BY SAUL HOFILEÑA JR.
Jan 07, 2023 12:01 am
YOU got me right. The Philippines is not only the richest Catholic country in Southeast Asia (because we are the only Catholic country in Southeast Asia), our navy is also the most powerful blue water navy on the planet.
Let me explain: During the time when Rodrigo Duterte was president, he was always lashing at the Americans and once insulted former president Barack Obama and the European Union. I was afraid that he would go after the 7th Fleet in the Pacific by sending a warship to confront what is considered the most powerful navy in the world.
Sangley Point, a former American base in Cavite City, gave rise to one of the largest recruitment centers of the US Navy. To hasten the expansion of America's "Manifest Destiny," former president William McKinley signed an executive order in 1901 to enlist 500 Filipinos as part of the insular force. Thereafter, Filipinos were steadily recruited. However, after America granted independence to a war-devastated Philippines in 1946, recruitment of Filipinos was temporarily halted.
On March 14, 1947, the United States of America entered into an agreement with the Republic of the Philippines. Article XXVII of the Military Bases Agreement (MBA) allowed the United States to recruit Filipino citizens for enlistment into the United States Armed Forces.
Because of the additional need for stewards in the Navy, an agreement was signed in 1952, using as a basis the 1947 MBA which allowed an additional 1,000 Filipino citizens to enlist in the US Navy every year. The commander of the Philippine Naval Forces was responsible for processing applications for the United States Navy. Under the then US Nationality Act of 1940, Filipinos who have served in the US Armed Forces for three years or more may be naturalized as US citizens.
Filipinos have always been especially favored and targeted for recruitment to work on board American battleships because they are hardy, can speak and understand English, and are generally uncomplaining and good-natured. A highway marker was recently installed in Virginia Beach to honor the more than 35,000 Filipinos who served in the US Navy. In the 1970s, Filipinos became eligible to serve in all enlisted and officer positions in the Navy. Thus, Filipinos were able to rise as Naval officers.
Today, it is not uncommon to meet a Filipino-American serviceman whose father, grandfather and great grandfather had all served in the US Navy. It has become an inherited trait to enlist and Go Navy. Scratch a brown colored Navyman's skin and you will most probably find an enlisted man with Filipino blood in his veins. Today, there are more than 10,000 Fil-Ams in the US military and more than a thousand are involved in the military medical service.
Capt. Ronald Ravelo, a Filipino American and son of a retired US Navyman, was the commander of the "Abraham Lincoln," an American aircraft carrier. Lt. Gen. Edward Soriano, a Fil-Am, became a three-star general in 2002 and took over the command of Fort Lewis. Last year, it was announced by the US Secretary of the Navy that a soon-to-be-built Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer will be named the USS Telesforo Trinidad in recognition of a Filipino who saved fellow sailors in 1915 when the USS San Diego exploded. Telesforo Trinidad was awarded the Medal of Honor.
If former president Duterte had the gall to send a lone Philippine battleship to destroy an American carrier, I bet my bottom dollar that despite America's much-vaunted naval supremacy in the Pacific and beyond, that aircraft carrier, together with its full complement of destroyers, submarines, cruisers, helicopter gunships and warplanes, would have to beat a hasty retreat at the sight of a rampaging combat-ready Filipino warship. How can all those Fil-Ams sink that shipload of Pinoy souls and blood brothers? Even Barack Obama will be against it.
Our schools once flew the Stars and Stripes, and our people imitated the looks and habits of American movie stars. Most of us even have American names with Hispanic surnames, a confusing matter in this already confused place in Asia.
The mighty 7th Fleet, terror of the Pacific, has no choice but to run away as our navy battleship gives chase. The 7th Fleet might take cover in Guam ostensibly to obtain provisions, or proceed to Hawaii to refuel, and if the Proudly Pinoy battleship continues its unrelenting pursuit to engage in combat, the 7th Fleet might just, unblushingly, sail back to Norfolk, Virginia.
The American Navy can never take us on. Their ships are full of Fil-Ams working as cooks, stewards, mechanics, enlisted men and officers. They may even allow that Philippine vessel to do what no other man-of-war with declared hostile intentions has ever done — drop anchor in the most sacred of US territory facing the Pacific, the San Francisco Harbor. Pinoy sailors can then take their much-needed liberty leaves on safe conduct passes to join their long-lost relatives in the "States."
Now, look at me straight in the eyes: Who has the most powerful blue water navy in the world?