|Photo from Forbes.com|
We watched the campaign and followed their tweets. Their pick up lines and epic memes filled our timelines and feeds. And throughout today, we held our breaths with fingers crossed, until Barack Obama won and Mitt Romney lost.
But this was not the United States of America. This was in the Republic of the Philippines.
It’s undeniable how much this election has affected the Filipino nation more than the Americans themselves. After all, we’ve got 4 million of our own kind in the Land of the Free and growing, steadily making their mark in American history and culture. Such is our significance in the US that we even saw some Filipino-Americans vie for public office or the Tagalog signage in some polling places. Here at home, given the almost 50 years of American presence, this US election simply reminds us of our brief and distant interloping with American politics and heritage, the same way we are reminded by our fascination for all things stateside. Most of us grew up learning more about DC or Marvel comic book heroes than our own local patriots. Who doesn’t get an iPhone or iPad from relative/benefactor in NY or LA? Even I get to receive a balikbayan box from Sacramento at least once a year filled with all the bits and pieces of the American dream. Call it colonial mentality or whatever you want but you cannot deny the special relationship Filipinos have with America. Hence, it is only normal that we feel mesmerized, even captivated by each twist and turn in this election.
But there is more to scratch in the surface of our jubilation. There is more at stake here, especially for the millions employed in call centers and other business process outsourcing companies. For customer service representatives, copywriters, graphic artists, and other workers relying on subcontracted work from the US, this could spell disaster as four more years for Obama could mean a waning of job opportunities this sector has relied so much on. For thousands of Filipino TNTs (illegal immigrants), this means having to dig deeper foxholes to avoid tighter immigration policies knowing that Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than his predecessor. It does shed some light though on the future of immigrant children born in the US, as the re-elected president promised the passage of the DREAM ACT giving amnesty and opportunities to alien minors.
Notwithstanding our expectations, we were also awed by the American practice of democracy and became green with envy at how orderly and mature their elections were. Not that the candidates are actually mature with all the berating and mudslinging, but at least (unlike here) they stuck to policy issues and not on candidates’ psychological records or the authenticity of their humble backgrounds. It’s like standing side-by-side and seeing the parallels between them and ourselves. Nobody gets a bullet in his head for defying the political status quo; no one is sourgraping when the final results are shown on tivo. We are all dreamers today, outside looking in, wondering at why we can’t make the same system work without so much of a glitch. We were all students, taking notes of lessons to apply on our own.
At the end of the day, we all went home thinking once again that America is the greatest nation on Earth and we are just a bunch of islands in the Pacific. But deep within our psyche lies a determination to define what this nation is: that we are more than just the sum of our colors or land masses. That we are the Republic of the Philippines. And there is no better way to determine that than by consecrating ourselves to our sacred duty of voting judicious candidates in our upcoming elections.