There are countries INSIDE the Philippines you’ve never heard of
The Bangsamoro Basic Law was recently approved by the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee. It’s a small step forward in solving the decades-old peace problem in Mindanao, specifically in the ARMM, where they have been fighting for their semi-independence for many years.
Groups in Mindanao and the Cordilleras have been striving to gain autonomy, but they are not the only ones who are.
Have you heard of the Sovereign Principality of Amaranth? Or the Independent State of Kaleido? The Principality of Daikoku?
Probably not, but that’s okay. You won’t find any mention of these names in official government documents and the Department of Foreign Affairs certainly does not have any formal lines of communication with them.
Despite their relatively minuscule territory (Kaleido is all of 60 square meters, located somewhere in Quezon City, or about the size of a 2-bedroom apartment), these states operate much like their larger sovereign counterparts.
Kinda, sorta like a real country
Some micronations issue their own stamps, passports and currencies; appoint leaders; and assign geographical boundaries. All are not recognized by the Republic of the Philippines or any major organizations like the United Nations or the World Bank.
The first micronation located within or near Philippine territory was Freedomland, established in 1947 by Tomas Cloma, a lawyer and fishing tycoon who discovered an unoccupied group of islands that was later made as a basis for the Philippines’ claim to the Spratly Islands. Cloma occupied the islands with his own men, mainly for economic (fishing) purposes. He eventually ceded his claim to the islands and surrendered them to the Philippine government in 1970 for one peso.
Today’s modern micronations don’t boast of the same kind of history-changing influence as Freedomland, but nonetheless, they have lofty goals. At the Independent State of Kaleido, the official Facebook page even announces national elections, month-long holidays, and sessions of Congress.
Several requests to interview Premier Palay were declined or cancelled.
But the lack of recognition from their home country hasn’t stopped them: There are around 12 micronations scattered across the Philippines, according to Maximus IV, the founder and Prince of the Sovereign Principality of Amaranth, and there are countless other micronations all over the world.
Despite the crazy notion of leading a country that no one else acknowledges, Maximus IV isn’t actually a complete nutcase. Clad in a short-sleeved polo and gray slacks, he could pass for a college professor in his mid-30s, with his commanding aura and knowledgeable manner. He holds a degree in Business Economics from a Philippine university and an MBA in General Management from a Russian open university.
But other people don’t view it that way. “Kapag nalaman nilang ganun (head of a micronation), you will be mocked,” said Maximus IV. “Tatawanan ka.”
“Ako okay lang ‘yun…At the back of my mind, (at least) tumutulong naman talaga ako.”
Purpose and vision
What, exactly, does his country do?
Maximus IV isn’t a tyrannical leader who only wants to exercise his power over his subjects. His interest to pursue Amaranth was inspired by Philip K. Dick’s science fiction book VALIS: “Noong nabasa ko siya, ang ganda ng role niya sa mundo. Pwede palang peaceful lang, walang gulo…Sabi ko, kung gagawin ko ito as an experiment, kunwari within a community, ano kayang magiging effect?”
He established Amaranth’s foundations on charity and community-giving, stemming from an individual’s enlightenment and self-determination.
“Gumagawa kami ng charity works sa mga barangay, mostly feeding programs, pero hindi namin sinusulat ‘yung mga pangalan namin. Kung tutulong ka, tumulong ka nang walang lagda,” Maximus IV explained.
Aside from feeding programs, he said that Amaranth has also given out free nebulizers and has helped out market vendors by offering them unsecured loans. “Kasi naranasan kong walang-wala ako. Na talagang nakakaawa ‘yung sarili ko. Kaya sabi ko, ayokong maulit ‘yun sa iba.”
Amaranth has a population of eight, but Maximus is the only one currently residing in the Philippines; the rest of the members are foreigners living abroad. The group interacts through chatrooms. Founded in 2005 and formally declared in 2008, Amaranth’s official headquarters is Maximus IV’s two-storey house in a barangay located along Aragon Street in Manila.
Maximus IV’s day job as a bank executive at a multinational company has helped Amaranth become financially sustainable. His income as a banker has allowed him to acquire lands for Amaranth in Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quezon, and Pangasinan. He plans on developing these properties in the future.
“Masasabi ko na economically efficient ang micronation namin. Ang kaibahan namin sa ibang micronation, kini-claim nila na ganito sila. Ako ang kini-claim ko lang na property ay ‘yung sa akin,.” Maximus IV said.
Indeed, the Principality of Daikoku, another micronation, currently claims parts of Makati, Marikina, Pasig, and Mandaluyong. Those claims have even triggered wars between micronations. A report released by Daikoku in April of 2014 disclosed that “the State of Ariana and the Independent State of Kaleido launched a two-day military operation against the territory of the Daikoku Federation.”
The report also said that Ariana Defense Forces and Kaleido Civil Guards infiltrated several territories in the Daikoku Federation. Their claims of military operations could not be independently verified, and there were no other news reports of the incident.
As Amaranth’s leader, Maximus IV surprisingly doesn’t agree with this behavior or want state recognition or independence from the Philippine government. His mission is clear: “Bigyan ng pabahay yung mga walang bahay. Kasi hindi ba, bakit ka magiging squatter sa sarili mong bayan?”
But above everything else, Maximus IV is a family man, who considers his wife and two daughters his Amaranth, and he’d like his seven-year-old daughter to take his place eventually.
“Sayang din ‘yung properties!” he joked.