Marawi is the Philippines’ Vietnam War: Filipinos are apathetic to their soldiers’ sacrifices


That date Filipinos mistakenly regard as “Independence Day” is approaching. Mistaken, because it is a reality from Filipinos’ perspectives but not everyone else’s. The Philippines’ real independence day was, of course, on the 4th of July 1946, when it was granted by the United States. The Philippines ceased being a colony of the United States on that day.

This and the confused thinking Filipinos surround their “independence” with is made more relevant today — in their now confused regard for their fighting men and women. This is because the issues that result in Filipinos consistently and routinely losing battles are precisely the reasons why the notion of “Independence Day” being recognised as one “achieved” on the 12th of June 1898 is a delusion at best.

Filipinos are renowned for their internal battles. Their rambunctious elections and the vicious campaigns that precede these are legendary. Friendships are made and broken on the back of irrational alliances with politicians of the moment — never mind that these politicians themselves are bound amongst themselves by friendships, family ties, and business interests that escape the sensibilities of the common folk who battle one another in their names.

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What we see today is yet another fatal lack, on Filipinos’ part, of any ability to recognise real threats to their country even as they latch onto imagined threats. The imagined threat Martial Law presents to today’s “activists”, for example, is but a relic of a 30-year-old mythology that pits its “evil” versus the “good” of freedom supposedly championed by the Yellow camp of the Aquino-Cojuangco clan. And so, even as Filipino soldiers bravely fight — and die — in bloody street fighting in Marawi City against Islamic terrorists, they enjoy very little support from their own society’s most prominent influencers.

To the Filipino soldier, Marawi City, it seems, is their Vietnam War. The parallels are there. Imperial Manila’s newspapers are reporting body count tallies. Its hipster “activists” are screaming bloody “Human Rights Abuse!” while sipping lattes in trendy cafes, and its prominent celebrities pose for photos while holding refugees’ babies.

The idea of rallying behind soldiers is, quite simply, not part of the Philippines’ cultural DNA. Filipinos’ most prominent monuments and political symbols are peacenik and religious in nature. Their heroes are mostly so-called “martyrs” and not victorious commanders and conquering chieftains. The Philippines last vestige of any semblance of a martial tradition was finally crushed when mandatory civilian military training was abolished some years back.

Indeed, in recent days, images and stories of Filipino celebrity Angel Locsin consorting with Marawi’s displaced civilians were making rounds in social media attracting thousands of Facebook “likes” and Twitter “retweets”. But there is a conversation that needs to be had about these supposed “victims” of the Marawi conflict, perhaps starting with this hypothesis:

Many of these “victims” were, for decades, fully aware of the terrorist cancer gestating under their very noses within their own city.

Celebrities of truly great nations prioritise the wellbeing of their country’s troops above all else.

Surveys upon surveys have revealed that known terrorist and bandit groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front enjoy the unwavering trust of the vast majority of Filipino Muslims. Yet, in 2015, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was responsible for the massacre of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) police officers while they were on a mission to capture a terrorist leader. The recent capture of Ominta Romato Maute (a.k.a. Farhana Maute), mother of the Maute terrorist brothers, while in the act of squirrelling away a cache of arms and wounded Islamic combatants also highlights the reality that Marawi’s most prominent citizens are in on the plot.

It is therefore quite ironic that while Christian Filipinos are divided in their support of their national troops, their Muslim “brothers” are united behind their armed — and dangerous — Islamic fighters, patrons, and financiers.

So while images of long-haired “angels” coming down from Imperial Manila to comfort war victims induce warm fuzzy feelings amongst Manila’s liberalist hipsters, one wonders where the equivalent solidarity for Filipino troops can be found. There is none of course. Filipino liberals have, for many decades, shoved the notion that Filipino military personnel are bad people and not to be trusted and have, as a result, created a huge gulf between civilian and martial sensibilities.

Indeed, it is ironic considering one of those bastions of fundamentalist pacifism — the Ateneo de Manila University — puts upon its highest pedestal a soldier. San Ignacio de Loyola was, of course, a soldier. His most famous monument depicts him offering his sword to the heavens as a gesture of his commitment to a life of service to God. Nonetheless, Ateneans take pride in a tradition of celebrating San Ignacio’s feast day with, get this, a military mass.

Suffice to say, when people routinely allow their minds to be hijacked by demagogic political mythologies and continue to latch on to obsolete irrational internal fears, the result is the sort of confused inconsistency Filipinos struggle with today even as a deadly war rages on their backyard against an enemy that presents a clear and present danger to national security.

19 Replies to “Marawi is the Philippines’ Vietnam War: Filipinos are apathetic to their soldiers’ sacrifices”

  1. only the yellow bloods and their friends and supporters, the oligarchs and all those who have vested interests in the rotten manner the country has been running are unsympathetic to the soldiers’ sacrifices. as for angel locsin, i do wonder what her motives are…


    Before my father died, he said the worst thing about growing old was that other men stop seeing you as dangerous…I’ve always remember that how being dangerous was sacred, a badge of honor. You live your life by a code. An ethos, every man does. It’s your shoreline. It’s what guides you home and trust me, you’re always trying to get home.

    Your father was a reader, Churchill of course, but also Faulkner and books about Tecumseh. He loved artists who painted people with bodies that looked like boxes. I’d give him hell about that. He’d just say you gotta look harder. Look harder, your father would say, I always knew he wasn’t just talking about those boxy abstract paintings.

    There’s threats everywhere in a world that’s draped in camouflage. Your father’s grandfather gave up his life flying a B-24 in World War II. He kept the Liberator aloft just long enough for everyone to jump, and then he went down with the plane. That’s the blood coursing in your veins. Your father was my boss and I was his chief. What we knew about each other’s traits and our bond as operators. There’s a brotherhood between us and we depended on each other more than a family. Tecumseh said although a single twig may break, a bundle of twigs is strong.

    That last night at home you think about how you coulda been a better dad, a better husband, that bedtime story you shoulda read or that anniversary you forgot. You don’t expect your family to understand what your doing, You just hope they accept it. When you get home, you hope you can pickup right where you left off.

    War is a country of will, there’s no room for sympathy. If you’re not willing to give up everything…You’ve already lost.

    Your father was a good man. Growing up without him is going be hard. It’s going to hurt. You’ll feel alone, out to sea with no shore in sight. You’ll wonder why me, why him. Remember you have warrior’s blood in your veins, the code that made your father who he was is the same code that’ll make you a man he would admire, respect. Put your pain in a box. Lock it down, like those people in the paintings your father liked. We are men made up of boxes, chambers of loss, triumph, of hurt and hope and love. No one is stronger or more dangerous than a man who can harness his emotions, his past. Use it as fuel, as ammunition, as ink to write the most important letter of YOUR life. Before your father died, he asked me to give you this poem by Tecumseh, I told him I’d fold it into a paper aeroplane, and in a way…I guess that’s what I’m doing, sailing it from him to you.

    So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

    Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

    When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

    When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

  3. This is a good message for a handful of yellow senators, 50 or so UP students, the paid yellow minions in social media, the oligarch-owned presstitutes, but not to the rest of us Filipinos. Care to thank and salute once in a while in social media the men in uniform who paid the ultimate sacrifice so you will have a better feel of the country’s pulse. You will feel our seething hatred to these handful of apathetic “enemies of the Republic”. Most likely the majority will approve a nationwide Martial Law if PRRD so declares and civilian military training will be back in schools and it would be fine with young people who found new nationalism. Btw, the real independence happened when Duterte declared an independent foreign policy and showed us we don’t have to suffer anymore the abuses of Uncle Sam. Independence is in the mind and has to be fought for and lived, not granted, like slaves being freed, as in 1946.

  4. Now a NYT article claims Pres. Duterte ignored the rise of ISIS in the Philippines. From the context of what their forces have been doing prior to their “interventions”, they just laid a pretext. The president says he never approached them for help. And the Filipino welcomes all of this because of ignorance. The writing is clear at the time the attack came when the Pres. went to his new friend. The message wasn’t meant to be subtle. But then, nothing gets through people anymore.

  5. what will happen now to these yellowtards who are traitors to their Motherland? with their flattening quote that ‘pilipinos are worth dying for’ … it’s luisita that’s worth dying for, not the pilipinos.

  6. Most of those against Martial Law in Mindanao are followers of the Aquino Cojuangco political axis; the Liberal Party; people who are ill informed of Islamic radicalism; etc…

    I can connect the dots now of this refusal to support our soldiers in the fight in Marawi City; to the slaughter of the 44 SAF soldiers, which Aquino refused to save. Aquino sat on his hands, while these brave SAF soldiers are one by one murdered.

    I think the coming Presidential election, then, was the reason. Aquino needed the MILF, to cheat, with the Smartmatic machine, for his Presidential , Vice Presidential , Senatorial, etc… candidates.

    If you look at the Muslim areas results; you can find enormous voting results for Aquino’s candidates. Aquino sacrificed the 44 SAF soldiers, so as not to be against the Muslim insurgents, who helped in the election cheating.

    The support against our soldiers, is seen as to be against Pres. Duterte…

  7. the Independence Day message of president Duterte is a smack for traitors to their Motherland, the Philippines.

  8. Vietnam was an ill-advised ideological war, which ended with BOTH sides losing: 50 years of dictatorship and post-war misery in Vietnam, and the defeat of the world’s largest military machine by a bunch of rebels in the jungle.

    Actually, I think that’s exactly what’s happening here, and what will happen. But I’m guessing you didn’t intend that comparison.

  9. Technology for nighttime fighting was not yet available during the Vietnam war. Tunnel destroying bombs were not yet available.

    The technology of warfare has advanced so much, since the Vietnam War…there are even Robot Soldiers, with Artificial Intelligence, that are now on the prototype testing. New equipment for warfare are being invented, designed and tested…

    Soon warfares will be on electronic, robotic, and artificial intelligence basis…

  10. Hyden, you people really do live in a fantasy world. Do the AFP have any of that technology? No. Do those Robot Soldiers exist, outside of the lab? No. Can the AFP even afford the latest night vision tech in any quantity? No, and the President told the US that he doesn’t want any of their out-of-date equipment. Which means they’ve got nothing at all.

    So, basically, the AFP are back in a Vietnam: a war over ideology, against an enemy that can melt into the jungle and will be supported by the locals, with even less equipment than the Americans had in 1970. So good luck with that.

  11. @Marius:

    The U.S. does not have the monopoly of Technology. Japan, for example is the most advanced country in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. The Russians have better equipment in infantry warfare…their rockets are better than the U.S. rockets, in space technology…

    Other advanced countries have advanced equipment and technology too.

    For years, the U.S. , has given the Philippines, World War II, even World War I, military equipment, as U.S. military aids. Most of these military equipment are bound for the scrap yards.

    They sell us military planes, with conditions, they impose on their use…it is strings attached, with the sale of the planes…

  12. >> Other advanced countries have advanced equipment and technology too.

    True enough. But the point, surely, is that the Philippines doesn’t.

    And since it doesn’t have the money to pay for that tech, or the international trust that attracts arms sales, it won’t be able to get it.

    Of course, the Philippines COULD design their own tech, but that would all be too much like hard work.

  13. @Marius:

    The Philippines is not as poor as you think. Maybe most of its wealth in natural resources had been stolen by its colonizers, including the U.S…. Remember , the Laurel-Langley Agreement, that was the pre-condition for our independence….

    The U.S. lost in Vietnam, because, they tried to put their puppets: Ngo Dim Diem, Nguyen Cao Ky, and Van Thieu, as their puppet leaders. Same way that they put, the Shah of Iran, as their puppet, to control the Iranian oil…

    The late Pres. Ho Chi Minh, and Gen. Von Giap, outsmarted the U.S. West Point graduates generals, during the Vietnam War…
    In the Philippines; religion may be an issue; but we know the mindsets, of our countrymen…there are no foreign invaders in this conflict…

    We have also Scientific and Technical people, working abroad as OFW. They are well trained and well versed in advanced technologies…we have dedicated and courageous soldiers, who can fight any insurgency.

    The U.S. cannot win the insurgents fighting against them; because , they are looked upon, in those countries, as invaders. Same way, that the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese, looked upon them, during the Vietnam War.

  14. >> Maybe most of its wealth in natural resources had been stolen by its colonizers
    Rubbish. Do I need to remind you that there haven’t BEEN any colonizers since 1946, and the the Constitution forbids foreign control of natural resources? It’s all been stolen by Filipinos. Mining and forestry is controlled by Filipinos. Stop blaming foreigners for your countrymen’s own criminality.

    >> The U.S. lost in Vietnam, because, they tried to put their puppets: Ngo Dim Diem, Nguyen Cao Ky, and Van Thieu, as their puppet leaders
    Well … yes and no. There probably would have never BEEN a war if they hadn’t interfered in that way. However, what I meant was, once they were involved in a hot war, it was clearly unwinnable. As you said, the US were invaders; the entire country hated them. They were there for the wrong reasons.

    Now go back to Mindanao. Mindanao has never really been under the control of Manila. Manila really only controls Manila. The rest of the country is essentially lawless. The locals in Mindanao hate what the AFP represents. They do not have the support of the locals because Manila has NEVER been on their side. And what do you think their opinion is now in Marawi, after having their city flattened? I wouldn’t be happy, would you?

    There are strong parallels with Vietnam, and not good ones. It would probably be possible to win this war, but not with bombs.

  15. @Marius:

    You are ignorant of the Laurel-Langley agreement…Can you tell me what this Laurel-Langley Agreement is all about ?

    The Americans had the right to explore and profit from the Philippine Natural Resources for many years, as a pre-condition of our independence.

    This was the reason, almost all Mining companies in the Philippines, then, was headed any an American,,,they were the capitalists.

    Americans went to intervene in Vietnam, when the French colonizers, were defeated by Gen. Von Giap. They tried to control the country, with the reason of stopping, communism. Remember, the “Dominoes Theory of Asia” ?

    Mindanao is not Vietnam, no parallel of it. We are fighting ISIS, a radical Islamic religious ideology. Are you familiar with the ISIS religious ideology ?

    Please go back and study these subjects, before you write informations. Some of us Filipinos, are more informed than you. Some have even PhDs from Ivy League foreign universities,

    That is the trouble of some Americans…they think themselves as mentally superior, that they know everything. They look down upon us, because, we are colonized brown people, expecting every Filipino to be ignorant…

  16. @Hyden: No, I didn’t know the name of the agreement, but I was aware that under the Macapagal and Marcos administrations, Americans were allowed to own and operate businesses with relative freedom. You will note that this coincides with the much-trumpeted “Golden Era” of the Philippines. Well, you can’t have it both ways. Was it a golden era, when Filipinos have never had it so good, or was it three decades of oppression? Make up your minds.

    Incidentally, Filipinos with US green cards (about 2 million of them) are allowed to own 100% of the businesses they set up in the USA. Similarly in other countries. It really shouldn’t be allowed, should it? Who knows what terrible things those Filipinos are up to!

    >> Americans went to intervene in Vietnam, when the French colonizers, were defeated by Gen. Von Giap. They tried to control the country, with the reason of stopping, communism. Remember, the “Dominoes Theory of Asia” ?

    Yes, I know this. As I already said, it was a war over ideology and an obsession with Communism.

    >> Some have even PhDs from Ivy League foreign universities,

    And some can’t use commas properly.

    >> That is the trouble of some Americans…they think themselves as mentally superior, that they know everything. They look down upon us, because, we are colonized brown people, expecting every Filipino to be ignorant…

    Rubbish. Foreigners don’t know think they know EVERYTHING. They know SOME things. How can I be sure? Because the Philippines is a complete and total failure. You have nothing to offer the world except an example of how NOT to run a country. It is completely obvious from your RESULTS that you either (a) do not have adequate knowledge or (b) if you do, you don’t know what to do with it.

    Part of being intelligent is knowing your own limits. I’ll happily admit that I’m not an expert on history, for example. But I do try to educate myself about it at every opportunity. Filipinos don’t want to learn anything. I have yet to see a Filipino reading a book.

    You’re right about one thing though. Foreigners do, in general, look down on Filipinos. It’s not because you’re brown. It’s because you do the most incredibly harmful things to yourselves, and you just can’t seem to stop doing it. Since your pride prevents you from considering the opinions and knowledge of others, we end up laughing at you.

    By the way, we don’t WANT to laugh at you. It’s a sort of mental defense mechanism. If you see someone bashing their own head in with a big stick, you might run up and take away the stick, and ask him what’s wrong, or if he needs help. You can’t do that with a Filipino, because he’ll start hitting YOU with the stick. So we all just stand around, laughing nervously, wondering why the crazy country is bashing its own head in.

  17. @Marius:

    Do you think that Americans are running their country well ? Look at the mesh Obama and Hilary Clinton did in Syria and Iraq. Look at what they have done in the Middle East.

    How about Obama paying Iran, with billions of Euro dollar cash, in the dead of the night ?

    An unmarked plane , full of Euro dollars, landing in Teheran , Iran.

    How about Hilary Clinton and Obama , creating ISIS, that lead to the ISIS Caliphate ? ISIS is now spreading in countries, including the Philippines.

    How about the failed coup d’ etat against Pres. Erdogan of Turkey, done by Obama and Hilary Clinton ?

    How about the Hilary Clinton Foundation; and Clinton’s Uranium deal with Russia’s Putin ? How about former Sec. of State Hilary Clinton, smashing her computer and iPod, to destroy evidences, against her ?

    Massive corruption, more nauseating than the Aquino’s DAP, PDAF, Pork Barrel bribery, etc….

    Is this what you call running a country well ? Deception and opportunism, are always the American way. They were deceived by Spain , by buying us , in the Treaty of Paris, in1896. They deceived us in the Laurel-Langley agreement, after World War II.

    They try to deceive us again, thru paid bloggers/trolls, who promote their interests, together with the Aquino Cojuangco political axis…

  18. @Hyden: Americans do indeed screw up, often, and on a big scale. The US is very corrupt. But consider this: despite being corrupt and predatory, they’re still extremely successful in many ways. They couldn’t BE predatory if they were not successful, could they? The Philippines, in contrast, is corrupt and UNsuccessful. So, clearly, you have some things to learn from the US. You wouldn’t want to copy exactly what they do. But you might want to look and learn, picking out the good things, and leaving the bad things.

    The US is a very odd country. In many ways it’s unique: it somehow manages to be third-world and first-world, at the same time.

    If you don’t want to compare yourselves with the US, there are plenty of countries that are quietly successful. Off the top of my head: Switzerland, Finland, Japan, Canada. They all have different ways of achieving success. However, all of them clearly know things that Filipinos don’t. Or they do things that Filipinos don’t. Would you disagree?

  19. @ Marius:

    I disagree…crookedness with self respect, is not a virtue. Duplicity with honor, is worse, than I can think.

    We have different cultures…we came from different histories. We don’t blame others for our failures…nor do we want to copy others, for their success.

    If you leave us alone, we will find our ways to the right path. Then, that will be the best help you can give us. We are not predatory people; we don’t steal from other countries to make ourselves rich…we don’t control other countries for our own self interest, and for our benefits. We don’t play to be the “policeman” of the world…

    Leave us alone…live and let live…

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