Recently, there has been a little controversy in the Philippines. Well, I should change my wording on that…. when it comes to politics in the Philippines there are controversies daily! But, there has been a controversy that has to do with Americans lately. This was in the news last week, but it is still timely, I think. I had seen the story on the news, but I didn’t see the newspaper article until I saw the link from Dave Starr’s PhilFAQs site. Thanks for the link, Dave.
It all got started when some opposition politicians started saying that American servicemen were overstaying in Mindanao. Now, they weren’t clear, but using the word “overstaying” would make me believe that they meant that these soldiers were staying longer than their Visas allowed them to stay in the Country. It is possible they just meant that these guys were staying longer than they were welcome to stay, if you know what I mean, but I think that with the word usage they meant that they stayed beyond their Visa.
OK, well, this is not that big of a deal, I mean a simple check of their passport can confirm if they are legally in the Philippines or not. On top of this, I don’t know if visiting Military (which were invited by the Philippine Government) come under the normal Immigration laws or not. It would seem to me that they wouldn’t (I can’t imagine a guy out in a combat zone having to take a day off to go visit Immigration to renew his Visa). But, whatever the case, it is a simple matter of checking their status, and correcting it if necessary.
Next, thing, though, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (and reports I saw on TV) was that the Philippine Executive Branch came out and tried to justify the “overstay” by saying that Americans “all look the same to us.” Personally, I find such a statement offensive. I remember, in my childhood, it was kind of a “joke” among racists that “all black people look the same.” Well, frankly, all black people don’t look the same, they have individual characteristics, as does everybody. And, all Americans don’t look the same either!
All this talk reminded me of a situation that existed for me and a friend a few years ago. My friend, Gene, and I used to swim daily at Marco Polo Hotel here in Davao, for exercise, and companionship. We went to Marco Polo daily for over 3 years. Even after 3 years of swimming there daily, the employees there did not know which of us was Gene, and which was Bob, even though we had told them dozens of times! We always got a good laugh out of it. The truth is that we look quite different from each other, but employees at Marco Polo often told us that they could not tell us apart, because we looked like twins!
I wonder what the reaction would be if I went around saying that “All Filipinos look the same to me.” I wouldn’t say that, because they don’t look the same to me. It would just be interesting to see the reaction.