Sinophobia and false illusions

PEOPLE are generally a confused lot thanks to media and many false prophets of doom and boom in our midst. These days the reading public is treated to worst-case scenarios in the international front and panaceas, quick-fix solutions to a gullible citizenry hungry for a dramatic change in the quality of their lives, especially those that are mired in the poverty trap.


A Chinese aircraft lands in Davao and it is front-page news. The other day, a Chinese research vessel docked in the Davao pier and it was headlined. The administration calls this “Sinophobia” — fear of the Chinese. Actually, the Chinese gave cause for this fear when it grabbed a few islands in the West Philippine Sea and installed military hardware in some.

But the Chinese are quick to remind us that unlike the Spaniards, Americans, and Japanese, they never invaded us despite the proximity of our nations.

They are also quick to recall that our relations with them has spanned over a millennium. It was in 982 AD when Filipinos sailed to Canton in South China to peddle their goods. The Chinese reciprocated by sending sailings ships called junks to trade their wares in Luzon and as far as Sulu.

This prompted Sultan Paduka Pahala of Sulu to bring a large entourage of courtiers to pay homage to the Chinese emperor in the 15th century. Unfortunately, Paduka died on his way home, on September 13, 1417. As a sign of friendship the Chinese emperor adopted his family and buried the Sultan in the province of Shandong.

If I may inject a personal note, my brother Eddie Romero, National Artist for film made a film of this incident “Hari sa Hari, Lahi sa Lahi.”

The Chinese immigrants to this country taught us to make gunpowder, mine for gold, make bakya, umbrellas, and clothes. On the negative side, they also introduced all forms of gambling like mahjong, and firecrackers and even opium.

During the Spanish era the government encouraged Chinese immigrants to become agricultural laborers.