Free to express anti-China sentiments
I must admit that I did not expect it from this administration to take a firm stand against the bullying of China. But what I have been observing makes me happy to have been wrong in my apprehension. The more recent actuations by both the civilian and military leaderships are most welcome, not only to me, but the majority of Filipinos who were too timid during the Duterte presidency to openly express their resentment at China.
Last August, the Philippine Coast Guard publicly condemned China for using water cannons to stop supply ships of the Philippine Navy on their way to deliver supplies to the grounded Sierra Madre outpost. It was not the first time that Chinese ships had fired water cannons at Filipino supply ships; in fact, it has not only been firing water cannons but other acts of bullying. But this time, the Philippine Coast Guard put out a strongly-worded denunciation.
It was as though both the Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy had restrained themselves from speaking out against China for so long that a dam of resentment simply burst. There had been no lack of military officers who found it painful, even unpatriotic, when the country’s leadership before simply glossed over China’s bullying. But then, they also saw how POGO abuses were left uncensored and overdue POGO taxes due the Philippine government were left strangely uncollected by our BIR.
It was openly mentioned before that going to war against China was suicidal, as though Filipinos are so stupid as not to know how superior China is militarily. And using that undeniable fact, the message was clear from traitors to Philippine sovereignty and territory – just grin and bear it, let China feed us with tourists, loans for projects, because we cannot stop their attempts to take what is ours. In other words, if you can’t beat them, just profit from them.
It sure did seem to me that the Philippines was for sale, not only from the eyes of the Chinese government, but even from Filipinos who were ashamed that their homeland was made to look that way. It is not the fault of most Filipinos that they would choose the United States over China. The history of the last 70 years can properly explain the favorable outlook of most Filipinos towards America and its Western allies.
China was always free to court Filipinos. Chinese blood flows through the veins of what I suspect is the majority of Filipinos, and that is a serious relational advantage. The lineage of many Filipino clans can be traced to China, and any attempt to foster familial and cultural ties could have surely eased the impact of our pro-America stance. But the expansionist intent of the leadership of China made us Filipinos largely irrelevant. We were too small, we were too weak, we were too poor – therefore, easy to bully, easy to scare, maybe even easy to buy.
Look at the rest of Asia and the 9-dash line (now 10-dash line already). How many countries is China claiming to be in possession of their historical territory? The Philippines is only one of many who is accused of intruding into China’s sovereign domain. It also did not matter much to China that they have created enemies of nations who could easily be their friends. Just because they want to dominate the world, starting with Asia, no matter how and no what the consequences. This expansionist drive makes us afraid, and frankly speaking, the rest of the world just as afraid.
Our fear drives us to a corner. We do not want to incur the wrath of a giant nation. However, the price for our submission and humiliation may be too painful for many Filipinos to bear. Our fear and anger give us the impetus to resist. And the common fear of China’s expansionist ambition creates natural alliances among many countries. Together, China’s enemies are formidable enough to attract the Philippines to seek alliances with them.
And the Philippines will. The more aggressive China moves against us, the more aggressive we will reach out for military and economic alliances. It will go beyond objective reasoning, it will be a matter of survival for us.
This is why I always tend to agree with government moves to rekindle patriotism in Filipinos. We have the prospects of war ahead, and it will be more difficult for us than it will be for China. We have to suffer much before global assistance can fully compensate for our lack of military and economic strength. Only an intense love of a free and dignified Philippines, our patriotism, can keep us going when China goes all out against us.
At the same time, the manner by which government can intensify an inherent love of country is to have leaders who are prime examples of patriotism. In other words, no one can make better patriots of Filipinos than active and visible patriots among our leaders. In like and reverse manner, traitors can generate our natural fear into surrender or complicity with China. Let us be aware of this. Traitors are not new in our national setting, from the Spanish, American, and Japanese conquests of our motherland.
The aggression of China is a sad development for Filipinos. By all accounts, we should be allies. The history of China and the Philippines as traditional trading partners and blood brothers is well established. It is difficult for Chinoys (and who really knows how substantial that number is today) to have to feel animosity for the land and people where their ancestors have come from. But when bullied and disrespected, the choice becomes clear and easy.
In the realm of possibilities, so much opportunity is there for a fraternal relationship. But present-day reality drastically limits the possibilities. Ambition for global domination by China makes our inner wishes for friendship a near impossibility. After all, who are we Filipinos to be an exception for a giant? We might as well be prepared.