A couple of days ago, the Philippines was “lucky” to have been visited by the world’s most powerful man—United States President Barack Obama. Everyone was ecstatic, considering the Philippines was one of only a few countries that had the opportunity of being visited by the head of the United States, arguably considered by many as the most powerful country in the world. The pride and honor created by the visit may translate into economic gains. The euphoria created by the President’s sojourn was worldwide news.
I remember, less than two decades back when Pope John Paul II, now Saint John Paul II, came to visit the Philippines in January 1995 to lead the World Youth Day celebration in Manila. People came in droves and followed him wherever he went. I, for one, had the opportunity of being near the Pope when he dropped by the University of Santo Tomas campus in Manila. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience worthy of spiritual nourishment. He was a nonfigurative representation of God’s unyielding love for the Filipinos. It created a total personal elation that up to now people have reminisced, considering that not everyone will have a personal encounter in his lifetime with a person who was declared a saint.
But does the Pope’s visit resemble the experience of getting a visit from the US President? Was it likewise a manifestation of America’s sincere concern for the Filipinos’ welfare sans personal interest or commitment? Perhaps? Or possibly? Think again!
Assessing the current status of the US economy, particularly under Obama’s rule, will give us the rationale behind the active participation of the US in Asian diplomatic affairs. The US economy has never been this bad. The economy under Obama’s term is characterized by protracted recession, major currency depreciation, stock market crash, high unemployment rate, foreign policy dilemma and accelerated inflation rates, real property market crash, capital flight and a lot more.
Primarily, Americans are seeking reprieve from this economic holocaust that afflicted their country decades back and has degenerated during the term of President Obama.
Meanwhile, the Asian economy has never been this bullish and has become the logical beneficiary of the American economic slowdown. Philippine economic development has accelerated over the last few years—in fact, it is now one of the growth countries if not the highest growth country in the Asian region. The US President is here primarily to seek support for their ailing economy by way of promoting equal trade opportunities that primarily benefit a bigger economy like that of the US. As it is, Asian economies have obviously taken a large part of the pie that previously belonged to the US economy.
They were seeing bleak prospects for economic recovery but that was short-lived and temporary. The US economic slowdown has resulted in a positive development for the Asian economy because of investment relocation. Likewise, close trading partners of the US, such as Europe, have also been deprived of progress, because of the slowdown.
It is highly probable that the Asian sojourn by Obama was driven by the US’ economic interests in the region. The winds of economic change have been altered and shifted directions toward Asia, making the region the melting pot of investment and economic development.
Military assistance through the Mutual Defense Treaty has been in existence even prior to Obama’s rule, so there is nothing more to discuss on that issue.
But we cannot deny the benefits—both economic and political—that the visit has brought to our country. It has, somehow, addressed and allayed concerns over political instability and security risks faced by our nation. Likewise, it has promoted our country as a tourist destination, with the media putting our country in the limelight when Obama was here for at least two days. Either way, Obama’s visit has given the Philippines a semblance of stability in all areas of the political and economic scene.
A survey released by Pulse Asia as regards the presidential contenders is a mere silhouette of what to expect two years from now. Although the past years showed the relative consistency of some contenders in the area of people’s approval ratings, a lot of things are yet to happen from now until May 2016. This has happened many times before where popularity has diminished in just a short period.
People who are now at the top of the survey are faced with the challenge of maintaining their popularity until D-Day, lest they become victims of peaking too early then burning out. This will be a challenge for interested politicians and their public relations team.
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