Time for reflection and self-examination
From June 12, 1898, the day Philippine Independence was proclaimed in Kawit, Cavite, to June 12, 2017—a span of 119 years—the Filipino people have endured a long and tortuous trek in quest of freedom and full nationhood. Sadly the journey has been dark and inconsistent.
Perhaps it is time we paused and asked ourselves: What have we, as individuals, done for this country, such that peace and inclusive progress has been so elusive?
If a nation’s greatness were to be measured in terms of its GNP (gross national product) or the excellence of each individual citizen in the pursuit of his calling, then we deserve some breast-beating. But who benefited from these giant strides? Evidently something is missing, and this we must resolve.
Toward this end, the following historical events may prove useful:
The capture of Emilio Aguinaldo, president of the first Philippine Republic at Palanan, Isabela, on March 25, 1901 (actually a “sellout” conspiracy by his own men) was a major setback in our struggle for independence and nationhood. It doused the fire of nationalism that ignited the Katipunan revolution against Spain and resistance against American occupation.
Aguinaldo’s downfall, machinated by Filipino conservatives who advocated annexation to the United States, led to our century-long “waltz” with the Americans. But thanks anyway for the tutelage in democratic concepts of governance and some measure of material progress.
Fast forward to the Cold War era when the old empires crumbled and former emperors had to change clothes, so to speak, to somehow hold on to their former colonies. With a new concept (read: weapon—transnationalism—and with their “market forces,” they then broke through national borders and infiltrated governments of small states.
These forces maligned nationalism and gave it ugly connotations. Our own leaders genuflected in obeisance before them and facilitated the smooth acceptance of their version of economic and political policies. The divide-and-conquer strategy lived on, leaving behind more divisions within and among states.
Soon enough, the Cold War stoked the fires of a peasant rebellion and cities were afire with protest rallies, intensifying the ideological hostilities, and militants were placed under surveillance. Even student leaders—who, out of touristic curiousity, slipped into China and Moscow to attend international conferences—were investigated by the congressional committee on anti-Filipino activities as soon as they came back. Activists were hauled to Camp Crame; others simply disappeared; the rest took to the hills to provide intellectual substance to the insurgency.
These events provided then-president Ferdinand Marcos the backdrop to declare martial law which all the more spawned violence and divisiveness. This singular political act inspired concerted moves that led to the famous Edsa revolution. The rest is history.
To make this year’s celebration of Independence Day more meaningful, Filipinos must act together as one people and one nation in the pursuit of common goals. The nation’s interest must be prioritized in every citizen’s mind and in all programs of government. This may be the only way to attain inclusive progress and find the missing link to national greatness.
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