My attention was caught by that very provocative and utterly accurate political cartoon posted by the New York Times Opinion Section (Nov 27th) wherein it depicted there that the people of Southeast Asia in an apparent dilemma on who are they going to choose to throw their lot and support.
It categorically pointed there, should it be the Chinese bully or the US bully? The caption specifically reads: Southeast Asian countries are caught between a rock and a hard place.
Though, the political cartoon in a sense has shown a precise problem, my position on the said matter is undeniably different.
First thing first: why the hell, we, the people of Southeast Asia as whole and the citizens of the Philippines in particular should ever choose between these two imperialists and colonialists in the first place?
Second: there is no dilemma here. Those who shall even think or consider that there is a dilemma are not worthy to call themselves as independent states.
A nation that is truly independent must only have one foreign policy or political goal and that is: WE SHALL NEVER EVER TAKE SIDES! WE SHALL NOT CHOOSE BETWEEN TWO MONSTERS!
Now, more than ever, the people of this region must show to the whole world their mettle, character and worth.
This is not a case of either/or, but rather of national pride and in defense of one’s sovereignty. Further and to reiterate this is not a case of trapped between the monster and the deep sea; for in truth and in fact the only thing necessary for the people of Southeast Asia is to unite and further strengthen the bonds of the ASEAN.
I also call on the said regional bloc that perhaps the time has come to create its own Southeast Asian collective army to guard, navigate and to serve as a counterbalancing force against the encroachment of China to our waters!
The Filipinos, in an utterly strategic sense and in specific terms must set the tone, the stance, hence the pace for the whole region.
They must tell Uncle Sam and “comrade Pooh” that this country, even if this is small and has the weakest military is not for sale and that the people of this archipelago are not dogs. For we also have our history of greatness and resistance against foreign invaders.
If I may propose to Mr Pooh, perhaps he can read and study the account and the chronicles written by those ancient Chinese writers in depicting and describing the ancient inhabitants of these lands.
We are the land of the barbarians and brutal warriors and that spirit and legacy of bravery is still in our very veins as of the present moment.
If it is necessary to go to war, then so be it!
For it is better to die keeping one’s honor and the integrity on one’s territory rather than to live in slavery, in bondage and in shame.
That would be an eternal abomination and forever shame than dying heroically on the field defending one’s land and shore!
Hence, in honor of the 155th birthday of the Father of this Nation, Supremo Bonifacio, let me quote his words to remind our people of his courage, sacrifice and continuing challenge to all of us:
“Sasagi kaya sa inyong loob ang panlulumo at aabutin kaya ng panghihinayang na mamatay sa kadahilanang ito? Hindi! Sapagka’t nakikintal sa inyong gunita yaong libolibong kinitil na buhay ng mapanganyayang kamay ng Kastila, yaong daing, yaong himutok at pananangis ng mga pinapangulila ng kanilang kalupitan, yaong mga kapatid nating nangapipiit sa kalagimlagim na bilangguan at natitiis ng walang awang pagpapahirap, yaong walang tilang pag-agos ng luha ng mga nawalay sa piling ng kanilang mga anak, asawa at matatandang magulang na itinapon sa iba’t ibang malalayong lupa at ang katampalasanang pagpatay sa ating pinakaiibig na kababayan na si M. Jose Rizal ay nagbukas sa ating puso ng isang sugat na kailan pa ma’y hindi mababahaw. Lahat ng ito ay sukat nang magpaningas sa lalong malamig na dugo at magbunsod sa atin sa pakikihamok sa hamak na Kastila na nagbibigay sa atin ng lahat ng kahirapan at kamatayan.
“Kaya mga kapatid, igayak ang loob sa pakikipaglaban at pakaasahan ang pagtatagumpay, sapagka’t nasa atin ang tunay na katuwiran at kabanalang gawa. Ang kastila, iyang kasuklamsuklam na lahing dito’y napasuot, ang tanging ipinaglalaban ay ang maling katuwirang panggagaga at panlulupig dito sa di nila bayan.
“Sa lahat ng ito, nang malubos ang kabanalan at kapurihan ng ating lahi, ng tanghalin ng sandaigdigan ang kamahalan ng ating kalooban, ay huwag nating tularan ang kalabang Kastila sa pagkahamak ng asal na ugaling gamit sa pakikidigma. Huwag tayong makipaghamok sa kaibigan lamang na pumatay kundi sa pagtatanggol ng Kalayaan ng ating Bayan, at abutin sa mahigpit na pagkakayakap nating mga anak ng Bayan ay maihiyaw ng buong lakas na Mabuhay! Mabuhay ang Haring Bayang Katagalugan!”
Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
Philosophy and Social Science lecturer
Department of Philosophy and Humanities
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines