What the victory of US President Barack Obama means to Filipinos

Filipinos follow American showbiz, American sport, American fashion, parrot American accents, ape American attitudes and, yes, act out American politics. Indeed, Filipinos were all but carried away by US election fever trooping to “mock US elections” organised by the US Embassy in Manila and whooping it up after the victory at the polls of re-electionist President Barack Obama…

Like the rest of America, Filipinos were caught up in the election fever as gleaned from comments, either for incumbent President Obama or his Republican challenger, made in social media platforms.

So active were Filipino netizens that one Eric Cham tweeted in jest, “Parang biglang dumami US citizens sa timeline ko ah.” Later he said, “I don’t think your tweets can guarantee you a US visa,” and told friends to “go back to work.”

“P-Noy (Aquino) is still our president. Don’t get carried away,” he joked in Filipino.

Like our beholdenness to all things American, this bizarre fixation on an event and, specifically, personalities who in the bigger scheme of things do not really matter to the ordinary Pinoy schmoe, simply mirrors the Filipino’s historically consistent need for validation and escape — that of their being America’s former Mini-Me in Asia and of its former colonial master’s endurance as a beacon that guides their march to the future.

Yet, pressed to find meaning relevant to Filipinos in Obama’s victory (as perhaps will have been the same case had Republican candidate Mitt Romney won), Filipinos are left scratching their heads. Heck, if hot shot Walden Bello himself doesn’t have a clue, what hope does the average “social media practitioner” have of finding meaning much more publishing insightful content on their blogs and Twitter timelines?

I leave Washington with a distinct feeling of ambivalence. I think Obama is better for the American people, but while I think a Romney victory would have had worse consequences for the world, as mentioned above, I do not think the Obama victory will spell a significant difference in Washington’s relations with the rest of the world.

Indeed, even in an article given the title Why Obama is better for the Philippines, Star columnist William Esposo could only come up with this tired old gem:

Filipinos should be elated over the Obama victory. Forget about those religion-tainted issues like pro-life. Let clerics fight that out with governments all over the world. Our concern should focus on how a fair and more equitable relationship with the US could help jumpstart our economy and help us in protecting our territory from Chinese threats to take it away from us. Thus far, President Obama has been very supportive in terms of sending strong signals that the US will help the Philippines should China opt to be aggressive. Our armed forces are being upgraded, although not enough to discourage a determined China if they wanted to grab Philippine territory.

But of course. National defense. More precisely, national rescue. Fact is, the Philippines, 66 years after being granted independence by Uncle Sam remains the same old pathetic damsel in distress. And just about any US president who will be willing to give his country’s erstwhile Mini-Me even just a passing glance during his term to make sure the old colony is not being trampled upon by one or a couple of its lucrative trading partners in the region will be relevant to Filipinos.

That’s about as far as the US elections’ relevance to Filipinos go. It is relevant to sponsored bloggers and journalists who find the same novelty backpacking tourists find in eating scrambled eggs and bacon in diners in Ohio. But to the average Pinoy schmoe waiting for her next celphone load from her American papa or the next remittance check from his absentee parent, what is really relevant as far as America goes is the US dollar exchange rate versus the Philippine peso. A strong economy that pushes the peso’s value higher, contrary to popular belief, is really not good to the archetypical Pinoy gazing towards the sky mouth agape.

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22 Comments on “What the victory of US President Barack Obama means to Filipinos”

  1. What should matter is what the US is doing to its economy in order to cover up the horrific policies of allowing financiers to enrich themselves at the expense of the middle-class. The US government has been operating without a budget since Obama was elected. The national debt exceeds 16 trillion dollars. The dollar is being intentionally devalued. Relying on remittances to fund an acutely weak economy is highly erroneous. Naturally, the answer is for the Philippines to stand on its own two economic feet but we know the reality of that never happening.

    1. “horrific” is such a strong word. The policy is evolving. Learning from it’s past mistake is the way America is going. Anyway, US economic policy has worked for so many years, if not decades.

      1. The 2008-2009 economic crash ORIGINATED in the United States. From US financial institutions. After decades of coddling by US politicians. Is this your idea of how “US economic policy has worked for so many years, if not decades?” Bankrupting the whole of human civilisation? And how do you expect this to end? When we’re all back in the stone age scavenging for food? Try acquainting yourself with the issue BEFORE making any more vacuous comments.

  2. As long as the flow of US Goods back to the palamunins back home remains undisturbed, why should the common tao be worried about the US elections? 😛

    1. “Hey!!! It is the kindness and wisdom of my administration towards Pinas OFW’s, that is why OFW remittances keep Pilipinas happy-happy-joy-joy!!!” is what PersiNoynoy will say. GMA Talsik Diyan… VillAARRRooOOYYyyoOOO!!!

  3. I do not know about other things that america’s election would have on our country. But in our neck of the woods there is a real concern here on the U.S. election– What effect this would have on America’s stand on immigration, for people who dream of going to the states to work and who feel that their chances are influenced by who is sitting in office and what his policies are this is a real and solid reason to follow the elections.

    Whether it WOULD

  4. I do not know about other things that america’s election would have on our country. But in our neck of the woods there is a real concern here on the U.S. election– What effect this would have on America’s stand on immigration, for people who dream of going to the states to work and who feel that their chances are influenced by who is sitting in office and what his policies are this is a real and solid reason to follow the elections.

    Whether it WOULD affect them or not; is not the point. This is a concern and not an empty reason to follow the elections.

    Can’t understand the fascination though maybe other people want to live vicariously through the american elections

    1. One can argue that the US, being the biggest economy in the world, the biggest consumer of the world’s resources, and the planet’s biggest polluter should be high in the list of concerns of any human being.

      I’ve seen someone argue that the fact of the devastation wrought by Ondoy, Sendong, and Habagat attests to the legitimacy of any concern for the outcome of the US elections (with regard to policies on, alternative fuels, emissions and consumption, say) that any Pinoy might harbour. But then, think first and consider how much of the devastation caused by these weather disturbances were actually accounted for by factors within the control of Filipinos. Much of the impacted lives were a result of poor urban planning, impunity, and reckless waste disposal Pinoys are world-renowned for.

      Same principle applies to immigration. The inclination to migrate is a factor that is wholly within the control of Pinoys. Before we make immigration a “concern” with regard to the attention we put on the US elections, we should first trace that issue back to its ULTIMATE origins — our habit of counting going stateside as one of our Top 5 personal aspirations.

      1. Agreed. The mere presence of over 300 million beings — and the accompanying detritus of their civilization — in one geographic location affects everything from the planet’s climate to the toilet paper you use when you wake up in the morning. That alone is worth being concerned about.

        But the cusp of the matter is this the slavish devotion that idiotic mouthpieces like William Esposo have for all things American, Obama and BS Aquino. The Americans have proven time and again they aren’t the be-all and end-all of the world. Those days are long past. Their preoccupation today is to APOLOGIZE for being born American, to constantly seek approval for bending over with respect to the most inconsequential non-issue concerning perceived wrong-doing.

        Obama and BS Aquino are certainly masters of that game. They have both acquiesced to even the pettiest terrorists. As a result the world sees them as weak and pathetic. As a result people get killed. And neither of them will lift a finger to address these problems. Instead they go through a whirlwind of propaganda to sell their respective constituencies that the problem doesn’t exist.

        Obama LIES about killing off al Qaeda to get votes. US ambassador Chris Stevens is murdered. Obama says its only a misguided video that caused this; and please forgive us, the US government had nothing to do with producing it. The Muslims say — we should have nukes ready for the next attack on the US. Likely funded by Saudi Arabia.

        BS Aquino says he won a major battle against corruption. Ask any lawyer actually worth his salt — the Philippine government fabricated evidence and coerced congress and the senate to convict. A more corrupt practice I have not seen. BS Aquino says he brought peace to Mindanao. Everybody in his right mind recognizes that sooner or later another civil war will erupt between rival Muslim factions. Nur Misuari said as much when he refused to recognize the new Muslim autonomous region. And we now have more legislation under debate to further curtail freedom of speech specifically as it pertains to BS Aquino. Not the presidency, mind you, but BS Aquino.

        And since when has our association with the US made it profitable for the Philippines? I mean really worthwhile. The Philippines has been on the most favored nation status with the US for decades. We get no better trade deals for Philippine goods and services. We still remain the dumping ground for military surplus. Getting into the US legally forces you to jump through hoops. You sneak across the border carrying illegal narcotics and guns to kill US citizens — well, Obama will ensure that your path to citizenship is smooth as possible. And set you up with all the government benefits you can handle. If you want to go back further, take the case of Philippine soldiers fighting under the US in World War II. THEY WERE NEVER PAID FOR THEIR SERVICES. Even after playing an essential role in defeating the Japanese.

        So Mr Esposo — you addled sycophant — what is it we get from the US exactly?

      2. whether these concerns are legitimate or not as I said these are still concerns. Are these things we really should be concerned about? maybe, maybe not.

        You may seem right, but with regards to immigration I don’t think it is mere dependency on another country for not all immigrants are weaklings they are filled with strong people, self dependent people. Maybe it is not dependency but disillusionment perhaps? The name of your blog suggests the same.

  5. benign0,

    I guess I couldn’t have said it better, what the Pinoy curiosity towards the US presidential elections boils down to:

    1) National defense – Pinoys will never openly admit it, but the Philippines needs US Military might in the region, despite having sent them away 2 decades ago;

    2) The value of the US dollar against the peso;

    3) The uninterrupted flow of US goods to the palamunins back home, as mentioned in one of the comments above

    Bottom line: da Pinoys want to make sure that the leech stays firmly planted on the organism. Where the Union goes, the 51st state follows.

    1. Indeed. A Palamunin Nation needs its papa and as such its main collective concern over the outcome of its papa’s elections revolves around the security of its on-going sustento. 😀

    2. On number 2, can the peso go back to 56 to the dollar? I hope so. That way I’ll get better dough from my sideline. hehe

      1. 2) True, while the banks and leaders laud the power of the PHP, most of the people in my circle wish for a stronger dollar because they’ve invested in dollars, have income in dollars, or simply have a lot of dollars right now.

      2. Yes you say it jest but for anyone else reading. When the local currency weakens, all of us tied to that currency are getting a pay cut. Yes Chino’s sideline might be getting a boost but his front line and most everyone else’s primary source of income here is getting weakened. Not a value judgement but more cause and effect.

  6. I do not like the way Barrack Obama appeases the Muslims in the USA and abroad. He and his Secretary of State showed shock and outrage for a Muhammad movie that accurately depicted his life. The Muslims went on a rampage because of this even murdering a US Ambassador. His radical about turn in even cutting slack for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt speaks a lot about his appeasement of tyranny. American Citizens are dying in terror attacks. The USA is under siege by Muslim extremists. Where in the world can you see a Mosque being built in the immediate vicinity of the 9/11 memorial? This is an outrage to those helpless civilians who died there! The Philippines is currently mesmerized by a phony peace while our marines and soldiers get murdered by the ASG, The CPP-NPA-NDF formal alliance with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and its terror lawless elements alliance.

  7. Pres. Obama faces a very hard job. The U.S. economy is not good. and, he is thinking on spending on a lot of projects. Iran, North Korea,China, Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue to be his headache. The Al Queda is changing tactics in their terrorism.
    We have natural calamities in New York, and nearby States. Gasoline prices will come up after the election…

  8. I believe we love trends. Obama is like PNoy. Obama won, thus PNoy did too. There are those that see this comparison, and thus since Obama was seen in a new light PNoy and his cronies should be seen in a new and good light as well.
    I really don’t see what my peers, friends, and family see in that yellow monstrosity. I have not seen or felt anything of significance that he has done.
    As much as I would prefer anyone over former-PGMA, I have this nagging feeling that we could have done better. Though I wouldn’t vote for Binay in any election, that man is one cheating/traitorous SOB (he admitted to being one too).
    I think I’d much prefer an ERAP.

  9. @ benignO

    Your opening statement characterizes the average Filipino. I believe however, that there is nothing in the American culture, its politics, governance, system of justice, imagined wealth or even the Americans imagined freedom that is truly worthy of emulating. America as we know it, is like the Philippines whose peoples are and will continue to be in bondage to their colonial masters.

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