Freedom Gone Awry!

June 9th, 2015 · No Comments


“Sugod mga kapatid!” (Charge, my brothers.)  That was the cry of Bonifacio to the Katipuneros.  He summoned the courage to lead his men to fight for freedom.  Rizal, Mabini, Bonifacio and hundreds of nameless faces had the courage to stand up for what they believed in and to fight for freedom.  They fought for liberty, democracy and the true values of the Filipino.

That was 117 years ago, when the declaration of Philippine independence was proclaimed.  Although we were freed by the Americans from the Japanese only in 1945.  Despite discrepancies in the pages of history, and whatever  side of the debate you’d like to take, the point is that these men, heroes all, had the guts to stand up for freedom.  It is because of them that we stand here today free and able to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

It’s that time of the year again. Preparations for Independence Day festivities are in full swing.  Now the battle of the celebration begins.  We engage in trivialities – Who will have the best party; who will raise the flag better; who has the better outfit?  Progress cannot be had when the formula remains unchanged:  spot the singers (the more the merrier), find someone or a group who can move their limbs although not necessarily in time and in unison; drag a speaker for lots of photo opportunity and presto we survived another year of celebration, until next year again.

People will no doubt be dusting their sayas and their barongs,  ready for their beso-besos, and putting their hands across their chests to show their patriotism for the country of birth they left behind. And yet, the substance will be missed; the meaning of the day forgotten; and quality flushed down the drain.  Some will  not even know what culture really is!  For those of us on the observation deck:  shall we beam with pride or reek with shame?

The Spaniards have long been gone.  The Japanese and the Americans have gone.  But the enemy has not really disappeared.  This time, the real enemy is we, ourselves. We continue our fight with each other.  After all these years, we have not broken away from the shackles of our minds.  We remain slaves, imprisoned by our own thinking and attitudes.  Freedom remains an elusive concept; correct thinking an impossible task.   We want, but really we can’t!

We lie to each other with much fervor for self gratification and perceived glory, and for the colour of money, we are silenced. We engage in verbal skirmishes but never have the guts to have a sit down and settle issues decently.  We resist the truth and the struggle continues for who will be better; who is the best.  Egos lead the way.  The fight is not even for the higher values of valor, honesty, freedom but simply for the self aggrandizement.  Nothing that brings honour to the Philippines.

Likewise, corruption and poverty continue to stare us in the face and we choose to scream from a distance pretending to care but remain unmoved. We are blinded by emotions, even choosing to ignore the hard core evidence of the past.   Some have even chosen to forget that Martial Law ever existed.  Forgive and forget is the battle cry; condone and tolerate.  And yet, with renewed confidence of having gotten away with the wrong and erroneous thinking, they simply do it one more time, with feeling.

Regional competition is fierce. We isolate each other rather than rejoicing in our cultural diversity.  It is them versus us, when there really is only we.  Sadly, many still cannot think for themselves and choose to go with the flow, afraid of retribution or of being isolated.  They choose to remain silent and indifferent.  Amusingly, even when Consular officials speak of “the proper and the right”, there are those who are quick to point the fickle finger of blame onto others rather than on themselves. Perhaps, a close look at themselves could be blinding if not, much too painful.

We definitely have not learned from our history; no wisdom gained. We may have won the battles but we surely have not won the war with ourselves.

Perhaps, now it is time to say “Gising Bayan!”  Wake up!


(Note:  Independence Day Illustration copyright to John Del Rosario, an artist and retired US Air Force.  All rights reserved.)

Tags: Grey Matter