AS he himself admitted, he could not possibly separate the Philippines and our Republic from America– severe ties with the USA. These ties are formalized through treaties. It would need acts of our Congress to break those ties. That is why he said he only meant the separation to be between him—the individual Rodrigo Roa Duterte—and the USA and possibly by inference American human beings. And he made this more manifest by speaking to the Chinese leaders and the Chinese people about his affection for China and his being politically, economically and even militarily attracted to China and the Chinese.
That unfortunate display of sentimentality, which we know must have disappointed not just the Americans but also those Chinese whose high hopes in their country’s foreign affairs is to become a friend of the United States and of the Philippines and the Filipinos they prize for being the “Americans of Asia.” Those who study Chinese-Philippine relations rigorously do not lose sight of this fact of our being.
It cannot be denied that Filipinos and Americans mostly value our two countries’ long-standing friendship. This friendship developed after the forces of the First Philippine Republic were defeated by those of the United States and our archipelago became an American colony.
The Philippines and the United States have maintained closeness that some Filipinos call a “special relationship.” Cynically, some Filipinos laugh about that fiction—for they say the US government does not do anything with, in and for the Philippines unless it serves US interests. That, to us, is an unproductive and unnecessarily negative way of seeing these ties. For, despite the exaggerated claims of less than mature nationalists, our country and people nowadays do not do anything with the USA unless it serves our interests. That is how mature governments and peoples deal with each other.
It is true, however, that some Filipinos are more sentimentally attached to America than others. And we suspect that for various reasons—the foremost one being the predominance of American good life images on TV and films—much more than 50 percent of all Filipinos would vote for the Philippines to become an American state. That is because our Filipino leaders have governed our country like hell (as the Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon said he preferred to being governed by Americans).
It is hard to deny that life for the majority of Filipinos was better because we were better off and less corruptly governed when we had American governors-general than when we had Filipino presidents. Life under the gone and unlamented Aquino administration definitely has not been a relief from our decades of unhappy misgovernance by Filipino officials. And we still have to see what kind of governance we will really have under President Duterte (although his performance these 100-plus days boosts our hope that he will be the best president so far).
Some Filipinos, and to this segment of our population President Duterte obviously belongs, loathe themselves for having been influenced by America and Americans. The more is their bitterness if, as in President DU30’s case, they have experienced applying for a visa at the US Embassy and getting rejected.
Feelings of hatred for the United States—for that matter, feelings of hatred for other countries and peoples—should play no role in our dealings with them. Our objective should always be to promote our smallest and highest national interests.