Us, from Pampanga and Tarlac and particularly from Angeles and Mabalacat cities who have lived most of our lives having Americans as neighbors are trying to comprehend President Duterte’s dramatic shift in foreign policy. There are advanced opinions I gathered, mixed reactions focusing on reason, realities, faith and fear.
Throwback. The Americans settled in nearby Clark Air Base in 1902, and this was during the Philipine-American war. A cavalry detachment found a grazing area with abundance of lemon grass that became fodder for their horses. They were our neighbors until Mt. Pinatubo erupted in June 1991.
Reason. President Duterte has good reason why the shift to the Peoples Republic of China. America is domineering and imperialistic. The relationship is one sided. Said the president: ‘They can come to our country without a visa, and Filipinos have to lined up and get rejected in many occasions for no apparent reason.’
Reality. After analyzing our relationship with the USA, it can be disturbing to know the serious imbalance in trade with them. The aid given to the Philipines is pittance compared to other countries, despite the fact that we are their closest ally, and used five big areas in our country for long periods of time.
Faith. Almost all past presidents of our country were subservient and were willing ‘accomplices’ whatever was dictated by their White House and Pentagon. They are always on watch over their special interests, and overlooked what is ours, and usually they can get away with it. The dramatic shift based on the pronouncements of President Duterte may favor us for all you know.
Fear. There is a saying that the worse worries are those that never come. We worried what will happen to off-base communities adjacent to Clark Air Base once the military installation will close shop. That was the feeling of almost everybody. Fear to lose their jobs, business earnings etc.etc. It didn’t happen. On the contrary, with the Americans departure, the off-zone communities like Angeles, Mabalacat, San Fernando and as far as many towns of Tarlac experienced an unprecedented growth.
During the years that Clark was administered by the Americans, there were only 22,000 workers employed by them. Today there is a 70,000 strong workforce. Revenues generated by business activities now at Clark Freeport runs into billions on a yearly basis.