An “Americanized” Philippines
Throughout the history of the United
States (U.S.), it has always been known as a country that will lend out its
hand to help developing countries like the Philippines. Analyzing the effects
of U.S. interventions in
these countries, we cannot help but question: Does the U.S. help these
countries out of kindness or does it want something in return? Two major areas
in which the U.S.
has secured its position and presence in other countries have been education
and government. These areas have proven to have strong influence over the Philippines.
The U.S. government crafted
its plan of colonialism in the Philippines
starting with the institution of public school system. Through the Thomasites, American teachers sent to the Philippines to instill American values and the
English language, the U.S.
has been successful in “brainwashing” the Filipinos to uphold the American
ideals. Further, it intensified its campaign through the establishment of the Pensionado Program. Select
Filipino students were sent to the U.S.
to study and then apply their learning in the Philippines after finishing their
studies. As years went on, the program
took on a different name and was sugarcoated with the noble aim of sharing
cultures. Today, it is called the
Fulbright Program, named after Senator William Fulbright who sponsored the bill
in Congress. Although the U.S.
did not officially proclaimed that Pensionado and
Fulbright Program are one and the same, from the form and nature of both
programs it seems that they gear towards one thing – subtle imposition of
American values to the Filipino people. With this in mind, I conducted an
interview with someone who has become a recipient of the Fulbright Program. I wanted
to validate my hypothesis regarding the program – whether the U.S. has actually set out to help the Philippines
become truly independent out of kindness or has it been certain of the gains in
investing in these programs. The interview was conducted at Skyline College
Library on April 17, 2007. The interviewee was primarily asked open-ended
questions. From these questions, the interviewee provided the answers that I feel
are very important.
We, at Skyline
College, have had the
honor of hosting professor Fulbrighter Robin De Los
Reyes, whose main task was to assist one of our professors for ten months.
Sadly, his contract will end at the end of spring semester 2007. Professor De Los Reyes was born on November
28, 1979 in Zamboanga
to Mr. Ruben and Anita De Los Reyes. He
has spent most of his life in Zamboanga City. He finished his primary education in public
schools and his college in a private institution - Ateneo
de Zamboanga University, where he currently teaches English.
Although he is still in the early years of his career, he is fortunate to have
been chosen by the Fulbright Scholarship Foundation to be the Philippine representative
in the so-called “cultural exchange” between the U.S.
and the Philippines.
As I mentioned above, the Fulbright Scholarship
Program was established under the legislation of Senator Fulbright of Arkansas. Unlike the Pensionado Program, the Fulbright Program was not only
intended for Filipinos but other nationalities as well. Senator Fulbright stated,
"the Fulbright Program aims to bring a little more knowledge, a little
more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby to
increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and
friendship” (U.S. Department of State). The representatives that are chosen
from others countries, currently 155 other countries, are scholars. This means representatives have already earned
their bachelor’s degrees, in Mr. De Los Reyes case, a Bachelor in Secondary
Education, major in English.
Although there are many fields of specialization
within the Fulbright Program “the impact of the Fulbright program in the Philippines
can be found in the educational, cultural, political, economic, and scientific
life of the nation” (The American Contribution to Philippine Education 36), I have concentrated my research
on education because it is one of the two major areas that the U.S. has tried
to solidify its position in the Philippines, and it is my interviewee’s field
of concentration. We can see the effects
of this programs in the Philippines because their
educational system is still based on an American model. Further, sending representatives here to
learn more American styles to bring back home reinforces “US-centrisim” in the Philippines. On the other hand, the visiting professionals
benefit through the mere experience of traveling to a new country in hopes of
getting more and different ideas in their fields (U.S. Department of State).
Conversely, The Pensionado
Program came about when Spain
first left the Philippines
and the U.S.
took over. “In 1903, through the passage
of the Pensionado
Act, qualified Filipino students could be sent to the United States
to further their education. These students were called pensionados since they were
scholars studying at the expense of the colonial government.” At first those selected came from the
wealthy elite class. After the free
American colonial educational system was in place which was offered to all,
those who came in later years were not necessarily rich. “Being a Pensionado
was prestigious, and it promised a bright future. Upon their return to the Philippines, pensionados were given promotions or better job
opportunities in the colonial bureaucracy” (The Philippine History Site).
Students in the Pensionado
Program from the Philippines
came to the U.S.
to earn degrees. They mainly earned
degrees in government and administration.
The idea was to teach these students the U.S.
government system so that they could go back to the Philippines and structure their new
government in the same fashion. We can
say the U.S. was extremely successful
in doing this because again, like the educational system, the governmental
system in the Philippines
today is still modeled after the U.S.
The similarity between
the two programs is that both programs were financially funded by the United States to instill American values in the Philippines. Although both countries have benefited from
the two programs, the U.S.
has benefited more because it has influenced the Filipino people since the
implementation of these programs. The Pensionados and
the Fulbrighters held key positions in the Philippine
government upon their return from studying in the U.S ensuring the stable
presence of United States
in key areas. Specifically, “by virtue of their position in government and the
private sector, today’s Fulbright alumni take the lead in setting policies and
directions for Philippine higher education, science and technology, finance and
the arts. Former Philippine President
Corazon Aquino, honored in 1996 as the Fulbright laureate for international
understanding, recognized this when she described the Fulbright program as one
“to which I can say I practically owe the education of my government” (The
American Contribution to Philippine Education 37).
One would agree that clearly the United States has gained the most
from these programs; the individual parties involved also have something to
take away with them. While at Skyline College, Mr. De Los Reyes’s served as a teacher’s
aid to Professor Liza Erpelo and Dr. Jeremias Resus. From this
experience, he will be bringing back some new concepts to his colleagues back
home. The idea of learning outside of
the classroom is something that he sees as being very beneficial to
students. The idea of lab hours and
supplemental instruction are activities that he has witnessed as being very
helpful for students. Professor De Los
Reyes says, “I like lab hours because it allows students to learn outside the
classroom, which can be more impactful than what they
learn inside the classroom.” Also, we at
Skyline College greatly appreciate all that he
has contributed to the Kababayan Program, Mentorship
Program, Pilipino Cultural Night production and class, Tagalog
class under Dr. Jeremias Resus,
and all English classes under Liza Erpelo’s
instruction. He has dedicated much of
his time and effort to the successes of all students inside and outside of
Los Reyes, Professor Robin. Personal Interview on April 8, 2007
Philippine History Site http://opmanong.ssc.hawaii.edu/filipino/filmig.html
U.S. Department of State. n.d. 20 May 2007.
“The American Contribution to Philippine Education.” U.S. Department of State. 1998.
20 May 2007. http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/rp1/wwwf5050.pdf