A sense of nationalism: The Philippines has no such thing

The Philippines is a country by colonial edict — much like the way the old Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia were, as well as many African nations. They are meaningless hollow pin-up states cobbled together for the sheer pleasure, vanity, and mercantile ambitions of their former imperial architects. In the case of the Philippines, even the name of the state itself — derived from Philip II of Spain — is a legacy of Spanish colonial rule. So the Philippines is not a nation in any real natural sense. It is an amalgamation of various disparate tribes, sultanates, and kingdoms that submitted to or were made to submit to central government in Manila by Spain and, later, the United States.

For much of its history, Filipinos pretended that the Philippines actually stood for something without bothering to do the hard work of coming up with something to stand for. As such the simple fact that the Philippines stands for nothing even after 66 years of “independence” makes instilling some sense of nationalism — much more, patriotism — a rather exasperating exercise to say the least.

Compare this sad situation to the happier prospects of nations that actually have something about their collective characters to be proud of. Craig Nelson introduces his book Rocketmen, with the story of a 1969 Senate briefing (shortly after Apollo 11 landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon) where Fermilab physicist Robert Wilson is asked how a $250 million atom smasher he proposes be built will contribute to the security of the United States. Wilson responded by saying that it will contribute nothing, but that the American people’s capacity to undertake endeavours like those is what makes the United States of America worth defending.

Indeed, the question is often asked of Filipinos: Is the Filipino worth dying for? Considering the awesome might of the Chinese military now starting to stare down a gun barrel pointed squarely at the neighbourhood pipsqueak trying to stake a claim on the only set of swings in the school yard, it seems that the Philippines may need to start relying on the only resource it can objectively count on — young warm bodies. If it comes down to mobilising the troops and drawing upon reserves, then the obvious thought will pop into the 18-25 year-old average male Filipino mind:

Is the Philippines worth defending?

Perhaps the United States will beg to differ to the most likely answer to the above question. The Philippines after all offers strategic assets to the US’s aspirations to secure its interests in the Pacific. In that sense, the United States is the Philippines’ “friend”. It is in that consuelo de bobo that Filipinos have grudgingly learned to content themselves with defining themselves along with more contemporary roles they now have so readily embraced — the call centre capital of the world, and the world’s labour pool for low-skilled work.

Why, despite its enormous population, has the Philippines for so long remained but a mere sub-element among the big elements that form part of a broader more globally-relevant landscape of influence? Perhaps it is because Filipinos don’t really expect much of themselves. Indeed, the current president of the Philippines, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is an embodiment of this collective psychological condition. While, on one hand, many Filipino nationalist drumbeaters lament our lack of a palpable national dignity, the non-dignity of the Filipino was further baked into the fabric of the society when Noynoy was elected President in 2010. There was no dignity in electing to the highest office in the land the most unqualified, the least inspiring, the most inexperienced, and the least motivated among the candidates at the time.

How then can we claim to be moving forward towards a future of greatness and prosperity when we continue to take significant steps backward? Perhaps it is when we learn to appreciate that nations are built from the ground up and not from the top down that real sustainable change will begin to take hold. Change cannot be “architected” unless people already possess an inherent will to evaluate their present behaviours and attitudes and exhibit an equally inherent ability to execute the solutions the resulting observations beg. Just seeing how Filipinos cannot even be bothered to implement even the easiest and most obvious solutions to the myriad of problems staring them in the face pretty much tells us what our prospects for future prosperity really are.


Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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72 Comments on "A sense of nationalism: The Philippines has no such thing"

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This is a very disturbing but true assessment of the true color of our character as a nation. For how can the present leadership inspire and lead this nation if ever a shooting match offshore would start? The poor would opt to join for the money but how about those sons of the oligarch?

Even if we are full of our fellow countrymen’s optimism, I can still see the pessimistic side of them. I can’t help but to make imaginary facepalms when I remembered some of my former classmates acting like fools in supporting some “social activities” such as liking some attention wh*re’s posts about the status about the standoff on Scarborough Shoal, as if China would care such a thing. One thing that I dread, as a student, is that I do not know what it has to be done. I think that the Filipino masses have been lulled by their own sense… Read more »
Belinda Madrid

This makes me so sad Benigs…but it is something we need to admit and then rise above from…collectively as a people…together. That it takes all our individual efforts inspired by our leaders. Leaders whom we can be proud of…who embody the right ideals. Unless we admit this and learn sadly…sadly…sadly…we will continue to flounder and find ourselves at the bottom of the heap.

Der Fuhrer
I believe that nationalism and patriotism still exists in the hearts and minds of many young and old Filipinos. The concepts taught during my generation are still taught. We are not a country wanting in principles. History shows many instances where Filipinos fought for their country. The Philippine Revolution, Phil-American War, the Second World War and even wars against tyranny. We had limited participation in the First World War. Our Battalion Combat Teams fought in the Korean War and even participated in the Vietnam War. Many times we saw units of the AFP participate in UN Peacekeeping Missions. What is… Read more »
Joe America
“Why, despite its enormous population, has the Philippines for so long remained but a mere sub-element among the big elements that form part of a broader more globally-relevant landscape of influence? Perhaps it is because Filipinos don’t really expect much of themselves. ” One of the failings of the Philippines is the ability to attach something akin to passion to its Constitution and sense of democracy. Comments in this thread may signify why. The oligarchs are not Thomas Jefferson or Abe Lincoln, they are money grubbers. Would they put their wealth at risk to back a down and dirty local… Read more »
I don’t think China will start waging war against us any sooner. They’ll just be repeating the errors of WW1/WW2 Germany and Imperialist Japan. But, if only our leaders have the vision of making this country great, then we wouldn’t be seeing ourselves in such a pitiful condition. Sadly, what they want is stuck all the Filipinos in their pathetic quagmire so that Filipinos will continue putting/voting them into position. For me, the solution is INDUSTRIALIZATION. Stop with the malls already, it just cater to cheap imports at best. Revise our idiotic educational system and teach entrepreneurship instead. Give incentives… Read more »
Hyden Toro

You will never know where you go; unless you know where you are. We don’t even know where we are; so we elect anybody promoted by Media Owners, who have some selfish motives on the candidate, they are promoting. Change is possible, but , it will never come, unless; we change the mindsets and awareness of ourselves. The great Psychologist, Abraham Maslow stated: “The only way you can change a person, is to change his/her awareness of himself/herself….”


I am just curious. Did anyone ever try to distinguish between what is Nationalism or Patriotism? I believe these are two different matter entirely. One is progressive and one is regressive.


“Patriotism is a lively sense of collective responsibility. Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on its own dunghill and calling for larger spurs and brighter beaks. I fear that nationalism is one of England’s many spurious gifts to the world.”

Richard Aldington

Peter Vandever

Bro, I think the bigger question is this: Should the Philippines a freely associated State of the United States. The benefits of this are HUGE!

Steel Night

Is the Philippines worth defending?
Yes, yes it is. But I’ll only agree to be a soldier and not some meat shield, and only after all other more peaceful courses of actions have been exhausted. If one is going to fight for the Philippines the fighting had better be all out from the get go, meaning all channels, modes, and whatever should be exhausted before we start throwing away precious P/Filipino lives. We don’t have the same numbers as the present opponent after all.


Let the Filipinos die for their country first!


If they say, “Dahil sa utang na loob mo sa bayan!” I’ll ask them, “How come you treat me shit?”


This country may treat me like crap, but it’s the only one I have so I have no choice but to fight for it …..


sa historia ng buong mundo walang naging magiling at matatag na bayan na walang itinatawag nilang ‘nationalism.’ makikita nyo sa pag hahabul ng pilipinas sa pag-Americanize na lumalabo ang tingin natin sa talagang problema ng pilipinas. maski ipaganda nyo ang ating mga iskwela at ituro nyo ang ingles sa kabataan, walang totoong bayan tayo kung ang isip natin ay naka tutok sa america. hindi nyo ba nakikita na bago natin husayin ang mga problema ng ating bansa, kailangan natin ng totoong pagkakakilanlan? simbuyo ng damdamin para sa pilipinas

Midnight Bloke

Australia where Benign0 lives is a country by colonial edict too. In fact, it is by Queen Victoria’s edict. The Australian Constitution was drafted by the Australian colonies but only took effect when Victoria, the Brittanic Majesty promulgated it.

Now I hope that Benign0 asks “Is Australia worth dying for?” After all he has an Aussie passport and was spotted along Circular Quay!

Anyone who has lived in Australia would say “yes”! Only if it was for cricket!


To compare origin of Philippine state with Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia is quite silly.

I would not use examples from central Europe, when im not fully aware of historical situation in this region of Europe.

It is putting down entire article.

But im sure that for Philippine audience it is ok. Since very few people have any knowledge of those two countries.


For now, my province and my fellow Hiligaynon speakers is worth dying for if ever China attacks. Never will I volunteer to defend Palawan or the Islands we claim in the South China sea due to the stupidity and corruption of our Government in our Military and claimant to the territory in the past. Philippines should be separated to different states so that many will work hard and manage better local resources and people. Ala like Singapore.

Jack C
So long as people are unwilling to suffer for the Philippines, they have no right to call themselves a “Proud Filipino”. They seem all too eager to bask in the glory though, however small it may be in the world stage. You know, like celebrating every damn Pacquiao victory as if all Filipinos are somehow involved in the process, despite Pacquiao’s All-American training team. I wouldn’t lump Philippines along with the likes of the Baltic and Slavic countries – at least they’re willing to bleed for their cultural and ethnic identities, proven with wars and genocide/ethnic cleansing. Our ethnic identity… Read more »
The neighboring Indonesia is the same colonial amalgamation of disparate ethnic groups even more so than the Philippines. However, they are very much a nation because the government there is very strong and controlling, and the sense of patriotism is amazing. You cannot tell an Indonesian that there’s no such nation. He will be deeply wounded. They love waving national flags from cars. They play Indonesian music on the radio. They have a strong History program at schools which keeps them in touch with their past, all their kings and dynasties and their Majapahit and Sri Vijaya heritage. All the… Read more »