Wednesday, March 15, 2017

ME, AMERICA, and The World

I AM sometimes told, when I join in Facebook discussions, that I don't know anything about America. I think it's one of those “uninformed” retorts that need to be corrected. Truth is, many countries—from East Timor to Trinidad and Tobago, Chad to the Philippines—have baseline knowledge of America more than America is aware of what's going on actually in say sub-Saharan Desert nation (unless one goes to the university and be an “expert in Kenya” or gain “doctorate in a subject called Myanmar”). I was once or twice asked in my talks before students if the Philippines is a province of India or if we speak English back home. That's understandable. They honestly don't know. They weren't told. Meantime, America—by way of its foreign policy, economic protectionism, media giants' octopus grip on “global culture,” and Hollywood—peddles or informs the universe what's going on in here, 24/7.

          Let's zoom in on me as a Filipino who talks about America a lot. First, technically the Philippines is a colony of the United States of America for 46 years—beginning with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1898 following the defeat of the Spanish Armada in Spanish–American War to the “recognition” of the independence of the Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946. My hardline Leftist comrades will argue that, of course—they believe we haven't been outside the cloak of Uncle Sam. Anyhow, the education of what America was didn't just commence with the introduction of English via “benevolent assimilation” carried out by a group of schoolteachers called Thomasites dispatched by President William McKinley in 1901. We taught the kind of textbook English that prevails to date. Nope, not the kind that Moon Zappa and the Valley girls taught via Universal Studios. We still accentuate the “g” in the verbal action “ing,” for example. Our Constitution was patterned after the US Constitution although it has been considerably modified or some entries amended through the years to fit our sociocultural truths. Still, when Filipinos chide each other of “colonial mentality,” that means adherence to anything Stateside. Major survey firms like Pew Research lists Filipinos as #1 in terms of people who love America.

          History-wise and literature-wise, our early education got lots of America so that I could memorize all the US presidents, recite famous poems by Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman, and sing Stephen Foster songs at age 7. There was even a time when I could rattle off all US states and their capital cities and identify quotes by Patrick Henry, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. We are “so America” that our Asian neighbors ridicule us as “mere brown Americans.”
         Meantime, as a journalist (since age 14), the country's media doesn't run of supply of news and opinion of Washington's foreign policy and “invasions” (because we willingly send troops to fight with America in ALL her wars) etc etcetera. We are a super-obedient ally. If there's some that weren't shared us, it's the details of the Civil War and the Indian Wars. Obvious, I guess. So I took it upon myself to read and research those—not just via books and google/wikipedia but by actually traveling and talking with people in the heartland. As a journalist, editor and publisher in America, I also covered internal politics, Wall Street economics and so on and so forth. Everyday I get news dispatches from dozens of establishments and organizations, White House Press Office and activist nonprofits etc.
         Do I know enough of America? Nope. I still read and read and read—I even read showbiz magazines like People and US Weekly. And I watch and watch and watch. It's like a grand stage, America—especially these days of Trumpism and a Left spectrum that never fails to bite his distractions. I reckon, it's interesting to watch America these days. Even Hollywood joins in like they haven't really taken part in all these political pasodoble and rhumba. And with Social Media and Facebook and all, not to know anything about America is close to dumbness. And I don't think the rest of the world is dumb either. They just don't talk as much as we do in the U S of A.