Five times more ‘G.I. babies’than previously thought

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

There are five times more American “G.I. babies” in the Philippines than previously thought — and they continue to multiply. This is according to a recent study by a visiting American social researcher and professor in Angeles City, Pampanga. Such finding categorizes military-origin Filipino Amerasians as a social diaspora. For, they forcibly are stripped of their citizenship, dispersed in slums, and suffer discrimination.

The number of abandoned offspring of US military servicemen could be 250,000 or more, analysis by P.C. Kutschera, PhD, shows. Their ranks are “expanding slowly but exponentially,” he says. He considers Filipino Amerasians born not only during the Vietnam War. Counted as well are those sired since American Occupation and Commonwealth years, to the present joint US-Philippine military exercises. Meaning, Filipino Amerasians are not only in their thirties or forties, but can also be geriatrics and newborns.

Previously the Filipino Amerasians were estimated to run to about 52,000. Most studies considered only the height of the Vietnam War in 1968-1975. At the time the US used the sprawling Clark Air Base in Pampanga and Subic Naval Base in Zambales as launch pads for military operations across the South China Sea. Close to 100,000 US military personnel were stationed in those largest air and naval bases outside mainland America, and in 19 smaller facilities throughout the Philippines. The Philippine Senate evicted the bases in 1992.

Kutschera traces military-origin Filipino Amerasians back to the US Occupation of the Philippines in 1898 and the Commonwealth Period of 1935-1946. The US expanded Clark and Subic bases right after World War II, throughout the length of the Vietnam War in 1955 to 1975, up to 1992. Among the other major facilities were Sangley Base in Cavite, Crow Valley Bombing and Gunnery Range in Tarlac, Cubi Point Naval Air Station in Bataan, Wallace Air Base in La Union, Camp John Hay in Baguio City, and the Joint US Military Advisory Group in Metro Manila. Not only the 100,000 base personnel passed through the total 21 facilities during the Vietnam War, but also tens of thousands of US military transients and consultants, plus civilian employees and civil-military contractors.

In estimating the number of Filipino Amerasians, Kutschera also includes the eventual offspring of the original abandoned children of US base occupants. He considers as well the post-1992 military Amerasians, similarly sired by American fathers and impoverished Filipino mothers, mostly prostitutes. There are three sources:

• US servicemen who participate in the annual Balikatan military exercise in Central Luzon;

• those deployed in counter-Islamist terrorism in Mindanao; and

• US bases outside the Philippines, such as in Okinawa, Korea and Guam, where Filipinas work as nightclub entertainers.

Only after 1992 was the plight of Filipino Amerasians publicized. Although most already were abandoned then by American fathers of Anglo, African or Latino roots, the rest were left with no paternal sustenance with the departure of the bases. The Pearl S. Buck International Foundation noted that even at the old estimate of 52,000, there were more Filipino Amerasians than in neighbor countries. And unlike their counterparts in Japan or Korea, Filipino Amerasians mostly were penurious. The University of the Philippines-Center for Women’s Studies also found many female Amerasians to be victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. The Amerasians, especially those from African fathers, also suffered discrimination by schoolmates, teachers, peers and strangers. The term “G.I. baby” is often used derogatorily.

In 1993 a class suit was filed in the International Court of Complaints in Washington, DC, to recognize the Filipino Amerasians’ right to assistance. The court rejected the plea. Supposedly, the petitioners were products of illicit acts of prostitution, and so could not be bases for legal claims.

Kutschera’s revision of their estimate to a quarter of a million raises Filipino Amerasians to diaspora proportions. He cites certain reasons for the rating:

• 50-percent blood ties to US nationals;

• century-long historic and cultural ties to America;

• forced forfeiture of citizenship rights due to abandonment by fathers;

• absolute inability to return to their American homeland mainly due to poverty, stigmatization and discrimination;

• racial dispersal in half-dozen other East Asian states;

• isolation and neglect, despite ability to speak and sometimes precisely because born to the English language; and

• expressed desire for recognition and repatriation.

Kutschera presented his research last October to the 9th International Conference on the Philippines, held at the Asian Studies Center, Michigan State University in East Lansing. (Full text at www.AmerasianResearch.org/diaspora; coauthored by Marie A. Caputi, PhD, a professor at Walden University, Minnesota.) The paper, “The Case for Categorization of Military Filipino Amerasians as Diaspora,” amplifies Kutschera’s 2010 doctoral dissertation. That earlier work is on psychosocial risk and mental disorder due to stigmatization and discrimination of Amerasians in Angeles City outside Clark Air Base.

There are at least 5,000 Amerasians in Angeles alone. Kutschera is a professor at the Systems Plus College Foundation there, where he also heads the Philippine Amerasian Research Center. It was in the Angeles area where Kutschera noted in 1999 how female Amerasians were also working as bargirls, like their mothers before them, in a vicious cycle of poverty and oppression. That study found high incidences of alcohol, drug and familial abuse among the Angeles Amerasians, aside from identity confusion, grief from abandonment, social isolation, low self-esteem, joblessness, and homelessness. It was made with Dr. Carolyn I. Sobritchea, of the U.P.-Center for Women’s Studies and later dean of the U.P.-Asian Center.

Kutschera wishes his researches to awaken American public awareness of mendicant Amerasians. On March 4, 2001, those in Angeles and Olongapo City beside Subic celebrated “Amerasian Day,” and urged the Philippine government to make it official. The Japan-based Amerasian Foundation picked up the idea and is working on the annual observance of an International Amerasian Day every March 4th.

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