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The Growth of Nationalism in the Philippines – Part 2

‘People who live in the Philippines including their leaders will always find themselves in the frontline of the looming conflict, and their conclusions and decisions need to be respected by those who live far away from them. Overseas people “jumping the gun” so they say would only render great disservice in times of crisis.’ Editorial, Bayanihan News, August 2012

There was a time during the Summit conference in 1966 that forty one students were hailed into the court for alleged breach of peace and order, as a result of the demonstration of the different students from various schools and universities in Manila. This demonstration was considered as one of the biggest demonstration ever held in Manila. It was joined by various nationalist movements like the Kabataang Makabayan’ youth organisation and other labour groups.

During the second anniversary of the founding of the nationalistic Kabataang Makabayan on November 30, 1966, Supreme Court Justice Jesus Barrera, a soft spoken but brilliant liberal jurist said in his speech dealing with nationalism and civil liberties:

‘It seems to me that the ultimate goal of nationalism is the freedom and ability of one nation to determine by itself its own destiny and formulate for itself its own national policies.

‘Any nation that seeks protection from or permits intervention by another nation in the conduct of its domestic or foreign affairs cannot be said to be truly independent, irrespective of its political status.

‘In a situation such as this protected or intervened state attains a top priority.’

In February 1967, the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN) was founded. Nationalists from all walks of life became members of this very popular nationalistic organisation. Among the members were noted nationalist Senator Lorenzo Tañada, J. V., Cruz, a respected newspaperman, Antonio Araneta, Jose Lapuz, to mention a few. The spirit of nationalism was clearly written in the principles and objectives of the organisation.

These objectives guided MAN and they were: a) the principle of national self-determination and self-reliance in all aspects of our national life; b) the principle of democratic power of the people; c) the principle of nationalistic industrialization and basic agrarian reform as a necessary correlative; 4) the principle of national dignity, cultural identity and Filipino oriented education; and 5) the principle of independent foreign policy.

Filipino nationalism, even today, not only clamour for a complete independence but also economic independency as what Teodoro Locsin, a noted journalist and one of the country’s nationalists said that ‘the nationalization of nationalism should be the ultimate goal in the realization of the nationalist theory and practice.’

It is therefore correct to say that the nationalist movement of the Philippines is not for other things except for the attainment of national dignity based on self-reliance and better relationship with other nations or nationalities. Nationalism can be considered only a good policy of a nation which practices this nationalist policy and such would become an imperialist expansionist and the victim would be the weaker states.

The importance of nationalist orientation of Filipinos was echoed in a graduate seminar on Philippine nationalist tradition, held in the UP, many years ago. The late Leopodlo Y. Yabes, a professor and chair of the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature, expressed his ideas: ‘healthy national growth can be achieved only when we follow the nationalist orientation – the tradition handed down to us by our leaders of the reform, revolutionary and post-revolutionary periods of our national history, particularly Rizal and Plaridel, Bonifacio and Aguinaldo, Mabini, Luna, Osmeña and Quezon, Palma and Abad Santos, and Laurel and Recto.’

But are we really nationalist the way we regard our compatriots and the country we owe allegiance to? Let me quote a very interesting passage from Renato Constantino’s Idenitty and Consciousness: The Philippine Experience which said: ‘The existence of a Filipino nation is a fact, but the existence of a national consciousness is only a pre-supposition, if by national consciousness one means that sens of oneness which comes from a community of aspiration, response and action.

‘For Filipinos, the question of nationality has become one of identify but not of a consciousness of common aspirations and goals. It is this growing disparity between identity and consciousness that has been responsible for the ambiguity of Filipino behaviour, for the Filipino’s east-west ambivalence, and for his marginal participation in the historic struggles of other colonial peoples.’