The question is: Can we afford to go to war?

Or do we just turn to America and repeat history, shackling ourselves economically to our former colonizer

BY

At a glance


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    CONTESTED WATERS A Chinese coast guard vessel blocks a Philippine boat off the waters of Second Thomas Shoal on May 19, 2024 in this video released by the Philippine Coast Guard (Photo PCG | AP)

    I am not for military action against Beijing in the West Philippine Sea. I am in the minority based on a survey showing that 73 percent of Filipinos support it. How has it come to this?

    “The predominant view in China, harbored by the civilian side of the foreign policy community, including the vast majority of scholars, is to either maintain the status quo or push harder for cooperation in the South China Sea,” wrote Mingjiang Li in her article “Reconciling Assertiveness and Cooperation? China’s Changing Approach to the South China Sea Dispute.”

    China’s appetite for energy resources in the South China Sea (SCS), according to Li, will see Beijing becoming “more assertive to protect its energy resources, given its strategic concerns in East Asia,” but as the political pundit puts it, “the leadership’s obsession with the priority of domestic economic development, China will probably attempt to flex its muscle in a limited fashion and will see to avoid any dramatic escalation of the dispute.”

    Well, I suppose that was before the Philippine government decided to increase US military presence in the archipelago. We have now seen Beijing beat its chest with strong statements and threats, including a fishing ban in the South China Sea and large areas of the West Philippine Sea, topping it off with a new ruling that will see anyone found violating the ban detained for 60 days. Just to add, the fishing ban imposed by Beijing on the areas covered is, “to promote sustainable fishing and conserve marine ecology in the South China Sea.” Manila points out, however, they are banning Filipino fishermen in areas belonging to the Philippines. The escalation of tensions has also seen the doubling of Chinese warships in the West Philippine Sea. Our proximity to Taiwan, which makes us an “area of interest” for China, has prompted President Bongbong R. Marcos (PBBM) to issue another warning, “The external threat now has become more pronounced, has become more worrisome. And that is why we have to prepare.” Again, I am assuming what we have to prepare for is war? Or is there somewhere in between, like limbo or purgatory?

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    ALL TOGETHER NOW For an improved running experience, consider joining groups such as the Run Happy Tuesday Club to help encourage your running journey (Photo Teji Film)

    As I mentioned in last Saturday’s column “Ready to Run,” I picked up running again. To help motivate me, I joined a running club, one of many cropping up not only in the metropolis but around the country. Funny how after my article was published, some of my former gym buddies started ribbing me about the running club, which has become a global trend because it has become like a dating app with people finding love and romance in the clubs! I can see why. They are young, healthy, good-looking, and already share an interest with you. Friends have sent me TikTok links to prove people have ended up with people they met at running clubs. How to be young again!

    One night, I was running with a bunch of women from the 5AM Gang Run Club in the BGC area. Our warm up conversation was filled with what PBBM’s latest statement on the current state of our country’s security against external threats would mean to our country and our daily lives, should things “blow up.” Reaction among our running group ranged from complete ignorance and apathy to genuine concern and, to some extent, morbid curiosity as to how things would pan out if war broke out? Will it be like Ukraine? Israel? Or even Vietnam? Will our neighbors just take a step back and claim neutrality? After all, their economies’ health depends on maintaining good relations with China, just like the Philippines economy. In March 2024, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that China was the Philippines’ largest supplier of imported goods valued at $2.27 billion or 24.4 percent of our total imports for the period. It also ranked third in exports, contributing $837.51 million or 13.7 percent of total export value. Can Filipinos afford to weather the imposition of economic sanctions or similar forms of selective economic policies by China and her allies against the Philippines? Perhaps we will then turn to America and repeat history, shackling ourselves economically to our former American colonizer, like we were for a long time until the early part of the Fourth Republic? Who knows maybe we will be forced to finally become independent by becoming truly self-reliant?

    Strong emotions and troubling thoughts fueled us and, before we knew it, our impromptu group of four runners had eaten up seven kilometers worth of BGC pavement. Some were not faring as well as the others, which prompted our pacer Daryl to voice her concern: How to motivate others to run the remaining five kilometers? We originally planned to run five kilometers but someone suggested to celebrate Independence Day by running 12 kilometers instead. Just as Daryl was running out of ideas on how to egg everyone on, we found ourselves in the midst of a horde of runners in pink and black coming from the opposite direction. I had heard of the Blooms Run club but to see them en masse coming at us was a sight to behold. They were so warm and inviting after telling us that they were half way done with their 10-kilometer Independence Day run and that we should join them for their last five-kilometer stretch. Here was our chance to achieve our Independence Day run target.

    The Blooms Run Club holds regular 10-kilometer runs in BGC. They run a route that spells out BINI in the map. Blooms Run Club founder Patrick Olympia explained that he created the group last May the day after BINI member Aiah posted her 10-kilometer BINI route on Strava. BINI is a Filipino girl group consisting of eight members: Aiah, Maloi, Colet, Jhoanna, Stacey, Mikha, Gwen, and Sheena. The band name comes from the Tagalog word binibini or lady. Their fans are called Blooms, many of whom are fun and enthusiastic runners. While running, members dance, sing out loud while music from the BINI playlist is played discretely in the background.

    Our four-member group ended up reaching our target of 12 kilometers and more (a total of 15!), thanks to the inspiration of the the Blooms. Basta ang saya! BINI will be holding a Fun Run on June 23 on Roxas Boulevard. For Fun Run details and weekly running schedules check out @bloomsrunclub on Instagram.

    Most running groups I’ve encountered have regular weekly runs. In BGC, I have been trying out different running clubs, some planned, some by chance. If I plan it right, I will be able to join group runs every day. Another impromptu run experience I had, happened the other day with the “Run Happy Tuesday Club” under Brooks Running Sports Philippines. The club recently teamed up with “Team Zeru,” a group of triathlon athletes, who volunteer to serve as pacers for the members. Running with the Run Happy Tuesday Club + Team Zeru that night felt like I was elevating my running game. The energy was “serioso” yet fun. Members meet at 6:30 a.m. in front of Toby’s BGC every Tuesday. Check out @brooksrunningph on Instagram for announcements. By the way, members are divided into different pace groups. The slowest pace is called the “Sexy Run” consisting of a combination of easy run and walking. There is something for every running level. Happy running!