Philippine “nationalism” torn by Filipino partisans’ rabid loyalties to China and America

Is the face of the new nationalism against China also a false one? The question should be asked and answered because as Randy David stated in his Inquirer column “Against China: The face of a new nationalism”, his generation’s nationalist bent was directed against the US and not China. “I never thought there would come a time when Filipino nationalism would be trained explicitly against China, rather than its usual target, the United States,” David writes. He then wistfully recalls the “heady” days of his youth…

Coming of age during the impetuous years of the ’60s, my generation had formed its signature activism in the struggle against the complex machinations of American imperialism. As undergrads at the University of the Philippines, we spent as much time in teach-ins outside the classroom as in our formal classes, discussing the reality of the US war of aggression in Vietnam and the role that the American bases in Clark and Subic played in the conduct of that unjust war.

When the battle was still ideological, National Democrats sided with China because they believed that communism was the solution to society’s problems. China even sent arms to the Communist Party of the Philippines, its front organisation the National Democratic Front, and its terrorist arm the New People’s Army (CPP-NDF-NPA) onboard the MV Karagatan, which was intercepted in Cagayan.

China has now shunned the export of communism as an ideology. It has embraced what it terms as the “one country, two systems” style of governance, which was the offshoot of the return of two territories held as colonial outposts by the British and the Portuguese in Hong Kong and Macau. It is now the second largest economy in the world and has managed to eradicate poverty in less than fifty years. It is an achievement where other countries had failed and it is admired because of its scale given its population of at least a billion people.

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The US continues to be popular and embedded in the Filipino psyche. We identify more as American than Asian. The NatDems are hardly complaining about the pivot to the US of the administration of President Bongbong Marcos. In fact, they have toned down their traditional anti-Marcos rhetoric in support of its policy in the West Philippine Sea and the ongoing demolition of the Duterte family’s political brand.

The “mission” of Atin Ito, a recent “people power” activist stunt at sea, was supposedly successful even if it didn’t reach Scarborough Shoal because it achieved its objectives. In truth and in fact, what we claim as the Kalayaan Island group and Bajo De Masinloc, wasn’t part of the territory ceded by Spain to the US for $20 million in 1898. It was just that the territories had different administrators given the different conflicts which took place in China, as it transitioned from the monarchy of the Emperor, to the republican government of Sun Yat Sen. These conflicts are what enabled Britain and Portugal to establish outposts in Hong Kong and Macau. It is also what motivated Japan to try and conquer China before World War II.

Our sense of nationalism against China is false because the paradigm has shifted. China stopped the export of ideology under Deng Xiao Ping. It focused on nation building and succeeded. China is taking its place on the global stage without utilizing the usual hegemonic tactics of the Western powers. In fact, it pulled a fast one on America which turned China into its manufacturing hub for American companies and expected the Chinese to go to demand more freedoms and overthrow the government as its developed economically. But this didn’t happen. The Chinese government managed the transition well by keeping the people content with the leadership.

It can be said that China is now more progressive than any Western nation. It has also managed to keep its national identity intact which is why it lacks the West’s social unrest. In contrast, the US continues the export of ideology and with it, the wars being fought in the name of democracy throughout the world. What it has managed to do is bring China and Russia on the oath to developing closer ties as evidenced by the visit of Vladimir Putin to China last week.

The Atin Ito coalition was nothing but an episode of the teleserye that is the false sense of nationalism harboured by a number of Filipinos who are convinced that the US is the better alternative to China. We are the only country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that does not identify as Asian. ASEAN has not issued any statement of support for the Philippines in the South China Sea disputes. This is why certain foreign policy experts, such as the Ilokanong-Iranian Richard Heydarian, have been calling out ASEAN member countries.

The reality is, China is the regional leader, not only militarily but also economically. For the other ASEAN member countries, trade is more important than conflict and it is stupid to choose sides between China and the US. This is the practical and logical approach to take but, to Filipinos, making noise against China and embracing Uncle Sam is the right thing to do. Branding Filipinos who think critically and are against the Marcos administration’s foreign policy as traitors or Makapili doesn’t do any good for their cause. The Atin Ito mission symbolizes the Filipino penchant for show or palabas. It is not grounded on facts, ideology or principles but rather political expediency.

7 Replies to “Philippine “nationalism” torn by Filipino partisans’ rabid loyalties to China and America”

  1. So, today I just experienced firsthand getting muted and restricted on a livestreaming done by a former communications secretary of this administration. I commented only twice. First, I saw somebody else’s comment get taken out. His comment was not even offensive. He said, “Sinong mas paniniwalaan nyo, ang gobyerno natin o ang China?” Then I saw the comment actually disappear. So I tried to comment: “May nagtatanggal pala ng comments dito” and something similar to the censored comment: “Who are we going trust kung hindi ang ating gobyerno?”

    Ito na pala ang talagang nangyayari ngayon on the information battlefield. And I thought the former secretary was a staunch advocate and a nationalist for our country. I don’t think my comments deserved to be taken out. I was expecting a reasonable answer from her if the comment gets any attention at all. It was like like an opinion nazism, and I rarely join any livestreams of that sort. And they’ll just say you’re a troll at the first hint that you’re not agreeing with them.

    1. China claims new model agreement with PH gov.
      PH govt denies claims and called Chinese officials liars.
      China leaks documents containing recorded minutes of said meeting, an SOP when it comes to Govt to Govt conversations.
      Ph govt proceeds to fires involved officials and threatens to accuse Chinese officials of wiretapping.

      Sige nga, pagtagpi tagpiin mo nga yan.

  2. “Our sense of nationalism against China is false because the paradigm has shifted.”

    Are you trying to create confusion? Why does it have to be about a paradigm shift when it’s clearly about the defense of this country’s integrity? Can’t we have our own paradigm? We can partially align with somebody else’s ways of being, but it’s unrealistic to completely conform to them.
    If it’s a question of having the dollar as the standard, then that’s another issue to confront.

    1. Maybe ask these dumbass officials and media who keep shouting “China bad” while other Asian nations are also present in the contested territories? Like Vietnam occupying 21 islands while every pinoy and their dog is focused on China that claims 9 islands.

  3. “The reality is, China is the regional leader, not only militarily but also economically. For the other ASEAN member countries, trade is more important than conflict and it is stupid to choose sides between China and the US.” – Ramon Ortoll

    To be realistic, you have to verify that statement first from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, not to mention those claimant countries in the South China Sea dispute.

    You only call yourself ‘leader’ when there’s harmony, cooperation and respect in your relationship among you and your members.

  4. Mas mapagtatagpi po yan kung kumpleto ang detalye para may “substance” ang usapan.

    Agreement with the Ph gov’t means agreement with the top decision makers. Bakit at papaano ipatutupad ng ating mga opisyal ang isang kasunduan na hindi pwedeng gawan ng konkretong ebidensya o patunay? Walang bisa ang nasabing kasunduan sa ganung paraan.

    I think the government should step up its game when it comes to communication. Many Filipinos are behind in learning, but we also have a lot of smart people in gov’t. who should not allow foreigners and traitors to get away with their deceptive tactics.

  5. @Ramon Ortoll:

    “In truth and in fact, what we claim as the Kalayaan Island group and Bajo De Masinloc, wasn’t part of the territory ceded by Spain to the US for $20 million in 1898.”

    It’s has to be challenged though. This one of the more dishonest assertions of the pro-China and the pro-Duterte camp to prove their point that China is doing right and that they’re just defending their territories.

    (When the Americans left, courtesy of the Philippine Senate’s rejection of the renewal of the bases agreement in 1991, China wasted no time to take measures to prepare and ultimately take control of the Panganiban Reef (also known as Mischief Reef) under then the Ramos administration and since he can’t do nothing about it, he abandoned the idea to reclaim it back.

    Historical trivia, in 1996: Three Chinese naval vessels fight a ninety-minute battle with a Philippine navy gunboat near Capones Island in the Mischief Reef, part of the Spratly chain of islands claimed by Manila. The incident marks the first time China engages in military confrontation with an ASEAN member other than Vietnam.)

    So, why won’t you liberate the minds of your readers from ignorance and explain to them about the Treaty of Washington of 1900.

    This treaty between the United States and Spain for the Cession to United States of any and ALL ISLANDS of the Philippine Archipelago LYING OUTSIDE OF THE LINES was described in Article III of the treaty of peace of December 10, 1898.

    “Spain relinquishes to the United States all title and claim of title, which she may have had at the time of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace of Paris, to any and all islands belonging to the Philippine Archipelago, lying outside the lines described in Article III of that Treaty and particularly to the islands of Cagayan, Sulu and Sibutu and their dependencies, and agrees that all such islands shall be comprehended in the cession of the Archipelago as fully as if they had been expressly included within those lines.

    “The United States, in consideration of this relinquishment, will pay to Spain the sum of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) within six months after the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty.”

    The Philippines, in fact, presented the Washington Treaty of 1900 to the international arbitral tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands. Said treaty stipulates that the Spratlys Island is part of the Philippine territory.

    Apologists for Beijing should be reminded with this quote from Alex Magno who conveys it better.

    “There are Chinese hardliners today ready to remind Russia that Vladivostok once belonged to the Chinese empire. There are nationalists presenting the world with broken ancient pottery to prove Chinese ownership of distant lands, as if whatever they touched was theirs.”

    These apologists even attack President Marcos Jr. with his strategy, who has made it clear, time and again, he’s working for the Philippines, not US or China.

    Ramon Ang, one of the richest Filipino tycoons, has a proposal to curb pesky inflation: PROTECT the West Philippine Sea. And rightly so.

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