A post-breakup letter to the Philippines (from the United States of America)
So sad you broke up with me. I want to win you back but maybe it’s too late? I know we got off to a rough start, but that’s ancient history, isn't it? I know the last 118 years hasn’t been perfect, but I’d thought we’d put all that bad stuff behind us. I feel kind of hopeless when you keep bringing up my past behavior. How am I supposed to be a better nation if we have to keep rehashing the same old stuff? What about Japan? What about Spain? I don’t hear you complaining about them. I know I objectified you at first and yes I was possessive and jealous and I treated you like I owned you. But I’ve changed, you know I have. It’s so unfair of you to call me “loud” and “rowdy” and “not adjusted to civility.” That was the old me, before I stopped drinking. For the most part anyway. I admit to the occasional binge, but at least I’m trying. My point is that I thought we needed each other, that we could depend on one another.
You know, you have a temper and I really wasn’t trying to hurt you but I know for a fact that the lyrics are “I don’t want to go to rehab,” not “I’m going to kill you instead of rehab.” You’re so touchy sometimes when someone disagrees with you.
What makes this even more painful is that I hear you’re seeing that, bitch, China. I knew she was after you. Do you really think she cares about you—I mean, you got that restraining order because she was always entering your place without permission, and see what good it did. I don’t see why now all of a sudden you’ve forgiven her for the way she’s treated you.
I know we had a spat, but that’s no reason to go crawling to her. I think you’re trying to make me jealous, right? Well, I’m not the jealous type. Okay, okay, I am the jealous type, but you know, you’re kind of making a spectacle of yourself if you want to know the truth. Throwing yourself at that hag (you know she acts like a teenager but she’s really ancient) and at the same time saying you also want to be free to date that hussy Russia. Don’t you have any self-respect? You think your behavior makes you macho?
You know what? As the song goes, You don’t own me...either. You see, I can change lyrics, too, though I admit you have a much better singing voice.
Come on, honey. Look, I’ll say I’m sorry if you say you’re sorry. Maybe we just needed a break from one another but you really want to throw away all our years together for a gaudy military parade, a picnic on Scarborough Shoal, and empty flattery? I’m sure we could make it work. Sometimes countries in a committed relationship just need to reboot, and find a new way to iron out their differences. As the counselor said, it would help if we started using “I feel” language instead of “You are” language.
I’m willing to give it another try. What do you say?
Anonymous Foreign Writer has won awards for his fiction and nonfiction. Born in the United States of America, he has been based in the region for many years.