Just when it was feeling so right to be flying back home, my husband nudged me to divert my eyes from the movie I was watching, to the immigration form for foreign arrivals.
By some perhaps serendipitous mistake, we were each provided a copy of it. Strangely, the instructions on the form had Chinese translations— they used to be in English only. Asked when the form began to instruct in Chinese, a Filipino stewardess on our Qatar flight said she had noticed it “about two weeks ago.”
All this would not be so disturbing had we not observed stranger things happening before we left.
In the middle-class subdivision of Moonwalk, in Parañaque, new tenants from China courted trouble when they displayed unacceptable behavior and total disregard of the village association’s rules. By their lack of respect for any kind of rules or manners, one could only suspect that these Chinese were undesirables banished from their own country. Matters were made worse when, from elsewhere, more of them came down on the village, apparently summoned as reinforcement against the Filipino community.
It’s happening in a number of other places in the metropolis and elsewhere. Our own condominium building is occupied mostly by Chinese tenants. Four of them, all male, lived right above us, making the strangest noises—furniture being dragged, ball dribbling, feet stamping—in the middle of the night.
We somehow got them out, only to be replaced by another Chinese foursome, all female this time and comparatively much better behaved, so far. We don’t know, though, if they share the responsibility for the unsanitary garbage disposal we’ve been observing.
Facebook posts showed stores exclusively for the Chinese. Some of them supposedly have been closed for lack of permits. But, if visas are issued to new Chinese arrivals right at the airport, why would permits for those stores be a problem?
Indeed, why would anything be a problem for the Chinese?
Before their human invasion, there were, on their account and with Duterte’s imprimatur, island grabbing, coral reef destruction, establishment of military installations in our own territory and various other assaults on our sovereignty. But any conflict with China, however righteous, is precisely what Duterte dissuades us against. It’s suicide, he tells us.
In fact, he gave the Chinese our own sea, and made our own fishermen who used to make their livelihood there feel it was they who were intruding. When a Chinese patrol rammed a Philippine fishing boat in those waters and abandoned its crew, who had been thrown overboard, Duterte was quick to exonerate the Chinese.
For a while, the fishermen seemed prepared to let it go, but some of them are beginning to complain.
Indeed, China is proving to be an emotive issue. The masses of street protesters outside the legislative building on the day of the President’s State of the Nation Address took it up as the main issue. Surely, they derived some inspiration from the Hong Kongers’ continuing massive demonstrations against a proposed law for the extradition of criminal suspects to China for trial.
The surveys clearly show that Filipinos distrust China, and with good reason. The Chinese are bad enough as neighbors, imagine sharing a home with them!
Many Filipinos seem able to stomach corruption or overlook ineptitude or take presidential indecencies in speech or even insults to God—perhaps rationalizing that God can certainly take care of Himself—but losing our only country to the uncouth, unprincipled and godless could very well be the last straw. Our history has proven that nothing unites us like a common enemy.
Doesn’t it smell fishy that our leaders are not with us in the fight for sovereignty, territory, resources, and even jobs for the ordinary Filipino? Duterte seems prepared to lose everything we have just to stay in China’s good graces, while our neighbors’ leaders are prepared to call China’s bluff.
President Joko Widodo sent a strong message to China and anyone else who would threaten Indonesia’s sovereignty. This despite the fact, that unlike the Philippines, Indonesia has no defense treaty with a super nuclear power, like the United States.
But rather than boast, as Duterte did, about riding a jet ski and planting flags, which would be quite impossible to do, blogger Max Defense noted, “… without fanfare he (Widodo) did plant flags in Natura Islands, made it known to the whole world that Natuna Islands and its 200 nautical mile EEZ are Indonesia’s domain, and is for the Indonesian people.”
Indonesia’s assertiveness, according to the same blog, went as far as blowing up foreign vessels and arresting fishermen from China, Malaysia and Indonesia, to show its intolerance for illegal fishing in its waters.
It’s the obvious righteous reaction of a true patriotic leader. Anything else would smack of treason.