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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)
FROM
THE MANILA TIMES

BY RIGOBERTO TIGLAO: NO LONGER THE REGION's AMERICAN BOY
[ Duterte didn’t’ say “Putangina mo, Obama” as he did during the campaign when he clearly said “Putangina mo, Papa.” He simply prefaced his sentence with “Putangina,” which really translates, not into “son of a whore,” but is a stock exclamation of annoyance, with the meaning closer to “shit,” “fuck”, or the British “bollocks,” with which Americans or their Old World cousins habitually use to preface their sentences when agitated, even in the slightest way.]



SEPTEMBER 7 -BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO Shocked or scandalized you may be by President Duterte’s alleged insult against US President Obama, this incident, as well as his earlier unflattering remarks against the American ambassador, marks a momentous break from the past. In our history as a Republic, Duterte would be the first President to declare to the world, “I will not be America’s boy in this part of the globe.” Duterte made it clear that his outburst was not just an emotion of the moment, but reflects his view of our country’s place in the global scheme if things: “The Philippines is not a vassal state. We have long ceased to be a colony of the United States. We are not the lapdogs of the US.” Was there ever a Philippine President who tried to even make such a hint? Undiplomatic Duterte’ statements may be, his view of the US is totally different from those of all previous Presidents, who were either ideologically brainwashed to have the American worldview (as a West Pointer President I think was), or believed there was no other pragmatic foreign policy possible except to be subservient to the US, the sole superpower in this planet. READ MORE...

ALSO By F. Tatad: Can DU30 fight illegal drugs, Abu Sayyaf and all those ‘SOBs’ at once?
[He (DUTERTE) does not have to bow and scrape before Obama, Xi Jinping or Putin, but he does not have to abuse anyone verbally either. Especially since we are not at war with any of them, and we need friends more than enemies, in fighting our own domestic wars and solving our own petty troubles.]


SEPTEMBER 7 -FRANCISCO S. TATAD
OUR “state of lawless violence” has long preceded President Duterte’s formal declaration of its existence. The drug menace and the killings intended to solve it, the hostage-takings and the beheading of hostages who cannot afford to pay their kidnappers, the sporadic random explosions of violence, and the unpunished crimes on the streets more than amply demonstrate it. It was not necessary for the President to declare its existence, or how he is going to deal with it. He only has to do what needs to be done. State of emergency, nothing else On the eve of his departure for the Asean summit in Laos on Monday, DU30 clarified that the country is not in a state of lawlessness or lawless violence, but rather in a “state of emergency because of lawless violence.” After a couple of initial misses, the government lawyers finally got it. That’s more like it. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL- How words can bring death or life, strengthen or destroy ties


SEPTEMBER 9 -IMAGE COURTESY OF www.mirror.co.uk
In one truly lousy day in Laos, the 118-year relationship between Filipinos and Americans, and between the Philippines and the United States, looked set to unravel because of profanity and piqued pride. In the clear light of the morning after, we all see how an unguarded moment’s remark could potentially ruin a relationship that took decades to build and how, when more sober heads have had time to reflect and prevailed, regaining one’s real bearings could just as quickly restore bilateral good will. Perhaps, the ties that bind the two countries would not only survive but could, because the rectification was deliberate, even grow stronger. Each side now seems determined to turn this momentary snag in relations into a shared resolve to strengthen and reinvigorate the relationship. It was fitting that President Duterte led the way by expressing his regrets for the words he had spoken in anger and which were turned by those who reported the incident into a personal attack against President Obama. Our President regretted that his words “came across as a personal attack on the US President.” He said he had overreacted to reports that said Mr. Obama planned to lecture him in their meeting about his unorthodox methods in combating the drug trade. “We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries,” he said. It was equally fitting and correct that the White House official, Benjamin Rhodes, Deputy National Security adviser, who in a way ignited the Duterte outburst with poorly chosen words of his own, is working hard to put the relationship back on course. READ MORE...

ALSO Yen Makabenta - Reply to Stephen Colbert: Time to expunge ‘the White Man’s burden’


SEPTEMBER 11 -YEN MAKABENTA
First read American TV host and humorist Stephen Colbert poked fun at the Obama- Duterte controversy in his program The Late Show, and at President Obama’s dust-up with President Duterte. Colbert said in his opening monologue: “He (Obama) was supposed to meet today with Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines. Hopefully to get to the bottom of why Philippines is spelled with a PH but Filipino is spelled with an F. That is PH-ed up in my opinion.” Truth be told, the orthographic difference between “Philippines” and “Filipino” is mainly the doing of America and Americans. They “PH-ed up” our name and history. When US Commodore George Dewey and his naval fleet sailed into Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, and subsequently destroyed the Spanish fleet, he entered a country that was collectively known as “Las Islas Filipinas” (the Philippine Islands in English), whose inhabitants were called “Filipinos.” Why not revert to “Filipinas”? It was only after the United States annexed the archipelago in December 1898, after the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Spain, and after the Americans commenced civil government on the islands and launched its policy of Americanization, that the country came to be known as “the Philippines.”  For most of the years of American colonial government, US governor-generals, starting with William Howard Taft, always referred to the country as the Philippine Islands. It was journalistic usage, dating back to the years of the Philippine-American war, that made the term “Philippines” more popular. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

No longer the region’s American boy


BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016 (MANILA TIMES) BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO ON SEPTEMBER 7, 2016 ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY - Shocked or scandalized you may be by President Duterte’s alleged insult against US President Obama, this incident, as well as his earlier unflattering remarks against the American ambassador, marks a momentous break from the past.

In our history as a Republic, Duterte would be the first President to declare to the world, “I will not be America’s boy in this part of the globe.”

Duterte made it clear that his outburst was not just an emotion of the moment, but reflects his view of our country’s place in the global scheme if things: “The Philippines is not a vassal state. We have long ceased to be a colony of the United States. We are not the lapdogs of the US.” Was there ever a Philippine President who tried to even make such a hint?

Undiplomatic Duterte’ statements may be, his view of the US is totally different from those of all previous Presidents, who were either ideologically brainwashed to have the American worldview (as a West Pointer President I think was), or believed there was no other pragmatic foreign policy possible except to be subservient to the US, the sole superpower in this planet.

READ MORE...

I had a first-hand experience of our subservience to the US when former President Gloria Arroyo asked her small circle of advisers, which included me at that time, to discuss whether to join the US demand that we join the absurdly named “Coalition of the Willing” that supported the American invasion of Iraq in 2002.

I had thought it was a no-brainer, since the US was claiming it needed to invade Iraq because that country was developing “weapons of mass destruction.” Such claim seemed to me then, and was proven to be correct by subsequent developments, to be a total lie.

Probably because I had been journalist and then a spinmeister as Arroyo’s spokesman, it was easy for me to “smell” that the Americans were lying.

The term “weapons of mass destruction” was a propaganda phrase that created terrifying images of a Hiroshima kind of nuclear devastation in which hundreds of thousands were killed in the blink of an eye. Yet the US was actually referring to chemical and biological weapons, as there was no way for the Iraqis to have nuclear, deliverable weapons at their disposal in 2002.

Decision already made

We debated the issue for hours, with only myself and one other Cabinet member insisting that we could not support a war based on a fabrication. During a coffee break, though, very late in the evening, a foreign affairs official who represented then secretary Blas Ople in the meeting, pulled me aside and told me: “The decision has already been made, let’s not waste our time.” It was then I realized why Ople wasn’t in the meeting: I was told he also opposed the Iraq war but had to go along with the decision. I walked out of the meeting, of course.

After that, however, Arroyo declared later her foreign policy that was a departure from those of previous Presidents, one, she diplomatically said, that would have to recognize the economic and political realities in our part of the world. Everyone, especially the Americans, of course, knew she was referring to the fact that the People’s Republic of China had grown phenomenally that it had become the superpower not only in Asia but the third (or even second) superpower in the world. Arroyo had seen that China would, in a few years time, be our biggest economic partner, which it in fact did in 2012.

Arroyo had cozied up to the Chinese like no other Philippine President ever had. Diplomats in 2000 were talking in amazement how Arroyo and the conservative Chinese President Jiang Xemin seemed like long lost friends singing their hearts out using a karaoke aboard the presidential yacht.

I believe that one way or another — perhaps by providing the Yellow Cult with their PR and propaganda expertise or by tapping her cellphone — the US contributed much to making Arroyo so unpopular, she couldn’t get her candidate win in the 2010 elections.

Arroyo was getting too much Chinese ODA, and, horror of horrors, she let the Chinese telecom giant ZTE —which evolved from China’s Ministry of Aerospace and still had state equity — bag the contract to build the backbone for the country’s broadband, that surely would have made our internet speeds today a lot faster, and probably allowed a third telecom player, owned by the Chinese, in the country. Check the makers of your modem, cheap cellphone, and portable wi-fi devices sold by Globe and Smart: If it’s not made by ZTE, then by its competitor, Huawei.

US worried over ZTE

The Americans, of course, were worried that the Chinese could put some software or device that would allow them to tap all communications on the internet, including those of lazy ala Hillary Clinton diplomats. At that time also, the US still had fantasies that its Motorola and its other telecom firms would still be able to recover to be globe’s suppliers of telecom equipment.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd dismantled all goodwill Arroyo built up with the Chinese, as if following the US “pivot to Asia” policy.

Can you think of any more pro-American Philippine ambassador to the US than Jose Cuisia?

How can he not be pro-American when he has spent much of his working life as an executive of the American AIG-owned PhilAm Insurance, and even when he was ambassador, remained employed there, and was even the chairman of the firm distributing Chevrolet cars in the Philippines?

Can you think of any other Philippine foreign affairs secretary more pro-American than Albert del Rosario?

His wealth had been due to his businesses with the First Pacific Co., Ltd. (where he was a director for many years), which is 45 percent owned by Indonesian magnate Anthoni Salim, and 20 percent by US mutual funds?

Check out my columns on how we lost Panatag Shoal, which was the reason given by Aquino and del Rosario when we filed the Arbitration Case against China on its territorial claims in the South China Sea. You would be convinced that the Americans expertly played Aquino so that the Philippines would file that case against China over their claims in the South China Sea —and not Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, or Malaysia, which had more resources to spend for such a case.

Ask any diplomat from Asean, and he will tell you that our reputation in the region is that we’re the US’ reliable stooge in the region, its loyal proxy even if we’ve been getting really lousy treatment from the Americans.

Asean nations all believe it was the US that prodded (or hoodwinked) us into filing that case against China, and are very happy with it: It created a political obstacle to China’s expansionism in the region, even as Asean nations are so happy that they—especially Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia—can now convince China to give them more ODA, and encourage more Chinese investments and forget the Philippines.

Duterte’s rejection of the role as the American lapdog in Asia, though, is certainly fraught with dangers. Expect the Yellow Cult to beg the Americans for help to topple Duterte before he ends his term.

Lost in translation

I have described above Duterte’s insult against US President Obama as “alleged”, since I had listened to the President in that press conference before leaving the Philippines for his trip, and what I heard was also what the transcripts, as posted on the internet, show. The relevant parts are as follows;

Q: Sir, there have been concerns on extrajudicial killings, sir, and you will meet leaders. Any line of communication that we have prepared to address this issue in front of other foreign leaders?

Duterte: Extrajudicial killings?

Q: Yes, human rights.

Duterte: To whom shall I address myself and who will be asking the questions, may I know?

Q: Like Obama, sir.

Duterte: You know, the Philippines is not a vassal state. We have long ceased to be a colony of the United States. Alam mo, marami diyan, sa mga kolumnista they look up to Obama and the United States as if we are the lapdog of that country. I do not respond to anybody but to the people of the Republic of the Philippines. Wala akong pakialam sa kanya (I don’t care about him). Who is he? When, as a matter of a fact, at the turn of the century, before the Americans left the Philippines in the pacification campaign of the Moro on this island, there were about 6 million ang population ng Moro. How many died? Six hundred. If he can answer that question and give an apology, I will answer him …

You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Putang-ina, mumurahin kita diyan sa forum na iyan. Huwag mo akong ganunin.” (End of transcript. Emphasis added.)

It seems plain to me that Duterte wasn’t calling Obama a “son of a whore” as nearly all foreign reports reported, for two reasons:

First, it was prospective, that he would curse Obama in that planned forum if the US President raised the issue of judicial killings. It is not even clear if by “mumurahin kita,” he meant he would say “Putangina mo, Obama.”

Second, and more importantly, this is a case of lost-in-translation. Duterte didn’t’ say “Putangina mo, Obama” as he did during the campaign when he clearly said “Putangina mo, Papa.”

He simply prefaced his sentence with “Putangina,” which really translates, not into “son of a whore,” but is a stock exclamation of annoyance, with the meaning closer to “shit,” “fuck”, or the British “bollocks,” with which Americans or their Old World cousins habitually use to preface their sentences when agitated, even in the slightest way.


OPINION: Can DU30 fight illegal drugs, Abu Sayyaf and all those ‘SOBs’ at once?
BY FRANCISCO TATAD ON SEPTEMBER 7, 2016 ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY


FRANCISCO S. TATAD

OUR “state of lawless violence” has long preceded President Duterte’s formal declaration of its existence. The drug menace and the killings intended to solve it, the hostage-takings and the beheading of hostages who cannot afford to pay their kidnappers, the sporadic random explosions of violence, and the unpunished crimes on the streets more than amply demonstrate it. It was not necessary for the President to declare its existence, or how he is going to deal with it. He only has to do what needs to be done.

State of emergency, nothing else

On the eve of his departure for the Asean summit in Laos on Monday, DU30 clarified that the country is not in a state of lawlessness or lawless violence, but rather in a “state of emergency because of lawless violence.” After a couple of initial misses, the government lawyers finally got it. That’s more like it.

READ MORE...

Under the Constitution, “the President shall be Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding 60 days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under Martial Law.”

All that PDU30 has to do is to call out whatever armed forces he needs to prevent or suppress lawless violence. Until the bombing, he had used the national police to go after drug suspects, and this has produced mixed results. Now, if he is convinced the Abu Sayyaf Group is the source of lawless violence, he will have to call on the Armed Forces to deal effectively with it. No formal declaration is needed. He will need such declaration only if he decides to suspend the privilege of the writ or proclaim Martial Law, neither of which he wants to do, and the basis for which does not quite exist.

To proclaim Martial Law or suspend the writ, a rebellion or an invasion must first exist, and public safety must require it. Although two ongoing rebellions—one by the CPP/NPA/NDF and another by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)—could justify one course of action or the other, these armed insurgencies have been neutered by the ongoing peace talks, the first in Oslo with the CPP/NPA/NDF, the second in Kuala Lumpur with the MILF. They can no longer be invoked to justify an extraordinary response.

Undefined powers

Malacañang says the proclamation of national emergency does not need the concurrence of Congress. The nation, however, needs to know what exactly DU30 wants to do under this proclamation. Article VI, Section 23 (2) of the Constitution provides that, “In times of war or other national emergency, the Congress may, by law, authorize the President, for a limited period and subject to such restrictions as it may prescribe, to exercise powers necessary and proper to carry out a declared national policy.”

Is DU30 asking Congress for anything in particular? There is no word on that, but it doesn’t seem to be the most pressing question now. The more relevant question is this: Can the DU30 government wage an effective campaign against the Abu Sayyaf, while holding peace talks and trying to maintain a ceasefire with the CPP/NPA/NDF and the MILF? Can it do so while trying to eliminate all the drug pushers and users in a war that has been tainted with extrajudicial killings?

Is there no danger that while the MILF is trying to make peace with the government, some of its members could start migrating to the ASG, in the same manner that some members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) started migrating to the MILF as soon as a peace agreement between the government and the MNLF appeared imminent during the Ramos administration?

Is there no danger that Moros, turned off by police excesses in the current anti-narcotics campaign, could turn to the ASG as the only way of identifying themselves with the opposition?

Will ASG be the next organized rebel force?

In other words, is there no danger that, from a small band of about 200 outlaws, specializing in banditry, piracy, and kidnapping for ransom, the Abu Sayyaf could finally evolve into the next jihadist rebel force, with links to ISIS? How can DU30 make sure this does not happen? Although the ASG has the lowest reputation among the armed groups in Mindanao, it seems to have attracted some perverse following in the Middle East, where rich Islamist patrons reportedly pay a generous sum for every beheading in Sulu and Basilan which the murderous group is able to document and share with them.

There seems to be some misplaced Arab pride in what the Abu Sayyaf is doing. I saw this 16 years ago in the Middle East, when talking to an Arab couple a few days after the April 23, 2000 kidnapping of 21 hostages by six Abu Sayyaf bandits in the Malaysia diving island resort of Sipadan. The kidnapping naturally made gruesome world headlines. But in Jordan, where I was leading the Philippine delegation to the 103rd Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference that year, I saw how proudly this Arab man and woman identified themselves with the barbaric hostage-takers.

With my wife Fenny and former Senator Nikki Coseteng, we were touring the “lost city” of Petra, one of the world’s most beautiful archaeological sites, in the southwestern desert of Jordan. There we found tombs and temples carved into the red, white and pink sandstone cliffs by a proud ancient civilization. We were examining the interior of a temple which appears in an Indiana Jones movie, and Nikki, who was an excellent photographer, was taking pictures.

“We are Abu Sayyaf,” said the man.

The couple watched us from nearby. Then the man said, “Where are you from?”

I answered very casually, “Philippines.”

With wide-eyed excitement and a triumphant voice, he said, “Philippines! Ah, Abu Sayyaf! I am Abu Sayyaf! We are Abu Sayyaf!” He appeared to relish the sound of the word, which I assumed he clearly understood to mean, “Protector of the Sword.” I thought that the bandits at home were being regarded as heroes in that part of the world.

I was disturbed, but pretended not to hear; with our English-speaking Arab guide, who did not say a word, we made haste to end our tour and drove back to Amman.

Encircling the Abu

From the last several months of the Aquino administration to the present, 10 or so military battalions were said to have been dispatched to Sulu to neutralize the bandits. They had been successfully encircled, we were told, and the only way out for them was the Sulu sea, which had no chance of parting for them like the Red Sea did for God’s chosen people under Moses.

But before the sword could drop, the ASG decided to “punish” the “Punisher” and move the eye of the storm not only to the President’s own hometown but also dangerously close to Marco Polo hotel where he usually holds court in the evenings. The bomb attack on Friday rewrote the theme and trend of the first 60 days of the President’s six years.

In its report on the bombing, the Sydney Morning Herald said, “the deadly bomb that ripped through the hometown of President Duterte late on Friday is the first violent challenge to his ‘shock and awe’ style rule that has exposed deep fissures in Philippine society and tossed a political hand grenade into Asian politics.”

Turning anger into sympathy and back again

Perhaps the more accurate report is that the act of terror swept away much of the antagonism and anger that had piled up since the war on drugs began and replaced it with expressions of sympathy for the families of the victims and solidarity with the people and government of the Philippines.

This was precisely what we heard from the European Union, France, Japan, the US and Britain, where so much criticism about extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs had been heard before the bombing. This was what we expected DU30 to hear from the dignitaries he would be meeting in Vientiane this week on the sidelines of the Asean summit. St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans is instructive, there is good in everything—omnia in bonum.

This tragedy is good for the soul. Adversity, suffering, pain are great teachers. DU30 will come out of it a much better man, a much better leader. It will teach him to speak more the language of humanity rather than the language of power. This was my original hope until DU30, in a pre-departure interview, reportedly called Obama, without any provocation, the “son of a whore.” Sympathy may have reverted to disdain all over again.

Proposed Obama-DU30 meeting dims

From Hangzhou, where Obama was attending the G20 summit, the US President cast doubts on his proposed meeting with DU30 in Vientiane. He called DU30 a “colorful guy” but indicated misgivings about the value of any meeting with the former mayor of Davao, who seems to talk more than he should each time he faces the camera and the microphone.

DU30’s war on drugs is not a simple problem. His fight against the ASG and possibly ISIS is infinitely less simple. He will need to work with the international community and the nation’s closest allies in many areas where his government, or any other government for that matter, cannot do things alone.

He does not have to bow and scrape before Obama, Xi Jinping or Putin, but he does not have to abuse anyone verbally either. Especially since we are not at war with any of them, and we need friends more than enemies, in fighting our own domestic wars and solving our own petty troubles.


EDITORIAL- How words can bring death or life, strengthen or destroy ties
BY THE MANILA TIMES ON SEPTEMBER 9, 2016 EDITORIAL


IMAGE COURTESY OF www.mirror.co.uk

In one truly lousy day in Laos, the 118-year relationship between Filipinos and Americans, and between the Philippines and the United States, looked set to unravel because of profanity and piqued pride.

In the clear light of the morning after, we all see how an unguarded moment’s remark could potentially ruin a relationship that took decades to build and how, when more sober heads have had time to reflect and prevailed, regaining one’s real bearings could just as quickly restore bilateral good will. Perhaps, the ties that bind the two countries would not only survive but could, because the rectification was deliberate, even grow stronger.

Each side now seems determined to turn this momentary snag in relations into a shared resolve to strengthen and reinvigorate the relationship.

It was fitting that President Duterte led the way by expressing his regrets for the words he had spoken in anger and which were turned by those who reported the incident into a personal attack against President Obama.

Our President regretted that his words “came across as a personal attack on the US President.” He said he had overreacted to reports that said Mr. Obama planned to lecture him in their meeting about his unorthodox methods in combating the drug trade. “We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries,” he said.

It was equally fitting and correct that the White House official, Benjamin Rhodes, Deputy National Security adviser, who in a way ignited the Duterte outburst with poorly chosen words of his own, is working hard to put the relationship back on course.

READ MORE...

Since Tuesday, Sept. 6, the White House has scrambled to limit the fallout from Obama skipping a meeting with President Duterte. Scrapping the meeting, American officials said, was less an expression of Mr. Obama’s pique than a recognition that the news media would treat it as a spectacle.

Rhodes declared that the alliance between the US and the Philippines was “rock solid;” the two countries work together on a range of issues, from drug interdiction to counter-terrorism. He said it was possible that Mr. Obama would run into Mr. Duterte anyway, since the two are attending a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Vientiane.

No one will dispute the high importance of the Philippines to America’s foreign policy and strategic Asian pivot. The Philippines has a sensitive role to play in the broad scheme of security and economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.

No one should also dispute President Duterte’s desire to carve out a more independent foreign policy for the Philippines than that of his predecessor. He seeks to settle an impasse with China over the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

Mr. Rhodes said the US would give the Philippines leeway to negotiate an agreement with China, with the important caveat that it must adhere to international law. That is the message Mr. Obama would have given Mr. Duterte in person.

It may be that the PH-US relationship will benefit from having had to go through the test of fire during these past few days.

Officials of both governments must now realize how words can bring life or death to a relationship – between two persons or sovereign countries; how a small spark of a reckless utterance by a little tongue can set a great forest on fire; and how words of respect and due regard can enable allies to accomplish great things together.

2 COMMENTS

VIC PENETRANTE on SEPTEMBER 9, 2016 11:03 AM
Only a love spat, no divorce yet! The problem is with China, it wants to get into the picture and make it a love triangle.
REPLY

ISKO on SEPTEMBER 9, 2016 10:06 AM
PDU30 should learn Diplomacy 101 from the Lao leaders; they welcomed President Obama with open arms even though US carpet bombed their country from 1964 to 1973, dropping 280 millions of cluster bombs and where 80 millions still remain unexploded (data from CNN report dated September 6, 2016).


OPINION - Reply to Stephen Colbert: Time to expunge ‘the White Man’s burden’ 9
BY YEN MAKABENTA ON SEPTEMBER 10, 2016 ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY


YEN MAKABENTA

First read
American TV host and humorist Stephen Colbert poked fun at the Obama- Duterte controversy in his program The Late Show, and at President Obama’s dust-up with President Duterte.

Colbert said in his opening monologue: “He (Obama) was supposed to meet today with Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines. Hopefully to get to the bottom of why Philippines is spelled with a PH but Filipino is spelled with an F. That is PH-ed up in my opinion.”

Truth be told, the orthographic difference between “Philippines” and “Filipino” is mainly the doing of America and Americans. They “PH-ed up” our name and history.

When US Commodore George Dewey and his naval fleet sailed into Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, and subsequently destroyed the Spanish fleet, he entered a country that was collectively known as “Las Islas Filipinas” (the Philippine Islands in English), whose inhabitants were called “Filipinos.”

Why not revert to “Filipinas”?

It was only after the United States annexed the archipelago in December 1898, after the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Spain, and after the Americans commenced civil government on the islands and launched its policy of Americanization, that the country came to be known as “the Philippines.”

For most of the years of American colonial government, US governor-generals, starting with William Howard Taft, always referred to the country as the Philippine Islands. It was journalistic usage, dating back to the years of the Philippine-American war, that made the term “Philippines” more popular.

READ MORE...

The last and eleventh American governor-general Frank Murphy spoke of the Philippine Islands in his inaugural address on June 15, 1933. Similarly, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in appointing Murphy to the post, sent a message of greeting to “the people of the Philippine Islands.”

The Americanized name gave rise to the use of the adjective “Philippine” to describe matters of geography and culture. “Filipino,” on the other hand, remained as the name for citizens and inhabitants of the country.

As a writer, I have found it awkward that we have two adjectives and epithets, “Philippine” and “Filipino,” to describe people and things germane and unique to our country. When should we use either one and for what? Why not just one epithet to describe the whole hog? – in the same that way that France has French, Spain, Spanish, Italy, Italian, and so on.

The awkwardness was magnified by the fact that in our former national language, we had the term “Pilipino” as the epithet to use for all things Filipino.

When the Filipino alphabet was formally expanded to 28 letters, to include the letters C, F, J, Q, V, X and Z, I suggested to the writer and national artist Virgilio Almario, that now that we have the letter F, it is time that we Filipinos should revert to the name “Filipinas,” in lieu of “Pilipinas,” as the name of our country. This would neatly cohere with “Filipino.”

A few years ago, Rio Almario and top officials of the National Language Commission passed a formal resolution calling for a name switch. This ignited a full-scale controversy, bigger than the photo-bomber that forced them to quiet down.

But I retain the fond hope that with the quincentennial of the country dawning on 2021, we will revert to “Filipinas” and thence be known as “Republic of Filipinas.” I shall go to bat on this subject in a future column.

With a decisive leader like President Rodrigo Duterte, once unimaginable changes are possible now.

The white man’s burden

Speaking of American insolence, I believe it is also timely and imperative for our people and government to address the issue of Filipinos being forever marked as “the white man’s burden.”

“The White Man’s Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands” (1899), by Rudyard Kipling, is a poem about the Philippine–American War (1899–1902).

Kipling wrote, “The White Man’s Burden” to address the American colonization of the Philippine Islands.

In the poem, Kipling exhorts the American people to embark upon the enterprise of empire. American imperialists understood the phrase, “The white man’s burden,” to justify imperialism as a noble enterprise of civilization, conceptually related to the American philosophy of Manifest Destiny.

The White Man’s Burden” was first published in the Feb. 10, 1899 edition of the New York Sun, a McLure’s newspaper.

On Feb. 11 1899, the US Congress ratified the “Treaty of Peace between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain,” which established American jurisdiction over the Philippine Islands

The racist vision of imperialism

The imperialist interpretation of “The White Man’s Burden” (1899) proposes that the white man has a moral obligation to rule the non-white peoples of the Earth.

Although imperialist beliefs were common currency in the culture of that time, there were opponents to Kipling’s poetic misrepresentation of imperial conquest and colonization, notably the writer Mark Twain and the philosopher William James. The steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, a fierce opponent of imperialism, offered to pay the US government the sum of $20 million (the amount that was to be paid to Spain under the Paris Treaty), just to set the islands and the Filipinos free.

Mark Twain was scathing in his criticism: “We have rushed a deceived and confiding people; we have turned against the weak and the friendless who trusted us; we have stamped out a just and intelligent and well-ordered republic; we have stabbed an ally in the back and slapped the face of a guest; we have robbed a trusting friend of his land and liberty.”

America’s forgotten war

The imperial adventure was not as easy as Kipling imagined. Filipinos resisted and fought the American forces. From February1999 to 2002, Filipinos and Americans fought the Philippine-American war, a fierce and bloody war, which led Americans to turn against the war at home. To some scholars it was the first Vietnam.

Fittingly, “the White Man’s burden” is remembered today in shame, and not with pride. While the Philippine- American War has become the forgotten war of America, it will always be for us our war of nationhood and independence

As a people, we do not locate our identity in the sorrows of the Philippine-American war. We do not glory in victimhood.

Thus, it is fitting that we should do all we can to expunge “the white Man’s burden” from our annals and our memory. Just as African-Americans have surmounted and transcended the horrors of slavery, so must we rise over this chapter in our history.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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