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A Nation forms

Barrio Fiesta sa London 2013 05Once again it is veteran commenter Mariano Renato Pacifico who has, through his sharp observations that sometimes are full of dramatic exaggeration, brought things to the point (link) even if we set aside some of his biases:

“Poe dominates the National Capital Region or Metro Manila (30%) and the rest of Luzon (36%), while Roxas is the preferred candidate in the Visayas (37%). Duterte is the overwhelming candidate of choice in Mindanao, obtaining a 47% preference rating.” – RAPPLER

NCR & Luzon vote for Poe because she’s from Luzon
Visayans vote for Roxas because he is from Visayas
Mindanao vote for Duterte because he is from Mindanao

Visayans are intelligent people. They speak good English. They do not watch tagalog movies. They vote for intelligent candidate. MAR ROXAS !!!!

The bakya dowdy crowd are in Manila and Luzon. They watch tagalog movies. They cry in the dark over some sob drama. They follow mestiza tagalog movie stars like they are God. This region is where mass of poor lives. They squat over properties and never leave. They vote stars and comedians. They vote GRACE POE !!! Not entirely intelligent !!!

Mindanao has been wracked by violence since I can remember. It produced Abu Sayaf. 4-fingers Marwan. Ampatuan. Violence is imprented in their psyche. An eye-for-an-eye a tooth-for-a-tooth! Violence at sleep. Viollence awake. Of course, they vote for violent despot. They vote DUTERTE !!!

Filipinos can often be hardheads who believe their idea is the only best one, something Heneral Luna notes in the recent movie – for every Filipino you will find a separate opinion. But setting aside his opinions as a Visayan and a supporter of Roxas or Santiago, I think MRP is onto much more again. Because it used to be by province only, now it is by major regions of the Philippines.

How it started

There is a nation forming before our eyes, out of “tribes” that used to be for themselves. The process that started seven generations ago (link) is continuing to coalesce into a people’s nation:

  • Filipino creoles started, the Insulares or Spaniards born in the Philippines and discriminated by the Peninsulares, Spaniards born on the peninsula;
  • Filipino priests continued, Filipino by then including mestizos and natives, the execution of the trio Gomburza in 1871 being a watershed;
  • Filipino ilustrados picked things up, many of them writers and exiles during the repressive atmosphere after the Gomburza execution;
  • Filipino revolutionaries took the ideas of the ilustrados and made them more native, Bonifacio was once a member of Rizal’s Liga;
  • Filipino principalia, the native elite from the provinces, took over political power during the Republic of Aguinaldo and after;

out of these five strands the first Republic that truly encompassed the entire islands was formed as the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935, its Constitution a declaration of intent:

  • the postwar period had the Hukbalahap rebellion, which for one thing led to migration to Mindanao, but from what I know many people moved to Manila in those times;
  • the Marcos period brought Martial Law, continuing trouble in the countryside, further migration to Manila – but also the massive wave of labor export, even outright migration;
  • the times after 1986 continued those trends, strongly urbanizing the areas around Manila, mixing up the population in Mindanao, Visayas may have benefitted from overseas labor;

I am not a sociologist, it is hard to find data on migration patterns and how most of us left our original barangays or villages, but Mariano has made the major strands (link) of today visible.

The Filipino nations

The different national subgroups evident now have their clear reasons for existence I think, partly due to historical factors and partly due to ethnolinguistic factors:

  1. The Tagalog Republic or Katagalugan of Bonifacio started in 8 Luzon provinces. Manila was where the Spaniards built their capital, building on a conquered Tagalog proto-state in 1571.
  2. Different areas of the Visayas had separate uprisings. Visayan languages (link) are close to one another, they form what is called a dialect continuum which includes the Tausug language.
  3. The dynamics of migration to Mindanao in the 1920s and 1950s – and the resulting civil wars starting from the early 1970s – gave the area a consciousness of its own even in the media (link).

There could even be two more major subgroups among Filipinos worldwide, formed by the dynamics of migration and overseas labor:

  • Filipino-Americans. They have two major overseas publications: the Asian Journal (link) and Positively Filipino (link).
  • Filipino overseas workers. Especially those in the Middle East and other parts of Southeast Asia. Still undefined media-wise.

In this article (link) Joe America defends OFWs and migrants against the distrust of traditional nationalists. Original Filipino nationalism comes from the elite that built the Filipino state. My own view of Philippine history is that a real national community hardly existed at that point, except within the elites themselves – the majority of Filipinos still lived in their barangays and provinces. Unwittingly some Filipino nationalists became internal colonialists – buzzwords like “Imperial Manila” come to mind. The new “Spaniards” had their nation, the “natives” did not yet have one.

Strands weave together

The fear of some nationalists I think was the strands unravelling. The Philippines was a nascent proto-nation for quite a while. But there are forces that weave most strands together:

  1. The Central Philippine languages (link) which include Tagalog, Bikol, and the Visayan languages are extremely similar. Filipino is Tagalog-based but absorbs other vocabulary easily.
  2. In large parts of Mindanao there was significant Visayan migration with family linkages. Most Mindanaoans do speak some form of Filipino as well. English is spoken nearly everywhere.
  3. Family links between long-time migrants and Filipinos back home, and overseas workers that visit regularly or return. Including families lifted up socio-economically by overseas money.

Richard Javad Heydarian describes the Philippines as a “fiesta democracy” (link) – and describes Grace Poe and Rodrigo Duterte as candidates running on mixed populist-reformist agendas, while Manuel Roxas and Jejomar Binay have the strongest established campaign machinery. His description of the various constituencies of each candidate clearly shows modern Philippine society:

  • Duterte’s crowd: men and residents of (an anti-incumbent) Metro Manila, who have had to struggle with creaking public transportation infrastructure, traffic congestion, and disorder.
  • Poe’s crowd: Fernando Poe helps with the urban poor and rural population, her reformist credentials and educational background help win parts of the wealthy and educated crowd.
  • Roxas’ crowd: Visayas, while his squeaky-clean image, extensive experience in executive positions, and reformist credentials has resonance among those who have reservations with Poe.

About 1/10 of a country of 20+ million people attended Magsaysay’s funeral in 1957 (link). It was still just many barangays. Almost 60 years later, 5 times as many people seek common ground.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 15. March 2016



11 comments to A Nation forms

  • Mariano Renato Pacifico

    Here is the problem with Mar Roxas. Mar is a nice guy. In the Philippines, Nice Guy FINISH LAST! And the joke is on Mar. Bad guys FINISH FIRST, ie: Duterte & Binay

    I see Mar as a wimp on stage. He should take off that investment-banker demeanor and Allen&Company unioform. He should dive and get dirty. Politics is dirty. And to win he must throw mud and dirt including his wife that voters knew what she did that summer day.

    Mar made a mistake begging for OJT inexperienced Grace Poe then attacking her for it after she dumped him. Bad mistake. Wrong mistake. He is making it appear he is indecisive and not worthy of investment banker at Allen&Company.

    Let go of that yellow shirt. The color has lost its cachet. Whenever Filipinos sees yelllow they see “EDSA a Failure”.

    Yellow means chicken, cowardice, lover-of-yellow race, Chinese lover. If Filipinos forgot What EDSA was for sure they cannot know what Yellow is all about.

    Mar needs a campagin manager. A manager from the grass roots not from haughty snooty schools. A manager that has the feel of the people.

    My last advice to Mar, please do not criticize Grace Poe. The people are cofnused between Grace Poe and Mar. Critiquing Grace Poe will tip the balnce to Grace. And grace will have the last laugh and thank yous.

  • The Filipino nations . . . That “s” is so very very true. Sometimes it is 100 million nations, given the insistence by every single individual that his way is right, and anyone who does it differently is an idiot.

    I have an article in the thought process that discusses “functional federalism”, and in that concept, OFW’s form a region of the Philippines.

    Heydarian’s “fiesta democracy” is great in concept and accurate as to individual candidates, it seems to me.

    Great pair of articles, this and “The Philippines, Inc.?”. I think you have a better understanding of the Philippines than anyone on earth, and the place is so “nuanced”, that I figure you still have another year or two of work to really nail it down, in terms of some of the specific things going on. I thank you for all that I learn from the way you put things together.

    • sonny

      “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” — from Casablanca

      I agree with your assessment, Joe. Further in thinking about the partitioning of the Philippine sovereignty into the Luzon-Visayas-Mindanao-diaspora or in your words “functional federalism,” I can see solutions staring us in the face. These images are a recurring deja vu of the American experience.

      Forming the American State
      *The American breakup from England and the formation of the original American states; the development of the legal structures for the American State; the exportation of these structures to the American western territories
      *The ceding of territories from France via the Louisiana Purchase; the acquisition of territories from Spain/Mexican hegemony/exploration: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, the mountain states at Canadian border
      *The late acquisition of the Hawaiian Islands and Alaska
      *The very late projection of Monroe Doctrine and the acquisition of colonial and protectorate lands from Spain and Mexico; this evolved to control of same as forward projections of American hegemony to South China Sea, the Malay archipelago and the Indian Ocean

      I hope we reach that land of the Wizard minus the pains of the American path.

      • @ Sonny, now I’m thinking even further outside the box, like the Philippines should annex South San Francisco, Union City, Cerritos and other American cities that are more than 60% Filipino. 🙂

        • sonny

          🙂 Don’t stop now, Joe: the Filipinos of San Joaquin Valley, (grape-pickers and other fruits and vegetable gatherers: Stockton, Modesto, Fresno, Sanger), the Filipino packers at the canneries of Monterrey and Seattle, the Ilocanos at the sugar-cane and pineapple fields of Hawaii (Oahu). You’re right we should’ve qualified as a nation in sub-America.

          The history books mention Cesar Chavez and the labor movement but fail to mention Larry Itliong involved just as significantly in that movement.

    • Joe, thanks…

      For “A Nation Forms” I am indebted to Heydarian and MRP (of all people) for “The Philippines Inc.?” Syjuco via Bill in Oz as well as two Aquino Senators are important.

      Add to the see how the Philippine halo-halo came to be… Bert told me our Tiwi halo-halo is delicious.

      Let’s put it this way… Filipino intellectuals have been searching for the definition in their longwinded, convoluted way… I have been trying to summarize.

      Writers like Syjuco and Heydarian bridged that gap, and then your nutshell Mark Twain style summary:

      History of occupations. The Philippines marches to it’s own beat. That is the first and most basic thing to understand. The nation is tribal by origin and has worked through an idiosyncratic history dominated by three abusive outside occupations, first by Spain, then by America, and lastly by Japan. Now and then during this history, the people have also been led by their own abusive, self-serving leaders, most prominently by a guy named Marcos who drove the nation into wretched poverty, depravity and debt. Very recently, the nation was led by a pair of plundering presidents, in succession. So if you expect Filipinos to think and feel as you do about trust in public servants, disabuse yourself of that notion. You’ve likely not been there, you’ve likely not done that. Filipinos far and wide don’t trust their leaders. They don’t trust their nation.

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