Monday, June 22, 2009

A question on independence

(This was printed in the June issue of the community newspaper True Friends. They requested me to write my thoughts on Independence day.)

Considering that there was a time in our history when the question of whether Philippine Independence Day started on 12th June 1898 or 4th July 1946 was raised, I cannot help but ask: are we really sure of our independence?

Some will probably say that it is a very simple matter for such a serious question. Some may even stop reading this article now thinking that it's a too serious topic to spend your free time with. Still others may ask the same question.

Since I started learning about Philippine history in school – which in the larger part was more of memorizing names, dates and places – I've been led to embrace the idea that Philippine Independence Day started there at the balcony of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo's mansion in Kawit, Cavite. An event perfectly pictured in the two-peso bill I grew up with.

I am pretty sure that anyone who has ever heard of Magellan, Lapu-Lapu and Andres Bonifacio knows that we have been colonized by Spain. As well, I am confident that anyone who has ever heard of the Philippine-American War, Macario Sakay, and the term 'benevolent assimilation' knows that we have also been colonized by the United States of America (USA).

But what I may doubt is that anyone who has ever heard of the Bell Trade Act, parity rights, US-RP Military Bases Agreement, Visiting Forces Agreement, World Trade Organization and war on terror knows or even believes that we have never really strayed far from US' control.

Celebration of Independence Day does give us a sense of history. But history did not stop in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898 nor when the US supposedly granted us freedom on July 4, 1946.

Independence is not only the freedom to wave your own flag or even speak your own language. Independence is not also merely having a Filipino as head of state or conducting rounds after rounds of elections. It is also not merely about having a defined territory. It is neither just a mere date nor a picture in a now forgotten bill.

It is the liberty to chart the country's destiny, to have sovereignty over own resources, and to make decisions and policies free from foreign dictates.

Based on these, if I may ask again: are we really sure of our independence?

If we are, then we probably do not have a proposed Charter Change that'll give up our resources for other nations to take over. We probably do not have US troops roaming all around the country – free to enter and leave – in the name of joint military exercises. Daniel Smith probably will still be in jail.

Probably, Nora Aunor wouldn't have shouted "My brother is not a pig!" in the movie Minsa'y Isang Gamu-Gamo after her brother was shot dead by US military men who mistook him as a wild boar.

Probably, the more than 3,000 Filipinos who are forced to go abroad just to survive will not be at the airport everyday.

Probably, not everyone knows who Mickey Mouse is.

Also, probably all of those who have been president of the country would not have hurried over to speak before the US Congress and pledge support and cooperation with the US as soon as they got elected.

In many ways, we are still in the tight grip of the US. Our economy is still dominated by US investments, our trade is dependent on the needs of US and other more powerful countries, our country is neck-deep in debts to the IMF and World Bank that are controlled by the US, and our culture and mindset are very much Americanized.

After growing up believing in Independence Day, waving mini-flags and dressing in barong tagalog, it may really be hard to believe and, more so, to accept that our independence has been more in words and less in practice.

But then again, starting to question what we have been led to believe is probably the best way to get us working for the real thing.

So if someone asks me if we should celebrate our Independence Day on June 12 or on July 4, I will probably answer: soon, I hope.


Bryan Anthony said...

what i wish most is our freedom from our egos.

so new earth ha.

well discussed echo.



Ken said...

I agree. It's well-thought out. And the last line for the win.

Yj said...

at yang "soon" na yan ay depende sa atin...

kaya go... huwag nating hayaan yang mga buwayang yan na kitilin ang ating kalayaang ipaglaban ang ating kalayaan...

huh... naguluhan ako dun... wahahahaha

dencios said...

in terms of economy, ang US kasi ang leading economic power e. hindi naman tayo katulad ng saudi na may langis. meron tayo natural resources, kaso iilan lang nakikinabang kasi usually hindi naman ito mapapansin, yung mga value at mapproduce nito para sa ating ekonomiya. imbes na ito unahin anu ginagawa ng mga politiko natin? ayun publicity sa pamamanhikan.

kung ito ngang simpleng mga bagay na maaaring maging breakthrough natin sa world market e hindi napapansin e talaga dedepende tayo sa US kung sino ang malakas.

tama ka independent tayo in terms of kung anu pede nating i decide sa sarili pero yun nga naka dependent tayo sa US talaga.

pagdating sa mga sundalo na sinasabi mo, mas advanced sila sa atin, mas malakas kasi sila. mas trained pa. ang dami pa kasing problema at issues ng Pinas e. kaya ayun, kelangang kumabit.

siguro ang magagawa nalang natin ay yung ipakita ang sarili nating istayl kung paano natin magagamit ang mga benefit na nakukuha natin sa US. paano? siguro yung mga pautang sa atin e i invest para makaahon ang hirap. mag invest sa produktong sariling atin. mga ganun siguro na ginagawa naman ng Pinas.

di ko alam kung may katuturan ba itong sinabi ko o lumayo ako sa topic mo. hehe.

kung anu man e salamat sa espasyo :)

Looking For The Source said...

ready na ba ang certificate of candidacy mo?

he he.

no comment ako sa politics. wala akong alam jan.



Echo, I love RP. I always promote it to my Brits friends. If I hear anyone ridicule my race, I shoot either their eggs or flaps (depending).

But I love USA too, the place, not their president.


The Zen Bitch said...

as always, bongga!

the donG said...

the battle for independence continues. i agree you on that. away from poverty. away from corrupt officials.

日月神教-任我行 said...


蔥油餅Jon said...