I have been here in the Philippines for nearly a decade now, and what I have concluded may sound a bit strange so be patient and I will try and explain. Have you ever considered why the current situations exist as they do in the Philippines? Name any topic you like. It took me a while to tie this all together, but I seriously think what I am about to tell you is why the Philippines has never truly advanced like the rest of Asia and went backwards after the Americans pulled out after the Second World War.
The Philippines was bombed and heavily battered in the second world war; just like Japan, Germany, most of Europe and in later years Vietnam had been. Yet all of them are now doing fine.
“What makes the Philippines different?”
I now believe I know why! And without blaming anyone, I sense it has nothing to do with the Filipinos themselves. It is more about how people behave when they “own” something. In the case of every other place, America was not the owner prior to the devastation. With the Philippines it was. It had “bought” the country off the Spanish, then beat them in a war and colonized the Place. Think about that for a while, because it took me a while to connect the dots. As an analogy, have you ever noticed how most mechanics always own the crappiest cars that always seem to be in need repair, but their clients all have nice ones in good running order and condition?
“Let’s think about that for moment as well?”
Why, why do all the mechanics clients have good well maintained vehicles but the mechanic does not? I think the same mentality was at work with America and the Philippines. The US “owned” the country and thus saw no need to fix it, because it “made no money” from doing so. Think it is absurd? Let’s dig a little deeper into that concept. Because like the auto mechanic, they saw no money to be made, and did what most mechanics do, they simply did enough to keep it functioning and not much else. I have come to call that the “ownership mentality.”
Now look around you at the state of everything in the Philippines. It has been allowed to develop just like the mechanics vehicle. It works, but it is run down. In a poor state of repair. Everywhere you go you see this in almost every situation.
The infrastructure falls apart and breaks before it gets maintained. Water, electricity, telecommunications, traffic, buildings, schools and hospitals. All are consistently like this. Yet the few that are not are the exception.
This has become the norm within the Philippines. The people had been brought up to accept that as the standard. Suddenly, along came people like former President Ferdinand Marcos who saw opportunity to milk the America for its aid and the cycle was complete. In fact when Marcos tried to buck the system they started working on getting him tossed out. Why else would anyone believe they allowed a Dictator to remain here? Because it suited them to do so. But when he started to act independently, they began turning the wheels to have him removed.
Even after EDSA1 nothing changed. The People Power movement which was allegedly led by Cory Aquino simply exchanged one Dictator for a newer version of Democratic Dictatorship which the people blindly followed, and the “ownership mentality” simply had a new manager in place to manage America’s asset.
Everything and everyone since had simply followed that lead. Until along came Rodrigo Duterte.
As Mayor of Davao, he has watched all this roll out from his city in the South. He has watched the US troops come in with their wonderful technology, while the local troops who were fighting a war against terror right on his door step, were compelled to make do with hand me downs and other inferior equipment. He saw his people at the grass roots being treated as second class citizens in his own country. These consequences, coupled with the saddest part of the previous 70+ years where there has been a succession of Filipino leadership who accepted this treatment, are in my view the main reason why the Philippines has slowly fallen behind.
Now with President Duterte, the world and the Philippines are in shock. But I believe he’s absolutely dead right, even down to his blunt and at times crude way of telling the world about it. The days of foreign aid being the tool of suppression are about to end, and the previous beneficiaries are in uproar, scrambling to make the new President look bad at every opportunity. The hang on every word he speaks so as to twist and distort them in an attempt to belittle and make him look foolish or even wrong and dangerous as they scramble to find a way to have him removed from office.
And America is in distress.
It is so ingrained in this “ownership mentality” where the Philippines is concerned, they do not know what to do as the new President goes about disconnecting from their so called benevolence and seeks to stand alone without the fawning interfering hand of the US in every aspect of Philippine life. If you have any doubts about this condescending approach, think back to Obamas shot at Duterte at the recent Asean Summit in Laos, where he made the remark that he wanted to ensure that the Philippines was dealing with its drug war and human rights in the “right way.”
About as insulting a tone as it can get. Talking down to the Philippine leader as if he owned him is the impression it left with me. It just confirmed for me that the U.S. still believes they own the Philippines and I have heard or seen nothing since that shows me any different.
Written and compiled by: Trever Bailey and Lance Sterling