While Facebook eventually took down the graphic and apologized for the gaffe, the Filipino sense of humor took over and spun the gaffe into all sorts of interpretations:
- The Philippines is quietly at war with China over the latter's usurpation of islands that, by law, belong to the Philippines;
- The Philippines is at war with corruption and poverty;
- The Philippines is in a war over the core values which should govern us.
Unfortunately, our physical means of defending our territory are not capable of repelling this foreign invader; thus, we have to resort to legal means in order to defend our sovereign rights. China, of course, being the aggressor, has opted to push for bilateral or one-on-one talks, which is so much more advantageous for them, as they can simply bully us into submission. While we are not officially at war with China, we are, for all intents, locked in a conflict with them in a battle to fight for what is our.
The second interpretation should be the proper attitude in tackling the state of corruption and poverty in our nation. Both are inimical to our country's development: corruption eats away at our character, and persuades us to accept less-than-ideal ways of getting what we want, while poverty weighs down our countrymen from pursuing their goals in life. At the same time, it can be said that corruption breeds poverty, not only the poverty of material wealth, but also the poverty of the soul. Corruption batters and pounds away at our character, weakening our resolve to fight for what is right.
Sadly, thanks to corrupt leaders and government officials, corruption and poverty are so firmly entrenched in our culture and mentality that it will probably take years or, sadly, generations, before we can break either of these lead weights on our country's growth. It will take more than a president-elect's threat of killing every corrupt official he finds in order to achieve any progress on our anti-corruption war.
In the same vein, quick fixes such as giving out free stuff and dole-outs is not the solution to winning the war on poverty. Proper education and empowerment is the more correct road in order to solve poverty. By doling out goods and services to the poor, we simply make them dependent on such mechanisms. By educating them about their rights, and exhorting them to fight for their rights, they will be able to stand up on their own.
Finally, the third interpretation is based on the most recent elections, wherein the corrupt dictator's son, who has repeatedly denied his father's crimes against the nation, very nearly became vice-president. It's a sobering illustration of how we have failed to educate ourselves on the horrors and sins of the past. Despite the fact that much data and information exists on the culpability of the son in his father's crimes, he still managed to come within a hair's breadth of coming back into power. The closest equivalent is if the son of Adolf Hitler became Germany's leader.
At the same time, it is also galling that the president-elect has praised the dictator's son, and has promised that the said son will play a part in his government, after the one-year ban on appointing losing candidates to government positions. The president-elect has been unabashed about his friendship with the dictator's son, despite the fact that he was quoted as saying that his friendship with others ends with the interest of the country. His Squealer-like spin doctors will no doubt come up with a way to explain this, although, to those of us who heard the president-elect, the content of what he said was loud and clear.
The fact that this is the sorry state of affairs in our country shows that there is a compelling, immediate need to educate people about the values we need in order to gain our self-respect as a nation. There are already moves by the education department to prepare a curriculum that focuses more on what happened during that dark time, although, with the friendship between the president-elect and the dictator's family, it's anybody's guess whether that curriculum will see the light of day.
Today is the commemoration of our Independence as the Philippine nation. Let us remind ourselves that the fight for independence doesn't end. There will always be those who seek to steal it from us, and we have to remain ever-vigilant against this.