Josephine Dy

English 165

May 17, 2007

Rough Draft


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 City, Philippines 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 class. 

Works Cited


De Los Reyes, Professor Robin. Personal Interview on April 8, 2007

The Philippine History Site

“Fulbright.” 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.