Common sense will tell you that one cannot claim to be a citizen or national of a particular country or nation without basis. And to make this basis stand in the court of law, it must have a legal provision, at least.
Since citizenship and nationality are two different words, they are not synonymous though frequently interchanged, let’s be reminded what makes one different from another, but in a simple context of course. Let’s have nationality first.
A person gets his nationality because of natural phenomenon or ancestry, with the following common provisions:
a. He was born in that country.
b. At least one of his parents is a citizen of that country.
If I were to make an example for each from the Azkals, I’ll have a. Ray Jonsson who was born in Cebu and b. Angel Guirado whose mother is a Filipina.
Attached with one’s nationality is the familiarity of the culture. Filipinos are known for our passionate love for food. Yes, we love food so much that I have to be redundant to make a point. When the Philippine Football team was in Taiwan last year for the Long Teng Cup, I was told one afternoon that the team went to Barrio Fiesta for lunch. When I heard that, my first thought was, “Seriously?” The Azkals were in a foreign land with the opportunity to savour its authentic cuisine and yet they bothered to go to Barrio Fiesta for lunch? Don’t we have Barrio Fiesta in the Philippines?
On the last night of the Cup, there was one pure Taiwanese doctor, whom I consider very Filipino in every way except for his genetic make-up, who cooked Adobo for the Azkals. The reason? Besides hospitality, the boys were craving for Adobo. They’ve just left the Philippines for about two weeks yet they already craved for Adobo. That was actually the time when I pondered and doubted myself being Filipino, because I did not crave for Filipino dishes. By the way, the first Azkal who tasted Doc’s Adobo had just finished eating his McDo meal. If I remember right, he immediately finished the burger just to make sure that he gets to taste the Taiwanese’s Adobo. The Adobo was gone in minutes.
Filipinos are known to be joyful people. Who has forgotten those pictures of smiling people walking in flood with the damages left by Ondoy as their background? No one in the world can smile during such calamity unless one is a Filipino. We’re always ready to smile and fool around.
Speaking of smile, I still get amused remembering the look on Roland Muller’s face during their club pictorial in Germany. When athletes pose in front of a camera, they rarely smile. They usually project a game-face, but that was not the case with Muller. He was beaming with smile one could not dare question that he’s a Filipino.
And as for being goofy, I will never forget the night when the Kaholeros, who flew to Taiwan last year for the Long Teng Cup, let Angel Guirado have their prized megaphone. The Kaholeros were supposed to shout “Pilipinas” after some claps but their chant became out of synch because Angel kept on shouting “Pilipinas” without considering the rhythm. He did so with such gusto as if he doesn’t have a low and strong voice. Carlie de Murga also joined the fun, at least for the two of them. For a reminder, that happened either during the awarding ceremony with the Cup officials below them or during the game between HongKong and Taiwan.
If you are to look for our prized “Bayanihan” trait among the Azkals, don’t be surprised to see them live by it. Since I can only take account of what I have witnessed, let me show you a good proof of this Filipino virtue, and I doubt that the Azkals who grew up abroad are even aware of the term. Who cares if they did not grow up in the Philippines if they still live by Filipino values?
During training in I-Shou University. They were not carrying this goal to look good among people around, because there was no one watching them as they practiced. Only the staff and the Kaholeros, who helped out, were around.
Let’s talk about citizenship now. Common sense will also tell us that five Azkals can prove with blood and sweat that they are citizens of the Republic of the Philippines. I am talking about our men in uniform – Eduard Sacapaño, Nestorio Margarse, Roel Gener, Chieffy Caligdong, and Ian Araneta. The first three are from Philippine Army while the last two are from Philippine Air Force. Again, common sense will tell us that no non-Filipino citizen would bother to serve in the Philippine military. These men are Filipino in every way. Well, I still think that Araneta looks like a Vietnamese but he will definitely show that he does things Pinoy style. And for a reminder, albeit having better opportunities in Football now, these soldiers are still active in military service. Do you think they’re pretending to be Filipinos?
Citizenship is more of a formality, with more gravity with regard to one’s duties and responsibilities, e.g. paying tax. Of course, the rights a country has bestowed upon its people are definitely made available and accessible to its citizens.
Those who went to college are definitely aware of our 1987 Philippine Constitution. Even if you were absent on the day Article IV was taught in your class, you cannot argue that you know nothing. Ignorantia legis neminem excusat. Yes, ignorance of the law excuses no one.
According to Article IV Section 1, “The following are citizens of the Philippines:
 Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution;
 Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines...”
As for the first provision, none of Azkals may have been of legal age by that time but I believe they didn’t hesitate to write “Filipino” whenever they would fill-out a form asking for their citizenship. Even if that was not the case, the second provision can still stand in the court of law to prove their allegiance to the Philippine flag. Each of the Azkals has at least one Filipino parent.
During our trip in Taiwan last year, we got to meet a Filipina who works for MECO. She married a Taiwanese and they have children. With the Philippine Constitution’s provision, her children are rightful Filipinos. When she heard and read about the criticisms of those who think that the Azkals are not true Filipinos because most only have one Filipino parent, she felt so bad because there is this threat that her children will not be welcomed in her motherland. And it’s always heart-breaking to see a mother shed tears.
If you are to argue that a true Filipino should be tan, then I’d say you were not listening to your Biology teacher in high school. Most of the Europeans and Americans have strong genetic make up, which frequently show in the colour of their skin and features of their body, compared to the Filipino genes, which usually compliment whatever non-Filipino blood one has. I am using “non-Filipino” here for the sake of Biology.
Our biological features may not always be dominant, but we make it up when it comes to the heart. Filipinos will always be Filipinos even if they didn’t grow up in the Philippines. Take Tim Lincecum for example. This SF Giants starter loves to squat as his way of sitting. That may be a simple Pinoy trait, but it’s something knowing that this man spent most of his life with his American father. And there's Rob Gier whose mum proudly described her son as a family-oriented man. Rob's mother said that when his wife was still pregnant.
Of course, there is Section 2 of Article IV: “Natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship. Those who elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be deemed natural-born citizens.” Again, the men in uniform top this provision. Should Jason Sabio’s family stayed in the Philippines, he would be joining our soldiers who met this.
If we take FIFA’s requirements for a national player into this argument, everyone who makes it to the Philippine roster is definitely a Filipino. To question that, as well as the 1987 Philippine Constitution, is a mark of foolishness.
Just because one is not tan doesn’t make one not Filipino or any less of a Filipino. And just because one is tan doesn’t make one any better than the other Filipinos.