drug users and pushers. Second, he should start exercising discipline on his freewheeling mouth. Third, he should avoid useless acts that involve splitting the country like the burial of Marcos in the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. Fourth, he should stop taking offense for acts he considers disputing his authority. Fifth, he should remember JFK’s advice to Presidents, “In politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies. There are only permanent interests.
This is all unsolicited advice. He can take it or leave it. PDU30 is the President and as William Shakespeare in Henry IV said: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” PDU30 wears the crown and he should be reminded that he is not God.