Friday, December 5, 2008

Obama snubbed the Philippines? Please.

Excuse me for being an entire month late in throwing my two cents into this issue, but the story that Barack Obama supposedly snubbed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is sounding more and more ridiculous with each passing day, which is doubly infuriating because I'm totally aware that I'm the only one still paying any attention. Despite the fact that this falsehood has ceased to be a ripe issue and has tragically lapsed into the realm of conventional wisdom, allow me a moment to sort out the facts as a sort of token honoris causa to sanity.

So here's the premise: Following the presidential elections in America last November 4, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, along with every other world leader who isn't a total dick, makes a phone call to Barack Obama to congratulate him on being elected the next President of the United States. And like every other person who had just been elected President of the United States at the time, he was a tad too busy to take phone calls at three in the morning, even if it was the leaders of every other country in the world at the other end of the line.

Apparently in the thin-skinned bizzaro world of the Philippine opposition this amounts to a snub.

Two days later Obama got around to the first batch of around 10 return calls to world leaders who congratulated him, and much to the delight of cynics the Philippines was not one of those lucky chosen few. This is apparently enough to conclude that "Snubs show Obama is no RP friend" and plaster that statement as the headline of some front page analysis.

Now it's worth mentioning the sort of nonsense Amando Doronila put into this particular linked article because it reflects the baloney that people on that side of the bridge trick themselves and the casual public into believing. He said the Philippines is not on Obama's radar, he says it's a speck on his map, he calls our leaders humiliated, and he conjures up a story about Obama's staff not knowing where the Philippines is. He implies that Obama will never give a return call, calls the Philippines a sidelined leper, and then closes by saying, this is a quote, "Obama is not our friend". It's unclear whether Doronila is being maliciously crooked or merely an affable naive old man.

But what the cynics don't realize (or pretend not to notice)-- and amazingly I have yet to see a single person point this out-- was that the countries Obama returned calls to that week were basically the members of the G8 plus America's southern neighbor Mexico and their best-friend-down-under Australia and their Middle-East-mistress Israel.

Let's be real. Those that demand or expect the Philippines should be included in that top tier of countries Obama makes return calls to are either extremely presumptuous or simply don't have a clue.

In fact, Arroyo did get a return call from Obama on November 17, making her the first Southeast Asian leader to get such a call, a fact which would make a lot of Filipinos feel all fuzzy inside had only someone bothered to point it out aside from myself several weeks after the fact. The only other Southeast Asian leader Obama has called up is Indonesia's president on November 24. Does this make Malaysia and Singapore lepers too, or does Obama get the benefit of the doubt this time?

Other people who Obama has returned calls to in the weeks after he called Arroyo are the leaders of Argentina, Chile, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Haiti, Afghanistan, the Palestinian Authority, the European Commission, and United Nations. Just yesterday he made calls to the leaders of Denmark, Greece, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, and the Netherlands.

Anyone who was spreading intrigue or prematurely declaring a new dark age of Philippine-American relations needs a good kick in the ass from the boot of perspective.

Unfortunately it's the cynics that have won this round, not by being correct (clearly) but by barking the loudest at a time when people gave a damn and couldn't know any better. They've succeeded at their goal of undermining respect for the government and making people feel just a little bit worse about their country and the people in charge of it. So who, really, is no friend of the Philippines?


  1. strange, i just read this in fred pascual's opinion column in the philstar today. he reprinted someone's emailed comment. is this the original text?

  2. Oh wow. Yeah Dave, this would be the original text. I guess some guy named "Joey Tabaco" emailed my blog entry to Federico Pascual and he printed it in his column.

  3. I swiped a copy of the Philippine Star from a nearby Starbucks... And there it is, on their opinion section, right beside their main editorial.

    I'll email both Federico Pascual and Joey Tabaco, assuming good faith and considering it a mere oversight. It's flattering to see my words in print, though admittedly it stings to see it credited to someone else.

  4. if i were you, i'd be flattered but not stung because i'd rather not draw attention from political pundits of the philippines to myself. i've said it before, i'll say it again: they are vicious especially in their ad hominems. i'd be satisfied that i've given them some eloquent trolling.

    by the way, i suppose you've read some of the comments below the article? philstar readers are still tame actually. the vicious ones are inquirer readers and they are found elsewhere in the internet.

  5. Hi Mike malacanang baby! What are you saying about Obama's no reluctance call to malacanang? Are you aware that when Arroyo went in our place in Chicago, with her ploy to meet our small Pinoy community there, but her main purpose instead was to push herself through the lines of dignitaries to congratulate Obama personally? Did Obama gave her a chance to meet her? Never! Through telephone then? You might be kidding.

  6. Dik Pascual added a clarification at the bottom of his Dec. 11 column:

    Joey Tabaco also gave a gracious reply to my email, apologizing for the mixup.

  7. Maybe this forum post will help