Filipino bloggers compare US and Philippines politics

Lauded as America’s democratic model in Asia, it is then of no surprise that the Philippines is keeping a close eye on the race to the White House. It may even be insightful to say that when it comes to politics, the Philippines – a former colony of the superpower – is just like the US. Even as politicians change, the system remains very much the same; the voting participation is quite the same; ideological views (and their marginalization) are the same; and the structure of government itself is the same.

With this in mind, bloggers in the Philippines say they can’t help but compare US politics with events happening at home. To them, there are just too many similarities, including the fact that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and President George W Bush are both children of former presidents. But when it comes to who should be the next US president, Filipinos seem to be have taken a “let’s sit back and just observe” attitude.

Filipino Christian blogger, writer and songwriter Ganns Deen wrote in his blog (GMA Should Finish Her Term) that the Philippines could still learn a lot from the American elections.

“Allow me to steal a line from US Senator Barack Obama, who has struck a chord with many Americans on the basis of his ‘politics of change’. Obama has built his campaign on the ‘audacity of hope’. His is ‘a politics of common sense, of common purpose, of shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.

“If (Filipinos) cannot trust our politicians to put the nation first, to share in our sacrifice, and to use common sense in their day-to-day business (i.e. not rob us blind) so we can all share in the resulting prosperity, then we ourselves would do well to ensure we the people do not put these so-called public servants in power.
“A public servant whose heart is in the right place will not tolerate corruption. Period.

“So what does this bode for the USA in light of the impending economic recession? Regardless of what happens come the end of 2008, America will have a president who will do her/his darndest to bring Republicans and Democrats together to forge an alliance of hope. President Barack Obama, President Hillary Rodham Clinton, or President John McCain will usher in an era of change and hope; undoing most of the damage wrought by the years of sheer lunacy under the leadership of George Bush the Younger.”

Deen shared that Obama was doing the US a favor by running for president even going further by calling the candidate “a breath of fresh air” who has challenged Washington’s “stuffy closed-door image”.

“Regardless of whether or not he wins, he – and Hillary – have galvanized the United States primaries, sending waves through America that this is going to be a whole new ball game, a brand new road, something historic is in the making here. Obama’s agenda of hope, his meteoric rise to the top of American politics, and his feel-good rhetoric may not be the most practical in the world, but it speaks to America. He’s made Hillary work doubly hard for her victories; he’s challenged Washington’s stuffy closed-door image; he’s a breath of fresh air. I don’t doubt his sincerity for making America a better place; I wish I could say the same for Filipino politicians. I wish I could paint a rosier picture for Philippine politics.”

Ben Pimentel, whose site Kuwento Kuwento is one of the leading Filipino blogs around, once joked that Filipinos would love for Obama to win the race to the White House because he looked ‘Pinoy’ (slang for Filipino). However, he takes on a more serious note in his latest entry where he said that Filipinos may not want Obama as president simply because he’s black.

“My wife Mara and I have been ecstatic about the idea of Barack Obama as the first person of color to become president of the United States. But she sadly pointed out something recently: Chances are that many Filipinos will not vote for a black person. I hope she’s wrong. But there’s a basis for her concern.

”Take the results of the California Democratic primary which was won by Hillary Clinton. Obama won decisively among whites and African Americans. But Clinton won overwhelmingly among Latinos voters by a 2-to-1 margin. And, in the biggest surprise of the contest, she also won even more convincingly, 3 to 1, among Asians.

”Where did this resentment come from? The past has some answers. Historically, blacks and Asians have been pitted against each other. After the Civil War, newspapers and public officials portrayed immigrant Chinese workers as more obedient and industrious than the newly freed blacks whom they replaced on plantations in the South.”

But according to Deebs Neebs, Filipinos should bask in the glory of Obama – because if he can do it, then maybe one day an Asian American can run for president, too.

“Gobama, Obamaniac, Barak the Vote knows no borders. All children of the earth bask equally in his glow. Oo pwedeng tayo! (Yes maybe one day we can run, too!) Or something like that. Pinoys go gaga over Obama.”

The Obama-Clinton campaigns have caught the attention of Ang Peregrino, who wishes that similar campaigns were held in the Philippines.

“I hope Filipino candidates would really begin to challenge the sensibilities and intelligence of people and not just do the safe sloganeering, dance-and-sing type of ads.

“The ads really do reflect on the constituency they're trying to reach. So that the ads may actually be a real reflection of Philippine society and how politicians (or at least their spin doctors) perceive the electorate. Sometimes, their ads insult the intelligence of Filipinos. And yet I continue to hope against hope that I would get to see real issues being tackled in political ads instead of just focusing on the person or the “celebrity” of the politician.”

For Julia Aquino it is the “bickering” of Obama and Clinton that has caught her attention and how McCain, after securing the Republican nod, can now just sit back and watch the two fight over the Democratic nomination.

“As time goes by, even the closest couples sometimes struggle to find new things to talk about. So it was no surprise that during their 20th and final debate, Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama struggled to say anything that supporters haven't already heard them say many, many times during their daily stump speeches and 19 other showdowns.

“Barack Obama gives as good as he gets, and says there's no whining in politics. The night began with a tense exchange in which Clinton accused Obama of dirty tricks over a mailing she said he's distributed in Ohio that she said mischaracterized her healthcare plan and stance on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Obama shot back with an assertion that, “I have endured over the course of this campaign repeatedly negative mailing from Senator Clinton in Iowa, in Nevada and other places suggesting that I want to leave 15 million people out [of my healthcare plan] … Senator Clinton — [or] her campaign, at least — has constantly sent out negative attacks on us, e-mail, robo-calls, flyers, television ads, radio calls, and we haven't whined about it because I understand that's the nature of this campaigns.”

”The biggest difference between them on the issue they say is the most important one, healthcare, is … well, we're still not sure Obama admitted that 95 percent of his and Clinton's healthcare plans are the same, so the bitter back-and-forth over how many people would be left behind in Obama's plan, or who many would be forced to pay for a plan under Clinton, was kind of pointless.

“Neither of them is willing to kick NAFTA to the curb on Day One, or commit to re-invade Iraq if things fall apart after our pull troops out When Russert asked Clinton and Obama to commit to pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement within six months of taking office, both said they would put Mexico and Canada on notice, but pledged to renegotiate the treaty, not scrap it. Both also were noncommittal about sending American troops back to Iraq if the situation deteriorates after US troops pull out under their presidencies.”

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