IN CHESS, a gambit is an opening in which a player offers a piece with the hope of achieving an advantageous tactical position.

An entry in Wikipedia said the word "gambit" was originally applied to chess openings in 1561 by Spanish priest Ruy López de Segura, from an Italian expression dare il gambetto (to put a leg forward in order to trip someone). 

Lopez studied this maneuver, and so the Italian word gained the Spanish form gambito that led to French gambit, which has influenced the English spelling of the word. 

Gambits are often said to be 'offered' to an opponent, and that offer is then said to be either 'accepted' or 'declined.' 

If a player who is offered a gambit captures the piece (and thus gains material) the gambit is said to be accepted. 

If the player who was offered the gambit ignores it and instead continues his or her development, then the gambit is said to be declined.



In politics, there must be wisdom in President Rodrigo Duterte’s gambit to shift the country’s foreign policy gear from being too western centric to eastern centric with special focus on China.

More importantly, President Duterte must know something that the rest of us do not, making him veer away from United States and Europe and drifts towards the waiting arms of our Asian neighbor.    

And the wisdom must be in numbers. While critics accused Duterte of being too parochial whose style of leadership is fit only for his native Davao City, it is turning out that he is adept and abreast with the realities and developments in the international economic scene.

That he will personally pay a visit to China later this month is an indication that he wants the country to secure good positioning and be part of the dawning of a new world economic era. 

President Duterte visits China with a clear purpose – gain the support of the 21st century’s economic and financial giant to implement his vision of building a prosperous and glorious Philippines. 

China is expected to invest abroad $ 1.2-Trillion in the next decade and President Duterte surely would want to take a huge piece of the giant economic pie.

The gargantuan task of developing the Philippines requires $ U 127-Billion, the ADB has estimated “to stave off an infrastructure crisis” stemming from the growing population and continuing development. 

The Philippines can use all the financial support it can get from funding institutions like the China-led AIIB with a $ 100-B fund which is barely tapped at this time.



China is now the world’s biggest investor and yet foreign direct investments to the Philippines have been miniscule when compared with our Asian neighbors.

President Duterte knows that he can correct the situation if he can forge stronger bilateral ties with China which in 2015 has invested $ 1.328-B in Indonesia $ 206-million in Myanmar and $ 323-million in Vietnam despite having areas of dispute.

The sad part is that the Philippines only received $ 24-million in investments from China which could partly be attributed to our ongoing territorial row with them in West Philippine Sea as well as our perceived closeness with our western allies. 

This lopsided figure President Duterte can rapidly change this situation with his visit to China.



Tourism is a cash earner, but arrivals to the Philippines from China in the first four months of 2016 numbered only 240,000 while arrivals to Vietnam in the first six months numbered 1.2 million. 

Malaysia expects 4 million tourists and Thailand receives 7 million tourists from China. 

President Duterte’s proposal to offer visa-free travel for tourists from China will bring a surge of possibly up to 2 million tourists arriving in the Philippines.

What are few billions between friendly nations? That’s very little in fact. The trouble with the past funding sources is that they expect the Philippines to lend countries they put into dire straits like Greece, IMF borrowed $ 1-Billion from poor Philippines to lend to Greece. 

Duterte knows where the real credit and cash is and he’s going to get it for the Filipino people’s development – so he is going East.



In the 1980's, the Philippines was left behind by the “Economic Tigers”, missing the bus in that period of economic transition when industries shifted to East Asian and then Asean countries.

The World economy today is in another such transition albeit in a much more historic and massive way - the period of Asia’s Century led by China.

This transition was witnessed in the Hangzhou G20 meeting last September 4 - 5, where China assumed the mantle of leadership of a faltering World economy and calling for global economic cooperation, innovation and inclusiveness to revive global economic dynamism.

After that G20 some countries that were recalcitrant to China’s invitations later on rushed to join hands with it. 

Last September 15, 2016 new Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc made a six-day official visit to China and mended his country's ties with China and then they reached a consensus on intensifying Vietnam-China strategic cooperative partnership.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte is doing no less, putting a similar official visit to China on top of his priorities, showing that he is personally in step with the changing global and regional trends - bringing the country up to speed on the shift of the global economy to Asia and China as the lead economic engine. 

In doing so he leaves to the past the “lose-lose” strategies and moves on to a “prosper thy neighbor” outlook.



Duterte dreams of a new and better Philippines and let’s make no mistake about that.

He started by waging a no-nonsense anti illegal drug campaign and cleaning the bureaucracy from corrupt and misfit officials while addressing problems on public transport, telecommunications and agriculture to speed up national development and attain economic prosperity.

Now he is training his guns on an independent foreign policy, being friends with all nations but focusing on stronger ties with China.



The Philippines can benefit from China in many other ways, such as agricultural, technologies, scientific, educational and cultural exchanges.

On top of all these is access to the massive Chinese market (including entertainment and creative talents); access to the One Belt, One Road (New Silk Road), which may become the central economic and logistics network of the world.

The Philippines-China relationship is a “prosper thy neighbor” relationship aimed at freeing us from the mendicant mentality. 

Our relationship with China dates back thousands of years since the trade and diplomatic missions from the time of the King of Butuan in the 1000's to the Sultan of Sulu, Paduka Pahala.

Through all those times, the relationship was defined by mutually prospering trade and diplomatic relations thrived between the Philippines and China until it was formally sealed in 1975.

There is no alternative for the Philippines’ foreign policy but to “win” for the Filipinos and President Rodrigo R. Duterte is doing just this – winning for the Philippines by going all the way to China.

Going back to the Americans, President Duterte might also know something that WE DO NOT KNOW.

Perhaps, he could be playing brain games with them because he knows that they have been treating us like little brothers for the longest time,  which explains why they developed that nasty habit of giving us crumbs or whatever is left and already useless for them.

That of course hurts because while the Americans are so used to abusing us, they have been very generous in giving grants and support to other countries that they know would go against their wishes among them Iran, Vietnam, Pakistan and many others.

But then again, that is another story!


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