Uncle Sam experience gives rise to apathy, change in perspective

Eric Ariel Salas

Eric Ariel Salas

Dreams are my constant companion. They have caused countless unexpected things to come my way, including my being a U.S. neophyte and appreciating the scores of stuff most of my countrymen love about Uncle Sam.

Traffic, for instance. Traffic jams are virtually unknown in this place. There are lanes for bicycles – even for pets! There are no officers on sidewalks watching undisciplined pedestrians cross where crossing is prohibited.

I have yet to see an indigent child begging for food. More so, I have always felt this place to be deception-free; a nightly walk along unlighted pathways is safe for this Filipino wanderer. No more worries that someone will pop out from somewhere armed with an ice pick to rob me of my valuables – money, phone, jewelry, shoes or even clothes. Rejoice! I am in a developed nation.

I love the Philippines like Americans love America. My dad opened my eyes to the principles of the Boy Scout movement, to love God and country. I was a scoutmaster, trained to be loyal, to sail close to the wind and to be ready to defend human rights. You see, I dedicated my life to public service at a young age.

Yet, what has become of me now? I do not care a fig anymore when the rampant corruption is pulling every Filipino’s leg down while the red tape in the government and mudslinging are never-ending. I tend to dismiss with indifference, questions about the performance of Madam President and her cabinet, as well as their negative approval ratings. Like a good actor, I convinced myself that the past election results were not tampered with, that the recent vigilante forms of killings were merely coincidental in nature and no high-ranking officials were involved, masterminding some hush-hush underground movement. In fact, I hardly bother to think about the severity of these events nowadays.

Uncle Sam has offered something attractive to desire and the system looks to be adequately functioning. President Bush, even in the midst of his unpopularity, seems to assure me that he is still in total control. What I am anxious about, however, is when I go back home to my daily grind, the same seamy side of things that I would find – poverty level reaching extremes, government officials not fulfilling campaign promises to pave roads in far-flung towns and ignoring the demands of workers for pay increases. I would be bothered once more by the economic instability, massive street protests against alleged government abuses, the educational system continuing to deteriorate, the non-stop power struggle to amend the constitution and the innocent lives lost in the war-torn Islamic south.

As a great ally, Uncle Sam has been supporting the Philippine government all the way. I must thank you, Uncle Sam, for sending 5,700 of your Marines and military personnel to help strengthen our defense units against local and international terror acts and the billions of pesos of financial aid.

Things could not change overnight. I sigh for the many years the Filipinos will have to wait for better lives. Right now, my wish is for the few remaining decent politicians to perform what is mandated of them, slowly but surely.

Slowly, so no one would be trampled upon and hurt; and surely, so long as promises made are ultimately fulfilled. I dream big for better days when I return home, that the Filipinos would be one and united in the effort to build a better nation for all.