I am gravely offended by a meme that made the rounds of social media recently. It’s a meme that is both stupid and dangerous. It puts the lives of the Filipino-Chinese community in serious jeopardy.
The meme, in summary, implicitly says that any person whose daily chore includes the patronizing of Chinese-owned businesses and products, and whose lineage is in quarter or half Chinese, have no right to raise a grievance against the incursion of the People’s Republic of China into our territory in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
This, barring all other memes, is as stupid as stupid can get. What oppositionists refer to as “Chinese incursion” doesn’t include all of China or the Chinese people in whatever country or place they may be found.
“China,” means the Chinese government under Xi Jin Ping, whose “friendship” with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has opened the door to this tragedy.
China’s government and its people are two very different things. By this I mean that the interests of the Chinese government do not always square with the interests of their people. Lumping them together in an attempt to generalize, or worse, heap aspersion on the Chinese public, is not only stupid but utterly risky.
It puts the Filipino-Chinese community in that place where they will not only be open to harsh criticism, but also violence. A serious war involving warped ideas on ethnicity is the last thing we need right now.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that of the 1.379 billion Chinese in the world, there will be those who will not agree to what their government is doing in the West Philippine Sea.
Numerous Filipinos lay claim to a Chinese lineage. The roll of history, from our milk-teeth colonial past to our current-day republic included prominent Chinese mestizos in its roster of greats: José Rizal, Vice President Sergio Osmeña of the Philippine Commonwealth, Elpidio Quirino, Ramon Magsaysay, Carlos P. Romulo, National Library director Serafin Quison, Supreme Court Justice Claudio Teehangkee, Teodoro M. Kalaw, Arsenio Lacson, Tomas Pinpin, Eulogio Rodriguez Sr., Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz, Jose Abad Santos, and a host of others.
Roughly 22% (to as high as 65%) of Filipinos are said to come from Chinese lineage. As per our country’s history, no amount of study would be complete if we will not take into account the contribution of the Filipino-Chinese community in the fight for our freedom against colonial Spain and the development of our nation.
I, in part, belong to Chinese and Spanish lineages. Both parents. My great grandfather from the mother’s side of the family was born from the Basque country, Don Salvador Pablo, leaving me today with just probably an eighth of Spain in my blood.
The same is true from the maternal side of the family (so, increasing my being Castillian to a fourth?), with the exception of a stronger Chinese showing. In now yellowed photographs, my great grandfather, Don Pablo Salud, sports Chinese-inspired turn-of-the-20th-century clothing and pretty much looks like a Chinese warlord minus an ax (called the “fu”).
If we were to follow the logic of the aforementioned meme, should I then desist from raising a grievance against the said China incursion of our islands just because I am, in part, Chinese? Of course not. I am, by and large, Filipino by origin and birth. This doesn’t mean I cannot raise a grievance or go against my own Philippine government.
If my government doesn’t represent me and the Filipino people but its own interests, then we have all the right to stick a fist in its face.
Let’s look at the world today. In the U.S. recently, thousands of Jews burned the flag of Israel in protest against the Israeli government’s brutality to the Palestinians. Americans today are protesting against their President Donald Trump.
Let’s take history. The French Revolution was a shining example of how the French people disagreed with the French monarch–to the latter’s fatal end. What the French insisted on doing with the fall of the guillotine, the Bolsheviks improvised by way of the massacre of the Romanovs.
And what if much of our economy belongs to Filipino-Chinese owners? Is there anything in the Constitution that said it should be otherwise? Aren’t Filipino-Chinese basically Filipino? Those born and raised in this benighted country?
Unless these people are guilty of some crime, why rally the people against them? Ethnicity has nothing to do with crime. Human nature, on the other hand, holds a monopoly on greed and brutality.
This brings me back to a statement made by my boss, the late Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, a prominent Filipino-Chinese businessman and philanthropist. He said to me once right after a meeting: “I think I am more Filipino than I can ever be Chinese.” In this nation he was born, the place where eventually he had made his bones as one of the contributors to progress.
As we struggle to lay claim to what is ours by international law and the Hague decision, let’s not make the mistake of generalizing the blame by including, with mindless prejudice, every ethnic Chinese into the fray.
The consequences of this could lead to something utterly devastating. Remember Germany’s Führer, Adolf Hitler? His strategy for dominion was to first rally the German people against a common enemy: at the time, it was the Jews.
He pointed to Jews as traitors to the Motherland for reasons that they hold much of the economy of Germany at the palm of their hands. He sparked so much hatred and spite against the Jews that they eventually led to the beginnings of the Holocaust.
The Chinese people in the mainland, and the Filipino-Chinese who have made their lives and home in our country for decades, and whose ancestors fought and bled side by side with Filipino revolutionaries, are not our enemy here.
While China’s government will have to answer for many things in the course of our struggle, let’s leave the Chinese people out of it. If they wish to stand by us, then let us not stop them. If they choose not to, then leave them be.
This fight is ours to hold. We are Filipinos. And here we make our stand. G