THE Filipino people were taught that it was because of the United States of America as “Big Brother” that we are all saved. Without them, the Filipino nation could have been in chains and could have long been a communist state. We are also taught that the US is the land flowing with milk and honey. It is the Canaan for Filipinos. The green card is the ticket to the best life. The US became a haven for the anti-Marcos people during the dark years. The US is “heaven” here on earth.
The dream of every generation is to go to the States or have something from the States. Jeans, shirts, shoes, and chocolates are most often the answer to our craving to be in the States. Christmases would not be complete if there were no apples on the basket for urban families. Christmas songs depicting snow, snowman and Santa Clause were famous in rural areas. Through the music, one could dream of a beautiful white Christmas.
This idea of our Big brother could be traced back in our history. We were taught that it was the Americans who sent out the Spaniards who have ruled us for more than three centuries. We were made to believe that the battle of Manila Bay left the Spaniards defeated and had to leave the country. Long live the United States of America. But the victory was short-lived, we have to remind ourselves that the Americans also exploited the goodness of the Filipinos. They made us real slaves in our land. They taught us to leave everything that the Spaniards had taught us and embrace the American dream. They injected in the young the craving for their products while they sucked our raw materials and sell back to us their finished state-side products. Soon, we had to contend with the depletion of our resources while they enjoy the cheap raw materials from our land.
I remembered the story of the late Rev. Fr. Danilo Paderna of why Sagay was called Fabrica. He told me that the best hardwood is in Sagay and so a lumber factory was established there. The owners exported the best lumber to other countries and left the barks and wrong cuts to the real owners of the trees. There was no idea of reforestation but only lumbering. So, the “Fabrica” is just a name today.
We were also taught that the US redeemed us from the clutches of the Japanese forces. After World War II, our craving for more US bubble gums, movies and music had arisen up to the clouds. It was something to have these things in us. Soon, US markets invaded and answered our cravings for these things.
US also wanted to have a strategic area in the Southeast to hold to the title of a world superpower. The Pearl Harbor tragedy crippled the supremacy of the US in the Far East. The Vietnam drama did not give US territory on the continent. So, they have to look for a nest and the Philippines offered its branches for the US to set their bases as was in the treatises that were signed. After decades of using our lands, Mt. Pinatubo spewed ashes and it signaled the US Bases to leave the country but left us with great devastation, the Pinatubo explosion, which was very hard for the Philippines to assess the damage that the bases brought to our lands.
A few years later, the US could not believe that the Philippines had sent them out. They could not believe that the country they have nurtured for decades could just say, get out. So, they devised and had the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty signed and bounded once again the Philippines under the clutches of the bald eagle. The US once again planted in the subconscious of every Filipino that they are needed for peace in the region.
This time, they gave us Friendster, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email addresses, YouTube, Netflix, cellular phones, Apple products, and other media platforms which bound once more the Filipinos.
So, today’s VFA issue is a test of our independence and nationalism. This is a test of our sovereignty as a nation worthy of Filipinos. This is not an issue of Digong, Bato and Trump.