Flag issues

Thank you, Dick Gordon, for providing me an easier topic to write about.

I’ve been attempting to return to active blogging for quite some time now but most of the issues I consider worthy of doing so are also quite… sensitive. I couldn’t even begin writing for fear – yes, fear – of being called at the outset by Noynoy’s fanboys that I’m either a “pakawala” of the Palace or downright Evil, since de Quiros has basically declared Cory’s Only Son as the embodiment of Good and everyone else not behind him as Satan’s little imps.

No wonder Dicky Boy’s little perfidy on the Flag got to the point that its already approved by the Bicameral Committee. They’re too busy fawning over the Only Son of Cory and Ninoy to have noticed something was squirming its way into our nation’s body of laws. If I remember my legislative procedures right, that means the travesty to be done on the Three Stars and the Sun – now with nine rays! – is essentially a done deal Republic Act in all but name and draft, unless the person De Quiros and the rest of Noynoy’s fanboys regards as Satan in Little Girl Form is convinced to veto the measure amending Republic Act 8491.  (and it has to be a Veto, since “sitting” on a proposed RA doesn’t stop it from being one)

Gordon’s arguments and press statements (I’m assuming his press statements stem from his arguments for the proposed bill) show a shallow knowledge of history, which makes me want to question the competence of the good senator’s research staff and the good Senator himself.

Like I said in a Plurk of mine, using the argument that a ninth ray on the flag’s Sun to symbolize “the contributions of our fellow countrymen, the Filipino Muslims,” must mean Dick Gordon either slept through or did not appreciate his Junior and Senior Year history classes in the Ateneo. Hellfire, our whole upperclassman years in the Ateneo are spent on PHILIPPINE HISTORY, with one of the classes in fact being called, “Rizal and the Emergence of the Filipino Nation.”

The thesis in those classes was simple: the concept of the Philippines as a nation, and us little brown guys being Filipinos only came about when Rizal started expounding on the ideas of nationalism he was already exploring as a young, bestselling writer. There was no Philippines, no Filipinos, until the Katipunan, inspired, guided and united by Rizal’s writings, declared they were. Ateneo history classes, in fact, teach that Rizal was the first Filipino. Before him, before the Katipunan, before the Revolution against Spain in 1896, there was no concept of one country called the Philippines.

What we had were a collection of large tracts of lands – you call them provinces today, or even regions – where there was a preponderance of a particular ethno-linguistic group. Tagalogs fought Kapampangans as much as they did the Conquistadores. Certianly, the Muslims who occupied much of Mindanao raided their “Filipino” neighbors in the Visayas and even Luzon and fought those Christian landgrabbers as much as the white men that led them.

I think, too, that current historical conventions concede that Lapu Lapu, the so-called first Filipino hero, did not fight Ferdinand Magellan out of a sense of nationalistic imperative. If I remember the details correctly (and I will link to it once I find the relevant and authoritative studies/papers), the assault by Magellan on Lapu Lapu was part of an effort to cement his (Magellan’s) recent compact with Rajah Humabon. How? By taking out the good Rajah’s rival. Yes, it was more a turf war between local kingpins than a battle for Philippine sovereignty against a foreign invader.

Because the Philippines, as a socio-political entity, did not exist at the time and wouldn’t so for centuries!

Recall your basic history: what are those eight rays for again? The first eight provinces to declare for the Revolution of 1896. The first eight Filipino provinces. Not Tagalog, not Ilocano, not Pangasinense or Kapangpangan.  Filipinos.  When the Katipuneros tore their cedulas and declared independence from Spain, they weren’t doing that to free, say, the Katagalugan or Ilocanos or Kapangpangans (whose Macabebe scouts were the regular bane of nationalists at the time), but for an independent, sovereign Philippines.

What were the Muslims down South doing at the time? Were they at least even cheering on their supposed compatriots in Manila?

Most likely fighting invaders exported to Mindanao from Luzon by the Spanish, if not raiding the lands of those “Filipinos” for plunder and slaves.

This is not to denigrate nor deny any role Muslim Filipinos have in the building, advancement and protection of this nation.  This is not some Catholic denying Filipino Muslims their place in the Republic. Religion and Race has nothing to do with this. History and reality do.

I mean, c’mon, admit it: most Muslims in this country are of the opinion that we Filipinos – meaning the ones who occupy Luzon and maybe the Visayas, too (since I’ve often heard Bisayas scoffing at the dictates of  “Imperial Manila” to them, as if they were a separate state and not part of the political entity known as the Republic of the Philippines) – invaded them and took their land. A succession of “imperialists” from the Spanish, the Americans and then Marcos eventually replaced the then-majority Muslims in Mindanao with people from Luzon and Visayas so that the ethnic makeup in its richest areas is more “Filipino” than “Muslim.”

I remember hearing that from a Muslim friend who hailed from Davao. “We don’t consider ourselves as Filipinos,” he said. Was I talking to a Mujahedin trained in Iran and who fought in Afghanistan for the jihad? No; he was a graduate of Ateneo de Davao and as secular a Muslim you can find. I tell you now, supposedly politically-aware person I claimed to be, I was shocked to hear that. All along I thought it was just an issue of “living as they wish” and getting their land back for the Muslims in Mindanao. Never did I once think they didn’t consider themselves Filipinos, that they were essentially a people subjugated by Imperial Manila.

I don’t know how many Muslims in this country feel that way. Certainly, the long-running conflict in Mindanao attests to a significant number of them who think the Three Stars and the Sun is as much an imperialist power trampling their land if not their Faith, too, as the Cross and Sword of Spain, or the Stars and Stripes (and .45 caliber pistols) of the Americans.

So there is a certain degree of… misinformation in Senator Dick Gordon saying adding a ninth ray to our Flag’s sun will help make things better between the majority of Filipinos and their Muslim brothers. In the first place, how many of the latter think of themselves as citizens of the Philippines, anyway, instead of, say, Bangsamoro? How can adding that ninth ray for them help solve the issues that sparked the separatist wars in Mindanao when the issue has never been about recognition but perceived imperialism?

And has no one from the National Historical Institute even voiced a concern with the good Senator how putting that ray beside the First Eight Provinces spits on the rationale behind those rays and its context?

No offense to Muslim Filipinos, but… what contributions, really, did Muslims give for the independence of the entity known as the Philippines, at least at par with what those eight provinces did or gave? If even for the Malolos Congress Mabini and/or Aguinaldo had invited, say, the Sultan of Sulu, to participate in the drafting of a constitution for the First Republic of the Philippines, would they have gone? Or would they have told the Sublime Paralytic and/or the first President to shove their invites up their Christian, landgrabbing, asses and get the hell off their islands?

Lapu Lapu? he was a local warlord engaged in a turf war with another local warlord who happened to have this guest who was all bravado but didn’t know how fierce the natives were or that European plate mail is really not a nice thing to wear when wading ashore.

And who are Sultan Kudarat, Amai Pakpak, and Sorongan? They helped and bled for the Philippines and their fellow Filipinos the same way the people of Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Laguna and Batangas fought and died for the idea of an independent country called the Philippines and, eventually, that very same flag when it first flew on Philippine soil in 1898?

Those eight rays are in honor of the brave men and women from those eight provinces that first – notice the word: first – had the gall to challenge the then-greatest empire in the world (in decline, yes, since the British and Americans were in ascendancy at the time, but that’s details) and bleed for Asia’s first Republic.

Putting another ray there, for all its good intentions – and given the good senator’s political ambitions, you have to wonder if his intentions were good in the first place, although the road to hell is said to be paved as much by the first intent than really despicable ones – is, in my opinion, a grave dishonor to the memory of the first eight provinces. The Americans add stars to their flag when a new State enters the Union, but have you heard them call for adding another stripe to it in honor of Muslim Americans? How about the Hispanics, then? Or the American Jews? Or the Irish? And the Filipinos, too!

It is also a grave distortion of our history by claiming things otherwise for people just for political agendas. Lapu Lapu did not fight for the Philippines because such an entity did not exist at the time. And, last I looked and learned, all our historical documents, all of Rizal’s writings, did not show any significant Muslim involvement in the formation and defense of the Philippines when it became a fact in 1896.

I believe there are many Muslims who have done many things for this country, and who regard themselves as true sons and daughters of this country, even proud of it. For all that they have done, I salute them and embrace them as fellow Filipinos and will be the first to call for their recognition. For all the wrongs visited on them by us, their countrymen, I will be the first to seek forgiveness and ask how we can bring justice to their dead and make redress.

But putting a ninth ray on the Philippine Flag, based on the context Dick Gordon and the other members of the Bicam Committee gave out, is flat out wrong.

Because it not only distorts history and in a way cheapens the sacrifices of the first eight provinces as well as spits on the significance of their actions, but also confuses the whole casus belli of the Mindanao conflict by declaring its all a matter of integration and recognition.

In fact, it can further inflame the anger and hate. I can expect people, many of them Muslim Filipinos, to probably scrag me for many of the above comments, even considering my arguments. But those are the hard facts (at least the historical ones, as of my current knowledge; the one about how many Muslims in this country actually don’t consider themselves Filipinos as asserted by my Muslim friend would require a carefully-done study). Yet there is no way that one party or another won’t be offended by the arguments in the debates that would follow.

And some of those offended parties have guns. And are waging a war down south.

Again, my apologies to any Muslim Filipinos who have been offended by any of my pronouncements above. If you have evidence and/or arguments to the contrary, please speak up, and preferably link to the relevant information and/or sources. Credit to whom credit is due, after all.

If you’re a Muslim in this country and you don’t consider yourself a Filipino, I doubt you’d be complaining, anyway.

Before the introduction of fire-retardant chemicals, water was, of course, the most common extinguisher used. But, as anyone who listened to basic physics class knows, water, if used improperly on a raging inferno, can actually help feed it since every water molecule is made up of two oxygen atoms. And oxygen feeds fires.

What’s that again? The third atom is Hydrogen? What does hydrogen do again?

Its the same with this move led by Dicky Boy himself. Rather than (help) solve the problem,because he’s improperly using (I would even hazard to say abusing) something, he could in fact be feeding hydrogen cells to the conflagration that is the Mindanao Conflict.

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One Response to Flag issues

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Modifying the Philippine flag

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