Sunday, December 13, 2009

Is this just a lull before social turmoil?- Alfredo Hernandez 10.12.09

From John Fowke

What Alfredo and other less-outspoken commentators have said recently regarding a lack of interest in individual enterprise within PNG society-  which they say has led to a vacuum filled by enterprising Asians- -is something to be considered, although it is not entirely correct.It is wrong, in fact it is insulting, to ascribe sign of a growing unrest at the recent Asian invasion into many areas of business in PNG, to simple envy and  jealousy on the part of PNG'ians.
As for the presence of Philippine nationals as such in PNG, most of these, beginning in the 1970's, have been professional and administrative and trades-connected migrants who have come as workers rather than business-people. I think this fact is recognised although Philippinos in general, like all foreigners who stay for long in PNG, are still new colonials in the eyes of most citizens.
 May I recommend to Alfredo and to his countrymen who are of a similar general opinion that they look back upon the history of their own nation?
 The small, semi-tribal kingdoms, rajahnates, and principalities which ruled the islands of that great Asian archipelago, today the independant Republic of Philippines, were free in the same measure as pre-colonial PNG was free up until 125 years ago. These small Philippine kingdoms conducted their own affairs and benefitted for centuries in terms of a sporadic but important contact with seaborne traders from China, Vietnam and other neighbouring kingdoms.
 Then came the Spanish explorers, and the expedition led by Legaspi in 1564 which established the foothold from which dominance and full control by Spain over the whole archipelago arose. Spain ruled, and controlled not only the civil affairs and the laws, but also the trade of this rich colony for more than 300 years. Spain was displaced  by the United States of America which granted full independence to the people of the Philippines in 1946, only 30 years befor PNG became an independant nation.
 Don't tell us, please, Alfredo, that your fathers and your uncles and grandparents, to say nothing of their ancestors right back to 1565, did not chafe under the yoke of authoritarian colonial control and colonial exploitation? Dont tell us that even today,  Phillipine nationals dont have any negative feelings about the heavy presence of American multinational companies and those less-desirable effects emanating from the US military presence in your country? Under Aguinaldo in the 1890's your people fought a vicious and prolonged guerilla war against the colonial forces of the US, until, at the cost of a great many lives on both sides, the Americans again established control over your country. Dont tell us that the Philippinos of that generation together with their descendants held no animosity toward the Americans, who still have quite a large influence on the commerce and the politcs of your country. Think about this and then consider the feelings of Papua New Guineans, at one moment made free of foreign domination, and so soon after independence, once again heavily colonized in terms of influence and takeup of business opportunities by aliens. Is there any wonder that they feel aggrieved? 
John Fowke

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