Global Voices Online now has a post on the related matter of the medium of instruction language debate (post by Mong Palatino.)
Why Does RP Trust America?
By John Mangun
The recent survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and World Public Opinion dot org on national attitudes towards the United States again places the Philippines apart from conventional thinking. Our local Social Weather Stations conducted the survey on behalf of the aforementioned groups in the Philippines.
The most basic question asked in the survey was whether the United States could be trusted to act responsibly in the world, “a great deal,” “somewhat,” “not very much” or “not at all.”
Those nations who answered positively about the U.S., with the margin of statistical error included, included Australia, Israel, Poland, So. Korea, Ukraine, and the Philippines. An overwhelming 85% of Filipinos trusts America.
Although not noteworthy for the local newspapers, the results elicited some lively comments on television and on the internet. A sampling: “The picture of America's "goodness" increases with every check coming from our good FilAm OFWs”. “My takeaway from the survey is this: Filipinos' faith in America is like their faith in the Catholic Church. Unreasoning, uncritical, and unrequited.”
So it would seem from these types of comments that Filipinos are 1) mercenaries who only think about “The Money” and whose values are only financially driven or 2) are not smart or sophisticated enough to make a critical judgment.
My BusinessMirror colleague Dave Llorito came closest to my own perception of the results when he said, “There must be a way of overcoming this obsession (and higher economic growth is one huge step) but while we are still in this stage, we might as well enjoy the dollars and the Doc Martens.”
Underneath many of the comments posted on the internet was the elitist attitude sometimes so [pervasive in the Philippines. The idea is that the better educated are less inclined to view America positively while the less educated blindly fall into American subservience.
Statistically though, there was very little difference in the answers between the most and least educated.
Of those that never graduated from elementary school, 88% viewed America with trust. This compares with 83% of the respondents who were college graduates. Only 11% of the non-elementary had a negative perception with 16% of college graduates not trusting America to act responsibly.
The results comparing nation to nation are where the real enlightenment comes. One commentator wrote, “Many countries in the same survey that have lower approval ratings of the U.S. are not leftist. Also, some countries that are leftist (like China, which routinely violates democratic principles) have mixed results.” America fared most poorly in Argentina, France, Peru, and Russia. Therefore, it is apparent that political ideology has little bearing on the results.
However, economic ideology may be the factor that contributes to an individual’s perception of trust. Trust of course is a feeling that is difficult to define or qualify. However, it goes without saying that trust cannot be built without some sort of empathy, sympathy, or perhaps compatibility.
Economically speaking the United States is embodied in the idea of the “American Dream”. That “Dream” says that individual effort will be financially rewarded. That individual initiative and not government policy will ultimately determine a person’s wealth and success. Granted, this is the ideal but it is a clear concept from the alternative that the individual has little power and that the government ultimately controls a person’s future.
The list of nations viewing America positively is also where average individuals embrace this free market, free individual determination concept of wealth creation. Those on the ‘negative’ list are where reliance on government or the belief that economics is inevitably controlled by the government.
The average Filipino, I think, believes that he or she has the ability to control his or her own destiny. That Filipino knows that factors outside of his control limits his opportunities. There is great distrust of government because of inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and foolish financial policies. There is great distrust of the powerful, perceived as corrupt.
However, underneath it all is the conviction and confidence that given a break or given a chance, or simply not being held down by various external factors, they could succeed superbly by their own efforts. The government is not the path to wealth. That may be the “Filipino Dream”. And that dream may create an affinity with America far beyond balikbayan remittances, overseas employment, and American fast food.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
John Mangun: Why Does RP Trust America?
[Philippine Commentary is pleased to publish this essay from John Mangun on a recent international public opinion poll of public attitudes towards America and its aftermath in the local scene. Mr. Mangun writes Out-of-the-box for the Business Mirror in Manila.]
Posted By: Deany Bocobo
On Thursday, June 21, 2007
On Thursday, June 21, 2007