In Trump times, American Filipinos no longer outraged by Duterte
A friend of mine just came back for the medical care. He was in the Philippines for three months. But he’s back. Typical American Filipino these days.
My friends, who are dual citizens, go back and forth to the United States from the Philippines all the time like it’s just a long, extended commute. No different from Marcos times? Only these aren’t jet- setters. They’re regular folks.
Some are younger who have businesses in both places; but many are on good solid U.S. pensions and retirement funds, willing to live the 52x life.
Last I checked that’s how many pesos you get to a dollar. And, of course, that’s discounting the black market.
Sixteen hours from the west coast to Manila is a long way to go to stretch a buck. But it’s worth it when a modest pension plus Social Security could net you easily around $50,000 a year.
Can you live off P2.6 million pesos a year in Makati?
Probably not like a Saudi prince. But just like a Saudi prince, you can hire a Filipino family to work for you, and just to assuage the guilt, treat them extra nice.
And that’s the equation American Filipinos, Baby Boomers, are considering these days.
You’ve protested all your life for a better Philippines from afar. Over the years, you’ve railed against Marcos, against the bases, against everything unnaturally American and colonial in the ancestral home.
And now it’s time to ask, is it time to go back? Does it matter anymore?
The headlines are still stark. In the Philippines, they kill journalists. They shoot innocents over drugs. And the people love Duterte, Mr. Law and Order.
Worse yet, the president of the United States praises Duterte whenever he gets a chance.
Trump is the best PR for Duterte.
He not only mentions Duterte as if he’s a role model, Trump also sets the moral standard for the world.
What’s that tell you?
If you haven’t noticed, the U.S. is having a hard time being a standard bearer for anything. Morality? Are you kidding? Democracy?
Despite the slogan he pimps with glee, Donald Trump has only succeeded in transforming the U.S. into a laughing stock, not the iconic symbol of Democracy, not the world’s moral leader, Trump has turned the U.S. into Trumpville.
It’s not America first, it’s Trump first, and a lack of familiarity in either government or diplomacy has plummeted the U.S. to a status that is above banana republic, but well below “world leader” status.
In the past the inequality that exists in the U.S. has made it more and more like the Philippines. When society is divided at one percent vs. the remaining 99 percent, the American Middle Class that was the showcase of U.S. equality is no more. The shape of society starts looking like the R of P.
There were other things to keep the analogy from self-completion. We still had decent public officials and elected leaders.
But now with Trump we end up with the one man wrecking crew and disruptor of democracy. Putin’s man, with the help of Facebook.
And Trump is clueless. After sanctions were placed on Russia this week for meddling in U.S. elections, Trump showed no scorn toward Putin. What did he do? Congratulate Putin on his automatic election victory, reminiscent of an election win by a Marcos or a Saddam Hussein.
And of course that would be a much bigger deal were it not for the ongoing Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump, Russia and the possibility that the president obstructed justice.
Already some Watergate figures are saying this is worse than Nixon. And indeed it will get worse if Trump acts on rumors that he is about to fire Mueller.
And show the world he is above the law? That Trump really wasn’t joking about Xi’s life time presidency in China, or Dutete’s iron hand. Trump wants all that himself in America as president.
That my friends will be the constitutional crisis in the U.S. that the country may not recover from.
Everything else is just part of the snowball in hell. The unbelievable happening before us.
Take the latest revelation, that America is led by a man who subverts the First Amendment by having his friends who own media companies buy the rights to the stories of his porn star and playmate mistresses in order to buy their silence. That’s how suppression of the truth works in high places.
That would be a major scandal were it not for the fall of democracy itself.
Another day in Trumpville.
No wonder my Filipino friends love to fly back to the RP. After they get their meds filled, taxes done, and kissed the grandkids, the Philippines even under Duterte seems relatively stable and simple compared with the U.S. under Trump.
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He writes a column for the Inquirer’s North American Bureau. Follow on https://www.twitter.com/emilamok Listen to his podcasts on iTunes.