Here are some shorts for your pondering:
"Afloat Forward Staging Bases"
The U.S. is reconfiguring its war-making capability. It has found that relying on "allies" like Pakistan for land bases can be troublesome, whereas the seas are open to all. So the latest development is to design ships that can serve as floating islands for a variety of purposes. Bunk combat troops. Land helicopters. Send out boats. Sweep for mines. Maybe fly some drones. The ship houses a hospital and water purification system. It's got everything a small army would need to start a war.
The first AFSB is a reconfigured transport ship, now cruising in the waters off the coast of Iran. In the pipeline are three or four specially designed floating bases. You see, the U.S. doesn't really have reliable friends in the Middle East. Every nation is a hotbed of religious and political animosity, so governments don't dare cozy up to the U.S. by offering land bases. A close relationship with the U.S. is bound to be offensive to some powerful group.
The Middle East is the Philippines on steroids.
So while the Philippines may object to a naval base at Subic, it could happily see a floating base on the other side of Scarborough Shoal in international waters (claimed by China).
These boats allow the U.S. to set up camp just about anywhere. I wonder what China thinks about that.
It's a Funny Way to Worship
What version of the Koran do these guys pack, anyway?
Suspected Muslim militants killed six rubber plantation workers and wounded 22 the other day in the Southern Philippines . They ambushed a truckload of unarmed people who did nothing but work for a living.
The company the victims worked for refused to pay extortion demands so the Muslim militants shot the workers. A bunch of innocent people killed in the name of God, I guess. Do you think they shouted "Allah is Great" as they mowed down innocent fathers and sons?
I never hear moderate Muslim leaders pounding a fist in outrage, that such people would so demean their faith. Why don't they disown these extremists? Why don't they demand that reporters call them "Muslim outcasts" rather than "Muslim militants"? Why do they allow the stain to persist? Why do the Muslim faithful, the moderates, allow the kinder ideals of their faith to be kidnapped by thugs who are mainly extortion gangsters and murderers?
O' stand up, ye of great faith, and serve God better.
What to Do if You Spot an American?
Here are some general guidelines that will help Filipinos deal constructively with Americans they may meet on the street, at a bar, or at the fiesta:
- Immediately assume that they shit, shower, shave and deal with the rudiments of life just like an ordinary Filipino. So don't stare at them as if they were either God's representative on earth or covered in shit. They aren't.
- If you have to talk to one, understand that he is likely to be loud and opinionated, rather like a Senator Santiago in fatigue shorts and t-shirt, always having the answer to anything. She means no harm, nor does he. The Americans just have uglier legs.
- Do your own thing the way you would do it if no Americans were around. You want to burp, scratch, get drunk, dance gaily . . . do it. You see, bottom line, the Americans don't matter. Any larger than life or smaller than life imaginings you have about them is pure fiction. Don't be a lunatic and allow those ridiculous fictions to enter your life.
The Honorable Albert F. del Rosario, Bad Cop
The more I read about this guy, the more I wish he were younger and inclined to run for President. Here's what he had to say about China at the ASEAN powwow in Cambodia:
- “If Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction can be denigrated by a powerful country through pressure, duplicity, intimidation and the threat of the use of force, the international community should be concerned about the behavior.” [Source: The Inquirer]
He called it straight, creating considerable tension amongst participants, and leaving it to "good cop" Hillary Clinton to put the smoothing schmooze on the thuggish Goliath of the east. I find it interesting that some Filipinos cringe about taking a leadership stance. Their tendency is to criticize Del Rosario or President Aquino for being too aggressive. As if China would respect a lamb. As if the proper Filipino place were under the rug or behind the closet door rather than up front.
That Tourism Campaign, haha
Do you remember all the flack the Tourism people took when they announced the new slogan "It's more fun in the Philippines"? I have this nagging sense that the critics will soon be dining on crow, or hat, or whatever one eats in the Philippines when one is proved to be grossly mistaken. (Beef? Ahahahaha. The cows in the Philippines are purportedly made of shoe leather.)
Here's what I see: (1) A Tourism web site that is clean and modern and useful, not a self-praising worship of the people who work there, (2) A multi-billion peso investment in airports and airport access, (3) A Presidential Executive Order that places 78 top tourist draws off limits to mining, (4) An ingenious tourism organization that has a high-level management job assigned to cutting through red tape of other government agencies, (5) A prioritized and realistic tourism plan that identifies several top regional draws for preservation and enhancement, (6) A focus on tourists from Asia rather than the US; in other words real markets, (7) record numbers of tourist visits, and (8) a marketing campaign that is beautifully constructed and applied to sell the Philippines to outsiders.
This Country Is On the Move
I still think President Aquino has a shot at being considered one of the great leaders of the young Philippine democracy. Things are moving, you know? Peace talks with the MILF, tourism, call center growth, new casinos coming to town, a residential market boom in Manila, a real anti-corruption and incompetency push (firing 31 DENR workers in Mindanao for failing to stop illegal logging), a healthy relationship with the US, a focus on cleaning up Customs. The economy is growing well, the peso has strengthened, and S&P ratings have gone up twice.
Here's a legacy-making idea for you, Mr. Aquino: get behind the HR Bill to prove that you are not locked into backward, dysfunctional social values like certain robed, self-appointed moral anchors hereabouts. Then get a divorce law in place so that we know you REALLY understand women and that it is wrong to hold them in bondage to abusive, deadbeat husbands. And for sure concentrate on Education and the Courts. Start on a long-term program to make them world class. This requires more than budget. More than adding two grades to primary education. More than replacing the Chief Justice.
You'd be a hero in my book.