Of caciques and ‘Makapili’: Traitors’ playbook and China’s floating barriers match
A hip denim slogan “blue jeans never die; they just fade away” also rhymes true with the country’s traitors of every hue and color. And just like everyone’s favorite jeans, they fade away too to reincarnate at some future time, and the only color they see is money’s.
A traitor can be anyone breaking someone’s trust. But the most sickening of all are those who betray their country in cahoots with foreign aggressors. Throughout this nation’s history, they existed while creating all sorts of damage, especially on the nation’s moral fabric, most of them might not, or take generations to heal.
The “caciques” during the more than 300 hundred years of Spanish rule in the country were the indigenous heads who were co-opted by the Spanish conquistadors acting as their local overseers. As agents of colonial hegemony, they were obsequious to Spanish overlords while hostile toward the rest of the local population.
During the American colonization, while the ink that seals the 1898 Treaty of Paris had barely dried, many of these caciques, like chameleons, only changed color and turned feudal lords toward the end of the Spanish rule.
In one of the historical accounts of renowned Filipino historian, Teodoro Agoncillo, in “Malolos: The crisis of the republic,” he described the villains of his story as the “Haves” whom he called the “plutocrats” which, betrayed their countrymen by collaborating with the American occupiers to undermine the war efforts of the Filipino nationalist. These champagne-swilling plutocrats were some of the Philippines’ “who’s who” whose descendants continue to inhabit Philippine society today.
Then came the Japanese Occupation that saw the rise of the Japanese collaborators called the Makabayang Katipunan ng mga Pilipino, infamously known as the “Makapili,” whose notoriety still lives to this day. Started in 1944 to assist the Imperial Japanese Army, the group was “born out of then-President Jose P. Laurel’s refusal to conscript Filipinos to serve in the Japanese army” whose mission is to fight fellow Filipinos particularly those who are members of the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon or “Hukbalahap.”
It disbanded after World War II and condemned for the atrocities it perpetrated, together with the Japanese. Its members faced trials before the military tribunal for treason. The term “Makapili” describes traitorous whistleblower whose head is covered in “bayong” (straw bags) with holes enabling the eyes to see and point on Filipino guerilla fighters to the Imperial Japanese Army.
And now the buoys that China illegally laid to bar Filipino fisherfolks access on their traditional fishing area at the Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), which is well within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), aside from working as irritants, is an affront, not just on the government but to the entire Filipino race.
It did not do such brazen act without hideous design. China might have calculated that its action would put some highly placed people in a quandary — whether to denounce it or not. While at the same time, serving as bugle call to the neo-Makapili to come into the aid of China’s latest caper, which is making it the laughing stock of the world as a result of its increasingly bizarre behavior in corralling part of the sea where it does not have jurisdiction.
Taken together, their vade mecum remains the same. Only this time they mutated into fake news peddlers, gaslighters, and “cognitive warfare” purveyors, a form of soft invasion being utilized by a giant neighboring bully to pit Filipinos against one another. Today’s Makapili is no longer coy flaunting it and parroting warped narratives of a foreign aggressor, right in front of your TV screens and mobile devices.
If this gravely wounded nation has to survive we must first erase whatever trace of toxic Makapili DNA that tucks inside many Filipinos’ nerve system. Only then we can start building a new breed of—MAKAPILIPINO!
TED P. PENAFLOR II