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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, April 20, 2012
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Sol Y Sombra
with Rex Remetio

The bully

The way China positions its big, armed boats in the Scarborough Shoal, an area admittedly within the 200 mile economic zone belonging to the Philippines is not totally unexpected. Indeed, confrontation with China is not a matter of if – but when. And this month, being April, suffused with the usual (or is it unusual heat) the bully again rears its head by -- using two gunboats to protect illegal fisherman from arrest by our authorities.

In the dynamics of Bullyism, he who has, can make moves that he knows scare the victim has the upper hand. In our case, China knows that we are scared, considering that, comparably, any conflict is like that of an elephant versus a frog. One thing that may lessen the rashness of China is world opinion.

The reason Noynoy was not able to get even one country to emit a growl or grunt of approval to unite against China is because those guys, being human, have a real fear of China.

In international relations size matters. (Maybe also in most other matters) I understand Vietnam had a traumatic treatment from China over an island.

(The silence of the U.S., our supposed ally is not surprising. Uncle Sam’s experts are, even as we breath cracking their heads as regards their small friend in the Pacific).

We are all crossing our fingers that, in the end, good sense and diplomacy will usher a peaceful end to this conflict. Experience and history however indicate that there’s too much oil under the waters and rocks of the Scarborough Shoals. Forget the fish, the giant oysters and live sharks taken by the Chinese fishermen. They’re really nothing to the black gold that’s firing the brains of the Chinese. Maybe, the summer heat does not help.

FROM 5TH TO 6T A scary news item declares our country has been relegated to near “among the least developed and least attractive sites to do business with the ASEAN region”. Apparently, our country is going in the wrong direction—down instead of up. We used to be one of the top 5 economic Asean “tigers” but not anymore.

We were just dislodged by Vietnam. The reason: lack of infrastructure and, not surprisingly, corruption which Noynoy is trying to eradicate. I suggest that very high power costs is also involved.

If there is no change the collective mind-set regarding the way we select our leaders, it is obvious that the result will be more of the same. Change may come but it will be a further deterioration of our body politics and economic welfare. Doesn’t that send shivers through your spine?

What makes our situation more pitiful is that once we were more advanced than the rest of our Asian comrades except Japan. I remember friends who visited Taiwan armed only with silk stockings they exchange for sex at the famed Sun-Moon lake. Taiwan then was just emerging from economic backwardness. Who would have thought that it would become a magnificent economic tiger?

So we have to ponder more deeply now. We have not much time left.

WELCOME HOME, DR. REMITIO & WIFE: This column welcomes back Dr. Rienzi Remitio, my brother and his wife, Martha, who are arriving all the way from Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Remitio has been living for many years in Hawaii, where he lives at the edge of a golf-course in Sun Lakes, an uppity residential area. Nice place to live but I imagine wild golf balls may rattle the roof when some duffers are around.

Dr. Remitio has practiced cardiology in Bacolod for a short while and then in the Manapla Central Hospital. I’m sure many of his old patients are still alive and, hopefully, still kicking.

So, welcome back, Kits, (we call him Kits) and Martha, to Bacolod!*

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