Are we really an independent nation?

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You are currently viewing Are we really an independent nation?

DEFINITELY not, especially in terms of the most important field that determines whether we are independent or not: our foreign relations.

Except for the six-year (or even five) hiatus after President Rodrigo Duterte declared his policy of “separating” from the US, and when President Gloria Arroyo in 2004 refused to participate anymore in the American illegal invasion of Iraq, we have always been the American toady in our relations with the world.

This is due to two irrefutable facts.

One, even in the most purported democratic countries, it is a political-economic elite that determines the basic features of that nation, whether it chooses to be truly independent or covertly dependent on some external power, may it be a superpower (the US) or a multilateral organization (e.g., the International Court of Justice, an ad hoc “arbitration panel”).

A recent demonstration of this was Duterte’s declaration of “separation” from the US at the start of his term. While that policy was mostly the result of his own personal experience and assessment that we have to break away from America, he still represented a faction of the political-economic elite. After that, enter President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., who reverses his predecessor’s policy.

Touché: The Manila Times editorial cartoon on June 13, 2023.

Again, while this may have been due to a great extent on Marcos’ personal proclivity (a few even attribute it to an ulterior motive), his decision was that of a different faction of the political-economic elite.

No referendum, no survey on what the people want; it really doesn’t work that way. Rather it is the official head of the state — chosen in that regular contest we call elections — representing a faction of the politico-economic elite that chooses whether we are independent of the US hegemon or not.


Second, our political-economic elite evolved in a most unique manner, so different from the ruling classes in Asia, especially Southeast Asian countries. Our elite has been the most acculturated, even assimilated, to the American culture and worldview.

Indeed, while the Americans massacred Filipinos opposing their invasion, they were serious about the so-called benevolent assimilation policy of converting the Philippine elite, as the historian Stanley Karnow put it as the title of his 1989 book, “In Our Image,” i.e, the US as purportedly a democracy-loving people. They installed a massive school system so Filipinos would speak American and internalize the American thinking, and to believe it is the most noble country on Earth. Thousands of Filipinos were sent to study in US universities.

We would have been a US state years ahead of Hawaii (in 1959) if not for the massive lobbying by American soybean and sugar-beet interests who wanted to end the entry of coconut oil and cane sugar that were the cheaper competitors for their products, and enjoyed duty-free status since we were an American colony. An officially independent Philippines, but covertly under US control, solved that problem for them. Mark Twain also proved the power of columnists (!) in his advocacy of Philippine independence.

It was easy enough to brainwash Filipinos, as their previous colonizer Spain had not attempted to acculturate their subjects to Hispanic culture but only converted them to Catholicism. Indeed, Spain really only had skeletal armed forces in the country and relied on the proselytizing skills of friars to conquer the indios. The British, French and Dutch colonizers of Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia did not attempt to assimilate these peoples into “their image,” as these nations had ancient civilizations they could hark to. Malaysia and Singapore inherited only the British legacy of efficient civil service, with their national identities molded — by decree — out of their Chinese and Malay heritages.


As a result, our politico-economic elites adore America, they wish to be Americans (attested by the fact that we are the fourth biggest migrant group in the US). They are culturally Americans, speaking the same language as them even from childhood; they take their advanced education (a prerequisite other than inheritance, to remain within the elite) in US Ivy League schools.

The elite read solely American-written fiction and non-fiction books, scholarly studies, and believe, falsely, that the Washington Post and the New York Times portray most accurately what’s happening in the world. This of course would have devastating consequences when we need to understand such a crucial issue — in which the US has a stake — as the South China territorial disputes.

I bet the late Albert del Rosario, the vocal anti-China critic Antonio Carpio and many others haven’t even read the analysis of this issue by European scholars, much less the comprehensive “The South China Sea Arbitration Awards: A Critical Study by the Chinese Society of International Law,” which the Oxford University Press saw fit to republish.

I belabor this point. Our elites, as that term long ago encapsulated, are “brown Americans,” the abbreviation for the Americans’ “little brown brothers,” coined by William Howard Taft, the first American governor-general of the Philippines who would be the 27th President of the United States. Unless one chooses to be so naïve about “democracy,” the masses simply follow the elite’s worldview.


With our elites being brown Americans, do you still wonder that our foreign policy has been utterly the foreign policy of the US? How can anyone rationally claim we are independent?

With the US worldview during the Cold War that the USSR and China were its enemies, these two countries were our enemies, to the extent of even risking being nuked because of the two US military facilities here.

After US President Nixon visited China in 1972 to establish diplomatic ties a few years later, our President Marcos followed suit in 1975. When the US waged war against the nationalist North Vietnam, the Philippines sent medical and even reconnaissance teams to assist the US’ special forces, with both former president Fidel Ramos and his former national security adviser Jose Almonte even boasting they were veterans of the Philippine Civic Action Group in Vietnam, the latter even bragging he had managed to infiltrate the Vietcong. When the US invaded Iraq in 2003 on the fabrication (proved totally wrong) that it had “weapons of mass destruction,” we joined its coalition of the willing.” (President Arroyo broke our servility to the US when she left that fake “coalition” in order to rescue from Islamic terrorists an OFW they had kidnapped.)

The Chinese reclaimed land around their small six reefs from 2012 to 2014 to make these into fortified artificial islands, in retaliation against the US-inspired arbitration suit by the Philippines that threatened to declare these small features as incapable of being owned by any country. Shocked by that blowback, the US asked the Philippines to allow the return of American bases to our country, in the cheaper form of temporary bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and to counter the Chinese fortifications. The government nodded immediately and allowed the US to use five facilities, including the international airport in Puerto Princesa in Palawan that faces the South China Sea.


When the US got newer intelligence information that China would forcibly recover its rogue state Taiwan in 2027, or before Chinese leader Xi Jinping steps down from power, the Americans asked for four additional EDCA facilities they could use, which as Duterte called these, “platforms for war.” Two of these in the northern provinces are obviously intended for the US’ quick deployment of their forces to Taiwan when China attempts to invade it.

China is the rising superpower that would end US hegemony in Asia, and if that happens it could ally with other rising superpowers (India for one) to make the US the equivalent of Great Britain after World War 2 — a second-rate superpower. Therefore the US must take down China, and justify such a campaign (intensified in 2009 by President Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” program) by portraying China as a “bully” out to grab South China Sea territories. The likes of del Rosario, even the former foreign policy secretary, our ambassador to the US, our local media, and even many academics have all jumped to follow the US propaganda line.

Yet some people still believe that these EDCA sites are intended to assist us in disaster-relief operations? Amazing. Or maybe not, given the near-total brainwashing of our elites to think like Americans.

Admittedly, this brainwashing into viewing the world with American eyes is so powerful, it isn’t easy to break out of this spell. I got to see through it largely because in my youth, I became a communist, a Marxist. Despite its deep flaws, and the fact that it has been, in the case of the Communist Party here a smokescreen for power-hungry romanticists led by the late Jose Ma. Sison, Marxism does point to the” black-cat anomalies” of the US worldview, which eventually, if examined closely, reveal its fallacies and intention to deceive.


Indeed, Marxism as a tool of analysis has been a respectable discipline even in the US and European academe, referred to as Marxian analysis or in its European variations the schools led by some renowned modern thinkers such as Georg Lukacs, Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse and Louis Althusser. These schools of thought, in fact, have become popular in Western universities. Our scholars in UP and Ateneo obviously found these difficult to understand that they have stuck to the decades-old liberal philosophies propounded by who else, American scholars.

And, of course, it’s been part of my work to study these issues rigorously, unlike most people, even the intelligent ones whose work has been to make money, who don’t have the time to do so, but pontificate on these controversies.

Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao

Twitter: @bobitiglao


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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Dorina S. Rojas

    If our educational system was patterned after US, then why do we lag behind even with our ASEAN neighbors? The Japanese who do not even speak English or teach them in their schools have the highest ranking based on job performance and efficiency. And yet, most of us who want to be brown Americans are not even welcome in US.

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