We beg to differ.

The Philippines is a country by colonial edict — much like the way the old Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia were, as well as many African nations. They are meaningless hollow pin-up states cobbled together for the sheer pleasure, vanity, and mercantile ambitions of their former imperial architects. In the case of the Philippines, even the name of the state itself — derived from Philip II of Spain — is a legacy of Spanish colonial rule. So the Philippines is not a nation in any real natural sense. It is an amalgamation of various disparate tribes, sultanates, and kingdoms that submitted to or were made to submit to central government in Manila by Spain and, later, the United States.

For much of its history, Filipinos pretended that the Philippines actually stood for something without bothering to do the hard work of coming up with something to stand for. As such the simple fact that the Philippines stands for nothing even after 66 years of “independence” makes instilling some sense of nationalism — much more, patriotism — a rather exasperating exercise to say the least.

Compare this sad situation to the happier prospects of nations that actually have something about their collective characters to be proud of. Craig Nelson introduces his book Rocketmen, with the story of a 1969 Senate briefing (shortly after Apollo 11 landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon) where Fermilab physicist Robert Wilson is asked how a $250 million atom smasher he proposes be built will contribute to the security of the United States. Wilson responded by saying that it will contribute nothing, but that the American people’s capacity to undertake endeavours like those is what makes the United States of America worth defending.

Indeed, the question is often asked of Filipinos: Is the Filipino worth dying for? Considering the awesome might of the Chinese military now starting to stare down a gun barrel pointed squarely at the neighbourhood pipsqueak trying to stake a claim on the only set of swings in the school yard, it seems that the Philippines may need to start relying on the only resource it can objectively count on — young warm bodies. If it comes down to mobilising the troops and drawing upon reserves, then the obvious thought will pop into the 18-25 year-old average male Filipino mind:

Is the Philippines worth defending?

Perhaps the United States will beg to differ to the most likely answer to the above question. The Philippines after all offers strategic assets to the US’s aspirations to secure its interests in the Pacific. In that sense, the United States is the Philippines’ “friend”. It is in that consuelo de bobo that Filipinos have grudgingly learned to content themselves with defining themselves along with more contemporary roles they now have so readily embraced — the call centre capital of the world, and the world’s labour pool for low-skilled work.

Why, despite its enormous population, has the Philippines for so long remained but a mere sub-element among the big elements that form part of a broader more globally-relevant landscape of influence? Perhaps it is because Filipinos don’t really expect much of themselves. Indeed, the current president of the Philippines, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is an embodiment of this collective psychological condition. While, on one hand, many Filipino nationalist drumbeaters lament our lack of a palpable national dignity, the non-dignity of the Filipino was further baked into the fabric of the society when Noynoy was elected President in 2010. There was no dignity in electing to the highest office in the land the most unqualified, the least inspiring, the most inexperienced, and the least motivated among the candidates at the time.

How then can we claim to be moving forward towards a future of greatness and prosperity when we continue to take significant steps backward? Perhaps it is when we learn to appreciate that nations are built from the ground up and not from the top down that real sustainable change will begin to take hold. Change cannot be “architected” unless people already possess an inherent will to evaluate their present behaviours and attitudes and exhibit an equally inherent ability to execute the solutions the resulting observations beg. Just seeing how Filipinos cannot even be bothered to implement even the easiest and most obvious solutions to the myriad of problems staring them in the face pretty much tells us what our prospects for future prosperity really are.


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  • alconce says:

    This is a very disturbing but true assessment of the true color of our character as a nation. For how can the present leadership inspire and lead this nation if ever a shooting match offshore would start? The poor would opt to join for the money but how about those sons of the oligarch?

    • ahehe says:

      Why, they’d get a one-way plane ticket outta here. I cannot imagine the children of the Lopezes and SYs et al doing the “menial labor” of defending this country.

  • Erudite says:

    Even if we are full of our fellow countrymen’s optimism, I can still see the pessimistic side of them.

    I can’t help but to make imaginary facepalms when I remembered some of my former classmates acting like fools in supporting some “social activities” such as liking some attention wh*re’s posts about the status about the standoff on Scarborough Shoal, as if China would care such a thing.

    One thing that I dread, as a student, is that I do not know what it has to be done. I think that the Filipino masses have been lulled by their own sense of security of the support of the American forces, as if they would protect us. One way or another, we are just a leverage whining over on whose hands are we going to fall.

    • Legati says:

      Yes! “The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend.” My fathers made sure you have a republic, they did their job. Now that you are suppose to have a choice, clean your sheet. Do not expect Da Elite to be among you…. they are the first to “eskapo” and, where they will rant and rave platitudes in safety.

      • Erudite says:

        True to that mate…

        And as it seems that the world is on our “side”, they are merely an audience to this play. and we, sadly, are the actors and actresses, our places being bet upon who would be the protagonist and the antagonist. But of course unless they join the stage, question is: what could be their roles?

  • Belinda Madrid says:

    This makes me so sad Benigs…but it is something we need to admit and then rise above from…collectively as a people…together. That it takes all our individual efforts inspired by our leaders. Leaders whom we can be proud of…who embody the right ideals. Unless we admit this and learn sadly…sadly…sadly…we will continue to flounder and find ourselves at the bottom of the heap.

    • alconce says:

      “Leaders we can be proud of”? Do you have one or two in mind? Frankly my dear (w/ apologies to that Gone with the wind author) I don’t see one.

    • DaSuperSoldier says:

      Don’t make me laugh. If there is some ‘leaders’ that we can be proud of, then it’s the likes of Gibo and Gordon. At present, there are no ‘leaders’ that we should proud of because the current president is a DESTROYER not s builder.

    • benign0 says:

      No need to be sad. Just because it is so does not mean it cannot be changed. :)

  • Der Fuhrer says:

    I believe that nationalism and patriotism still exists in the hearts and minds of many young and old Filipinos. The concepts taught during my generation are still taught. We are not a country wanting in principles. History shows many instances where Filipinos fought for their country. The Philippine Revolution, Phil-American War, the Second World War and even wars against tyranny. We had limited participation in the First World War. Our Battalion Combat Teams fought in the Korean War and even participated in the Vietnam War. Many times we saw units of the AFP participate in UN Peacekeeping Missions. What is wrong with the country is lack of leadership direction. Leaders with no nationalism and patriotism. Leaders who pretend to be following a straight path. Leaders whose true colors are yellow and not the red, white and blue. Leaders with false promises and slogans. Leaders who pretend to be for democracy but are really out to establish a dictatorship under one man. Mr. BS Aquino pretends to be what he is not. For all the wrong reasons and for all the right reasons. He is seen as right in protecting and coddling his cronies. His mismanagement of the affairs of state is becoming infamously legendary. We have no direction in power blackouts that were not given immediate attention two years ago. We have BRP Gregorio Del Pilar being withdrawn from the disputed shoal off Zambales. All he had to do is order them not to blink or start anything like fire the first shot. Leadership is the problem not the solution.

  • Joe America says:

    “Why, despite its enormous population, has the Philippines for so long remained but a mere sub-element among the big elements that form part of a broader more globally-relevant landscape of influence? Perhaps it is because Filipinos don’t really expect much of themselves. ”

    One of the failings of the Philippines is the ability to attach something akin to passion to its Constitution and sense of democracy. Comments in this thread may signify why. The oligarchs are not Thomas Jefferson or Abe Lincoln, they are money grubbers. Would they put their wealth at risk to back a down and dirty local fight with Chinese for the principle of national territorial rights? I dunno. I think they’d rather not.

    They are not nationalistic thinkers, passionate about their country, and that attitude flows broadly across the Philippines. The national rallying cry of the Philippines seems to be: “Nothing in it for me!”

    I do know that during WW II, Filipinos stood tall and strong, for nation. The Magsaysay brothers scrapping from the mountains of Zambales were examples. I fear their namesakes today have lost the passion, the ideal that drives a nation with pride and honor to more capability and wealth.

    The nation behaves with the same envy/insecurity malaise that is found in so many of its people. Angry to have to lean on the U.S. Unable to muster the skill or effort to do it alone. No passion for achievement. No sacrifice of self.

    Yeah, I think you got it right.

  • tonybac says:

    I don’t think China will start waging war against us any sooner. They’ll just be repeating the errors of WW1/WW2 Germany and Imperialist Japan. But, if only our leaders have the vision of making this country great, then we wouldn’t be seeing ourselves in such a pitiful condition. Sadly, what they want is stuck all the Filipinos in their pathetic quagmire so that Filipinos will continue putting/voting them into position. For me, the solution is INDUSTRIALIZATION. Stop with the malls already, it just cater to cheap imports at best. Revise our idiotic educational system and teach entrepreneurship instead. Give incentives to Filipino inventors and developers. But, this is just wishful thinking on my part.

  • Hyden Toro says:

    You will never know where you go; unless you know where you are. We don’t even know where we are; so we elect anybody promoted by Media Owners, who have some selfish motives on the candidate, they are promoting. Change is possible, but , it will never come, unless; we change the mindsets and awareness of ourselves. The great Psychologist, Abraham Maslow stated: “The only way you can change a person, is to change his/her awareness of himself/herself….”

  • Clueless says:

    I am just curious. Did anyone ever try to distinguish between what is Nationalism or Patriotism? I believe these are two different matter entirely. One is progressive and one is regressive.

  • Clueless says:

    “Patriotism is a lively sense of collective responsibility. Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on its own dunghill and calling for larger spurs and brighter beaks. I fear that nationalism is one of England’s many spurious gifts to the world.”

    Richard Aldington

    • Joe America says:

      Clueless. Brilliant quote. I was wondering which was which. ” . . . a silly cock crowing on its own dunghill.” Those Brits know how to toss off a good insult. Do you ever watch when the Prime Minister faces off against the parliament? It is better than a cock fight.

      • Clueless says:

        Thanks. But the quote doesnt belongs to me. And yes I have watch a few parliamentary sessions on TV and not just that of the Brits.

        Actually by comparisions, the Brits are most tame and civil of the lot. You havent seen the Taiwanese and Korean Parliamentary debates…!?

        • Clueless says:

          But I love this “cockfight”


        • Joe America says:

          That a good video, thanks. It’s like Ilda and I trying to talk. Some kind of cerebral/psycho disconnect of the intellectual/emotional wiring.

          I’ll have to try those Taiwanese and Korean debates . . .

        • Ilda says:

          I’m sure once you accept that women have opinions too, we’ll be ok. ;)

        • Clueless says:


          “It’s like Ilda and I trying to talk. Some kind of cerebral/psycho disconnect of the intellectual/emotional wiring.”


          “I’m sure once you accept that women have opinions too, we’ll be ok. ;)”

          Hahahaha the both of you!

          Kind of remind me of this exchange in the British Parliament between Gordon Brown and David Cameron

          All in good jest. :D

        • Ilda says:

          The British do deliver their insults with class.

          Unfortunately, GRP humor or sarcasm is not something that regular Pinoys will ever get. Instead of using their wit, they will use gossip and propaganda behind your back when they feel slighted.

        • Clueless says:


          British dry humour do take some getting used to. You have to “read” beneath the surface to actually get what they really meant. And that takes “thinking” which “emotional” people find difficulty in doing.

          “…Instead of using their wit, they will use gossip and propaganda behind your back when they feel slighted.”

          Yes, I realized that. One of the first few conversational tagalog words that I learnt was “Chismis” and “Berlimbing”.But like I said before, you guys do deliver good thought provoking reads. Some might get it and some might not. It’s life.

        • Ilda says:

          It seems this trait is contagious. It is evident in some foreigner(s) who have lived quite a number of years now in the country who behave “Da Pinoy” way. ;)

          Be very careful.

        • Clueless says:

          I really chuckle at that last comment of yours!! :))

          You know my mom (75 yrs old) only finished 3 yrs of elementary school and she really is crass like what you call a “Palengkera”.:)

          But she got really good advices:

          (1)Dont be “thin ears!” = Believing what you hear so easily.

          (2)Use your “coconut”! = Brain

          (3)Dont let school go into your head! = If you think you are smart, there are always people in this world who are smarter than you. :D

  • Bro, I think the bigger question is this: Should the Philippines a freely associated State of the United States. The benefits of this are HUGE!

  • Steel Night says:

    Is the Philippines worth defending?
    Yes, yes it is. But I’ll only agree to be a soldier and not some meat shield, and only after all other more peaceful courses of actions have been exhausted. If one is going to fight for the Philippines the fighting had better be all out from the get go, meaning all channels, modes, and whatever should be exhausted before we start throwing away precious P/Filipino lives. We don’t have the same numbers as the present opponent after all.

  • Legati says:

    Let the Filipinos die for their country first!

  • Legati says:

    If they say, “Dahil sa utang na loob mo sa bayan!” I’ll ask them, “How come you treat me shit?”

  • kagbalete says:

    This country may treat me like crap, but it’s the only one I have so I have no choice but to fight for it …..

  • tapat says:

    sa historia ng buong mundo walang naging magiling at matatag na bayan na walang itinatawag nilang ‘nationalism.’ makikita nyo sa pag hahabul ng pilipinas sa pag-Americanize na lumalabo ang tingin natin sa talagang problema ng pilipinas. maski ipaganda nyo ang ating mga iskwela at ituro nyo ang ingles sa kabataan, walang totoong bayan tayo kung ang isip natin ay naka tutok sa america. hindi nyo ba nakikita na bago natin husayin ang mga problema ng ating bansa, kailangan natin ng totoong pagkakakilanlan? simbuyo ng damdamin para sa pilipinas

  • Midnight Bloke says:

    Australia where Benign0 lives is a country by colonial edict too. In fact, it is by Queen Victoria’s edict. The Australian Constitution was drafted by the Australian colonies but only took effect when Victoria, the Brittanic Majesty promulgated it.

    Now I hope that Benign0 asks “Is Australia worth dying for?” After all he has an Aussie passport and was spotted along Circular Quay!

    Anyone who has lived in Australia would say “yes”! Only if it was for cricket!

    • benign0 says:

      Nah. Check your history. There was no such thing as an “Australian nation” before the federation was formed. Before the federation was formed, each state and territory on the continent reported directly to London and had very little dealings with one another.

  • John says:

    To compare origin of Philippine state with Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia is quite silly.

    I would not use examples from central Europe, when im not fully aware of historical situation in this region of Europe.

    It is putting down entire article.

    But im sure that for Philippine audience it is ok. Since very few people have any knowledge of those two countries.

  • kid123 says:

    For now, my province and my fellow Hiligaynon speakers is worth dying for if ever China attacks. Never will I volunteer to defend Palawan or the Islands we claim in the South China sea due to the stupidity and corruption of our Government in our Military and claimant to the territory in the past. Philippines should be separated to different states so that many will work hard and manage better local resources and people. Ala like Singapore.

  • Jack C says:

    So long as people are unwilling to suffer for the Philippines, they have no right to call themselves a “Proud Filipino”. They seem all too eager to bask in the glory though, however small it may be in the world stage. You know, like celebrating every damn Pacquiao victory as if all Filipinos are somehow involved in the process, despite Pacquiao’s All-American training team.

    I wouldn’t lump Philippines along with the likes of the Baltic and Slavic countries – at least they’re willing to bleed for their cultural and ethnic identities, proven with wars and genocide/ethnic cleansing. Our ethnic identity is not challenged or being taken away from us, so we end up pretending to have Filipino loyalty. Wouldn’t hurt to pretend, as our Filipino “loyalty” will never be tested in a REAL situation anyway.

  • MumbaY says:

    The neighboring Indonesia is the same colonial amalgamation of disparate ethnic groups even more so than the Philippines.

    However, they are very much a nation because the government there is very strong and controlling, and the sense of patriotism is amazing. You cannot tell an Indonesian that there’s no such nation. He will be deeply wounded.

    They love waving national flags from cars. They play Indonesian music on the radio. They have a strong History program at schools which keeps them in touch with their past, all their kings and dynasties and their Majapahit and Sri Vijaya heritage. All the folklore is alive and is taken very seriously. Garuda is the national bird. An Indonesian does not want to be anyone else. They don’t imitate or admire their Dutch colonizers. They are not dreaming of emigrating to Holland. Speaking Dutch does not make you high class. Indonesia is a united land in spite of the same diversity.

    In contrast, a Filipino loves America, American culture and music and imitates it on TV, the way he dresses and the way he talks. Speaking English is seen high class. Looking l
    ike a Spaniard is seen as gwapo/gwapa while speaking native languages and following native music is seen as “bakya”. Emigrating to the US and obtaining a US passport is seen as moving up.

    As long as a Filipino still thinks that everything foreign is better, there will be no strong nation.

    • Jessica says:

      I agree so much with this comment. You’re 100% correct.

      I try to talk to my filipino friends about Lapu-Lapu, the Igorot tribes, and pre-colonial history, myths, etc….edible plants, herbal medicine….

      And they all look at me like I’m a crazy white chick from crazy-land.
      I hate it. I wish there was more knowledge about the past here….if we don’t do something fast, the knowledge will go extinct!!!

      • Realist says:

        Jessica – you are definitely hanging out with the WRONG Filipino crowd! My friends are very into the stuff you are into regarding the Philippines (and more)…

        Where do you happen to be from, btw?

        • Jessica says:

          Whoa, then I need to hang out with you guys! hahah I’m originally from Canada, but been in the Philippines for a bit over a year and I don’t ever want to leave.

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