POSTSCRIPT / March 31, 2009 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Panlilio to be shuffled out in 2010 elections

ANGELES CITY : If Pampanga Gov. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio — a novice politician — does not watch out, he might just end up being shuffled out of the fast-moving picture in 2010.

Like the devil tempting Jesus in the desert, master manipulators seem to be succeeding in feeding the priest-turned-politician the grand illusion that he could be the next president of the Philippines. Mukha namang kumakagat si Among! (He’s biting!)

Possible end results:

(1) Among Ed will give up the governorship, which has been a tough job anyway, and make a wild go for a national office.

(2) The field is then left wide open for Malacanang favorites — the President’s son, Rep. Mikey Arroyo, or movie stuntman Lito Lapid, who has been self-conscious being a miscast in the Senate — to grab the governorship.

(3) A badly bruised Among Ed loses in the national election and returns to his original calling as a priest.

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NO CHA-CHA: As I have been suggesting since last year, do not take seriously moves to amend or revise the Constitution before 2010 to give President Gloria Arroyo a term extension. Charter change and term extension will not happen.

But one thing to watch closely is the registration of new and younger voters who are not beholden to traditional politicians and who have their own ideas of how this country should be run.

The figures are not yet out, but we can assume that those in the 18-36-year-old bracket will comprise at least 60 percent of active voters.

Campaign strategies, as well as modes of cheating, will have to be adjusted to this emerging statistical phenomenon.

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NATION OF SERVANTS: It is pointless — as suggested by many irate Filipinos, including senior officials — for the government to file a protest with China or Hong Kong over remarks in the HK Magazine labeling the Philippines as a “nation of servants.”

(The deprecatory tag was used by writer Chip Tsao in the on-line magazine last March 27 while commenting on the Philippines’ having drawn up a baseline map that included the Spratlys being claimed by China.)

Firstly, as a private individual, the writer does not speak for the Chinese or the Hong Kong government. Any complaint should be directed at him or his editor/publisher, and not to his government.

Secondly, while the label “nation of servants” may be derogatory or racist, as mature adults we can let it pass. Instead, we can redirect attention to our being famous for being excellent workers and caregivers who go overboard at times when engrossed with helping others.

Thirdly, all nations and races have their faults and flaws. Nobody is perfect. If many Filipinos go abroad to work, like other people do, it is generally for a legitimate and noble purpose. Why apologize or take offense when our job-hunting overseas is noticed?

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LET IT PASS: It would be immature and counter-productive to hit back blindly at all Chinese or their government.

What good would be served if we point out, for instance, that our fair country is being destroyed by Chinese drug lords, Chinese smugglers, Chinese corruptors of officials, Chinese merchants of melamine-tainted food, Chinese traders of fake electronic devices, et cetera?

Throwing brickbats will not serve the higher interests of both Filipinos and Chinese. We cannot change the hard facts of geography and our centuries-old relationship. Like it or not, we are neighbors of long-standing whose dealings must be marked by amity and mutual respect.

Stray remarks such as those of Chip Tsao should not disturb our cordial bilateral relations.

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HERE’S THE TEXT: To give readers a better handle on the discussion, we are reprinting part of Chip Tsao’s article titled “The War at Home” in HK Magazine:

“The Russians sank a Hong Kong freighter last month, killing the seven Chinese seamen on board. We can live with that — Lenin and Stalin were once the ideological mentors of all Chinese people. The Japanese planted a flag on Diàoyú Island. That’s no big problem — we Hong Kong Chinese love Japanese cartoons, Hello Kitty, and shopping in Shinjuku, let alone our round-the-clock obsession with karaoke.

“But hold on — even the Filipinos? Manila has just claimed sovereignty over the scattered rocks in the South China Sea called the Spratly Islands, complete with a blatant threat from its congress to send gunboats to the South China Sea to defend the islands from China if necessary. This is beyond reproach. The reason: there are more than 130,000 Filipina maids working as $3,580-a-month cheap labor in Hong Kong. As a nation of servants, you don’t flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter.

“As a patriotic Chinese man, the news has made my blood boil. I summoned Louisa, my domestic assistant who holds a degree in international politics from the University of Manila, hung a map on the wall, and gave her a harsh lecture. I sternly warned her that if she wants her wages increased next year, she had better tell every one of her compatriots in Statue Square on Sunday that the entirety of the Spratly Islands belongs to China.

“Grimly, I told her that if war breaks out between the Philippines and China, I would have to end her employment and send her straight home, because I would not risk the crime of treason for sponsoring an enemy of the state by paying her to wash my toilet and clean my windows 16 hours a day. With that money, she would pay taxes to her government, and they would fund a navy to invade our motherland and deeply hurt my feelings.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 31, 2009)

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