Should Mindanao secede from what could be turning into a failed state?

Seems like the whole Media fiesta that is raging around the the Duterte’s of Davao City, specifically on-leave Mayor Sara’s fists and the Duterte father-and-son fingers is opening up old raw emotions about the subjugation of Mindanao to the 100-year-old elephant in the room — the legacy of colonial rule, Imperial Manila. Many Davao folk have now taken to responding to perceived incursions of Manila-based pundits (not to mention the investigation team sent by Malacanang to sort the sh*t out of Davao’s quaint feudal politics) into what they believe is “their business.”

“Mind your own business” apparently is the intelligent argument of choice of our Davao “brothers,” fellow Luzonians. Is that a fair call?

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Maybe it does hold water. After all, Filipinos for so long have seen their 400-year subjugation to the colonial rule of Spain and then that of the United States over the first half of the 20th Century as shameful realities of their history. This shame manifests itself in rather flaccid efforts mounted by one Filipino politician or another over the last 60-odd years of “independence” to scrub off as many traces of this legacy as they could from the cultural character (perhaps with a river stone, as tradition dictates). It started with the summary re-writing of history declaring the 12th of June 1898 as the country’s day of “independence” and relegating the real one on the 4th of July 1946 to some sort of token recognition of some imagined “friendship” with the United States. And it all culminated with the kicking out of the Americans from their military bases in 1991

Thanks to the 12 bozos who voted against US military bases in the Philippines in 1991 — Senate President Jovito Salonga, Sens. Wigberto Tanada, Teofisto Guingona, Rene Saguisag, Victor Ziga, Sotero Laurel, Ernesto Maceda, Agapito Aquino, Juan Ponce Enrile, Joseph Estrada, Orlando Mercado, and Aquilino Pimentel — Filipinos have, right in their faces today, a sad lesson twenty years in the making in what it is like to languish outside the American sphere of what is globally relevant.

Perhaps, today, the fact that the Philippines is still a nation that presumes to be composed of a northern island historically ruled by a bunch of quaint Ilocano- and Tagalog-speaking tribes and a southern island chain composed of largely Cebuano-speaking remnants of ancient sultanates, is a testament to the strength and endurance of the colonial legacy of European civilisation in the Far East.

Beyond the passive-aggressive approach Filipinos take to loudly assert their indigenous identity above the sheer weight of substance of European culture, not much more than a whimper comes out: laughable changes in the names of major roads, a curiosity of an initiative to change the country’s name to “Maharlika,” and, most misguided of all, imposing the northern imperial Tagalog dialect as de facto the “official” national language. This inability to get beyond a rather pathetic idea of what being “nationalistic” is all about begs a simple question:

Are we forcing the issue of a Philippine “national identity”?

One person who, along with Yours Truly, was cited by national treasure Manuel L Quezon III as delivering among the most “provocative” works over the last twenty years is David C. Martinez. Martinez has taken a scholarly approach to exploring the option of partitioning the Philippines into its natural constituent “nations”

Poverty, inequality, and corruption plague the Philippines six decades after independence. Of the past five presidents, only one took office and left it without military intervention, and he was a general. In his controversial book, A Country of Our Own (2004), David Martinez describes the Philippines as a failed state. The country in his eyes comprises five regions (“nations”): Cordillera, Luzon, The Visayas, Mindanao, and Bangsamoro. He proposes holding legally binding referenda in each of these places to determine whether those who live there wish to remain inside the Philippines or form their own independent country. In a conversation moderated by Stanford’s Don Emmerson, Martinez and the Filipinist scholar Lela Noble will examine arguments and evidence relevant to a crucial question: Is the nation-state project still valid for the Philippines?

Today, in the aftermath of the Duterte imbroglio, it seems that the issue of how different Mindanao is from Luzon in both manner, style of thinking, and approach to governance has come to light. It is the elephant in the room we could no longer ignore. Perhaps it is time we face the real debate on how viable this notion known as “the Philippines” remains.

37 Replies to “Should Mindanao secede from what could be turning into a failed state?”

  1. Watak Watak talaga ang Pinas nun pa man. It’s one of the main reasons Aguinaldo lost since many conspired against him.
    As for Mindanao, they have always been problematic and primitively trbal. I don’t care if they secede or not. Lesser mouths to feed will be fine.

    1. oh yeah! your manila media always put a bad light on mindanaoans and mindanao. how we’ve always wanted to secede from imperial manila. we have been one of the top producers of food in your colony, and all we have are pagpag. i am glad our leaders here are working hard to be independent (mind & money). we already have a flyover now without help from the national stupid government! railway around the island coming soon. go go go, mindanao independent movement!!!

  2. It’s like the issue of Slavery; between the Northern and Southern States in America, during the middle of the 18th century…The Southern States, with Plantation owners, keep Negro Slaves. The Northern States were Slaves free…the American Constitutions stated: ” All men are created Equal…”Southern States wanted to keep their Negro Slaves and their Plantations; also, their ways of lives…Pres. Abraham Lincoln wanted to free the Negro Slaves…The two cannot agree…so there was a Civil War…the North was the Victor…so the Negro Slaves were freed…

    1. I’m an American so I cannot comment on the analogy between Mindinao and the American Civil War because I’m not familar enough with the former but the War between the States was 1861-1865; mid 19th century, not 18th.

      1. @Mike. There is no comparison. The war between the states only took four years to resolve. The war is Mindanao has been going on for eons with no end in sight.

  3. Your question inspires other questions. What, really, is “nationhood”? Is it people banding together because they are racially alike? Religiously alike? Culturally alike? For security? For economic might? Looking about, all those reasons seem to come into play at various places on earth at various times. I do believe that Mindanal and Manila are the same in one regard: the lack of a morality based on community. Both are Ego-driven. That is, the passion for self-advantage overwhelms the work for mutual advantage.

    1. @Joe America. You’ve said it all in a nutshell.

      “I do believe that Mindanal and Manila are the same in one regard: the lack of a morality based on community. Both are Ego-driven. That is, the passion for self-advantage overwhelms the work for mutual advantage.”

  4. I grew up in Manila but I’ve spent the last few years in the Visayas. Ok so this post is about Mindanao. But from what I’ve seen is that it’s all the same. The messed up pinoy culture is everywhere. Manila doesn’t have the monopoly on all the fail in the country. There are just a lot more people there so there’s more chances of fail. Also a lot of the people there are from elsewhere anyway. The crap just seems worse in Manila because it’s crowded. Neighbors singing videoke, raising fighting cocks or burning leaves are no big deal in sparsely populated cities. Jeepneys stopping in the middle of road and cars badly parking just anywhere is normal where I am right now. Things that when done in Manila makes you the biggest asshole in the planet. Dirty Harry mayors and mayors putting on a show for their voters happen everywhere.
    Even if Mindanao secedes they’ll end up with the same problems. They’ll have their own oligarchs from the warlord class. The way I see it the conflicts there are just about who controls the resources and who has the power. Of course to motivate the fighters and recruit members it needs to attach itself to an ideology. Even if there was only one religion left there, there are still many clans left, if there was only one clan there would still be further factions. We’ve seen it already. And it was all about power.

    Sorry I looks like I’m just rambling…

    Anyway, as Joe America says: self-advantage > mutual advantage.
    There is no Philippine nation. Just a bunch of tribes. To secede or not? It won’t make a difference since we were never looking out for each other to begin with.

    1. Indeed. No matter how many times an amoeba divides, the offspring will STILL be amoebas. The DNA remains unchanged and therefore the resulting organisms exhibit the SAME characteristics.

      1. I guess Filipinos as an ethnicity has no hope ever uniting as a nation; they will always be the “offspring” of their tribal ancestors who are bent on warring with and destroying each other.

    1. Yeah, Mindanao feeds 80% of the population and it maintains close ties with visayas, so luzon will starve if that happens.

  5. benign0, just an inquiry to this hearsay from several businessmen in our region. do you any idea about how Abad wanted to centralize the business of supplying office and medical equipment and supplies in imperial manila, implying that the local enterprises in mindanao and visayas offering those services will be out of job and therefore income? what’s the point now of the local government code, written 20 yrs ago to encourage decentralization?

  6. I have a few educated and concerned friends who work their asses off for the betterment of society.

    I argued that there would be no real change unless us people within this ‘state’ would decide for ourselves to where should we really be heading to. I saw a few reviews and synopsis of David Martinez’ book, and have been further enlightened that the concept of the state that we are in is a failure.

    My friends whom I have mentioned contended that we were meant to be a country because of the idea similar to “the more the merrier” concept. They say we could repel foreign oppression if we “unite our strengths as one people.” Now, we have another problem, which is being “one people.” Historically, linguistically, and culturally, we are a fragmented state, because we are different nations unwillingly bound by constitution.

    Speaking on behalf history, Visayans never had substantial communication and relations with the Luzonanons. This further justifies that the Visayans are of a separate nation. The same way would go for the Lumads and Muslims of Mindanao. Technically and ideally, we are foreign to one another. It boils down to the fact that we can never be one country.

    Our history and lives have been forever changed because of a few no-common sense, selfish people starting from the Pact of Biak na Bato.

    Proud to be Filipino? What is Filipino in the first place? We are a failed state. We should have never been together under one roof. I dream one day that my family would totally reunite with our true Motherland and that is not here in Luzon.

    1. It’s true that we are, as many others in the Astral realm in the Pacific, a fragmented society bound together by irrational and imposed boundaries. But generations have passed since then, should we totally disregard the shared history and experiences of that generation and claim that, because we never were compatible from the start, it would be better to dissolve those commonality?
      That’s no different from the argument that a certain giant communist country up north would say in favor of them having the disputed islands because “Historically, linguistically, and culturally, we [the Philippines] are a fragmented state”…
      No matter what ancient history says, mistake or not… things DO change, and we HAVE become a nation. We must accept that, and try to move from here on.

  7. And this “Federal Pinas” bullcrap, how could we change into a Federation if we have people in the government with their sedans as their priorities? I say, we leave one man and a woman – both 5 years old – in Luzon, and then we ask nuclear arsenal owners to blow up the Philippines, so we could start a new race free of corrupted thoughts.

  8. fuck mindanao! fuck philippines!
    if you wish for a better life for yourself and for your family…leave the philippines
    yes, all countries had their ups and down…but philippines is a disgrace of a country….

    1. Fuck you also, Luzon is the most fucking region, just sucking the goods of mindanao and Visayas, most of the laws that have been made are from luzon the central, the capital and most national symbol are from luzon we visayas and mindanao are looking like props to this country… again Fuck you also.

    2. @ronraf. As painful as it is to admit, I will have to agree with what you’ve said. It has always been Filipinos against Filipinos. This is the reason the Philippines “is a disgrace of a country.” Colonial and Crab mentalities are the legacies of this country.

      1. When I saw the truth about Luzonian people and Imperial Manila, my view about them has change, most of them lookdown the southern peole specially Visayan people, mostly tagalog people from manila are so arrogant they feel they are superior, they’re language is the national language that is why they are making fun of bisayan language, that so insulting to us and the emperial manila who sucks taxes from Mindanao and visayas for goods of their city. Poor mindanao is the poorest region in the Philippines.

        1. @bisayang dako. Facing the truth is what the Filipino people really need to do; they have been deluding themselves in their fantasies of how great of a people they are for a very long time, and it’s hurting no one but themselves and their country.

  9. Many smaller ethnicities dream of independence around the world. However, it requires certain economic resources otherwise the new country will be very very poor. After enjoying the romantic flag waving, it may settle into poverty very soon.

  10. I have to go against the notion of this being a colonial war of some sort like what the others are suggesting. The problem is not between two different races, it is obvious that people from Manila and Mindanao share many mutual experiences and a common history. What divides them and causes this struggle is pride and aversion to understanding each other. For generations, Mindanao lacked representation from the concentrated national government. For generations, Manila just didn’t care enough. I believe it can still be fixed without having to secede.
    I don’t claim to be an authority on the matter, but does anyone else think having a federal government would be better for the Philippines?

  11. Mindanao should not separate from the rest of the Philippines. If it does separate, this might further enrage the civil war in the southern part of the Philippines which will trigger a chain reaction of economic stagnation (even worse, decline) and along with it is the outbreak of poverty and senseless death. Throughout the archipelago, there is a variety of cultural groups. If the difference of ideology is the problem, division is not the answer. For the Philippines is already divided, linguistically and even ideologically.

    Sammuel P. Sanclaria

    1. I let you know the Mindanao place is a peaceful area even have MILF and other rebellion group. The Mindanao have a abundant mineral even the administrative office of Malacanang, it okay to us that they don’t provide us because we are not corruption person in short we are being actions than promises through the lying mouth. In additional oh yeah! your manila media always put a bad light on mindanaoans and mindanao.

  12. “partitioning the Philippines into its natural constituent “nations””

    Interesting. True enough, noong humiwalay ang Hongkong, Taiwan, at Singapore sa corrupt at komunistang Tsina at nagtayo ng sariling gobyerno at pinamunuan ng trustworthy and ingenious leaders, namayagpag sila sa Asya.

    It also helped that everybody doesn’t see their problem on a national scale. Every city or regional problem is really not the problem of the central government alone. Unless all problems are alike from Manila to Sulu, and if the problem was caused by the government itself, sure the work and change should start in the central government. However, like, if the traffic is just in Manila, who should better fixed it but their local government as transportation is also part of the city planning. The central government is more like the overseer to those unaccomplished task and unsolved problems locally, to take command or bring justice to the cause of the people if ever the local governance is faulty or it’s the local leaders who are causing the problems in their city. I think the reason why our government is kulelat in military and advanced facilities is even when each city and departments has its own budget/pork barrel to essential projects, people still expect that everything should come from the President, that every change should be based on his decisions. Mostly when it involves every citizenry or the change would affect the whole country, it won’t move without the President’s go signal or it should be a well-thought-out program by the President. Apart from these, ano ang ginagawa ng mga matatalinong pinuno ng bawat bayan, rehiyon at departamento at ano ang nangyari sa kita at pork barrel ng local na pamahalaan? Also, the reason why we have city ordinance is there are some rules that could only be applied in a certain place for the benefit of the constituents or based on the city’s resources. Then, the government officials of Mindanao where rebel groups are formed should also be held accountable in the terror there since first and foremost they are the first persons who should maintain safety and security in their locality, should’ve make sure their people get the necessary support they needed (so the poor won’t be forced to join the rebel group) since every city leaders has Pork Barrel to spend for necessary city projects. Unless the central government presented itself as the charge, the local officials are not involved in terrorism or corruption, or the local government doesn’t have the resources or power to apprehend the criminals, then it’s the central government’s problem. Unless every officials are only acting based on what the President command and not based on the constitution, or as Commander in Chief the president is ignorant to the threat in the country or what’s going on in its military, then it’s your President who is the sole problem. I hope we don’t overlook other criminals in the crime scene. There are also those government officials in Mindanao who’d forsaken their needy constituents and allowed (and probably support) the act of terrorism (for obvious reasons. Terrorism is not a religion nor is it a war of the poor or the oppressed but a vehicle to fulfill power-hungry, twisted and selfish people’s vested interest. MILF/BIFF’s fight for independence then can’t be valid as the poor members are feed with false ideologies and are forced to join rebellion for the group’s political goals).

  13. In my comment regarding that issue It should Mindanao be an Independent State because I wanted to competitive City other than the City which is part of Luzon.

  14. The Mindanao people are very bright term of Business and using English communication. We know our effort serving own community it should be back us as whole expectation our pocket instead go to our corruption government. Someday the Mindanao place we have own MRT and wide high way transportation. Term of Rebellion do not panic because our brother Muslim can help to progress our state. I believe our brother Muslim has good intention about this issue.

  15. I laughed when someone said he didn’t care if Mindanao will secede, less mouth to feed, when mindanao’s abundance feed almost the entire philippines. The only problem is the philippines embraced so much inequality. from choosing the form of government to the choice of national language. the imperial manila. Visayans and Mindanaoans differ than northerners, in manner, in thinking. perhaps it is time.

  16. For once, can Mindanaoans accept or even share fault with the rest of the country for what wrong with her? The country has not given up on it. Administration after administration, nobody can say the gov’t never tried to fix if not entirely solve the problem. It’s irritating to read that it is as if Mindanao has not grown to maturity that everything wrong with her was somebody else’s fault. Not her, never. It’s always the undoing of her big sister.

    Please, grow up. You have been playing this blame game to avoid responsibility and accountability. Enough. ????

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