Happy Fourth of July, Americans!

Did you know that the United States has a long (and somewhat sordid) relationship with the Philippines? For a time, July 4th was Independence Day in the Philippines, too. Because America said it was. In the end, they changed it to the day they actually declared Independence from Spain, right before the US sailed up and informed everyone that we won the country in the Spanish-American War and it was cute that they just fought off the Spanish for their independence and all, but they were now part of the brand-spanking new American empire, and better get used to it. The US went on to abandon it in WWII, leveled it to get it back, and then happily granted the country its independence when it came time to clean everything up. (So, you know, maybe keep that in mind when you’re tempted to whine about the state of the infrastructure. They didn’t come out of WWII with a handy new interstate highway system and booming factories. Cut the place some slack.)

How do I know all this? They certainly don’t dwell on it in American schools. Even the Philippines schools tend to gloss over it. You can visit your local book store for more information. Googling for Philippines History would work. Or, if you land in the National Capitol Region, consider taking a walking tour with Old Manila Walks. They are very entertaining, and get you into some places you likely wouldn’t experience on your own. Just be aware that some of the tours get into the stinky things the Americans and Spanish did here. If you are sensitive to the idea that your country of birth is not practically perfect in every way, it may not be the tour for you.

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