1. One hundred sixteen years ago, Aguinaldo proclaimed on June 12th the Philippine’s independence from Spain. Two years earlier, with the execution of the three Filipino priests, Gomez, Burgos and Zamora and Rizal’s martyrdom at Bagumbayan, the Philippine Revolution begun. It was a revolution against Spain marked by deadly in-fighting among the insurgents. Bonifacio died in the hands of Aguinaldo while General Antonio Luna was assassinated by soldiers he formerly led. Treachery and bad blood abounded which the Spaniards and Americans both took advantage of. With the outbreak of World War II and the Philippines being a Commonwealth of the United States, the Japanese attacked the Philippines at the same time they attacked Pearl Harbor. Bataan and Corregidor fell and the Filipinos faced their third foreign conqueror. Makapilis and collaborators ranged from ordinary citizens to powerful government officials. Finally on July 4th, 1946 with Quezon’s immortal curse, “the Philippines ruled like hell by Filipinos is better than it being run like heaven by Americans” as the rallying cry, Independence was finally formalized. Still, freedom declared, written, signed and sealed did not mean it was delivered. Chains existed even though they were invisible. Some were even self locked.
2. The search continues to this day. There is no freedom when want and poverty choke more than 40% of the people. There is no freedom when justice plays favorites and takes into consideration who one is. There is no freedom when majority of the people will rather leave the country and seek a better life in foreign shores. There is no freedom when government functionaries wallows in wealth and luxury at the expense of the poor and the marginalized. There is no freedom when corruption rules each fiber of the nation’s psyche and good citizenship is dead like the heroes.There is no freedom when brothers continue to kill each other at the egging of power wielders and power grabbers. There is no freedom when peace means death, nothing more. One hundred sixteen years notwithstanding.
3. The country will never run out of heroes who will die for freedom. What the country needs more though are heroes who will live for freedom. Dead heroes are only good for history books. Heroes who live will lift the country out of its misery. They will make progress and equality a reality. They will be the people’s hope and leaders. They will be Independence’s offspring and freedom’s true soldiers.
4. The flag will be raised in somber ceremonies all over the country as demagogues extoll the ideals of a country too numb to applaud. In the midst of corruption, the magnitude of which has never been seen, the would-be Pilates and Judases will feign innocence, even holiness. Being unmasked and disrobed, they will insist in the cleanliness of their hands and invoke that God is their witness to the purity of their souls. And that the people will remain dumb and dumber who will believe them, hook, line and sinker. Still the question will remain as to when the people will rise and claim freedom as defined by the Flag and the bluest of skies. Freedom is heaven on earth but will never be free. And all the blood shed by heroes past will remain insufficient to pay the bill. Each generation, each Filipino must shoulder the cost. Only then will freedom be eternal.