“Hello Obama!”

Or, Arroyo’s Frustration  (reaction to J.A. Carizo’s and Atty. Benji’s comments)

   I expected somehow that Arroyo would not support Obama but rather McCain for Arroyo knows exactly that she cannot hide behind Obama should he become president; Obama is just too transparent, hence  not a good hiding place for Arroyo. For Obama, it was and is just fitting for him to avoid Arroyo for he knows right from the start how corrupt her administration is. This would only tarnish his image. The pro-active Obama doesn’t want to remove but rather avoid from the beginning a rotten apple to land in his basket. And so right on day one he did not want to hear sweet-talking and lies from Arroyo, perhaps that’s the reason why he did not pick up her “Hello Obama!” call  to congratulate him. It fits his profile and I think he did it wisely. For after all he is not a small fish like Garci. So it’s right that he should send a signal right from the start that he doesn’t endorse corruption nor personally appreciate corrupt leaders. He will have to continue the foreign relations with the Philippines and it’s wise for Obama to avoid his foreign policy to be based on personal relationship and sweet-talking to avoid falling into deadly trap of Utang Na Loob (debt of gratitude), a mistake done by Bush by being too close with other presidents. Bush was too pliant with Blair and even with Arroyo and at the same time too harsh with his adversaries resulting inadvertently to black and white or good and evil political perception. This is also a two-edged political sword for in the end Bush destroyed both his allies and foes; it led to Blair’s resignation and Arroyo’s regression. Most of all, it has led to senseless wars and injustice. But European leaders were quick to recognize the danger and so distanced themselves from Bush. A victim of his harsh attitude was Saddam Hussein. Saddam was surely not an angel for he let killed a lot of Kurds. But he never threatened the USA directly. Hence, to attack the whole nation of Iraq and to hang Saddam for ungrounded reasons was  pure injustice. No wonder why Arroyo favored McCain for McCain was a kind of Bush in many ways,- aristocratic, a warrior and an old father figure; Obama young and lacking in experience, a social worker – and black.

But we all had the chance to observe the two candidates Obama and McCain in depth for quite a long time during the election campaign: The social worker Obama was always dignified and well-defined in his ways (gestures) and speech (thinking) whereas the aristocratic McCain was very erratic in both. Obama defeated both Clinton and McCain just using his concept of Change all through the campaign, whereas McCain was always changing his concept in an effort to keep up and damage Obama but it did not work for McCain’s base was not strong and less-defined from the very beginning. We don’t need to elaborate on Palin for she was a bad accident in that election. I have observed though that when one is losing sound arguments, one resolves consciously or unconsciously  to the primitive weapon of racial supremacy- in gestures and insinuations- in trying to shake the firm Obama’s tower. All these three white candidates resolved to this weapon in their helpless attempt to reactivate among white Americans the fear of the dark skinned and their (the white Americans) historical supremacy over them. I was considering the idea that if Bush administration were popular, and if McCain were not too Bushy, Obama wouldn’t have won this election. So that’s the biggest credit that history would give to Bush- for preparing Federal America ripe for an Obama. Bush the sacrificial lamb.

There is a kernel of truth to say that the Filipinos still prefer “tisay” or “kana” (white-skinned people). That’s the result of being nurtured by the whites for a long time. Filipinos are discriminating to their own fellow-Filipinos, be it in the Philippines or abroad. It is known that they would serve first the white than the brown-skinned in cafes, restaurants, shopping stores, etc. This is sad to observe. But I do think this is more of a conditioned reflex brought about by colonialism: The white, my protector and provider, the brown my rival. Its well-known by-product is our crab mentality which is continuously reinforced by the extended lack of unifying figure in our political leadership and the ensuing moral decline in social behavior. The irrationality and dogmatic stance of the catholic church has also led to its failure in accomplishing anything of genuine moral base for the multi-cultured Filipinos. Going to church is therefore more of a conditioned behavior (habit) among us than deep religiosity and moral reflection for the problems that beset us then and now continue to be a moral one in character. Self-respect and sincerity are values that we urgently need  to develop for us to grow as one nation.

That Obama seems to abandon the Philippines is something that we must perceive as part of our growing-up process. We cannot lean on  forever to our dear Uncle Sam and forever assume this beggarly attitude. At one point we must leave our adolescence and enter adulthood, must learn to be independent  and self-reliant. This is perhaps that needed push we need- to be snobbed, be ship-wrecked and abandoned, alone between China Sea and the Pacific Ocean so we learn to depend on ourselves, get united and swimm together in order to survive and be proud of  our own accomplishments. Perhaps only then will the world community start to take us seriously. Alas, the original Filipino Identity!

The fact is the USA cannot totally do away without the Philippines if it wants to maintain its influence and improve its popularity  in the East and Southeast Asian region. American popularity has declined worldwide during the entire Bush Administration. Now Obama is set to repair it and for that he cannot ignore the former allies in Asia. Arroyo did not see in Obama the needed support only because she was snobbed during her last trip (June) to the USA; she saw it in McCain. But here she was again mistaken. Obama actually wrote Arroyo-as recently announced by her  executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita- and talked about common  interests such as “climate change, food security, poverty reduction, the future of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, human rights in Burma and defense reform.” Obama’s foreign and strategic policies as a candidate is summed up in the so called Phoenix Initiative report and this includes 1. counter-terrorism, 2. nuclear proliferation, 3. climate change and oil dependence, 4. the Middle East, and 5. East Asia. So the Philippines still has the prospect of doing business with the USA.

Obama’s presence will still continue to be felt in our region and knowing that he had once attended a multi-cultural and multi-religious primary school in Indonesia and with childhood classmates still residing in Asia, Obama has surely a fair share of good memories from there and with this Asian experience he could also be a unifying figure in our region and add to that that he stands for dialogue diplomacy- a stance heavily criticized by Bush, McCain and Palin which escalated during the campaign, becoming louder and louder, echoed softly back and silenced these three loud ones in the end. This is elegance à la Obama.

jun asuncion

Bulan Observer