The tangled relationship of Juan de la Cruz and Uncle Sam
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-06-29
A nationalist who occasionally contributes insightful articles to the STAR — my friend Julio Rey Hidalgo — likens many Filipinos to the fish in the ocean. The fish is aware of other fishes it can prey on as well as other fishes that can prey on it — but is totally unaware of the water it swims in.

Such is also the case of Juan de la Cruz in the tangled Philippine-US relationship.

Many Filipinos have embraced American culture which other nationals from older cultures in Europe and Asia consider as inferior, weak and shallow. Many Filipinos still look up to the US as a “big brother” and nurture dreams of migrating there.

Most of them are ignorant of the enormous damage American interference has wrought upon our country. They have yet to realize that the “big brother” they look up to has stolen our revolution, manipulated our government, controlled our economy, partnered with Marcos in imposing martial law and time and again raped our country.

Many Filipinos continue to fantasize the Southern California lifestyle. In some psychographic studies of young Filipinos, an alarming number admitted wishing that they were born as Americans.

Ever since superior arms and battle tactics of the US overwhelmed Filipino revolutionaries led by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, national resistance to US interference in the Philippines were few and far in between. Lack of an effective communications system then allowed the Americans to hide from the Filipinos the gruesome atrocities that they committed during the Filipino-American War. Lack of interest to know the historical truth perpetuates that ignorance to this day.

Less than 20 years after the last Filipino patriot and nationalist was captured or surrendered to the Americans, Filipinos were lapping up every bit of American culture from Coca Cola, hot dogs, fashion and all the way to Hollywood movies.

Per the Tydings McDuffie Act, the Philippines was supposed to be a neutral country, something US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt disregarded. Neutrality meant that Filipinos were not supposed to be combatants in World War II. But such was the affinity with America that when the Japanese attacked the Philippines in 1942, Filipinos willingly fought in what was clearly an American war.

Because of that war, over 100,000 Filipino civilians died in the 1945 Battle of Manila alone. Guess who the US vigorously aided to rise up from the rubble of war — Japan, the enemy in World War II.

At best, Philippine-US relations can be considered a mixed blessing. The US introduced public education here as well as the US brand of democracy which we follow to this day. But if we are to weigh what they gave versus what they took — we will find that they took more than what we could afford to give.

Thus, it is heartwarming that there are still Filipinos who strive to produce a worthy reading material that can enlighten their countrymen on the various perspectives to the tangled relationship we have with the US. In fact, that is precisely what they have titled their work — Portraits of a tangled relationship: The Philippines and the United States.

It is a splendid coffee table book published by Ars Mundi Philippines that is now available at the bookshops of La Solidaridad, Filipinas Heritage Library and the museum shops of the Ayala, Yuchengco, Lopez and Metropolitan Museums. The book is a collaborative work of Jose Maria A. Carino, Jose “Butch” Dalisay Jr. (a fellow STAR columnist), Sonia P. Ner, Mabi David and Crispina M. Reyes.

Impressive, diligent research went into the making of the book which features many rare photos and mementoes of the American era. By no means does it present itself as the definitive work on the real history of Philippine-US relations. But what it does is present insightful and valuable perspectives to the historical truth.

For young Filipinos who are clueless as to the real ups and downs of Philippine-US relations, this will be a good starting point for appreciating how this relationship was forced upon us and then craftily woven into our culture ­— to the point that many of our countrymen can’t seen to have too much of it these days.

Hopefully, those who will read the book will be encouraged to probe deeper into the relationship that has stunted our growth and even determined the course of our economy and foreign policy.

A deeper probe into the often one-sided Philippine-US relationship will enlighten a Filipino on how the US hand was manipulating willing puppets in various Philippine administrations, from Manuel Roxas all the way to the present Malacañang occupant.

Ever since we embraced American culture, we have produced very few nationalists of the mold of Apolinario Mabini and Jose Rizal. What we have plenty of these days are pseudo-nationalists who will wave the flag and mouth nationalist motherhood statements but will seek to go to the US and pay homage to the “Great White Father” as Native Americans once referred to US presidents.

It is easy to see why we have so few who emulate Apolinario Mabini and Jose Rizal these days. The Americans have successfully conditioned our thinking to associate nationalists with insurgents or Communists. The Filipinos who resisted US colonization were called insurgents. The Iraqis who are now struggling to free their country from the invaders are also called insurgents.

That the US bullies the Philippines is par for the course in the world of geo-politics. What is stomach turning is the sight of Filipinos who are the first to put down genuine nationalism. You find these pimps and lackeys among those who hold the levers of power, to include those who write and teach and thus have the power to influence Filipino minds.

Two things deter our becoming a strong nation. One is that we remain a collection of tribes and have never really become a nation. The other is that, for a small country, we seem to have the misfortune of breeding too many Quislings.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo