|Subject: ON FILIPINOS PROTESTING THE IRAQ WAR|
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Date Posted: 03/27/03 7:20am PST
ON FILIPINOS PROTESTING THE IRAQ WAR
Shouldn't they be protesting something closer to home?
NOT ALL FILIPINOS love America, certainly not those who have not lived in the United States long enough to benefit from the wealth of a powerful democracy. As an immigrant who came to the U.S. nearly twenty-eight years ago, I can honestly tell you that America's streets are not paved in gold and not everyone owns a car. However, I can guarantee you that America is a land of opportunity, especially for a new legal immigrant who seeks to improve his life. Millions of foreigners want to settle in America because they have seen - in Hollywood movies, in reality shows, in popular music videos - and have heard from their friends or U.S.-based relatives - that America is not only the richest nation in the world, but also the most caring and the most diverse.
Some nights, I watch a half-hour Philippine news program in the International Channel. Last night, I happened to have watched the program and I was immediately drawn to the images of Filipinos protesting the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The images reflect those that you see in every news channel - protestors burning U.S. flags in front of an American embassy, kicking and burning an effigy of George Bush, or simply yelling anti-Yankee insults. But what was particularly different about the protesting Filipinos was that their style seemed slightly less histrionic yet aptly theatrical. You see adults coaching small children - carrying signs that they perhaps couldn't read - to behave like them. You see children pretending to be casualties of war - "struggling" to walk with crutches and "hurting" in their "wounded" heads. You see a tribal group performing a ritual consisting of dancers, equipped with bows and arrows, shooting at a cardboard replica of the American flag. Then in Manila, a group of student activists urging everyone to boycott American products and establishments all over the country, unaware that by doing so will only make the lives of many Filipinos even more miserable, especially when forty per cent of the population is below poverty level and where per capita income averages $4,000 a year, according to the 2001 report by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Filipinos were colonized by Americans for nearly fifty years (1898-1946). And when the country finally became independent, it sought to imitate American political, executive, legal and judicial values without compromising its own identity, if there ever was one. Because of their American-based system of education, most Filipinos can speak, read, write and understand English. But that's not all. Filipinos love everything American. I still have to encounter a Filipino who does not appreciate anything made in the U.S. or conceived by Americans. Filipinos are now considered the least poor minority group in America - which means that almost every Filipino is working. The Philippines owes a lot to its former colonizer; fifty-seven years after declaring its independence, the country's economy is still struggling, politics is still marred by corruption, and good education has become virtually inaccessible to millions of citizens. Now that terrorism has plagued the country, Filipinos should be pleading for American assistance more than ever before. And they should be supporting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with her measures to avoid retaliatory terrorist attacks.
Thus, I was a bit distressed when I saw images of Filipinos attacking the Bush War Plan. Most of these protestors were young, idealistic college students who wish to leave a mark in history without first considering the fact that the U.S. and the Philippines have a long-standing mutual defense treaty and that the Philippines receives annually tens of millions of dollars in U.S. economic aid. I wonder how far do these young Filipino protestors want to go with their boycotting of American products and businesses? I noticed that some of the protestors had baseball caps on and virtually all of them were wearing blue jeans and sneakers. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them had brushed their teeth with Colgate before going to the rallies.
Instead of attacking their greatest ally and most generous benefactor, Filipinos should be protesting the Catholic Church for rallying more people to anti-war protests (there are already so many of these protests that they have evolved into an ocean of cacophony with minute significance). The Catholic Church has a stronghold on Philippine culture, and it is good in inflicting tremendous guilt on its followers when it senses that collective guilt can further ecclesiastical causes. A few days ago, the New York Times published an article referring to the incredible population growth in the Philippines. There are approximately 80 million Filipinos now, and this number will double in less than fifty years. "The more, the merrier," said Cardinal Jaime Sin, the charismatic leader of the church. Because of this Sin-ful mentality, millions of Filipinos are either malnourished or starving, millions more live in filth and squalor, and many will experience nothing else beyond crime and poverty.
Forget Iraq, Filipinos. You see, America is not the problem. Your own people are.
- Copyright © 3/27/2003, RAFAEL ROBERT DELFIN -
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