The history of U.S. imperialism constitutes a particularly important site for understanding the subjectivity and self-activity of Filipinos. It created cultural, military, economic, and political ties between the United States and the Philippines, inaugurating, in E. San Juan, Jr.’s words, “this long, weary, torturous exodus from the periphery to the metropolis with no end in sight.” U.S. imperialism also transformed the Philippines into a major source of cheap labor and raw materials, paving the way for the incorporation of Filipinos within circuits of global capital. In short, U.S. imperialism set in motion a process that structures the lives of Filipinos today, a process that reaches into their lives, “not so much like a shadow as like a chain.”
. . . .
The historical amnesia surrounding U.S. imperialism has proven to be deeply consequential not just for the United States but also for those colonized by the nation. For Filipinos, it has come to mean grappling with the “spectre of invisibility” themselves, precisely because a full accounting of their presence necessitates a full accounting of a largely unthinkable history. Just as the notion of the United States as an empire has not fared well in dominant U.S. historiography, neither has the notion of Filipinos as colonized subjects. Within standard historical accounts, for example, Filipinos have all but disappeared, as evidenced by the erasure of the Philippine-American War and Filipino insurgency against U.S. imperial rule; if Filipinos appear at all, it is usually as objects of derision—savages unfit for self-government, economic threats displacing white labor, sexual deviants obsessed with white women, or ungrateful recipients of U.S. beneficence.
Antonio T. Tiongson, Jr., “Introduction, Critical Considerations,
” in Positively No Filipinos Allowed: Building Communities and Discourse
, published by Temple University Press, Philadelphia (2006).