When America sneezes, everyone else catches cold. That’s an old saying about the global strength of the United States and how its condition and acts affect other countries, especially its neo-colonies. That used to apply also to the Philippines circa late ’40s to the ’80s. The pre-globalized setup had not yet made Filipino diaspora a phenomenon.
An apt saying now is, “sakit sa kalingkingan, sakit sa buong katawan.” The Philippines is no longer just a neo-colony of the US; the link is tighter and the concept of “little brown American” more real. The Filipino community in America has grown to such an extent its political influence is growing. Our stake in the fate of the US is bigger.
When Tiyo Pedro and Tiya Anesia vacationed in the Philippines from the US years ago, talk was as much about George W. Bush as it was about Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The US decision to go to war with Iraq affected the deployment of my cousin Eric, who was then with the US army. US recession worries us as it does Fil-Ams.
Thus, many in the Philippines are eagerly monitoring the coming US presidential election, more so because the US is the world’s major imperialist state and superpower. The next US president will have to deal with the fallout of its misadventure in Iraq and its current economic woes. Then there are the threats of terrorism, global warming, etc.
Barack Obama has clinched the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in a bruising fight against Hillary Clinton. It has therefore become possible to imagine that the next US president will be black. Aside from Obama’s charisma, Republican Party’s John McCain has to contend with the backlash on his party of the errors of George W. Bush.
I rooted for Clinton not because “first woman US president” sounds better than “first black US president.” Obama is the face of change but he lacks experience. The US presidency is no platform for experimentation. And the last time a really charismatic US president took the helm (Kennedy) the world was brought to the brink of World War III.
Obama, of course, won’t be US president until he wins against McCain. So it would be premature at this stage to either worry or be elated about his assumption to the post. His capability to lead the world’s most powerful country will still be assessed during the campaign period, when the candidate’s programs and intellect will be exposed.
In the end, though, change of leadership in the US will again mean little for us, fundamentally. US policy on the Philippines has not changed much through the years. We are still the same dumping ground of US goods and investment and source of raw materials and profits (and cheap labor, too). I doubt if Obama or McCain can change that.
(I wrote this for my June 6, 2008 Candid Thoughts column in Sun.Star Cebu)