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