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This book is the result of many conversations with Filipinos about Philippine-American history over the past few years. Many Filipinos seem to believe the United States is a “shining city on the hill”, a helpful big brother who has acted in the interests of the Filipino people.
A similar view of Philippine-American history is repeated in textbooks and official pronouncements, usually describing the “deep bond of friendship” between the two nations and listing the wonders which the United States has provided to the Philippines: an American-style public education system, English as an important national language, and most importantly, an American-style democratic government. The Philippines seemingly has much to be grateful for from its benevolent and powerful American neighbor.
The problem with this version of history is that it ignores key elements in the shared history of the two nations: a history of brutal, racialized violence during the American conquest of the Philippines during the Philippine-American War; the dictatorial American rule during the colonial period;
United States economic exploitation for the past 114 years; and continued American intervention in the domestic affairs of the Philippines during the years since the 1946 granting of independence. The two countries have been bound tightly together for a long time, but it was never a consensual relationship and the power dynamics have always been grossly unequal. The true history of the United States and the Philippines is the immoral withholding of one nation’s sovereignty by another.
Yes, the United States has done some good work in the Philippines, including creation of schools and hospitals. But every student of Philippine history must make their own judgment in assessing how the blessings bestowed by the United States upon the Philippines balance against the damage it has also inflicted.
The chronic socio-economic crisis of the Philippines is largely due to to the inability of the country to escape its colonial past. This book is targeted to young Filipino readers, who deserve to know the truth about that past so they can participate in the creation of a liberated Philippines. I have tried to tell the story using readily-available information in a simple style. I hope readers will find this an easy-to-read and engaging history of Philippine-American history.
April 15, 2013