Pliant Like a Bamboo

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There is a story in Philippine folklore about a mango tree and a bamboo tree. Not being able to agree as to which was the stronger of the two, they called upon the wind to make the decision.

The wind blew hardest. The mango tree stood fast. It would not yield. It knew it was strong and sturdy. It would not sway. It was too proud. It was too sure of itself. But finally its root gave way, and it tumbled down.

The bamboo tree was wiser. It knew it was not as robust as the mango tree. And so every time the wind blew, it bent its head gracefully. It made loud protestations, but let the wind have its way. When finally the wind got tired of blowing, the bamboo tree still stood in all its beauty and grace.

The Filipino is like the bamboo tree. He knows that he is not strong enough, to withstand the onslaught of superior forces. And so he yields. He bends his head gracefully with many loud protestations.

And he has survived. The Spaniards came and dominated him for more than three hundred years. And, when the Spaniards left, the Filipinos still stood-only much richer in experience and culture.

The Americans took place of the Spaniards. They used more subtle means of winning over the Filipinos to their mode of living and thinking. The Filipinos embraced the American way of life more readily than the Spaniard's vague promises hereafter.

Then the Japanese came like a storm, like a plague of locusts, like a pestilence-rude, relentless, cruel. The Filipino learned to bow his head low, to "cooperate" with the Japanese in their "holy mission of establishing the Co-Prosperity Sphere." The Filipino had only hate and contempt for the Japanese, but he learned to smile sweetly at them and to thank them graciously for their "benevolence and magnanimity".

And now that the Americans have come back and driven away the Japanese, those Filipinos who profited most from cooperating with the Japanese have been loudest in their protestations of innocence. Everything is as...
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