24 October 2017

Amerasians

It's quite a picture. A strong man has lifted his entire family off the ground for the benefit of the photographer. There are six children along with  their mother. I have no idea if he was married to that woman but the couple are sometimes referred to as Mr and Mrs Bowler.

She doesn't look very happy does she? She isn't laughing.  I know it's just a snapshot, a moment in time, but here's a real sadness about her demeanour. In contrast, the children seem happy and healthy enough.

The picture was taken in The Philippines, an island nation which has hosted American military bases since the end of the nineteenth century. This particular picture dates from around 1930.

The children can be described as Amerasians. It is estimated that there at least 52,000 Amerasians in The Philippines - probably many more than that. Being Amerasian isn't always easy. Often the father will have disappeared back to America and the offspring may find themselves shunned in the host country. Many became virtual social pariahs.

There are thousands more Amerasians in Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. It seems that wherever the American military have been located for any length of time they find a very intimate way of underscoring their might. It was the same in Great Britain during the second world war. 

War is meant to be about territory and overpowering the enemy. Swords and bullets, aeroplanes and tanks, strategy and victory or defeat. But history shows that it is also about impregnation and the careless fathering of children who, very sadly, are frequently destined to lead troubled lives.

20 comments:

  1. Well, I'm pretty confident the American military isn't alone in this. Conquering armies have been doing this sort of thing since the beginning of time, haven't they?

    That is a very strange picture. I imagine the woman is mostly concerned that she and her baby are about to be dropped!

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    1. You are right. Occupying armies have always misused their might in this manner but in the twentieth century the American military were boundless beyond compare. So many thousands of Amerasian children. Quite staggering really.

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  2. Something about this photo reminds me of Hippo

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    1. Nice to hear from you again Jan. I hope you are keeping well. Do you mean Hippo on the Lawn? I wonder what happened to him...

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  3. Reminds me of my great-grandfather and his 'other family' in Ghana.

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    1. Skeletons in the family cupboard... Has Paul got "another family" somewhere?

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    2. Not that I'm aware of!

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  4. I think I have heard more about this phenomenon as it relates to US forces than any other army, although I am sure it happened everywhere through history.
    I had a school friend who was Eurasian, her dad was Malaysian born Chinese and her mum was a Scottish born Australian. She spoke to me more than once about feeling an outsider to both cultures. As it turned out my own, now adult, children are also Eurasian. The area where we live is very multicultural and cosmopolitan and my kids fit well with anyone who identifies in this culture but they have a lot less respect and no sense of belonging to the very insular whiteness that exists not far from here.

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    1. Thank you for your reflection Kylie. I never realised that your own children were of mixed race. I guess that in many ways Sydney is a liberal, modern and accepting city.

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    2. Like anywhere else, Sydney has a whole variation in attitudes. Public schools make huge efforts to be inclusive and fair etc so my kids are comfortable with all races. They have also had much greater exposure to diverse sexuality than I ever did, not much is weird or unacceptable to them.

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  5. The evils of war. Sex was also used as a form of aggression and power.

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    1. Where ever there is conflict today we hear about sex being used as a weapon of war.

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  6. She doesn't look happy, she has an air of resignation which suggests the man in the photo might often pull stunts like lifting his entire family off the ground.

    Alphie

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    1. Who knows? Perhaps Mr Bowler loved her and his Amerasian children. At least he was there with them. Thousands of Amerasians never knew their fathers.

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  7. The wife and mother, if, in fact, she is...looks herself to be only a child; far too young to be the bearer of six children.

    I love the rolls of baby fat on the youngest little fellow. :)

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    1. Yes. She does look very young.

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  8. As many others have commented here before me, and you already knew anyway, this type of behaviour has been going on all through history. In fact, it was part of the parcel for most soldiers being sent to fight in foreign lands.
    During the time my parents grew up, just after WWII, my part of Germany was under US military government. The US military had an entire town to itself next to my hometown. It was called Pattonville and only given up by the Americans in the early 1990s. During the decades from the 1950s to the 1990s, many half-American children were born here. Many couples married or the women went to the US with the fathers of their children, but many remained here as single mothers when the soldiers left. Such "mixed" children were of course more obvious when the father was Afroamerican. In the 1950s, it certainly wasn't easy for a young Swabian woman to have a brown baby. We like to think we are well past all that, but with the influx of so many "new" foreigners (refugees and others), racism has been rearing its ugly head once more.

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    1. What you said - I never realised that. So sad for young German women to be left holding babies when the military men who sired those children have disappeared.

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  9. I often wonder if I have any step sisters or brothers in Belgium. We know that my Dad was very friendly with a family in ww11 and we found a love letter in his shed when he died. I had it transalted and it was quite touching.
    Lovely photo, made me smile.
    Briony
    x

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