I don’t speak for SOLFED nor do I represent the entirety of the Federalist movement here in the Philippines. I am, however, a member of SOLFED and I am a Federalist. I’ve been both for roughly seven years now and my experience with both has always been this: the simple understanding that we are as diverse within the movement as we are outside of the it. This is why our activism has always required hard work, persistence, and single-minded determination. When you’re dealing with people as individuals with complete and utter respect for their idiosyncrasies rather than against it, you’re bound to face a lot of brick walls in the process. This is why most people take the short cut and treat people as part of an amorphous mass as if they could be coddled along like sheep. I am not sheep, I will not be treated like a lost little lamb, and this basically means that I will not treat others like helmet-wearing retards. We’re all well-adjusted adults here, Mr. Cerda, so let’s discuss this like adults.
Your opinion, Mr. Cerda, needs a response and I am here to defend my activism and my work; not the movement, not SOLFED, but every drop of sweat and blood that I’ve invested in pursuing this idea and fighting the good fight.
Because it is the good fight.
So, do pay attention, not because I want to change your mind, but because you have no idea who we are and what we do; ensconced as you are in the hallowed walls of the Ateneo.
SOLFED is grassroots and is as decentralized as its ideology. To say that we are Cebuano-centric belittles the work we do throughout the country. Think of us as self-sufficient little cells of activity, low-profile, and dedicated. Each of these cells is responsible for fighting for its own culture and language yet there are no prohibitions against extending other cells assistance. Case in point, my own little cell here in Iloilo City. We have a fledgeling cell in Pampanga at the moment, still in its relative infancy, and we extend what assistance that we can to facilitate its growth and maturity. Yet, our goals are largely independent of each other. Our coordinator in Pampanga fights to secure the survival of Kapampangan. I fight to secure the survival of not only Hiligaynon, but all of the dialect associated with it as well as the distinct languages of Kinaray-a, and Akeanon. We have plans on expanding as well, but as I’ve already said, our work is slow but doggedly stubborn.
You must understand, our advocacy isn’t built on violent and sudden change, but gradual and nurturing encouragement. We persist in meeting people halfway, being open and inclusive to all those who turn to us, and we focus on building on what is already there.
To say that we are Cebuano-centric implies that we exist to introduce some kind of Cebuano agenda on the people’s of Panay rather than what I just said, building on local situations.
I am Ilonggo. Our president is a staunch advocate of the Butuanon language. We have advocates of nearly every “non-Tagalog” language group in the country. To say that we pursue a Cebuano-centric agenda is to belittle the hard work we’ve invested on fighting for our own respective languages. Cebu can take care of itself. It doesn’t need me. It doesn’t need you. It certainly doesn’t need Manila.
I simply serve Iloilo and her interests, not Cebu. The idea is to turn this entire island, Panay, into a boom town. The only reason why Cebu gets mentioned a lot is because it’s an example to follow, a place that managed to secure its own prosperity in spite of Manila and not because of Manila. I want that for Iloilo and the rest of the island, wealth and progress independent of Manila. This needs political will, investor confidence, and plenty of creativity on the part of our leaders, but if what’s been happening so far is anything to go by, I’m quite optimistic. To say that we do not need Manila is a truth I work hard to build.
Only slaves need masters. Iloilo is not a slave. Neither is the rest of the island.
And that’s another thing you don’t understand about SOLFED: to argue that we intend to divide the country along ethnic lines is simplistic and stupid. The goals of SOLFED have always been to oppose Nationalism as an oppressive force, the kind of Nationalism that is built on fascist tendencies and ethnocentric exclusivity. To say that we intend to divide the country along ethnic lines, thereby destroying the country (as you’ve insisted) would be the very definition of oppressive. Who are we to tell people who they are without due process? That’s basically what you’re doing when you draw ethnic lines, you define people without their opinions on the matter.
This is what Nationalism and the KWF is doing everyday, why would we do as our enemies do? How is this an intelligent choice, to mirror the enemies of our advocacy?
What SOLFED wants is to bring people to the table and secure for everyone a piece of the pie called Philippines Politics and Power, true, but how that pie is going to be sliced should not be a one-sided deal. That’s how some people want it, advocating a devolved unitary government while misleading everyone else by calling it Federalism, but I digress. A devolved central government is still a central government: no dice.
This is why we want Charter Change and ultimately, a Constitutional Convention. This is what we call due process and this is where the experts who, represent us, gather to discuss the matter of a Federalist Philippines soberly, intelligently, and decisively. SOLFED isn’t here to make the hard choices for anyone; it’s here to create situations within which everyone get to make an independent choice for his or herself. It’s about accountability and responsibility, about due process and a more inclusive society. This is how you oppose marginalization, not through the creation of a multitude of centers, but by securing everyone a place at the table, asymmetrical rather than this pyramid scam you call a Unitary Government.
That is what I’m here to build: an inclusive society, and Federalism is built on inclusivity. Federalism isn’t just a system of government, it’s a situation in which everyone has the inherent right to a fair share of the Power Pie. This is democracy, empowering ourselves at a grassroots level.
To say that we want to divide the country along ethnolinguistic lines antagonizes our pursuit of inclusivity. I invite you to take a closer look at our paraphernalia and maybe even pay our various cells a visit. I invite you to pay Iloilo a visit. There plenty of Ilonggos in the Ateneo. Why not pay CERSA and ARSA a visit, make some friends, have people in Iloilo to visit–because you are not getting a clear picture of the situation here from where you sit.
And besides. Ilonggos are proud. What makes you think we’ll even ever serve a Cebuano agenda let alone a Tagalista one? Some have, of course, like Virgilio Almario, a Kapampangan who spells the doom of the Kapampangan language and culture.
These must be the very people you alluded to, the non-tagalogs that pervade our national consciousness. So be, I might be making a sweeping statement here as well, but only because the stimulant was just as vague and sweeping. Who exactly are these individuals and in what way are they a part of the national consciousness? Manny Pacquiao? In what way is his being from Gen San indicative of being part of the national consciousness? If there even is one, a national consciousness, it’s because he’s a boxer, a man who built himself up from the dregs of life, and succeeded. This has nothing to do with his being a non-Tagalog. Who else, the Lopezes who were formerly of Iloilo? What has their roots in Iloilo have to do with being part of the national consciousness? The Yulos? The Basas? The Aranetas? Who are these people and what has where they came from have to do with being part of the national consciousness?
“Should we continue to see them as such, in their regional affiliations, or see them as Filipinos?” is a question built on the premise that Filipino is an is an organic indicator of identity. To categorically assign people a label created by a Spanish-colonial social class that marginalized indios and envied the Peninsulares is to be simplistic and unjust. Simply because the word underwent a corporate rebranding with the advent of Nationalism and Commonwealth politics is not enough to legitimize its purpose.
So, no. There are no Yulos, or Basas, or Lopezes (Kapampangan branch) in Iloilo anymore. Iloilo is where their dead are buried, so be it. These people belong to Manila and its homogeneity. Their first language is probably Spanish, the mexican mongrelization of it (probably), and not even Tagalog. Their second is English. And what Tagalog/Filipino they speak are for their maids, drivers, gardeners, cargadors, and overseers working their assets.
National consciousness is a melting pot where unique cultures go to die and be assimilated by the Borg empire. Like one amoeba ingesting and digesting another, the former lives at the expense of the latter. Homogenized and uniform, that’s is nation building from the Nationalist perspective.
I would rather not get eaten. I would rather not have my flesh melt into the Nationalist body and lose my consciousness to the national one.
I simply refuse. This is dissent.
SOLFED is all about dissent as well.
Would I be fighting Imperial Cebu as well had history been different? Of course I would. “Some things cannot fully be lost and cannot fully be held,” which is why I refuse to submit. To lose something simply because it is inevitable is to submit to defeat. What becomes inevitable is still a choice.
The Filipino Identity is an artificial phenomenon created by Quezon to replace the Commonwealth government with one built in his own image, aristocratic and arrogant; and appropriated by Marcos to build an empire, fascistic and violent. For one whose comforts and well-being are buttressed by these politicians, Mr Cerda, I can understand your love of Nationalism. Nationalism is the reason why you are safe and prominent within the hallowed walls of the Ateneo.
That does not mean I should work to sustain your security at my expense.