(Below is a slightly edited piece I’ve written for a blog that has gone offline for more than a year now and was posted in 2012 when I was still working for InterAksyon.com.)
Drunken Dispatches said it best.
On Wednesday, the blog on Tumblr remarked on Twitter that
Earthquakes, a confrontation between PH and China, and the countdown to that NoKor rocket launch. We all need a drink or two tonight.
— Drunken Dispatches (@DrunkenDispatch) April 11, 2012
Although the tweet was posted in jest, it nevertheless delivered a sober message, perhaps its very first that was not made under the influence of alcohol, warm or cold, blended or distilled, shaken or stirred. [See: Drunken Dispatches]
At the time the tweet was posted, the Philippines was facing a diplomatic tierra incognita. It still is.
A report written by Veronica Uy of InterAksyon said that Manila and Beijing had reached a standoff after a Philippine Navy ship was blocked by two Chinese surveillance vessels in an area that both countries claim as part of their own territory. [See: Scarborough Shoal]
The Navy ship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, was supposed to apprehend the crew and cargo of eight Chinese boats caught fishing in the Philippines’ Panatag shoal. Also known as the Scarborough Shoal, the area is also being claimed by China which calls it Huangyan island. [See: Scarborough Standoff]
Owing to the incident, both Manila and Beijing have filed diplomatic protests against each other; the first asserting that the fishers were encroaching on Philippine territory, and the second pointing out that their nationals were being harassed.
Both parties are working out and are committed to reaching a peaceful resolution even though details toward that end remain unclear.
A day before the standoff, the same Philippine Navy vessel—the country’s only patrol frigate—was dispatched to northern Luzon to guard against any consequences arising from North Korea’s rocket launch expected anytime from April 12 to 16.
Pyongyang’s move has prompted Philippine Airlines (PAL) to reroute some of its US, Japan, and South Korea flights. [See: PAL reroutes US, Japan flights]
Meanwhile, Team InterAksyon has produced a map of the North Korean rocket’s path from launch until it reaches its destination. InterAksyon’s map also raised the possibility that pieces of rocket debris—some as large as refrigerators—may fall in certain areas in Luzon. [See: North Korean Rocket’s path]
These two issues, more or less, sum up the Philippines’ current state of affairs: a commotion on the ocean and a big shove from above.
With these crises on their hands, Filipinos deserve a round or two of drinks on the house even though President Benigno Aquino III may be unable to join in the fun.
He prefers Coke, sources familiar with the matter say.
On his free time, the only son of a national hero and a Philippine president might even prefer to drink in the beauty of Grace Lee, his current dating partner. [See: Aquino admits dating Grace Lee]
But what about the drinking preferences of regular Filipinos?
What if you’re a thirsty passenger on a PAL flight seized by the need for San Miguel Beer?
Would you be served some upon request?
Unlikely, says a story written by InterAksyon’s business reporter Likha Cuevas-Miel. [See: Beer war in the sky?]
San Miguel Corporation may have bought a minority stake in the airline controlled by liquor and tobacco tycoon Lucio Tan, one of the richest Filipinos, according to Forbes Magazine. [See: Lucio Tan in Forbes billionaire list]
But that’s as far as it goes.
The airline is expected to continue exclusively serving Beer na Beer—produced by Tan’s Asia Brewery Inc.—on its flights.
As a result, PAL passengers may have to wait until touchdown until they can enjoy the Philippines’ leading and best-selling beer.
But make no mistake.
Between that long wait for San Miguel Beer and resolving what appears to be a protracted diplomatic standoff with the Chinese, very few would choose the latter. (I know I won’t.)