WORLD WAR II: THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN NARRATIVE
August 13, 1943
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the Philippines as he shared his devotion to victory in the Pacific Theater of World War II. He declared:
The story of the fighting on Bataan and Corregidor, and, indeed, everywhere in the Philippines, will be remembered so long as men continue to respect bravery and devotion and determination. When the Filipino people resisted the Japanese invaders with their very lives, they gave final proof that here was a nation fit to be respected as the equal to any on earth, not in size, but in the stout heart and national dignity which are the true measures of a people. That is why the United States, in practice, regards your lawful Government as having the same status as the governments of other independent nations. That is why I have looked upon President Quezon and Vice President Osmena, not only as old friends, but also as trusted collaborators in our united task of destroying our common enemies in the East as well as in the West.
President Roosevelt addressed the Filipino people as soldiers for democracy and now worthy of independence. Much like the lived reality of war felt by all Filipinos throughout this time, such respect was earned through Filipino-American encounters in war and not in peace. The narrative of the Filipino experience in World War II often begins with the Japanese invasion in 1941 and President Roosevelt's pledge to return freedom to the island through military might. The relationship expressed in Roosevelt’s promises of fellowship and solidarity only reveal partial truths. The history of the Filipino-American relationship is steeped in imperialist hierarchies of racial expectations and capabilities. This digital exhibit travels through newspaper articles, oral histories, and historical reviews as a means to reveal the untold narrative of the Filipino experience prior to and after World War II. Beginning this narrative in the midst of “The Good War” robs the Philippines of their struggle for independence from and lends the United States the undeserved reputation of benevolent.
Curated by: Shannon M. Hayes for American Experience in World War II, Fall 2016