I have Chinese blood. More than 200 years ago, a Chinaman married a native from Iloilo City. From that union, a whole clan was born – that that clan keeps growing and growing. I am not against the Chinese. How can I be when we have shared blood?
But I cannot say the same thing of the Chinese government. I have no blood ties with China the government, only with one Chinese native who came here to become Filipino by choice and be an ancestor to new Filipinos by blood. My clan, though, from that first union, has become predominantly Filipino by intermarriage with more Filipino natives than Chinese over the last two centuries.
I know, too, of many other families, of many other clans, who have absorbed Chinese blood among their members throughout history. After all, Chinese presence in the Philippines precedes Spain, Japan and America. If we are to trace the percentage of families with some Chinese blood in them, we might possibly be referring to the majority of Filipinos.
Patriotism and citizenship, though, may be blood-oriented but not blood-dependent. By loyalty and my citizenship is Filipino, totally. My citizenship may have been affected by my birthplace and the citizenship of my parents, but my love of country and my loyalty to the Philippines are purely by choice, my choice.
From what I have experienced and observed all my life, most Filipinos are like me. As such, we have no doubt about our identity and about our loyalty. That is the way it should be if one is Filipino, even if one has Chinese blood, has American blood, has Spanish blood mixed with his or her Filipino blood. Or, even without Filipino blood, but by the laws of the Philippines and by the loyalty to this country, one can be a true Filipino as well.
In the last few years, a brewing conflict with China has disturbed us. It is not the first time, of course, as China had once openly chosen to support an internal rebellion in the Philippines. China chose to side with a communist-inspired domestic revolution against the Philippine government. While claiming to be about social justice, that rebellion under a communist ideology has failed to attract the marginalized, also representing the majority of Filipinos, for whom the revolution was supposed to be for.
The occupation of the United States was a sad period of our history, not because the American rule had not brought benefits, but because America chose to use force to impose its will on the Filipino people. Whatever good may have come out of that occupation, it will not erase the bitterness of betrayal, of brutal conquest, of teaching democracy through the ugliest undemocratic manner.
Today, though, 68 years after independence in 1946, Filipinos have a choice. We can choose to forgive America, Spain and Japan for their terrible transgression against Filipinos. We can also choose to forgive China for meddling in an internal conflict that has caused so much death, destruction, and division among the Filipino people.
If we are to utilize the many facets of our ties with China and America, China has a clear edge. We are fellow Asians. By blood, we have more fusion than any other race in the world. And economically, Chinese interests through their cheaper products and Chinese-blooded taipans control the Philippines. If there is competition between China and America for world dominance, China should use our shared history and blood to woo back the Filipino people if the American influence has become stronger.
Former Senator Leticia Shahani has recently written that the Filipino people should use a multi-dimensional approach in engaging China, that we should use our assets – food, language, intermarriage, the rise of taipans – to remind the Chinese (I assume she meant the Chinese government) of our long tradition of friendship, peace and tolerance between our peoples.
Our challenge, though, is not because we do not agree with Senator Shahani, but because we do. And despite all these, including tolerating the collusion between the thieves and plunderers serving in government here and the corruptors serving in the Chinese government and its corporations, China chooses to claim what is ours and takes a bullying role to grab Philippine territory.
Beyond cordoning Scarborough Shoal and preventing Filipino fishermen from partaking of the fruits of their patrimony, and doing this unilaterally from an arrogant military superiority, China has its eyes set on many other pearls of the Philippines. It is not only using belligerent language, it is also flexing its muscles. That is why it is called “bullying.”
In defense of its own sovereignty and all territory within the parameters that nations of the world observe, the Philippines is ultimately vulnerable to superior manpower volume and superior firepower. As a quick reaction, psychologically and militarily, the Philippines embraces the American forces in the region, hoping that these will be a strong buffer against more Chinese land-grabbing. Or possibly even invasion.
Dependence, whether to China or to America, is not to the interest of Filipinos. But Filipinos will take America anytime because their sentiments still prefer America today. China has not reached out except in three ways so far ever since independence in 1946. China supported the communist rebellion in the Philippines, exacerbating a domestic problem. Chinese government owned or controlled corporations got involved with the thieves and plunderers of our government. Lastly, China claims territories we know are ours. How, then, can we recover the lost relationship of history?
What is left for us to do?
We have to prepare ourselves for any eventuality. We have to prepare our minds, our hearts, and our bodies. Conflict can escalate in a day from verbal to physical, and we have to prepare to fight and die, in the thousands, in the hundreds of thousands, in the millions.
Because we are Filipinos. Because we remember our ancestors who fought and died, against Spain, against America, against Japan. Because we wish no ill will against any nation but must not run away against ill will directed towards us. Because we are the children of the motherland, the only land in this planet that is meant for Filipinos.