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EMPIRE, TECHNOLOGY AND FILIPINIZING THE WORLD

By: Roderick Toledo
@inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:26 AM September 8th, 2016

In my youth, the American Empire was at its peak. I am older and it seems to be declining in the face of an
ascendant China. Right now the United States is still recognized as the world’s only superpower, albeit
threatened not only by China but also by an intractable Islamic fundamentalism that metamorphoses faster than
one can say “Homeland Security.” But is the American Empire in fact resurgent and redefining itself? With
globalization and the internet, American culture has permeated all countries. English is the international
language. Will Mandarin ever be such? Not likely, despite China’s aggressive expansionism and huge overseas
investments.
Filipinos are the exemplary purveyors of this global American culture, from the use of its language and its
cutting-edge technology, in addition to a deeply ingrained Western outlook and behavior.
Thus, it is entirely plausible to think that Filipinos will “colonize” the planet. We have the numbers for it, and
the culture and aptitude that show us as the best combination of East and West, both in terms of good and less
desirable qualities. Our people skills and command of English have catapulted us to the top of the worldwide
business process outsourcing industry, which in itself is changing the landscape of international business
procedures. Our adaptability, resilience and capacity for hard work are very Chinese traits, far from the
indolence insultingly pinned on us by the Spanish colonizers, from whom we also gained a bohemian, funloving and hot-blooded persona.
What is our niche in the edifice of human history? We have never been the conqueror. We are even hard put to
defend what we have, unable to reclaim Sabah and assert our rights in the West Philippine Sea. Could we be like
the black people, who, despite a heritage of slavery and colonialism, now dominate music and sports, from
tennis, track and field and the NBA to F1 racing?
From small pockets to large communities of millions, Filipinos toil in all countries where there’s a living to be
had.
Empires and civilizations ebb and flow. What shall be the game-changer in the decades to come? Technology?
But what technology? Various landmark technological achievements have led to quantum leaps in human
progress and development, from the invention of the wheel to the assembly line to the worldwide web.
We can take a hint from military technology. Warfare and military necessity, the need to survive, have driven
human progress for millennia. But while military technological superiority has many advantages, it is not the
sole deciding factor for victory in the battlefield, as evidenced throughout history, from the decimation of the
vaunted Roman legions by barbarians in the Teutoburg Forest to the Vietnam War, where a peasant army drove
out sunset France and zenith America in succession. Is it the people, the human spirit that is the deciding factor
in any engagement?
It has been said that the Philippines’ comparative advantage and greatest resource is its people. We are early
adopters and voracious users of information technology. Although afflicted by slow internet speed, our country
is among the world’s texting and social media capitals. Some of our hackers have let loose some of the most
destructive viruses in cyberspace (not that we are proud of these criminal acts, of course). Many of us have

both heterosexual and same-sex. tectonically unstable and typhoon-lashed archipelago.inquirer. he asked if I was from the United Nations. with the virtual cloud enveloping us. Our volcanic. Although at high risk and vulnerable. When we have seamlessly embedded ourselves in the globe’s various cultures and societies. when I’m in Japan. Maybe in a few decades Filipinos shall have colonized the planet. Retrieved from http://opinion. coupled with poor governance and lack of basic infrastructure and services. our intermarriages with foreigners. while everyone around us built their infrastructure and put their societies in order. even thrive. whether Arctic Circle or Arabian Desert. Filipino me. when so much camera power can be miniaturized into a speck of computer board. anywhere. because the seamlessness of the technology also leads to the seamlessness of the experience. We have lived on the margins of progress. when so much information and functionality can be packed into a wristwatch. if nothing else. Our links with them are not only business and professional. I can bear out our adaptability from personal experience. When I’m in China. we shall have conquered it—without fighting anyone. the lines between real and virtual become less and less distinct. as it were. cultural and personal relationships. when I’m in Singapore.more mobile lines than we can keep track of. Chameleon me. We are truly resilient. have cast a worldwide web of historical. I’m taken to be Singaporean. with everyone pitching in to help. require that we be resilient and selfreliant. We can survive. caught in the eddying backwaters. Homo universalis? Our ability to adapt to the countries that host us is most desirable to employers and governments that value our compliance and nonthreatening presence. Even the phenomenon of the selfie is us stepping in and out of the virtual world at will. Among the current buzzwords in technology are “wireless” and “seamless”. with even the most cash-strapped domestic worker having at least two SIM cards. I’m taken to be Japanese. And when I first spoke to our New York landlord in Manhattan.net/97153/empire-technology-and-filipinizing-the-world . But like lurking lions we have stealthily positioned ourselves to grasp every opportunity that comes our way. when entertainment can be had and business transactions conducted on a five-inch phablet. we rebuild and move forward after each disaster. I’m taken to be Chinese. It’s an intriguing thought.