By Apolinario Villalobos
Patriotism is nationalism – love of country. The extreme manifestation is fighting to death for the sake of one’s country. Filipinos are proud to use such adjective for themselves. Such show of patriotism was done first at the shores of Mactan Island in the province of Cebu where the Spanish Magellan was slain by Lapu-lapu, a local chieftain. The manifestation went on with the fight against Spain whose “conquest” of the country was made possible with the use of the cross. Later, the Filipinos showed this zeal against the Americans and Japanese.
Today, the patriotic fervor of the radical Filipinos consistently shows their disgust for the Americans whom they accuse of discreetly controlling the Philippine government. Unfortunately, this unrestrained outpouring of emotion results to vandalism. These are seen on defaced walls, bridges and fences spray-painted with communistic slogans, anti-American and anti-Filipino administration messages, not to mention the caricatures of hated local officials and whoever American president is sitting at the White House.
The radical groups keep on holding rallies at the US embassy and set aside the crucial issue against the intrusion by China of the West Philippine Sea. They do not hold rallies against the dumping of electronic waste in the country by other countries, the factories that dump waste into Pasig River and Manila Bay, the issue on Manila being developed by foreign drug lords as a distribution hub in Asia, and the constantly rising tuition fees and prices of basic commodities, to name a few. These groups that carry red banners and streamers painted with hammer and sickle disrupt traffic on their way to Malacanan and US embassy…all because, they thought, they are patriotic, and to which I must honestly, though, partly conform.
For a change, why can’t these groups call the attention of local governments on the stinking public toilets and waterways clogged with garbage in their respective domains?…the beggars who literally convert sidewalks into makeshift homes and who should be given assistance by their respective social welfare offices?…the street urchins who are supposed to be rounded up and sheltered in juvenile homes?…the Badjaos who should be trained on livelihood endeavors rather than be tolerated begging in the streets?…and many more issues that could better occupy their time than harangue the Americans?
As a Filipino, I am also affected by the so-called “mismanagement” of our country resulting to the rampant corrupt practices, so deeply rooted that solutions seem to be no longer in sight. As an individual, though, I must admit that I am just an obscure voice in the wilderness of discontent. I want to be part of a movement for a patriotic advocacy, but how can I be encouraged to do it when all I see are groups that see violent acts as the only way of being heard? Never have I seen an attempt for restraint on their part. It seems that the more violent and provocative actions they have, the better for them to attract the attention of the media…hence, the better for their cause.
Filipino patriotism should be tinged with values for which we are known. We are a non-violent and resilient race and our values should be manifested in all we do…including protest actions.