From Burma to Vigan: Semantics and How Simple Words Can Affect Politics and Society


An Australian fellow gave me a beer because I was wearing a Batman outfit. I felt that it was only polite for me to smalltalk and converse with him as a symbol of my gratitude.

He says it's their last night in Manila and that he was here merely for business reasons. He also says he works in the Australian embassy in Myanmar (well, he could have been making up stuff).

"Burma, you mean," I tried to interject politely.

He seemed surprised that a dude wearing a batman outfit from Manila would take interest in Burma's history. He went on explaining that they are merely words and that the purpose of diplomacy is to compromise about things like this, implying that in order to negotiate with the military junta in Burma, they have to recognize and compromise by using words like "Myanmar".


MILF soldier with an M60 machine gun
For those who aren't very familiar with the history of Burma, we can take the word "Bangsamoro," a buzzword nowadays that the media and the administration have been promoting as something that will bring more peace in Mindanao and a good relationship with the MILF (for those who aren't from the Philippines, it's actually a rebel group and not the kind of mom you're thinking of).

They say changing ARMM to Bangsamoro, giving them even more sovereignty and autonomy as well, I think, will lead to peace. I'm not really super familiar with the legislation but yeah, why not. If it does bring more peace to Mindanao then I don't know why I or anyone would be against it.

I do support for smaller states to have sovereignty and autonomy over the national government. It's been part of our history anyway being that we've always been, since the dawn of Philippine civilization, a geography of independent states called Barangays. I do support decentralizing power from Imperial Manila and giving the power back to the provinces. Again, not entirely familiarized with the legislation or negotiations, but having a goal for peace and non-violent compromise is always a good starting point.

"P. Burgos"

Eating Vigan Empanada
A few weeks ago, I think, I was in Vigan. And by the popular empanada market is the statue of Jose Burgos, being that this was where he was born and raised. Burgos, as we all know, is a close friend of Paciano Rizal, Jose Rizal's older brother. His execution deeply inspired Jose Rizal into writing his second novel El Filibusterismo.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, this incident was also what made Jose Rizal's brother decide for them to change their last names from Mercado to Rizal (to avoid attention from the friars and Spanish soldiers).

It's interesting how one thing that our legislators are really consistent at doing are naming streets especially what has become of a street in Makati we call P. Burgos. I don't really care. Don't mistake me for a social conservative. Just wanted another example to point out how simple words can affect politics and society.

"The pen is mightier than the sword."

Could you imagine what Rizal had to go through just to publish his work? They'd need giant printing presses, sometimes even travel long distances just to be published. Nowadays all we have to do is sit in front of a computer. Spreading our ideas and opinions to the world is all just a click away.

My advise? Go outside. Meet people. Read. Travel. WRITE. Share and exchange ideas with the world. These things will give you insights beyond what our contemporary methods of schooling can offer. It could be dangerous and probably expensive but the life lessons and experiences will always be worth it. Make every moment a learning experience.

Yup, there goes a puff piece. Just bored and haven't really had access to a properly functioning keyboard for a few days now. So many things to write about. For now, this will do. Cheers!

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