Perhaps it is time the Philippines balkanize

We have long held on to the notion that the Philippines is actually a nation in the modern sense. On the surface, it does seem that way. If one looks hard and deeply enough, however, one can see the Philippines for what it truly is: a patchwork, broken glass, glued together puzzle made up of ethnic groups who do little else but tolerate each other. The Philippines, unfortunately, is an example of an entity where the whole is much less than the sum of its parts.


Countless times have proposals been thrown for the Philippines to change from being a unitary system, where the central government holds all authority over and makes decisions for the subordinate local governments, to a federal republic, in which the subunits are considered self-governing and sovereign. In the context of the current discussion about granting the “Bangsamoro people” autonomy, it seems like a good idea to fully federalize the Philippine republic so that not one ethnic group is to be favored over the others; give all ethnic groups within the scope of the Philippine Republic the chance to “govern” themselves.

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My impression of successful nations, however, is that regardless of the set-up (unitary or federal), is that even if the sub-units or ethnicities governed under that nation go their separate ways, i.e., go about their daily local affairs, they are a part of a union that has agreed upon a collective ideal that all parties concerned share. In other words, they perceive or see something in the union greater than themselves worth aspiring and becoming part of it for.

So, now we ask Filipinos a few uncomfortable questions:

What is there in the Philippine nation worth being part of it for?
Why do you remain part of the Philippine nation, and;
Is it still worth it?

GRP webmaster benign0 has expressed quite well just what kind of nation, what kind of entity the Philippines really is:

The Philippines, after all, is no more than an artificial state originally created by the Spanish crown mainly for the purpose of consolidating and streamlining colonial administration of its assets in the region. The former countries of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, and now internally-unstable Rwanda, come to mind when one thinks of what the Philippines is all about — an agglomeration of fiefdoms that remain stuck together for the purpose of keeping alive nostalgic relics of 19th Century “nationalist” thinking and not for any real practical or measurable ends befitting a modern 21st Century society.

It was not even the ethnic groups now comprising the Philippines who decided to form that entity in the first place. It took a foreign power to lump us all into one bunch. After we were granted independence by the colonial powers, we never quite coalesced into a cohesive union with any grand, all-encompassing ideal to stand for.

The many ethnic groups here in the Philippines live amongst each other, even despite each other, and it seems much easier for them to say “I am of this ethnic group” rather than “I am a Filipino!” Therefore, it seems that they end their loyalty to their ethnic group, and do not see themselves as part of an all-encompassing national cause.

Visayans and Mindanaoans, in particular, do not hide the contempt they feel for “Imperial Manila”. They do not hide their sentiment that if the Philippines were a federal republic they would have seceded a long time ago. Who can blame them; the members of the other two island groups apart from Luzon feel the presence of the central government only when they want something, or when a natural calamity arises. And even in the case of the latter, the response is either delayed or dictated by party lines. So therefore pretty much they’re all on their own (bahala kayo sa buhay niyo!) under ordinary circumstances.

The Philippines seems too big an entity for Filipinos to govern properly, much less effectively. Filipinos are doomed by a heritage of smallness, as Nick Joaquin calls it, that keeps them from becoming into something bigger than all of themselves. The skewed sense of “unity” that Filipinos have continues to cause their society to unravel.

It has been said that adversity brings a team together. The Philippine “nation” has had no shortage of adversity, so why hasn’t the team come together?

Filipinos in the Philippines seemingly can’t find in themselves to keep their egos in check and be part of a team.

They want to be the lone star.

They place their own interests above everybody else’s.

They are more concerned about being in the spotlight than they are about performing their role well, and are more concerned with “what’s in it for me?” instead of “how can I contribute to the greater good?”

Filipinos are more interested in “star quality” than they are with “high quality”.

They want quick results and generally have disdain for hard work.

They brag a lot, but ask them to back it up and usually they turn up hollow.

They are fond of doing, but not of thinking.

Their tendency is to frown upon unconventional thinking and act like crabs, because it pushes them out of their comfort zone and violates their sense of “tradition”. It also forces them to think, something they don’t like doing.

They don’t value diversity, and can’t take criticism and adversity very well.

They think that being Filipino confers on them an inherent special quality or greatness.

Filipinos choose their “coaches” very poorly.

Filipinos do not feel a sense of belonging to a bigger “national cause”, so what then keeps them together?

The evidence seems to point to the fact that Filipinos excel more apart than when together. All you have to do is ask the millions who have gone overseas to seek greener pastures – and have never come back.

Divorce is still far from becoming a reality here in the Philippines. Conservatives consider it an affront to the “family as an institution” belief that runs deep in the Philippines. But they would rather have that marriages that don’t work out or have become abusive, usually for the woman, keep the pretense of marriage going for show, kasi nakakahiya.

I guess, in a similar way, Filipinos are still denying that they are not really a nation, nor were they ever, in a modern sense. Nakakahiyang aminin na hindi talaga kami nagka-isa. It would be mortifying to admit that they never came together. Much like a marriage kept up for show, Filipinos would rather stay in a “union” which keeps pulling them down. All because of some comfortable, “traditional”, romantic notion of a “union” that is outdated.

Now would really be a good time to re-examine the concept of a Philippine “nation”, especially since the current president Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino is not shy about giving away parts of his country to a terrorist group. As a result of kicking out the American bases due to some nebulous sense of “national pride”, the Philippines now stands to lose territory to China – territory that it could never defend by itself without America’s help. Who knows how far China will go and how much more land they will claim?

Perhaps the time has indeed come for the Philippines to dissolve for good.


16 Replies to “Perhaps it is time the Philippines balkanize”

  1. Czechoslovakia had its “peaceful divorce” (into the Czech Republic and Slovakia) some time in the 1990’s; I often think that something similar can happen in the Philippines, without it being mired in the mess of Yugoslavia.

    The book “A Country of Our Own: Partitioning the Philippines” should have been the guidebook for this. In any case, if partitioning the Philippines into smaller nation-states is somewhat improbable at the moment, then federalism is the next best thing.

    Additionally, (IMHO) federating the Philippines into its current “regions” might not be feasible; the partitioning has to be along cultural lines, with consideration to available resources. Thus, for example, an “Ilocos State” must not just be about the current “Region One,” it must also take into consideration its potential strengths and weaknesses (strong alternative energy sources, weak agriculture), and how it could cooperate with nearby states for resource rights.

    1. full blown federal may not work. there are other regions that are really poor. they can be a part of a stronger state adjacent to them.

      you can also make it 3 states: luzon, visayas, mindanao in the meantime until such time that each regions from this islands can stand on their own. the country can do it slowly.

      mar roxas mentioned that if full blown federalism is applied. each state may declare independence. LOL.

      the archipelago should’ve been a confedaration if Spaniards didn’t come and U.S applied the unitary form of govt. long ago. they just tried to unite all for control.

  2. I, approve of this message and will identify myself with a Pan-Visayan nation should one form.

    I’d even approve of a civil war to get this done.

    The central government is weak. We can take them if we want.

    If only provincial militias were allowed, we could have done this sooner. But that didn’t stop the MNLF/MILF, so why not?

    Strike now while their weakness is palpable.

  3. Filipinos with large egos, drove their U.S. protectors away. Strong nations still bully, small weak nations. This is the reason , we have to form alliances.

    European countries have the NATO defense pact. However, they are secretly arming themselves, because of the Russian threat.

    China became militarily and economically strong. This is the Reality…it is a threat.
    And, you cannot confront this with the U.N. and international Court… Aquino is a very weak leader. We need a strong leader, to unify us; and remove our “tribal mentality”/colonial mentality.

  4. Findland was balkanized by the Soviet Union, under the Soviet Dictator Stalin. Finland fought a very descisive Winter War with the Soviet Union. Findland was armed by Hitler’s Nazi Germany , during that time.
    Findland was also led by a Finish General who served under the Russian Czars.
    The Winter War exacted too much casualties on the Soviet Union. It resulted to a truce, with Findland giving up territories.

    However, it had shaken badly the “Russian Bear”…

  5. Just like the USA ? Hey, how original ! its a good idea,but not along religious lines but state or island lines….I think the idea will never see the light of day,personally…but its a good one and has worked elsewhere.
    but you still dont see WHY this bangs your mamasan deal is being made though.ITS A TRAINING GROUND !!! any time there is a problem, a real one,or something sinister is being hatched elsewhere,What happens? up pop’s these weasel’s.

  6. I thought, by the title of the essay, that it was a sort of ‘call to arms’ ,literally.U know,exploding buildings and all that….The Balkan people, lithuanians,serbian’s,croatian’s….they are tough battle hardened people and they all lived in a wonderfully dysfunctional place,just like the Philippines,called Yugoslavia.
    that country never prospered under ‘TITO’ or whatev the effin guys name was,it was just like the Philippines,feudal oligarchy.Now it has become a battle field…a bombed out hell-hole.They will rise again and prosper but if every bodies favorite ‘Uncle’ is involved, if that happens, probably not !

  7. Well, when the Philippines does get ruled under a different flag or break up into multiple states, I can’t help but wonder what will happen to the Filipinos already out of the country.

    Will they adopt the nationality of the country they’re staying in? Will they identify themselves as members of their ethnic group rather than ‘Filipino’? Or will they keep calling themselves Filipino despite what happened.

    Either way, the country has long planted its seeds and only now is it beginning to sprout.

  8. Republics exercise governmental authority through mediating representatives under the rule of law.

    Pure democracies on the other hand exercise governmental authority through the imposition of the will of the majority without regard for the concerns of any minority – thus allowing law to be subject to the whims, fashions, and fancies of men.

    The Founders designed federal system of the United States so that the nation could be, as John Adams described it, a “government of law, not of men.”

    The Founders thus expressly and explicitly rejected the idea of a pure democracy, just as surely as totalitarian monarchy, because as James Madison declared “democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths.”

    The rule of the majority does not always respect the rule of law, and is as turbulent as the caprices of political correctness or dictatorial autonomy.

    Indeed, history has proven all too often that democracy is particularly susceptible to the urges and impulses of mobocracy.

  9. Well, look on the bright side.

    At least when this damned country breaks up, all the different regions will finally have an excuse to go to war against each other. Magpatayan kayo, sige. You deserve it if you all sink into the sea—the politicians couldn’t give less of a fuck, they’ll just move to Dubai and America and trample on their poor “ex-kababayans” there.

  10. I hushed up on this topic recently because of the BBL, but now that you raised it, I believe it is a good question to keep asking. Is it worth keeping together a country held together by paste and tape? I did observe before that the Philippines seems more like several different countries help together by tape and glue. I wonder what will happen though if the Philippines does continue with discorporation.

  11. This article poses some very difficult questions to which I would humbly share my “two cents” if I may:

    “What is there in the Philippine nation worth being part of it for?
    Why do you remain part of the Philippine nation, and;
    Is it still worth it?”

    It’s worth looking at the root of the current character of the people in this country, because it wasn’t always this way before the Spanish colonization. One proof of that is the concept of “bayanihan”.

    The “barangay” is one huge family with shared resources and aspirations. We are relatively an advanced society, as one scholar put it.

    We do have a uniting factor if we dig deeper into the past rather than be distracted with the complexities of the present.

    When the Spaniards came, they sought to “divide and conquer” the people and up to now the method is still working.

    The key to freeing the people from all of these problems is education, i.e. not the institutional one but:
    •a real education about our true history as a people;
    •who controls the government from behind the curtain;
    •what we as a people are truly capable of, i.e. scientific contributions, etc., and more importantly;
    •who our real enemy really is.

    What these mean is we who fully understand these issues should reach out to the people in our own capacity.

    We need to empower the people with the right knowledge because the institutions controlled by them are all complicit to the deliberate dumbing down of the people.

    We will keep doing this until a critical mass is reached. That will be the time when the people could choose more capable leaders that would then implement the changes our country needs.

    Otherwise, we would be trapped in a “chicken and egg” situation in perpetuity.

  12. The fragile bond that holds this country together is dead. What’s left is to hold a state funeral to a country we call Philippines. BS Aquino,Deles, & Ferrer should be given the honor to be the pall bearers. The yellow tard army firing 21 guns. And then we all go on our own separate ways. Heck, walk away don’t look back ex-kabayans.

  13. Why not? Balkanization is there as a tool if needed. Let’s go back to the status before the Spaniards united them under King Philip.

  14. It’s easy to say to balkanize the country! Do you even understand the geopolitical implications it brings? How about the horrors of genocide? We all know how NATO divided & conquered the Balkans? Do we let the US divide & conquer us once more? It’s funny people bring up history & blame Spain for our misfortunes us a country but it was actually the US who left us with the unitary government & not a federal one. The only & peacefull solution is a Federalized Country! To remain a non sectarian state! Can you just imagine jihadis running amok cutting heads ala ISIS? Just be carefull what you write & wish for! It’s easier when said than it’s done considering most of you are not from Mindanao & worst out of the country!

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