Inquiring into a parallel other: A Filipino gazing back at Thailand
While Thailand and the Philippines are both located in Southeast Asia, there is very little historical and cultural connection between them. In the contemporary Filipino consciousness, Thailand is painted as a tourist attraction, as a place for buying cheap imitation goods. In academe, there is very little academic interest in Thailand as an object of scholarly inquiries or pedagogy, except in obligatory comparative courses in Southeast Asia taught in some Universities. Thus, it is very easy to look at Thailand as a clear ‘other’ of the Philippines. However, as this chapter will point out, there is much parallelism in the history and political development in these two countries, making it possible to treat Thailand as a parallel ‘other’ of the Philippines. An analysis that would draw connections to what can be easily seen as positions of distinct otherness and difference would not only destabilize the grounds in which the categories of ‘self’ and ‘other’ are usually defined in the context of two physically and culturally distinct spaces, such as those that emerge between a Filipino ‘self’ and the Thai ‘other’, but also in the context of how such ontological positions emerge even within one country, particularly in societies like the Philippines trying to re-imagine its colonized and hybridized ‘self’.