Free, but not quite
As we commemorate our independence from Spanish colonizers more than a century ago, we should look at how we have been since then.
We are neither the richest country nor even a politically stable one, but we have come quite far as a sovereign nation, compared with the rest of the world.
Our 1987 Constitution is by far the greatest milestone we have had since colonization. It provided a framework for a government that arose from a people power revolution.
Yes, there have been continuous threats, the most recent the quo warranto case against the highest leader of the judiciary. But the integrity of the fundamental law of the land has remained intact; no president from 1987 until now has yet managed to overpower it.
The Constitution has strongly cemented civilian supremacy over the military, police, and even the government itself.
So, yes, all elements would point that we are a free nation. The freedom we enjoy today is something worth celebrating and worth thanking for.
It just proves that, even in the midst of vested interests, our ancestors, ancient and immediate, have successfully established a just and humane society, or something like it.
It would be ungrateful and a huge horror if we do not give due respect to those who toil to make our lives a little better than theirs.
What kind of people are we if we are like Mocha Uson, who in a heartbeat would discredit the significant contributions of Ninoy and Cory Aquino in the great story of our nation’s unfolding?
How would most of us feel if, after President Duterte’s term, someone in power would dismiss outright his role in redefining Philippine politics?
We are who we are today because of the collective efforts of Filipinos before us.
But while we have gone far, we remain far from our destination yet. And while we are already independent from external control, we have not yet achieved the freedom we deserve.
More than ever, we are called to be heroes again in our own little ways, because, unlike before when we could recognize our enemies in plain view, now we are actually still in bondage without us knowing.
When we say freedom, it should mean the freedom not just to eat, but to eat the kind of food we want; not just to travel, but to travel to whatever place we dream of.
Yes, we have a reason to celebrate our independence, but there is still much work to be done. And it starts with simply being vigilant against corrupt people, and not being corrupt ourselves.
Be the best at what we do, no matter how simple our jobs are. Let us continue to hone our expertise and level up in this competitive world.
Finally, let us take care of our country the way we take care of our homes. We don’t throw garbage in our living rooms, do we?
We don’t waste water in our faucets, we turn off our electrical switches when not in use.
We have house rules we follow, and if we put exactly the same commitment we have at home to our country, then perhaps our lives will be better.
Traffic problems will ease, environmental degradation will be prevented, crimes will decrease, and,
as in our house, no one will end up hungry because food is shared.
Happy Independence Day! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
CHURCHILL G. AGUILAR, firstname.lastname@example.org
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