Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for President of the United States (POTUS), caught the ire of the Filipino community recently, when he mentioned Filipinos in a speech as one among a bunch of “terrorist nations”.
The Donald did get something partially right: dealing with Filipinos is like dealing with a bunch of animals.
I haven’t heard Trump apologize yet. I’m not holding my breath.
Balat-sibuyas Filipinos over-reacting to anything that either paints them in a bad light, or perceivably mocks an entity they hold dear, is nothing new. As the presidential campaign in the United States has been showing, neither is Donald Trump’s making provocative, outrageous, even insufferable remarks about non-white ethnic groups. Both of these statements hold true, regardless of the truthfulness of the statements against Filipinos, and/or Trump’s remarks.
In fact, in the Philippines, such insults to “Filipino Pride” can go as far as to provoke substantial reactions from its lawmakers and elected officials. Claire Danes was banned from Manila. Alec Baldwin was deemed “an undesirable alien”, and threatened to be beaten up by a Philippine senator no less! A lawmaker also proposed to ban Justin Bieber from the Philippines for “mocking” Manny Pacquiao’s 2012 loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.
The latest addition to the list of collective idiocy? Congressman Joey Salceda is calling for the Donald to be barred from entering the Philippines. “Inimical to the national interest” is a phrase the lawmaker used in his house resolution.
Count on Filipinos to make a mountain out of a molehill indeed. It is an issue that does not and is not supposed to exist.
There is, of course, a bigger picture issue here at stake than just wounded Filipino Pride, and it has more potential to be “inimical to the national interest” more than Trump’s remarks could ever be:
What will Filipinos do if Donald Trump becomes POTUS?
The first thing that gets hit hard, if a POTUS Trump calls for Filipinos in America to be among the banned and deported, should be fairly obvious: Overseas contract worker (OCW) remittances, and all sorts of things Filipinos send home from the States. What’s worse, Filipinos who went to the States to look for better opportunities that are unavailable back home, will have to try their luck somewhere else, or go back to the Philippines.
The prospect of a President Donald Trump is very real. The race with rival Hillary Clinton is still too close to call and is still anybody’s game. There are still roughly three months left before Americans go to the polls in November. A Trump victory will be another dot in the recent string of the rise of anti-establishment leaders in different parts of the world. Brexit, Duterte here in the Philippines, Widodo in Indonesia, and a few other countries stand as examples of this.
Make no mistake about it. Trump has been rather vocal about his dislike for immigrants in general, and his calls to “make America great again” by rousing anti-immigrant sentiment have roused support among angry white voters. Among this group, Muslim immigrants receive a substantial part of his vitriol; he has called for a ban on their entry into the United States, due to the perceived terrorist threat they pose.
Unfortunately for us, the Philippines is in this “exclusive” group.
Combining a ban on additional immigrants with deportation of illegal immigrants already within US borders isn’t too far-fetched for him. It remains unclear, however, whether a Trump administration will actually just do a blanket deportation of non-white US residents. He is simply too unpredictable at this moment.
The next thing Filipinos should seriously be thinking about, under a potential Trump presidency, is the military firepower they have come to hopelessly depend on for national defense.
The Donald has made it very clear that he intends to make his allies and neighbors pay for the protection that America provides. Hell, he even intends to make a wall on the Mexican border and make them cough up the dough to pay for it!
The Philippines simply does not have money to pay for hardware. This couldn’t be at a worse time, especially since tensions in the contested islands in the South China Sea haven’t really cooled down.
Donald Trump feels the urge to answer every bit of criticism thrown his way. Imagine if he and BS Aquino were president at the same time: panipisan ng balat. Who would have gone crybaby first? But I digress…
Looking to sooth wounded pride is a horribly short-sighted action for a country forever dependent on the United States like the Philippines. Thinking about the long-term implications of their actions, and swallowing their pride for the greater, more reasonable good, are not in their skill set.
The Philippines needs the United States disproportionately more than it needs us, regardless of who the presidents of both countries are. That is not going to change for a long time, even under the current Duterte presidency. It would do the Philippines good to look for alternatives to being dependent on Uncle Sam, especially since the latter has been showing signs of growing instability and resentment against immigrant and non-white ethnicities.
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