I want to take a shot at pegging why there is a difference. What are some fundamental differences between America and the Philippines as it pertains to the foundations of patriotism?
To be patriotic, you have to have a set of ideals. Something that inspires your passion.
The Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States were written by very smart people with historical perspective and a determination to avoid the punishments imposed on them by Great Britain. The punishments included autocrat governance, penalties (taxation) without representation, and religious persecution. The two documents lay out important ideals and the essential principles of law. The patriotic passion is found in all the opportunities represented by the idea of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" that is the foundation for U.S. laws.
The Philippine Constitution was written by lawmakers who copied the fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution but who had a bit of a deaf ear to the importance of brevity and profound meaning. As a result, the Philippine Constitution is littered with detailed law rather than highlighting important principles. The wordy functionality of the Constitution doesn't grab citizens so they can passionately say, "Right on brother! I'll die for this". There is no "Declaration of Independence" that overlays the Constitution as a statement of passion. At least, not popularly so.
Furthermore, it seems that lawmakers would rather re-write or amend the Constitution with each change in administration or hiccup that occurs in the history-stream rather than commit to it as THE guiding law of the land. The ideals of nationhood are understood in the Philippines. But they are not crystallized in the Constitution. Edsa and Jose Rizal are more important symbols to Filipinos than the Constitution. The Philippines has had six constitutions since Rizal was executed.
The Philippines seems to be a nation missing an enduring ideal to rally around.
Obedience to Laws
The U.S. cherishes its courts. The courts are the place where politics is supposed to stay out, although it does occasionally sneak in like a thief in the night or germs on Your Honor's intellectual robes. The courts adhere to the notion that fast is fair, and fair is factual and built on a pile of case law that argues out the most infinite details of right and wrong in America. Courts earn their respect.
Courts in the Philippines are a mess. It can take years to get a case through and the facts are less important than the favors and cash that fly around between attorneys and judges and the plaintiff and defense. Case law is largely mushy if not downright irrelevant because rulings aren't built on legal principle.
In the Philippines, right and wrong are determined by what you can get away with. Not what is right, or wrong. So Filipinos aren't committed to obeying the laws. Therefore, the forests are clear-cut and the waters are overfished and voters have their hands out for the little spiffs that candidates dole out. And every gunslinger is a law unto himself. It's the Wild West in the East.
Intense self-interest is the opposite of the unity of values that is needed to form the bedrock of patriotism.
The Huddled Masses
Americans are immigrants, the huddled masses originally from Europe and then Latin America and Africa and now Asia. You'll find Iranians and Jews living in harmony, Russians and Cubans alongside Cambodian monks, blacks and whites and yellows and reds and browns in a blazing quilt of colorful skin and cultural heritage. You can grab a burger, suck noodles, eat raw fish or nibble on falafel all within the same block.
The immigrants arrived to pursue the dream of opportunity, and damn, that's what they do. No matter the racial or cultural heritage. They arrive and buy into the American dream of a FAIR SHOT. They work and innovate and produce and pursue a FAIR SHOT at growing wealthy, healthy and wise.
The Philippines is a bunch of natives who cross-pollinated with the occupying forces. Jose Rizal, the national hero, was part Japanese, Spanish, Malay, tribal native, Chinese, and stewpot. He was so mixed of racial heritage that he was Everyman and Noman at the same time.
Well, occupying forces have a different agenda than immigrants. Their agenda is to suppress and dominate, to rip out the heart of ingenuity and productivity and different ways of doing things, because it is a threat. It is a threat to the status quo.
Today the Philippines is locked in status quo. The modern occupiers are the oligarchs, the rich and powerful people who have a different idea of what patriotism is about than the immigrant sons and daughters of America. Their idea of patriotism is not to rock the boat of power and wealth that they and their families enjoy. The masses bow down and patriotism is called subsistence and doing what you are told. The overriding force is not to change. The Catholic Church is a major player in this well-cemented rooting in the tired old ways of doing things.
Where's the passion in that? The vigor and drive for wealth and success?
Americans don't really like war but the world is a contentious place. The U.S. is actually an ANTI-IMPERIALISTIC state, not an imperialistic state. She pursues hegemony, or an active pursuit of her self-interest, not land-grabbing or domination over other nations.
Because of her wealth and the productive energies and passions of her immigrant peoples, America is powerful at waging war. So she rides frequently to the rescue, or jams her guns and troops into nations that are viewed (sometimes erroneously) as troublesome. Americans rally around the troops, always. It doesn't matter the political party. War unifies like nothing else.
The Philippines gets battered by this power or that now and then because the nation does not have the wealth or the patriotic passion to pursue an international agenda. The Philippines is PAWN to the moves of the global power pushers of any given century. Spain, America, Japan, China. You can't rally around submission.
The Philippines does the best duck and cover drill on the planet because her citizens are tired of being rebels and slaughtered. And poverty does not an army build. Or navy. Or air force.
The Philippine Constitutions outlaws war as a legitimate means for the State to defend Filipinos. Article II, Section 2:
- The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.
It is hard to rally patriotically around peace when other nations do not play by the same rules.
America and the Philippines are today strategically aligned. The Philippines does not want foreign bases here (the Constitution bans them) and America does not need bases here. The Philippines does not want China sucking oil out of Philippine territory and the U.S. wants China to stop claiming Asian and Latin American resources as if China were some kind of privileged citizen of the planet. Like enough of the emotionally nationalistic China bully-boy routine, this snarling vampire sucking oil and gold and iron and rare metals from the planet's battered carcass. China's is a patriotism gone Hitleresque.
It seems to me that, for the Philippines to rise as a modern nation and as an important economic player in Asia, she needs to get her patriotic act together, where patriotism is founded on:
- Passionate commitment to Constitutional principles of freedom and opportunity.
- Commitment to the unified Filipino community that comes from giving enough of oneself to obey laws.
- Development of a patriotic conscience among the rich and powerful. Yes, and among the main religions.
- Principled and firm advancing of self-interest in international affairs.
If it were me, I would want "war-making" re-inserted into the Constitution as a legitimate practice rather than rule it out. One can adhere to the preference for peace without stripping the nation of its right to defend itself with guns and bombs.
One final thought. You don't have to be rich to be patriotic, but you have to see a future rich with possibilities. Subsistence seldom looks forward. Poverty looks as far as the next meal.
- Philippine patriotism will grow deeper if the nation can climb out of its relentless poverty.