In the customary USA-bootlicking rhetoric that has become a signature of the corrupt Philippine government, President Gloria Arroyo defended the government's actions when it received harsh criticism of its slow efforts and rescue pace after a typhoon settled over the Philippines Saturday and dropped a record amount of rain in one day, saying more rain fell on Manila and surrounding areas in Saturday's deluge than on New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit there in 2005.
I've grown accustome to Philippine presidents, especially Arroyo, making comparative statements between the Philippines and the United States, as if trying to solidify a positive, allied relationship. After buying a stamp in the Philippines with the image of George W. Bush, I learned political leaders side with the US, identify with the US, and see no sacrifice as to large in striving to be the Robin to the US's Batman. So much so, the Philippine government pushes English in the schools and keeps Tagalog at home. It encourages and honors workers to leave their families, their country to work overseas and send home their paychecks to keep the economy "moving."
But if there is one similarity between the Philippines and the United States that reveals itself most clearly in times of natural disaster, both countries are ill-prepared, slow in response, and give preferential treatment to the rich.
What is the state of Katrina four years later? How has the city rebuilt itself? Have we forgotten already how many lost their lives, families, and homes?
And the Philippines shows similar characteristics - leaving the poor to fend for themselves as the skies drop a month's worth of rain in 9 hours and displacing millions as another storm moves in and is expected to arrive Friday.
As for recovery efforts, the US pitched in $100,000, a military helicopter, five rubber boats, and 20 service people.
With that kind of response to the worst typhoon the Philppines has seen in 40 years, the Philippine government needs to learn something about its relationship to the US which is eerily similar to the lesson it is teaching its own citizens: when disaster strikes, you're on your own.