The Philippines: rising to leadership in Asia

noynoy-aquino-shinzo-abe philstar

President Aquino with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [Photo credit:]

Most of Asia is free. China is not free. North Korea is not free. Other nations have more citizen participation in their affairs. Viet Nam is socialist. Malaysia is a high control republic, Indonesia a high-control federation. Japan and South Korea are self-contained, disciplined democratic societies.

The Philippines is different. The democratic nation is loud and free and unrestrained. The public has a strong say in the nation’s values and decisions. Indeed, the nation’s biggest problem is organizing these many voices into a single, unified state.

Most, I suspect, find it hard to imagine the Philippines as the leader of Asia. This is a poverty-wracked, young democracy with a recent history of corruption and poor, inconsistent direction. The nation is known more for its overseas working force and singing stars than its accomplishments.

But sometimes leadership is not found in deeds. It is found in character and circumstance.

The outer world pays little attention to the details of internal Philippine politics and government. They see only the big picture or striking events.

Aquino Prime-Minister-Dung-of-Viet-Nam

Vietnamese Prime Minister Dung and President Aquino

As President Aquino visits or receives foreign dignitaries, he shows them a stable, honorable, vibrant, growing nation. He has re-defined the character of the Philippines as serious, law abiding and reasonable.

The greater world does not measure President Aquino, or the Philippines, on incidents like Mamasapano, Mary Jane Veloso, or the cost of electricity. The greater world, and Asia, measure him . . . and the Philippines . . . on profound deeds. Works that show the character of the Philippines.

Here are the five developments that reflect the leadership potential of the Philippines. That define her character:

  • A stable financial book, including the shock absorber of foreign remittances. Strong economic growth and even stronger potential. The nation has the wherewithal to emerge from decades of financial mismanagement and corruption to become the “go to” nation for investment.
  • The ITLOS arbitration filing that says law and peace are more important to the Philippines than fighting. And that says we will stand up to China, not bow down.
  • The Bangsamoro Basic Law that says we . . . the Philippine nation, collectively . . . are willing to listen to our indigenous peoples rather than cast them aside. And we truly want development and wealth for them, which can only be found through peace. We will work out a solution that is unique to our nation.
  • The recently displayed willingness of the Philippines, as poor as she may be, to accept the nationless poor, the outcasts of other lands, to feed them and care for them when richer nations will not. What an incredible statement to Asia and the world that was.
  • Constructive alliances with all the other major players in Asia. President Aquino is welcomed everywhere, because he talks rational common sense in a dignified and respectful manner. No one in Asia works the international community as well as Mr. Aquino.

It doesn’t take money to have character. It takes integrity and sacrifice, good, reasonable thinking, and a bit of compassion.

aquino merkel

President Aquino with German Chancellor Merkel

That is the Philippines, in the global arena.

Consider the other top nations of Free Asia, and why their leadership potential is limited:

  • Japan: Bitter history with South Korea and lingering resentments across Asia for her brutal ways in WWII.
  • South Korea: Bitter history with Japan, locked into a fight with North Korea, and not seen as interested in, or warm to, other nations.
  • Taiwan: Has not resolved her relationship with China.
  • Malaysia: Other nations look with wariness on the Muslim undercurrents of dissent.
  • Singapore: A self-contained city of little regional outreach or engagement. Does not face China.
  • Viet Nam: Socialist and controlled; tending toward isolation. Not fully trusted by or warm to other nations.
  • Thailand: Politically unstable.
  • Indonesia: Political, sectarian and racial tensions. Little interest in the South China Sea issue.
  • Other nations: none is of sufficient political, commercial or regional stature to lead.

One’s leadership is always defined by one’s friends, or the people willing to accept that leadership.

  • The United States stand squarely behind Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.
  • Australia stands behind many Asian nations, and prominently behind the Philippines.
  • The European Union stands behind many Asian nations, and prominently behind the Philippines.

The Philippines is bolstered by the military muscle and economic might of her larger partners. No other nation has the same positioning in Asia, a neutral, respected regional posture and strong backing from around the world.

Importantly, the Philippines is a threat to no nation.

Other than China.


Presidents Obama and Aquino

To achieve a leadership position in Asia, the Philippines must continue the progress made by President Aquino.

Today, we have the President in Japan where he will address their National Diet. Meanwhile, back home in the Philippines, we have a Senate bickering about the nits and nats of an important agreement that COULD defines the Philippines as a mature, innovative, progressive state.

If the Legislature doesn’t play small ball and kill it. If the Supreme Court doesn’t play small ball and kill it.

The President can’t lead the nation to prominence if her other institutions will not follow.

Passing the BBL would promote the Philippines as a problem-solver, a nation working on integration of previously disenfranchised minorities. A nation of compassion and solution.

If the nation is to rise to leadership, Philippine voters must also acquire a larger vision for their nation and express it in the 2016 election. They have to vote for stability and continuity of policy. To choose forward over backward.

And her new president will need to continue Mr. Aquino’s constructive, active outreach among other nations, always granting them respect, always searching for ways to work together.

The Philippines has destiny ahead of her. This young, free, unrestrained democracy is rich with life, diversity, good leadership fundamentals, economic potential and . . . yes . . . fun.

What do you foresee?

  • A continuing rise to economic health, prominence and leadership?
  • Endless, small-minded, internal division and wasted potential?

It’s a choice.

To rise, its leaders – including legislators and judges – must lift their heads above the details on their desks to see the vision, the promise of the Philippines. They must think with integrity. They must let the President lead.

That is the higher path for the Philippines and her long-serving, loyal peoples.


136 Responses to “The Philippines: rising to leadership in Asia”
  1. The potential is definitely there, but it is a challenge to make something out of it:

    Now if there are to be internal arguments, then they must take place strategically and not transactionally, in terms of future perspectives for the country:

    The President definitely has started well in being more multilateral in his approaches.

  2. methersgate says:

    Another good one. The Philippines has been the laughing stock of Asia since the Marcoses; things can change and are changing..

    • Joe America says:

      And I’d guess that 99% of the population are so wrapped up in little details that they are inclined not to see it. Or are so lacking in trust, confidence or vision, that they won’t believe it.

  3. A very good analysis Joe. The French President came here not long ago. I have enough trouble scratching my head trying to make sense of this country. Indonesia and Malaysia and two populous countries with quite a big economic potential could both cut more of a figure internationally. The Muslim agenda is dominated by the Middle East. they seem to show little leadership. I really find them an enigma.

    Trade between China and the Philippines is enormous. We just driven by “Manila City of Dreams” $1.3Billion, Melcro and an SM partnership. Macau is the conduit I suspect for money coming from China.

    Can China ride two systems at the same time? The President there has had a go at corruption, and the East and South China seas, just what is all that about, oil I suspect.
    Yes Aquino has got through the RM bill and the Pork Barrel hearings. Both of those need to be pushed forward.

    There is a certain gravitas about Aquino. As you say this is somewhat lacking else where in the region.

    Please Joe start an in depth analysis of the presidential race. There is a couple of sad sick old faces that the country does not want at all. Is Pinay to be trusted, can Poe cut it?

    Thanks again for your comments.

    • Joe America says:

      Thanks for stopping by to comment, Jonathan. China is hard to figure, given the irrationality of what they are doing. As a respected member of the international community, they would rise to dominate on the strength of their economy. But then they’d have to buy resources rather than steal them. Going the way they are, which is a kind of racist determination to conquer the lesser beings and take their goods . . . it can’t have a good end, for them, for the US, for the Philippines. China makes Filipinos seem very open minded, and I’ve run across a hardhead or two here in my time.

      I’ve done various pieces on Poe and Roxas and even commented on Lacson on one some time ago. I’ve not done Duterte, and that’s on the drawing board. I don’t think Marcos and Santiago are worth the time. They are ego candidates, nuisance candidates. So is Lacson, I think. The big four are Binay, Poe, Roxas and Duterte. I don’t trust Binay at all. He has a total disregard for others, from all evidence is perfectly happy taking taxpayer money, abuses earnest public servants, and is an all-around nasty guy to me. Duterte I don’t trust because he draws his own lines, and when he has the nation’s power behind him, it is hard to tell when, where and why he would draw them. I prefer a stable, known quality in the President’s office. Either Poe or Roxas would get the job done just fine. Never perfectly. But the Philippines would continue to rise under them.

      I doubt that I will get much deeper than that, but I welcome guest articles. 🙂

      • I wish I could write another guest article again Joe, this time on Duterte. However, knowing how his supporters act, and (to be honest) my lack of knowledge regarding him, I don’t think I can do it. I’m willing to help you though, should you write an article on them.

        Oh yeah Joe, in case you’re curious about my handle: Mami Kawada is a Japanese singer who mainly does theme songs for anime series. She’s my favorite artist, but sadly she’s not very well known even in Japan (she’s rather niche, and she’s never even had a gold record, her highest selling CD sold less than 40,000 CDs).

  4. Vicara says:

    Consultants who’ve worked in international development in Asia have told me that Filipinos are known for breaking the ice at multilateral conferences, catalyzing discussion, and building trust and consensus among participants. Although one did add, with exasperation, “The problem is we end up failing to take a strong stand on our own behalf.”

  5. Kiko says:

    An incisive view on PH’s devoloping role in the region, granting not sabotaged by the masses voting for a popular candidate who will upset the positive achivements of what Lady Miriam mocked as “student council”

    • Joe America says:

      One of these day’s, I hope Lady Miriam will step forth to put her better solutions on the table for China and the BBL. She is for sure good at telling everyone why the current way won’t work.

  6. Oh yeah, speaking of Duterte, this link may be of use to you:

    Interestingly, it seems the anti-Duterte commenters are starting to be very vocal on the Inquirer. Are Filipinos starting to wake up, at last?

  7. maya pula says:

    domestically overlooked but globally hailed is the Philippine and Indonesian agreement and settling of their territorial claims. one could think of no better achievement than this.

  8. Annalissa says:

    How I wish there is a Tagalog/Filipino version of this beautiful piece….how can you write something so positive so beautiful it makes me so proud to be called a Filipino?

  9. Bing Garcia says:

    Very well said.

  10. Bing Garcia says:

    Despite their friendship, Osmeña said he will sign the subcommittee report recommending plunder charges because it was “very convincing.”

    • Joe America says:

      That is good news, indeed. I watched much of the testimony and it was absolutely convincing. Only crooks and self-dealers and nut cases would deny it. And family members.

  11. Micha says:

    Pangloss : All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. (optimism)

    Candide : Not so fast Professor. To be grounded in reality, we must “cultivate our garden”. (pragmatism)

  12. BFD says:

    Hi Joe, do you mean South Korea instead of North Korea as a self-contained democratic country?

  13. Ley... HelloJoe says:

    Noynoy is doing a great job. Numbers are positive but there’s still a lot of corrupt politicians sitting in congress and in many executive departments. And Judges and courts lack the moral consensus. Binay’s 10 months hearing is indicative of a slow moving skills ( third world ) especially that the person involved ( Binay) has lied on his SALN, ownership of his farm and other material evidence which are reasonable ground to convict him with plunder.

    To be positive, I have observed progress in the real estate development and BPO ( thanks to the Americans who taught Filipinos English). Both sectors has allowed local employment to improve. And lots of young Filipinos are getting out of the country looking for a better experience and jobs overseas which will improve remittances further. ( again because Filipinos speak English- an American legacy)

    On the negative side, healthcare sucks. Philhealth is not a preventative type of healthcare. It is not advocating awareness on disease prevention. DOH lacks the budget for free access to preventative routine checkup for everybody. vaccines for diseases are not free for children and those retires who are vulnerable. or people are unable to access social benefits.
    The number one asset of any country is its people. Healthy people make wealthy nation.

    On crimes, the ratio of policemen per 1000 population has never been addressed as a demand for more recruitment and training.
    On rule of law, the ratio of lawyers per population is not within the standard numbers that are essentials to protect human rights, domestic violence, drug related crimes and and other civil/criminal cases.

    The macroeconomic growth under Noynoy is truly helping but corrupt politicians are dragging this country- wasteful of people’s time and money. One solution is to elect another honest President who will continue Noynoy fight for corruption and one who DOES not steal the people’s money. Second solution…. Change the composition of congress and executive departments by recruiting new breed of Filipinos . Improve RATIO of governance.

    If Philippines will rise? it’s rising slowly. Not too bad, at least we have something to talk about. lol

  14. malakal says:

    Good, intellectually stimulating dissertation.

  15. karl garcia says:

    Opposition is fine as long as it is not paralyzing,causing gridlocks,stalemates,etc. and that is what is basically wrong with the pressure groups question about everything until a bill is killed unless it is what they are pushing for, a resolution will never resolved unless it is also their idea.
    Since that will never go away for a very long time my hope is in the youth. Young polticos and young captains of industry and young leaders who won’t just copy what the old guys are doing good or bad but are willing to have a different mind set.

    Again I commend the 18 year path(succession plan) that is not suppose to stop at 18 but just because we ran out of names (Roxas,Poe,Bam Aquino) Some one will show up eventually( If I add Robredo that is no longer 18)

    For civil society to work, Have a coalition of like minds and the coalition is not adhoc or transactional.

    What we have is many human rights groups, many labor groups,many marginalized groups.

    • Joe America says:

      Very clearly, a sense of nationhood escapes plunderers, and I suspect even a good many straight dealers who are used to looking at the details without consideration of the bigger picture. If people bought into the idea that I want a strong nation, and to get it, have to help the President rather than rip at him because he is not doing things the way I want, then the nation would have unlimited upward potential. When the President tries to take a step forward (as he did on Mamasapano), and the people collectively rip him back three, it’s hard to move forward. Same with the BBL. Like, if the only way the nation can move forward is with a dictator, try another dictator. Personally, I’d rather see support (and a bit of sacrifice) for a strong President. Like, give him the benefit of the doubt. Give him wiggle room. Commend him domestically rather than leave that to the international community.

      • karl garcia says:

        Like for example senator Trillanes has many questions about BBl,K12 etc.But in almost everything else, he is very supportive.

        I digress
        Can I open up and share this?
        Just recently,VP Binay asked my uncle who is a fraternity brod(APO) to tell my dad to cut ties with Trillanes.
        Man, he is getting desperate,doing the divide and conquer stuff.

        • Joe America says:

          He has to be desperate. He is asking people to help him escape. He stains everyone he touches these days. I wonder when the Sister City mayors will start to turn on him. To save their own skins.

  16. edgar lores says:

    1. Remarkable for its tone.

    2. I took a gander at GRP, read some of the headlines, and noted that the cup of negativity overfloweth. In stark contrast to the listed “developments that reflect the leadership potential” of the country, what do I find? These:

    o “BBL: An agreement with just one rebel group will not bring peace to Mindanao”
    o “The hypocrisy in the way Filipinos ‘welcome’ the Rohingya boat people”
    o “Destruction of Dreams: The True Pinoy Legacy”

    3. No two views -– one cannot use the word “vision” to describe the GRP outlook – no two views can be more dissimilar, more opposite. One is a dismal perspective of a disconsolate country, of “woe unto us”; the other a vibrant perspective of positive possibilities, of “the sky is the limit.”

    Well, perhaps, not exactly. I exaggerate a bit, but certainly the prospect of our cup running over.

    4. If we talk in terms of self-reliance, of resolve, of firm hands on the tiller, the future of the country is not about hope. It is not about faith. It is about the right vision. And, as noted, it is really about choice.

    5. We create the world that we see… and foresee.

    • karl garcia says:

      I won’t ask what is wrong with hope and faith,as Joe asked what we foresee(vision) and the choice between a right and wrong vision is also covered, we must choose what is positive and hopeful, for me without hope there can be no positive.Lastly I am per usual asking for enlightenment from the guru.

      • edgar lores says:


        For a long time now, but more recently, we have been discussing how dependent the Filipino is. We implore the aid of God, we hope that things will turn out alright, and we have faith that it will be so.

        Hope is a “feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.” Having the feeling is not enough.

        Note that I do NOT say we should not have hope or faith. What I said is that the future is more about having the right vision and making the right choice. And because the future is not a finished product, making a choice is an act of will… and we must continue to make the right choices and exert the will accordingly in whatever decisions will confront us in the future to ensure our initial choice will happen.

        There is an initial right choice — GRP or Society of Honor — and there are also a series of endless right choices — Binay or Roxas; litter or use the bin; bribe the judge or pay for the crime.

        It is a matter of emphasis. It is alright to have the emotion of hope; it is more productive to have the resolve of action. Without the right action on our part… the hope will be in vain.

    • Joe America says:

      Points 4 and 5 are exactly to the point of the article. Right now, the Philippines is at a point of choice. Two choices, actually, one that is important (BBL), and one that is defining (2016 election).

  17. Juana Pilipinas says:

    A very interesting take on 2016 election and its outcome:

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, interesting. The writer observes that Binay’s China policy is a violation of the constitution, cites Loopy Harry Roque as if he had some respect left, and observes that either Poe/Roxas or Roxas/Poe may take on Binay.

    • NHerrera says:

      The thoughts expressed in Jeffrey Ordaniel’s piece in The Diplomat has been effectively aired here in Joe’s Blog together with the associated commentaries. Still it is nice to read something phrased differently and perhaps with some variation in nuance. Thanks for sharing the link.

    • >But some in the Philippine Left – who have always been against an American presence in the country – have already expressed support for Binay, among them University of the Philippines Professor Harry Roque, who has asked the country’s Supreme Court to block the implementation of EDCA and declare the U.S.-Philippine deal unconstitutional.
      >Some in the Philippine Left… have already expressed support for BInay


      I’d rather support a true nationalist like the late Claro M. Recto (who was anti-any form of imperialism, US or otherwise) than “nationalists” like Bayan Muna who claim to be anti-imperialist but are almost silent on China, which is recent years is almost just as imperialist as the US. Of course, this means I’m also against US imperialism, but if I have to pick between US or Chinese support, I’ll go with the lesser evil and pick the US.

      • Joe America says:

        Just pick Philippine best interests, and things line up easily.

        • Also, just found this link which may be of interest:

          Some guy was asking a Bayan (Bayan being a leftist group allied with Bayan Muna and its other allies) member what their stance was on China. The member could not give any satisfactory answers. How scary!

          • Joe America says:

            That about nails it. Hahaha, if I extend the thinking, it is evident that Bayan and Gabriela believe the US is imperialistic but China is not. Plus, they don’t mind if the oil goes to China because it would only benefit the oligarchs of the Philippines.


            • karl garcia says:

              The ad revenue from the “we are not saying please vote me if I run” guys goes straight to the tv station owners,who are oligarchs.

              • Joe America says:

                These oligarchs, they are the guys building the malls and high rise condos and expressways and airports, right? The sari-sari store owners are not building them, I think.

                I rather think there are good oligarchs and bad ones, good practices and bad, and we ought to ban the bad practices. Bad is when they control markets and don’t allow competition to thrive. Bam Aquino is working on that, I think.

            • The Filipino left – I mean everything that is NDF or affiliated – is Maoist in its thinking. Even the street plays they stage are in a style remiscent of the Cultural Revolution, even their standard stuff that “imperialism, feudalism and bureacrat-capitalism” are at fault is standard Mao thinking more appropriate in analysis to China in the 1930s/1940s. So it cannot be expected that they will be against China, that is not in their rote learning.

              • Joe America says:

                Right, which is why they will always be the “whacko left”, out of touch with what is pragmatic, the term I had written into my recent blog on Binay/leftists, but changed to “extremist left”.

    • Joe America says:

      Indeed, most enlightening. I particularly appreciate the point that the United States went through a phase of strengthening of federal agencies during the early 20th century. The Philippines has not gone through such a phase. Philippine institutions are weak, bogged down in dynastic influences and corruption.

  18. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    I am not sure how “YOUNG DEMOCRACY” is the Philippines.

    1. Was it in 1898 when traitor murder General Aguinaldo who sold the Philippines and The Filipinos for a measly $800,000.00 Mexican dollars in three-installment plans? There was no record what bank Spanish Conquistadores used. MoneyGram? Filipinos to this day do not know because I don’t. The U.P. historians in cahoots with the Philippine Government claimed that Aguinaldo did not sold out the Filipinos, instead, they changed history claiming Gen. Aguinaldo used the money to re-arm the Filipinos. They have to make this story stick, else, the first Philippine Independence did not happen. The U.P. historians applied the Aguinaldo Principle to make it appear that INDEPENDENCE WAS NOT HANDED DOWN IN SILVER PLATTER BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT in July 4th the original Independence Day of the Philippines until it was changed to June 12 which is 12 days away from today in the early 1960s. Gen.Aguinaldo did not come to the Philippines out of his volition. It was Admiral Dewey that sent out marines to “fetch” Gen. Aguinaldo from his luxurious retirement in Hong-Kong. Again, the Filipinos do not know where he lived in Hong-Kong, what street, what canton. What he ate. What he did. No story at all VERY UNLIKE IN THE U.S. where they have detailed stories of John Adams Ben Franklin and others. Gazillions of Filipinos go to Hong-Kong to shop and tour only to see Hong-Kong not the place where the first flag of the Philippines were made nor Gen Aguinaldo stayed. NOTHING. Well, they are U.P. folks. U.P. graduates are more into crookery.

    2. “Young Democracy” as in liberated by Americans in 1945?

    3. When the brilliant U.P. senators changed the Independence day from July 4th to June 12 in 1960s?

    4. Or, Liberation from Marcos in 1986? From The Binays in 2016?

    I am asking this because Vietnam was obliterated from American fire-bombing until 1972 when Vietnamese liberated themselves from Americans which is now better than Philippines. Stronger. Nationalistic. Mightier.

    I am asking this because South Korea also came out of the ashes of war in late 1950s. Became the top 5 Economic world power

    We all know Japan was nuked by the U.S in 1945. We also know where Japan is now.

    Of course, Taiwan from the onslaught of Chiang Kai Shek

    And China from Cultural Revolution in the 60s

    Philippines have had plenty of pockets of revolutions starting from EDSA REvolution. I REALLY DO NOT KNOW WHEN WE STARTED TO BECOME A DEMOCRACY. I cannot rely on U.P.-inspired high-school textbooks.

    U.P. did inspire Aguinaldo Principle. By making stories to make Gen Aguinaldo legally claim he was the first to declare Independence.

    HAPPY PHIL-AM FRIENDSHIP DAY (Originally Philippine Independence Day) – July 4th

    Oh, Filipinos in the U.S., please do not dance the Philippine Independence at the Board of Supervisors at Temple Street because Philippine Independence is a cry of war against the American occupiers. If you wanted to celebrate Independence Day in June 12, please have the sense to fly back to the Philippines and celebrate it there with your crooked traitor General Aguinaldo.

    Thank you.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      I forgot, I mentioned Vietnam, Taiwan China, South Korea Japan because they were not coddled by the Americans and became way way way way much better than Philippines which I believe the oldest democracy in Asia. 1898 was the year Filipinos became a democracy. Thanks to the Americans.

    • Joe America says:

      I take the starting point to be 1987 after President Marcos ripped asunder all sense of economic and legal right and wrong. This was on the heels of 50 years of convoluted occupancy and self-half-rule. Aguinaldo may have formed a republic, but it was not truly of the people.

  19. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Philippines should be Asia’s leader:
    1. It got no economic might
    2. It got no military might
    3. Very goot Englischtzes. Translators need not apply.
    4. They hit-and-run-to-Papa Obama
    5. Among the claimants Philippines is the noisiest

    All of my observations above are based on Philippine Daily Inquirer. Not necessarily my thoughts about Filipinos and The Philippines

    Here are whys Philippines should not be Asia’s leader:
    Malacanang is leaking like a sieve. Tulfo can know what Binay-and-Aquino were discussing in Binay’s Scandals and never investigated. Neither investigated by Aquino, Trillanes, The Senate, by Mar, Grace nor Philippine National Security Agency. “National Security” is Asia’s security which is foreign to Filipinos. I just wonder where the President going to hide his ASEA papers when crooks roam Malacanang. Does the President of the Philippines have like what they have in the White House that is immune to eavesdropping? If Tulfo can know, PHilippine INquirer can know. If Philippine Inquirer can know the Filipos can know and ASEA can know.

    Asia’s leadership is only good if Benigno wins the 2nd term. We can never know if a monster wins the Philippines next year. It is fluid.

    We may never know if PDI has treasure troves of scandals for the next presidency like they ignore COA audit reports of Binays.

    What if Philippine Leader is busy parrying scandals after scandals?

    It is not time for Philippines to be a leader. They better straighten and clean their house before joining the big mature boys of Asia.

    • mercedes santos says:

      Mine sentiments, EXACTLY !!!

      • Joe America says:

        I’m wondering, then, when is the right time to be a leader. The Executive Branch is righted. It is not corrupt. Good work is being done. The Legislature is working as it does in a vibrant democracy, with lots of debate. The judiciary is a mushy mess due to legal processes that are impossible, continuing political or corrupt judgments (weak case law), and not enough funding. Yet, the lady at the top is honest and bright, and there are people of integrity working with her.

        More importantly, there is a situation at hand . . . China . . . and another one . . . ASEAN and free trade . . . that the Philippines must be involved with. Who, exactly, should the Philippines follow, if she does not lead?

    • Joe America says:

      The idea of leadership is for citizens here to ponder, to understand the importance of an empowered Executive office rather than one that is emasculated, the importance of bold moves like the BBL rather than being tied forever in internal bickering and posturing, and to grasp the situation in Asia, that the Philippines is not confined by religious strife (unduly), past wars with neighbors, or totalitarian inflexibility. Mr. Aquino acts with reason and respect, and that ought to be the Philippine mantra. The Philippines has good friends in powerful places. I will do a follow-up article to this one dealing with the United States, drawing a parallel to the situation in Japan after WWII when the US invested heavily to bolster Japan against communism. The Philippines did not get similar investment. Maybe it is about time to rethink that, from the American viewpoint.

      Other than that, your condemnations from afar read a lot like GRP malarky, and you ought to read Edgar’s assessment of that, above. You write about the night, I strive for the day. Nothing changes if we (you) keep wielding a hammer to the head every time the Philippines blinks.

      • NHerrera says:

        Joe, there are truths to be sure in what Mariano posts, but the one-sided negativity gets to be tiresome. Reading his posts, I have had a feeling (more than 50 percent) that he is writing his comments much like a father would test his son, to check how you, Joe, and the others react — and that he really feels good of good ripostes. But I don’t think so now.

        I am quoting what you said above:

        Other than that, your condemnations from afar read a lot like GRP malarky, and you ought to read Edgar’s assessment of that, above. You write about the night, I strive for the day. Nothing changes if we (you) keep wielding a hammer to the head every time the Philippines blinks.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, most of the time I can grasp the message within the bludgeoning, but this time I couldn’t. Plus, like Edgar, I visited GRP the other day, and the relentless holier-than-thou beating upon the Philippines and Filipinos was just too much. So the bad taste from that episode got transferred to MRP on his comment here.

          • Actually MRPs message is the same as my first posting in this blog, but it sounds much more negative that is all. My message is: the POTENTIAL is there but the country still has to get its act together, especially argue and think strategically instead of transactionally.

            Translate MRPs negatives into positives: build the economic base up to be even more solid, strengthen military, define foreign policy more clearly than already is being done now, have the US as backup but be as self-reliant as possible – then things will work out. Now MRP (and GRP) are saying we are in the wrong place, I am saying how one could get out of that wrong place, I do agree on many things with them but one has to see three things: what is bad now, what is good now and what has to be done to make it better.

            • Joe America says:

              Thanks for the translation.

              • There are two things I also find perceptive in MRPs writings, rambling as they are – I can be rambling myself, I guess that is why I can translate his stuff into something productive:

                1) his perception that the other countries made it out of bad stuff on their own, while the Philippines was so often spoon-fed by the USA – and then had so many ungrateful nationalists who act like spoilt children, or like the Venetians after the Austrians left: “cursed be the Austrians for teaching us how to eat three meals a day!” – my research on Philippine history shows how much the Philippines was spoon-fed even by Spain…

                2) his perception that class discrimination is still very strong in the Philippines, expressed in the old terms of color. In fact it is a bit true, why is Binay always referred to as black, while Mar Roxas who is nearly as dark is not. Because it is still a social class thing. Makes it possible for Binay to play the “I’m your nigger” game with the masa, while making it difficult for Mar Roxas to reach them no matter how well he may mean. Have dealt with many masa abroad, I remember how hard it was to reach them in the begin, just my way of talking and acting made them suspicious. Speak English just a little too well or too much and it may cause them to act like Afro-Americans do to one of their own “talking white”.. Now since the presidential campaign will be fought out for the voices of C and D classes, this issue is not trivial. How to reach them in a way that engenders real trust.. Binay plays upon their sense of victimhood, Duterte plays to their vindictiveness… it will be real hard.

              • Joe America says:

                Very well said.

            • NHerrera says:


              “I do agree on many things with them but one has to see three things: what is bad now, what is good now and what has to be done to make it better.”

  20. Bing Garcia says:

    I now protest Guariña’s commentary “An Islamic state under the BBL” (Opinion, 5/25/15). Allusions to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s atrocities cannot be made irresponsibly during our peace process. Guariña warns of a Philippine Isis after the Bangsamoro Basic Law allegedly suspends the separation of Church and State in Mindanao and creates a Bangsamoro parliament authorized to make Islam a state religion there. However, even high school students know that Congress neither has authority to establish a state religion, nor has authority, logically, to create a Bangsamoro parliament to do what it cannot.

    Should editors not filter legal pronouncements by so-called experts as rigorously as they do normal sources instead of according law a deference it does not merit? Does it not diminish the free market of ideas when an editor automatically assumes that he has no right to gauge a justice’s legal pronouncements and that his duty to free speech is to publish them for another lawyer to refute? Even if refuted, are not legal pronouncements with clearly flawed bases a waste of everyone’s time? And when blatantly flawed legal pronouncements are published in the context of potential tensions in Mindanao, is there a point when media become complicit in fear-mongering?

    Oscar Franklin Tan

  21. Percival says:

    Joe, please let me share this again here
    The #stopBinay walk final schedule. I understand there will be parallel rally in Naga City and they are encouraging other cities to do the same.

  22. Bert says:

    Just a thought, an annoying thought, but I can’t help it. Why read GRP and Renato Pacifico then complain? We’ve been reading them for a long time already and we know exactly what the taste is and still persist on eating them then complain of the bad taste. I’m puzzled.

    • karl garcia says:

      Matatag ka Bert, I remember what the alter ego of MRP, Bong V made fun of you and MB about the surveys pre 2010 election, and you said you can take it because you are not a cry baby.In the open discussions I said I no longer care what he writes,but I like what you wrote about family here.

    • Mary Grace P. gonzales says:

      MRP posts here, i feel duty bound to challenge what I can, when i can…Nowadays, I simply can’t find the time. Just one sentence rejoinder is all I can manage.

      Thanks for this refreshing post, Joe as well as that wonderful article of Pat Evangelista you recommendedl…Made my day…

    • Joe America says:

      The reader has a choice to skip MRP or skip the blog. I don’t have that latitude. There are matters of free speech, and the notion that even objectionable speech can be instructive, and yet there is a style of maturity and absence of personal insult that I strive for. It is difficult to draw lines . . . for me . . . to ban people from the blog. So I occasionally goad, nudge or outright say its not working. My response to MRP was not a complaint, but a nudge. If you said “its me or MRP”, I’d still accept MRP’s writings. If 10 people said “its me or MRP”, I’d accept MRP’s writings. If more than that gave me an ultimatum, I’d just turn all comments off and publish my own thoughts, or quit the blog altogether.

      • Joe America says:

        I thought his little rhyme the other day was fantastic. Can you do that? I can’t do that. You don’t want to read such materials? You don’t want others to read it?


        Poe signed off Binay
        Poe became Foe
        Friends became Foes
        Poe Foes became Friends
        Poe Friends became Foes
        Fee Fi Poe Fun
        Poe smells the air of election time
        Binay Alive, or must he dead
        Poe’ll grind his bones to make her win

        • bauwow says:

          Agree with Bert, that we do not have to swallow every MRP’s posts. We all know, that somehow some of it may leave a bad taste in the mouth.
          I disagree with MRP, we are capable of being a leader. Carlos P. Romulo, who barely stood Five feet and four inches, was a “giant” among his peers. He became the President of the UN’s 4th General Assembly. He also became a Chairman of the UN Security Council.
          @MRP, when you wake up in the morning, look up to the sun, reach within and exhale very slowly. This is the time that the world needs the Philippines to lead.

      • Bert says:

        I am expressing a thought. I am not complaining. Whether Renato Pacifico is fantastic or not is not my concern. He can post in your blog all he wants, you will not hear a whimper from me. It’s your blog anyway. I will read his post if I want to, or not. If the others want to read him, then by all means, I’m not going to stop them. And I will decide for myself what is fantastic and what is not. If you do not want me to express my thought in your blog. then do what you please.

        • Joe America says:

          The blog is a community like any other. We each have our likes and dislikes and on any give day bring to the blog uplift or downdraft, constructive thoughts or negative thoughts. Of course you determine what is fantastic or not, for you. Therein rests the editor’s challenge. How to guide without constraining, how to welcome and not drive out, how to keep the frictions from outweighing the smiles, how to give each arrival a fair say. When a collective questions a member’s engagement in the community, it forces the editor to do something when he would really rather not. Pass judgment. Be some kind of super-adult to those who have not found a way to get along or to live and let live. It is rather what goes on every day around us and the trick is to figure out how to make that difference something positive rather than negative.

          • bauwow says:

            @Uncle Joe, I think there are no disagreements, Bert was just stating his thoughts. He found it puzzling and funny that people are complaining about MRP’s posts when they know exactly what they are going to read. We all have peacefully coexisted with MRP before, and I actually miss his posts anytime the discussions here get too serious.
            I suggest we refrain from visiting GRP. That site spews so much negativity that it contributes to my road rage when I am driving in traffic.

            Live and let live.

            • Joe America says:

              Ah, thanks for the clarification. I appreciate the guidance and agree on GRP. What useless drivel from a collective of self-reinforcing malcontents.

  23. Hello,
    Just read this on rappler :

    What does the socierty know of Laylo? @Karl? @Bing

    btw I’ve seen his linkedin and someother stuff. My question is with regards to his character and professionalism.

  24. Anybody else joining the march on the 11th?
    Would love to have coffee.

  25. DAgimas says:

    politicians are only concerned with the next elections and how much they could profit from their posts.. they dont care about the image of the philippines abroad, if they did, they would have worked for the upliftment of the poor. they would not allow Filipinos going abroad to work as DH. a patriotic Filipino polician would be embarassed by the mistreatment of his compatriots abroad.

    i think the only reason the PH gets a blip on the radars of powerful nations today is due to the anti corruption campaign of Aquino and his courageous standing up with the bully China. and again if these politicians have vision, they would have foregone their pork barrels and appropriated it to more defense procurements

    thats why the tuwid na daan should be continued.

    • Joe America says:

      Hard to argue with that assessment, DAgimas. I’d hope that the conversations occurring here, and elsewhere, are changing that self-serving mind-set a little, so that politicians realize that in the new reality, their service to nation is what will keep them in office.

  26. jameboy says:

    I must say the title are big words so big it sounded close to impossible. And given the current state of affairs in the region and the moving variables around it, we are far, too far on the idea of what the title implies. That said, I have to go the opposite side again, Joe. 👀

    For the country to aspire for leadership in Asia, we have to first establish our house in order. And in order to do that we need to become Japan or China in terms of economic and military capability. We cannot do both. The two countries mentioned have the capability to lead because historically they have been the customary big boys in the neighborhood. We simply cannot match those behemoths even if we want to because they have fortified their respective places of strength through their economic and military power.

    In other words, I am more to gaining respect with our Asian partners than focus on achieving the status of a leader in a region that already has traditional leaders in China and Japan. For a country with more pressing needs domestically, I’d rather we concentrate instead on the physical health of our nation by leading not Asia but our people to economic prosperity and peaceful coexistence with our neighbors.

    If we achieve gaining respect by having a vibrant economy and political stability comparable with those of our neighbors such as South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, etc., to me that already is a de facto recognition of us gaining leadership status not really to be followed but to be made a model for other countries to emulate.

    I am more hopeful for a vision of gaining respect and recognition in us for being a valuable contributor of economic and political stability standing side by side with our neighbors in promoting peace and security in the region. 👍

    • Joe America says:

      We are on the same side. Leadership isn’t taken, it is given. I would only point out that the outer world has granted the Philippines a certain stature, under President Aquino, and that stature can either be enhanced or given up. Building a strong economic and social foundation is moving forward to enhance the esteem granted, and that is indeed an important priority.

      The China situation does call for leadership. So far, the Philippines has done more than ASEAN to oppose China’s belligerence. The US is stepping in to take up leadership. So the Philippines needs to take care not to become a loyal follower of the US oblivious to her own needs. In other words, the Philippines needs to LEAD the US into satisfying Philippine goals. Not be a pawn. I’ll be writing about the military and economic aspects of this in a future blog. Maybe Thursday eve.

      • NHerrera says:

        My magician friend says there is complementarity to jameboy’s thesis and that of JoeAm’s. To generalize, X% jameboy’s plus (100-X)% JoeAm’s is perhaps the better picture depending on one’s view, with X=100, pure jameboy’s and X=0, pure JoeAm’s. My magician says, chose your tonic for X. Me, I think X=50 suits me fine.

      • jameboy says:

        The China situation does call for leadership. So far, the Philippines has done more than ASEAN to oppose China’s belligerence. The US is stepping in to take up leadership. So the Philippines needs to take care not to become a loyal follower of the US oblivious to her own needs. In other words, the Philippines needs to LEAD the US into satisfying Philippine goals. Not be a pawn.
        On the China situation, unfortunately we’re relegated to being a pawn. The actuation of China is proof of that. She continues to advance the level of her occupation by building infrastructure in the contested area completely disregarding our appeal to settle the conflict with them peacefully and amicably.

        The absence of cooperation and coordination among claimant countries also contribute to us being seen as a lone wolf in stopping China from claiming the entire South China Sea. I think it’s time for the US to modify its stand by acting less of an outsider because such posture only gives China the reason that the conflict is a private affair among the countries in the region.

        We are doing fine in our activity towards condemning the past, present and future unilateral action of China in the area. That alone is already a form of leadership. We have been making noises as far as one can remember against Chinese intrusion in our territory. I do not see a leadership role, in terms of keeping every one in the line, for us on the issue. We simply do not have the means. We have been relaying and announcing the message for years about China’s agenda and nothing has happened to stop or even impede her. We should remain vigilant and maintain our opposition against China and let those who stands to lose equally or even more than us to step up and do the role their suppose to do not because of our interest but because of everybody’s interest.

        The China buildup has increased the ante of the game. The high rollers should now do the biddings and step up and make known to China that she’s playing a dangerous game. We have been doing and will keep on doing our job as advocacy of peace and cooperation. In the absence of actual arm conflict that is where the limit of our role should remain. 🇺🇸 🇨🇳 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 🇩🇪 🇫🇷 🇪🇸

        • Joe America says:

          “Unfortunately we’re relegated to being a pawn.” I think that is the defeatist or downtrodden view of the Philippine that LCX and I find perplexing. The ITLOS filing was not the act of a pawn, nor is putting US intelligence and war-making capacity on eight bases the work of a pawn, but of a nation that recognizes it does not have the weapons to defeat China, but is not willing to roll over and be a . . . pawn. As long as the mind is sharp and the will strong, the Philippines does not have to settle for being a pawn. It is true that the people are not rioting in the streets and tearing down the Chinese embassy, but maybe that is a good thing. I recall the Taiwanese president going nuts about the Philippine Coast Guard shooting a Taiwanese fisherman. I don’t think emotionalism is the act of good leadership, nor would a macho deed like attacking the Chinese at Panatag be good leadership.

          • jameboy says:

            I think the idea escaped you. The reference to being a ‘pawn’ was made in the context of what China has been doing in relation to our position in the disputed area in the South China Sea. I’m bewildered why you separate that thought in the main idea of the first paragraph.

            I did not say we settle or should accept being a pawn. None of that. We are being treated as one. All the years of expressing our stand which led to us filing an arbitration/official complaint before an international convention China continues to ignore our initiative to address and settle the issue with her. Officially, China’s response in our formal submission of the case is that, she do not accept the arbitration initiated by us.

            We can always say or think of gathering all the countries together and lead a stand against China. Be the leader of a coalition against Chinese intrusion. That’s okay but saying and thinking, though sounding substantial and meaningful, is not reality. By China declaring they do not accept us as a party to initiate arbitration is telling us that we don’t matter. We are nothing to them; not their equal. I’m not saying we should accept and believe them, for that is defeatist. I’m saying that is how they treat us. That’s the reality we have to accept.

            It’s right not to overlook the forest from the trees but we should always be mindful that the forest is there because of the trees. We are being treated as such because that is how they are and not because of who we are.

            The gist of my piece was we’re doing fine with what we have in our disposal. Even if China remains steadfast in her desire to control the disputed areas we’re going it alone ourselves to fight for what we believe we deserved. Our friends and allies, particularly the US, continuous to express their solidarity with our position and supportive of the action we have taken so far in relation to our opposing stand with China. Everybody is doing their part. It may not be enough but there is still time to make it right. There are other roles too that is better left to other actors to do in the ongoing saga.

            My fear is for us to over-think our position of being a claimant in the disputed territory and entertain the idea that we can muster influence and strength to assume a role we are not meant to do or fit for. 🌏

            • Joe America says:

              Ah, in that sense, I totally agree with you. I did miss that point. China indeed sees the Philippines as a pawn.

              “We are being treated as such because that is how they are and not because of who we are.” China views the world as her pawn, actually. The US is a pawn to China, as they intellectualize and rationalize the most dangerous and stupid of positions. Chinese leaders are inherently racist, so the Philippines is not the only nation that falls into the category of pawn.

              Last line. Your fear is that the Philippines will over-think, and presume a strength that the nation is not meant for, or fit for. So the Philippines is meant for, what, exactly? And fit for what, exactly? I am afraid to overlay my own meaning on that statement because the statement seems somehow limiting, or again, casting the nation as not suited to aspire “to be all that we can be”.

              • jameboy says:

                The US is a pawn to China, as they intellectualize and rationalize the most dangerous and stupid of positions.
                Wow, that’s something! Some pro-US members here might take you to task on that statement. 😳

                Your fear is that the Philippines will over-think, and presume a strength that the nation is not meant for, or fit for. So the Philippines is meant for, what, exactly? And fit for what, exactly? I am afraid to overlay my own meaning on that statement because the statement seems somehow limiting, or again, casting the nation as not suited to aspire “to be all that we can be”.
                It is an expression of acknowledgment of the limitation of our role in the conflict. We are claiming a part of what we consider as ours and we are ready to submit the issue for arbitration and settlement in accord with legal procedure. It is proof that we are for peaceful settlement and resolution of the case. All our formal and legal action towards China was meant for that. We are no match with her and we can never be provoke to engage her in any armed conflict in the area. We are not fit to engage her on a full scale war. However, other countries that considers the area valuable to their national interest and security such as the US, Japan, Taiwan, etc. have a role to make sure China must think it over and consider the repercussions of her unwarranted actions.

                Any escalation that may happen as a result of China’s intransigence and belligerence will not be confronted by the Philippines alone but by all those who have a stake in the resolution of the conflict. 👮

              • Joe America says:

                By “they” I meant Chinese leaders. I think their rationalizations and aggressions are dangerous and stupid.

                Yes, the Philippines does not have the military might of China. If that is what “not meant for, or fit for” means, I agree. I do think the Philippines is fully capable of defending her people through alliances and by not being emotional or demonstrating a warrior mentality that would provoke China. In other words, the Philippines is fit to lead in securing her own best interest, as opposed to being a pawn of anyone.

  27. Joe America says:

    I jumped the gun in saying President Aquino was already in Japan. He left today. This is what he had to say:

    MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III left Tuesday for a state visit to Japan that he said proves “that our relations with other nations is no longer just to accept their goodness: we are also ready to help solve the challenges our region faces and will be facing.”

    “And while we are showing what we are capable of to the community of nations, we also improve our ability to provide benefits to our Bosses, the Filipino people,” he added in his departure speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport 2.

  28. J says:

    Thank you for this, Joe. Last week, I marked the first year since I got my ticket to my present job. Made me reflect for a second. I left teaching to join the government. I definitely have no regrets, not only because it’s been a dream to serve the country, but also because this is a great time to serve the country. I intend to serve the country for the next 40 years– or until I retire at 65. Maybe more. While having coffee the other day, my batchmate said he’s very proud that our appointment papers were signed by this President. I nodded.

    I think the Philippines has a long way to before assuming leadership of the free Asia, but in many respects– human rights and democracy among them– we have always been the undisputed leader. I hope that continues.

    On another note, here’s an inspiring write-up by the Japanese press on how far we’ve come:

    Imagine, at its height, the entertainer exodus numbered 80,000. Now, the tourists we send number 180,000, and Japanese officials told me they expect 200,000 Pinoy tourists this year. The Philippines has a long way to go before reaching the First World, but I think this is an unmistakable sign of progress.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, thanks for the viewpoint and link, J. As a few have said in this discussion, I may be ahead of myself in saying the Philippines is the leader of Asia, but for sure, she is carving out a place as engaged, constructive and alive. The direction is right. The article confirms that there is a significant new force for moderation and sanity in the Philippines, and it is found in the middle class where people simply want a fair shot at a decent life. Indeed, it goes into the right column as must read.

      I for one am glad you are in government because it is bright, sensible (young) people like you who have the chance to stabilize government service on good values, and service to citizens. That said, I was disappointed not to see any pictures of you dancing at the beach. Abigail Valte made the news, but not you. Maybe you need to work on the “flamboyance” factor. 🙂

  29. Sorry but the notion of the Philippines being any kind of thought or political leader in Asia is a bit laughable. In the real world, as you know, only the rich and mighty nations get to lead. It is their opinions that matter and they are the ones that get heard. The Philippines is still puny in terms of economic and/or military power. It also has a very insular view (even if it may have the noisiest social media!). Other Asian nations, and for that matter, the world, often forget that the Philippines even exists. For all the supposed gains that the Philippines has “achieved” as you point out above, its leaders are viewed as second-rate. Do you really think Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand Indonesia or even Vietnam would deign to listen to an Aquino, Binay or Poe?

    • jameboy says:

      It hurts but I have to agree with you. It hurts because its not only true but your description of us aspiring to become a leader in Asia as laughable is rubbing salt in the wounds. But it is what it is.

      On another angle I see the leadership issue remaining relevant not in terms of assembling and leading the countries in Asia for certain purpose or be the principal organizer that will make everybody toe the line in taking a stand on issues but by setting an example that will pave the way in strengthening the cooperation and coordination amongst the countries in the region. We don’t need to be the one who will require everyone to march to the beat of the drums because we are the leader. Mere setting up of examples of good deeds and proper decorum is enough to consider ourselves as leaders in our own right.

      For example, the Philippines was lauded for opting on the peaceful resolution of the South China Sea conflict by submitting to the jurisdiction of an international commission for arbitration. It’s like David inviting Goliath to meet in a level playing field to settle a conflict between them but the latter refuses to do so thereby exposing her weakness.

      We continue to get the sympathy of other countries for fighting what is right and not resorting to provocation and threat of violence which the other side is seen as one guilty of committing. Except for China, we do not embarrass anyone for taking a stand and voicing out our rights and our desire for transparency in the peaceful settlement of conflicts.

      I say, in those instances alone, we are already a leader worthy of emulation and respect. 🌜

      • jameboy, my point is not to hurt but I do believe all these “feel good” articles we see tend to mollify and distract Filipinos from doing the hard work of actually changing their situation.

        • Joe America says:

          So I should write GRP style negative pieces to bludgeon and shame Filipinos into behaving better? That’s not what I learned in all my leadership (motivational) training here and there.

      • Joe America says:

        I’m confused. The idea of the Philippines as a leader is laughable, but in the instance of ITLOS and respecting other nations, the nation is a leader worthy of emulation and respect. We don’t hold ITLOS and the peaceful, respectful character of the Philippines up as the “real” Philippines?

    • Bert says:

      The fact that you know the Philippines exists in spite of your being in England points to the fallacy of your statement that Asian nations and the world ‘forget that the Philippines exists’. Where do you get the idea that Philippine leaders are viewed as second rate? The president of the US listened to President Aquino and the leaders of Japan is listening now. How is the leader of your country being viewed by America? By other European leaders? First rate? Think again.

      • Bert, you seem to be confused by my last name. In fact, I am a Philippine resident. The fact that President Aquino just did state visits to the US and Japan (quite awful timing btw, obvious junket since his term as president is almost done), does not mean his words are prized by Obama and Abe. If you have lived in any other country outside the Philippines you will know what I speak of when I say most people in the world tend to forget about the Philippines. The only time the Philippines gets world coverage is when it comes to typhoons.

        • Joe America says:

          What is your nation of citizenship? That might help with our understanding of where you are coming from in your arguments.

          People don’t think about the Philippines because they are engaged in their lives and the Philippines is one of the smaller and poorer of nearly 200 nations. Every nation has a history, the point of the article is not to be held back by the old historical misconceptions, and to see how and why the nation is positioned to have some influence in Asia. Laughing at the Philippines does not build much. Foreigners seem to like doing that, which is why I don’t associate much with them. There is a kind of unkind bigotry to that.

          • Joe, I used to be American but now have different citizenship. I have lived in Asia for over 25 years, and now live in the Philippines. Even before settling here, I have visited countless times for business. I do not laugh at the Philippines; far from it. I do believe it has enormous potential that is squandered by extremely bad leaders.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I believe they listen to President Aquino when he speaks of the BBL or ITLOS filing. I’d personally take President Aquino over former US President GW Bush any day, so I guess second rate can be found in the most strange of places. I for sure don’t hold that Chinese leaders are first rate. Binay would be a laughable leader, Poe respected.

  30. Joe, I did not say the “feel good” articles were from you. I do admire at the time and effort you spend on your pieces and the replies. You seem to have an open mind and are willing to discuss matters intelligently. As for your last comment, let me just say that I agree Bush was a horrible president. Don’t underestimate the Chinese leaders; their culture is different but they are not idiots over there. The Chinese leadership has lifted literally millions from poverty. As far as the ITLOS filing is concerned, I dont see how that speaks of leadership?

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, well, again, thanks for taking my hackles (over-sensitivity) down a notch or five.

      The Philippine ITLOS arbitration filing is a step that other nations did not have the wherewithal (courage?) to do, one that said there are international laws designed specifically for such disputes, and we can and ought to use them instead of guns. The Philippines has born significant heat from China for this stance. Neighbors such as Viet Nam have considered joining the filing. So if leadership is found in intelligence over might, and courage, and endurance over pressure . . . the Philippines has led.

      • well, again that is debatable. the reason I believe that other countries were hesitant in making a formal complaint was the Asian ethos that you do not confront and shame a person/country outright. Instead of pushing things to a head, I suspect other countries wanted to deal via back channels. Now China can not back down or it will lose face; the ITLOS filing has forced their hand and limited everyone’s options. Look at Taiwan – it has never outright antagonized China – and so they can continue to co-exist in peaceful detente.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, good point. Was it a mistake to follow western norms rather than Asian? Is Binay more Asian than Roxas, and so on that basis he would be a right proper choice? Power and favor and face, versus laws? I can’t resolve that one. Binay would negotiate with China rather than persist with ITLOS, I believe.

          The ITLOS rules are there for a reason, to avoid conflict. The Philippines took that route. If there is a problem, it is that China has not taken the negotiation route, only talked about it. And her behavior is offensive to Philippine face, in huge helpings. Doesn’t seem to bother China.

          • It is interesting you mention Binay would negotiate, I get that sense too. He seems to be the kind of man who appreciates the intricacies of backroom dealings. The funny thing is that it is actually Roxas who is the boyscout–as in the guy who seems to be clueless and naive. He does not even matter in the early polls so it’s pointless to talk about him. From what I hear, he is damaged good because of his handling of the Haiyan relief efforts. The only way Roxas matters now is that he cannibalizes some of Poe’s votes–which leads to a Binay victory, under the stupid electoral system. Again, the institutions!

            • Joe America says:

              It seems to me there are few people who know the real Mar Roxas. People who work with him have great respect for his straight dealing, honesty, kindness, work ethic and focus on solving problems. Something gets lost in the translation. I’d say a part of that is Mar Roxas and a part is the crab culture, and some of it is the Inquirer, which is essentially a Romualdez mouthpiece. I agree the electoral system that allows a president to be elected without a majority is problematic. I’d also say, let’s know the who the candidates are, and let them campaign, before we ask any to bow out. Without question, Mar Roxas has earned a shot at the Presidency.

              • How exactly do you ask candidates to bow out? That is exactly the problem. You can’t. Hmm, I think that will be the subject of my blog post today.

              • jameboy says:

                How exactly do you ask candidates to bow out? That is exactly the problem. You can’t.
                You can’t ask someone to bow out? Doy Laurel did in favor of Cory Aquino in order to consolidate the power of the opposition against Marcos. Same thing with Mar Roxas to Noynoy Aquino.

                Erap and Noli De Castro, both topping the presidential race survey during their time, opted to bow out of the presidential race and slide down to VP race.

                Problem is, that “maybe” again is not what you meant by ‘bow out’. 😃

  31. hackguhaseo says:

    Wow, I’ve been missing out! Lots to catch up on. I hate being swamped at work.

    Great article Joe! Though, I have to say that I’m a little on the fence with the whole BBL thing. I mean, it would help calm the situation here in Mindanao, but there are rumors that General Santos might be included in the deal and I’m not too excited about that.

    I might be wrong in my presumptions, but living under Muslim law does not sound very appealing to me. Again, I might be wrong, and if so, I would appreciate corrections and clarifications from you or others here.

    • Joe America says:

      BBL is a risk. No BBL is a risk. One has to weigh and take the best and try to make it constructive, to build jobs and fairness. I think endless shooting doesn’t work for that, and the region has been substantially at peace for three years now, and another 5 or 50 might just do the job. The trick will be to keep the lunatics out. From either side.

      • Joe America says:

        I would add, only Muslims would live under Muslim laws. There are Muslim courts now but they are fairly inert. Will there be awkward incidents? Are there in mainstream courts?

        • hackguhaseo says:

          Eh, I guess I’m just being paranoid now. There really isn’t even any evidence to suggest that we’ll be brought under the BBL. After seeing what these fanatics can do though, I shudder to think what would happen if they are legally given power over us. I guess even I’m not immune to prejudice brought out of fear.

          • Joe America says:

            Yes. I remember an exercise my employer put his executives through. The trust exercise had one exec lead another through an obstacle course, over this stump, under that tree branch. The BBL is like trusting someone to lead us past cliffs and volcanoes and tight rope spanning the Grand Canyon. I balance the mistrust with a real distaste for an endless string of body bags, with women and kids among the batch. Let’s be careful, but try for something different . . .

  32. Apo Chumachil says:

    Another government-concocted propaganda.
    Maybe you forgot to watch either I-Witness or Malou Mangahas documentaries.

    Pitiful twats.

    Oh, I forgot, GetRealPhilippines is more REALISTIC.


  33. Apo Chumachil says:

    Not surprising of a “comment”. LEL.
    Keep on being delusional while I’m reading Mong Palatino’s column in Bulatlat!

    Seeyah, gullible Yankee!

    • Joe America says:

      That’s an interesting point, delusional. We are all delusional to some extent, as we all behave as if we had 100% knowledge and wisdom, but are all ignorant to a great degree. We can meet people and never learn their private ideas, read all there is to read, and still know almost nothing. Yet, we march about with the audacity to pronounce OTHERS delusional. That’s kinda crazy, eh?

    • Joe America says:

      I do appreciate the reference to Mong Palatino. I was not aware of him. He believes that dissent and active protest is what people should be doing more of. I’ve never been able to figure out how that builds much, but he is obviously a smart guy. He’d prefer that discussion threads were filled up with insults and criticism. Not really my kinda guy. But I can see you will do what he says is important, troll blogs.

  34. Grass Roots says:

    Poorly backed analysis. . .

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