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Contemplating Philippine Independence

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - June 10, 2021 - 12:00am

You all may have observed that mini Philippine flags are now being sold in the streets and other outlets and waving from cars and other vehicles. Buildings, especially official government offices and agencies, have started to display the Philippine flag as well to welcome the 123rd commemoration of Philippine Independence Day this Saturday, June 12, 2021.

We are reminded that this day celebrates the independence of the Philippines from the Spanish colonizers who, for centuries, overstayed in our country.

Despite controversies and protest over the role of Emilio Aguinaldo in the struggle of our people for independence from colonizers- the Spaniards and then the Americans- it will not be surprising to see the Philippine flag being raised in Aguinaldo’s home in Kawit, Cavite this Saturday. We wonder though if the pandemic will prevent this Kawit flag raising this year as Cavite has been reported to have the highest COVID cases for the country, as of Wednesday, June 9 news.

Another flag-raising ceremony can be expected to be done at the Luneta on Saturday. Who will lead the Cavite and Luneta flag-raising remains a subject of speculation but will surely depend on Du30’s decision. There is a very high probability Du30 will be absent again for this year’s Philippine Independence Day commemoration.

For the rest of the Filipinos, we ask: what are we celebrating every June 12? Did we truly gain independence as a nation on this day in 1898?

Depending on which history book Filipino students were assigned to read and learn about, depending on whose version of Philippine history Filipinos have accepted, we need to collectively contemplate as a people, as a nation the meaning of Philippine Independence.

There is no problem uniting to honor the Filipinos, leaders and followers, who struggled to free our people and our country from the colonizers, Spaniards and Americans. There is no problem discerning the true leaders who died, were killed for our country, for our people. There is, however, a problem about whether by June 12, we were truly independent from the Spanish colonizers or the Americans who came as our next colonizers.

Did our genuine Filipino revolutionaries truly attain independence from the Spaniards? Or were some coopted or did some sell out our country to the next formidable colonizer? How could we claim independence on this day when later we learned that our country was sold by the Spaniards to the Americans? Was that flag-raising in Cavite for show or for real?

The struggles for Philippine independence that continued in various parts of the country after June 12, 1898 were authentic proof of the valor and ardent desire of genuine Filipinos to be free. But were these authentic freedom and independence loving Filipinos betrayed by those who surrendered easily to colonizers’ offer of money and position?

Every June 12, is it perhaps worth contemplating, honoring and continuing instead the genuine Filipino heroes’ valiant spirit and struggle for true freedom of our people and our country from past/present, foreign/local oppressors?

Shall we instead commemorate June 12 as our reminder to continue to pursue Philippine independence which our people and our country have yet to achieve?

What did our forefathers/heroes fight for our people?  Rights and freedom to live human/humane lives?

To be free from want, from slave labor, to be free to deserve the fruit of one’s labor, to be free to worship one’s own god, to be free to speak, write and express one’s views, to be free to own and enjoy resources/territories that are rightly ours, to be free to participate, to choose our own, not foreign, leaders?

Has our country ever been truly independent? What does independence mean to you personally and as a Filipino?

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