What have been the pre-eminent topics of late rippling across the social media timelines of the Philippines’ pre-eminent “thought leaders”? Consult various “trending” stats (filtering out all the showbiz noise that dominates Filipino social media chatter) and you will see the following words and phrases:
“south china sea”
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But then… one of these things is not like the other. You guessed it right — the “south china sea” keyword somehow made it into a list of words and phrases describing what are not just domestic problems but really low-level tabloidesque topics preferred by the Philippines’ chattering classes.
The South China Sea, on the other hand, sticks out in that it serves as the context for important events transpiring — what some call a looming “pivot” over to the Chinese sphere of influence that the Philippines is seemingly undergoing under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. The trouble is, Filipinos’ minds are too coloured by pre-conceived notions of the Chinese. Being staunch allies of the United States, China — and Russia — are the “enemies”. It’s a legacy of the Cold War that persists to this day and that continues to frame the Philippines’ traditional foreign policy.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not, saying pivoting to China is the right thing to do. For that matter, the game need not be zero-sum; i.e., relationships with the U.S. and China are not either-or propositions. It’s really about finding the sweet spot where the Philippines’ best interests lie. Indeed, to find that space in a manner that puts us on an equal footing with the U.S. and China, Filipinos need to disabuse themselves of the notion that China or America will maintain relations with their country on the basis of an altruistic agenda. That’s never gonna happen. Of course China will “primarily be interested in the Philippines’ natural resources”. That’s just business. That’s just the Chinese being, well, Chinese.
In short, Filipinos need to know who they are dealing with. And that, it seems, is where misgivings about where Duterte is taking his country seems to emanate from — fear of the unknown. University of the Philippines Chancellor and Inquirer columnist Michael Tan observes in his latest op-ed piece…
As an administrator in UP, our country’s national university, I worry that we are not training enough independent foreign policy advisers. We have allowed our views of China, if not the world, to be shaped by American and European “scholars” and journalists, many of whom do not even speak the languages of the regions they claim expertise in, or rely on “parachute visits” of a few days each time, to do their reports.
In contrast, China is watching the Philippines. I’ve seen Chinese books — not translations but original work by Chinese scholars — on various topics about the Philippines, all the way up to our Catholic churches’ architecture. And once, during a visit to China, I watched a television documentary with the most amazing details about the Japanese military and the Philippines . . . not dating to World War II but about the current situation in the West Philippine Sea.
For now, it is readily-evident that Filipinos remain an overly inward-looking people. It is the reason the country remains wretechedly poor in an age where information on how to solve most problems are just a Google search away. It’s time Filipinos step outside of their comfort zones and start facing the unknown. With courage.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.
51 Replies to “Filipinos need to get better-acquainted with China”
How much did you filter out to get something substantive?
Almost the entire list!
During the late 80s and the early 90s, my late father together with his partners built 2 Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene Film (BOPP) factories in Guandong and Beijing. As a young man, I was less optimistic that his ventures in China will work, simply because it was in Communist China.
I was wrong, their ventures became very successful, giving birth to other newer opportunities, like packaging factories that made lots of money too.
In 2001, my father sent me there to observe the businesses of his Filipino partners. He told me, the best way to know China is to go there. True enough since then I got to appreciate what doing business with China is all about.
Exactly. People like your dad and his partners who ventured into what was then seen to be inhospitable territory — and won big — applied traits that separate the men from the boys.
Same holds true today. The postulated pivot to China is an unknown path that ordinary Filipinos fear to tread.
Yes, China was then perceived as you call an “inhospitable territory”, I think until now lots of Filipinos and the rest of the western world still think the same way.
I remember my dad’s assessment of China, he said that China has limited political freedom but lots of economic freedom. Perhaps this is the “reason-why” China is where it is today.
And here we see Filipinos being all so obsessed with political freedon. Another case of a flawed framing of the problem that had led to a focus on the wrong solution path.
Benigno, I agree.
Politics is too much in this country, the List of factors is infinite so I won’t bother to mention. Most Filipinos accepted it just that and careless of the consequences. The so called leaders are political-centered and very convinced that it is the way to work it out. But I don’t think it’s to late for a recon. We need visionary leaders with great passion to achieve the vision, of course.
You hit it right on the head.
Looks like “being better acquainted” with China would involve shedding a lot of dearly held stereotypes that Filipinos have of it. It’s like you’re asking Filipinos to stop being themselves. Hahaha.
The world is now more complicated than it was say, even 5 years ago. The Filipino, who is, as you have mentioned, inward-thinking, has not adjusted or adopted to the new reality. It is much easier, much simpler, to separate things into “black and white”, and us-versus-them.
Yes, that’s a tall ask — encouraging Filipinos to stop being Filipinos for a moment and think outside the square for a change.
Lets cosy up to the people that tried to ruin our banana export industry and forbids filipino people from fishing in their own ocean.
Lets kill all the drug dealers and drug users…but lets just forget all this shabu is coming from china.
Lets be allies with the very country causing all our problems.
Wow what a twisted perspective you have Benign0.
US-centrism also came with a whole host of its own problems: ostracism from other countries in Southeast Asia; rape of our women; degeneration of our culture etc. Not to mention the very real violence experienced by the Filipinos under US colonial rule. Heck, if we weren’t an American colony during World War II, we might have just been spared destruction, like Thailand.
If you want to avoid all this trouble, I suggest cutting off all relations with other countries and closing our borders, but that really isn’t possible today, isn’t it. What I’m saying is that you should take off your rose-tinted glasses and think in terms of realpolitik for once.
I get worried when people say that about thailand yet know nothing about its history.
They allied with japan.
If u r going to make stuff up remember people can always check your facts…..this is why they were spared.
Unsure how u can blame the US for the japanese invasion.
Philippines was strategic to launch attacks to the US and also Australia.
Thailand was only spared because they allied with japan and declared war on the yanks and brits.
I love it when people make up history.
if u were not an american colony u would still be under japanese rule.
No one else would have help free the phils.
So if u want to live in fiction pls do. But its the grown up world and we like facts.
China have taken philippine land.
Attacked philippine fisherman and refused to allow them tofish in their own territory.
Has threatened was with every other country in this area.
Has flooded the philippines with shabu”( which u all apparently support the drug war yet now support allying with the very country pumping that crap into the RP)
Japan was bombed by the usa. Killed millions of people yet they are now allies.
Why do the filipino people still hold a 90 year grude against the usa that helped free them from the japenese?
Yet has no problem with the japanese?
Hey Yank, China stole Scarborough out of spite and made up all these artificial islands during Aquino admin who kept kissing more U.S.arse. Did all protest against China help anything to resolve the issue and reclaim those territories?
Try as you might, either way, China would never budge to just easily give it away without acknowledging in her terms as well. Ultimately, resisting against her would still make Philippines remain at the receiving end of this.
Idiot. Thailand was officially neutral in World War II. And besides, if we weren’t under the US or if we were still under Spain, we might have allied with the Japanese too. Don’t you think that if we never got colonized by the US, we might have struck out on our own and learned to survive surrounded by great powers, and perhaps became one ourselves?
We will never forget what the Japanese did during World War II. We even executed many of the war criminals who survived the end of the war. But you know what? Unlike the Americans, the Japanese acknowledged the “sins” committed against us, begged for forgiveness and paid generous reparations (since squandered by the Philippines). Did you know that the government owns a large property in Tokyo? These were war reparations. Expectedly, this property has fallen into disrepair. There is one thing that the Japanese refuse to apologize for, its for starting the war because it was for “Asian pride.” To show that Asians can stand up to Western powers too, and they did.
Oh, by the way, China encroached on Scarborough because we weren’t vigilant enough to protect it. Now, the current administration has to deal with the previous one’s mismanagement. You may not agree with its policies, bit you can’t blame him for “not trying.” Its just too unconventional for your taste.
UK fought with the Russians against Napoleon in 1800-1815. 20 years later, the French allied with the English against the Russians in the Crimean war. In World War I, the Italians fought the Germans, and in World War II, they were allies. International Politics, there are no grudges, there are no debts of gratitude.
There are no certainties here. I’m apprehensive about it as you are, but I’m praying this gambit succeeds.
If that is true you are practically saying that China is bad. That she imposes bully tactics because she didn’t like the Aquino admin kissing US ass. Is it really the business of China whether or not we kiss ass?
Protest actions are expression of ideas and exercise of free speech. Free and democratic countries have that unique right that other countries don’t have. I suggest you read Art. III, Bill of Right of the Constitution.
It is not a silver bullet for solving problems.
But who is denying that? Who said that China will budge and acknowledge things in our own terms? You are assuming something that no one is thinking of. You are stating a point of argument you yourself created and try to argue against it.
Totally your approach to the issue is ultra defensive that makes your idea weak instead of making it a strong one.
Open your mind and clarify you point. Don’t just ram it down our throats and not expect contradictory view.
Forget WW2 grudges then. In the past 25 years or so, I bet more Filipinos were killed/murdered by US servicemen than by the Chinese military/coast guard. I’m guessing by a wide margin too.
I’ve said this a few times here, and been excoriated for it.
The Filipino response to mean, nasty superpowers is “waaahh it’s all so UNFAIR”. Yup. The world is unfair. And if Filipinos refuse to deal with things as they are rather than as they fantasize that things should be, they’re going to get shafted. Again.
You can hear Filipinos talk big all the time about “being vigilant”, “being great”, or “being regarded as an equal internationally”, but absolutely fail when it comes to the walk.
I got chewed out for pointing this out, too. “What? You want farmers to search on the internet to learn how to be better farmers? You imperialistic bastard!”
“Open wide, and say ‘aaaaaahhhhh’…”
yeah, ain’t no guavas going to drop into your mouths, guys.
Juan Tamad stories are funny cos they’re true.
I’m all for the Philippines being friends with all countries. Heck, I’m even willing to be called the friendliest country on earth.
But this so-called pivot and/or terms having to do with independence, independent foreign policy, neutrality and the idea or talk of severing old ties and making headway for a new one, etc., that the Philippines can now do what it wants to do makes me cringe a little bit.
I’m all for countries respecting us but I also want other countries to see and feel we reciprocate the same quality. I see no need to spite old friends just because she hurts you. Friends have differences which cannot be settled by talking. Shouting and implying the intent to drastically change a relationship just because we say so leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Can we not do things silently and honorably? One thing I don’t want to see is to be seen as blackmailers which is what I’m getting from the sound bites I’m hearing on the ground. ????????????
Well then cringe. Mema ka na naman. =)
Gnogid thinks that cosying up more to U.S. for years doesn’t make it a way of “spiting” China but when there’s attempt at forging close ties with China, you get these conspiracy theories that all hell is going to break loose.
Benigno’s article is really on point. Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Pakistan have even more major economic ties with China and yet they don’t seem to think making deals with it is such a great threat to any of our other alliances. It makes one think Filipinos really love being U.S.’ bitch with that sort of mentality you have.
Well, that is what you’re insecure mind think of what I said. Nowhere in my post you can point that malicious idea.
I don’t know what you are talking about there. Maybe, again, you are imagining scenarios to justify what is happening. But until you make yourself clear and be specific I’m not going respond to the above.
That is the problem, you prefer to spite instead of explain or elaborate why you think things are happening and why it is good for us. You have not heard from me whether I’m totally against on something and you are already defending and attacking? What’s up, man?
You want to argue your point, fine, but start with the whys, whats and why you like what you like. Snide remarks and out of place sarcasm will not advance the discussion.
Okay, start from the beginning, fire!
Yet you responded anyway, moron.And I never cared if you ever did or not anyway. I’m just enjoying throwing back at you barbs for the fun of it, cause you seem really deluded. Just saying.
I’m really sorry Baylee if I destroyed something in you. You are so angry you’re not making sense already. You are so “courageous”. The problem is, like Duterte, nobody is quarreling with you.
Check your blood pressure and take a rest from this blog. I don’t want anyone here collapsing because they cannot take what they read on the board. ????
I’ll share my understanding if you may?
The visit is to make amend of what has been ruined. If you have read history of the Philippines, I mean those books written for the sake of real history and not for propaganda, you will understand that the friendship between Phil and China is more deeper and sincere than what was then publicized friendship bet Phil and US. Aside from that, China never declare or threat war towards its neighbors which oppose to the US claim that China is a threat to its Asean neighbor. In fact, US has the most malicious acts of war in recent history. If you are following the SCS case, you will see that both Phil and China have valid claims in historical, Scientific and legal aspects. Both claims are constitutional which means no any representative of any country can give-up the claim and so the big question is, How this problem can be settled? If you are a realist, its an easy Q, war or talk.
But we all know that Phil cannot go to war simply because it is not an option. So the only way is to talk.
Now regarding to your concern referring to how the president bullshitting the US, EU and others.. well that is another thing.
Imagine this, you are a simple Filipino citizen arrived in the NAIA during the time of Ex P-Noy. One officer called out your name and said, stay put I have found a bullet in your bag, you will be subject to interrogation now. With all your heart you know, the officer is lying and you are ready to face the interrogator. In the interrogating room, initially you explain calmly and answer his questions.. but later on you feel as if the interrogator is pushing you to say something you don’t want to. While trying to keep your chest, you notice that he was not actually listening to your explanation and you have this gut feeling that they are on to something…
What will you do? Well, that depends on your character. If you are the decent type..ahmm..I don’t know what the decent type dude will do, but I do know what the “realist” type will do. He will call the media and raise the hell. So the whole nation knows you already and the the rest of the world are debating what should they write to their advisory about the Philippines system.
My point is, you need to be passionate enough so that you can make sure that you got the attention of your intended receiver, especially when they are so busy pushing their own interest against you. So that maybe, just maybe.. they will recheck their judgment about you and say.. oh, we just pick the wrong one. 🙂
I was not really referring to the ‘visit’ and I don’t exactly see it as ‘amending what has been ruined’. But let me skip that for a while and let me further buttress the point I was driving.
Nothing wrong in strengthening our friendship with China or Russia or with any country we wishes to build relationship with because it is the right thing to do in terms of our national interest and security. I’m all for what is right but I’m also ready to express my opinion to what I think is wrong.
Like I said can we not proceed to implement our foreign policy in a quiet and honorable way instead of doing the opposite? It’s fine to collect and to have many friends or allies but we should NEVER attempt to play those potential and long-standing allies and create a scenario that the friendship we’re offering defends on what the political climate is or the whim of the one who sits in Malacanang is at present. Our approach should always be inclusive, respectful and diplomatic.
Now to your point.
As far as we’re concerned, the issue between us and China can only be settled by negotiation. No need to talk about war as an option because it’s tantamount to talking about angels and pink elephants.
Just because China has not declared war or not making threats against her neighbors doesn’t mean she’s already nice and gentle and good. By her sheer size and her military and economic power she don’t need to do those things. All she has to do is DO and everyone around her will understand what her intention is.
Not too long ago, we received a favorable decision from an international tribunal about the disputed isles/islands in the SCS denying validity to China’s claim in the area. We expect that she will not honor it and we’re right. And that is the status of that issue right now.
I don’t think I used ‘bullshitting’ to describe the president’s approach with our friends and allies is. To be clear and straight, let me say that Pres. Duterte is disrespectful, callous and arrogant in the way he handles and presents himself as the leader of our country. You are right, that is another thing AND the most important thing if you are representing 100+ million people and the most highest office in the land.
A little civility will go a long way.
I think we are on the same page on the SCS and all related things to that. I won’t bother to correct or expound my previous statements you highlighted since we have the same bottom-line. 🙂
So your main issue is his being candor. 🙂 Sorry but I view his choice of words as being candor and nothing else.
You know, if you view him as being, “disrespectful, callous and arrogant in the way he handles and presents himself as the leader of our country”
Well, that will be your truth of the matter, friend. Your view of him is a choice and whatever or however I challenge your personal view won’t matter because the subject is purely subjective.
If being civil and honorable is the most important thing for a President then I must say that it’s not a priority for the president and I agree with him. You know, if we are living in the perfect world of Theoretical book on politics then you are pretty right. But happily, it doesn’t work that way. We won’t be exchanging ideas today if that’s the case.
If you really want to know, listen to his China Forum, it’s all over in youtube, the one that he challenge anyone to give him a sensible answer to his question and if there is one, he will resign right then and there. You may not understand him but you will know why his doing it straight from him. 🙂
My main issue about Pres. Duterte is not merely about candor. His whole being is an issue to me. I raised the candor issue because leaders influences and set examples and I’m afraid Pres. Duterte has failed on that issue.
I disagree with you that my view of him is a choice. It was never a choice because he removed that factor on people’s mind the moment he showed who he really is. When he acted and speak rude and lewd before the public, when I saw him conduct himself among the people, the way he spew disrespectful words and demean and make threats as if he’s the big boss there was no hesitation of who he is. No need to make a choice. Choice never came up in my mind. Decision did. It is not my ‘view’ that he is disrespectful, callous and arrogant. HE IS disrespectful, callous and arrogant. No doubt.
Anybody who will challenge what I thought of him is THE ONE who will make the choice. I’ve long decided that Pres. Duterte do not give prestige and respect to the office he occupies.
Ms. Agot Isidro’s view of him is really hard BUT when you contemplate about it, see where it is coming from, it touches the reality a bit. It makes sense.
If you think being civil and honorable is not priority in the highest office of the land; if being civil and honorable should have no place in the mind of one who represents 100+ Filipinos before the world, it’s your choice. A bad one, though. If our president don’t give a damn about being civil and honorable, what will ordinary people make of that? Will being uncivilized and dishonorable be the order of the day?
We don’t have to be perfect. Nobody was demanding that our president must be perfect. That’s asking for the moon. The least a president can do is accord his office due respect, propriety and integrity. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
I have not seen his China forum, however, you can pose here the questions tackled there and I’ll be glad to discuss it with you.
Yet another looong diatribe that could have been easily said in less than ten words.
How hard is it to just say I DONT LIKE DUTERTE NO MATTER WHAT HE DOES.
It’s hard because I’m not a robot. I’m not your puppet.
Go slow Carl because you don’t seem to be thinking every time you put up a post. And don’t engage with a hot head. Worse, don’t tell me what to say.
I don’t know about that. Are we really that ‘overly inward-looking people’ as in self-centered, closed, cut off like North Korea or Myanmar? I don’t think so.
Overly inward-looking people as in an independent country that is not interested in other people/country? If true, that destroys the present issue of claiming independence.
Overly inward-looking people as in cut off or confined only to ourselves? Again, that’s contradictory because we have a lot of friends. So many friends that we are even threatening our relations with some of them because we don’t fell that they are treating us well.
Overly inward-looking people, I think, is the last words you’ll think of when you think of Filipinos. Damn, they’re all over the place. The country is bursting with people who comes in and out from all around.
I say, we are an outward-looking people. We see other countries and try to emulate them, be in step with them, etc. We interact and trade with them as well as welcome all peoples to come and visit us. In fact, the recent so-called pivot by the Duterte administration is proof that we have an outward-looking policy or thinking.
Puro kayo salita ky wala naman gawa kala mo kung sino. Ako ay proiud duterte supporter frm kidapawan. I’m proud and not anonymous like others. Kung matapang talaga kayo post your facebook linKs so we know you are not trolls. https://m.facebook.com/ozam.gal
Koreeeek! Mga inggit sa davao at mindanao kasi samin safest places. At hindi puno ng squatter and criminals!
I callenge trolls post your links kung matapang kayo. Takot kayo sa mg bisaya, mga totoong tao. Yun ang insecurity ninyu.dili kayo happy sa real life. https://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1670772131&tsid=0.37686100585208826&source=typeahead
What do you get when , an idiot Senator by the name of Trillanes, goes to China , for backdoor diplomacy ?
Trillanes has no education or experience in foreign affairs and diplomacy. So, he sold the Scarborough Shoal to the Chinese. We should get hold of this idiot and hang him ! Together, with his patron: Aquino…
China is our neighbor. It is an ancient country. It had been an economic power, in ancient times. Remember the Silk Road, going as far as Egypt ? Caravans of camels, full of Chinese products, passing thru the Silk road, to the Middle East… The Chinese had also Trading ships, full of Chinese products, trading in Asia and Europe…
The Chinese were traders; not imperialists !
The Chinese has been naturally good in business. They are the foremost capitalist country of the world. They call themselves, “communist”, but they are capitalists !
We have the Shabu Drug problem…the Chinese Triad Mafia Drug Syndicate is involved in the Shabu Drug Trade. We need China , to help us fight this illegal drug Shabu problem…
China is as large in land area, like the United States. It was a powerful country. It did not invade us; nor colonized us.
The United States invaded us; and colonized us. We became independent; at the expense of the Laurel Langley Agreement(our natural resources); and the U.S. Bases lease agreement. We were swindled by these agreements. U.S. Aids is with strings attached…the U.S. controls our political and economic/monetary system, in exchange of
the U.S. aids…
We have to protect our natural resources and our national interests…we are not servants to anybody.
I believe in a neutral foreign policy. Being friends of every country; no matter what their political or religious ideologies.
YellowTard dimwit “gnogid”…
Who cares, what you troll. It has been my belief, since I was blogging in the GRP, for a neutral Philippines.
You stink like a skunk…a kind of a YellowTard stink ! A lunatic like YellowTard dimwit “gnogid” will write nonsense always !
I don’t know where to put that declaration because I have yet to see anyone saying that China and Russia are the “enemies” of the Filipino people.
What’s happening with US-Russia or US-China relations are basically all about them.We should not drag ourselves into the mix. There is no cold war legacy in our day to day interaction with those giants.
What is clear, though, was we have a favorable decision against China regarding the disputed territories in the South China Sea. ????
YellowTard dimwit “gnogid” ,thinks “there is no cold war legacy”.
Cold war continues between the superpowers. Ukraine in Europe. The U.S./C.I.A. defeat in Turkey.
China did not even respected Obama, during his visit in China.
The Scarborough Shoals were sold by Aquino and Trillanes. Two corrupt idiots !
Landfills came from the Philippines, to make these shoals, a military base. Known and sold by that corrupt , Aquino !
Ah, between superpowers. So, I’m right when I said, “There is no cold war legacy in OUR day to day interaction with those giants.”
Or you think we’re superpowers too?
One great enemy Failipinos in the Failippines must all endeavor to fear not conquering is fear. Fear can cripple purpose and purposeful life. Fear asks question they must fear. Fear makes vision a nightmare. Failipinos must always cross the barrier of fear to get to the great city of true purposefulness. A great number of Failipinos in the Failippines who are unable to live to accomplish the true reason for their existence on earth are unable to cross the barrier of fear in the first place.
my 2 cents worth of opinion, the ART of WAR by SUN TZU, keep your friends closer and your ENEMIES closer
mali ata ahahaha sorry, keep your friends close and your enemies closer
The Filipinos have always looked to the United States as its Big Brother for so long. However, looking back at the long history of the Philippine-US relation, we will find a lot in it a lot of questionable acts committed by the big brother that makes him more like a bully if not a negligent older sibling. (I really wish the late Sen. Raul Manglapus is still alive to see and hear these developments)
While I think it’s an odd move start leaning to China, I leave it to the wisdom of PRD. Besides, our relationship with the US has been for so long yet I think we didn’t benefit from it as much as we want to so I guess it’s about to time we look to other countries for ‘help.’ China? I’m not really comfortable with it but fine, let’s try the ‘enemy.’
Oh, US citizens needing visas before entering the Philippines? Why not? Filipinos were required to have one before entering US so why can’t we make it mutual? Is there any harm in that? (I can hear someone say “Well, who do you think you are?” to which my answer is: “Ha Ha”)
Thats right Vincent. We will leave this to the wisdom of the executive department. They have the resources, the intel to make informed decisions. However, we reserve the right to comment and voice our opinion, contrary or otherwise 😉
Who knows, maybe one day we will look to this day as our true “independence day.”
Yes we are quite well acquainted with the state sponsored shabu exported to us by china
Fact: ad hominem and red herring are for cowards. Remember that.
The Philippines better start bushing up on their mandarin.