Jun 18, 2009

Faux Independence

Emilio Aguinaldo believed that declaring an early independence on June 12, 1898 "would inspire the people to fight more eagerly against the Spaniards and at the same time, lead the foreign countries to recognize the independence of the country" even though his unofficial adviser, Apolinario Mabini, objected because the time was not ripe.

We may infer that June 12 was not the result of the revolution and victory; it was the other way around. Aguinaldo's declaration would fuel a revolution against Spaniards. So now, do I believe that true independence was given to the Philippines on July 4, 1946 as declared by Harry Truman? Not quite.

We must also consider the two attempts of Andres Bonifacio to declare independence: on April 12, 1895 when he etched his declaration on Pamitinan Caves in Montalban, and on August 23, 1896 - Cry of Balintawak. Or would I still accept June 12 since Diosdado Macapagal, on a nationalistic act, signed Republic Act No. 4116? For the purpose of order, I accept June 12 as the Philippine Independence Day. But does the date really matter?

If we are to limit independence as liberation from the presence of foreign control, then by all means let us celebrate on June 12 because that day acknowledges that we had freed ourselves from Spain in 1898, that we established a republic in 1899, complete with a Congress and Constitution, the first in South East Asia.

I resent the idea of moving our independence day because it was in Aguinaldo's window in Kawit, Cavite where Filipinos acknowledged and partly realized the concept of independence, which I think is the main purpose of commemorating this day. Aguinaldo's declaration subliminally transcended through time. It has continued to fuel us to achieve true independence up to this day.

We often associate independence with freedom, so unless the Filipino people experience genuine freedom, the real Independence Day is yet to come. "One faithful and inevitable day," as Jose Rizal would put it.

Some unpatriotic Filipinos would slavishly wish that the Philippines would be better of if it has been conquered by (let's say) America so that their lives would be in a better economic and political state. I cannot blame them. These are people who have not experienced June 12 as it should be. So why celebrate?

Flag raising, parades and the likes create two things: First, we are reminded of the people and events that gave us the "freedom" we are now experiencing. But it is evident that people are not experiencing genuine freedom because government officials are not being Filipinos for Filipinos - they are the present day manlulupig.

So beyond the ceremonious facade that the government creates, June 12 is the perfect day for the local officials to resurrect forgotten traditions in their municipality. Barangay chairmen can be more proactive by having their own fiestas so that people can celebrate as a community. Independence Day after all for me is a National Fiesta Day.

When Americans celebrate their Fourth of July, their citizens see hope that continues to transcend in each American. Here in the Philippines, Independence Day remains only to the elite and powerful. We loose the genuine reason why we celebrate this day as it should be appreciated and felt, without any partiality.

*This was supposed to be posted on June 12 but due to some concerns, it got delayed.

Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan Sa Lahat!

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