Scarborough standoff: a test of genuine Filipino patriotism

How do Filipinos express their patriotism? The answer to that question varies from one Filipino to another. Some insist that speaking in pure Tagalog, the national language, gives them a sense of nationalism. Some rally behind an American Idol contestant because they say they feel a sense of pride when they see their own kind make it to the finals of an international television show. Indeed, such trivial pursuits occupy Filipino minds in general. In truth, our country’s dire state makes it hard for some of us to feel nationalistic or patriotic.

Our society’s lack of collective success on one hand makes us latch on to any notion that would make us feel proud as a nation but on the other hand also tends to make us suspicious of any outside influence, like the way the idea that speaking in a foreign language is considered by many as unpatriotic or a sign of colonial mentality. Even more bizarrely, a lack of collective success makes some of us root for or cling-on to any Filipino who succeeds abroad. It has come to the point that some of our compatriots will hail even those who did not grow up in the Philippines or have never even been to the Philippines and claim them as one of us when they gain recognition abroad. It’s like having a tinge of “Filipino blood” makes their success a source of that elusive Pinoy pride.

While our country’s weak economy tends to drive Filipinos away to seek better opportunities abroad, our weak military also gives us very little reason to feel safe and proud. After all, not everyone wants to be associated with a laggard or a losing team. Most people would naturally root for the winner or someone who is obviously going to win any fight.

Let’s face it, when it comes to protecting our sovereignty, our chances of succeeding using our existing military forces is slim. But mind you, this hasn’t stopped some overzealous Filipinos from holding protest rallies against China due to the ongoing Scarborough Shoal standoff. These Filipinos might consider what they are doing a show of Filipino patriotism but they are also risking angering China and giving them a reason to retaliate by withdrawing trade deals. That would be bad for the Philippine economy because China is now the Philippines’ number one trading partner in imports and exports according to Trade Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio. In fact, in response to the indignation rallies, major Chinese travel agencies have already suspended travel tours to the Philippines and they have warned their citizens already in the country to keep a low profile. Let’s just hope that Beijing will not send us a stronger message using their military.

Unfortunately, reports say that President Noynoy Aquino is actually supporting the rallies because he wants international attention to the ongoing dispute. According to PNoy, “it is the Philippines’ best ‘weapon’ against China”. Here’s part of what he said:

“They have relations with other nations around the world which would make other nations think, if we are being treated this way… there might come a time when they would also be treated the same way.”

PNoy’s decision has unsurprisingly divided the sentiments of Filipinos again. Most rational thinking Filipinos know that antagonizing China is not a wise move. Senators like Antonio Trillanes, Loren Legarda, and Manny Villar also think that the standoff should be resolved through diplomatic means.

We cannot make our problem everyone’s problem. We cannot start something that we cannot finish on our own. PNoy may not be thinking straight. He obviously lacks the diplomatic skill to handle such a crisis. Senator Sergio Osmenia even said that the Ambassador to Beijing, Domingo Lee, President Aquino’s family friend is “absolutely not qualified” for the position.

Osmeña said he advised Lee when the latter paid a call on him a month ago to study about China and about diplomacy in preparation for his appearance before the CA.

He said Lee, who failed to answer his questions during the hearing is “absolutely not qualified.”

“He’s not even qualified to become a consul,” said Osmeña.

Osmeña said Lee failed even to enumerate the “three pillars” of Philippine diplomacy which have been in place since the time of Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo. (The “pillars” are national security, economic security and protection of overseas Filipinos.).

Osmeña said he has no doubt of Lee’s loyalty, being a friend of the Aquino family, but said national interest should take precedence over personal friendship.

There is no sign of China backing down on their claim to sovereignity over the islands. According to columnist Rigoberto Tiglao, “China ‘reaffirms its sovereignty over all its archipelagos and islands as listed in article 2 of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the territorial sea and the contiguous zone, which was promulgated on 25 February 1992.’ That law declared as part of China what it called the Zhongsha Islands, which included Huangyan (Panatag to us).”

It seems like PNoy, the only son of “People Power” icon, Cory Aquino is so confident in his hope that street rallies will once again save Filipinos and solve our standoff with China. PNoy does not even bother to consider the possibility that when he encourages anti-China sentiments, resentment towards the Filipino-Chinese community could also grow. There is a risk that the mob can turn against ordinary ethnic Chinese citizens in the country. It’s mind-boggling to consider how our politicians can’t even learn from other countries when it comes to protecting their sovereignty.

[Photo courtesy France24.]

How do most societies protect their sovereignty anyway? If you ask those who have been engaged in military exercises more often than anybody else like the Israelis and the Americans, they will show you their sophisticated military equipment and their military troops’ impressive and deadly combat self-defense maneuvers. Even those who have not been engaged in military conflict for decades feel the need to upgrade or modernize their military capability because they feel safer and prouder as a nation when possessing of a competent military. Sometimes even when they don’t want any conflict, just showing that they have a competent military can help ward off any unprovoked attacks.

In fact, some societies can go to the extreme in their military build-up that international organization such as the United Nations have to step in from time to time just to check and make sure that weapons of mass destructions are not included in their arsenal. That was the case in Iraq more than a decade ago and just look at them now. Whether they had one hidden somewhere or not, a speculation that they had weapons of mass destruction was enough for the US to bomb them close to smithereens.

The United States is the undisputed leader when it comes to wielding military firepower. Undoubtedly, this gives their citizens a sense of pride and security. The Americans are known for patriotism that is unmatched by any other society. This is evident in the way they manage their foreign affairs and export their culture in the form of film and music among others. Yes, the Americans do not need further prodding to show their patriotism.

Yet, Washington is still reportedly concerned about “a rapid military buildup by Beijing, even though it still spends about six times as much on defense as China.” Such is the American’s foresight. You have to admire their ability to prepare for and prevent potential national security risks.

You can’t blame them though. China has become very aggressive in recent years. It is obvious that they are not satisfied with being at the number two spot economically. Because of this, US lawmakers still want a bill passed that would increase their military budget even further.

Meanwhile, the Philippine military has no capability to wage war. The law, which was supposed to ensure military modernization is said to have failed due to corruption even within the military. It goes to show that even our own military is not patriotic enough. What more ordinary Filipino citizens.


Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

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63 Comments on "Scarborough standoff: a test of genuine Filipino patriotism"

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Robert Haighton
I do get the thrust/scope/tenor of this story. And by far the US military have much better and much more eguipment than we – dutch – do. But on the other hand the Netherlands is not as hated as the americans are. And moreover, it only took a few guys to put the entire American country upside down (9/11) regardless of how huge their military equipment was. And the attacks came from within their own soil. The Americans do a lot of “cleaning up” world wide and bec of that trait (sticking their noses in other ones businesses) they are… Read more »
Robert Haighton

To add:

If I am alone facing 10 opponents of which 9 are bare naked having no guns nor other weaponry, I will first (try to) kill the one that has weapons. The one that come bare handed are harmless to me. Why should I kill a person (read: country) that has no ammonition?

Robert Haighton

If one’s individual or collective pride, dignity and security can only be measured by the country’s military power then that is pathetic. I “am lover, not a fighter”. Fighting fire with fire is useless.


Those who WANT to wage war are those who haven’t been in one.


I gather the elites are saying give Da Pinas to China –it is a profitable business decision. Why rock the status quo when it is economically unwise? It is much better relaxed and safe enjoying the comforts of life; “Who cares when they are hungry? They can not eat freedom!” The good old Makapili lives.

Der Fuhrer
The Philippines should be prepared for a worse case scenario. Red China has a history of attacking neighbors. The border war with Russia, the war with Vietnam, the domination of Nepal and Tibet. The Chinese leadership is assuming that the Philippines is easy prey. Their propaganda says now that our country is part of Red China. The Chinese are continuing its present course. The creeping invasion of Philippine territory is just the tip of the iceberg. They claim the China Sea area near the Philippines as theirs. The continental shelf of the Philippines is part of its territory under the… Read more »
Hyden Toro
If you look at the book : “The Art of War”; written by the Chinese Military Strategist Genius, Sun Tzu…one principle that stands out is: “To win a War, it is better not to fight it.” These Principles were written, many thousands of years ago, in China. When the State of Chu, was in war with the State of Wu…We are facing a huge modernized Chinese Armed Forces. Our President is not only incompetent, but is a known coward. Good only in “postura”. However, we have to defend our territories. We have not fought a war, since World War II.… Read more »

First Noynoy added more miseries to the Mindanaons by not solving their energy crisis but insulted them instead. Now the island’s banana industry, a major source of employment and government revenue is in danger of loosing the Chinese market because of Noynoy’s continued adversarial stand against China. If ever China limits or stop their banana importation, does he have any other alternative? Another valid reason why Mindanaons should hate Noynoy even more.


Are there really other solutions to the Panatag issue?

China isn’t willing to give it up. RP isn’t willing to give it up.


Another great read Ilda,

I never fail to learn something new about the Philippines or my own country from reading GRP’s articles.

Ilda, Can you share your own opinion on solving the standoff between China and the Philippines?


“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” – Attributed to General George Patton Jr

The people taking the blunt of the conflict are the one following orders not the incompetent, useless and weak top.

Ilda, This is it! Pinoys and PNoy playing the victim card and begging, on a global scale! Not only that, Pinoys are being misled into thinking that protests where the people involved are barking like mad dogs will actually work. Unfortunately, China has a history of not caring what the outside world thinks, and of dealing with dissenters effectively and with finality. Too bad for Pinoys who are all show and no substance. Right now it doesn’t matter who started it, but what matters now is how the governments should be ending it: with as little actual military engagement as… Read more »
Fact is.. There is no one but BS to blame for wrecking our previously mutually beneficial relations with China starting from the Luneta massacre. This is not the last. BS, thru his bungling, will continue to drag the country into the abyss. It is an extremely naive mistake for us to believe that this nightmare in our history will end with his term; do you honestly believe the yellow army and liberal syndicate will yield the power they enjoy now, beyond 2016? The PCOS machines will see to that. I think it is too late to be talking diplomacy now.… Read more »
Der Fuhrer
Mr. BS Aquino should read the Chinese Art of War. It is true that he is the Commander-In-Chief. But this is in name only. He is first and foremost a Head of State. In the Sun Tzu, the Head of State should leave military matters to his ablest military commanders. He should never directly interfere in military strategy or tactics in directing military operations. Chaos would be the end result should the Philippine Head of State play the role of a military commander. His defined role is to create constructive policies intended to focus on and solve the developing situation.… Read more »

All I wish for the President Pnoy is to start praying and ask for guidance to run honest Government and cleaning up and punish who abuses, and build our defense. To perform this task Pnoy must have wisdom from God and His support or Pnoy would fail and put Philippines into worse situation that what it is now.


A very clever 5 minute short animation that reveals the dangers involved…If you love PEACE and hate WAR, Please repost!


Why don’t the Philippines first resolve OVERLAPPING claims with Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei over those inhabitable isles boefore approaching China?


What makes me irked about this issue is that the local media didn’t dare to get the side of these fisher folks who are just fishing along Huangyan/Scarborough…

Fear of backlash from the government and the dwindling army of Noytard? Probably…


Let me add: Taiwan also share the same historic/legal claims as China.


[…] of nationalism, but come crying to him as soon as any neighborhood power flexes her muscle. In the most recent case, it happened to be China. PNoy has never been good at diplomacy, and the whole nation suffers […]