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One more Independence Day, a sojourner’s view


Here comes the bride, all dressed inwhite.  This sentence – usually sung – figures prominently this monthas June supposedly has been the preferred month for weddings as the woman inwhite wants to be known as a June bride.

But June is also the month when on one of itsdays–today–Filipinos celebrate their Independence Day. It used to be that inall small towns and cities across the archipelago, the day would be celebratedwith a flag-raising ceremony at the town or city hall grounds and a paradefollowed with a program of prayers, speeches and Filipino songs anddances. 

In the 50s-60s when I was growing up in Digos City, it wascompulsory for all students to join the parade. Of course, attendance waschecked.  But if memory serves me right, I think I was born already whenthe Independence Day celebrated by my parents was July 4, which is the USA’sFreedom Day and now labeled in our country as Philippine-American FriendshipDay!

(An aside: if the Americans have beentreating us as friends, and yet look at how Washington has treated us shabbilythrough history, imagine if the USA were our enemy?)

So how is Independence Day being celebratedtoday throughout the Republic (supposedly one of the first to arise inAsia)?  I am sure there are flag-raising ceremonies to which publicservants in the State’s bureaucracy from Malacañang all the way down to thelowliest barangays are required to attend. Check attendance, of course. My hunch is that very few local government units organize a parade with allthat jazz – floats with historical scenes, barangay contingents, the police andmilitary brandishing their guns and a loud marching band with majorettes revealingtheir sexy legs and thighs!  Those were the parades I saw in my youth.

The TV networks, of course, outdo one anotherto have their Independence Day pakulo. But one wonders, if theirIndependence Day specials – mainly composed of songs sung by their own celebritiespunctuated with advertisements promoting foreign products – really is aheartfelt valentine to the Filipino people. One can’t help but be cynical aboutthis, as TV networks – viciously outdoing one another for the almighty ratings– just want to have seduce people’s patronage on a day when most family membersare relaxing at home.

If today is really a day for us to celebrateour having attained an independent sovereign Republic status (read: we finallyshattered the chains that enslaved us to colonial imprisonment) how can wecelebrate it meaningfully? Well, we will need to deconstruct the word –Independence.
Independent from whom and from what?  We all know thatshortly after our Republic’s founding parents declared the Republic insidethe Barasoian church, another Western State attacked us; consequently, we gotshackled again by the chains of colonial rule. 

Spain (a colonial powerthat invented the Inquisition) sold us to the United States of America (acolonial power that introduced Benevolent Assimilation which is an oxymoron;what was so benevolent about all that massacres that Americans committedagainst our people from Manila to Samar to Bud Dajo in Jolo?).

While today we should remember the Kagalang-galangan’gKataas-taasan’g Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan and all the nation’s bayanis- men and women, elders and youth, elite illustrado and masang magsasaka,Tagalogs and all others, pre-colonial and post-colonial -  whoseheroic exploits led us to that day at the Barasoian church, perhaps it is timeour remembrance of this day will not just be an exercise of returning to thepast but taking stock of where we are at present and projecting ourselves tothe future.

We need to expand our vision of what it is to be a trulyindependent nation-state in the context of today’s realities not just in therealm of the socio-political-economic, but also that of thecultural-ecological.

Here is this writer’s humble suggestion as tohow we can make our Independence Day this year far more memorable than justhaving a flag-raising ceremony and cocktails at Malacañang. We can expand theKKK’s coverage to read as Kagalang-galangan’g, Kataas-taasan’g Kalikasan.For truth be told, we need to immensely respect what would be the apex of God’screation, namely Mother Nature of which we – human beings – are but a smallunit. In fact, we are Johnny-come-latelys to this scene compared to otherspecies who have been in this planet thousands upon thousands of years beforethe homo erectus made its entrance in this landscape.

Vis-a-vis policies and programs related toecology - considering the threat of mass destruction that could come about ifclimate change worsens – it is important for us Filipinos to work towardssovereignty in regard to how we deal with the environment.

Thus, we should pressure our government – ifit is truly of, by and for the people – to adopt nationalist policies in termsof the kind of investments the State  should promote. We should not allowforeign entities with their local partners to lord it over our patrimony;instead we should push  for our people’s control over our resources whichare  found in our remaining forests, seas and beneath the earth. Weshould  become active advocates promoting alternative sources of energy,protecting our people from destruction that comes about because of what we doto our environment and we should do our best to be engaged in risk-reductiongiven how our islands are so vulnerable to the vagaries of natural calamities.
So Filipino people, especially those of youin Mindanao, particular in Davao City, support campaigns that would:

-         Stop all kinds of mining – especially open-pit mining – that destroy oureco-system, impoverish our people further especially the Lumad who getdislocated with such schemes, create animosities among us who are at the losingend of such operations and will contribute further to global warming.

-  Resist the setting up of coal-fire power plants everywhere.
-  Resist the temptation to explore nuclear power
- Stop the housing projects aimed at Maa Shrine Hills and turn this place into apark that will benefit all of Davao City’s residents (this could be duplicatedin all other towns and cities in the country where hills are usually turnedinto high-end housing estates without regard to the possible landslides thatcould happen)

- Stop continuing destruction of our mangroves, coral reefs and forests
- Plant more trees; for the DENR to allocate more funds for reforestation (andnot just plant fast-growing trees but our indigenous hard wood trees)

- Promote organic farming and cultivation of herbs for food and medicinepurposes
- Anything and everything that is good for the integrity of creation.

- Anything and everything that will make Mother Nature independent from those whoare so greedy they only care for the now and not tomorrow, for themselves andnot for most people and the generations still to come (vis-a-vis thediscourse of inter-generational justice) and for the material benefitsthey can squeeze out of the environment rather than the so many other benefitswe derive when we truly love creation as a gift of our Creator.

Happy Independence Day everyone!  And to the Junebrides and bridegrooms: insist on wedding ceremonies and reception parties thathelp protect rather than destroy Mother Nature who is the source of all LOVE.


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