Imperialism, the subjugation of one people to another has existed since time immemorial. Tribes, kings and armies have waged bloody wars of conquest in pursuit of fame, glory and wealth. The chariots and galleons may be superseded by diplomats and jets, but do not be fooled. The same emotions and dynamics that have stirred within us then stir within us to this day. Greed, lust, envy and hate boil just beneath the surface as they will forevermore.
Which is why when the Americans decided to liberate our country in the name of Christianity and civilization, only the ignorant were fooled as to the true intention of the invading force. Purchasing from Spain at the bargain price of 20 million dollars, Manifest Destiny bought its first vassal in the Far East. Stealing from the first national liberation movement in Asia, the Katipunan, success on the eve of victory. Consolidating their conquest, the US poured in tens of thousands of its troopers from Abra then to Zamboanga. The “First Iraq” in US history left behind a million dead Filipinos in the repression of the “Insurrection”.
A century later, only a handful of American soldiers remain in Mindanao. Along with its so-called soft power program: the USAID. In its direct rule of 40 years, the colonial government left behind a legacy of public infrastructure. Through its puppet government, the Filipino people was given free education to poor and deserving students, national roads, English and the separation of powers. Saying however, that liberal democracy was a product of American intervention underestimates the contribution of the illustrados and the European influence.
A century later, America’s crime against the Filipino psyche, now largely forgotten, has long been forgiven. Thanks to collaborationist historians such as Zaide and an educational system that whitewashed the colonial past we Filipinos adore anything USA. Many of our women going so far as to prostitute themselves in bars and nightclubs just to grab a green card. No other country in the planet enjoys such a convivial relationship with Washington, as the Visiting Forces Agreement show.
The Asia-Pacific region is now under the US sphere of influence. Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan pay homage to the world superpower. Battalions of soldiers garrison in Japan, South Korea and Mindanao. The Pacific fleet, a powerful squadron of warships, carriers and aircraft patrol the Pacific and outlying seas. As the Spratlys Island controversy teach us, a countervailing center of gravity to growing Chinese might.
Thus it is with a heavy and pragmatic heart that we must embrace US suzerainty. Despite the high cost of our subjugation – to the tune of twenty percent of our GDP – the American control of our islands is an undeniable and unshakeable part of the Philippine landscape. How many of us have tried to shake off the yoke of Empire and failed? Instead of challenging and fighting their grip we should learn to embrace their rewards. We may be the world’s worst case of Stockholm’s Syndrome but the challenge of our generation is how not to be “so radical”, as a song puts it. It is to rise in the ranks of the colony and become the nabobs and sarkars of our American Empire.
I know I will eventually.