AS a Filipino and one who does occasional traveling, I am often amazed how a country with such a huge population, the Philippines, and with a such a talent pool and a great past, cannot exert influence on the world. The Philippines was a great nation, long before the great powers of Europe and long before America became great powers.
The Philippines will have a population this year of 100 million people. That makes the country the 12th largest in the world in population and the 12th largest consumer market.
Only 11 other countries are bigger than the Philippines – 1. China with 1.34 billion, 2. India 1.21 billion, 3. the United States 311 million, 4. Indonesia 237.7 million, 5. Brazil 190.7 million, 6. Pakistan 175.77 million, 7. Nigeria 158.25 million, 8. Bangladesh 150 million, 9. Russia 142.9 million, 10. Japan 127.96 million, and 11. Mexico 112.3 million. These are Wiki-pedia figures.
The Philippines is bigger than Germany (population: 81.8 million), Europe’s true superpower, bigger than France (population: 65.8 million), and 20 times bigger than Singapore (population: 5 million and shrinking because Singaporeans don’t want to reproduce, thanks to a failed social engineering 30 years ago).
Yet, the French gave the world its diplomatic language. Napoleon is still held in awe despite his defeat at Waterloo in the hands of the Duke of Wellington who became an incompetent bureaucrat after his famous victory.
The Philippines is bigger than the UK (population: 62 million, No. 22). Yet, we are still mesmerized by the British royalty (thanks to their pomp and circumstance, and yes, grand weddings). But England has become largely irrelevant, a decayed and decaying power. It cannot even pummel Gaddafy.
The Philippines is now more than twice the population of Spain, No. 27 with 46.15 million. Spain is our mother country. It gave us a religion and Christianity. But we were greater than Spain before the latter became great.
As an Islamic country from 900th AD to the mid-16th century, the Philippines had a history of greatness and a tradition of royalty. In the 14th century, the sultan of Sulu was a good friend of the emperor of China.
The Tabon Man (22,000 to 20,000 BC) of Palawan was considered a modern man. He manufactured tools. He was not a Negrito. In 500 BC, Filipinos already had a metal culture and a lifestyle shared among Filipinos living by the riverside. Many tribes in the Philippines denote names referring to rivers. Like Tagalog which basically means taga-ilog (from or by the river).
In the 7th to 15h century, kingdoms and centers of trade prospered along Manila Bay, Cebu, Iloilo, Butuan, Pam-panga, even Aparri in Cagayan. Aparri specialized in trade with Japan and Okinawa.
The stone bricks used by the Spaniards in Intramuros were taken from the original city wall of pre-Hispanic Manila.
The Philippines was a country of noblemen. Here is what Wikipedia says:
“By the 9th century, a highly developed society had already established several hierarchies with set professions: The Datu or ruling class, the Maharlika or noblemen, the Timawa or freemen, and the dependent class which is divided into two, the Aliping Namamahay (Slave) and Aliping Saguiguilid (Serfs).
“Many of the barangay were, to varying extents, under the de-jure jurisprudence of one of several neighboring empires, among them the Malay Sri Vijaya, Javanese Majapahit, Brunei, Melaka empires, although de-facto had established their own independent system of rule. Trading links with Sumatra, Borneo, Thailand, Java, China, India, Arabia, Japan and the Ryukyu Kingdom flourished during this era. A thalassocracy had thus emerged based on international trade.
“In the earliest times, the items which were prized by the peoples included jars, which were a symbol of wealth throughout South Asia, and later metal, salt and tobacco. In exchange, the peoples would trade feathers, rhino horn, hornbill beaks, beeswax, birds nests, resin, rattan.”
In other words, long before the Spaniards came, the Philippines was already a maritime empire, a thalassocracy, a Greek word to mean to rule by sea.
Lapu-Lapu, our warrior national hero from Mactan, showed the world how to teach an invader and a colonizer a lesson.
Magellan, the Dick Cheney of the 15th century, thought he could bribe or bamboozle his way to Mactan, just as he did in the neighboring islands of the Visayas, to conquer Cebu in the name of the Cross and the King of Spain. Magellan was subdued not by Lapulapu’s crack troops but by second-class mercenaries.
Wikipedia notes that “Remains of ancient barangays in many parts of Iloilo testify to the antiquity and richness of (these) pre-colonial settlements. Pre-Hispanic burial grounds are found in many towns of Iloilo. These burial grounds contained antique porcelain burial jars and coffins made of hard wood, where the dead were put to rest with abundance of gold, crystal beads, Chinese potteries, and golden masks…Early Spanish colo-nizers took note of the ancient civilizations in Iloilo and their organized social structure ruled by nobilities.”