Sun Tzu’s timely reminder
“We need to understand China’s impact on the Philippines and Asia-Pacific and to increase our familiarity with the complexities of Chinese politics, economy and governance,” says Roland G. Simbulan, a former faculty regent of the University of the Philippines Diliman, in his article, “China’s challenge to PH sovereignty” (Talk of the Town, 6/21/15).
I already joined him in his call by requiring my students in comparative politics and governance at the Mountain Province State Polytechnic College Bontoc, to read the English translation (by James Clavell, 1983) of “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. The comparative study is predicated by studying the River System Theory earlier advocated by Dr. Arsenio Manuel, former dean of UP Diliman. The theory, claims Manuel, tells us today that our ancient ancestors descended from the Proto-Austronesian or Proto-Chinese, which implies that the modern-day Filipinos and Chinese have common genes running in their blood. These genes could serve as social binders by reciprocating each other in a peaceful and harmonious relationship.
We learned from college textbooks that the social binders were disrupted, if not distorted, by hegemonic tendencies which were manifested in the form of wars or battles. Wallenstein described this hegemonic quest by introducing the concepts of “core” and “periphery”—defining core as the conquerors or colonizers or exploiters, and periphery as the conquered or colonized or exploited. Both China and the Philippines have experienced colonization and their citizens have gone to battles in order to gain back their independence and sovereignty.
Armed conflict can be avoided, said Sun Tzu in “The Art of War.”
Yes, let us start familiarizing ourselves with the complexities of Chinese politics, economy and governance, as Simbulan urges. A familiarization program should be integrated in the college curriculum.
We pray that the teachings of Sun Tzu help our officials defuse the tension arising from the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The initial exploration of the mutual economic and political benefits based on common descent could probably strengthen the sovereignty claim of the Philippines on the islands of the disputed Spratlys. Sun Tzu’s teachings are a timely reminder. He said, for instance, that “To win a hundred victories in a hundred battles is not the hallmark of skill. The acme of skill is to subdue the enemy without even fighting.” This reminder may also be applied in winning the “battles” in day-to-day living.
—CLARO Q. ESOEN, Mountain Province State Polytechnic, Bontoc, Mountain Province, claro_esoen @ yahoo.com