America first and the country will be great again. This in gist is what US President Donald Trump unveiled as his vision and mission for the nation during his inauguration in ceremonies in Washington. Millions of Americans, some 4.5 millions of them of Filino descent, were glued to their television sets as the new US leader made it clear that his administration espouses a new beginning for America, a new line of approach in dealing with domestic and global issues. “We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America First —America First,” he stressed.
Mr. Trump moved on: “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.” Driving his point, he made clear what he intends to do. “We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth, and we will bring back our dreams. We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.”
For true-blue Americans, Mr. Trump’s promise understandably is most welcomed. But for the Filipinos who have made America their home, especially the thousands who are undocumented, it could be tinged with some fears about their future – is it the time to leave or be deported? The same for their relatives and the millions of Filipinos in the Philippines who are largely dependent on their US-based relatives and the US economy, particularly on their cash remittances and material contributions to the Philippines. Remittances alone from US consist of half of the total remittances of $29 billion from overseas Filipinos. Another sector fearful of the dawning of a new era is the business processing outsourcing or more popularly known as the call center business which is employing millions of Filipinos. Are the American businessmen into BPOs closing shops in line with the America First policy of the Trump government? If that happens, millions of Filipinos would lose their good-paying jobs and their dependents would be in peril also.
It is actually too early to predict what will be the impact of the Trump pronouncements on Filipinos in US and in the Philippines. We could only hope for the best for them like Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte himself echoed banking on his early contact with the US leader. Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, who joined the inaugural ceremonies in Washington, themselves said there was nothing to worry. In their own words “Wala po tayong dapat ikabahala, magiging maayos po ang relasyon natin, ang Pilipinas at Amerika. We have this long history of good relations, the United States being the big brother of the Philippines and with more than 3.5 million Filipinos who live in the US.”