When will we have ‘Philippines First’?



WHILE the new US President Donald Trump is inarguably a demagogic megalomaniac, he demonstrated a streak of genius, or a deep insight into his countrymen’s feelings, that made him win, when he made his campaign battle cries “America First” as well as “We will make America great again.”

While some have pointed out the anti-Semitic, KKK origins of the” America First” slogan, still, these are essentially calls for the revival of nationalism. This vision has been denigrated, even here, by those who delude themselves into thinking that the nation has ceased to be the most important organization in this era for anyone to be a member of.

Contrast Trump’s slogans which contain the word “America” to Hillary Clinton’s “Together, Stronger,” or Obama’s “Yes We Can,” which do not refer to the United States as a nation, and which can be adopted by any English-speaking political candidate anywhere in the world.

Philippine Presidents since 1965: Guess which one espoused nationalism?

It is not fuzzy entities like “The Globe” or “World Markets” that determine whether a human being will live his life in misery or in comfort. Rather, it is the nation where he is a member of or where he lives, and how its members from the past to the present have built in a particular territory a community (with a unique name), with the institutions to ensure the prosperity of its members, and to prevent one tiny group from getting richer by exploiting the majority.

Indeed, nationalism in the past decade has been resurgent almost everywhere in the globe—except in the Philippines—because of the rise of China and Russia, Great Britain’s decision to leave that global organization, the EU, and the emergence of nationalist parties all over the world. Narendra Modi, the leader of the second most populous country in the world, India, won by a landslide because of his nationalist rhetoric.

A prescient 2014 article in the prestigious globalist magazine The Economist, said: “In recent years, any writer who predicted that nationalism was the wave of the future would have been regarded as eccentric—at best. All the most powerful forces in business, technology and finance seemed to be pushing towards deeper international integration… In 2015, however, it will become increasingly clear that nationalism is back. From Europe to Asia to America, politicians who base their appeal on the idea that they are standing up for their own countries will grow in power and influence.”


Nationalism is the belief and practice that the nation and nothing else, not the clan, not the company, not the Church nor a fantasy Kumbaya world-where-we-are-all-brothers-and-sisters” is the primary organization that determines a human being’s welfare, so that one must have loyalty to it and devote some part of one’s life to strengthening.

We are one of the few nations in the world, and definitely the only country in Asia, that is the least nationalist, and this is really our core problem.

There are two major factors why our Asian neighbors are fiercely nationalist. One is their monarchic feudal histories, in which kings strove by every means to develop a strong sense of community among their subjects, since this was essential for their rule. This is the case of China, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia.

The other factor was the very serious threat of their communities’ survival, as happened with South Korea (nearly conquered by the China-backed North Korea), Vietnam, Taiwan, and even Singapore, after the tiny island state separated from the Federation of Malaya.

The Philippine community has never experienced these two factors.

Pre-colonial “Philippines” was a collection of tiny weak kingdoms, and the kind of community the Spanish imposed was an ecclesiastical one, that is, we were a community because all of us, conqueror and conquered, were members of the Kingdom of God. That in fact is still the biggest delusion of Filipinos, that they are primarily members of their clan and the Kingdom of God, rather than of the nation.

The US never of course bothered to create a nation out of us, as we were merely something like Hawaii and Guam to be exploited for its unique agricultural products (coconut and sugarcane) and as a base to conquer China.

Being under the wing of the US, there never was a threat to our existence as a community, except during the Japanese occupation of course, which only weakened our nationalism, as it was General McArthur and his troops that saved us.

Threats to survival

Threats to the survival of nations historically have been one of the most important factors for their prosperity for a simple reason.

With the existence of their communities threatened, their elites commit to making their communities prosper, or else these would be taken over by an external force, which would likely also exterminate them. Because of this, the elites even sacrifice their profit rates and shirk from horrendous levels of exploitation of the working class of that community, lest they rebel and weaken the nation.

In Asia, this is obvious in the case of Taiwan, whose ruling class was the Kuomintang that fled China after their defeat in the civil war with the communists, and their island refuge has continuously been under threat of invasion by China. This was obviously also the case with Japan that could have been obliterated by the US with their nukes. This was obviously the case with South Korea, threatened by the communist North.

Another major factor that has weakened our nationalism has been the massive migration of our people to the US and their prosperity there, which has the effect of probably half our population pining to be American citizens, and despising their homeland. The ruling class routinely send their children to schools abroad, whose world views become American, who see their country as, yes, a sorry, smelly place, but one where they have to get their incomes from.

It is the State which plays a crucial role in developing and strengthening nationalism, not even brilliant individual heroes like Rizal, simply because only government has the massive resources to change people’s minds.

We are again so unfortunate that the last President to raise the flag of nationalism was the strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Remember his slogan “We will make this nation great again!” which preceded Trump’s by five decades? His attempt to junk the name of our colonizer’s King as the country’s nomen and instead have it called Maharlika, which means noble? His building of edifices like the PICC and the Folk Arts Theater to foster pride in the nation? His project for a multi-volume history of the Philippines titled Tadhana, to project the idea that our nation has a great destiny?

How unlucky we are, really. Marcos’ rule ended in an economic crisis, not entirely his fault, and the takeover of an elite group that is totally lacking in any sense of nationalism. Marcos was demonized by the victors, along with everything he espoused, including nationalism.

Aquino’s devotion

Corazon Aquino’s devotion was to her clan and the Yellow Cult she founded, not to the nation, and her worldview was that we were destined to forever live under America’s wing. Her symbol was a yellow ribbon derived from an American song, which she made the constant reminder to the nation of her husband Ninoy Aquino’s assassination.

Her successor, Fidel Ramos, not only was imbued with the American way of thinking, perhaps brainwashed into him during his West Point days. He embraced the neoliberal ideology of a globalism in which free markets were more important than nationalism. After all, the globalist Thatcher and Reagan were the gurus of his era. (It was Thatcherism and Reaganomics’ failure to lift the welfare of the working classes that led eventually to the resurgence of nationalism.)

Ramos’ mantra-vision for the nation was “deregulation, liberalization, and privatization.” As a result, we have the lowest tariff rates in Asia, and even in the world, that even Thai fish sauce (patis) and foreign-owned brand of bread (Gardenia, owned by an Indonesian conglomerate) have dominated the local markets, and even soap and toothpaste manufacturers have left the country.

Ramos threw a local elite family, the Antonio Cojuangcos, out of PLDT, which right after he left office was acquired by an Indonesian tycoon. The telecom monopoly was dismantled, but a duopoly emerged, controlled by foreigners. The state-owned MWSS providing water services was sold to firms, one of which was controlled, again, by the Indonesian tycoon. The Ramos government got P50 billion from the sale of a vast military camp that is now a business district worth a trillion pesos. The modernization of the military, the motive for the sale, was never achieved.

The drunkard and corrupt president after Ramos, Joseph Estrada, despite his nationalist pretensions, helped the Indonesian tycoon Anthoni Salim take over PLDT in a very shady operation. Sadly, the regime of President Arroyo, a nationalist, for various reasons not her fault, became too stormy for any resurgence of nationalism. Her successor, Noynoy Aquino, never once wore on his chest the flag, the symbol of nationalism. Instead of the nation’s progress, Aquino’s over-arching ambition was for the Yellow Cult to remaining power forever.

Such is a very abbreviated history of how nationalism has all but broken down in our time, that no President could have thought of, or dared to have a slogan like “Philippines First”.

When will we ever hear the cry “Philippines First”? Maybe President Duterte is already espousing it, in his own way. But he should shout it louder and clearer. We desperately need it.

E-mail: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
FB: Bobi Tiglao AND Rigoberto Tiglao


Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. Flips first? lolllll, maybe maybe after a generation. look at our leaders over and over again they are all crooks. Bato run the PNP like a fraternity. he punish erring cops by sending them to Mindanao instead of dismissing them and charging them for their crimes. then Idioterte have the same idea and wants to keep inocmpetent Bato as PNP chief after he violated many ethics law already including trying to be in showbiz. lolllllll our government are run by clowns and crooks. Just ask Manny Pacquiao. lolllllllllllll

  2. 27% of Americans voted for trump. Clinton got 3 million more votes than him. Ignorance got him elected to be the POTUS. He is not and will never be a genius.

    • Sorry to say, but the people from the west coast (WA, Or, CA, &Hi) and the north east does not constitute the whole nation. That’s why the founding fathers wisely made the electoral college. Got it liberal snowflake?!

  3. The Philippine Islands are not a united group of islands. The name of the country alone is from a foreign land. The Spaniards easily colonized these islands because of the different dialects that separated them. The threat to these islands were separate! These islands are not one country just because the Spaniards called us Filipinos!! We learned to speak Spanish under the Spanish, English under the Americans now you will all learn how to speak Chinese. I left when I was twelve years old to immigrate to the United States, petitioned by my grandfather who worked in the sugar cane fields of Hawaii. I still have many relatives in the Philippines. Tibet was occupied by the Chinese-the Philippines could be next. If there is a war with China, my grandchildren will be fighting in the U.S, side My instinct tells me this war is inevitable.I hope I am wrong. Learn Chinese!!!.

  4. You were probably too young to remember but Carlos Garcia’s battle cry was “Filipino First.” Marcos’ was “This Nation Can Be Great Again,” referring to our pre-Hispanic history when we were a part of the Madjapahit Empire. I wonder, was Trump reading Philippine history before he decided to run? By the way, Marcos hesitated to adopt the name Maharlikha when he found out that its original meaning was malaking ari. Seriously. You want a president who has studied the politics of nationalism under a great master? Help FM Jr to become president.

  5. we have a disfunctional society, we hate traffic and yet we dont want to phase out and junk old vehicles, we own cars even if we dont have a garage, we hate corrupt officials and yet we bribe the traffic officer to avoid inconvenience. we are a basket case!

  6. Before, we’ve had USA. Now, China. Good Combined Models. Both around 15% poverty rates vs. our 45%.

    The Perfect Solution? staring @YOU now…before your very eyes!

  7. Country giveth + Population receiveth = Nationalism… never been the case. People give and give and get nothing. No wonder nationalism is dead in the Philippines, well, at least among the general populace. But listen to the lefties, they espouse nationalism! (surprise, surprise?)

    • No they don’t! They, just like any other communist say that they are nationalistic, but in reality they just want power.

  8. The core of the problems about building the nation into nationalism is the leading corruptions of the politicians from top to bottom, that will perpetuate the poverty among the Filipinos. It is easy to say, “Philippines First.” But how? When part of the breath of the lifeblood of the Philippines is coming from foreign countries’ sources in the form of revenues in billions, how can the Philippine government replace that with income and resources locally? That is the question? For example, can the Philippines stop the emigration of exceptionally and formally educated Filipinos to countries like the USA? I think for the time being things should be looked the way it is and not the way it should be until the Philippines got an Archangel Filipino President who can implement when s/he says, “Philippine First.” This whole mess could not have happened if those greedy politicians led by President Quezon prevented the Philippines to be one of the States of the United States.

  9. Any country can put its national interest first, we can do far better by putting God first, when that happens the Philippines will be a great country.

  10. You forgot that the slogan America first was copied from the slogan of President Garcia of Filipino First. The slogan LET US MAKE THIS NATION GREAT AGAIN was from Marcos. His word during his campaign under the KBL.

    Siguro boy scount ka pa lang noong panahon na yoon.

    • The slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” was copied from the Swiss National Tourist Office

      A 1951 ad from the Swiss National Tourist Office

      It read: “It’s more fun in Switzerland!”

      Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez and other officials swiftly rejected the new copycat allegations.

      The Philippines tourism office adopted “It’s more fun in the Philippines” after having already ditched an earlier campaign in Nov 2010 that allegedly plagiarized the tourism logo of Poland

  11. Very well said Mr. Tiglao! How I wish that majority of Philippines journalists would have the same thinking like yours, unfortunately Philippines has only few of you, how ironic…

  12. There is nothing wrong in the Filipino first agenda, question is, who can make this happen? Is it the President? Congress maybe? will we blame the Filipino people for not making it happen? will we blame ourselves? I think because each of us has his or her own mind, and because we are in a democracy, this policy you are advocating will never happen, even in America, it will simply remain just a campaign statement! The world is changing, people change and I think the most beneficial campaign whomever the president or the leader is: “Caring for one another, convincing the people that wealth is not important rather peoples lives are, care for the sick, care for the poor, care for the victims, care for the elderly, care for the young, care for our environment, care for other countries and care for the world! Aiming to be the first to do this will surely make the world not only the Philippines a better place to live with.

  13. The Philippines will never have a “Philippines First” mentality, because so many people here have a “Me first” attitude. The Philippines and Filipino politicians, are renowned, across the world, for being amongst the most corrupt in the world. FM No 2 in the international list of corrupt leaders, Estrada No 8. GMA was arraigned but due to either the incompetence, or connivance of the prosecution has had the cases dismissed. The smell of corruption hangs around most politicians like flies around dog turds. Until Filipinos demand that the politicians do their job and act as servant leaders rather, and lead by example, rather than se there only for self-serving interests, improvements will not happen.
    The Philippines does already have a sort of Philippines first policy regarding imports, protected markets and foreign ownership of companies. The consequences of this are:
    A) Products made for the local marked are substandard, because of a lack of competition – look at locally made motorcycles for an example of substandard products.
    B) Markets are not free and open, the telecom industry is effectively a duopoly, the result is that prices are very high and service is poor.
    C) Foreign ownership of companies is limited to40%, consequently, most big companies are tainted and fail to provide the level of service that they do in other countries.
    Putting the country first may, in some cases be laudable and indeed desirable, but one must always be aware of the flip side to that, isolationism and protectionism. For a country to perform well, it must have good leaders, a non-corrupt government (at all levels), a working judiciary, professional law enforcers and an electorate who vote for policies not who has just given them 300P or a Jollibee meal.

    • Foreigners can own up to 40% of businesses in the Philippines? Sheyt! PLDT right now is wholly owned by a foreigner, who gave a lot of money to Estrada when he was the President and bought all the shares of PLDT. Corruption in the government will not end soon, even in Duterte’s lifetime.

    • “The Philippines will never have a “Philippines First” mentality, because so many people here have a “Me first” attitude. ”

      Bro correction: it should be all filipinos way of thinking is “ME FIRST ATTITUDE”…lahat makasarili kaya kelanman di tyo uunlad…unless GOD will wipe out filipino race in this planet and replace it let’s say like the Japanese and or German mentality…that’s the only recourse to make this country GREAT but not again because we’ve never been GREAT…

  14. World class quality education for all youths free public schools from pre-k of 4 year old children to state colleges & universities will put ph abead.

  15. Jose A. Oliveros on

    Carlos P. Garcia had his “Filipino First” policy that was why the Americans made sure he would lost to Macapagal. Jose P. Laurel and Claro M. Recto were passionate about nationalism and Laurel’s famous motto was “No one can love the Filipinos better than the Filipinos themselves.” Doy Laurel wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father with his “Ang Bayan Higit sa Lahat.” Unfortunately, all of them lost in their bids for the presidency of the Philippines.

    • Marshall Laway on

      Thumbs up! As for as Mr Tiglao is concerned the correct answer is Du30. I would say, Du30 the Thug (description borrowed from Mr. Tatad.)

  16. Cleaning up the government has to be first.

    Recalling the article Mr. Tiglao wrote calling the congress a criminal organization is a accurate description of the Philippine’s Congress.

    Did the law enforcement agencies forget that over a 120 members of congress were on the Napoles list as being pork barrel thieves ?

    Only 3 opposition senators were arrested the others not charged and allowed to keep the kickbacks.

    There are pork barrel thieves in Congress, The country will not progress as long as politicians are above the law.

    These politicians have proven that they care little for the country, Their only concern appears to be enriching themselves at the expense of the country.

    Why are the law enforcement agencies ignoring these thieves ?

  17. “Philippines First” is the cry of our Spanish, Chinese and Indonesian elites and their Filipino lapdogs when they ask themselves the question “Who should we plunder first?”

  18. victor morales on

    If Trump is a megalomaniac what does that say of Duterte? Oh wait that’s right kill em all let god sort them out right? Stop acting like a victim, the problem with Pinas is simple. As a nation they are just fine with being “Okey” not number 1. That’s no ones fault but our fellow pinoys.