Cultural Domination

Upon the establishment of American colonial government in the Philippines in 1901 the acculturation process among the Filipinos soon started. This policy became official as soon as the Public Schools system was introduced and implemented which used English as the medium of instruction in all grade levels and Western education began to be taught in the classroom.   The first contingent of American teachers called the Thomasites arrived. This stamped with official implementation the educational-cultural formation essentially meant to introduce the Filipinos to the American ways of life.

.         The most brilliant and most clever among the Filipino intellectuals were given scholarships and sent to the United States for continuing acculturation and studies and they were known as the pensionados. When they returned to the Philippines they broadcast with rare eloquence the wonders of American society and propagated the American way of life among the Filipino citizenry. In short, the systematic brainwashing of the Filipinos with Western culture was soon systematically put in place.

But the brainwashing mechanism was not only implemented through the public school system, but also through other institutions and channels of cultural formation such as the theatre and playhouses— convenient venues for the influx of western pop culture.   The vaudeville , which featured the latest in American pop songs and dances, were favorite entertainment shows of the masses, but which was later outlived by the advent of Hollywood movies.   It did not take long for the Filipinos to imitate the American artists; every one of them had his/her counterpart in the Filipino entertainment world. In so short a time, we had become little brown Americans—adept in the English language and the American style of speaking, behavior traits, habits and manners and became avid advocates of Western culture and arts.

Our psyche had been remolded into a new world outlook and nurtured the belief that the Americans deserved to be imitated and followed. Most of our countrymen forgot their own mother tongue.   And in modern times when new ways have been invented how to whiten one’s skin , the perduring desire and longing to change one’s physical features to the likeness of the Americans were dashed with hopes of fulfillment. But where this was impossible to attain, we can simply settle for versatility in the performing arts, like singing and dancing . Or perchance in the show business as movie actors and actresses, where acting careers have been given high premium as admirable talents.

The first batches to graduate with certificates as little brown Americans were the scions of the elite— a virtual cabal of the richest Filipino families in the society.   However, the lower classes would not be far behind in the scramble for recognition as excellent copycats of American culture. Everyone did her best in trying to acquire fair share of this cultural blessing that was deprived by the Spanish colonialists in the past. We can say that even the least among the grassroots masses could prate with even just a smattering of English. Yoyoy Villame’s rustic style performance of his own song compositions in “bayabas” English is a typical example of the extent to which the assimilation of American language and culture have seeped into the consciousness of the Filipino.

Political Puppetry

In the field of politics the slavish servility of the Filipino towards the Americans is evident in the comprehensive adoption of laws copied from the United States legal system. The most prominent among our politicial leaders were trained in the art and science of governance. Obviously English was decidedly the official language of government. And the most able of our national political leaders who emerged with admirable agility from the political apprenticeship came from the affluent classes of our society. They were the ones who had the resources and opportunities as well as the best education. They were the scions of the ilustrado classes who, if not mostly mestizo Spanish, were somehow wealthy mestizo Chinese. They became the favorite protégés of the American managers in the colonial government.

These political protégés were sons and daughters of the rich ilustrado collaborationists with the Spanish colonial authorities in the previous era. And this new breed of politicians displayed competence and capability in the government bureaucracy. As bearers of prominent surnames, namely Quezon, Osmena, Roxas, Quirino, Laurel, Lopez, Recto, Tanada, Diokno, Manahan, Cojuangco, Legarda, Aquino, they were only a handful of the clans that were to be in the limelight in the history of our national .politics. Their names were invariably in the amusing farcical tales that inform the electoral battles and other political engagements in our country.   Necessarily, they belong to the “political elite” or the “political dynasties”, so called, in Philippine society.

But there were additional new members of the political elite whose names soared into prominence in the realm of politics after the Second World War. If they were not of affluent origins, they had somehow earned fame as guerrilla leaders during the war or adroit politicians who have risen to the upper rungs in politics and have become part of the national leadership. Such personalities as Ramon Magsaysay, Carlos Garcia. Diosdado Macapagal, Ferdinand Marcos, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo and Benigno S Aquino III have gained prominence for having won in electoral contests for the Presidential post. Of course, of special mention would be Corazon Aquino for her enviable role as an icon of democracy—a modern Joan of Arc, who restored Philippine society to its pre-martial law order.

Most of them have acquired wealth in dubious ways.. but are either brilliant legal minds or acute businessmen. But their remarkable talents have been wasted in the political system that from the start has been built on a maleficent foundation. This system in our political life as a nation has had its roots at the birth of the Philippine Republic in 1946 and has since thrived until the present time.

It is founded on a vicious cycle of puppetry of our national leadership to the United States Government. No Philippine President has excepted himself from becoming a puppet of the American government. The primary roots have grown and generated from the economic interests of America in our country. In the desire to effect a smooth pursuance and unrestrained advancement of these economic interests, the American government has had to forge a domineering patronizing tie-up with the top leaders of our republic. In the same breath, the Filipino leaders have been only too willing to accommodate the American intentions mindful of the reciprocal benefits they could get from the arrangement. And here began the system of graft and .corruption in public service or in the government bureaucracy.

On the other front, no meaningful benefit accrues to the people. Their fundamental interests are forgotten. Philippine politics is never an art and science of statesmanship and governance, but an art and science of personal self-aggrandizement. Nothing will ever redound to the development and progress of society under this ideology and praxis of political puppetry. And so, within the span of forty-six years of our Republic’s existence the country has remained underdeveloped and the people has continued to sink deeper in the mire of poverty. If this system of puppetry will not be stopped the Filipino nation cannot ever hope to extricate itself from the miserable pitfalls it has fallen into.

Not a single Philippine president who has stayed in Malakanyang has ever sincerely envisioned a serious liberative plan for the nation’s salvation from its miserable plight. All the policies of government under every single administration from Manuel Roxas to Noynoy Aquino have invariably followed the dictates of the American government—like a dish pre-cooked on the drawing table in Washington and flavored with an ingredient of deception by our own politicians for the acceptance of the citizenry. This can be seen clearly in the policy that has charted the direction of our foreign policy tailored always after what suits the wishes of the White House. The current controversy surrounding the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) stems from the stupidity of our national leadership in swallowing hook-line-and-sinker the wily designs of US imperialism. The VFA is only one of the many unequal treaties and lopsided agreements that manifest our leadership’s puppetry to the US.

All the branches, all the departments, and all the agencies of our government serve the interests of America. Even our military armed forces serve as guardians of these American imperialist interests. They are entrusted with the task of securing the foreign corporations operating in our lands and owned by the American and other foreign nationals. Our armed forces demonstrate how they are more concerned for the safety of the foreign companies that are extracting our minerals beneath our mountains than for the tribal Indigenous Peoples whom they have displaced or driven away from their ancestral lands in order to give way to these foreign mining companies.

In short, the puppetry of our government to foreign power only shows that we are not truly independent as a nation. Our leaders are being shackled by their American masters like real lapdogs.

Economic Enslavement

This system of puppetry began at the birth of the Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946, the very day that we were supposedly granted Independence from being a colony of the US. But before this event, a ten-year period of political tutelage—a Commonwealth Government –was set up by the American authorities with Manuel L. Quezon as president, purportedly to provide apprenticeship to our politicians in the art of governance. But the ten years was interrupted by the Pacific War whereby our country was occupied by the Japanese imperial forces.   In effect, our Independence was handed to us only after the war.

The historical phenomenon of the Japanese Occupation and Japanese rule of the Philippines by a tauntingly tagged “banana republic” is crucial in this our discussion, because within this period the true quality of character of our top political leaders were put into test. .Here we were given the chance to be able to witness the rotten weakness in the character of the supposed leaders of our people.   Whereas the people in the lower strata of society were enduring hardships and were heroically fighting against the Japanese invaders, they—the big politicians—such as Jose Laurel, Manuel Roxas, and others whom we looked up to as honorables, were lounging in safety and comfort as collaborators of the enemy. The Filipino guerrilla fighters sacrificed and risked their life and limb for the motherland, but they who we hoped would abide with us until the gates of hell were sleeping with the enemies who strangled our freedom!

When “peace time” came about, the Philippine Republic was established and inaugurated. Manuel A. Roxas was installed as president by the Americans.. But the Americans were very tricky indeed! They chose Roxas because they knew that he could easily be blackmailed!—can easily be held by the nose, because of the issue of collaboration with the Japanese during the war.

Verily, the Americans dangled before Roxas’ very nose the so-called Parity Amendment that was to be appended to the Philippine Constitution. And this Parity Amendment would give preferential rights or privileges to American nationals and or corporations to explore, utilize and exploit our natural resources. As expected, Roxas acceded to the vicious maneuver of the Americans.

And ensuing from this tricky manipulation Roxas was enchained like a dog’s leash on his neck and he consigned to the Americans a considerably valuable section of our national patrimony and economy. Just think and consider the immeasurable benefit the Americans could get from the right to dig out our gold ores and other minerals with their unlimited capital resources and technological capability!   Verily, we were hoodwinked into an unspeakably enormous disadvantage!

By this, our country has become a source of raw materials for their hungry factories and dumping ground of their finished products. It is a kind of trade relationship that tied our economy to the interests of the big monopoly capitalists or imperialists. And the role of President Roxas was to insure that he honored his commitment to the Americans as their ever loyal lapdog.

It is unthinkable that the American imperialists would ever remove the chains around the necks of any leader that would be elected President after Roxas. Economic interests is the paramount motive and warranty of the United States in enchaining our leaders. At the same time our pseudo-leaders have invariably exhibited willingness to submit themselves as puppets because of the reciprocal benefits they get by virtue of their position and attendant power trappings.

This aberrant behavior and conduct of our leaders would inevitably open the floodgates to bureaucratic corruption whereby the wealth or treasury of government would become a capital resource at their disposal for their own self-interest and personal welfare.   In fact, the national leader-politicians who have held in various periods the reins of government have bloated in richness during their respective terms of office. Such is the rewards of puppetry.

But puppetry is a great divide between the political-economic elite and the masses of the people which, we realize through all these years, is meant to remain forevermore. This has created an ever-widening chasm —on one side is a cabal of oligarchs lounging in luxury and comfort and bliss; on the other side the great masses of our people wallowing in dire unspeakable misery, their faceless collectivity, a portrait of helplessness and uncertainty. Truly, puppetry is the culprit—the fundamental cause of poverty among the people and the backwardness of our economy as a nation. As a consequence, the growth of the Philippines has been stunted within the forty-six years that it has existed as a Republic.

Through all these years, the plunder of our economic resources by the Ameican imperialists has been perpetuated by the puppet government’s own solicitous adoption of policies towards this end.   And these policies flow from the mandate of executive agreements and legislative acts without regard to their long term disastrous consequences on the environment and on the well-being of the masses. But certainly, the puppets get their beneficial share of all these economic adventures.

What sweet comfort must our leaders have enjoyed by their puppetry to US Imperialism !   It is no wonder that every President of our country has willingly submitted himself to puppetry. As a matter of fact, the politicians fiercely fight each other just so they can grab the symbolic throne, crown and sceptre of presidential power.. They fight to show who has the ablest charm and mettle to advance the interests of the US imperialists — they even kill each other, if necessary! Lo and behold! Our present-day top politicos are now fighting tooth and nail to prove who can be the most admirable puppet to US imperialism.

Here is the inexorable reality—matagal nang nataga sa bato! (long etched on rock)— the thievery that one President does during his term has always been the same form of thievery the succeeding President does in his own time. And so on. . . and so on. . . and so on. . . ad infinitum.

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