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Awakening: Independence not a gift from outside

12:24 AM June 17, 2015

It was on Jan. 15-19 this year when Pope Francis visited us. It was also the week when I bought a new car in Makati for my own personal use in General Santos City, where I am based. My mother had attended the Pope’s Mass in Luneta, and so we agreed to take that coveted land trip that would see us all the way from Luzon to Mindanao, and take in the scenery along the way.

However, at the last minute my mother opted to take the plane instead from Manila to GenSan. That left me at a crossroads—to either ship the car or drive it all by myself, something I’ve never done in my entire life.

Summoning all my powers, I decided to just drive. Now, before that day I hated driving. But thinking that I could segmentize the whole pan-Philippine journey, my game plan was to spend the night in any given city where I find myself in. And so off I went.

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The first night I slept over in a Lucena inn in Quezon province. Before I knew it I was on my way to Naga City in Bicolandia where I spent the second night, then on to Sorsogon City the third night. The first real challenge was to take the car off the barge in Matnog upon crossing the Samar Sea; the car had to be deftly maneuvered through a makeshift plank. I hurdled that. I then continued my journey (alone but not lonely) and slept in Catbalogan City in Samar, then crossed the San Juanico Bridge to Leyte, then to San Ricardo pier in Lilo-an, Southern Leyte, where I took yet another barge that would finally bring me to Mindanao whose terrain I am all-too familiar.

Which brings me to why I wrote this letter, which is in fact a reaction to Felizardo M. Pagsanhan’s “June 12 independence day celebration upholds a lie” (Opinion, 6/12/15).

No, sir, it was not America that gave our country its true independence. Neither is it true that celebrating Philippine independence on June 12 means acknowledging that we got our independence from Spain. Independence from foreign subjugation is a unilateral act, not a gift one would request from colonizers.

Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, as the leader of a new nation, proclaimed Philippine independence to tell the world that we owe our independence only to ourselves and not from any other nation. Independence is not a date, but a series of events that culminates in a proclamation—in our case, this was done June 12, 1898.

Just like Aguinaldo, I too took that leap of faith and decided to chart my own destiny. It was a personal decision, one of the best decisions I made in my entire life. It’s no exaggeration to say that the feeling was like freeing oneself from the clutches of the fear of unknown.

This same liberating feeling has carried me through in all aspects of my life, not only in my work but also in my chosen sport.

As an epilogue, I cannot wait to make that pan-mainland US sojourn from New York to California in 2017.

—DOMINADOR S. LAGARE JR., dslagarejr@yahoo.com

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TAGS: Emilio Aguinaldo, independence, Papal visit, Pope Francis
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