Los Angeles (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - When ABS-CBN's Balitang America conducted an opinion poll of its 250,000 US subscribers on July 19 on the China boycott issue ("Should Filipinos boycott China-made products in protest against China's claim over the Spratlys?"), 84 percent expressed agreement while 16 percent answered no. When interviewed, a number of those who disagreed said that it was just "too much of a sacrifice" to expect them to buy products not made in China since the market was saturated with China-made goods.
Too much of a sacrifice? The family of Godofredo Asercion may want to have a word with those who hold this view.
Godofredo was born in San Francisco in 1916 and is likely the first Filipino to study in the University of San Francisco and certainly the first to graduate with a bachelor's degree in music in 1938. By then, he was already an accomplished pianist with dreams of performing in concerts throughout the United States.
He married the love of his life, Catalina Presa, a year after graduation and two years later, she gave birth to their son, Rudy. Godofredo had high hopes that his son would follow in the family's musical tradition just as his father, Delfin Asercion, had blazed the trail as the first Filipino bandmaster of the US Navy.
But Godofredo's dreams for himself and his son were abruptly placed on hold after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. Though he was born as an American citizen and had never visited the Philippines and did not know how to speak the local language, Godofredo nonetheless felt that his native country was in peril so he enlisted in the US Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) to defend the Philippines from an impending Japanese invasion.
In early 1942, Godofredo joined his besieged unit in Bataan which, along with Corregidor, was the last to fall to the Japanese Imperial Army. For three months, as US forces retreated to Australia, Godofredo and his comrades valiantly held on with meager food rations and even meager ammunition, as the superior Japanese military forces pounded them with heavy artillery. By the time the Filipino American defenders surrendered on April 9, 1942, Godofredo was among those who died, buried along with 30 other soldiers in a mass grave.
"Even though I was also born in San Francisco, I feel the same burning love for the Philippines that my father had," said Rudy, the Executive Director of the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center and the Commander of the Bataan Post of the American Legion.
Rudy is also an active member of the US Pinoys for Good Governance and has participated, along with a few surviving WW II veterans, in demonstrations and mass actions in front of the China Consulate in San Francisco to protest China's creeping invasion of the Philippines.
"China's threat to invade certain shoals and islands of the Philippines is the same now as Japan's threat to invade the Philippines was in 1941," Rudy said.
Rudy and members of the US Pinoys for Good Governance are calling for a boycott of all China-made products. "The way I see it, people can either boycott China goods now and hope that its economic impact will cause China to respect Philippine sovereignty or they can wait until China invades the Philippines and watch their children fight to defend the Philippines as my father did," Rudy said.
In a viral email that has been forwarded to millions of Filipinos throughout the world, former Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan wrote that "the time to rally to the flag has come. No less than the President has called for unity in action to deal with this fast brewing crisis that holds dire implications to our future in the years and decades to come."
"China is wresting control of the West Philippine Sea despite the objections of claimant countries like the Philippines and Vietnam," Mr. Alunan added, "and has clearly rejected a rules-based regime to settle the claims in dispute. It has instead caused alarm bells to ring as far as Washington DC which has been warning China to act responsibly, not provocatively."
As Mr. Alunan explained, "China does not want to be denied its place in the sun as a superpower, and it needs to push its boundaries outward to ward off its perceived containment by the US and to control the rich oil and gas reserves in the West Philippine Sea to sustain its economic growth and development."
The Chinese Ministry of Geology and Mineral Resources estimates the reserves located in the Philippines' Recto Bank - barely 50 miles from Palawan - at 17.7 billion tons or approximately 126 billion barrels of oil worth trillions of dollars.
In those rich oil reserves lie the future of China, free from dependence on oil from the Middle East. Those same oil reserves, however, hold the prospect of a bright prosperous future for the Philippines where Filipinos would no longer need to work abroad at slave wages and in slave conditions to survive.
In his 2011 State of the Nation Address (SONA), Pres. Aquino warned China: "If you trample on Recto Bank, you are trampling on Recto Avenue" (a main thoroughfare in Manila). The message was crystal clear. If China invades Recto Bank, it will be viewed as an invasion of the Philippines.
In his most recent SONA, which he delivered on July 23, Pres. Aquino explained his decision to fight for the Scarborough Shoal which is located only 124 miles from Luzon while more than 550 miles from the nearest port of China: "if someone entered your yard and told you he owned it, would you agree? Would it be right to give away that which is rightfully ours?"
"And so I ask for solidarity from our people regarding this issue. Let us speak with one voice. Help me relay to the other side the logic of our stand," he said.
On August 21, express your solidarity with the Filipino people on this issue. Let us all speak with one voice. Join the Global Day of Prayer for Peace in the Scarborough Shoal and organize an educational event in your community. For more information, visit www.uspgg.org.
Join the boycott of made in China products now. Or, if that's too much of a sacrifice, wait until China invades the Philippines and then act.