Saturday, July 24, 2004

Filipinos are Iraqis and Iraqis are Filipinos

Filipinos have a lot more in common with Iraqis than we might think. Sure, they are a predominantly muslim country while our own muslim brothers and sisters only number between 5% to 14% of the total population. We have no significant historical ties with them in past century or so (or to my knowledge, ever). It would probably never occur to an ordinary Filipino or an ordinary Iraqi for that matter, that they share an unfortunate common bond.

Flashback to a hundred years ago. A Philippines that had just won its war of independence from the Spanish colonial yoke of three centuries. A war that has brought a consciousness of a Philippines free from foreign rule. A war that has sparked in the people's imagination, a "Filipino." Free at last, our ancestors had probably thought. No more white people bossing us natives around, brandishing their superiority over us because, well, we have more melanin than them. And well, it is the order that God himself has designed. And yeah, they were ruling us and oppressing us for our own good.

But not long after the traces of the long-faded Hispanic imperialist power has left the Islands, comes a shining new and promising imperial power that was the United States. Come to free us from our own ignorance and well, to spread to us the hollowed teachings of their dead white male ancestors from a couple of centuries before. They came firepower ablazing, demolishing all sorts of resistance against the white American man's burden. They had come, thousands and thousands of miles away because, well, they just wanted to teach us democracy and give us education, the American way. They came, a foreign power that had killed and maimed as many as 600,000 Filipinos on Filipino soil, take all the reins of authority and then expect to teach us, benevolently, "freedom" and "democracy."

US occupation of the Philippine Islands numbered fifty years. A half century of, some might say, good vibes and good happenings for all us previously-uncouth little natives, while some, among them a Filipino scholar Onofre D. Corpuz, might say a half century of Americans profitting from monopoly commerce. If one cares to do a little bit of unearthing from our libraries, one will discover a plethora of American companies "invading" not long after the gunsmoke has cleared Philippine air. Oh, and not to mention the establishment of the biggest military base in the world outside of continental USA as an outpost for their paranoiac Cold War pissing contest against them Soviets hoolahbaloo.

A half century that saw us little brown brothers pledging allegiance to the American flag, learning the language if not the twang, copying everything American from the mode of dress to the mode of government. A half century that saw a massive flood of American goods to fulfill our Americanized wants and needs and desires. Because everything American was surely better than what our own backward country could ever make.

Some say ours was a tragic history of the local elites being coopted by imperialist conquerors. An elite chosen and installed in the high seats of power as the years went by and the American occupancy was about to hand us our "sovereignty." An elite that was schooled American, and shared real "interests" with anything and everything American.

Fast forward a hundred years to the present. Here come the Americans doing what they've gotten very good at. Smashing their nose in on other people's business and bullying anything and everything that comes in between. Here's a people minding their own business, albeit living in a repressive but otherwise harmless regime, bombed and invaded for no other reason than the American president and his business and political cohorts have got much to gain from doing so. George W. Bush comes from a family which has made its fortune in Oil. Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world. The United States is the largest oil consumer in the world, more than the next 5-6 combined. DUH. Any idiot can put two and two together.

But no, this simple equation has been muddied by the US government's hunting of imaginary weapons of mass destruction and counted on a paranoia of an American public whose collective memories still bore the image of two airplanes crashing into two very tall buildings.

And so each and everyday these days we see Iraqi militants killing and maiming white American soldiers who are tromping about, brandishing their expensive weapons, tanks and such, trying to "settle" US occupancy of Iraq. If you're an Iraqi living peacefully in your own neighborhood, saying your prayers five times a day, trying to raise your family in the best possible way you can see in the past year or so the death of thousands of your own countrymen, some of whom might even be family, will you stand idly by and do nothing?

Probably not. You'll do any means possible to get these American motherfuckers who've bombed your houses, businesses and countrymen, out of your own motherfuckingcountry. Even resort to kidnapping and threatening to behead (because you sure ain't got no smart bombs or computerized gadgets to fight back) "coalition forces" to get them the hell out of your borders.

Gawd. This is history in the making. And we're all standing by see such injustice unfold behind our eyes. We should hail Angelo de la Cruz as a hero. If only because he has single-handedly shown the Philippine government, the folly it has made in "supporting" (albeit with only 51 pencil-pushers) a war fashioned in American paranoia and profiteering.

Just you wait and see. There'll be billions of dollars to be made on Iraqi "Reconstruction." American corporations will come "invading" very soon after things get "settled," just like they did here a hundred years ago. But not if ordinary Iraqis, made militant by the injustice done them, could help it.

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