When a Fil-Am sees Biden with Marcos – plus my OJ memory
Emil Amok!

When a Fil-Am sees Biden with Marcos – plus my OJ memory

The Philippines was imperial America’s first colony, first conquest. But now the past is set aside for this historic trilateral summit
/ 10:36 PM April 15, 2024

Trilateral summit

President Joe Biden, center, speaks alongside Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., left, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida before a trilateral meeting in the East Room the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Dr. Thelma Reyes of New York, who does house calls, came to see me do my show with her whole family. “I’m bringing more,” she told me afterwards.

After she saw me, the doctor, a University of the Philippines, Class of ’72 grad, pronounced me healthy.

Actually her word was, “Phenomenal.”

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Dr. Reyes said the show covered “very important issues on target. Keep soaring Emil Amok.”

My one-man show “Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host, Wiley Filipino, Vegan Transdad” is part of the New York City Fringe/Under St Marks Theater and has just two more shows left Friday and Sunday.



But you don’t have to be Ilocano to come to the show. You don’t even have to be in New York.


If you’re in California, Hawaii, or Pangasinan,  you can stream it live from home.


While in New York, I’m still working as a journalist, viewing the world from an American Filipino lens.

This week, I was taken by an image that should help you find, or at least confirm, just how American Filipino you are in 2024.

It’s a photo of Biden, Marcos and Kishida.

That’s not a law firm but an historic public bonding for all to see, especially China.

It’s the historic image of Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida together with President Joe Biden at the first-ever trilateral meeting between the three countries at the White House last week.

And while as a Filipino Asian American who still has family in the Philippines, including  Ilocos Norte, the Filipino province of Marcos, when I look at that picture, there is no doubt as to where my allegiances are.

I’m with Joe.

There’s no better person in this context. He’s our horse.

At this point, there’s none better.

Especially when you see another picture from just this week of the man who wants to be president again, Donald Trump.

That guy is the first president in history to face a criminal trial  on 34 counts related to hush money to a porn star over an alleged affair in an effort to keep embarrassing news from voters just months before an election. It raises the stakes to election interference.

Meantime, Biden is the first president in history to form a trilateral summit to help the Philippines.

Choose the best historical moment for America.

The picture of Biden with Marcos is one of those obvious not so obvious observations that we take for granted, and that  sometimes takes a while to sink in.

Strip away everything and what we have is an image of a person who looks like us.

But our allegiance is with the white man. The president of the United States.

This is what it means to be Filipino Asian American.

Politics and history complicate things, of course. At a ceremony in the White House with the Japanese leader this week, even Biden commented how things have changed.

“Just a few generations ago, our two nations were locked in a devastating conflict,” Biden said referring to World War II. “It would have been easy to say we remain adversaries. Instead, we made a far better choice: We became the closest of friends.”

Despite a nuclear war head or two.

The same could be said of the history between the US and the Philippines, a major focus of my one-man show.  Just a few lost generations ago, the Philippines was imperial America’s first colony, first conquest. There were consequences. We feel it every day.

Thitu and the Spratlys

But now the past is set aside for this historic trilateral summit because Thitu Island is endangered.

Thitu, part of the Spratly Islands, owned by the Philippines, looked upon as devourable by China, is a small island strip less than a mile long, but as any real estate person will tell you, it’s location, location, location.

It’s in a strategic part of the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as the Filipinos prefer.  China’s aggression has been ongoing for nearly a decade. It threatens peace not just in the Philippines but the entire region. I’ve been writing about the Spratly Islands for years as a potential flash point.

And now there’s no question, China’s bullying presence in the area have the lights flashing red.  Despite an international ruling in the Hague rejecting China’s claims over the Spratlys, China continues to big foot the region.

Enter the United States.

As China persists in its aggression, a reminder is needed for all the world to see.

At the meetings on Thursday, Biden told the leaders of both countries that the US military commitments to Japan and to the Philippines are “ironclad.”

What emerged was the stark contrast: An alliance of the US, Japan and the Philippines as the paragon of democracy in the region versus the authoritarian communism of China.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to put Thitu and the Spratlys on your radar now.

Taiwan isn’t the only island that could spark a major conflict

Die-hard Filipino or Japanese nationalists may reject the symbolism of the US coming in as Big Brother to the rescue.

But as Filipino Asian Americans, our hope should be for peace in the region, and for support of the two largest democracies in Asia.

It’s a special plus when we have blood ties to the lands to which the US provides aid.

Coverage gets bumped by OJ

I was really hoping for more coverage of the trilateral summit on television.  In the past, when the Philippines was propped up by the US through the Reagan-Bush years, there were demonstrators every time Marcos’s father came to the US.

Marcos was a dictator supported by US dollars. Marcos Jr. is the president of a democracy. Big difference.

But there are still questions about how the family was rehabilitated back into power and how it enriched itself by looting the Philippines. But the tiger changed its stripes. And now it needs US military help.

We’re lucky to get a glimpse of Marcos and Biden and Kishida in the news. Last week, it was eclipsed by the breaking news of the death of O.J. Simpson.

Before there was a Trump, we had O.J. to polarize our society. In 1995, when I was a radio talk host, O.J. could light up the phones.

I won’t go over the case now. But I do remember how O.J. was for many of us, our law school. Court was in session on TV, and we found out the difference between a criminal case (where O.J. was acquitted) and a civil one (where O.J. had no 5th Amendment cloak, had to testify and was found liable for the murders).

We also learned about that high bar for prosecutors in our system – “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

O.J. got karmic justice later when he served 9 years for robbery and kidnapping in Nevada.

But my memories of O.J. come as a kid growing up in San Francisco. I went to the same junior high school as O.J.  My father was 50 years older than me, so we didn’t communicate. I sought out surrogates. O.J. was one of them. He played football, so did I (Pop Warner MVP). He was always held up in our school as the role model as a Heisman winner out of USC. He was a kid who transcended the hood. And he lived beyond race. He would say, “I’m not black, I’m not white, I’m O.J.”

I know I wasn’t the only one who saw him as the ratrole model. O.J. was always the role model, until the juice went bad.

I mention O.J. in my comic one-man show about my American Filipino life, “Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host, Wiley Filipino, Vegan Transdad.”  Come see it in New York City live or at home via livestream.

Just two shows left; April 19th, Fri. 8:10 p.m. eastern; April 21st, Sun. 5:20 p.m. eastern.

94 St Marks Place in Manhattan’s East Village as part of the NYC Fringe Festival.


Use the sliding scale, no one will be turned away because of the price of a ticket.

One of the audience members, Dr Reyes, the Filipina who immigrated to the US 40 years ago and now a proud American, admitted that she didn’t know half of the American Filipino history I share in my show.

Few people do.

It’s all in “Emil Amok, Lost NPR Host, Wiley Filipino, Vegan Transdad.”

Emil Guillermo, a journalist and commentator, is also a columnist for Inquirer.net’s USA Channel. He hosted NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Contact him at www.amok.com

Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
TAGS: Bongbong Marcos, Featured, President Biden, US-Philippine relations
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.