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.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.