“We should not depend on one man, we should depend on all of us. ‘All of us’ is expandable in the cause for freedom and therefore I say stand up now and be a leader, and when all of us are leaders, we will expedite the cause of freedom.”—Ninoy Aquino
I would just like to take the time to say belated Happy Birthday to one of this country’s greatest statesmen, Jovito Reyes Salonga. I remembered him when I saw this picture from GMANews.tv.
For those who do not know, former Senate President Jovy Salonga was among the leading anti-Marcos figures before and during the Martial Law. He was imprisoned by Marcos only months after he was injured at the Plaza Miranda bombing for protesting the Martial Law. I think he still has some of the shrapnel of that bombing in his body. After his release he defended other political detainees in court against the accusations hurled by the Marcos dictatorship. He was imprisoned again after the PICC bombing for suspected involvement. But he was later allowed to leave for the US with his family.
Later, Salonga, as Senate President during the Aquino administration, would be remembered as casting the deciding vote in the rejection of the extension of the US Military Bases Treaty in 1991. Although celebrated by nationalists as a hero for Philippine sovereignty, his support for the closure of the bases eventually resulted to the withdrawal of support from friends in the corporate world. This withdrawal later affected his chances in the 1992 elections, where he ran for president and lost.
I heard Salonga speak at a gathering for student leaders at the Ateneo de Manila University in 2000. He was already old and frail back then, but when he took the microphone and spoke about service to the country and fellowmen, his words by themselves are filled with so much strength, idealism, and enthusiasm that you forget that it was an old man speaking in front of you.
Salonga, though considered by many to be a TRAPO or traditional politician, owing to being a remnant of Old Guard of Philippine politics, is actually one of the few good traditional politicians. His vision for the country and the people, as he shared with us, was a vision which dates back to the dreams of Rizal, and the hopes of many in Pre-Martial Law Philippines.
I end this tribute with Salonga’s lines after the extension of the US Military Bases treaty was rejected by his deciding vote:
I have been warned by well-meaning friends that my stand on this treaty may hurt my chances of becoming President. No matter. That is an insignificant consequence. In times of great crisis, our martyrs and heroes offered their lives that our people might become truly free.
I have said it before and I will say it again. After walking through the valley of the shadow of death twice in my life, titles and positions do not mean that much to me anymore. What is more important is to be of real service to our people, with or without any position in government.
To one of the few with whom this country can be proud of, Belated Happy Birthday Senator Jovy!
Outgoing Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo waves to the crowd during the Philippine Coast Guard testimonial parade and review in her honor in Manila, Philippines on Tuesday June 29, 2010. Arroyo ends her term as President-elect Benigno Aquino III is set to be inaugurated during ceremonies Wednesday, June 30.(AP Photo)
This is an very interesting piece on a very interesting lady and how she wielded power during her heyday. I guess most of the country (and the world) got so caught up with the image of the shoe-addicted Imelda Marcos, people usually fail to see what she really did in the shadows back then. Thank God though for journalists like Greg Rushford who took the time and effort to browse through top secret documents of the State Department which were declassified in 2006 and shared his thoughts on Newsbreak Online.
In Sept., 1970 Imelda Marcos, then the First Lady of the Philippines, feared that domestic political opposition threatened plans by her husband, President Ferdinand Marcos, to revise the Philippine constitution and thus extend his term in office, which would otherwise lapse in 1973. When Mrs. Marcos flew to Washington, D.C. that Sept., she was able to obtain a private audience in the White House with U.S. President Richard Nixon.
The First Lady also summoned Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms to her suite in the Madison Hotel - the presidential suite. The declassified State Department and White House documents reveal that in her Sept. 22 private meetings with Nixon and Helms, Mrs. Marcos asked for some $23 million in CIA covert funding. The money was to be used to buy political support to elect pro-Marcos delegates to the Constitutional Convention two months later.
Mrs. Marcos these days is perceived in the public mind as a comic figure, thanks to her famous love of expensive shoes and jewelry. But in her prime, the politically ambitious First Lady was considered a woman with an independent power base who was accordingly treated with respect by heads of state.
And on Pope Paul VI:
Then, Mrs. Marcos was not content to seek only CIA assistance. Before going on to Washington, she had reached out to a higher authority. She flew to Italy where she had a private audience with Pope Paul VI. In that meeting, the First Lady vented her frustrations with internal political opposition from the Catholic Church in Manila, specially, she complained, from the liberal Jesuits.
Rushford also found out that:
The official documents relating to Mrs. Marcos’s Sept., 1970 trip to Washington, D.C. are contained in a 744-page volume published four years ago by the State Department, as part of its ongoing historical “Foreign Relations of the United States” series. Tucked away in the section of the book that deals with the official U.S.-Philippine diplomatic record is a memorandum of a “conversation between the Director of Central Intelligence and Madam Imelda Marcos, Wife of the Philippines President.” The DCI was Richard Helms. The researchers had found the Helms document in the intelligence files of the National Security Council in Richard Nixon’s White House. It had been classified Secret; Eyes Only.
The memorandum notes that U.S. ambassador to the Philippines Henry Byroade and his special assistant, James Rafferty, “made the introductions” to Helms and an unnamed CIA officer, “and then withdrew” from the suite. In those days, Byroade was known to be close to Ferdinand Marcos, and Rafferty was reputed to be a close associate - of - and even somewhat of a political fixer for - the First Lady.
The CIA officials’ meeting with Mrs. Marcos in her suite at the Madison was on Sept. 22, 1970, and lasted 35 minutes. Earlier that day, the First Lady had met in the White House with Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, although “no other record” of that meeting “has been found,” a footnote in the Helms’ memorandum reported. But the CIA’s memo clearly relates what was on Mrs. Marcos’s mind, as she explained it to the American spymasters.
"Madam Marcos began her presentation by drawing attention to the forthcoming 10 November 1970 elections for delegates to a constitutional convention in the Philippines, planned for June-July 1971," the memo related. "She said socialist movements sponsored by certain lay and clerical elements in the Catholic Church, particularly the Jesuits, and some Communist fronts are planning to contest administration candidates in the election."
Imelda, according the the documents was even reported to have said that:
"the Philippines is a child of the U.S. and illustrated this point by describing Vietnam as a French baby, Malaysia as an English baby, and Thailand as everybody’s baby." In Asia, the First Lady asserted, "one’s creditability (sic) is not measured by how one treats a friend, but how one treats his children."
True to the American predictions, the Marcoses were able to dominate the Con-con, which met in 1971, and which was marked by persistent efforts to amend the country’s constitution to enable President Marcos to remain in office. While there were many reports at the time that the president and his wife had used widespread bribery to influence the delegates, the details of what actually transpired remain elusive (as to the facts behind so many Philippine scandals.”
In any event, President Marcos finally decided to remain in power by declaring martial law in Sept., 1972. He remained in office until he was deposed by Cory Aquino’s People Power demonstrations in 1986 - which were given powerful assistance from the same Catholic Church forces that Imelda Marcos had long complained about.
The Beautiful One (as how Ninoy Aquino called Imelda Marcos) did have a great influence on the affairs of the country, particularly in the later years of the Marcos dictatorship, when Ferdinand’s health was rapidly deteriorating due to old age.
And while most of the younger generation nowadays laugh at her appearances in public and make jokes about her shoe collection, for us Martial Law babies, the Beautiful One was one fine woman you do not mess with. And she and her kids are already making a comeback.
After posting the link Why People Stop Blogging, I had a few likes and a couple of replies to the post. One of which was this:
superboink said: i remember netscape :) i’d tag along my mom when i was a kid. hmmm i stop blogging or i delete posts because sometimes i feel i may be revealing too much of my private life.
So you are among the few who remember Netscape @superboink! Yep, I would have to agree. While blogging may offer a psychological release for a person from an emotional state, whether positive or negative, the implications of the blog, once posted online, should also be considered. Blogging is after all publishing, only that the medium is no longer of paper and ink. So it is still incumbent upon all of us to exercise prudence when writing on something or about someone. Lest we suffer the consequences of a blog wherein we attacked someone or something. Or we would be attacked because of the post we have made in our blogs.
Prudence in blogging is all the more important these days because prospective employers tend to Google applicants up, even before an interview. And do not be surprised if they know your favorite movies, your passions, and your frustrations. They also tend to ask applicants if they blog. Add to this, I have also observed that interviews nowadays are conducted before a pre-employment exam. Not anymore the other way around as it was when I started working. Your chances of getting the job of your dreams might just slip off your hands just because you wrote more than you should in your blog.
I agree! A big motivation in maintaining a blog are conversations. Having this one with you and @superboink sir truly resulted to another post. And yes replies from the blogging community you are in motivate you more to write and post more. In my months here in Tumblr, interactions with some of the bloggers here e.g. @iwriteasiwrite, @mohandasgandhi, and @mokidoki to name a few, have produced additional entries which have allowed me to express certain thoughts and understand some topics which I have little knowledge about.
I have to admit, conversations in Tumblr help enrich your knowledge in many things. Exchanges with people who know much about the things they blog about helps one learn new things and understand views which would have otherwise remained beyond our usual spheres of educational or life experience. Exchanges widen your perspective of things and gives you a bigger view of the world.
I do hope though that there are more people on Tumblr who are actually here to blog and not just perpetuate errors and false assumptions. Conversations with some of the people here might help correct these errors and undo these assumptions. Still, the revision and deletion of these distorted views of the world and its problems start with the posting of a blog and the later interaction with other bloggers. Truly, conversations give bloggers the drive to continue blogging. But meaningful conversations can only come from blogs made with prudence.
I have been thinking about this for a while now and I find Paul Bradshaw’s words to be very true:
I have a theory about why people stop blogging and it is this: they do not become part of an online community. That may be because they don’t link, or don’t comment, or there’s simply no one else out there.
I have seen blogs come and go. And in most cases, Bradshaw’s theory is proven to be true. I myself have blog accounts which I no longer update or even visit because it no longer serves its purpose.
Honestly, I have been blogging since the Netscape days, yes, long before Internet Explorer was created kids. Back then, me and my friends would spend more time chatting on MiRC while waiting for a page to load. The first hour was usually 75 pesos or at that time, $ 3.00 and the succeeding hours were 50 pesos or $ 2.00. If you remember the old foreign exchange rates, you will get what year that was.
And oh, this was before Windows 98 came into existence. I hope though that I would not grow tired of Tumblr.
@iwriteasiwriteI was reading the exchange between you @marocharim on being Indio and reclaiming the supposed Indio pride and I must say that I have nothing more to add but this: the discussion focuses sharply on the experience of the Filipino in relation to other races.
When discussion on pride of our being Filipino is limited to our relationship with other races, we fail to see the fact that within the country, discrimination occurs at a scale often ignored but very much widespread. I would have wanted to expound on this but I do not want to go to great lengths anymore explaining why we non-Manilans and non-Tagalogs feel discriminated against when we are in the Capital. It’s already a cliche sob story so I might as well keep those to myself. People here don’t care about it anyway.
I have to say though that the points raised by both you sir and @marocharim are very enlightening and very much relevant to our search for identity. But while we may have all those things to unravel, understand and take pride in later, we fail to see that the discrimination we experience from other races, we also perpetuate among our own countrymen and just because they speak a different language, accent, or come from the province. As it was during the time Judge Malcolm handed down a ruling which considered non-Christian and non-Muslim tribes as non-Filipino, the obstacles a provincial has to jump over by being in Manila are so numerous that it takes a long time before he is considered a full Filipino by those who were only born in the Capital due to favorable circumstances.
This is a sad reality which often goes unnoticed and without reproach.
Thank you @ellobofilipino. This is a much needed addition to the discussion. Thus, your thoughts are much needed!
We have discussed in the past that divide that remains between the Islands. A divide that must be bridged. And it does dovetail with the point that we were driving at: accepting and enhancing the regional uniqueness of the Philippines as part of the whole.
In reviewing our history, and understanding the regional histories and how they played into the national body politic, is something that must be addressed. The multi-cultural aspect of the Philippines is one of our strengths. And it should be understood as that.
The problem, as I would see it, is that this acceptance or understanding of the regional history of the Philippines is just not well done, or well taught. A cohesive history (which by its nature would be superficial but would touch on all corners of the country) is much needed.
For a cursory example (and likely only in part applicable), just look at the United States. The 13 original colonies could very well claim that they are the true United States. Texas is the only state, I think, that was its own country before it entered the Union. Yet, they maintain their regional differences and their personal histories, while understanding that it adds to the uniqueness of the United States as a country. Even as they celebrate their cultural and historical differences, they know they are a nation. With some small caveats of course (as is always the case). For Jose Rizal, he didn’t understand how loving your “province” excluded loving the nation (or empire). I think I posted a comment along those lines before. But celebrating the culture of Catalonia does not in any way detract from Spain. He considered this a wrong-headed type of nationalism. One that is applicable today. If we do not figure out a way to bridge the regional divide, well then, we don’t deserve (nor will we long be) a peaceful and prosperous country.
Quite honestly, my stance is that race (and the gradient of color) must be eliminated from the conversation of understanding our history. The focus must become culture and history, since those are what actually create who we are. The culture and history of Mindanao add a breathtaking complexity to who we are as a nation.
I hope to hear more of your thoughts on the subject.
Addendum: Judge Malcolm was, to put it mildly, wrong-headed. Within the context of American history those are echoes of Dred Scott and the whole 3/5ths argument that they were advocating just a century prior. I still maintain that much of the issues we are faced with today are a result of some of the misguided American policies that embedded and reinforced issues in our society, as opposed to addressing them. Taft chief among them with his deal making with the elites. I know I know, I am often highly critical of the US period. And much good did come out of it, but so much went wrong as well. There was something I read (I’ll have to find it) where a historian said, the reason why we fell in love with the US was because they weren’t the Japanese.
Judge Malcolm was on the Supreme Court from 1917 to like 1936 and he came out of that same school of thought that Teddy Roosevelt did. As with many of the early American era policies his take on the Mangyans was based on experiences with the Native American Indians.
Is decision was an echo of this idea of benevolent assimilation, of Filipinos from all walks of life being wards of the Americans. Within the views of the era (and the framework in which the US approached the Philippines), his logic was faultless. Filipinos were not capable of self-determination and thus needed to be grouped together and taken by the hand.
True! Like your earlier statements proposing that we do away with physical as well as lingual proofs of our being Filipino and the acceptance of our colonial, albeit mostly shameful, history. We will never be a united country of varied ethnicities and tongues so long as we emphasize the superiority of one regional group or ethno-lingual group over another. The perpetuation of a select group of people as the basis of a what the nation should be will only also perpetuation the divisions which were created by the Spaniards and the Americans.
I would like to add that the conquistadores, who eventually became the encomenderos, gained control of the whole archipelago by using one ethno-lingual group against another. I think the first proof of this divide and conquer strategy was the Battle of Bangkusay where the Spanish used the allies they have won in Cebu against Rajah Sulayman of Manila. Those Sugbohanons are described to be tattooed a.k.a. Pintados. Later the Spanish would use Pampanga-based, Cavite-based or Cebu-based troops against Muslims in Lanao, Zamboanga and the rest of Western Mindanao as well those tribes in North Luzon.
During the American Period, I know you know as well as I do how the US forces formed the colonial militia, eventually becoming the PC, the precursor of our PNP, as a force against, first, the revolucionarios, then later the Muslim juramentados.
In the pursuit of the colonial aims of both colonial powers, they created and played up discriminatory differences between various ethno-lingual differences between various groups in the Islands and elevated the Christianized mixed-race groups in the Capital. Both powers know they can maintain their hold on the territory by pitting one group against another, while holding the half-breed elites by the noses.
The perpetuation of these ethno-lingual differences through regionalism is nothing but a hold-over from the Spanish and American periods for the purpose of maintaining their colonial rule. To discriminate against a Cebuano-speaker for his mangled Tagalog actually perpetuates these divisions. To poke fun or laugh at an Ilocano or a Bicolano for their stiff accent in Tagalog does not elicit laughter from the rest of the country, instead it instills anger. To make fun of the accent of a Muslim when he or she sells is wares in Quiapo further drives him or her to fight for a separate Bangsa Moro.
We must bridge these differences not by berating one ethno-linguistic group while elevating another. Rather, we all should strive to learn the unique nature and beautiful history and language of the other ethno-lingual groups. We have a country with more than 80 languages. Each language comes with a unique history, a beautiful culture, and is used by a proud people. The Philippines is not one nation in thousands of islands rather it is thousands of islands forming one nation.
Just came back from an interview with one of the UP’s distinguished chemists. I had to ask her some questions on her research: Diathin Derivatives with Improved Anti-Cancer Activity by Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in UP Los Banos to interview another distinguished scientist and his lead researcher on Rumen Ecology of Indigenous Ruminants.
They both sound unusual, I know, and I really have to break down all the scientific mumbo jumbo they told me so that their work can be understood by the average person. I hope I don’t fail. But whether I fail or not, I do know this: both studies can help make our lives better.
How I wish the outgoing administration gave as much funds to scientific research as those that they spent on dubious arrangments like the fertilizer scam, the NBN-ZTE deal, and the North Rail Project.
Another take on why most Filipinos are not into football. This time, it’s by former Presidential Spokesperson Bert Tiglao.
We are indeed one of the most US-centered cultures in the world. The ancient civilizations of Europe and their modern structures are alien to us.
Welfare state? Social democracy? Labor parties? These are as unfamiliar to us as the football stars, even for many educated Filipinos.
The parliamentary system—essentially one in which the people’s representatives, and not the people directly, choose the nation’s leader—is really strange and suspicious to us, even as it has developed over many centuries in Europe to be indubitably the ideal democracy as it prevents ochlocracy, or rule by the angry mob.
But our mind-set is still what’s best for the USA (the masses directly voting for their leader, even in an era when media can easily manipulate people’s sentiments) is still the best for us.
The popularity of basketball is a case study of how capitalism molds a cultural phenomenon and, in the Philippines, its unbridled power.
I would have to agree with Mr. Tiglao. It’s true what he says about football and the political maturity in this country. I know a lot of people who have been to the country’s premier universities and yet know nothing about the political spectrum. People who cannot distinguish a social democrat from a communist, or these two from a centrist and a rightist.
In this country, anyone who is politically aware and opinionated or who goes to the streets to protest; anyone who supports landless farmers, slain journalists, students protesting tuition hikes, or workers asking for better working conditions; and believes in human rights, is considered a communist.
I guess this political immaturity is the result of an educational system which has not grown much over the years. A political immaturity which is the result of the Cold War conflict between the US and the USSR. The educational institutions in country, while they may have pursued much in the fields of engineering, science and technology, have not explored much of political science, philosophy, or history.
Students finish college with the least understanding of their roles in this “democracy.” They finish college without even knowing the difference between fascism, capitalism, socialism, and communism. And this lack of understanding is not confined only to the apathetic, but also to the supposedly politically-aware.
Political parties in this country exist not for the advancement of certain principles, but for a certain personality and funding purposes.
But yes, compared to the nations in Europe and America (whose democratic principles and institutions took centuries and millions of lives to shape), ours is but a nation which would still take years to understand the principles and fulfill the functions of a working democracy.
We may have been ahead of most of our neighbors in the aspirations for independence from our colonial oppressors and democracy, but the selfish interests and contorted visions for the country by some of our leaders have made us go around in circles while our Asian brethren move forward to progress.
It would still take a while before we mature as a nation… I hope I would still be alive by then…
Getting worried about rainy season, huh? I remember someone once told me that the worst time to get anything done is during election season. I, like I am sure you are, am praying that this negligence doesn’t result in additional deaths this season.
Yep as you rightly predicted, I am. The different news reports from various countries in Latin America, the US, Europe, and China would serve to warn us that again, heavy rains will be coming our way. And yes rains, they would be rains and not yet typhoons. Imagine how strong they will be if they would be categorized as typhoons.
A couple of Fridays ago, I saw a preview of this on my way out of the office when rains lashed Quezon City. The wind was moving from North to South, then vice-versa, then West to East, then vice-versa, and the rains were were so heavy I think they could have torn through an umbrella if someone had dashed under them just to get to their vehicle.
I guess my blog says it all. I am a worrier. I worry of the sea level rise in the next few years, the worsening climactic conditions, and the potential for survival of the least of our countrymen. And my worries were justified by a WWF report on the disappearance of some of our cities due to sea level rise in the next few years. Then again, who am I? All I can do is spread awareness and inform people I know, people I care about, and people I love, that at least some people can prepare for these things.
Soon enough, these rains will be on their way here.
“Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world’s original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, history would have been different.”—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (via stephaniepham, stellablu)
And just when @iwriteasiwrite and I are talking about US counter-insurgency operations in the Philippines, TIME Magazine’s Alastair McIndoe writes an article about what incoming President Benigno Aquino III would be facing in terms of security and stability in Southern Philippines.
Beheading hostages is the grisly signature of Abu Sayyaf, an Islamist extremist group with a strong criminal bent operating in the southern Philippines.
On June 11, two days after Congress proclaimed Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III the winner of a presidential election, three Christian loggers working in a forest on the far southern island of Basilan fatally crossed paths with a group of Abu Sayyaf gunmen. They were abducted and beheaded hours later.
As there was no ransom demand, authorities believe the killings were in retaliation for military operations against the terror group across Basilan. Only a week earlier in a nearby municipality, Abu Sayyaf militants executed three kidnap victims whose families could not pay the ransom. And in April the same faction, led by Puruji Indama, who gained notoriety for decapitating the corpses of 14 Philippine marines ambushed on Basilan in 2007, was blamed for bomb attacks in Isabela City, the island’s provincial capital, in which over a dozen people were killed.
Aquino, who takes the oath of office on June 30, has yet to present in any detail his administration’s road map for tackling terrorism and insurgency.
But security analysts anticipate more emphasis on economic-development initiatives in conflict-affected areas to undermine local support for militant groups, as well as pushing the military’s campaign against the terror group.
“With the growing recognition from the military establishment that countering terrorism needs to go beyond the use of military force, Aquino’s presidency will likely be expected to pay more attention to soft approaches,” says Rommel Banlaoi, head of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research. As the head of the armed forces’ civil-relations service told reporters last week, despite gains in the military’s war on terror — like the recent capture of Kaiser Said Usman, an Abu Sayyaf commander on Basilan — military solutions alone cannot eradicate the group. There is “still a need to re-examine government policy in annihilating the group,” said Brigadier General Francisco Cruz.
In this war started by the Bush and implemented by the Moled One in the Philippines, it would be wise for the incoming administration to come up with new strategies which will consider the lessons of the years past. I am sure, much can be gleaned upon from eight years of fighting the Abu Sayyaf shoulder-to-shoulder with American and Australian troops.
I think that it is also about time the government intensify going not only after the bandits themselves but also after those in uniform who have been accused to be coddling these brutal terrorists. Remember Fr. Cirilo Nacorda?
And of course, while the Yankees are in Western Mindanao, we should make use of their intelligence assets since we can’t afford those things anyway, specially with a government with huge budget deficits.
Got me right before I was going to respond to your insightful comments on the last post! I’ll just put some of them here if that’s all right.
Do not be surprised if the US presence increases in the South. As a matter of fact, what I’ve been hearing is that the US already has made noise about putting down down more roots. Just witness who was brought over here to act as the ambassador. Harry Thomas is a major policy wonk and a tough negotiating fellow.
What we do know about the US presence here is that it is far more permanent that “visiting”, and likely will continue to be so. There are already unofficial listening stations, as well as runways and such which have been constructed that can act as staging points. I remember a few years ago a ship with Army Corp of Engineers arrived, and there are runways that can handle a C-5 Galaxy. Also, remember (what was it in 2008) when all of a sudden a US Naval ship showed up to help with some sort of search and rescue operation?
While the overt US presence decreased, as soon as they could, the Americans were back in. It is also important to note that the VFA was actually negotiated during the time of Erap, and ratified and expanded under the table during the Moled Ones term. Honestly, I was surprised at how weak our last ambassador was compared to the previous ones. The US lost traction in the country as a result, which is why we get the sartorially inclined Thomas.
The key here is, as you rightly pointed out, is either make it official so we can reap more benefits from the relationship or threaten to kick them out so we can accrue more benefits. The US here as a presence is a reality. What is important is that they should not continue to be the primary benefactors of the relationship. Utilize their resources in terms of training, technology and intelligence assets.
We were talking about Lansdale and the work he did here. Well, he was instrumental in helping Magsaysay weed out and professionalize the military in the early 50s.
The article does rightly point out that a military solution is just one part of the puzzle. However, it is a part that we have yet to really implement. Socio-economic considerations as well must take the lions share of the work. Containment and elimination through military might can only succeed if the inducement to join these rebel groups (groups that are less ideology driven than they have been in the past) is also addressed. Granted, this is a problem nationwide, but the statistics bear out that Mindanao and the ARMM and so forth have the lowest human development indices of the Philippines.
From the article:
“The leaders are generally ideologues, but the followers are loot seekers,” Colonel Daniel Lucero, assistant chief of staff for the Philippine army’s civil-military operations told a recent gathering of counterterrorism experts in Manila. In its recruitment drive, says Lucero, families are paid around $650, or about a year’s income for a casual laborer there, to “release” their sons. As Troilo puts it, “All too often Abu Sayyaf is the only local employer.”
I agree with you wholeheartedly though, something has been terribly wrong in how they’ve been going about fixing the insurgency problem in the South.
On the listening posts, I grew up to rumors of Americans having tunnels and listening posts in Mt. Kitanglad, Bukidnon. People from there who I knew often tell me that they see Americans roaming around downtown during the night in military jeeps. And this was even after the listening post at the Del Monte plantation was turned over to the Philippine government. The presence of these Americans later aroused speculations that there is a secret base at the foot of Kitanglad.
Kitanglad is the highest peak in Central Mindanao and having a listening post there would allow one to snoop into communications not only among Filipinos, but even by those in our neighboring countries considering the advanced equipment what people from the NSA might have.
When I was still with ABS-CBN Northern Mindanao, the regional station’s transmitter was also in Kitanglad and it allowed us to broadcast programs to southern Cebu, Dumaguete and Bohol in the north; parts of Davao City in the south; the Caraga provinces to the east; and Dipolog to the west. And this was with ordinary civilian transmitting capabilities. Imagine what the range would be given the proper intelligence equipment.
And yes the General Santos City International Airport was constructed with specifications to handle the C-5 Galaxy and I think we both know the US AID financed the rehabilitation/construction of that airport. Having the GenSan airport would allow them to send personnel and equipment anywhere in the BIMP-EAGA(Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asian Growth Area).
Yep, US forces and intelligence operatives are playing cowboys and indians with the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah right under our noses. But what can we do? Do we have the equipment they have? Do we have the money they are willing to spend? True, our Constitution provides that no foreign troops are allowed to establish bases in the country. But what can you do when the Supreme Court declares the VFA legal and binding?
Yes I agree with you sir. The incoming administration should review and revise the Visiting Forces Agreement, specially since I think it is up for renegotiation. The Aquino administration should present terms which would be more advantageous for the country. And terms which would protect our people. We should demand as much from the Americans as the Afghans are demanding. We should require of them more as the Iraqis are requiring of them. We are after all, as how the American ambassadors to our country have always put it, their historic allies… Hahaha!
The Philippines figured prominently in the Korean War and the Cold War because of our strategic location within Asia. If I remember my histories correctly, Clark was used at times as a covert staging ground for US deployments in the region (CIA ops and so forth). Part of the reason why the US was so keen on ensuring that the Philippines maintained military installations. Clark and Subic (for years) were two of the largest military installations in the world. I do believe they were even the largest outside of US territory.
1950-1953 period also covers the rise of the Huk, and the counter-insurgency stuff that was put together by Magsasay as Defense secretary. He is credited with making the Philippine military a professional fighting force, weeding out corruption and the like. He even used to accompany the troops on insurgency moves for photo ops. Anyway, there are rumors, or have been rumors, that he was supported by the CIA; a certain Edward Lansdale. Legend goes he was even the model for Alden Pyle in The Quiet American. Lansdale is a curious figure unto himself, being the architect of the whole “hearts and minds” doctrine in combating communism and dictatorships.
Anyway, back to the Korean War. I wonder how many know that the Korean War is still being fought today. Just last month the North Koreans blew up that South Korean cutter, just the latest in an unending war that really started with the invasion of the peninsula by the Japanese during World War II. In many ways, Asia is still living in a WWII world.
Yep, we were an outpost for CIA operations in the area. And yes I have read about Col. Lansdale and his counter-insurgency tactics. His style was usually to combine local folklore, guerrilla warfare, and co-optation of local elites. I even read somewhere that it was during the counter-insurgency operations against the Huk that the idea of aswangs coming out at night was widely used by the military (under Lansdale’s instruction) to limit the movements of civilians in the rural areas.
Yes sir, I also have read somewhere that he was the model for Alden Pyle in The Quiet American. I have yet to read the book though, but I have seen the film with Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser. And oh, Lansdale is also suspected to have been part of the JFK assassination, after he was seen by military associates as among those within the vicinity of the crime scene disguised as a hobo, immediately after the assassination. Lansdale had an axe to grind with JFK.
Later the Philippines would play a role in the CIA operations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Lansdale and his Filipino associate Napoleon Valeriano would use their experience with the Huk in the dealing with the Viet Minh. Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base became homes for clandestine operations in Vietnam and neighboring countries such as Cambodia and Laos. I think Professor Roland Simbulan of UP made a good article on this.
Another American who would figure prominently in CIA-sponsored anti-communist counter-insurgency operations in the Philippines was Colonel Nick Rowe. Rowe was a US special forces soldier who became a POW in Vietnam but was able to escape his Vietnamese captors. His experience and techniques would be used as the basis of the new Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape or SERE training of the US military. Rowe would later be detailed to the Joint US Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) in the Philippines where he was involved in counter-insurgency operations against the CPP-NPA-NDF. He would later be assassinated by a NPA hit squad near the JUSMAG compound in Quezon City.
Yes, the Philippines figured much in CIA operations during the Cold War. And it was easy since the country hosted two of the biggest military bases outside of the Unites States. And they could move about the country without arousing much suspicion being that the local population had gotten used to seeing Americans for over half a century.
But while most of us assume that American presence and clandestine operations in and from the Philippines have ended after the bases were turned over in 1991, we fail to see that the presence of the continuing Americans in Western Mindanao actually constitutes virtual basing. The prosecution of the Global War on Terror in South East Asia is based in the Philippines, particularly in Zamboanga City.
Since January 2002, Western Mindanao has been the base of operations for US special forces units and intelligence personnel operating against the Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiyah, Darul Islam, and other extremist organizations supposedly financed by Al Quaeda. You might be interested in the Focus on the Global South report on this.
When I was still in Mindanao, I interviewed someone from the progressive human rights group Karapatan who told me that there were at least 72 American spies in Mindanao. And these spies were spread from Surigao del Sur in the East to Sulu in the West; from Cagayan de Oro in North to Davao City in the South. And one of these spies, who goes by the name Michael Meiring, literally blew his cover when his hotel room in Davao City exploded. He was masquerading as a treasure hunter and he stored explosives in his room. He was later swiftly whisked out of the local hospital and to the US Embassy in Manila by “FBI” agents.
While the continued presence of the US forces in Western Mindanao may have stirred up some of the nations fiercest nationalists, much of the country remains apathetic. And in the areas themselves, like Zamboanga City, Basilan, and Sulu, the American troops are actually more welcomed and respected than the Philippine soldiers. So much so that one reporter wrote somewhere I can no longer recall, the locals in one town offered tea to the patrolling American soldier and not the Filipino.
I even recall a story made by colleague David Santos of ABS-CBN Zamboanga in 2006 where a local was interviewed and asked of his opinion of the American presence in Basilan. The local answered that he was happy that the Americans were back and he was hopeful that things will change for the better since the Americans were in Basilan again. This bias toward the American and against the Filipino by Muslims can best be understood by reading Samuel Tan’s A Critical Decade.
As a son of Mindanao, I find it difficult at times to think which should come first. While I consider the continued presence of US troops and intelligence assets in the Land of Promise as an affront to the sovereignty of the country, pragmatically, I know that the Armed Forces of the Philippines does not have the technological capability the US troops have. The AFP will never be able to crush the Abu Sayyaf on its own. Added to this, the presence of the AFP in places like Basilan and Sulu will always be met by locals with suspicion and hate, than the presence of the US forces. Where then do we draw the line?
It will be sixty years since the North Korean armed forces crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea on June 25. Yes, it has been that long. And yet the situation in the peninsula is still tense due to the touchy leadership in the North which tends to shake up things when the world seems to have shifted its focus somewhere else (the Dear Leader has ADHD you know).
A few weeks ago, there was a lot of saber-rattling going on after North Korean forces sunk a South Korean naval vessel and the United Nations condemned the action. The North Korean leadership countered the UN condemnation with a threat that it is willing to go to war. Such overtures by the Dear Leader and his cohorts may seem heroic but he failed to consider how we will prosecute a war with a starving population.
Still, being a citizen of the sixth country with the highest number of troops which fought in the Korean War, I would like to remember the sacrifice of more than a hundred Filipinos who died in that conflict by sharing two films which I think effectively portrayed the cost of the conflict on a nation divided by ideologies and victimized by circumstances and machinations.
One of the best films ever made on the Korean War and produced by Koreans was Taegukgi. It is a film which chronicles the lives of brothers Lee Jin Tae and Lee Jun Seok from a few days before the war up to the armistice. The movie shows how brotherly love ultimately gets muddled by fear, ambition, fame, pride, and ideology.
The situations in the movie would test the bonds between siblings, family members, friends, and even lovers. The movie is also a harsh critic of both the North Korean summary executions during the war and the South Korean vigilante actions against civilians.
With scenes and shots which can only be likened to movies like Saving Private Ryan and the series Band of Brothers, you will forget later on that you are watching a Korean War movie.
Another good movie on the tension between the two Koreas, which my officemate Francis was kind enough to share to me, is Joint Security Area.
The movie is set in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas where a border guard from South befriends a couple of border guards from the North. Their friendship develops and eventually involves the South Korean border guard’s buddy. The happy nights end though when the superior of the North Korean border guards chances upon their fun moments.
An incident occurs between the two groups and investigators from the United Nations look into the matter. The case later takes several confusing twists and turns ultimately leaving you wondering what life would have been for the guards if the superior did not appear.
These two films on the Korean predicament both display the deep longing between the Koreas of unification. But they also show the deep divides between both countries and their people on how they view society, politics, and the world. How both countries will be in the future remains to be seen since technically they are both still at war. We should not forget that what was signed in July of 1953 was merely an armistice and not a treaty of peace with one side admitting defeat. And it was not even signed by the President of the South Korea.
Oh, for those who would like to watch a classic, I highly recommend Pork Chop Hill.