Filipinos and Filipino-Americans greeted the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election with shock and disbelief.
“Oh, f—,” Manila-based writer and legislative researcher Gang Badoy Capati wrote on her Facebook page, referring to how US President Barack Obama must have reacted to Hillary Clinton’s loss.
Capati called Trump “an obvious non-choice…a glaring un-President…Now I get why [business magnate] Elon Musk is aggressively finding a way to see a habitable Mars. He knew.”
Although US polls showed Trump closing the gap with Democratic Party rival Hillary Clinton, a mock poll conducted by the US Embassy in Manila among Filipino guests the day before the vote showed Clinton the runaway winner with 82 per cent over Trump at 13 per cent. That compared to an earlier survey commissioned by the South China Morning Post that found 78 per cent of Filipinos would choose the Democrat over her Republican rival.
“I’m shocked by Hillary’s upset loss,” said economist August Fernando. “Trump’s win confirms my belief that the Philippines has no monopoly of BOBOTANTES [stupid voters].”
A stock analyst moaned, “Bad news comes in threes – [Philippine President Rodrigo] Duterte, Brexit, Trump. USA is now Filipinised,” he said, referring to the fact that both men won despite their outrageous statements and treatment of women.
However, the analyst said he, like other market watchers, was in “wait-and-see” mode because Trump the president might not necessarily act like Trump the candidate – who had criticised US businesses for outsourcing jobs to the Philippines and other places.
Ninotchka Rosca, a multi-award-winning Filipino-American novelist based in New York, said she expected Trump to tighten immigration laws and deport illegals. She said she was closely watching how Trump would “deal with the South China Sea conundrum. On the one hand, he’s anti-China but pro-Russia and uses China’s manufacturing for his business. He will likely reach a detente with China.”
Over in California, Filipino-American immigration lawyer Rodel Rodis confessed he was suffering from “President Trump Stress Disorder”. He said Trump, “the Duterte of the West, will not care about EJKs”, or extra-judicial killings in the Philippines, which had soured relations for Duterte with the Obama administration.
Because of this, Rodis said, “the Trump of the East [Duterte] will not have to worry about US criticism of his human rights violations.” And, he added, “There will be no pivot to Asia.”
One Filipino politician who appeared to call the US elections correctly was Duterte himself. Days ahead of the vote, Duterte appointed Jose Antonio – Trump’s business partner in the Philippines – to the post of “special envoy to the US to enhance business ties”. Antonio is chair and CEO of Century Properties, developer of Trump Tower Manila. He once served as special envoy to China and founded the Philippines-China business council.
Duterte’s economic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia crowed: “We have a safety net which was foreseen by the president. [Duterte] foresaw, he’s a clairvoyant. He decided to pivot to China.”
Malacanang Palace issued a congratulatory note from Duterte saying: “President Duterte wishes President-elect Trump success in the next four years as Chief Executive and commander-in-chief of the US military, and looks forward to working with the incoming administration for enhanced Philippine-US relations anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit and shared commitment to democratic ideals and the rule of law.”