Alice Guo - The Larger Context | Inquirer Opinion

Alice Guo – The Larger Context

12:30 AM June 07, 2024

I am not a formally trained historian though history has always fascinated me. It is simply built in my thinking process that I understand things or people better when I know their context. History provides much of that context that I find so important. This principle of knowing the context in anything we want to understand should be applicable to all, of course, and not just me.

Among the hottest topics these past few weeks has been the case of Bamban Mayor Alice Guo. What has made it this way is related to two other hot topics, namely, the West Philippine Sea and POGO in the Philippines. Beyond the questionable citizenship of Mayor Guo is the growing resentment of Filipinos against China for its arrogance and bullying in the West Philippine Sea. Added to this is the ultra-controversial POGO operations that has been a constant source, not of revenue for the country, but of various kinds of criminality.

The subject is Mayor Alice Guo and whether she is a legitimate Filipino or an illegally manufactured one. The context is the Filipino and Chinese relationship, the fantastical claim of China over Philippine territorial rights and sovereignty and China’s threat and/or use of superior force, and the POGO gambling business seen as an ugly source of corruption over public officials. This is how one topic or one person can be better understood if context is known and properly used.

There are other features of this bigger context that affect the Mayor Guo citizenship issue and that is the historical relationship of Chinoys (Chinese Filipinos) and Filipinos. It is interesting to note that statistics estimate that almost 30% of Filipinos have Chinese blood or are of Chinese descent. It may be even more crucial to note that Chinoys are seen to largely control the Philippine economy through their massive business interests.


Mayor Alice Go and her sympathizers must understand the larger context of the historical and current Filipino and Chinese relationship because it dictates where the political and emotional wind will blow. I know that Mayor Guo now has very few options, and the best one seems to stand her ground no matter how costly. Whether or not she is telling the truth, much of which she has forgotten anyway, she will have to resort to what Sen. Chiz Escudero stated – make the accusers prove what they accuse her of.

Which may be the greater blessing after all because all the attention and passion over the suspected orchestration of Mayor Guo’s Filipino citizenship may possibly open Pandora’s Box of how Filipino officialdom can be bought and corrupted. From one case, we will have a window to the dark reality of how money corrupts, and how big money corrupts absolutely. It may be that the leak of one septic tank will spread the foul odor over a greater area and force the government to finally fix the leak.

While Mayor Guo digs in to insist on her legitimacy, the Philippine government will also try its best to prove her wrong. It may finally expose corruption at many levels, but the political winds will demand that the government go with the sentiments of the majority. The bigger picture will sacrifice the smaller time thievery if it must. It only needs the sustained condemnation of the Filipino public to make this happen.

What a waste, really. It is part of our history that a substantial percentage of Filipinos have Chinese blood. So what? My roots from both the paternal and maternal sides can trace part of their lineage to southern parts of China. After all, Chinese and Filipinos have had a trading history for over a thousand years and it is no surprise that intermarriages would happen between Chinese traders and local Filipinos.


This is another feature of that larger context – the history of Chinese migrants, whether traders or not, who found their way to the Philippines. It was a normal occurrence that many would then decide to stay here and build their families and lineage in the Philippines. That is why our laws were not harsh or suspicious against Chinese migrating here because they had been doing so for a long time, maybe even before the 9th century. In fact, for most of this time, there were no immigration laws yet.

I am sure that dark political colors stained this historical pattern of migration only after the internal problems in China, highlighted by the conflict between Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek, some 70 years ago. The Philippines, coming from a very close relationship with the United States, carried over that sentiment by favoring Chiang Kai-shek and Taiwan. For the first time, Filipinos had to deal with two Chinese factions.


This significant turn of events has influenced Chinese and Filipino relationships in the last 70 years. It is unfortunate because that puts both Chinoys and native Filipinos in a sensitive spot where we often must take partisan sides. This issue of Mayor Alice Guo cannot be understood in the right way outside of the bigger picture. China, wanting to flex its economic, political, and military muscles does not look at us as Asian brothers but as an extension of Western powers led by the United States. That is truly sad, and sadder because China chooses to be a bully instead of choosing to cultivate further a strong historical influence.

China knows our weak sides. China understands our poverty and the deepening corruption in our government; China will continue to exploit that as it already does. That is the ugly side, of course. China will destroy us by turning corrupt Filipino officials and businessmen against the rest of the innocent Filipinos – as all our other foreign masters had also tried to do. Through the case of Mayor Alice Guo, we will see this divide-and-conquer formula in all its ugliness. But we will understand it only if we go beyond just surface details and see the larger context of it all.

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