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FIL-AM PRESS

Houston Texas

March 2007 Issue

THE WAY I SEE IT

A BUNDLE OF CONTRADITIONS

I am always baffled watching the behavior of Filipino-Americans during the quadrennial American electoral process leading to the presidential election in November. Their gut reaction to the recurrent issues of the day usually runs counter to what you would expect of people of their background, social and economic standing, ethnic identity, and their own indisputable economic interests. The 2008 national election is no exception, and even more extraordinary. For the first time in the history of this country, they can relate and lay claim to some connection to the Democratic party standard bearer, Barrack Obama. Yet, they are joining his enemies in big business and the extreme right who are distorting his life story, grumbling against black empowerment, and heaping scorn upon his audacity. They do not even appreciate the historic meaning of his candidacy, and oblivious of what it signifies when America breaks from the past when only white male candidates were in the running. Being Hawaiian-born, Obama grew-up and went to high school with children of Asian immigrants, including Filipinos. As president, he should be more attentive to their concerns. He knows Filipinos on a personal basis in Hawaii . And when the new First Family gets along well with the retired Filipino servicemen working in the White House, the bond will even be further reinforced. Such affinity of Obama with Filipinos should have been a good reason to make him become popular to Filipino-Americans. But paradoxically, it would not be so. Something in their experience has made Filipino-Americans easy prey to the politics of fear and personal destruction. How else can you explain educated people swallowing, hook, line and sinker, the hoax that he’s Muslim? They have been tricked and misguided by unreasonable prejudice, inexplicable self-righteousness and misplaced religious convictions. Well, folks, I have something that's not news to you. Obama is not your typical black person you meet in some work place! The Filipino-Americans have become a bundle of contradictions. Everywhere Filipino-Americans gather, you’ll hear this symphony of ill-will, and they actively circulate e-mails of hate, disparaging his racial identity and all that he stands for. Sometimes I amuse myself looking at the identities of the e-mail posters and forwarders to see if they’re really fair-skinned, better looking, more industrious, and in possession of higher moral values than the blacks I know. Obviously, they didn’t look in the mirror first to check themselves before indulging in name calling a kettle black. Right now, the Filipino Veterans Equity Act is still languishing in the US Congress. When this bill was navigated perilously back and forth in the House of Representatives and the Senate, it's sail had been wind powered by overwhelmingly Democratic support. You can hardly find Republican names in the list of congressional supporters. Much as they may have probably tried, the Filipino-American Republicans couldn’t get the Republicans in the US Congress to come to their aid. Instead of being incensed for being spurned, and made to look silly calling themselves Republicans even when ignored, they still work loyally in the Republican vineyard, just like pets staying put despite owner abuse. What fortitude and patience of Job, or commitment to some kind of ideology, to suffer such ignominious embarrassment! It’s really amazing that they don’t see the contradiction of staying (or voting)Republican and still be true to the self-interest of average Americans. Making the rounds in the cyberspace nowadays are postings mocking Barrack Obama’s unusual name. What is forgotten here is that if the standard of acceptable American name is something like McCain or Edwards, Filipino-Americans will be worst off in the line-up in a way that their children will have no chance of getting elected US president. People will be making fun of their children’s family names, like, the Spanish words Maricon (gay), Raquitico (weakling), Decerdo (from pigs), Esclavo, etc; and others, like, Dimaporo, Dimataga, Cojuangco, Calaycay, Patay, Trillanes (-in-Manila) . Then you get these fabricated e-mails, thoughtfully forwarded to you. They come with triumphant notes of the senders, who seem to say that they have found something that would expose Obama as a baby killer because he’s pro-choice; a Muslim, because he attended school in Indonesia; unpatriotic, because his plane does not display the American flag; he’s getting money from terrorists, because of an unverified fabricated article; or that he has relatives in Kenya who look ugly, poor, malnourished, and not guapo (like the profiteering George W’s brod, Neil Bush) enough to be a brother or relative of a US president. Those among you who have no relatives who are not guapo/guapa, like what you think you are, or looking like drug dealers, please step forward. (hehehehehe) When supposedly good Christians go into this fabricating business, your belief in American fair play is challenged. And when you see esteemed friends believing such fabrications, which ordinarily belong to the trash can, you’ll begin to doubt the level of intelligence and decency in this country. Just a few days, I came across an e-mail entitled The Obama Tidal Wave, which has been forwarded in cyberspace for the nth time. Among the names I spotted having a hand in passing the posting around are accountants, nurses, doctors, bankers, and even pastors. I cut and pasted some of the objections the e-mail passers have against an Obama presidency, because, among others: “he supports affirmative action in Colleges and Government (quotas); his religious convictions are very murky; supports universal health-care; wants to make the minimum wage a 'living wage'; believes in the separation of church and state; opposes to any efforts to Privatize Social Security and instead supports increasing the amount of tax paid into Soc. Sec. Tax; wants to raise the Capital Gains Tax.” These are issues important to the self-interest and well-being of all average Americans. Yet, ordinary Filipino-Americans, who are not known to be rich, or have become wealthy only through thrift and hard work, all of whom have been living off selling their bodies in the labor market, are turning against Obama because he is for programs that work for ordinary Americans. That’s tangled reasoning, a contradiction, a declaration against interest.

(lopelindio@aol. com)

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