Poverty, inequality, and corruption plague the Philippines six decades after independence. Of the past five presidents, only one took office and left it without military intervention, and he was a general. In his controversial book, A Country of Our Own (2004), David Martinez describes the Philippines as a failed state. The country in his eyes comprises five regions ("nations"): Cordillera, Luzon, The Visayas, Mindanao, and Bangsamoro. He proposes holding legally binding referenda in each of these places to determine whether those who live there wish to remain inside the Philippines or form their own independent country. In a conversation moderated by Stanford's Don Emmerson, Martinez and the Filipinist scholar Lela Noble will examine arguments and evidence relevant to a crucial question: Is the nation-state project still valid for the Philippines?
David C. Martinez was born in the Philippines. At law school in Silliman University he was a medal-winning debater. He became an activist lawyer, was briefly detained when then-President Marcos declared martial law, fled the Philippines, and eventually reached the US, where he now resides. His essays have appeared in the Philippines Free Press among other publications, and he is a prize-winning author of fiction and poetry as well.
Lela Noble has written extensively on the Philippines. Her authored or edited books include Organizing for Democracy: NGOs, Civil Society, and the Philippine State (1998); Philippine Policy toward Sabah: A Claim to Independence (1977), and her articles have appeared in such journals as Asian Survey and Solidarity. From 1996 to 2002, she was dean of the College of Social Sciences at San Jose State. Her PhD is from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.