Friday, October 27, 2006

On Renato Constantino and our Americanized Minds -

Here's an interesting exchange I had with Gil, a reader:

Many thanks for your emails on Tato Constantino's "Mis-Education of the Filipino(s)". Allow me to put in my two-bits thinking at the this point.

As some of us in the FEU group (I was with them occasionally in the campus from 1950-52 until I decided to drop out of college and never came back--for any degree but to teach as I do now) pointed out to Tato in our coffee sessions (regulars were faculty members Ike Joaquin, Salvador Laurel, Benito Reyes,Nick Joaquin, students Dante Calma, Ernesto Banawis, Tony Joaquin, Arsenio Fabros, Isabelo Crisostomo, Jose Abcede, Greg Datuin, Alfonso Policarpio, artist Duldulao and others whose names I can't remember): he was too much negatively affected by his hate for the Americans that he forgot to use the situation to the Filipinos' advantage.I regard(ed) it like jujitsu: throw the enemy by his own weight and use his own mass against him.

The Americans can be beaten in their own game--in their own language too. I think of Tony Escoda, Tony Arizabal, Al Valencia and myself who had become correspondents and bureau chiefs in the Associated Press and AP-Dow Jones here and abroad. Think of Mike Marabut, Joselito Katigbak and Ernie Mendoza who had been bureau chiefs of Reuters, or Teddy Benigno of Agence France-Presse. Or authors Frankie Sionil-Jose,the Tiempo couple etc. Or Sixto K. Roxas who was vice chair of American Express International, Bobby Romulo of IBM in his younger days. There were also one Victoriano Yamzon who was the most successful correspondent(better than the American reporters) of the old Manila Tribune in 1910 in the judgement of his American editors. A lot more name there are.

My point is our educational system must include a subject on how teach the Filipinos the hard facts of life--of geopolitics and international relations, andinternational political-economics. Teach them how to work out for themselves in the field of international competition. Learn more of the enemy because without that information we are dead meat even before we start. Work with what is possible and improve on our national lot. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Cheers Gil

4:01 AM

Bert M. Drona said...
Hello Gil,Thank you for your response.Though I have read, reread and keep many of Constantino's published works, I never came to know him personally and do not know whether he really hated America and/or Americans as a people. As you may know, nationalism is a sentiment and may serve as an ideology too.

Like you I believe in education as a possible solution to the long-term improvement of the Filipino masses; an education that teaches a means to decent livelihood AND a means to understand his and society's realities, to identify the symptoms versus the roots of his daily personal misery and that of his society.

Of course such education will need to touch on the geopolitics of international economics, capitalism in terms of individual persons as investors versus corporate/transnational and institutional investors, etc. In a globalized economy the ordinary, individual investor is really a nonfactor. We seem to forget that, although we hear a lot of talk (propaganda or advertisement) about the "foreign investors", there are in reality not much individual foreign investors (vis a vis foreign multinationals/transnationals).

I understand your valid points especially on education. However, the prior questions that we need to address are: how do we implement that kind of education, how and who will finance it?

Can we see that happening in present realities where the national leadership have been/are corrupt and have only demonstrated selfish and subservient interests? Can we see that occurring when our educational system is designed to follow the IMF/WB/ADB "recommendations" as preconditions to continuing loans; and we know these supposedly neutral and benevolent international institutions are prophets of economic and cultural globalization (neocolonialism)?

I frankly do not see such an education being realized without a strong motivation from a leadership, supported by a nationalistic populace, that would push for a nationalistic educational program. Here again, the prior issue asks how can we have a nationalist leadership and a nationalistic majority? Not from the recent, present and foreseeable governments and institutions. But it really has to start somewhere, somehow.

It is discouraging indeed. I feel and think that we Filipinos seem to have significantly lost nationalism among the younger generations since the Marcos Dictatorship, but we just have to continue fighting for nationalism (that's what I try to do in my own little way).

Else, a nation of decolonized Filipinos will not come to reality. And the Filipino will perpetually be having his "damaged culture," continually living his life of selfish individualism inherited from his culture and reinforced by the historical neglect from his government; with no sense of national community beyond his circle of family and friends.

A country not his own since it will not be under his control, and therefore not a nation he can call his own. A bleak future for a country and a people that oftentimes only a thinking Filipino can appreciate and sadly long for especially when he looks at his homeland from afar, in a foreign soil.

4:25 AM

Anonymous said...
Hi Bert:This is not April Fools line.I appreciate your emails. It's good to know you are one of my friends who think of the mother country from the other side of the Pacific.

We as a people are not hopeless. The education of the Filipino we want will certainly not come during our time (since we have only 75 more years to go each, wanna bet?), but it surely will. Because it is evolutionary. See where the Chinese were in the 19th century,and where they are now? This is not to say I am endorsing the Mao-type of governance. Not at all. I surely hope we do not have to go a bloody cleansing phase in our history. That's why our evolution will take longer than the Chinese.

I only hope this present-day frustration over the rotten political setup spreads to the grassroots much faster so the slumbering rural folks finally wake up to the needs of the times.Gil

4:50 AM

Bert M. Drona said...
Hello Gil,Happy April Fools's Day!

Speaking of the mainland Chinese. Coincidentally, two days ago I watched "55 Days in Peking" movie (Heston) after 30+ years ago when I first saw it. What a difference years make. Then, I love to watch such movies, but now after learning more about history (am an engineer), I see things with a critical if not cynical eye. As you may know, a lot of Hollywood movies then and now have differing, if not questionable, assumptions, intended or unintended.

The movie of course was set or based on the early 20th century (1900) "Boxer rebellion," when the Chinese people were beginning to be nationalistic (maybe the term was not invented yet). The Chinese resented the foreigners (Europeans and Japanese) who have divided the country into agreed spheres of influences. Thus the Chinese Boxers started attacking and killing the foreigners; therefore the Europeans with the help of the American government (via John Hay who made arrangements to help them but, as a new imperial power, America demanded an "open door" policy) joined together and defeated the native Chinese.

Gil, note that the Chinese had a Sun Yat Sen, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung who were all nationalists (though of course latter was known more as a communist). The Chinese communist party has gradually since Deng Xiao Ping become a proponent of a mixed economy: State/Party capitalism with private capitalism; but obviously the country is a nation, a united people, proud. They are all nationalists wanting to preserve their national identity and sovereignty.

And that (nationalism) as you know is what we Filipinos do not have. I do not believe in evolution since it implies natural inevitability. Nationalism MUST be willed, rekindled and fostered to propel social transformation. With the way we are right now, it may take a generation even if the political conditions would allow it.

I see now with globalization a similar parallelism where our homeland is being deluged with other foreigners in addition to the present Americans, Chinese, and Japanese. The only difference is we do not see much foreign troops getting involved (though there are reports that US troops, 4 officially unconfirmed killed, really are participating in attacking MNLF/MILF rebels down south. Thanks to Estrada regime with the signing of the VFA and unquestioned by the Arroyo regime).

With the present regime hastily selling out, i.e. 100% foreign ownership and/or operation on mining, etc. and the agenda of foreign interests in the proposed Cha-cha revision, our homeland becomes de facto under an "open door" policy.

As modern history shows, the US will use military force when its business or economic interests are threatened; and it will do so, as it has enthusiastically demonstrated in Iraq given that it's the only superpower now. That's why it's emboldened to go unilaterally and ignore the rest of the world.

Of course, as you alluded to, the question is how fast we can politicize and mobilize the majority. It may take a generation or longer than the 10-15 years it took to rebuild nationalism prior to the Dictatorship, as many of the nationalist politicians are gone and the educational system is not in that nationalist groove.

Maybe we would not see it in our lifetimes. But still, we the so-called educated class should just go on ranting so we ourselves and the ignorant majority become conscious and concerned about our national predicament and its roots and act in correcting it. Regards

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