The Filipino Revolution
The greatest threat to a society is not the loud voices of those who react and are critical of what is unacceptable and reprehensible. Rather, it is the silence of persons who are expected to defend and protect the cause of human liberty. Death can put into deep slumber the human body, but it cannot put into quiet a restless soul. For decades the life of the Filipino could be defined by one thing: political oppression. The stories that the old tell the young are not that of triumph or moral glory. Perhaps, those are reserved for the rich and powerful. Rather, many of our children hear only narratives of endless despair. Indeed, there is no greater scandal in any democracy than the poverty of the same people who put their rulers into power.
Orlino Ochosa is correct in saying that “a revolution is no dinner party.” A war is defined by the blood that is spilled by combatants and a revolution by the ideologies of those individuals who aspire for real and lasting social transformation. Violence in this respect can only result in the obliteration of society’s enemies, but only a true revolution can change people’s lives. Any true revolution begins with the right ideology. To revolt is not only to believe that there is something wrong in this world, but also that as human beings with dignity, people deserve decency and respect in life. The real enemy in this sense is not some moving target but, rather, the absence of real freedom. Dynasts, oligarchs, and consumerism have rubbed out from the common Filipino the meaning of their lives.
Filipino nationalists and the ilustrado class then had a real enemy: colonial Spain and American imperialism. But in a real revolution, not all heroes come to be revealed, or revered, for as always, it is the victors who write the story of war and triumph. Filipinos often fight two enemies at the same time: their colonizers and themselves. This is what is so wrong with us. In the same manner as the Americans, who taught us democracy and a presidential system, have ignored Mindanao then, many of our leaders have also forgotten the cause of the brave and valiant lesser known Filipinos who, history tells us, chose to continue the fight for our independence from oppressive rule. Our foreign enemies are long gone, but we have decided to remain in the same war.
In reality, no Filipino wants to demonize the state. The Filipino loves his or her country. But it is when the same individual realizes that the only way to get out of the gutter is for one to grab the knife when the cake is about to be sliced, that he or she will band together with dishonorable people in a corrupt system led by those who enthusiastically praise untruth and the wrong moral principles. Filipinos have fought wars that they are not supposed to be fighting in the first place. The “haves” and “have nots” among us confront each other for supremacy and meaning, by means of the ballot and sometimes through the trigger of the gun, because in our soul searching, the one principle that makes a nation what it is, seems nowhere to be found.
What makes one a hero is not death, but a living ideal and an eternal principle that far extend beyond the grave. More than a century since we won our freedom from our Spanish conquerors, we are still suffering from the same cancer that plagued our forefathers. And perhaps, if we don’t find the cure now, the generations ahead of us will continue to bear it: our lack of national unity. If we will continue to doubt our identity as a people, then we are precipitating the downfall of this nation. While our leaders quarrel about the ills of Manila-centric governance versus the uncertainties of self-determination and regional autonomy, the poor in the streets continue to carry not only the burden of existence but also the cross of social contradiction.
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Christopher Ryan Maboloc, PhD, teaches philosophy at Ateneo de Davao University. He trained in democracy and governance at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Bonn and Berlin, Germany.