By Herman Tiu Laurel

Gemma’s ‘Wow China, Amazing China'

IT was just three weeks ago when Riza Hontiveros, a senator from the American- and Yellow-backed NGO Akbayan, raised a howl in the halls of the Philippine senate over the “Wow China” radio program aired on the RP1 Philippine government radio network RP1, claiming it is “Chinese propaganda” and its airing constituted a “betrayal of the Filipino people”.

Just a little over a week later, Gemma Cruz-Araneta wrote her reaction to the news and controversy over the “WoW China” radio show in her Manila Daily Bulletin column “Landscape” of May 20, 2020. In one short paragraph, she opined that the program radio is a normal matter of “cultural diplomacy”; in the next six paragraphs, she then proceeded to review American imperialism’s global history in the next six paragraphs.

Gemma Cruz-Araneta brought pride to the country as the winner of the Miss International 1964 pageant and then proceeded to donate her $10,000 prize money, worth at least a million pesos today, to the Boys and Girls Home in Marikina City. She brings intellect to beauty as author and co-author of seven books; the newest entitled “Fifty Years in Hollywood”, which was launched last year, is a compilation of Madame Gemma Cruz-Araneta’s selected articles from 13-years of her columns.

“50 Years in Hollywood” sums up that chapter of Philippine history when American imperialism waylaid the Philippine Revolution, that colonial and neo-colonial period that seems to be lifting slowly but surely today with the Philippine Constitution’s “independent foreign policy” that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is executing with firm resolve.

Gemma Cruz-Araneta explains the title of the book:

“Fifty Years in Hollywood is a fragment of my mother’s most famous statement, ‘300 hundred years in a convent and 50 years in Hollywood.’ That was how Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil described Philippine history in a nutshell.... ’50 Years in Hollywood’ was Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil’s indictment of American imperialism, a policy of sociopolitical and economic exploitation that reduced the once indomitable Filipinos to diffident little brown Americans.”

Indeed, immediately after the country achieved victory over colonialism against Spain – the first in Asia – Filipino independence was then ambushed by American imperialism. The archipelago and its people were made the springboard and cannon fodder for other Asian hegemonic misadventures of the United States of America in Asia. Hopefully, this is now over with Asia ascendant once again after a long cycle of 500 years, with China and India rising once more and the rest of Asia with them.

Gemma Cruz-Araneta’s article “Wow China, Amazing China” is a recognition of China’s renewed significance in the world today. At the same time, it is describing the evident decline of the USA when it says, “Today, Americans themselves are so discombobulated that they are asking if and when their empire is going to collapse. I never thought I would live to see the USA so insecure about its place in the universe. I think the USA has met its match in China.”

In the following paragraphs, Madame Cruz-Araneta has managed to encapsulate the USA’s dilemma in dealing with China and its leadership, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the success of the latter:

“Obsessed with a Cold War vintage ‘domino theory,’ the USA believed that by making China its economic, technological, and financial, petrochemical platform, it would destroy the Communist Party. They envisioned the Chinese masses revolting against the totalitarian regime demanding political rights once economic needs were fulfilled. But the very opposite is happening. The Chinese Communist Party is very astutely carrying out its ‘one country, two systems’” to the very extreme, to the cardinal points of the world. 

“Who would have thought,  when President Gustavo Arbenz of Guatemala and President Salvador Allende of Chile (accused of being socialists) were cavalierly overthrown, that one day, the Middle Kingdom, once mercilessly divided like a melon by Western empires, would silently dominate the world and cyberspace, without haste and without firing a harquebus or a Krag,? Now, what is the USA going to do about 5-G, Huawei, the 9-dash line, the Silk Road that morphed into an infrastructure girdle called One Belt?

“Wow China. Amazing China. How I wish my mother would have witnessed all this before she passed away.”

Madame Gemma Cruz-Araneta’s 660-word articles wow the reader with its succinctness and precision, summarizing over a hundred years of history in such an encapsulated narrative, and then, picking up on her mother’s historical pronouncement to further enlighten the several generations that she addresses today with her articles and books.

Back to Senator Riza Hontiveros. Unfortunately for her, the temporarily suspended “Wow China” radio program,  is expected to resume in July or August of 2020 after a review and possible reformatting of the two-year-old show. Protestations by the remnants of U.S. neo-colonial influence in the Philippines should not be allowed to obstruct the country’s march to the cadence of the 21st Asian Century – especially after the quick recovery and rise of the region from the greatest global challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.



The Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS) has issued its reply and position on the airing of the “WoW China” program over the government radio network:

“Wow China is an hour-long educational program that has been airing on Saturday and Sunday afternoons on RP1 since 2018 and is independently produced by China Radio International. Co-hosted by a PBS anchor and broadcast in Filipino, the show features the traditions, culture, and history of both the Philippines and China, as well as the differences and similarities between the two countries...

“Apart from China, PBS has also worked with other countries, and extended airtime as well, to air their news, socio-cultural, and tourism content for the educational benefit of Filipinos. These include agreements with the United Kingdom’s BBC and Thailand’s Sawasdee. It should also be noted that PBS-BBS is in cooperation with the Voice of America (USA).

“In addition, it has been promoting The Sound of Southeast Asia by celebrating popular music from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam.”

It is ironic to note that when one "Googles" to obtain information about the Philippine government’s reply, the first two to three pages of the Google report list the complaint and allegations of Riza Hontiveros; it is only in the last pages that one may be able to find one or two mentions of the government’s reply. This only shows how Google algorithms do wonders in the selective enumeration of information.

Philippine society and culture are permeated with US cultural imperialism and information war content.  For example, let’s take note of the Voice of America being aired, not only by the PBS-BBS (Bureau of Broadcast Service), but also in the private FM bands, the Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC) Christian classical music-cum-preacher radio network,  the hourly broadcast of the BBC news, the Edsa Uno Radyo Bandido, and hourly broadcasts of VOA news by DZRJ radio, which is owned by possible dual-citizen RJ Jacinto.

To paraphrase a saying, “in the land of the deaf, the one-eared woman is queen.” 



About the Columnist

Image of Herman Tiu Laurel

Herman Tiu Laurel is a veteran journalist and founder of think tank PHILIPPINE-BRICS Strategic Studies.