I will be chartering [sic] a [new] course [for the Philippines] on its own and will not be dependent on the United States,” President Duterte declared shortly after his decisive electoral victory in 2016.
His impassioned announcement sent shock waves across the world. Many began to wonder whether the Philippines would end its perceived status as, in President William McKinley’s patronizing prose, America’s “little brown brother.”
It was the most strident expression of long-simmering dismay and genuine frustration by a Filipino leader against a century-old history of strategic subservience. After all, since the founding of the Philippine Republic, the imperial Manila elite had effectively outsourced our external security obligations to a foreign power, the very nation that betrayed our valiant revolution against the Spanish Empire.