In America We Trust

By Janina Lim, Writer |

THE PHILIPPINES IS A COUNTRY WHERE anyone walking down the street with a cup of Starbucks coffee is an echelon above others –– a place where women pucker their brows on Gucci bags, as if they intimately know a real one to tell the difference.  It is a nation whose local music has a Western twang, where blockbuster Hollywood movies dominate theatre slots.  And worse, majority of her people wants a flight ticket to the United States.

Only the Filipinos who are enriched with the knowledge and experience of our nation’s glorious past would not bear to dream the American dream.

Undeniably, our knowledge of the past gives us not just the right to despise them at present, but the obligation to do so.  We cannot afford to have the heap of our past embarrassments repeat today, and in the days to come.  We cannot afford to be deceived again by the kindness they manifest in their promises.  We cannot afford to think of them as an ‘ally.’

Indeed, America will be alongside the Philippines in gaining territories rightfully ours.  America will improve capacities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  America will be there to help counter terrorism.  And so we give them a round of applause.

Our president, with a big smile filled with hopes for our country, shakes the hand of Barrack Obama.  Then one Albert del Rosario and one Voltaire Gazmin would welcome American bases, forgetting these camps were and are magnets of battles instead of protection against battles.  America, after all, is a Messiah –– a saviour of the weak, a provider to the underprivileged.

Only a few raised questions as to why would a country on the other side of the world have anything to do with a developing country like ours other than business.  Only a few thought of the possibility of a hidden agenda in which they would benefit more than us. Only a few were hearing beyond the assuring words.

Only a few were considering the saying that history repeats itself.

Despite how much they make a fool out of us, the fact irrefutably remains that we are immensely dependent on them.  To clear whatever distortion there is in this picture, there is a smaller-scale irony parallel to that of ours.  That would be of the battered slave who loathes the hand that bruises him and yet continues to feed on the bread that the same hand offers to him.

Often, familiarity with the historical timeline of the Philippine-American relationship is not enough reason to look up to the Star – Spangled Banner.  Our colonial mentality has been a diaspora in our nation ever since one could remember.  The prospect of my country cherishing and improving on its own becomes a blur.

The problem here is not our holding dear of American culture and products per se, but our high regard for them in almost every aspect has unconsciously ingrained in our minds the idea that they are the standard.  They are the global idol.  They are the epitome of what every country should be.  And so like a sponge absorbing every ounce of water it is being soaked into, we remain ever so passive in the belief that nothing could be more superior to what they offer.

And so we stop thinking. And so we stop creating. And hence, we depend.

Our country’s progress is not a question of ‘if’, only ‘when’.  That’s because the ordinary Filipino can think, but he chooses not to; the Filipino is more than capable, but he chooses not to be.  There has never been an opportune time for change than now.

Is it possible that every June Twelfth, we, Filipinos, be reminded of our need for improvement so as to deserve the title of an ‘independent’ country?  And shouldn’t we, every July Fourth, keep in mind that there is no reason to raise our glass and give a toast to America?

featured photo courtesy of www.inc.com

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