The Philippines needs a rebirth, not just another Independence Day celebration | Inquirer Opinion

The Philippines needs a rebirth, not just another Independence Day celebration

/ 04:05 AM June 10, 2024

As we commemorate our so-called independence from Imperial Spain after more than a century, we reflect once again on the perennial question: “Are we really free?”

We have witnessed the highs and lows of our history; a few, we celebrate, and the rest, we regret. Past is past and we always say, “Just move on.” We always want to console our frustration by asserting that we learn from history, from our past. Another perennial question arises: “Have we really learned?”

These two critical questions underlie fundamental truths that (1) liberty and education are mutually cohesive with each other; (2) to be free one should be enlightened; and (3) freedom is only guaranteed when one is willing to learn.

This triad of social concepts encapsulates why our country remains poor and corrupt. We have never learned. Or worse, we refuse to learn.


If we look at our poor fellow Filipinos with no access to quality education, health, food, housing, and employment—we feel hopeless for our country but at the same time we feel sorry not only for them but for ourselves because we cannot do anything to help them.

For decades we have lost hope. We feel there is nothing we can do for our country. Yes, we are “free” but we remain poor. And for how long? That is the biggest question. Until when will our country suffer? Will we get the chance to wake up one morning and see our precious land transform into a prosperous country where Filipinos no longer need to live and work abroad? Sadly, many of us will die without witnessing the greatness of our nation.

The Philippines needs a rebirth.

To be born again with a new breed of passionate people who have great vision and dreams for our country, who are incorruptible and brave enough to change the status quo, whose objective is to selflessly serve the people, and who are competent to lead.


As we celebrate the independence of our country: we know, but we deny, that we are not truly free. It is a dishonest celebration we do every year. We can never genuinely celebrate it with glee and pride as we see our country poor and corrupt.

In the 1950s, our country was richer and more advanced than many Asian countries like South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, and even Singapore. But we have seen how our Asian neighbors progressed significantly while our very own Philippines regressed like a sick hopeless land with no opportunities.


Year after year when we celebrate our nation’s independence, we live like the walking dead with nowhere to go. Thus, many of us find opportunities in foreign countries.

Let us be honest: we leave our country because we can only fulfill our dreams if we live and work in foreign lands. Many of us have become numb to seeing the difference between good and bad, between right and wrong; we just accept everything that happens in our country: “It is what it is” and “normal.” In our collective subconscious, we have accepted corruption and poverty as a status quo because “there is nothing that we can do.”

Do we lack visionary leaders who can make our country better? Perhaps the answer is that we have never learned. We even use our state of poverty as an excuse to be accomplices of corruption and incompetence. But how can we blame our poor Filipinos for selling their votes when stomachs are more vital than morals for survival? Like a malignant disease, we recycle incompetent and corrupt leaders.

The cure is to educate our people to end the cycle of poverty. When we become better Filipinos, we can help the Philippines become a better country.

Let’s fight corruption! Let’s fight poverty! Then, when we succeed in this battle, we can all celebrate our Philippine Independence Day with genuine joy and pride.

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Rado Gatchalian

TAGS: Independence Day, opinion

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