OPINION: Cha-cha diplomacy

Teddy Locsin Jr.

Posted at Oct 22 2016 04:20 AM

Interrupting the series of mind experiments on keeping an open mind, I offer this mind experiment on Duterte’s statement in Beijing, announcing the end of our relationship with the United States

He probably meant the end of special relations. You cannot end relations with any country in the world. Even North Korea, we live on the same planet.

The first to announce the end of special relations was the U.S., when we voted not to renew the U.S. bases, anyway scheduled for shutdown because covered with lava from Pinatubo, and no longer affordable by a failing U.S. economy.

Some 10 years later, the Americans were back asking temporary access for warships. We obliged. After all, Philippines and U.S. are still the only countries in Asia with a mutual defense treaty protecting each other, like they did against the Japanese, the North Koreans and the North Vietnamese.

So back to normal.

Duterte’s announcement panicked Filipinos, even me. I cannot imagine a world without America near. Even if in the event of an imminent Chinese invasion, the U.S. will not automatically come to our defense. It let the invasion proceed while it debates the appropriate response in the U.S. Congress. I have tried to soften this new turn in foreign policy that’s been unfolding since Duterte took the presidency.

I have said that to pivot to China does not mean to turn your back on the United States. It only means that to meet and make new friends standing in line behind you, you gotta turn your back for a while on the one friend who has monopolized your attention and conversation since you came of age as an independent country.

Few got my interpretation.

Okay, here is something easier to understand. Duterte’s statement can be interpreted as a way of calling attention to rather spurning the attention of our old beloved partner, who’s been taking us for granted.

For a 100 years, our relations with the U.S. have been physically close but also stagnant. Like shy debutants, we took the U.S. to the Asian prom as our date.

But the U.S. did not follow Reagan’s advise to gentlemen: Always and only dance with the gal that brung ya.

The U.S. has been dancing with every new girl that’s come into the room. Hence, the feelings of rejection of a wallflower, watching the younger girls getting— new warships, new fighters, battle tanks, missile batteries, and how to use them.

It is like an old marriage where desire has faded. Activity has slowed.

We have been dancing the slow drag with America to soft music while its eyes keep scanning the room for better prospects. Now Duterte says enough of that. This may or may not be a call for more attention. Or he really has found another partner. Divorce is more of an American institution than long marriages, so America should understand.

Perhaps it is a call to change the music to play a faster song and dance with quicker steps; a switch from slow drag to cha-cha, from circling slowly around the same place, to suddenly taking 2 steps forward, 2 steps back; 1 step sideward and back, then another step to the opposite side and back. Repeat.

The pace is faster. The music livelier. The steps more interesting. There is a chance to show off feet work. There is far more perspiration and a more suggestive intimacy, but really, you are dancing in the same location.

What about that interpretation?

Another way to renew a dance partner’s attention in yourself is to dance with another fella in the party; someone with more money, even if not good looks.
Or sometimes, a partner gets erectile dysfunction. There is now a blue remedy advertised by bob dole. But you know what happens when he takes it. You’re bound to get it. And while it may be fun, it does get tiresome between old couples.

Keep well.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.