This brief history of the Philippines, told by a philosopher of the streets, is probably closest to the truth about ourselves.
You might have read these before. . . . . . ano’ng palagay niyo? . . . . .
WHAT’S the big deal when Lapu-Lapu killed Magellan in 1521? Nothing much really. During Lapu-Lapu’s time, Mactan was strictly tribal. Think small, gid. There were no big ideas such as nationalism or geopolitics.
Lapu-Lapu was simply, the local siga-siga and Magellan was the culture-shocked Westerner, a native first-timer in the exotic east.
We lionize Lapu-Lapu as a hero and nationalist. Ang totoo, mayabang lang si Lapu-Lapu. But his defeat of a foreign invader, did not make a Filipino nation. The timing was wrong. And don’t you believe that bull That Spanish explorers came to find spices of the East to improve the taste of their bland cuisine. Their hidden agenda was to spread their kingdom through colonization, the euphemism for land grabbing.
During the 333 years of Spanish rule (1565-1898), hundreds of rebellion were waged by native firebrands in many parts of the archipelago.
Not one succeeded. Our rebels were either caught, garotted, or simply ignored by the Commandante as nuisances. Puro malas!
The execution of Rizal in 1896 was a traumatic experience for Filipinos. Those who read Rizal’s Fili and Noli were incensed by the Abuses of the church and state regime of the Spaniards. Emotions ran high, from Aparri to Jolo. The critical mass needed for nationhood was formed. At Last we could rebel as a people, as a nation.
The Katipunan did their battle heroics, originally led by the firebrand Bonifacio and later on by the crafty Aguinaldo. With more Katipunan charges (Sugod mga Kapatid), freedom seemed possible. Between 1897 and 1899, stealth, betrayal, and skullduggery bedeviled our prospect for independence. The Aguinaldo and Bonifacio factions engaged in an ugly infighting (the talangka mentality) resulting in the execution of Bonifacio.
Meantime, an American Admiral named Dewey (not Dewey Dee, the fast one) entered Manila Bay and defeated a luckluster Spanish navy. Aguinaldo reneged on the pact of Biak na bato.
He resumed the revolution by proclaiming the Philippine Independence in Kawit. June 12. From who? We are still under the Americans & Spaniards at that time.
Meanwhile, American and Spanish soldiers held a “moromoro” battle in Intramuros with the Spaniards surrendering. Aguinaldo’s republic and his KKK patriots were left out and ignored. Naisahan tayo… Minalas na naman.
The Filipino-American War broke out. Tall American soldiers looking like Clark Gable chased and battled the outlawed Filipino revolutionaries, ending in the capture of Aguinaldo in Isabela. Thanks to the mercenaries from Macabebe. This is the second time those Macabebe turn in their own kind first the Spaniards. This was the mother of all kamalasan.
At that time, our population was 8 million. The gap between the rich and the poor was estimated at 30% middle-class and rich, 70% low-class and rural poor.
During the Commonwealth period (1901-1941), which followed, there were lots of learning on democratic principles, its structure and governance. Technology transfers were done on Constitutional Rights, Public Education, Transportation, Health, International Trade and Industrialization. The Americans turned out to be good tutors. Filipinos also went crazy over American brand products like Libby’s corned beef and Portola sardines, Hershey’s Kisses and Wrigley’s chewing gum, Camel cigarettes and Model T Ford for the hacienderos of Pampanga and Iloilo .
Hollywood films made Pinoy males fantasize on Jean Harlow, Betty Grable, and Mae West. Thus, Filipino colonial mentality began. We fondly called this period Peace Time. By the way, American troops massacred innocent people in Balanguiga. Mga hayup din pala!
1941. Disaster! World War II! After attacking Pearl Harbor , the Japanese army invaded our country defeating the combined American and Filipino forces (USAFFE). General McArthur, the proud and handsome Army chief, fled to Australia at the height of the battle. Then the Filipinos march to Bataan as the prisoner in the Death March.
For four miserable years we suffered the sadism of the Japanese militarists rule. Torture, famine, and death were for us, the order of the day.. Kawawa. Malas na malas!
The American forces returned in 1945 to liberate the country. McArthur, General superiority complex himself, sporting Ray Ban sunglasses and corncob pipe swaggered back to Manila . Piqued at his humiliation in 1941, McArthur ordered the bombing and shelling of Manila till kingdom come. So he can get back at Japs for wrecking his R&R place in Asia. Malas na naman.
The whole-wide expanse South of Pasig – from Post Office to Vito Cruz, including all of Intramuros – was pulverized. Manila was the most destroyed city of World War II next to Tokyo .
Our culture, our heritage, and historical assets (seven beautiful churches in Intramuros, hundreds of elegant Art Deco and neo-classical architecture in Paco ) were sacrificed recklessly and completely erased from the face of the earth. Sayang na sayang!
In 1946, we gained our Independence from the Americans. We were a free nation at last. A true Independence day for us July 4th 1946 not the June 12th that Aguinaldo decalare and Marcos celebrated. We had enough exposure and lessons on how to govern a democratic country, the first in Asia . Our population was 17 million. The dollar exchange was US$1 to P2.
But there was still no peace from 1947 to 1966. A widespread communist rebellion led by Taruc, the Lava brothers, and its armed guerillas called Hukbalahap (Supposed to be Hukbong Laban sa Hapon) waged bloody war with government troops and turn out to be nothing but bandits in disguised. Filipinos killed kapwa Filipinos. Malas na naman!
Our politicians and bureaucrats learned to engage in graft and corruption (What are we in power for?) – such as the war surplus bribery, the Tambobong wheeler-dealing and the Namarco scam. Talo!
Six presidents were elected to manage the country from 1947 to 1972, under the democratic system. They were Presidents Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, Macapagal, and Marcos.
Economists looked back to the decades of the 50s and 60s as the best years of the Philippine economy, surpassing Asian countries. The nostalgia was naiveté, a useless ego-tripping. The gap between the rich and the poor remained big. 30% middle-class and rich, 70% low- class, rural and urban poor. We were 27 million people. US$1 was to P4.
During the late 60’s, the Maoist communists led by Commander Dante intensified its drive to overthrow the government.. Marcos added fuel to the fire by creating a communist spook. Violence and mayhem rule the str eets. The youth went up in arms! Martial Law was declared in 1972 and Marcos became dictator. Freedom of assembly and expression went out of the window..
What followed were years of dictatorial abuse, crony capitalism, shackled free enterprise, near economic collapse and a demoralized middle class. The gap between the rich (30%) and poor (70%) remained in a quagmire. Pareho rin pala ang situation.
Our population was 40 million. Exchange rate was US$1 to P7. Kawawang kawawa! Malas na malas! In 1983, Ninoy Aquino, Marcos’ exiled arch rival, was assassinated upon his return. Push came to shove. Cardinal Sin egged on the people on to protest. Outrage, self- pity, shame and fury raged and rumbled like a tidal wave, culminating in the incredible People Power Revolution. The very sick and obstinate Marcos fled (hijacked by Americans from Clark) to Hawaii (sounds like Paoay) where he died. His alleged billions of stolen dollars intact and unresolved. Up to now… Peso to dollar exchange is now P20 to $1.
But People Power was our shining glory! The whole world applauded our saintly courage, our dignified defiance, our bloodless solution to expel a dictator. We were the toast of all freedom-loving countries, the envy of all oppressed people. In 1986, we placed Cory Aquino, Ninoy’ s widow, in Malacañang.
She was virtuous, sincere and full of good intentions for the country. But what happens under Cory?
An Endless brown out and living in a portable generators is a must and monopolize be Cory’s relatives who threw out her Energy Dept down to Pasig river.
The land reform she professed and promised was going good at first but after she found out her Hacienda Luisa will be greatly affected that program went down the Pasig river too!. No wonder that river is so polluted.
Coup attempts by Honasan, power struggle, political squabbles, and the infighting for juicy deals harassed the amateur Cory presidency. So nothing happened. No progress took place. The economy was still bad. The poor suffered more and more. Sure we got democracy back on its feet. But the Filipino resolve didn’t happen. People Power pala was ningas cogon power.
Sayang na sayang! Tha gap between the rich and the poor remained a t 30% (middle-class and rich), 70% (lower-class and rural/urban poor). Exchange rate was US$1 to P25. We were 55 million people.
In 1992, Cory’s choice, Fidel Ramos, West Pointer, soldier, and hero of the People Power won the presidency. He had the bearing, the single-mindedness and the vision to bring the country to a tiger economy status. Ramos was a terrific salesman of the Philippines to the world. He was able to hype a climate of an economic ground. He removed barriers to progress. He was an apostle of privatization. His mantra was, less government, more private sector! Fidel hit the right note and the economy went on a roll.
Fidel wanted to run for reelection but failed to swing the cha-cha (an idiotic acronym for Constitutional Change) so he could run again.
In 1997, the Asian economic crises struck, triggered by a balloons burst of the hyper speculative Bangkok economy. The financial debacle created a disastrous effects in the investment institutions of Manila , Jakarta , Kuala Lumpur , Hong Kong, Seoul , and Taiwan .
All the Ramos gains evaporated into thin air. Malas na naman! The poor, specially Mang Pandoy, were poorer than ever.
1998 was showbiz time! The Erap para sa mahirap show opened to the chagrin of Makati Business Club. Pasensya na po kayo, mga elitists. Democracy is also weird. The choice of the masa must be respected.
Catastrophe! Chavit Singson exploded jueteng bombs! For days on end, a nation sick in the stomach, sat through primetime TV aghast at watching the bizarre drama of alleged bribery, gambling, drunkenness, womanizing, deceit, and corruption. A lantern-jawed witness and a sexy intelligence “asset” hogged the witness stand.
Viewing the scandals on TV was like watching dogs mating in the public square. It’s embarrassing but you can’t take your eyes of them.
The impeachment trial serialized on TV was riveting. The defense lawyers, some wearing a canine sneer (ngiting aso) insulted our intelligence often. (Lokohin n’yo ang lelang n’yo). The whole country was stinking to high heavens.. The prosecution produced its own witnesses – Clarissa Ocampo, Emma Lim, Carmencita Itchon and many others.
Idols with feet of clay fell crashing into the dust. Those who voted against opening the enveloped were legalese, procedural, and sounding intellectually brilliant. Also heartless and thick-skinned. They couldn’t fathom the heartbeat of the nation. Cardinal Sin, a ging and sickly, called the people again. It was People Power II!
Same humongous and collective umbrage, same brinkmanship, and same staccato prayers! Generals Reyes and Villanueva simply joined the mammoth EDSA crowd. No US jets from Clark this time. Erap was out!
Gloria was in!
Hope springs eternal. Malacañang regained its honor and dignity. Protocol was observed. Absurdity was gone.. Grammatical English was back. Now the first gentleman should have been named Mr. Pakyao, he has the monopoly of the graft behind Gloria’s back.
2001. More catastrophies! The peso plummeted to a horrifying P51 to US$1. The Abu Sayyaf (extremist ideologues? Or mindless barbarians) were into kidnapping and terrorism, gaining worldwide notoriety. Businesses are still closing shop. Thousands of workers are being retrenched. Prices of food and gasoline are very high. (Galunggong is P80 per kilo!) Our streets became permanent garbage dumps. Maggots multiply to spread disease. Our communities stink.
Again, the whole nation was witnessing sickening crimes attributed to people in the government. Talo na naman! We are now 75 million people but the gap between the rich, 30% (middle-class and rich), 70% (lower-class and rural/urban poor) remains the same for one century.
When will this end? It’s been more than 350 years since Lapu’s- Lapu’s victory, 100 years since Rizal martyrdom and we’re20nowhere as a people, as a nation. Malas pa rin!
Some wise guy said the Filipino is a damaged culture. Bully! And what do you call other foreigners. They used slaves in their plantations, and landgrabbed from the natives! What should we call such culture? Predatory Culture? Bully Culture? What about another country? How many countries did it put under the barrel of its gunships, so they could gloat that the sun never sets on their empire?” What shall we call this culture?
Sahib culture? Gunga Din culture? C’mon, give us a break!
We Filipinos have strengths and endearing values. We are Christians, God-fearing, and peace-loving. We are patient and tolerant (matiisin to a fault). We are musical. We sing our blues away. We have a sense of humor. (We concoct and text Imelda hyperboles and Erap malapropism. ) We learn fast because we are bilingual and highly educated.
We’ve got thousands of MBA’s and PhD’s in economics and management from AIM, WHARTON, HARVARD, UCLA, etc (most of them now overseas).
We’ve got a surplus of technocrats for nation-building.
We want to work if there are vacancies.
We want to go into business if we have the capital.
We want to obey the law if the law is being enforced.
We want to live and die here, if there is peace and o rder.
But, but, and but. We have many shortcomings. We are immature in our politics. Given a choice on whom to elect: a handsome pabling movie star or an honest and brilliant political scientist, we’ll vote for the movie star.
No brainer tayo dito. Talo! We have many stupidities. Like dogs, we pee (Bawal umihi dito) on walls and tires. Our driving is suicidal. Our service quality is inferior.
Clerks at City Hall act arrogant. Sales ladies at department stores don’t know their product features. No exchange No return even it is defective you have to argue for it. Tourists get mugged by thugs in uniform.
Police lay traps so they can catch you and ask for bribe. What’s wrong with us? We don’t have a great leader. And good governance. (In Singapore , Lee Kwan Yu did it. The constituency profile is similar to Filipinos.) Admittedly, this country is impossible, tiresome, and frustrating.
But it’s the only country we’ve got.
We live and die here.
Will we ever see the dawn?
Dios na mahabagin, Kailan pa kaya? Ubos na ang aming luha. Katog na ang aming mga tuhod. Tuyot na ang aming utak. Hingal na ang aming puso.
Dios na mahabagin, isalba Mo po kami. Hindi po kami talunan. At lalo pong hindi kami tanga. Sunod-sunod lang po ang malas.
Mahabagin Diyos Nasaan Ka PINOY