♠ Posted by Emmanuel in Southeast Asia at 7/16/2014 01:30:00 AM
|They shall return...and return and return...|
The US and the Philippines have a tense relationship when it comes to security matters. After all, the US occupied the Philippines in 1898 and stayed there until 1946 after the Spanish-American war, delaying Philippine independence for nearly half a century. Americans are not like European imperialists? You must be joking. Even during the postwar era, US forces in the Philippines remained at Clark Air Field and Subic Naval Base until the last left in 1992, when lawmakers told them to go. Since the Cold War was over and done with, neither side thought much of it at the time.
Fast-forward to this decade when the Philippines finds itself in a quandary over what to do with the increasingly belligerent Chinese. On one hand, it has wisely chosen not to spend too much on defense and focus more on development. OTOH, having China pick away territories so close by nearly at will is galling. What to do? Approaching the Americans is probably better than doing nothing. That said, the Yanks' legacy remains widely debated. Even the official military publication Stars and Stripes acknowledges leaving mounds of toxic waste behind care of the US armed forces. Alas, there is also the social toll of having service personnel in large numbers stationed for so long:
Despite one study estimating there are as many as 250,000 Amerasians and their offspring in the Philippines, they are a largely forgotten community. Their plight, however, is gaining fresh attention with the United States preparing to deploy thousands of soldiers back to the Philippines as part of its ”pivot” to Asia.Filipinos are remarkably fond of their former colonizers despite the many slights they have endured by this association. Consider, for instance, the unwillingness of the US to allow the children of service personnel to immigrate, Miss Saigon style, to America:
Clark Air Base in Angeles city and the Subic Naval Base in nearby Olongapo — about two hours’ drive north of Manila — were vital Pacific theater operations for the American military for nearly half a century. Both played crucial roles as logistics and repair hubs for US forces during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s, with Clark also serving as a launch pad for bomb attacks.
In 1982, the US government passed the Amerasian Immigration Act that gave preferential immigration status to children born to US service personnel in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and South Korea. However the law focused on countries most directly involved in the Vietnam conflict and the Korean War of 1950-1953, and excluded children born in the Philippines as well as those in Japan where there were also huge US bases.With an another extended US tour of duty in the Philippines in the offing, fears of another lost generation are widespread:
Attempts by various groups to have Filipino Amerasians included have failed, a cause of much anger and confusion. Philippine Amerasian Research Center head Peter Kutschera said the US government never explained why they were left out. He said it was ”hypocritical” to include Thailand, where there was no direct conflict, but exclude the Philippines.
The Philippine government is expected to seal the deal late this year to welcome US soldiers back to Subic and other bases. Filipino leaders have hailed the defense pact as an important plank in its effort to fend off an increasingly assertive China, which is expanding its presence in contested South China Sea waters near the Philippines.Americans are exceedingly fond of messing up other places and leaving others to clean up their mess. In the Philippines, the cycle is about to begin anew.
But on the fringes of the Filipino bases, there are fears the US soldiers will plant another baby time bomb that will cause many more generations of pain. ”Many (new Amerasians) over time will become the abandoned, forsaken offspring of soldiers and contractors,” Kutschera said.