Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Nicole," Victimized Again? Where to, Filipino Honor?!

19 March 2009

Everyone knows the story by now.  It's all over the papers, the radio and the primetime TV news.  "Nicole," the Filipina rape victim who won her case against US Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith is in the news again.  This time, through an affidavit submitted to the Court of Appeals by Smith's lawyer, "Nicole" is telling another story and saying that she was probably too drunk to know what really happened to her.

This story is wide, broad and deep and has far-reaching implications especially in the face of renewed calls for the scrapping of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which allows the temporary stationing of US military forces in Philippine territory.  

But the call coming from "Nicole's" lawyer, Atty. Evalyn Ursua, that it's too early to judge "Nicole," should be heeded.  

In a press statement, Senator Francis Pangilinan said that "we cannot blame Nicole and her family," and asserted that this is "an indictment of our justice system that is perceived to favor the wealthy and the powerful and ... to be biased against the ordinary folks like Nicole." He added that "Nicole did not fail us; our justice system did."  But to which we should all add that before human systems fail, individual humans themselves fail first.

However, "Nicole" and her family do owe the Filipino nation a clear and honest explanation, at least, if only to provide all of us with a concrete starting point in resolving this big politico-historic, socio-cultural crisis. It is not only the Philippine justice system that is indicted here but our culture and value systems as a nation.  We have to confront this reality and deal with it right here, right now.  What really happened here?!   Filipino dignity demands nothing less.  The honor of all Filipinos -- not just every Filipina -- is at stake.  Not only here, but around the world.  


  1. I read this story in the paper and wondered what will now happen to the soldier and to Nicole. Thanks for shedding light on it.
    I plan to learn more about Gat Andres Bonifacio, by the way. You've gotten my curiosity going.

  2. It's not everyday that a distinguished American history writer and teacher would visit my blog. But you actually have, Lisa, and I consider it a singular honor.

    This is definitely not the last we're going to hear about "Nicole" and Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith. As expected, Nicole has been receiving severe criticisms from fellow Filipinos for her actuations. She's a grown-up woman and by now, she must know what she's doing, I just hope she'll eventually come back to the Philippines from wherever she is in the United States to contribute to the process of national catharsis. Chances for that happening might be slim but stranger things have happened. I remain optimistic that we Filipinos and Americans will still learn a few good lessons from this otherwise sad, painful and confusing chapter in our shared history.

    I am pleased to learn that you're taking up Gat Andres Bonifacio. I’m sure you can quickly gather facts by yourself and probably unearth much more that we do not know about but with your kind indulgence, this is the portrait I have of Andres Bonifacio, who is not exactly uncontroversial. It may be a bit romanticized but this is what is in my heart.

    Completely orphaned early in life, Bonifacio had to quit school and work so he could raise his five younger brothers and sisters. An intelligent man who taught himself by reading books, Bonifacio founded the secret revolutionary society known as the Katipunan in July 1892 almost immediately after Dr. Jose Rizal was arrested and deported to Dapitan in Southern Philippines by Spanish authorities.

    For four long years until the Katipunan’s discovery in August 1896, while Rizal was doing exemplary community work in Dapitan, Andres Bonifacio shepherded into being the would-be revolutionary throng, at times fractious, that would eventually stage Asia’s first national uprising against European colonial rule in August 1896. Given the secrecy and the hostile conditions with which Bonifacio had to work, it is difficult to find this outstanding organizing achievement equaled or surpassed by more celebrated leaders of men in world history.

    I guess the real excitement now lies in finding out how Bonifacio would be seen by a pair of history-steeped American eyes.

    Along the way, you might also want to learn more about the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City which was completed by Filipino natonal artist Guillermo Tolentino in 1933 when the Philippines was still under American rule. This magnificent monument to valor and to love of freedom, which is also fondly referred to simply as the Monumento, faces the threat of being imprisoned by a ring of light rail structures that is gradually going up around it. Our online petition to have the Monumento listed among the UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites provides some historical background. Some of the posts in my blog will also tell you more about this.

    Thank you again Lisa and it’s a real delight to have a guest like you on board. God bless always!


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