#DearObama: Why Filipinos love the US
As Obama visits the Philippines, it seems like most Filipinos have nothing to express but love – not for their own country, but for the United States.
In fact, a recent study suggested that Filipinos love the US more than Americans do. At first glance, this could be thought as a manifestation of the persistent colonial mentality among Filipinos – that the US is far wealthier, more incorruptible and, thus, better than the Philippines.
This made me wonder: how does this translate to the love of Filipinos for their own country?
In anticipation of US President Barack Obama’s visit to the Philippines, Rappler started the #DearObama campaign that crowdsourced messages for the leader of, arguably, the most powerful country in the world.
For me, the result of the campaign was an eye-opener into the Filipino sentiment.
When we rolled out the campaign, many netizens expressed willingness to surrender our sovereignty to the US. Some even identified themselves as more American than Filipino.
#DearObama please make us the 51st state or a us commonwealth. Clearly the people in our government are bungling idiots. We need your help!— DJ Jay Santos (@djjaysantos) April 25, 2014
Alfrance Galvez also commented on Facebook, “Mr. President I am a Filipino with a heart of (an) American. Please give some of us the opportunity to be your citizen. Most of the Filipinos [want] it. Just annex the Philippines as one of your state[s].“
This kind of response baffles me. A handful of Filipinos are willing – even volunteered – to lose their identity as Filipinos in exchange for the American dream. To say that they adore the US could even be an understatement.
Aside from seeking the adoption of the Philippines by the US, others expressed plans of leaving the country and asked the US President for help.
Some requested for visa-free access to the US while others pleaded for the expedited processing of their immigrant visas.
We got these responses via Facebook:
Myleen Ilumin Friginal asked, "Can we get already our multiple visa? We'd been waiting for more than 25 years."
Jacqueline Gobaco said, "Your excellency please prioritize the application for those applying for immigrant petition by siblings or by their immediate family members in USA. We have been waiting for decades for the stamping of visa."
What came out from the #DearObama campaign may have stemmed from the long history of American influence on our culture. Conversely, the roots of Filipino nationalism may have also been planted on shallow ground.
Yet the campaign does not only tell us how much Filipinos adore the US. It should also give us a snapshot of how negatively we view our own country.
In fact, many Filipinos look to the US – and not on the Philippine government or on themselves – to solve the pressing issues that plague the country. We received the following messages via Facebook:
Marilyn Penilla Mercado commented on Facebook, "Dear U.S. President Obama I wish and hope you could help the Filipino people to give more jobs in your country so that those unemployed Filipino people can have a chance to lift their lives."
Dorie Balingit added, "Welcome to our land of rich and famous with natural resources. Mr. President, when you see my people & my country you will (be) amazed w/ poverty and miserable life specially the sick & handicap. Train them to be firm with RP laws. Enjoy your stay!"
Garnet Sacki also said, "Mr. President, please encourage the Philippine government to become more secular. Also, maybe you could explain why same sex marriage is a right."
Corruption in the PH
I think that, perhaps, the Filipinos’ leaning towards the US emanates from our collective disgust against corruption in the country.
Tired of corrupt practices in the country, Filipinos asked Obama to intervene and eradicate corruption among the ranks of public officials.
On Facebook, we got these responses:
Dennise G. Sisican said, “Please Girahin mo na mga corrupt dito sa pinas... pa slave nalang kami basta maayos pamumuhay namin at walang pasakit sa bawat araw, may nakakain, may nabibili at may mga makukuhang magandang trabaho, at mura ang pagaaral. `Di na namin matiis pasakit at pahirap sa sariling bayan.”
(Please stage a war against the corrupt officials in the Philippines. We are ready to be slaves in exchange for a good life where we are provided food, resources, job and education. We can no longer endure the hardships we experience in our own land)
George Cataluna echoed the sentiment and added, “Since we can not withstand the corrupt practices, the unlawful acts of those people doing illegal actions of our government why not make the Philippines the 53rd state of the United States of America instead?”
Netizens also sought military protection from the US amid territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
@MovePH Mr. Obama, kindly assist d Philippines in defending its sovereignty over spratley and other islands invaded by China— Harold (@HGTaladro) April 23, 2014
In the latter part of the 1800s we first sought help from the United States to protect and liberate us from the Spanish colonizers. A century has passed, and we’re still asking help from them.
Filipinos' love for America, it seems, is inversely proportional to their admiration for their own land.
Behind the netizens' admiration and love for America is their shame and disgust of the corrupt system that has defaced the Philippines. To them, the United States is a standing symbol of perfect governance, unrivalled defense abilities, and economic progress. Whether this is true or not is another matter altogether.
Thus, Filipinos aspire to be with them, to dream with them and to share in the light of their perceived success.
Likewise, in order to restore Filipinos' love for their own country, it is imperative, perhaps, to first fulfill the broken vow of democracy in the country. - Rappler.com
Raisa Serafica is the social media producer of MovePH.
Read other #DearObama letters by our contributors:
#DearObama: Speak to my people by Shakira Sison