Atrifecta of reasons used to undergird the Filipinos undying love affair with America. The late Ka Blas Ople offered a rather brief phrasing of the three in their order of importance:
• Chief armorer
• Number one cultural mentor
• Top trading partner
The number three in the trifecta, as recent data point out, is not constant these days as other countries tend to trade more aggressively with the Philippines than the US. But the first two have held for decades and there is a certainty that they will hold on for the long haul. The defense and security ties are ties that can be described this way: the Philippines in an enthusiastic, wrap-around embrace of the US.
On cultural ties, the transition has been smooth and unfailingly deep: from The Age of Coke to The Age of Facebook. Hollywood has been a constant. There is no other cultural force, either now or in the immediate future that can wean away the Filipinos from their obsession with US-originated social media platforms.
What is clearly constant in the lives of Filipinos, aside from poverty, calamities and official corruption is the enduring love affair with the US, which leaves the political Left puzzled and perplexed. The Left, with the token, jellyfish opposition to the Aquino administration from the mainstream, has been the de facto political opposition. The Philippine Left stands without equal in the opposition to the present administration. Yet, nothing of the Left’s anti-US rhetoric has gained traction. The more the Left pins down the root of the evils in society to US meddling in Philippine affairs, the more the love affair with the US and everything American intensifies.
That the US can be a culprit in any area and in any field is unthinkable to majority of the Filipinos.
A recent global survey showed that Filipinos love the US more than the Americans’ love for their own country. While a section of the American population was found falling out of love with its own country, most of the Filipinos surveyed professed an undying love for America.
The latest from a polling firm seconded the global survey. The SWS found out that 85 percent of Filipinos have “much trust” in the US. Filipinos trust their top leaders by a lesser degree.
This mind set smoothened the way for the hassle-free acceptance of a new PH-US military partnership that would last for ten years. In other environments, this would have been received by strident anti-US rhetoric, massive street protests, and calls for the downfall of the leaders of the country signing the partnership.
But not so in the Philippines. President Barack Obama even timed his Philippine visit on signing day, giving the pact signing the imagery of a milestone event for both countries. The popularity rating of President Aquino, down a few points from the last survey, would probably be given a boost by his welcome of American military presence.
Three Cabinet members, it was reported, belted out a favorite song of Mr. Obama during the celebration of his visit. While Mr. Putin has raised his jingoist profile by lashing without let-up at the US, on our side of the globe there has been nothing but warm welcome and the spread of cheers.
Obama’s foreign policy team wrote the “pivot to the Pacific” doctrine. Under the new pact, US forces would be granted “temporary” access to certain military camps from which the US can preposition its warplanes and vessels. The presence of US troops, for training and other roles, would be a fact of life.
The love for America, while a given here and accepted as a fact of life, was supposed to settle down into some sort of routine kinship after the 1991 Senate vote that scrapped the RP-US Military Bases Agreement. That day was supposed to have marked the cutting of the “umbilical cord” that tied the Philippines to the US for almost two generations.
After all, the doomsday scenarios that were supposed to befall the Clark and Subic areas after the scrapping of the pact had duly been exposed as bogeymen. The Clark and Subic economic zones have been thriving. Jobs generated have exceeded forecasts. Clark and Subic in the post bases era have been incredible stories of rebound and success.
That Clark and Subic succeeded without the American—and was repaid by Filipinos with a greater showering of affection for the Americans—are things beyond ordinary comprehension and this explains a lot of issues connected with PH-US relations.
The Left, with all its power of analysis and political theorizing, is clueless in explaining the deepening ties between the US and the Philippines even amid the waning influence of America in other parts of the globe.
In the US, a recent survey tested the competence of Native Americans in answering the question given in citizenship tests to US immigrants. The score: native Americans got lower scores than immigrants who came from other countries and have to make serious adjustments to adopt to the American way of life. The question of “Why” has been asked and no one has given a satisfactory answer.
We can hazard a guess. The Pinoy US immigrants are mostly there to have better lives, not to master the contents of the Library of Congress. But they do take one thing seriously – the review materials for US citizenship exams. They would drop whatever allergy they have to the study of history and current events to ace this one.
The driving motivation: love for America and the undying love for the day they would be sworn in as US citizens.
For most Pinoy immigrants, love endures, especially when it is love directed at their adopted Land of the Brave and Home of the Free.