The audience for this piece is not Filipinos in general. It is opinion leaders: senators, journalists, bloggers, people who influence the values and attitudes of the Philippines. The purpose of satire, of sarcasm, of ridicule is to present ideas, to open minds through humor and jibe. It is not to hurt or insult or embarrass. President Obama's dramatic victory speech was a classic statement of American values. It stands as a standard against which Philippine values can be measured. It is up to Philippine leaders, and those who influence leaders, to decide if existing values are okay, or if something needs to change. Or if JoeAm is simply a crank troll.
America, you are a delight to watch from afar.
For this year's presidential election, the battle forces were starkly drawn:
- Republican: White rednecks from rural areas, businessmen and Filipino Americans who aspire to be white rednecks.
- Democrat: Mexicans, blacks, poor urban dwellers, educated people, old folks, homosexuals, Hollywood stars, empty chairs and Bruce Springsteen.
Obama teased us with that sleepy performance in the first debate because he was bored. He needs a fight, you see. Like a pick-up basketball game. A challenge.
And the only reason the race was close is because Americans are tired of being insecure. Tired of carrying around the loss of trillions dollars of their wealth caused by the Bush global economic meltdown. Obama was a hero, after all, saving planet earth from an economic collapse. All the Republicans did was gripe because he didn't let GM go bankrupt.
The President does not control everything. He does not control the House of Representatives. Boehner does. That oily, back-stabbing low-life of a House leader who would sell his mother for a vote. Just like Pelosi. The U.S. Congress is stuffed with partisan idiots like that, of no distinguished diplomatic talent.
But at least they won't sue me for libel for having a hard opinion.
Indeed, American values are so far from Philippine values that they are beyond the horizon.
- Brand A: A dynamic president pounding the podium and declaring argument and criticism a good thing, and touting a word called liberty. From many voices, many ethnicities, many ideas - one grand nation.
- Brand P: A quiet guy shriveling back from press criticism and touting a word called libel. From the voice of authority, order - and a nation sealed in time.
We can see the stunning difference by using the Obama speech as a mirror. By reflecting Philippine reactions off of Obama's brilliant, charismatic oratory.
Obama: We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers – a country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation – with all of the good jobs and new businesses that follow.
Philippines: We believe more babies are needed, even if we can't educate them or give them jobs. At least when they go to Dubai, they send a lot of money back.
Obama: We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened up by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.
Philippines: Hey, look at us. We are almost investment grade, and you are at the fiscal cliff! Nyahhh nyahhhh! No housing bubble for us. And never mind about all those high rises going up over Manila, or the people borrowing out the nose to buy the condos in them. They'll pay back the loans. They said they would.
Obama: We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on Earth and the best troops this – this world has ever known – but also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.
Philippines: Got any used cutters we can have?
Obama: We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag – to the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner – to the furniture worker's child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president. That's the – that's the future we hope for.
Philippines: Keep immigrants out of here. They don't think right and smell funny. Just send us their money. And forget that opportunity horsehockey, we reserve that for our name families, not some nameless kid on the south side of anywhere. We love our dynasties. They are so hysteri . . . I mean, historical.
Obama: Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It's not always a straight line. It's not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock, resolve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward.
Philippines: We are steady as a rock. We've gone nowhere for 125 years.
Obama: But that doesn't mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America's never been about what can be done for us; it's about what can be done by us together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That's the principle we were founded on.
Philippines: Blech. Nothing in it for us.
Obama: This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on Earth, the belief that our destiny is shared – that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, so that the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights, and among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great.
Philippines: We don't need no stinkin' immigrants and we believe bloggers should be jailed for libel, like for 12 years. Freedom is for the betters, not the lessers.
Obama: And tonight, despite all the hardship we've been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I've never been more hopeful about our future. I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope.
Philippines: Our goal is not to work very hard unless we have to, you know, like when a storm knocks our town down.
Obama: I'm not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the road blocks that stand in our path. I'm not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.
Philippines: We believe in chicken fights, tele-dramas, white skin, tuba and Manny Pacquiao. And that Filipina Jessica Sanchez.
Obama: America, I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunities and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you're willing to try.
Philippines: We believe you have to be born here to be a real Filipino, gays are living in sin, and we take care of those who take care of us. It's easier that way. And people should give us stuff. We believe in that, too.
Obama: I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.
Philippines: You arrogant war-mongers. Global warming is your fault. Please never mind all the plastic we throw into the ocean that is coagulating as a new island off Hawaii. Or the oceans we turn into deserts with dynamite and overfishing.
Obama: And together, with your help and God's grace, we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on earth. Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States.
Philippines: Yes! We're right with God, too!! Its more fun in the Philippines, and more sinful, too, but we are always forgiven for our transgressions. That's why it is more fun.
Cue confetti fall.
Cue confetti fall.