Friday, June 12, 2009

Independencia: thoughts on (our) independence

June 12.
The usual holiday.
Of course, the Philippine Independence Day.
Flags here, flags there. Ceremonies here, ceremonies there.
It’s our independence day, so what? What now?
This may be a proper time to look back again to the origin of this ‘independence’ and perhaps have a different look at it.

This day that we are probably looking forward to (because of another holiday added to our long list of long-waited holidays of the year) was made possible about more than a century ago. It may seem, upon looking at our history books, that it was prematurely done given the circumstances at that time, but it was nevertheless advantageous to declare a day of independence. Simply because there would now be a day to which the people at that time could anchor their hopes. They were now free from oppression (from the Spaniards) and so they could now assume new mindsets and move forward.

And that I think is a good look at this 1898 independence declaration. It helped the people to move forward towards living in a free atmosphere, free from foreign rule and oppression of rights and privileges, both as an individual and as a citizen of this country.

I am not being pessimistic but today, the independence is in danger getting stuck – getting stuck amongst the colorful wreaths and decorations, amidst beautifully-crafted speeches about this and that independence stuff; really, we have to take our independence right here and now. And deal with it.

For it spirals down to that same old question of how well we enjoy our independence today. What is the difference of the independence they witnessed declared then to the independence that we now commemorate?
Perhaps it’s in the loss of our concept of independence which we gradually relegate to the realms of mere memories. It’s the disregard of that hard-won independence. It is taking the independence declaration as a mere story caught between the pages of our school textbooks. The activities of the present are too engrossing to waste time in looking into how well we are really independent; how well we are free. Free. Free. Free.

Fashion. The ever-powerful television. Internet. Just a few of the things to which we indulge in and gravely imperil our identity as a nation. We conform to the fashion of other nations. We cater to the products of other countries. We identify ourselves to the unification that the internet seems to be doing with all people. It may seem that there is nothing wrong in all these but the limitations for these have been badly exceeded that it looks more to me that we are ushering ourselves already to a new form of colonization, no thanks to the persuasive powers of those ‘outsiders’ that do not care in the least about our identity. For them, it is all about spreading the products and their identity. To conquer and conform.

Even within this very country, we are threatened almost everywhere by those who are selfish enough to cater to their own wants and needs in the expense of our environment, our government, and our identity and image as Filipinos. Free trade. Charter Change. Brain drain. I would never get to understand their rationalizations with this obvious negligence in our country as a whole. One cannot just take the façade of the benefits we get into all of these things. We should look into the backstage of all these spectacles and see for ourselves who are hurt the most…– us.

But I do believe we are still quite far from the pits of oblivion. We see groups here and there having a strong sense of our identity as a nation. There’s the academe to which a large chunk of my hopes still lay. It may be now or it may be tomorrow. But a personal hope is for me to witness that one generation that would decide to fully support the growth of our identity as nation. In every aspect conceivable. Science. Arts. Literature. Medicine. Sports. Governance. Whatever you field we are today, if we make those strong resolves every single day to assert ourselves of our being Filipino, whatever means that would be, I cannot see any reason why we should not celebrate our independence everyday.

This Independence Day may be a mere celebration to some, but we should strive for that independence which is a state of mind.

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