Thailand and Philippines: Twins separated at birth
The best description of Thailand-Philippine friendship would be as twins separated at birth. Both countries are close allies of the US and each has their ups and downs. They fought side by side as members of the UN-led international forces in the Korean War.
During much of their modern history, they shared similar unsavory narratives — trying to get rid of squatter areas, to reduce the national income gap as well as overcoming the “middle-income trap”. In addition, during the 1970s and 1980s, their overseas workers suffered the same plight with low levels of help from home.
But their common aspirations are much bigger and overwhelming – to be the freest and most democratic members of Asean.
Thais and Filipinos appreciate each others’ political experience in exercising their people power. In particular, they shared a common desire to topple dictatorial regimes and it was indeed transformational. The Filipinos learned from the Thais how to stage long-lasting protests by adding attractions such as entertainment and good food. The Thais followed the Filipino campaigns of mass mobilization with strong deliverable messages. Together, their people have made public participation in the democratic process a norm within the Asean context.