One thing I and fellow GRP bloggers observed earlier about activists like tour guide Carlos Celdran is that they seem to thrive on Outrage Fads. For example, when someone made a map of the Philippines supposedly being an empire over Asia, Celdran readily endorsed it. It was after all part of the outrage fad against Chinese forces coming into the disputed territory near the Spratlys.The running aground of U.S. Navy Mine Countermeasures Ship, the USS MCM-5 Guardian on Tubbataha Reef was another subject of an outrage fad. It seemed that Celdran joined in the issue only after the son of U.S. business tycoon Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., allegedly tweeted that it was stupid to disassemble the Guardian to minimize damage to the reef. He said the ship was more important than the reef. This raised outrage among Filipinos, and Celdran was quick to join in the rage.
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I however believe that joining in the outrage against Trump Jr. is wasted effort. It again reflects the tendency of Filipinos to go on outrage bandwagons when their efforts could be used elsewhere. Why I think it would be wasted is this:
First, Mr. Trump Jr. is a businessman. He is not an environmentalist, and will not care about the conservation or destruction of any reef unless it brings him money. Perhaps his message is this: don’t cry over spilled milk. The reef is already run over, so why try to save it? Just focus on saving the ship, which is more useful.
Second, Mr. Trump is an American. Who will he side with? Not us of course. He may have also been concerned about the minesweeper because it after all is a minesweeper. Its job is to remove a deadly hazard in the water, and this will benefit civilians as well. If he owns a shipping business, or if his business depends on shipping, he would definitely favor saving the minesweeper.
Third, why will he feel sympathetic for a nation whose laws make it difficult for foreigners like him to do business? Maybe he’s getting back for the difficulties he encountered in having his Trump Tower in Makati set up, if he encountered any (He did have to get a local partner, and from what I read, local partners are often the source of corruption in partnerships involving foreign firms; add to that the difficulties in business registration).
And if we ever get Trump Jr. to apologize, what good does it serve? Does it only serve the Filipino’s accursed and misguided pride once again?
Well, in fairness, Trump Jr.’s alleged comments can be considered insensitive and disrespectful of our environmental laws. He may also have been making a presumption that the dismantling of the minesweeper would mean its complete destruction. I believe the Guardian will be reassembled and used again after being dismantled off the reef. But in the end, Trump Jr. was obviously being patriotic – for his own country. And so is Celdran (though I agree patriotic attitudes sometimes lead to stupid comments and actions).On Tubbataha Reef, since the charge is that that the U.S. broke maritime law and even damaged a protected part of our waters, isn’t it the government’s job to handle that? Also, the reef is damaged but not gone, as Trump Jr. said, so there’s still much of Tubbataha Reef left. Not all is lost. We can probably only save that much left. Besides, a coast guard official said (as of afternoon on Jan. 31, 2013) that the damage to Tubbataha may be less serious than originally thought. If you still have a problem with that, then write the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Filipinos seem to have this tendency to join needless outrage bandwagons. When France started nuclear bomb tests in Mururoa in 1995, Filipinos joined in protest. Perhaps there were enough protests around the world that didn’t need Filipino help?
Another thing: The flagship of the environmentalist group Greenpeace, the Rainbow Warrior, also ran aground on Tubbataha in 2005. It also damaged the reef, which Greenpeace admitted. And for the same reason: using faulty maps. But I never heard of any outrage fad here. Ah, perhaps it’s because Greenpeace was the party here. Different treatment for the US Navy.
Surely, the energy used in the outrage fad against Trump Jr. is better shunted somewhere else. Joining outrage bandwagons is a terrible waste.
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.