In a recent speech at a Brookings Institution event in Washington, D.C., former U.S. President Bill Clinton warned against the rising popularity of nationalism across the world, calling it a pan-national movement to institutionalize separatism and division within borders.
He cited recent political events in the Americas, Europe and yep, the Philippines.
I have never found anything major to disagree with Mr. Clinton about, except perhaps his womanizing.
But now, I beg to seriously disagree with him lumping the Philippines with his referenced countries in the Americas and Europe.
The Philippines is far from a country like the U.S. which, thanks to Donald Trump and his supporters, is trying to close its borders to immigrants and people of a certain religious faith.
We are not like Great Britain which is exiting from a regional alliance that has provided a foundation for a strong and united state of affairs and cooperation in Europe.
On the contrary, we have never closed our doors to immigrants, and have in fact welcomed some 1,200 Jews from Germany escaping the Holocaust. In reality, despite rhetorical statements by our president Rodrigo Duterte, the U.S. remains a strong military and economic ally while still trying to dictate on how we should run our internal affairs.
Unlike Great Britain, we are not moving away from existing international alliances. Rather, we are strengthening mutually-beneficial alliances within our own region and are forming unconventional new ones with China and Russia. We also continue to pursue non-traditional cooperation with countries in the Western Hemisphere.
But my biggest disagreement with Mr. Clinton’s statement is about what he calls “rising popularity of nationalism.”
Nationalism in the Philippines is nothing new. It has always been part of our history. Our quest for independence and freedom from imperialism is ingrained in our psyche. It has always been — during centuries of Spanish colonization and in years and decades of U.S. and Japanese occupation of our islands.
The spirit of nationalism reigns supreme among Filipinos, even in the more modern era of the Marcos dictatorship as well as under the incompetent and corrupt practices of the last 5 administrations since Marcos’ ouster.
Our sense of nationalism does not aim at separatism or division.
We, in fact, strive to be an equal partner with governments and peoples in our region as well as with our “big brothers” in the West, including the U.S.
Despite our internal political differences, our ultimate goal is unity among all our countrymen.
Instead of lumping the Philippines with what’s happening in Trump’s America and in troubled Europe, Mr. Clinton should urge the rest of the world to learn from our small country: that with a leader dedicated to free his people from the shackles of domination and a hostage-type socio-economic dependence on First World countries, we Filipinos may finally earn the respect that has been denied us for so long. From countries like America and its Western allies.