Ultranationalism: what does it really mean?

It has been observed that the term ultranationalism has become a pejorative description for nationalists who display an extreme fervor to or advocacy of the interests of their country. Those who claim to be “citizens of the world” are the ones who are quick to calumny nationalists, often accusing them of being this so-called ultranationalism.

But what, really, does ultranationalism connote? Legendary nationalist Claro M. Recto had this to say:

It is evident that our brand of nationalism is different from that of our accusers. We have no desire and we have never attempted to deny the national self-interest of other peoples in their own countries. We merely want to defend our own, in our own territory. We are nationalists but we can live in harmony with other nationalists, because all nationalisms can work out a plan for coexistence which will not detract from the sovereignty of any one nation. Those who are bent on carrying their nationalisms beyond their national frontiers in order to overrun other nationalisms have ceased to be true nationalists and have become ultra-nationalists, which is another word for imperialists. Ultra is a Latin word which means beyond in space, as in the terms plus ultra and non plus ultra. An ultra-nationalist, therefore, is one who wants to be first not only in his own country, but also in other countries to which he is a foreigner; that is, an imperialist.

We would rather take the meaning of ultranationalism from a master of words and an expert in etymology (many critics in literature regard him as our Filipino version of Miguel de Cervantes) than from those with shallow understanding of the true import of nationalism. Nevertheless, we have to admit that there really are nationalists who do show an extreme kind of nationalism to the point that they have disregarded or neglected the interests of other countries. But such people are a minority and do not really represent the lofty ideals of nationalism. The kind of nationalism they adhere to can be classified as bigoted or chauvinistic. But it doesn’t really matter. What matters the most is placing ultranationalism in its proper etimological perspective, that ultranationalism is imperialism after all. Period.

And speaking of bigotry or chauvinism, there are actually no “ultranationalists” (to borrow from anti-nationalists’ twisted definition of the term) in Filipinas. What we have are regionalists who claim that their province or region or town/city or ethnicity is better than the rest. Take this photo, for instance:


Photo taken at the border of Tagaytay, Cavite and Nasugbú, Batangas last 13 September 2011.

“Welcome to the Province of the Brave”, says this welcome arch, signifying that travelers are about to enter the Province of Batangas. Aside from the “warm welcome”, what does the message really want to imply? That Batangas is the only province of the brave? And what does that say of the other provinces? You see, there are many ways to promote provincial or regional pride without overdoing it or putting others down. Regionalism is not only anti-nationalist but anti-Filipino as well. We have to remember (and treasure) that the concept of the Filipino is what united our once divided and warring ethnolinguistic groups.

Other than the parochial message, this arch is a total waste of tax payer’s money. As if the arch behind it is not enough (they could’ve just added the name Batangas with that of Nasugbú).

Originally published in FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES.

My Tagálog identity ends where my Filipino identity begins

I know one local historian in Batangas who takes pride in everything Batangueño. Nothing wrong with it. The error begins whenever he starts to brag that Batangueños are the bravest in Filipinas, that they had the most sophisticated lifestyle during the early days of our country, that they contributed the most to Filipino history and culture, etc. Similarly, a Visayan FB friend proudly declared on his wall that “we are Visayans first, then second Filipinos.”

This is no longer patriotism. Neither is it nationalism. This is REGIONALISM at its finest.

I am a Tagálog. That is my racial stock. But I am always beaming with pride whenever I say that “I am a Filipino first, then a Tagálog second”. It’s because our NATIONAL IDENTITY transcends all barriers of race across the archipelago. To be proud of your race firstly only generates regionalism which then leads to animosity towards other races/regions.

My roots are from Tayabas. I grew up in Metro Manila. Now I live with my family in La Laguna. Yet my loyalty and affinity do not belong strictly to any of these places. In fact, me and my family feel excited to travel to other parts of the archipelago and mingle with other Filipinos from different races and experience and feel with them how they live their Filipino lives. I am a Tagálog but I take pride in the pili nuts and Mayón Volcano of the Bicolanos. I am a Tagálog but I take pride in the guitarras and the Fiesta Señor of the Cebuanos. I am a Tagálog but I take pride in the elegant ancestral houses of the Ilocanos in Vigan (and how I love their pinacbét!).

The durián of Daváo, the tarsier of the Bojolanos, the binasúan folk dance of the Pangasinenses, all of which are non-Tagálog articles. But I consider them mine, and I am MIGHTY PROUD of them all, because I am a Filipino.

That is what our national identity is all about, that is its purpose: it binds the fragility of racial tensions that we had (and still have). That is why when I visited non-Tagalog places such as San Fernando Pampanga, Calivo, Aclán (a couple of dimwits in public office changed the spelling to Kalibo, Aklan), or Lake Sebú, Cotabato del Sur, I still felt at home. Not once did I feel alien. Because I have this burning love for each and every place that has become part of the Filipino cosmos. And this burning love inspires me to visit each place (hopefully I would be able to do so —and with my family— before I exit this sorrowful world).

My love for San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna (my adoptive hometown) is the same love that I feel towards Isabela, Basilan although I have never been there. It’s the same kind of love that I have towards Parañaque (the place where I grew up) and Unisan, Tayabas (my roots). I pride myself of Cebuano and Negrense achievements even if I’m not Visayan. I can even call Bulacán Province as my home even if I have no filial connection to it. My heart bled when Daváo City was bombed and Batanes was ravaged by a recent typhoon. This is because I am a Filipino. Had I limited myself to being a Tagálog, I wouldn’t have cared much for other parts of Filipinas. That is why I do not support regionalism. Too much of it leads to divisiveness.

This nationalistic ardor also compels me to defend places that are in danger of invasion. if a foreign aggressor, for instance, invades, say, Sámar or Bícol, I’d gladly volunteer, if need be, and be willing to die for these places. Because Sámar and Bícol are also MINE even though I am a Tagálog, even though I have never been there. Because I am a Filipino firstly. My being a Tagálog comes last.

¡A Dios sea toda la gloria y la honra!

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