As what I said yesterday I had to go out for some coverage in the afternoon. And that coverage was on the Asian Development Bank’s Asian Development Outlook 2010 Update. Some experts from the ADB wanted to share their insights on what Asia in general and the Philippines in particular, should or would expect in the second half of 2010.
Oh, before we go to the numbers game, I would just like to say that I was left confused yesterday after going through their info kit. Among the nations listed as developing member countries are Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. I thought these guys are considered as part of Southeastern Europe. I thought Europe’s extent ended at the Urals. Or maybe I thought wrong. Anyway…
The ADB Update really showered the audience with a lot of numbers. And while I may have been very allergic to numbers and Math in my younger years, I have learned to appreciate them when started making news reports on the economy, and more so when I took up teaching Economics at Xavier High.
According to the ADB, Developing Asia is “rebounding solidly from the global economic downturn. Growth is expected to reach 8.2 % in 2010, underpinned by a rapid turnaround in exports, healthy private demand, and the lingering effects of expansionary fiscal and monetary policy measures.”
It also said that “in contrast, the major industrial economies-the United States, Eurozone, and Japan-seem to be losing steam and are forecast to grow only by 2.2 % this year.”
On the growth rate of GDPs, Developing Asia, that is 44 member nations of the ADB which are considered to be growing economies, is expected to post a collective GDP growth of at least 7.5% to at most 8.2 %; while the Philippines is expected to post a GDP growth of at least 3.8% to at most 6.2%.
On the downside, inflation, which is the increase of the general level of prices in the products and services in a country over a period of time, for Developing Asia, is expected to be around at least 4.0 to at most 4.1; while in the Philippines, it is expected to be at least 4.7 eventually decreasing to 4.5.
It is important to monitor these two indicators of the the economy because they are the gauges which allow policy-makers to see the amount of income earned by the general population and the value of the income earned by that same population in terms of goods purchases. It is about knowing what the money you earned can buy.
And on the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (a part I know @margoism and @iwriteasiwrite like best), I would like to share some of the figures that the ADB has compiled:
On the proportion of the population below the poverty line based on available figures:
Philippines - 32.9 % (2006)
Myanmar (Burma) - 32.0 % (2005)
India - 27.5 % (2004)
Vietnam - 13.5 % (2008)
Thailand - 8.5% (2008)
People’s Republic of China - 4.2 % (2008)
On the literacy rate of 15-24 year olds based on 2007 figures:
Philippines - 94.4 %
Myanmar - 94.5 %
India - 77.1 %
Vietnam - 93.6 %
Thailand - 98.1 %
People’s Republic of China - 99.1 %
And on the infant mortality rate per 1,000 births, based on 2008 figures:
What worries me is that the figures presented, while they may seem positive, actually need to be secured by stronger policies in basic social services, the development of human capital, infrastructure, agrarian reform, and peace and order. And these policies and programs need to be defined soon by our policy makers if they decide to seriously consider attaining the MDGs before or by 2015. The MDGs seriously pose as a challenge to the people in Malacanang, since the supposed attainment of these goals is well within the term of the Aquino administration.
I was up until 5 this morning and I got to the office at 9. I guess insomnia’s never going to leave my side. While trying to doze myself off earlier than 5, I went through the books by my bedside and I found an old one which I have not read for a while. And it was Nick Cullather’s Managing Nationalism:United States National Security Council Documents on the Philippines, 1953-1960.
Leafing through the pages, I found some facts and figures which could very well add to what @luiloves and @estarvivo have shared about the Philippines and the rehabilitation efforts after the Second World War.
As what I said in an earlier post, the US did extend rehabilitation aid to the Philippines in the aftermath of the war. And this is very much evident in several provincial capitol buildings, city halls, and some schools all over the country. There are markers in these structures regarding the assistance extended by the US government in the construction or reconstruction of these buildings. But I did also say that some of the money granted by the US may have also fallen into the hands of some unscrupulous politicians and their American “business partners.”
Here’s what I got from Cullather’s book:
The Liberals, under Roxas and Later Quirino, showed little capacity or desire to correct the country’s dangerous instability during the first years of the Republic. The period 1946-1950 saw the wasteful dissipation of large sums of money which the United States put into the Philippines for rehabilitation, the emergence of a well-organized and increasingly effective revolutionary movement based upon wartime guerrilla elements and led by communists, and a degeneration of public morale and confidence as a result of corruption in the Government at all levels.
The Philippine Senate recently adopted a resolution urging President Magsaysay to request support of the Executive Branch of this Government for a bill which has been introduced in the US House or Representatives providing for an additional $100 million in war damage payments to private claimants in the Philippines. Under the Philippine Rehabilitation Act of 1946 $520 million, of which $389 million were for private claims, have been paid. All persons having claims of $500 or less were paid in full, those having claims over $500 were paid an average of 52%. The Bell Mission recommended against further war damage payments in the belief that aid should be furnished through other means. The Department of State believes that we have no legal obligation to provide further war damage payments and in view of our economic aid program that we have discharged whatever moral obligation may have existed.
-Statement of Policy by the National Security Council on the US Policy Toward the Philippines, April 5, 1954
In the notes of the same cited document. I found these lines appended to the first paragraph I cited above:
In 1946 and 1947, the Philippines was one of the few countries with a dollar surplus. But by 1949 the estimated $2 billion in US expenditures had returned to to the United States as payments on “luxury” imports like automobiles, or vanished altogether owing to inflation, leaving the government without revenue in the face of mounting domestic problems.
$2 billion in 1946 or 1947 was already a very, very, huge amount of money. I do not know how to convert that to today’s amounts but certainly that is big enough to sustain a whole war-ravaged country back then.
According to Primo Villar, chief of the Motor Vehicles Office, the Philippine government is now operating and maintaining at least 4,000 vehicles. Budget Commissioner Joven himself estimated that the government spends an average of P6,000 a year on each of these cars. That means that government expenditures on official cars alone amount to the staggering total of around P24,000,000 a year. And that does not include the purchase price of the vehicles.
Due perhaps to our sadly depleted finances, high government officials finally awoke recently to this scandalous situation and decided to do something about it. Commissioner Joven initiated a move to limit the use of government cars to as few public officials as possible, and to sell such vehicles as are found in excess of those needed for official purposes. Rep. Miguel Cuenco, of the 5th district of Cebu, was quick to take the cue and last week introduced at the second special session of congress a bill “defining the officers who shall be entitled to use government motor vehicles or to receive an allowance in lieu thereof and providing for the sale of excess government motor vehicles.”
In the explanatory note to his bill, Cuenco said: “It is of common knowledge that government cars are being used by relatives and friends of public officials in going to schools, night clubs, theaters and markets. Such cynical contempt for the principle that public property must be used only for public purpose must be stopped.”
The bill, if approved, would certainly reduce government expenses on official cars. But it is doubtful if the scandalous misuse of such vehicles will actually be stopped or even minimized. For it has become the rule rather than the exception to use these cars for purposes other than official. Some of those privileged to use—or misuse—government vehicles also seem to have the mistaken idea that cars with the distinctive P1 plates are exempt from the normal operation of traffic rules and regulations, as may be frequently witnessed on the streets of Manila.
And so, we have the questionable group of individuals, relatives and friends of government bigwigs, who sport around with low-numbered plates on their cars. It is a clear case of misrepresentation, but it is tolerated. They accomplish the trick by the simple expedient of registering their cars in the name of some friend or relative who happens to be a senator or a representative and they get a No. 7 or 8 plate as the case may be.
Aside from automobiles or cars being a conduit for questionable government expenditures back then, there was also the questionable use of the vehicles bought with the people’s money, and the plates which were supposed to give some government officials some degree of privilege in the streets.
So you see, corruption, abuse of power, use of government vehicles for personal purposes, and the abuse of privilege car plates have been problems of our country since the end of the Second World War. This just shows us that nothing much has changed in our people since then until now.
If there is one thing that this country may very well need it is not the rehabilitation of communities, of infrastructure, or the economy. It is the rehabilitation of its people.
“History is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction. That’s why events are always reinterpreted when values change. We need new versions of history to allow for our current prejudices.”—
hello may i know your name sir I like all your post i hope you know how to speak Filipino I'm filipino i saw a trailer movie and i like that and all your post some i read nice i hpoe to read more post and video
Hi sir! You may call me Kim. I do hope you would also share your name with me now that I have given you mine. I tried looking it up in your blog and it was not there.
Thank you for the likes and the kind words. I really appreciate them. And yes, I do know how to speak Tagalog if that is what you meant by Filipino.
But being that there are also Tagalog grammar Nazis and I was born a Cebuano-speaker, I would rather use English since it is a language where they cannot exercise their condescension on me. It is a widely known and accepted fact that there are quite a lot of Tagalog speakers who make fun of us, non-Tagalogs, when we fumble with their language.
Again, thank you! And with words like that coming from you, I am all the more inspired to come up with better posts!
Hi! I really like the stuff you've been posting. Some of them are things I've learned in my last history class. It's a good thing you keep people in discourse. Too many people have been brainwashed into simply accepting "historical facts".
About the money that the Americans gave us to "get back on our feet": We are only one of the countries that the US assisted financially. But among these countries, we are the ones who received the lowest. Even if we were the ones who fought with their soldiers, and even if they bombed manila heavily and should have payed more for damages. The funds may not even have gone to projects with Filipino interests, as they were reported to have been used for cementing roads to farms where American interests held sway (we used to export a lot of raw materials for sugar, cigarettes, etc.).
Note: These are all according to my notes in class, which may be biased. But I believe the conclusions were reasonable. :)
BTW, what school do you teach in? since the topics sound familiar. hahaha...
Hello ma’am! Thank you for the kind words.
Yep, we all have to be constantly involved in the discourse of our country’s past considering that most of what we know we only inherited from our colonizers. In the continuation of our interest to know our past, we unravel new knowledge untainted by the colonial beliefs handed down to us. That way, we learn to truly appreciate ourselves according to our understanding of the events that happened.
The problem though is that there are also Filipinos who tend to use history for their own ideological ends. That by itself is a bastardization of our heritage and also tantamount to what our former colonizers have done.
Yes, the US was very much financing all of the ravaged countries after the Second World War. And that also included even those countries they fought against (Germany, Japan, and Italy). In Europe, and I think you also know this, they had the Marshall Plan, which was designed to pump up the economies at that time. I guess the same environment of destruction made possible the Bretton-Woods Agreement, which also made possible the creation of the IMF and the World Bank.
I would not know if we had the smallest financial assistance the US handed out in relation to those given to other countries. But I do know that the US handed out huge amounts to Germany and several other countries in Europe in terms of assistance after the war.
Yes, it is highly possible that some of the money sent for reconstruction to the Philippines may have been used for other “purposes” by unscrupulous Filipinos and their American business partners.
While they may be biased, it is admirable that you still have your notes. Not many students or alumni do that, and that includes me :)
And oh, I used to teach Philippine history for freshmen and Economics for seniors at Xavier University High School years ago. Some of my followers here are actually my former students.
“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.”—Ecclesiastes 11:9
Sir, do you think that July 4 should be the celebration of our independence day and not June 12?
Come now sir! This is a no brainer!
July 4 is like the passing of South Vietnam from French control to American influence or the transfer of Hong Kong from the British to the People’s Republic of China.
June 12 on the other hand was when Aguinaldo’s government proclaimed the Philippines, albeit unrecognized by the community of nations back then, to be a sovereign nation.
But I would suggest that you review how that declaration was made and its contents. You will find out that even at that time, our Act of Independence contained pro-American lines.
I think Onofre Corpuz’s Saga and Triumph; Floro Quibuyen’s A Nation Aborted; and Nick Joaquin’s A Question of Heroes will help you understand that day better.
I think June 12 can be likened to the declaration made by the Vietnamese, years later, of their independence. Like ours, theirs was also unrecognized by the community of nations. And like ours, they also faced a war with their colonial masters, the French, when troops came back to reclaim the territory lost to the Japanese. Unlike us though, the Vietnamese fought hard and defeated the French, eventually resulting to the arrangements I mentioned above.
Something to ponder on just to pursue your line of questioning sir: Did we really gain independence in 1946? Or was it in 1991?
“I have read carefully the treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”—Mark Twain, New York Herald, October 15, 1900
“Criminals Because They Were Born Ten Years Before We Took the Philippines”
New York Journal - May 5, 1902.
I may excuse the mistaken display of the flag with my thoughts below. But I never forget about things like this!
Though, I really find it funny that for the Americans they refer to the deaths of forty American soldiers on September 28 as the Balangiga massacre. At the time, reminded the US newspapers of Custer’s last stand at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
But, in actuality, the massacre occurred afterwards; with the retaliations that you so rightly cite. I know they estimate Filipino civilian deaths at 2000-3000, but in truth the number could have been higher. Though some absurd estimates are at 50,000, but demographic studies don’t support those numbers. And yet, Filipinos were considered the savages.
Additionally, when we wonder why Aguinaldo and the Philippine Republic ended up surrendering, remember things like this. The fact that the Americans turned on the civilian population is part in parcel with why the Philippine Republic ended up surrendering.
The full quote of General Jacob Smith is even more chilling:
I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn; the more you kill and burn, the better it will please me… The interior of Samar must be made a howling wilderness…
To be fair, Smith was infamous for spouting off crazy quotes like this.
There a few interesting points regarding the waging of the war of retribution in Samar. First, the isolated the civilian population in an effort to flush out the Philippine Republic troops, led by a General Lukban. They cut of food, supplies and to the region and then waged a war of fear on the civilians; torching homes, shooting carabao and killing civilians. It is similar to the tactics that they used as well to subdue Ilocos and Batangas.
This is the key part that we always ignore with regards to the Philippine-American War: the people were on the side of the Republic. The fortunes of the war shifted in the favor of the Americans when they began attacking the supply and support chain of the Philippine Republic: civilian Filipinos.
Oh that’s right, I forget, Filipinos at the time hated Aguinaldo and the Philippine Republic and loved the US. Well…anyway…
The fact that we have not been returned the bells of Balangiga is a still extant issue between the US and the Philippines. One I would like to see an administration finally get returned. They belong here. And their return would make an appropriate gesture I do believe.
Yep, them Yankees really killed many of them brown brothers boss man sir!
Them Yankees shooting them Philipeenoes thought it best to have ‘em shot dead before they go to them villages.
Them brown brothers no good! They only good as dead! I reckon the more the Yankee man kill of them, the better it will be for them.
Yes sir, them Yankees really killed many of these Indios. Some say ‘twas over a hundred thousand, others said ‘twas a third of the whole number of Philipeenoes.
The good General was right in killing them all. And all them Yankee soldiers also were doing the good Lord’s bidding by having them brown brothers in one place. That way, them rebs couldn’t get no food no more. It was a mighty fine job!
Whew! I never thought it was difficult to talk that way! But yep, you are right in saying that the US forces did all the could to end the so called “insurrection” of the Filipinos. They employed torture, rape, pillaging, reconcentration of populations, and in some areas, depopulation. The Philippine-American War was the test case of the things they would later do in the Vietnam War.
True Sir, the US forces got the revolutionary army by its balls when it held the civilian populations hostage. And when that happened, the local population was forced to give up the civilian support for the republic since the republican army could no longer defend the people. The people gave up on the revolution. And the revolution was crushed. Or was it because of some traitors?
I do agree with you that the Balangiga bells as symbols of the heroism of the Filipinos which the US government should surrender to the Philippines. The later American force took it as trophies to redeem their damaged honor. Returning the bells would symbolize closure to still visible and only partly healed wounds of the war between what are supposedly good allies.
Hmmm... Question, sir. Were we given financial assistance and such to get back on our feet when our freedom was granted by any of the nations that conquered us?
Yes ma’am, at the end of the Second World War we were. I do not know about the actual figures since it was given by the US as monetary assistance over a period which stretched from the end of the Second World War, up to, I think, the Quirino or even Magsaysay administration.
This is the reason why if you go around the provincial capitals of several provinces in the country, you will see plaques or markers citing the help of the US government in the construction (or reconstruction) of the building. These can also be seen in some of the country’s bridges and ports.
The problem though is that no one really knows if all the money given by the US government did go to the projects that were very occurring almost everywhere during that time.
While those projects which involved the US armed forces themselves e.g. air strips, harbors, roads, may have the costs recorded, those that involved the local government units and Filipino construction firms may lack the notes needed for transparency and accountability.
Added to this was the climate of corruption which arose during the Quirino administration. If you recall your Philippine history, Quirino assumed after Roxas, the first president after independence in 1946, died of a heart attack in 1948. Quirino won in 1949, in what could be considered as the first presidential elections to have been the product of massive fraud.
Quirino later fell out of favor with the Filipino people due to the exposes on his excesses that were reported by the Philippine media. I think you can find some of the old articles in Philippines Free Press website.
Quirino also fell out of favor with the US, who at this time still cast its long shadow on Philippine politics and society. By then the Americans, through the controversial Col. Ed Lansdale, were teaching the Filipino peasants and workers to sing “Mambo, mambo Magsaysay!”
Come on. I like hotdogs. You like hotdogs. Freaking everyone likes hotdogs, even vegetarians like hotdogs.
And in New York it’s practically a way of life. Walk up and down the business districts and you’ll find captains of industry eating hot dogs from street corner vendors. And gawdamn are they good.
It’s astounding me that this is what we are talking about. It was a hotdog! As a matter of fact, I want one right now.
And onto the flag issue.
I haven’t said much about it, if anything. So, at the risk of offending people, I just can’t get up the energy to care too much about this one beyond the incident and subsequent note from their Embassy.
It was an honest mistake. I can understand it. Should they have known better? Of course. And I hope that they sat down and made sure that they reviewed their procedures in terms of reviewing protocols so this type of thing can be avoided in the future. But, they confessed to the error and made the appropriate noises.
There was nothing malicious behind the mistake, at all. I don’t get the sense that this was a case of a neighborhood bully beating up on a smaller entity. What did it accomplish? Absolutely nothing. If anything, it made the US State department look pretty damn stupid. I am pretty sure that is something they would have wanted to avoid if possible. I doubt they would have wanted to antagonize one of their closest allies in Asia, especially with the China issues. This goes both ways. We are a foothold for the US in ASEAN. They lose us, they lose a strong voice. And all we have to do is look at the last administration to see how eager China is to bring us closer to them. As I said before, that is an aspect of the relationship that should be exploited.
If they had forgotten the flag, or put up some sort of ratty, stained one or something along those lines, that would have called for a more stringent and forceful response from the Philippine government. That would have been insulting. But in this instance and based on the nature of the mistake, I don’t feel that is warranted. And it has nothing to do with the investments, aid, concessions, whatever promised.
At the end of the day, it was just a mistake that ended up reflecting poorly on the US as the host entity. I’d prefer to leave it at that.
Haha! Hotdogs! How I wish we had those outside the office…
I fully agree with you on the flag issue! And that is the reason why I did not see any reason to be seething with rage after it happened. And the US Embassy, knowing how very particular and sensitive Filipino pride is, issued an apology as soon as they can.
True, there is no apparent reason why some insidious American would want to play some jokes or a political attack on Aquino or the Philippines by inverting the blue and red fields of the flag. By turning the fields the other way around, what does that person hope to get? Hostility between the Philippines and the US?
It was a mistake, pure and simple. And a mistake which further shows the ignorance of the host nation’s employees of the flags, symbols, and courtesies of the guest nations. That by itself alone, in the practice of foreign service and the hosting of international gatherings, is enough humiliation.
Talking about ignorance, I think we can’t expect much from foreigners also when it comes to our symbols considering that some of us do not even know how to pay the proper respects to our own flag. I mean, how many Filipinos know the proper way of displaying the flag vertically? Or in the company of many flags? Or in a groups of flags in a parade? I doubt if many among us, even the educated, know the answers.
Also, I think the mistake would have been avoided if some members of President Aquino’s group were also in the area ahead of the chiefs of states. They could have informed the organizers of the wrong display of the flag. It would have been possible then to correct the way the flag was being displayed.
Yep, the mistake reflects poorly on the US considering that we were a former colony and the flag that we now have was one they fought against and later allowed the Commonwealth to use. It was the same flag which flew alongside theirs in Bataan and Corregidor. Of all the flags in the ASEAN, ours should be the one they should be familiar with considering that we are the only country where they were able to put to practice both the best and worst of their colonial ambitions.
I wonder though, do Filipinos here in the Philippines actually also know how many red and white stripes are on the US flag? Or in what order they are in? I doubt if ordinary Filipinos pay attention to those details…
Sir, I'm just curious... “The Philippines welcomes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement that while the US takes no sides on the disputes in the South China Sea...." as Pres. Aquino says. But if and when war happens in the future between ASEAN nations or Philippines and China, do you honestly think the US will take our side?
That was a good question considering how the US has been pragmatic in several instances in the past. And yes, we should be reminded of what happened to us in 1942. “No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam.”
From what I have been reading though in the reports of the US Congressional Research Service, the Rand Corporation, the US State Department, and the US Department of Defense, China has always been a growing concern for the US. The concern even dates back to the days before 9/11. The oldest report I read I think dates back to the late 90s. The latest was published last February. All of these reports have been consistent, despite the fact that the US was busy with Al Quaeda and its affiliates, that China should be closely observed and its posturing countered.
I am not sure on the taking our side part since you and I know very well how the US views our country *coughs* military bases*cough.* While I do think the US military establishment will try to conduct some show trainings and exercises with Filipino troops as part of the VFA and the Balikatan, I do not see them actually giving us military aid in terms of better planes, warships, tanks, and even night vision goggles.
Sadly, whenever I discuss the tension in South East Asia and between China and Japan, I can only express my thoughts from a purely theoretical and strategic perspective devoid of my being a Filipino. I guess I have already accepted the fact that should conflict break out between ASEAN and China, or some ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, and China, we would not survive a single day as a sovereign republic.
You know that I am as nationalistic as the next Filipino, but what would I use to defend my country with should the People’s Liberation Army come marching to town? Sticks and stones?
Yes sir, I guess Teddy Roosevelt’s “Big Stick diplomacy” still figures much in international affairs, particularly with how emerging powers try to coerce their neighbors or place their weight on the table of international affairs.
China really has it going for quite some time now and that is largely due to the rising economy it had before the Great Recession. China was after all, as several economists have named him, the poster boy of globalization.
And with the growth of its economy, the Chinese started spending much on their armed forces. Over the past few years, the defense allocations from the country’s GNP to defense has been increasing. I think you have seen how they try to flaunt their soldiers and weapons every May Day celebration they have.
But serious domestic problems also plague China tough, and these may bode either good or bad for the communist government. China’s economy may have grown and enjoyed the benefits of foreign direct investments coupled with cheap labor, but it was also hit by the downturn of global economies.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of blue and white collar workers lost their jobs as soon as the factories started closing down. This resulted to several labor riots in the industrial cities of Guangdong, Chongqing, and Suzhou to name a few. And the leaders and members of labor movements are among those that the communist government have been running after these past few years.
The workers and peasant’s People’s Republic of China, despite proclamations on labor movements made during Chairman Mao’s time, does not allow workers to create their own labor groups and organizations. Of course, what can one expect from a communist government? I think the same arrangement also happened in the now defunct Soviet Union, and prevails over the Dear Leader’s People’s Republic of Korea. I must say though that, as it was with Poland, the labor sector in China may pose a serious threat to the communist government should it be able to consolidate itself and act as one movement.
But while some of the workers may be protesting and fighting it out with the police, there is always the possibility that some of them will find jobs in China’s burgeoning military-industrial complex. The armaments industry in the People’s Republic have been showing marked improvements in terms of weapons design, technology, and manufacturing processes.
And then there is also the possibility that some of China’s youth would rather sign up with the military rather than find a job in the factory (which is vulnerable after all to lay offs). While some in other countries may only refer to hundreds or thousands, we must not forget that this is China, and by some, that would mean hundreds of thousands if not millions.
Should the People’s Republic decide to test its wares and its force, it might, as Japan did in the late 19th Century up until the 1930s, use “incidents” with some of its neighbors to justify the use of conventional military units against its neighbors. Of course, the international community will condemn such an action. But what can they do aside from condemnation? It will be like what Japan did with the Marco Polo bridge incident or what Germany did with the Anschluss or the seizure of the Sudetenland.
Yep, the protests against the continued presence of the Americans in Okinawa and several other military bases in Japan have been going on for years. But with the recent tension between Japan and China, I think the Okinawans or Ryukyuans, as well as the mainland Japanese, will probably reconsider things.
True, there have been recent calls in the Japanese government for a bigger budget for defense and increasing roles for the JSDF in the defense of the islands, but I think it will take a while before those two things will push through. The Japanese, as it is with the Germans, still have conflicting thoughts on increasing their military’s role and significance in society due to its horrible actions in the last World War. So for now, the Japanese are stuck with the Americans as their “best friend” should something break out. I hope they don’t find themselves in the situation we Filipinos were in 1942. I can still hear it…”No Mama, No Papa, No Uncle Sam…”
Yep, Arroyo has been very much moving to the direction of Beijing after 2004. While she was a staunch ally of the Bush in the War on Terror, she certainly changed much of her views later. And although this may still be just a hunch, I think that the Hello Garci scandal had something to do with it.
I think you know as well as I do that only the US National Security Agency had wire-tapping capabilities which can produce those recordings. And seeing that Arroyo was moving towards the US’ counter-hegemony, in this case China, some hand may have delivered those recordings to NBI agent Samuel Ong. The NSA has been known to use wire-tappings on its enemies as well as its allies.
And then we have Aquino, who on his second month in office has already ruffled China’s feathers. And the botched rescue attempt last August 23 has only added more insult to the injury that the Philippines has already supposedly caused on China.
While I may have heard his speeches to the military establishment proclaim support for modernization, I cannot but feel ambivalent considering that such plans have been spoken of by presidents to as far back as Ramos. And not much has happened to the Armed Forces since then.
The Army has had significant acquisitions in terms of vehicles over the past few years from South Korea and I think Malaysia, but the Air Force and Navy, as well as the Marines, are dying. But that’s just the hardware, in terms of small arms and logistics, I doubt if the Philippines can even sustain a day of battle against any of its neighbors. Recalling back my summers in college, I was issued an M-16 with a cracked hardguard and buttstock for one training, and a rusting M-14 on another. I guess that’s the kind of weapons the country has in the reserves.
While I do hope that tensions between China and Japan would cool down soon. I still would like to see a Philippines that is at least able to monitor its sea lanes, protect the sovereignty of its aerospace, and ensure peace and order in the urban, as well as rural areas. Then again, I don’t think the defense establishment is in the mind of an administration that has been very much into missteps over these past few months. Missteps which may later snow ball into serious problems which will affect us all.
God help the Philippines!
Yup. And then we have this intriguing rhetoric from Aquino at the UN Summit:
Mr. Aquino, speaking a day ahead of a meeting of President Barack Obama and leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) that will focus on territorial spats with China, said Beijing had so far not tried to “push us around.”
But, he said after a speech on the sidelines of a United Nations global summit, “in case that happens, I think Asean has demonstrated that we will stand as a bloc.”
In a reference to China, he said: “Hopefully we don’t hear the phrase ‘South China Sea’ with reference to it being their sea.”
Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Aquino expressed support for the US position that the South China Sea territorial dispute should be resolved peacefully.
What’s that old saying? Every war is a territorial dispute.
There are two things at play here that I find interesting: 1. Traditionally a new Philippine president visits the Asean bloc on his first trip out for solidarity 2. He chose to use the US as his first foreign trip yet talks up the Asean bloc.
Might signal that the Asean is seeking more US overt and covert US support in ‘containing’ apparent China expansionary interests in South/East Asia. I think this is born out by the items you cited earlier concerning the rise of US military maneuvers this year (Vietnam, Korea, Manila Bay etc).
I, as you, will be watching the Japanese situation very closely. A laxing of the rules governing their external military (despite cultural aversion) could signal a slow burn buildup to try and counter-act the on-going military build-up in China.
Though, like you, I believe China is rapidly approaching an inflection point with regards to their human rights and cultural issues within. Which could as well feed into their government’s need to force some sort of external crisis to allow them to crack down and control their issues internal. Ok, that was a very Wag the Dogesque scenario right there.
What’s interesting is that the Internet in China is somewhat playing the role that a liberal arts education used to play in other similar situations. It is exposing the Chinese to broader ideas. The interesting key here is that, unlike what is commonly believed, revolutions do not necessarily start because of impoverished conditions. They start because the population (usually historically subdued) get’s a taste of additional political and economic freedom. The government (usually a colonizer) gets scared at the new affluence and intellectual development of their colonial subjects and cracks down on them; removing freedoms they to which they had become accustomed.
Revolution is usually preceded by a period of prosperity and some limited freedoms, followed by a period of suppression.
That was the situation here; though not one our historians like to discuss. As well as in the United States. When people discover that life can be better, then have that taken away, does have the tendency to make them…mad.
I will be curious to see how China finesses that issue. As their population has become more affluent and educated and exposed to a great many new ideas, how will they react to loss of jobs? To the abrogation of existing freedoms (potentially)? Or even the failure to grant more freedoms?
The other wildcard in the equation is India as well. They are a rising power similar to China, yet have had a contentious relationship with China.
Back to the PI issue. i am curious to see how much aid and assistance the US may extend to the Philippine military and what type of strings will be attached. We’ve discussed the suspicion that the VFA will come up for reworking. I wonder if we may have a Colonel Lansdale type situation again.
Oh and yes. Agree completely. China does seem to be taking to heart the Roosevelt Corollary. If it’s in your backyard, you can intervene.
True sir! I did notice that Aquino has prioritized his trip to the US rather than meeting with the country’s neighbors in the months immediately after he came to power. While the budgetary considerations may be there considering that he expected to meet the ASEAN leaders in New York as well the US president, Aquino’s move still departs from the traditional order of visits observed by Philippine presidents since President Ramos.
Yes, you could be right. Aquino’s decision to visit the US before going around ASEAN is a sign of the need for more overt US presence in South East Asia. While he may, as every proud Filipino does, place importance on national sovereignty and pride, he cannot deny the reality that the Philippines is not capable of mounting up even an ample defense against China should the misunderstanding in the Spratlys continue. What is a 100,000-120,000 Filipino soldiers, sailors and marines compared with the millions in the People’s Liberation Army?
Yes, China’s “growing pains” e.g. labor issues, pollution, corruption, etc., may cause some tremors within the People’s Republic, but then you are right in saying that they could go into war with their neighbors if only to rally everyone to the flag. That has always been the case with several countries in history e.g. Czarist Russia, Napoleonic France, Santa Anna’s Mexico, and even the Teddy Roosevelt-era US. And in recent history, George W. Bush and friends have also been quite good in wrapping themselves in the flag.
But yes you are also right, the increase of personal incomes in China which allowed the rise of a new middle class could also very much come into play. The exposure of this segment of Chinese society into the liberal culture of the West from their studies as well as the Internet may result to the creation of a more political demographic which may lead in the demands, first, of greater academic and labor rights; and maybe later, of political, social, and even religious freedoms. Then again, as it was in the case of repressive regimes in the past, it would still take a while before social movements such as those take root and become visible.
Yep, India could also be another threat to China, considering that they both claim some territories between their two countries. I read something from I think TIME or Newsweek a few weeks ago regarding clashes between Indian and Chinese border guards over the past few years. Considering the military capabilities, national incomes, and population of both countries, they do stand toe to toe, for now.
India however has, as you also very well know, its life-long arch-enemy Pakistan, who has, since its birth, been bent on destroying the nation from which it came. So my guess is that India, while securing its borders against China, will also have Pakistan to deal with.
What worries me though is Aquino’s false hopes in ASEAN. While he seems to believe, as how you quoted him above, and how the Philippine media has written about it, that the ASEAN is one monolithic body which will move, as one, against China, should China threaten the region. Aquino fails to take into account that Burma or at least the generals occupying the country, have expressed their alliance with China in more than several occasions.
Recently, General Than Shwe visited Beijing to make sure that he has the People’s Republic’s nod in the elections his junta plans to hold in November. China has been the Junta’s only political backer and supplier of weapons over the past few years. The Junta, through Burma, has been the ASEAN’s little bully for quite some time already. Although the ASEAN has repeatedly reproached the Junta for human rights violations, the Junta knows that the other ASEAN countries cannot impose what they want from them because they are afraid of China.
Yep, I agree, it would really be interesting to see how the country will re-work the VFA to accomodate the possible rise of Chinese hegemony in South East Asia. That is a more dangerous threat to the region, and of course, US interest, in the years to come. More serious than the fringe extremists movements which are now actually slowly dying in the jungles of Western Mindanao, Java, and Aceh.
It would also be curious to see how our country’s progressive groups and center-left politicians will react to the possible re-working of the VFA and the possible increase of US military presence in the area.
Yes, China is starting to actually exercise Teddy Roosevelt’s “Big Stick” principle with its neighbors. I just hope that the People’s Republic does not come up with something like the Monroe Doctrine over South East Asia. I wonder how the US will react to that…
I always like to say the first mass took place on a boat. Now try and find that location. It is a fun cartographic game. Kind of a whodunit in Philippine history! And unfortunately, the NHI’s track record is not great in definitely settling disputes.
Hahaha! Ah yes sir! It could as well be on a boat. It truly is a cartographic as well as a navigational game. While Pigafetta did note down the coordinates they were supposed to be in, the problem is that when you enter those coordinates now with the GPS instruments we have and even Google Earth, it points to an area far away from the country.
I guess it is also understandable that the readings that they are getting are not as accurate as those of the later expeditions considering that this was the first time they even went beyond South America.
However it is important to point out that another chronicler Gines de Mafra was able to go back to Mazaua when he joined the Villalobos expedition several years later. If de Mafra used navigational instruments, maps or a guide, still remains unanswered. His account of the voyage is not as widely publicized as that of Pigafetta’s.
The right place for disputed first Mass in Limasawa
The decades-old Limasawa vs Masao dispute was officially settled in March 1998 when the National Historical Institute (NHI) ruled for Limasawa. But this verdict did not deter the pro-Masao group from persisting with their claim and performing parallel ceremonies.
The NHI decision ignored another historical error by tacitly upholding the belief that the First Mass was held in the southeastern coast of Limasawa, in the vicinity of the present Barangay Magallanes.
A legacy of this error, the new Shrine of the First Holy Mass—an edifice made of bricks and polished concrete that was inaugurated two years ago—sits on top of a hill overlooking the barangay.
Vicente C. de Jesus, an independent scholar who strongly supports the Butuan claim, has criticized the NHI commission that looked into the issue for allegedly dismissing an eyewitness account that implied a western site of the First Mass on the island recorded as Mazaua in 16th-century documents.
The witness was Gines de Mafra, a member of both the Magellan expedition in 1521 and the Villalobos expedition in 1543. He had dropped by Limasawa on both occasions. In 1543, he met again the same chief, presumably Rajah Kolambu, who received Magellan in 1521.
De Mafra’s account had remained hidden in a Madrid archive for 375 years before it was found and published in 1920. It mentioned that the Magellan fleet anchored in Mazaua at “a good harbor on its western side, and is inhabited.”
De Mafra’s claim is corroborated by a map made by Antonio Pigafetta, chronicler of the Magellan expedition, according to De Jesus. The map in the Nancy-Libri-Beinecke-Yale codex is said to show a cross in one of two hills facing the sea southwest of the island.
The Pigafetta map in the Beinecke manuscript shows the cross on the upper hill near the sea. The lower hill, drawn in the middle of the land mass at the bottom of the map, does not have the cross symbol.
A single sentence in the popular James Robertson translation of the Pigafetta account could give the First Mass event to western Limasawa. It said: “In the afternoon we went in the ships [and anchored] near the dwelling of the king.”
This meant sailing the ships from their initial anchorage off the southeastern coast and rounding the island at the south toward the acantilado (deep) waters of the western cove fronting Barangay Triana, the oldest settlement and present town proper of Limasawa.
Such overlooked movement of Magellan’s ships could corroborate De Mafra’s account.
So the news article claims that the conflict now is not between Limasawa and Masao, but among the towns in Limasawa island. Still, I know, the Butuanons would not accept what the National Historical Institute has said and will always be working for the recognition of Masao and not Limasawa as the site of the First Mass.
I think the question will only be answered by further studies on the event. The problem though would be, I think, the lack of archaeological evidence considering that the First Mass did not produce any kind of settlement or fort which the Spaniards later used. Instead they were just alleged to have left only a wooden cross.
It would take quite some time before this debate would be settled but I think it will be if the National Historical Institute involves both contending parties in actual field studies, so that they themselves can see if the place they root for, or those of their contender, fits Pigafetta’s and de Mafra’s descriptions more or not.
Hi! I'm a Butuanon and I'd like to share something about you're first mass post. Butuan still claims that the first mass in the Philippines was held there but as far as I remember it was actually held in Magallanes, which is near Butuan. A shrine could be seen along the Agusan River. Then, my mom told me that some Butuanons believed it was held in Bo. Masao, Butuan where another shrine was erected. My mom also told me that Butuanons celebrate the anniversary in both places back in the 90s. We're staying in Manila for almost 10 years and we don't know if they still do it until now.
I am not sure but I think the Butuanons still celebrate those anniversaries up to now. I have yet to know though if they have reconciled their own interpretations of Pigafetta’s description of the place of the First Mass.
You have to forgive me though, despite the fact that my mother’s sister and cousins, and my own cousins live there, I haven’t been to the place since 2007. That’s why I cannot be sure anymore if they hold those celebrations in several places, or if they reconciled them and celebrate them in one place.
I hope though that the city government, as well as the national agencies would act together in searching for answers on where the First Mass was really held and what Butuan was before the Spaniards came. I think the findings will help us end another confusing chapter in our history and may allow us to understand ourselves better.
Good morning sir. Regarding your butuan post, I remembered a debate I had during the time I took my History Classes. The debate was about the First Mass conducted in the Philippines. My side claims that it was held in Limasawa, Leyte and the opposing side claims it to have happened in Masao, Butuan. If I'm not mistaken, Pigafetta wrote it as "Mazaua" in his account. There were a number of arguments raised. The opposing team argued that it coherently follows that it happened in Butuan because of the Balangays, but in the end we weren't able to settle it completely. What's your say on this, sir?
Oh hi! So history teachers still play that first mass game til now huh… The same thing with the useless Rizal-Bonifacio debate I guess.
While they may think these are good exercises, I do think they are not. They only create more divisions and contending opinions on events in Philippine history which have been muddled by shabby research and misinterpretation of facts. Like you, I too was once in a debate on that.
Here’s the thing: no one really knows where Mazaua is. While there have been varying accounts on both claimants on being the site of the first mass, the actual site based on the chronicles of Pigafetta can hardly be considered accurate considering the kind of navigational instruments used at that time and the translation of the names of places from the native language in the area to Spanish. Remember that this was their first time in the Islands, and their first time in lands beyond South America.
I am inclined to believe though that the mass was not celebrated in Limasawa. Based on the accounts of Pigafetta, the venue for the mass was a settlement with urbane, cultured, and prosperous people. It was a thriving settlement with traders and foreigners. If Limasawa, Leyte was that progressive then, why is it very poor now?
On the other hand, I also would not say that the first mass was held in Masao, Butuan. Pigafetta’s account clearly stated that the mass was held in an island and that the people traveled to and fro the island in boats, some of which resemble the balanghais.
While the descriptions on the people being sophisticated and rich may well fit into what the Butuanons were during that time. Remember that Butuan already was having trade relations with countries like China and India by this time. But the fact that the account says that the mass was held on an island which was several miles north of Butuan still is important to consider.
Of course, Butuan now may not seem as progressive as Manila, Cebu, and Davao, but it is important to note that during the 1960s and well into the 1970s, it was the timber capital of the Mindanao and it also figured much in mineral extraction.
Between Limasawa and Masao Butuan, there is a marked difference on what kind of people there were in either place when the Spaniards came and the kind of progress either place has become now.
I am inclined to believe that Mazaua maybe another thriving and prosperous island settlement very much near Butuan, but definitely not Limasawa. As to what happened to the settlement in the later years of the Spanish colonization we do not know since the Spaniards were merely passing through the area.
It is important to note though that when the Limasawa claim was challenged in the 1970s by the country’s more motivated historians, the Marcos government, considering that Imelda was from Leyte, of course, had to defend the Limasawa claim. It was only after the end of the Marcos dictatorship that studies as well as debates into the “First Mass” arose again.
The National Historial Institute tried to settle the debates a few years ago, but it seems that there are still contending claims from either parties which still need to be settled. But being that the question for a lot of Filipinos still remains unsettled, I think this should be one of those things in our history which younger Filipinos should take an interest in. Unlike the Rizal and Bonifacio debates though, the debate on Limasawa and Masao, if taken to the field and used as a motivation for archeological research and projects would do Philippine history good.
Like many accounts and supposed events in our history, particular those from the pre-Hispanic up to the revolutionary times, much of our country’s history needs to be reviewed and re-written according to more faithful accounts. Sadly though, very few Filipinos find it worth their time and effort.
The state of the Pasig today is pretty deplorable. And that’s putting it mildly. While others have pointed to the state of Intramuros as a good barometer of the state of the nation. I kind of like to look at the Pasig River; that which was the lifeblood of…
Another great post from @iwriteasiwrite on the beauty that was Manila!
Should you want to know and at least see some pictures on the Pasig River long before its sorry state, do click on the link above.
I do agree with him that it is lamentable that the leaders of Manila, unlike in other cities which suffered the destruction of the Second World War, like Warsaw, London, and St. Petersburg to name a few, did not restore the pre-war buildings which gave the city its unique culture and identity. Instead they carved out a new city and placed soul-less, ugly boxes with holes, which look like those buildings which the Soviets built in post-war Eastern Europe.
While our post-war leaders thought of building from scratch as a sign or progress after the war, several of the present generation of Filipinos in the advertising business think otherwise.
I do find it funny sometimes whenever I see TV commercials these days having the Post Office, the National Museum, or some art deco buildings in Binondo as back drops, giving the ad some hip European or American flavor. These buildings are among the few which survived the war and had they not have had the significance they earned as survivors of the great destruction of the city at the hands of the Americans and Japanese, they also would have been razed to the ground by the post-war Filipino policy-makers.
I hope the future generation of Filipinos would do more than just view the old buildings of Manila and the Pasig as back drops for ads. I hope they would view the Pasig and the remaining old buildings in the Capital as testaments to the dreams of the country back then, and statements of the Filipinos of ages past on what they would have want the country to be.
The Pasig River, its bridges, and the dying buildings in Manila are as important to our national identity, as every other national symbol we have. And we should all be doing our part to promote, protect, and preserve them.