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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, October 09, 2004

entry arrow10:55 AM | American Fart


The greatest Filipino dream is to become an American.

--Jessica Zafra

Well, not for me, baby. Although, considering the long line I've seen inside the U.S. Embassy, there may be a kernel of truth to that. I've written about this before: people so want to go to the United States you can feel it for real in that embassy line. The smell of so much fervent, nervous hopes to get a U.S. visa is the smell of fart. People fart a lot in the visa line. People bedecked with jewels, people dressed up to the nines... They all fart in the line.

A friend recently asked me, "Why don't you apply for scholarship to an American university?" I found myself -- to my surprise -- making a face. And thinking about it now, I think I'd rather be in Australia, or Europe, or New Zealand. Even China or Malaysia. America is our modern mythological land of milk and honey, yes ... but, frankly, it's not worth all that fart.

We were Americans once, New Yorkers specifically, when September 11 came barreling into our consciousness. We felt for America. But the way America's Top Cowboy has gone about dismantling that sympathy in the last three years is just so... sad. So much have been written about this terrible turn of affairs, so I won't even elaborate, at the risk of sounding redundant.

Here's a thought, though. Why don't we do what the U.S. State Department (or is it the Department of Homeland Security now?) does everytime "something goes wrong" in the Philippines? Why don't we issue a travel warning? It would be futile, of course, because people still find America alluring*, but just to turn the tables, you know?

WARNING: Don't go to the U.S. Handguns abound that will kill you. High schools are ticking timebombs, like Columbine. Fear has gone amuck. Traveling is such a hassle, they even label Cat Stevens a terrorist. The President is stupid, and the Vice President rejoices in pushing the panic button just to see if America jumps. (It does.) Plus, Dubya's "Evil Doers" constantly want to bomb it.

Some might say: But that isn't America. That's just the headlines. America is the Land of the Beautiful.

Oh yeah? That's what we Filipinos keep saying to our defense every time we are portrayed as this modern-day version of a black hole. Sometimes, when I walk down the Boulevard in Dumaguete, I ask myself: Is this the Philippines I see in the headlines? No. But headlines are like that, myopic.

So yes, everybody has problems. A friend dies in a freakish cellphone robbery, for example. It breaks my heart to pieces. Is the Philippines evil? But consider this as well: Four years ago, in Flint, Michigan, a kindergarten boy finds a handgun in his uncle's house. He brings it to school one day, and shoots a six-year old girl classmate in the head.

The truth of the matter is: Evil is everywhere. Good is also everywhere.

Oh, don't mind me. Was watching Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine (about guns in America) last night, right after Fahrenheit 9/11 (about terrorism and the culture of fear in America), and with fresh memories still of Roger & Me (about corporate greed and unemployment in America). This three-part punch may be the 21st century equivalent of Tocqueville's Democracy in America (which I read in high school), the way it tries to paint the real face of the Home of the Brave.

I switched channels just now, from CNN to an old Bette Davis movie in TCM. Couldn't stand the commentaries after the second debate between Kerry and Bush. One swing-voter was asked whom she would vote for in the coming elections, after seeing this debate. She confidently said, "I've finally decided on Bush." My heart sank. It sounded like a death knell.

* I read somewhere that a majority of Filipinos prefer Bush as American president. And I remember thinking, what the fuck?

Pahabol: Psychicpants wonders:

Why the fuss over Jasmine Trias? Yesterday, all these local news programs on television and radio kept announcing that our AmericanPinoy Idol is home. But if we listen closely, at least Ms. Trias clarifies it and says that "Home for me is Hawaii....Home will always be Hawaii, and elsewhere is just work." I don't understand the need to claim some connection with her or to insist on her Pinoyness...

Read the rest here.

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich