Changing alliances


As we ponder the future use of the islands for military exercises, Republic of the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte plans a visit to China this month that could redraw alliances in East Asia. As this heads out the door, the U.S. is saying our relation with the republic is “ironclad.”

Duterte wants to pursue a more independent foreign policy than it has in the past. “Ever since President Duterte took office, China and the Philippines have been engaging in friendly interactions, which have yielded a series of positive results,” Zhao Jianhua, the Chinese ambassador to Manila, said at a Chinese National Day reception at the embassy last week per a Reuters news report.

“The clouds are fading away. The sun is rising over the horizon, and will shine beautifully on the new chapter of bilateral relations,” Zhao said. But Japan too has invested heavily in the Philippines and could well be the arm the U.S. would employ to influence steady policy in East Asia to keep China at ease. The Philippines is closer to mainland China than the CNMI. What role would we play in a fast changing shift in alliances?

Freedom of the press

Through the years, the CNMI gradually embraced the news media as the right forum for information and exchange of views. It’s a good place to promote healthy discussion among citizenry.

Having walked up this alley for over 40 years with my late brother, we were privy to seeing how the press evolved from the “freest” press to one of responsibility. Eventually, slander and libel laws discouraged use of the press as a tool for ferocious vulgarity and savage defamation.

Today, the news media has become our primary source of information. The digital age brought in social media with tons of information but people who post materials aren’t required to ensure accuracy nor are they equipped with the journalistic discipline to present the truth in spreading good or bad tidings. So exercise caution when using the social media for information.

About the only reason that I wake up before the break of dawn is to review online editions of local and major global publications like my favorite Wall Street Journal, Asian edition. I would then slide into other materials from national foundations, etc. I’ve got my own favorite columnists like Charles Krauthammer and George Will. I’d read others depending on issues of interest. Otherwise, I’ve got books written by islanders (highly esteemed intellectuals) I’d plow right in to explore their views on colonization, decolonization to deculturation, etc.

The press has kept government on its toes. Indeed, we’ve seen how careers were ruined permanently by major errors in judgment against the self or violation of the public interest. It takes the re-awakening of “we the people” and the active role of the press to usher in needed change. I expect this happening once more this November.

While community members may not readily reveal their thoughts or feelings, it doesn’t mean ignorance. Trust me, they know more than their silence is golden demeanor.

The other vital side to this equation is what’s known as reading! Our people in all walks of life must be able to read and understand the printed word. Yes, we’ve come a long way on this score through education. How gratifying it would be if someday the CNMI attains a fully informed citizenry taking issues beyond linear thinking. It should lead to thorough discussion and disposition of issues before us.

The $-million riddle

A friend replied to the query of the gross of the $37 million fee Best Sunshine pays the CNMI. He has the right answer while asserting that the CNMI has been had in a deal that needed thorough review. How true that it was a rushed and hushed deal!

It was tiptoed through the two chambers when the island went snoozing. The guys and gals came out with injured conscience and on wheelchairs for life. Appalling, though, the aura of invincibility. Casino would permanently change what’s left of the heritage of these isles. Interesting the warped view that vacuous measures would strengthen the very institution and pillar of tradition that lacked foresight. Whatever happened to common sense? How could you have missed the obvious connection?

Friends, in a democracy nothing’s stronger than the voice of the people. The tenure of legislators is limited and easily ended when “we the people” decide it’s against our interest that lapdogs now fill the two chambers on the hill. It piques my interest, though, whether the $7 billion integrated resort would make it in these very interesting times. Something’s amiss here, right?

Long bombs

It is known among Pacific intellectuals and scholars as the “long bombs” of imperialism—what the colonial power brought here—that turned into a way of life. How do we uproot it? Impossible! Even our national government isn’t sure of the effects of the money economy. But it’s here to stay! Traditional mode of life is basically history!

Interesting their availing of funds for such programs as cultural revival including the local language. We brave spouting that our culture is itself a renaissance. Is this why we continue redundancy bringing external experts to tell us what we already know? I mean it reminds me of the adage, “After all is said and done a lot more is said than done.” And we return the following year repeating the same polished failure!

The heritage of these isles would survive if we buckle down to practicing it daily. It would live in perpetuity and we need not employ the phrase “cultural preservation” to pretend we’re doing something about it. Live it!

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.

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