The Accidental Occupation: Tubbataha Truths

Tubbataha Reef to be renamed “Knee Jerk Reef”
Well, the Philippine press is at it again, stoking fuel into the fires of the old circulation register by whipping up a pile of angst about the recent American occupation of a Philippine reef. This is aided and abetted by the Filipino commie leftist pinkos who are raising hell about the matter, too, the aim of which, of course, is drive a wedge between America and the Philippines the size of the Red Sea parting, through which the commie reds from China will march chanting Chairman Mao instead of Moses.
We are led to believe this National Heritage Park is a jewel, a gem, a rare treasure worshipped by the Philippine masses as if it were Yamashita’s gold, or the Marcos billions, strewn across the Sulu Sea. Hell, it is a bunch of rarely visited, coral encrusted rocks only there because the Filipino dynamite fishermen find it too remote to blast it to smithereens like they have the coral close to the mainlands. Besides, there are “Park Rangers” there, riding their sea horses about like a band of stern-eyed vigilantes ready to lynch anyone who enters the park without permissions. Aforesaid permissions are typed in triplicate on an ancient Underwood typewriter,  slightly rusty but serviceable, lodged in the second floor generator room of the lighthouse on the South Atoll. And of course, permissions must be accompanied by the payment of required fees, gratuities accepted.
After the American incursion was repelled by a pile of Filipino rocks, the mainland cheered and hooted as if Pacquiao had knocked Marquez into the next universe rather than the other way ’round.  And cursed as if Sis had been accosted in a dark alley by a gang of fat, old American ex-servicemen hung over from surviving the Bataan Death March, or ghostly remnants from the brigades of racist American troops that ruthlessly defeated the Philippines 114 years ago.
Never mind that the Guardian crew are actually fresh-faced American youngsters, doing their duty, praying to their God, and willing to sacrifice their lives in defense of the Philippines.
The Philippines sent its entire Navy and Cast Guard fleet into the treacherous shallow waters of the reef to supervise the US Navy’s salvage work to extract the shipwrecked USS Guardian.
The American Captain in charge was heard to shout abeam, one ship to another, “Happy to have you here, guys, getting in the way. We couldn’t have done it without you. Now kindly put down your guns!”
Evidently the Philippines was surprised when its Rangers tried to board the stricken Guardian that the Americans brandished weapons and said, “back, you fools”. The Rangers got their briefs and egos in a bunch, forgetting that American soldiers are not Filipino fishermen, available for easy rolling and bribe-extraction. That role, and roll, would be consigned to the Philippine government and newspapers. And rather than extracting a few bucks, the Philippines would ratchet up the toll by charging the cost of the Filipino sailors, gas and oil, foods consumed, and boat rentals through to the US Navy. On top of fines for reef destruction, which of course shall be a multiple of 10 times normal because these are rich Americans.  This is the same logic as used for airport terminal fees, where international fees are 10 times domestic while operating costs are two times domestic.
The Philippines is expected to walk . . . er, swim away from this affair with a rumored $46.5 million kick in the budget from Uncle Sam. I started the rumor myself, having no facts to deal with, and figuring this incident is not worth the time to roll up a good mouthful of spit. Much less research or call someone on.
Never mind that Uncle Sam will subsequently rip up the Philippine defense agreement out of fear that the Philippines will charge its whole army, navy, coast guard, and air force expenses to its rich American ally, causing the nation to go bankrupt, with the Chinese sweeping into Washington to collect their debts. When the defense agreement is shredded, China can sweep into Manila and collect everything.
I found this report at the asiaqua dive web site:
  • Tubbataha reef is located 180 km east of Palawan, in the middle of the Sulu Sea. Tubbataha Reef is accessible only in cruise. It is a marine park created in 1988 and classified in the world heritage of the humanity by the UNESCO in 1993. Because of these very particular conditions it is visited only by 400 divers a year. 
My Goodness Gracious. So this reef is actually reserved for the upper class folk who can afford a cruise ship ticket, not for the ordinary Filipino. The ordinary Filipino gets bombed out corals and over-fished seas that look much like underwater deserts. I wonder where the outrage is about that.
Perhaps Filipinos don’t really dig reefs all that much, unless Americans run into them.
You think?
That diving map up there is also interesting. It shows two other wrecks in the area, probably diving or photography attractions. The photo here, from National Geographic, shows one of the wrecks and contains this caption:
  • The rusted hulk of a shipwreck sits in shallow water off Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines. Covering more than 81,000 acres (32,000 hectares) in the heavily trafficked Sulu Sea, shallow Tubbataha has scuttled more than its share of vessels.[Photograph by Wolcott Henry, National Geographic]
Ahhhh. So now we get to the real truth of the matter. These reefs are boat wreckers. They are low and underwater and lie smack in the middle of what would otherwise be a fine sea lane. It is rumored that hundreds of boats have been sunk or damaged there, some little outriggers, two big rusted hulks like you see above, and the USS Guardian, possibly the biggest of the bunch.
So boats hitting the reefs is situation normal.
The emerging stink is just a fine way for Filipinos to rid themselves of envy angst at those “stupid, arrogant Americans” and expose them to ridicule in the tried and true Filipino method of argument. You bring down the opposition by emasculation, just as Enrile went below the belt with Cayetano shortly after Caytano delivered a few crotch kickers himself.
You know, this is all slapstick, this charade, this angst. The Rangers and uptight Filipino officials look like Larry, Moe and Curly to me, and the Guardian’s captain, Bozo the Clown.
The reefs are valuable, yes. So are those that used to reside in the many bays and seas near the Philippine mainland.
Look, you want to know why Tubbataha is so valuable? It is the ONLY oceanic National Heritage site in the Philippines, in this lush, amazing paradise of 7,000 islands, the richest sea-based ecological climate in the world. Do you know what the Philippines preserves instead? CHURCHES. Buildings. Here is the list of Philippine National Preservation sites:
  • Historic Town of Vigan
  • Puerto Princesa Subterranean River
  • Rice Terraces of Cordilleras
  • San Augustan Church
  • Miag-ao Church
  • Paoay Church
  • Santa Maria Church
  • Tubbataha Reefs National Park
So no wonder anguished cries go up from preservationalists. Tubbataha is the last preserved  gem in the jewel case. Because the preservationalists have FAILED to make a case to the National Government that is louder than the cries of the PRIESTS for preservation of their bricks. The seas, like the forests, are reserved for plunder. Rather like the national treasure when you think about how many greedy public servants are dipping into it, for Christmas gifts or other important needs.So give me a break. Get off the Philippine high horse about the boat already.

I have a feeling all those billions of little coral guys are laughing their pink and beige asses off over this ludicrous, lavish, comedic, tragic teledrama scene.  Bunch of big, lumpy tense humans arguing testily and fretting like Aunt Millie with rats in the pantry. After all, this is no big deal. The corals have to put up with all kinds of flotsam and jetsome ripping though on typhoons, along with the acids and chemicals, sludge and sewerage, spewing from the mainland and drifting around the globe.At least a boat crashing through is quick death for the cute little buggers. Beats having your eyes and lungs eaten out in excrutiating slow motion.

UPDATEOn February 2, 2013, Rappler reported that the US would make substantial contributions to rehabilitation of the reefs. The Philippine press went strangely quiet at that point.

28 Responses to “The Accidental Occupation: Tubbataha Truths”
  1. JosephIvo says:

    However you turn it around, it was rape. Not a violent one, the girl maybe have looked as inviting, and the poor victim will surely get well compensated, but nevertheless it was rape. Having said that, I fully agree that cases exist that are a zillion times worse. Case were the poor girl doesn’t even dare to complain, fearing for her live, fearing for the wrath of the powerful who did it to her, living with an ugly scar for live. Spreading the peanut butter always is a weak defence, inviting for opposing replies. So we should try to spin the situation around and highlight the real coral rape cases, tolerated by the rich, damaged beyond repair. (Global warming and its effects on coral riffs…. who generates the most greenhouse gasses per inhabitant?)

  2. It was rape. And I am screaming about all the other rapes being undertaken by Filipios whilst they cry about the American one.The nation leading the push toward global warming is the United States. The US is also the nation leading the push for development of hydrogen power technology and natural energy production to solve the problem so the rest of the planet can enjoy the same wealth and conveniences as Americans without worrying about the polluted planet. Certainly you are not arguing that the US should go back to horses so the rest of the world can drive its diesels. Are you? That's not your solution, is it?

  3. JosephIvo says:

    Hydrogen renewable? Fracking natural? Why not just accept some international conventions? CO2 ton/year/person: USA 5.5; Europe 2.4; China 0.5 Miles per gallon average in 2008: USA 25; Europe 44The list is endless, what gives the Americans the right to consume so much more of the worlds scarce resources, is it a gift of God? (their very unequally distributed wealth is a little higher, but not in proportion with the consumption of resources, importing more than exporting too)

  4. Anonymous says:

    To be fair, Filipinos are knee-jerk about everything, the worst kind of armchair analysts that like to complain about this and that while hardly doing anything. I have family members like this… they also happen to be unemployed.Maybe to have less Filipinos complaining, they should have jobs that force them to solve problems on the spot, their responsibility. If you want we can have the boss and clients breathe down their backs and put on the pressure. They'll shut up and be the model workers / OFWs you find in other countries.Philippine Media is mostly to blame for overreacting, maybe it's time to cut down on those MassComm graduates, as they're certainly not doing the country any favor. They like to proclaim loudly "Aye, the country is corrupt and full of shit." Then the international media picks it up and goes "Aye, the Philippines is corrupt and full of shit."A European ambassador recently confided that in fact, some of Philippines' neighbors are far more corrupt than the Philippines. It's just that1.) Their media do not admit it, usually a whitewashing media.2.) They attribute it to SOP, the "Asian" way of doing business.

  5. I see the complaint, and somewhere in all these 500 blogs I've joined your voice in complaint. But I don't see the solution.The US is the most able generator of wealth and technological innovation on the planet, something everyone else seeks to emulate. The wealth is generated from a powerful production base called capitalism which is rather like everyman for himself to compete according to certain rules. This free-base competition is out of control in that it subjugates common interest to greed, greed being wealth generated by someone else, not me.What is the solution, my good man, the solution?

  6. Your solution, accept international conventions, can't be sold into the American political system which is built to satisfy the CO2 generators. So it is an idealistic wish that can't even get to the table.

  7. Yes, those are two very important points, the outtake I believe needs to spread: (1) media responsibility, and (2) self-accountability. The opposite of what we see now, ratings-enhancing, unregulated sensationalism and self justification by pointing out the flaws of others (basically what the minesweeper incident is about).

  8. Anonymous says:

    A car veers off the road and tears up your front lawn. The car is on your street because the driver was invited to a party up the street. You are angry, your neighbors are angry. Some over react and blame the one who was hosting the party, others blame the driver for carelessness and arrogance and others come to his defense. Everybody is talking past each other venting built up frustrations and kicking each other's balls. But bone of them have a dog in the fight. Nothing being said addresses the problem of the fucking car and the damn damaged lawn. It was an accident, it was recklessness, it's God's plan, Satan made him do it, whatever. Who cares about that now? The lawn was damaged. The car sits on the lawn leaking gas. The homeowner must be compensated for the damage to his lawn. Both parties have to agree on the amount. That's it. Agree on the damages, pay it, tow the damn truck. Everybody now go home pop a beer kick the dog and beat up the spouse. – MB

  9. Yes, I agree with this characterization and conclusion. The only thing I would add is go find some more reefs to preserve. And forests. Why is Pinatubo not a National Heritage Park? Get more natural wonders on the National Heritage listing. Stake them off. Protect them. Cherish them, as we ALL cherish Tubbataha. Even JoeAm.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile, there used to be a nice open field between your house and your neighbor's house. Both your children used to play together on the field. Whenever a child gets bruised, they run to your house since it's closer, and you take care of things.Recently your neighbor built an outhouse in the field, and prevents your child from playing in it, stating that hundreds of years ago there used to be a mansion that stretched all the way to the boundary of your lawn. Your children do not play together anymore since your neighbor outright bans your child from even approaching.

  11. Actually I think the neighbor came onto our property, sat down, and said it was his. He also built the outhouse in the vacant lot. And he is eyeing our garage very carefully.

  12. Attila says:

    "I am screaming about all the other rapes being undertaken by Filipios whilst they cry about the American one."Exactly. Screaming double standards all the time! When we are in the Philippines my wife has to babysit me every time I pay for something because chances are I will be overcharged: From Jeepney fare to market shopping. Sometimes double or more. I usually tell them that I'm a Kano but I'm not stupid. That usually makes them embarrassed.46 million dollars that the US government may have to pay for the damage to the corals? Maybe the US government should gather the overstaying Filipinos in the US for taking jobs away from legal residents and for the loss of taxes. What would happen if the US would treat them the way they treat us: with a double standard.The most obvious double standard to me is the issue of Filipino men having sex with underage girls. There are 200,000 ( two hundred thousand) teenage pregnancies every year in the Philippines. That means the Filipino men are having sex with underage girls on a wide scale. However if some sick pervert American is busted doing it in the Philippines it will be a front page news. My Filipino friends: You can not have such double standard! It will backfire!

  13. Do brilliant University of the Philippines, Ateneo & la Salle graduate journalist/analysts of the Philippine Media have statistics on how many Filipinos gone to Tubbataha Rifts? Out of those that had enjoyed this jewel of coral rifts intended for the masses how many belongs to the hoi polloi and how many came from the arrogant condescending haughty hoity-toity ? Is the U.S. invasion of these coral rifts worth antagonizing Americans so the tisoys and tisays can scuba dive these gems? Oh, before I forget, those hoi polios that paddled to Tubbataha Rifts were carrying a placard WILL YOU MARRY ME ? They did not go there to enjoy the Rifts but to be a slave for the Tisoys and Tisays to enjoy watching how pathetic these indigenous traditional looking flat nose brown-skin Original Filipinos are. The brilliant ivy-school patriotic nationalistic Philippine Media are soooo agog over WILL YOU MARRY ME tourism advertisement. The advertisement is telling the foreigners that traditional brown-skin-flat-punk’d nose Filipinos are paddlers of the orient seas that would make themselves goofy and bend over and, of course, backwards, stand on their head dance Gangnam FOR MONEY to buy armed-less, harm-less, defense-less Hamilton passenger craft.The brilliant Philippine Media want to stoke the fire against the only super-power in the world because the Filipinos believes in Jesus Christ. And those who believe in Jesus Christ believes in David. AND THAT DAVID ARE THE FILIPINOS that can vanquish goliath China.If this is the height of brilliance of Philippine Media, I JUST WONDER where the level of brilliance of the rest of the Filipinos.FILIPINOS PICK FIGHTS WITH THE SUPER-GIANTS: U.S.A. and China !!!!We are Davids. God resides in every heart of the Filpinos. Together WE can make U.S.A. kneel before us.They will pay !!!! The U.S. will pay. FOR OUR CORALS !!!!! HA! HA! HA!Philippine government and brilliant Philippine Media protects these corals so the tisoys and tisays can enjoy it and the traditional Filipinos paddle to the dark side of the moon.

  14. 46 milyon cojones in dolyares? For these Corals? America will pay more Hamilton Coast Guard cutters. Because if you give 46 milyon cojones to Filipinos it will not go back to regenerate Tubbataha Reef but to build moat and drawbridge for their mansions in gated communities in Metro Manila pampered and spanked by underage sex slaves….. and I thought there is such a thing as child abuse laws in the Philippines.F you Filipinos !!! The new American congress will introduce a bill to call inhabitants of the Philippines as "Filipinos" derogatory. Because inhabitants of the Philippines would rather be called "Asians". They insist that they are Asians not Pacific Islanders.F you Filipinos !!!!

  15. The Brilliant Ivy-School graduate Philippine Press and its looney government would rather fight with their allies to protect the playing ground of the scuba-diving filthy wealthy famous tisoys and tisays over gazillions of hungry children dumpster diving at Jollibee trash to hunt for nuggets of left-over burgers and a sip of left-over cold drinks.My political axiom #69 still rings true: WHAT GOOT IS A GOOT PRESIDENT IF 99.9998% OF FILIPINOS ARE NOT GOOTOnce benign0 Aquino's term will be over foreign investors will be running away with their money and invest it somewhere else. Goot for me. Once the Philippine peso plunges again in the deepest seas of Tubbataha Reef these ivy-school Philippine press cannot afford Starbucks anymore. Starbucks is mine again free of ivy-school trying-hard trying-to-fit-in Pbhilippine Media.Bleaaaaah !!!!! F you Filipinos !!!!!!

  16. Anonymous says:

    @ Mariano Pacifico: The Society of Honor is the only Filipino blog site that treats you with kind respect so do not abuse your privilege by ranting incoherently like you did at Raissa's esteemed site. I'd like to read how Joe Am's wife would scold you like Alan Robles in defending Raissa. Or maybe I'd wait how Angry Maude would react and rant coherently to fluster Mariano in defense of cuz Jojo!Francis of Seattle, I used to be Kiko of Paco

  17. Mariano, I have a certain standard and style to aspire toward at this blog and the personalization of your argument upon an entire people is not appropriate. It has a hate quality that is beyond satire, or suggestion, and I don't like having it here in these ordinarily upstanding discussion threads.Kindly edit your material to exclude personal, insulting remarks in the future.Thanks.Joe

  18. Mariano, see my comment above.

  19. Attila says:

    Mariano: I enjoy reading your comments and I like your thoughtful humor. I would however never cross a line no matter how frustrated I am. I would never say F*** the USA or F*** Hungary. You can not choose your ethnicity and your brothers and sisters, your family. Love it or hate it you are a Filipino or a Filipino American. Let's just keep it cool!

  20. Jetlag807 says:

    The USS Guardian will have all of its vital, serviceable and salvageable equipment removed, the ship will then be disassembled, cut into pieces, lifted onto salvage ships and carried away. This action is being taken NOT because the US Navy or DoD is so concerned about a coral reef, Oh No! It is being done because the US Navy and DoD are sick and tired of hearing the same complaints from a people who lack the ability to defend their own country from within its own borders and from foreign aggressors! They are sick and tired of listening to the same crap about "the US should pay more than the law allows" from a people who can only see an opportunity to extort money from Uncle Sam! They are sick and tired of having to play "nice" with a people who do not want them in the Philippines in the first place! So, cut the ship to pieces, write the check and be done with it! After that, those people can have a big hot cup of SHUT THE F*** UP! By the way; those same people should get down on their knees and prey that each and every American Citizen living here in the Philippines doesn't write their Congressmen and Senators demanding to terminate ALL Military Aid to this country!By the way; That was a very informative article Joe! Well done!

  21. Sure, Jet. Happy to light your fuse.And of course. Cutting up of the boat will take considerable time. That is the risk. With time can come storms and more damage. The Philippine Rangers apparently want the cut-up solution, but you know who will get the criticism if it goes wrong.Furthermore, I find it amazing that the same thinking goes on at the national government level as goes on in the streets or neighborhood. Go for the short term money and to hell with any relationship that might be much more valuable.When they have you over a barrel (US mistake), then any blames, excuses, extortions come into play. And when the next storm comes up, please send money and aid.Drives us both nuts, I guess. Loyalty is a one-way street.

  22. Sorry, guys. Will never do it again.

  23. Francis of Seattle, I plead guilty. I will not use the F word again 😦

  24. Jonny says:

    Great article, sir. My thoughts about this whole matter are written here. As a Filipino it would help to let others know that we really see nothing in this issue if not for our media's constant bombardment of the phrase "World Heritage Site" always coupled with stock footage of beautiful coral reefs to keep public opinion anxious every time they give us updates on this incident. The incident was politically motivated wrapped around environmentalism – standard. It doesn't surprise me that the most vocal proponents of accusing the United States and currently are even planning to initiate legal action of the men and women on-board USS Guardian are from the Left-leaning bureaucrats from our senate to the little guy in department of environment and from-the-university characters the media runs for an interview on this matter. The result is a bunch of one-sided nationalistic, almost immaturish sentiments that are just as empty as the placards their student counterparts are going about in the streets ironically trashing everything in their wake. And yes this is not the first time boats and ships have run aground in the Tubbataha reef. One of our own military ship got stuck there just a few years ago and even "Rainbow Warrior" from the environmental group/activist, Greenpeace. But we hardly heard about those. This however is an American military vessel and suddenly everyone is overreacting. Like I said the whole issue is just political, ideologically motivated.

  25. Jonny, thank's for the background. That makes sense, that it is the nationalistic cry from those who would be happy to drive a wedge between the Philippines and U.S., in favor of China perhaps, and the communist ideology. I'm just surprised that respected senators like Santiago and Legarda are willing to be the mouthpieces of protest on this.Thanks for the very enlightening background information.

  26. Jonny says:

    "On February 2, 2013, Rappler reported that the US would make substantial contributions to rehabilitation of the reefs. The Philippine press went strangely quiet at that point."I'll state the obvious that we all know that money's going to trickle down somewhere. The other thing I'd like to add that rather makes me sad is the fact that we invited the Americans because of the Chinese territorial problem because we are incapable of handling the problem ourselves. I believe the people's reaction to this incident shows we lost the virtue of being grateful and have become gullible to jump on the fake concern of the environmental bandwagon – spearheaded by militant anti-US groups like Anakbayan and other birds of the same feather.By the way, while they are irate about this incident there are some 10,000 dynamite fishing cases recorded everyday in the Philippines. All the while turning a blind eye on the incompetent waste management we have in this country and is responsible for destroying rivers and coastal waters for decades. But no, the politicians and the media would rather yap about a place no one knows when a US ship gets stuck on it.

  27. Wow. That's incredible. Thanks for the link, and the info.

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