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Philippines Remains America’s Top Admirer: The Case of Historical Amnesia and Forgotten Genocide

In a survey conducted in 2015, 92% of its Filipino respondents voted that they had a favourable view of the United States, demonstrating greater enthusiasm for the Western country compared to other traditional American allies in Asia such as Japan and South Korea.


Source: Pew Research Center, Global Indicators Database

The 92% figure remains a stark contrast even when collated with international data.


Source: Spring 2015 Global Attitudes Survey. Q12a, Pew Research Center.

The data presented signals that Filipinos are either uneducated on details of the Philippine-American war, or they fail to recognize the gruesome facets. It challenges the true patriotism of the Philippine populace and delivers the question as to why they hold great admiration for the United States, despite the fact their army slaughtered a staggering 1.4 million Filipino nationalists according to the late Filipina historian Luzviminda Francisco.

As written in E. Ahmed’s The Theory and Fallacies of Counter-Insurgency, the American conquest of the Philippines was described as the “bloodiest colonial war (in proportion to population) ever fought by a white power in Asia.”

The Philippine Genocide occurred from 1899 to 1905, a bloodbath sparked by an alleged message from God to then U.S president William McKinley.

In the midst of the Spanish-American war, it was alleged that he was in the White House praying when it came to him that the Philippines should not be returned to Spanish rule as it would look cowardly.

He originally declared that it would be “criminal aggression” for the United States to annex the Philippines, but ultimately reversed himself.


Source: General James Rusling, “Interview with President William McKinley,” The Christian Advocate 22 January 1903.

McKinley claims that he never wanted the Philippines, but he would not allow France and Germany to take ownership of the country as it would be bad for business; furthermore, he remarks that Filipinos are incapable of ruling themselves, so he refused to give them independence.

To his conclusion and self-reflection, he decided to declare war on the Philippines in 1899 as he deemed American occupation in the Philippines is an efficient method to “uplift and Christianize” Filipinos––thus, commencing the Philippine Genocide which killed the Filipinos who ran against his agenda.

To provide a fertile ground for justifying the killings of the Philippine populace, the McKinley administration promulgated war propaganda based on patriotic symbols and emotional appeals that dehumanized Filipinos, referring to them as “America’s little brown brother,” according to John William Tebbel’s America’s Greatest Patriotic War with Spain: Mixed Motives, Lies, and Racism in Cuba and the Philippines, 1898–1915.

A common stereotype applied to the Filipinos is the image of the country as a pettish and benighted child in desperate need of America’s guardianship.


Uncle Tom, patriotic symbol of America, decides what to do with the Philippines as Cuba and Puerto Rico look on. Source: Cartoons of the Spanish-American War by Bart, Minneapolis: Journal Printing Company, 1899

Filipinos were aware that the American presence in their country is attributed by their conquestial predisposition to exploit their country and and to establish a permanent military presence. America’s manifest imperial war against the Filipino people was enough to spur a revolution led by their generation, but not enough to be carried by their succeedings.

Current Philippine President Rodrigo “Roa” Duterte pushes an anti-America agenda that pivots the Philippines’ foreign affairs more to the east to achieve a Philippines as a more sovereign nation with an independent foreign policy to deplete the tightly-embedded effects of American colonization in the country.

The typical character of the U.S demonstrates a strong disliking towards any nation who seeks to be a “sovereign nation.”

According to a recent Press TV interview with the former US Senate foreign policy analyst James Jatras, he mentioned that “Washington plans to destabilize the Philippine government as Washington does not do very well in accepting foreign leaders that [they] believe are becoming too independent,hence why the mainstream media, mostly originating from American news outlets, have demonized Duterte based on his crackdown on drugs as further evidence that the Philippines is in dire need of America’s aid.

The Philippine Genocide is not common knowledge among the Filipino populace as the topic is not taught embedded in the Filipino curriculum. During the infant stages of the Philippine-American war, the American form of education was imposed on all Filipino schools. The U.S administrators built educational institutions that taught Filipinos professions and trades under American supervision.

A quote by Dr. John Henrik Clark, historian, professor, and founder of the Africana studies in various education institutions in the U.S. precisely highlights the true nature of colonialism:


To control a people you must first control what they think about themselves and how they regard their history and culture. And when your conqueror makes you ashamed of your culture and your history, he needs no prison walls and no chains to hold you”

Diagnosing Filipinos with historical amnesia is inherently accusing the Americans of concealing the Philippine-American war and the Philippine Genocide to regulate their historical sins and maintain the patriotism of many Americans; although it holds much truth, it remains a duty that must be held responsible against many Filipinos to be carried out.


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Charlize Alcaraz
Written By

Charlize is a high school junior who hails from the Philippines. She currently resides in Canada, and takes interest in both Canadian and Philippine politics, as well as American Civics.

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