Sunday, June 28, 2009

Filipino History-Lite

Wow. So. Paul and I are in the Philippines now! I know, totally crazy. From Africa to Southeast Asia. I don't know what I was thinking when I booked this trip. To say that things are different here doesn't even begin to cover it.

It smells different. It looks different. The people behave differently. Poverty looks different. Affluence looks different. The food is different. The legacy of colonialism is different. And that's just the beginning.

To make a long story shorter: Magellan "discovered" the Philippines in 1521, got hacked to death by natives, Spain persisted, named the islands after the soon to be crowned Prince Philip, stuck around for a long, long time and converted most everyone to Catholicism (only majority Christian nation in Asia, though Muslim's represent in the south); the Filipino people (weird spelling I know, but some how correct) kept trying to get the imperialists off their back while other nations tried to jump on, mostly unsuccesfully (although I think the British suceeded for like a month or something like that); during this time the Chinese kept coming in (I say 'kept' because they'd been doing it for thousands of years before Magellan's little discovery, in addition to Malays from Indonesia); in 1897 after lots of blood lost (mostly Filipino), both sides signed an armistice to try to hold things together; the US had a beef with Spain over Cuba the next year and thought it was as good a time as any to make a play for the Philippines, who's people fought on their side, hoping for independence, which they didn't get until after the Filipino-American War which has been compared to another war in south east asia, as it used similar nasty tactics; anyway, Filipino Independence was sort of achieved on July 4, 1902 (I know I don't have to point out the irony, but I just did), but wasn't officially achieved until 1935.

So. I guess that wasn't the short version, but I did my best. What all this means is that Tagalog has a ton of Spanish words in it and there are American brands and chains EVERYWHERE. 7-11's on every corner, I kid you not. It's been called the most American country outside of America, and Filipino's sometimes call themselves brown American's. Which is weird. But I think it's maybe a good place for people to travel who haven't been to Asia before. Sort of like, Asia with training wheels. Signs are in English, and you can get a Big Mac. And chorizo.

I have more to say about differences with Africa, and Uganda in particular in relation to our documentary, but I think maybe this is enough for one post. I hope you enjoyed my (hopefully completely accurate) history lesson!

I can't believe we have less than a month before we come home! I have to get to work!

xoxo Erin

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