Wednesday, September 14, 2016

American coconut, Spanish Hermit and why Digong made me think about foreign policy stuff

I was a young boy when I had my first experience of seeing white Americans. They looked big, huge, tall and they wore ties. While they were walking down our street, I saw many children my age following them, touching them while flashing a "V" sign and shouting  "Victory Joe!" 
Because it looked fun, I too joined in following the pied pipers.  The Americans were smiling and some even threw candies to the children.

This was the late 70's and many World War II veterans were still alive to tell stories of the war and the "liberation". The Americans were the hero and MacArthur was venerated as a national hero and his famous promise "I shall return" had become part of the  everyday Filipino language. 

Look at how small they look at us.
In the 80's, when our family converted to the Southern Baptist denomination and my father became a Baptist pastor our home had frequent American visitors. Baptist missionaries who were planting churches in Rizal often worked with my father doing evangelistic crusades and Bible studies. Back then, I had this experience of awe whenever these missionaries came into house. I admit I felt proud then; I felt important as I saw my neighbors looked in awe at the white foreigners coming in and out of our house. Even up to now there are still neighbors who remember the American missionary Jack Branan, my father's friend, who used to frequent our house.

Americans easily open Filipino doors then, I guess the GI Joes of the war were still revered by the adults of the time who were mostly war veterans and those who were old enough to witness the liberation and the war reparation and reconstruction led by the American soldiers and engineers.

My parents and siblings have developed friendships with these missionaries. They were good Americans and have been great help in providing spiritual, medical, and other help to the Filipinos.

But time has changed. About three decades ago, I had this hundred year old looking neighbor who told me war stories and how his brother died when the Americans liberated Manila from the Japanese. I was amazed by the way he spoke because his Tagalog was interspersed with Spanish words. I found out that one of his parents was a Spaniard and his brother and sister in law, who was also a neighbor, both spoke Spanish too which made them very ancient in my eyes, from the Conquestadores era. 

From the Old Man, I heard a different story. A story so opposite from what I was used to hear that I had difficult time processing it. To him, the Americans were the villains. It was the Americans who dragged the Philippines into the war. World War II was not our war, it was the white men's war. He was quite literate and knowledgeable which was surprising because he looked rugged. Then I realized then, at a young age, that history and stories were not what they were at all. There was always the other side. There were a lot of truths in his words and since then I had read a few works about history and the war, how the Americans colonized us and how they introduced a lot of good things into the country but the cost especially with the introduction of their culture and values and the displacement of our's almost destroyed our cultural identity. Our language reflected this, obviously, we speak neither pure English nor pure Filipino.


The Americans (i.e. the government) must have been dazed and confused by the insolence of President Digong. They must not have imagined that their " little brown monkey brothers" would suddenly snarl and bark at them. The US  is  used to Philippines presidents who automatically aligned their policies to the American's. But here comes Digong who it seems is aligning the with the US mortal enemies, Russia and China. 

Why? I am offering my guesses here. Digong knew that in this South China Sea conflict, the US needs the Philippines more than the Philippines needs the US. 

I remember when Obama visited the Philippines during the Aquino administration, a reporter asked Obama if the US would defend the Philippines once attacked by China and Obama answered in a most obscure and vaguest manner that the US would think about it, all those fancy words amounted to this synopsis. Which is really what the US has been all about when it comes to its mutual defense treaty  with RP. This was the time when Pnoy was fighting off the Chinese incursion by threatening to invoke the automatic reprisal in the RP- US mutual defense treaty. It was embarrassing to see our president almost begging the Americans to send in their ships and ousts the Chinese off Scarborough shoal and out of our Exclusive Economic Zone.

Now things have changed. The Americans have taken for granted the Philippines plea for help and have dillydallied for so long that when they found the Chinese have established themselves in the South china Sea and that their interest is threatened, they sent their armadas to conduct regular right of passage patrol, costly. But the truth hurts for them, the Chinese have already established control. It must be insulting for the Americans to hear high pitched Chinese voices telling them that they are in Chinese territory. 

Where would these ships dock if the Philippines deny them ports. 

Anyway...I'm way over my head here, just getting rid of thoughts here and there.

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