For two straight days, the lights on the Empire State Building in New York City were blue, red and yellow, the colors of the Philippines, as a sign of support for Filipinos and the Philippines during their recovery from Super Typhoon Yolanda. New York City has a very large Filipino-American community, a community which has contributed greatly to the city and state of New York. The relationship between the United States of America and the Philippines has been solidly bonded for more than 100 years.
One of my favorite Americans in history is General Douglas MacArthur, who had a deep love and respect for the Philippines and the Filipino people. In the old Manila Hotel, on the top floor is the General Douglas MacArthur Suite, where the old General lived in Manila in the late 1930s and early 1940s. MacArthur actually retired from the US Army in 1937 and he became the Field Marshall of the Philippine Army. However, he was called back to active duty in the US Army in 1941 and he became the Commander in Chief of the US Army in the Far East. In 1942, when the fall of the Philippines was close at hand, General Douglas MacArthur was ordered by President Roosevelt to flee to Australia. MacArthur delivered his famous words to the Filipinos, “I Shall Return!” When the General and his forces landed in Leyte, Philippines in October of 1944, he had indeed returned to defeat the Japanese Military! That year, a young local beauty queen sang for the General and she was known as the The Rose of Tacloban. The Rose was none other than Imelda Marcos! Today, Imelda Marcos is age 84 and she is an elected Congresswoman representing Ilocos Norte, the home of her late husband, Ferdinand Marcos.
We are Cousins
A famous Philippine politician said a few years ago, “Like it or not, Filipinos and Americans are cousins!” At times, it has been a love-hate relationship, especially when 12 nationalistic senators in the Philippines voted not to renew the US-Philippines Military Bases Agreement in the early 1990s. Cory Aquino was the President of the Philippines at that time and she lobbied to retain the US Bases but the votes of 12 Senators ended the 100 year agreement! To this very day, many Filipinos refer to those 12 Senators, whose votes killed the US Bases, as “The Dirty Dozen!”
There are hired crowds by militant organizations in the Philippines to stage demonstrations in front of the US Embassy in Manila on a regular basis but this protest is not the sentiment of the majority of Filipinos. They like Americans! Many even love Americans!
Typhoon Yolanda Relief
The USA wasted no time in providing military personnel, equipment, relief supplies and aid money to the Philippines after Tacloban and other areas of the country were devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda. Many other countries around the round world also rallied together concerning this terrible disaster, providing much needed emergency disaster aid in various forms.
CNN reporter Anderson Cooper received flak from some locals because he reported the true conditions of Ground Zero in Tacloban and he asked the question, “Who is in charge here?” As in many countries, politics is involved in most everything and some in the Philippines took it personally. Like it or not, things could have been done much differently before and immediately after Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated the Philippines. However, it is time for unity in the country and time for everyone to put aside political affiliations and personal feelings to work together in rebuilding the hard hit areas. We can do it… together!