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Category Archives: Nationalism

First and foremost, I am a Filipino

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Months ago, a Visayan Facebook friend of mine wrote on his wall, saying “we are Visayans, first, then second Filipinos”.

My response to his perspective: I am a Tagalog. That is my racial stock. But I am always beaming with pride whenever I say that “I am a Filipino first, then a Tagalog second”. It is because our NATIONAL IDENTITY transcends all barriers of race across the archipelago. To be proud of your race firstly only generates regionalism which then leads to animosity towards other races/regions.

That is what our national identity is all about, that is its purpose: it binds the fragility of racial tensions that we had (and still have). That is why when I visited non-Tagalog places such as San Fernando, Pampanga, Calivo, Aclán (a couple of dimwits in public office changed the spelling to Kalibo, Aklan), or Lake Sebú, Cotabato del Sur, I still felt at home. Not once did I feel alien. Because I have this burning love for each and every place that has become part of the Filipino cosmos. And this burning love inspires me to visit each place (hopefully I would be able to do so —and with my family— before I exit this sorrowful world).

Filipino army officers, circa 1899.


This nationalistic ardor also compels me to defend places that are in danger of invasion. If a foreign aggressor, for instance, invades, say, Sámar or Bícol, I’d gladly volunteer, if need be, and be willing to die for these places. Because Sámar and Bícol are also MINE even though I am a Tagalog, even though I have never been there. Because I am a Filipino firstly. My being a Tagalog comes last.

124th birth anniversary of Claro M. Recto

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On the occasion of his 124th birth anniversary, FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES would like to pay tribute to one of the greatest Filipino thinkers of modern times, the late senator Claro M. Recto. Here is a brief biographical sketch of the Tayabeño nationalist written by Antonino V. Mico (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Commission of the Philippines).

CLARO M. RECTO
(1890-1960)

Senator Claro M. Recto is known as a statesman, a constitutionalist, a jurist, internationalist, parliamentarian, poet, scholar, linguist, patriot, and nationalist. He was born on February 8, 1890, in Tiáong, Tayabas (now Quezon), the son of Claro Recto, Sr., and Micaéla Mayo, of Lipâ, Batangas. He obtained his elementary education in Lipâ and in his home town.

As a young man, he was endowed with a marvelous mind, an active imagination, a venturesome spirit, and a firm determination to stick to his personal convictions. At 19, he was already a holder of the Bachelor of Arts degree from the Ateneo de Manila; and at 24, he obtained his Master of Laws degree from the University of Santo Tomás. In 1914, he was admitted to the Philippine bar and was licensed to practice law as a profession.

Recto’s political career began in 1916, when he served as legal adviser to the Philippine Senate. In 1919, he was elected representative from Batangas and served as House minority floor leader until 1925. In 1924, he went to the United States as member of the Parliamentary Independence Mission. He was admitted to the bar in the United States in 1924.

Upon his return to the Philippines, he founded the Demócrata Party, which served as a political thorn to the leadership of Manuel L. Quezon, when the latter was head of the Nacionalista Party and President of the Senate. He was elected senator for the first time in 1931 as a Demócrata and served as minority floor leader for three years.  In 1934, he became majority floor leader and President pro tempore of the Senate. He resigned his Senate seat when President Roosevelt appointed him Associate Justice in the Supreme Court in place of Justice Thomas Street, who retired. He left the Supreme Court in 1941 as a Nacionalista and again in 1953 as guest candidate of the Liberal Party. He ran as an independent Nacionalista candidate for President of the Philippines in the national elections of 1957, but lost.

Considered one of his immortal achievements in public life was his presidency of the Constitutional Convention, which drafted the Philippine Constitution, the first requirement towards the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth regime.

Recto was a brilliant poet, satirist, and author. He wrote such law books as The Law of Belligerent OccupationValidity of Payments During Enemy OccupationThree Years of Enemy Occupation, several one-act plays in Spanish, and a collection of poems. He was a recipient of the Zóbel Prize for literature and an honored member of the Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation, of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española.

The then President Carlos P. García appointed Recto Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary on the goodwill and cultural mission to Europe and South America in August, 1960. He was also appointed delegate to the 9th conference of the World Parliament Association in Venice in September, 1960, and was elected vice-president.

While giving a news conference in Rome, Recto suffered a heart attack from which he never recovered. He died in October 2, 1960.

Regarding his death, not a few historians believe that the great poet-turned-politician did not merely suffer from a heart attack. There’s this one interesting account from Raymond Bonner’s 1987 book Waltzing With A Dictator (pp. 41-42) that I’d like to share:

Transplanting democracy meant going after (Ramón) Magsaysay’s domestic political opponents, the most effective of whom was Senator Claro M. Recto, as unrelenting in his opposition to American foreign policy in the region as Magsaysay was slavish in following it. Recto, who was proud of his complete collection of Foreign Affairs, considered himself not anti-American but pro-Philippine. He criticized the bases agreement on the grounds, correctly, that the U.S. agreements under NATO and with other countries were far more favorable to the host country than was the U.S. arrangement in the Philippines. In Spain, the Spanish flag flew over the bases; in the Philippines, it was the American flag. When Washington claimed that the United States owned the lands on which the bases were situated, Recto prepared memorandums setting out the Philippine position that the United States had only leasehold rights, an argument eventually accepted by the United States. Recto was the “spearhead and brains of the national reawakening”.

The CIA set about to destroy Recto, who had been a principal drafter of the 1935 Constitution. It planted stories that he was a Communist Chinese agent who had been infiltrated into the Philippine Senate. To derail Recto’s electoral ambitions, the agency prepared packages of condoms, which it labeled “Courtesy of Claro M. Recto — The People’s Friend”. The condoms all had pinprick-size holes in them at the most inappropriate place. The agency went further. The CIA station chief, General Ralph B. Lovett, and the American Ambassador, Admiral Spruance, discussed assassinating Recto, going so far as to prepare a substance for poisoning him, an assassination plot that has not been publicly discussed before.

Recto wasn’t assassinated, the idea abandoned “for pragmatic consideration rather than moral scruples” (and with Lovett later suggesting that the bottle containing the poison was tossed into Manila Bay). He died of natural causes at the age of seventy.

It is hinted on this book that Recto was “assassinated” in Rome. Also, there have been persistent rumors that Recto did suffer a heart attack, but his medication was not given to him immediately which led to his very untimely death. Rumors they all may be, but there is a saying in Tagalog: “capág may usoc, may apóy” (when there’s smoke, there’s fire). Also, it is interesting to note that the place where he passed away was just a stopover. Recto was really on his way to Spain, the land of his mother tongue which is Spanish. He had never been there all his life, thus the excitement throbbing within his nationalistic spirit. He had already prepared a speech in Spanish, “Por los Fueros de una Herencia“, of which he was to deliver there upon arrival. But because of his demise, it remained unspoken.

The CIA knew that Recto delivering that speech in Spain would have proven catastrophic to their neocolonialistic ventures which were then in its early stages, as the Philippines was granted a phony independence 15 years earlier. That is why it was imperative for Recto to perish before he reached Spain.

One could just imagine what nationalistic and nostalgic fervor Recto would have sparked in Mother Spain had he delivered his speech there. Spain, who was robbed of her islands in the Pacific and the Americas in 1898, would have rekindled “righteous anger” into delivering, perhaps, the final blows of that war that should have ended justly and nobly. What fireworks his speech would have set upon the citizens of our Patria Grande! “Sayang” is all I could utter. Sayang…

Feliz cumpleaños, Don Claro. Tendré una botella de Cerveza Negra en su honor.

Expansionist Red China vs Imperialist Uncle Sam

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Red China vs the US WASPs? Yes. I hate sounding like a warmonger here, but it is bound to happen. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. No two empires in history ever existed at the same time. So one must fall.

And their battleground? Hapless República de Filipinas, of course.

Relying on US support, the Philippines is so arrogant as to announce in the New Year that it will increase its navy and air force deployment at Zhongye Island, a Chinese island that it has illegally occupied for years.

It will be an intolerable insult to China

According to experts, the Chinese navy has drawn a detailed combat plan to seize the island and the battle will be restricted within the South China Sea.

Click here for more.

 

It would be sheer luck if no battle ever happens on any part of mainland Philippines. So better be prepared than sorry, that’s all I really wanted to say. Because looking back at our history, most government officials have “safe passages” to fly away anytime from this pork-barrel-riddled country of ours. And we poor commoners are the ones left behind to suffer for their governmental inadequacies, nay, dumbfoundedness and sheer stupidity and cowardice. Well, there’s always an exception, such as the regime of Governor General Simón de Anda (1701-1776).  Hindí nang-iiuan. But that’s another story from another time, when our national identity was at its peak.

It’s hopeless. We are no match against China, of course. And our puppet government has no other choice but to kowtow to Uncle Sam’s every military whim and fancy. Because war is big business. At this point, all we can do is pray and blog and complain and provide some good ‘ol pep talk…

We are mere ants compared to the big boot that is Red China. But they should remember that ants bite back. And the sting lingers.

We are mere dogs chained to our U.S. neocolonial masters. But they should remember that dogs bite back. When we do, it’s usually rabid.

We can easily be defeated, there is no doubt to that. Our military might is a joke; it has become a sham ever since Ferdinand Marcos was ousted unceremoniously. But in the end, the Filipino spirit will never falter. Defiantly.

I don’t usually swear, but right now… I am REALLY angry. So fuck you both, China and US. My middle finger salutes you. Be proud.

The Filipino Spirit vs. Yolanda and the Bojol tremors: brief thoughts from a historical viewpoint

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The Filipino Spirit vs. Yolanda and the Bojol tremors: brief thoughts from a historical viewpoint

Before 1565, we were a disunited bunch. Filipinas as we know it today (as Luzón, Visayas, and Mindanáo) did not exist yet during that time. And it is with certainty that Taclobanons back then were only concerned with their own territory and people. But so it was with Tagalogs, Cebuanos, Bicolanos, and all the rest of the ethnolinguistic tribes that were soon destined to become part of the Filipino nation. Noóng unang panahón, caniá-caniá talagá silá. Each group were concerned only with their internal affairs because each thought of themselves as independent.

But after 1565, all these tribes became ONE NATION. It was our CHRISTIAN FAITH which binded us into ONE PEOPLE. That is why all of us, whether we are in Aparri or in Joló, wept and grieved when the island province of Bojol fell under the mercy of last month’s killer tremors. And now we have the heartwrenching aftermath of Yolanda‘s deadly wrath to contend with. Much of the Visayas region was ravaged by devastating winds never thought to have been possible before. But among the towns and cities that were affected, it was the historic city of Tacloban in Leyte Province, “Ang Puso ng Silañgang Cabisayaan” (The Heart of Eastern Visayas), that was totally destroyed.

So even though many Filipinos have never been to either Bojol or Tacloban, they all feel the same pain and anguish that Bojolanos and Taclobanons feel now because through centuries of Filipinization, they have become our brother Filipinos. They are no longer Waray, and we are no longer Tagalog, Cebuano, Bicolano, etc. We are simply Filipinos as created by the FAITH bequeathed to us by Our Lord and Savior. We have become ONE FILIPINO nation because of our FAITH.

No wonder why, even though our archipielago is a Babel of tongues and microcultures, we do not hesitate to help each other in times of distress. Just like what is occurring at this very moment (it would have been unimaginable before 1565 that a Tagalog would be helping a Visayan and vice versa).

And rest assured that with this FAITH of ours, we shall rise again, in the same manner that it created our unified spirit in 1565…

¡Un gran saludo al espíritu filipino!

Hispanity Day

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To my fellow Filipinos: be aware, be PROUD, of who and what you really are.

“To accuse the Spanish, over and over again, of having brought us all sorts of things, mostly evil, among which we can usually remember nothing very valuable, ‘except, perhaps,’ religion and national unity, is equivalent to saying of a not very model mother, that she has given her child nothing except life, for in the profoundest possible sense, Spain did give birth to us — as a nation, as an historical people. This geographical unit of numberless islands called the Philippines –this mystical unit of numberless tongues, bloods and cultures called a Filipino– was begotten of Spain, is a Spanish creation. The content of our national destiny is ours to create, but the basic form, the temper, the physiognomy, Spain has created for us.”

–Nick Joaquín (La Naval de Manila, October 1943)–

You can’t continue being a Filipino if you continue harboring a hatred of our Spanish past. That glorious epoch is what created us.

 ¡Feliz Día de la Hispanidad! :D

Drawing up our islands

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Asked about his country’s culture, brief history, and other Frenchy stuff while on a drinking session somewhere in Alabang, this former French officemate of mine readily obliged and even gamely drew up a crude sketch of his country on a large piece of tissue paper!

Me and the rest of our Filipino coworkers drinking with him were amazed at how he did it. And by the look on his face, he was a bit puzzled at our admiration. It’s because drawing a sketch of their country was something normal to him, to all of them there in France. Probably the same thing with other countries. Which led me to think: how many schools here in our country do even care to teach our students how to draw our archipelago, or at least make a more or less accurate crude sketch of it?

It’s understandable, though, that in comparison, France is a bit easier to draw than the Filipino archipelago: it’s compact and a bit squarish despite the irregularities on the sides. Our country, of course, is composed of thousands of jigsaw-puzzle shaped islands and islets. Other than that, not everyone has the talent to draw (the only stuff I know to draw is a bamboo stick). But should this be an excuse? In my alma mater, all students, regardless of their course, are required to take up Basic Inorganic Chemistry even though all of them (especially in my case) never intended to build their careers inside a test-tube-filled laboratory. And all high school students (not sure if it’s still the same with college) are still required to undergo basic military training. The point of it all, of course, is to help shape a well-rounded and (hopefully) multifaceted Filipino student.

Will the skill to draw our archipelago help contribute to that? Yes, I believe so. It will inculcate in them not just a knowledge of their country’s visual representation but also a sense of ownership, if not nationalism. And following a sense of ownership is responsibility. Like what environmentalists usually say about our planet, Filipinas is our only home; we have to take care of it, guard it, and defend it at all times.

With all this senseless and bigoted Islamic claim of the entire island of Mindanáo (not to mention China’s nincompoopish claim over OUR Spratlys and the Scarborough Shoal), may our educational system not wait until our country is composed only of Luzón and Visayas before they thought of inculcating geographical awareness and pride among our students.

*******

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