USS Blue Ridge, Manila and Barcelona

Cutting the cake with a samurai sword with Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr at the USS Blue Ridge

As we walk towards the bay where the ship was anchored names and images began to appear in the mind. Old George Dewey, then a Commodore and not yet the Admiral of the Navy, entering Manila Bay, with the USS Olympia and its squadron, to fight the old Spanish ships of Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón It was no contest the wooden ships were no match for the iron and steel ships. If I remember correctly Old George once fancied the idea of becoming US President. If this was true or not … who knows but like Gen Douglas MacArthur this was not fated to be. Instead, two other gentlemen who were part of the US Colonial Past of the Philippines would become US Presidents – William Howard Taft and General Dwight Eisenhower.

When Dewey arrived – he came with the Olympia. A few nights it was the USS Blue Ridge that came, It did not come to defeat a ship. It did not come to colonize. It did not come bearing teachers – another ship did and its name was the USS Thomasites – they were called Thomasites. It came on a mission of goodwill and friendship.

And it is amazing to see the USS Blue Ridge. And this particular ship and its crew seemed to be apt for the task. The ship played a historical role in the Vietnam-US conflict when it housed and shipped thg US Embassy staff at the end of the war. And at present its crew is composed of a number of person whose roots can be traced to this country.

And yes it is an important thing in that sense. The Filipinos are a product of the never-ending interaction and collission with people, events and things. In that sense we have ties with the Spaniards, Chinese, Malays, Mexicans, French, Japanese, British, Indians, Germans and Americans.

As such the title Barcelona, Manila ad Blue Ridge seems to have a connection on a historical-social-culural basis but it maybe not what you think. What I have I mind is something else/ Something … perhaps worth remembering. And it has something to do with Walt Stillman and his movie Barcelona.

The movie Barcelona is the movie I remember – because:

One, I have a copy and enjoy watching it from time to time. A good rule I think when one thinks of purchasing a movie.

Two, The story is set in Barcelona in the closing days of the Cold War.

Three, The story is about people Americans and Iberians. And it is a story about cousins, friends, relationships and perceptions.

In particular perceptions and Ants.

Without giving away the story, which I strongly recommend you watch, one brief moment in the movie the characters talk about how people view the US. The Consul talked about how the world viewed the United States as an Ant Farm. Now an Ant Farm is a vivarium composed of two clear glass on each side held together by a from that completes this slim rectangle shaped object. Inside one can place earth or sand. One places Ants in and hope they form a colony. Most probably by placing a candidate Queen.

Going back to the Consul and the Ant Story.

He, the Consul, likened the US to an Ant Colony that was viewed by the world. But often the world was dependent on journalists and commentators to describe the colony. The problem was the journalists ant commentators hated Ants.

The story stuck inside my mind and indeed made me think how our opinions are shaped by those around us, who we read, who we listen to and who we watch. And perhaps it might not be a bad idea to decide for ourselves.

Going back to the USS Blue Ridge a Combat Communication ship on a mission of goodwill and friendship. – May it have more than 10,000 goodwill and friendship missions.

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