Friday, June 17, 2011

From Conquerors and Conquered: To Buddies and Amigos

I took my history classes very seriously; therefore I went through the whole indignation over the dramatic transpirations in our country during the Spanish, American and Japanese colonial times. I mean, I can understand why Bonifacio and Rizal were pissed! :)

Before we could stand each other in elevators,
we were smashing each other's fleets.

But long after those textbooks of history classes, I thought it surreal when, working briefly in the U.S. for a multinational, I suddenly found myself in an elevator with my Spanish and American co-workers. I really had that moment, where I had to pause and - talking to myself - I thought it amazing that more than a century hence we should find ourselves - the colonizers and the colonized, the conquerors and the conquered - as happy co-workers, friends and equals. Here we are, I thought, in an elevator together and about to have lunch, whereas before we were fighting over sovereignty, spices and self-determination!

History is full of tragedies, and it can also be funny; it truly presents so many lessons that are there for the picking to those who care to look or remember. But the world has come a long long way from those imperialistic times. This experience of friendship between former colonies and their colonial masters, of countries that used to be at war but now bosom buddies, is also true for say, Korea and Japan. Korea was once a part Japanese imperialistic ambitions, having occupied it for 35 years in the 1900s. At the height of the nuclear crisis in Japan due to the earthquake in Fukushima, South Korea lent a hand by sending an emergency shipment of reactor coolant. Even their KPop stars chipped in.

In the Philippines, the Japanese have extended a lot of goodwill via their Official Development Assistance, among the visible benefits of which are infrastructure projects, such as the Quezon Boulevard flyover, the Guadalupe Bridge, that pretty bridge in Mabalacat - among several other financial and technical assistance that they have provided. Personally, I have been a recipient of a scholarship from a Japanese corporation back in college, and I have been much grateful and have done my part in giving back.

That moment when I found myself in an elevator with former colonial masters was to me a coming full circle of me, my history education and present realities. The wheels of time have turned and the world has grown up.

There are important lessons that must never be forgotten, and there are definitely good times ahead for new-found buddies, amigos and tomodachis. Cheers!

Book Recommendations:
The Spanish War: An American Epic 1898
The Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection: 1898-1902 (Men-at-Arms)
150 Days of Hell (Japanese Invasion of the Philippines 8 Dec 1941 - 6 May 1942)

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