Touchdown in San Jose, CA. The weather outside is remarkably better than the hair-dryer air in Vegas. Pleasant. Comfortably cooler.
On the plane, I sat with a Pinay and her son. And, inevitably, as Filipinos do, after asking the question, “Pilipino po kayo?”, we started to talk. At first it was about where we were from, our kids, how we came to be in America, work and such things that make up what we call our lives. It wasn’t long before the topic veered towards politics. It couldn’t be helped really, especially when she found us being from Davao, and the newly elected president of the Philippines being the Mayor. Of course, it also wasn’t long before Trump came into the conversation. Seeing as how the Mayor is being constantly compared to the Republican nominee.
This came as a surprise because it never crossed our mind that some Filipinos here in America truly believe that Trump, like Mayor Duterte, who (because he does not come from the mainstream political world); and, therefore, like the mayor, would be a better choice than Hillary Clinton. This was not the first time that a kababayan has said this to me, especially when they ask where we’re from in the Philippines.
There is always certain disquiet that kind of makes us think that something is not right here. Especially, too, when more than one or two Filipinos have been so happily open about it to a fellow Filipino.
First of all, to even compare America to the Philippines is already a stretch. America is a superpower, the Philippines is a country, after centuries of oppression (foreign and local), is just a peep out of the Third World station it has been in, if the internet is to be believed. The relationship of the Philippines to America is on our having been their only colony for some 50 years, and so is still very dependent on them in so many ways. Especially now when China has finally shown its true colors; and Russia coming into the South China Sea fray; understandably, since both are reds and thus have common bully goals.
The Trump-Duterte “likeness” really digs at our Davao sensibilities. As was mentioned in a previous piece, the very thought of Trump being in the slightest bit “like” the Mayor is totally insulting, to the Mayor, no less. Let us not even go where Trump has been heading, making the world see a side of America that, as a cousin recently mentioned, is totally “flabbergasting.” Unbelievable that a person as shallow, callow and rudely deceitful, even if his claim to fame and fortune is to be given an iota of truth, has even reached the level he has in the race for the presidency of the most powerful nation in the world. It is disturbing to realize that something of this magnitude could even be fathomed, especially at this time when people are supposed to be more aware of what’s what because of all the technology and social networking at everyone’s fingertips. There’s something here that’s worth worrying about.
The good thing is, the Pinay who opened up about the “likeness” thing was so nice that we couldn’t help feel a little sad when we had to part ways. Like old friends who hadn’t seen each other for so long that there were still so many things to catch up on. Even if she was voting for the man in the orange mask. And, to top it of, the weekend visit to San Jose, CA was spent with the most wonderful people who made us forget all the political “malarkey,” as Vice President Biden said in the Democratic National Convention (DNC), when he referred to Trump, last week.
So, the next time another Pinoy opens up about this, when they find out we’re from Davao, we probably should just shift the topic to something else, or, smile until it hurts.
(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Margot Marfori is an author and visual artist from Davao City. She is currently based in Henderson, Nevada.)