It is an indisputable reality that the weak are allowed to exist by the much-evolved decency of the powerful. It’s a reality evident everywhere. Much of the world as we see it today was shaped by those victorious in battle. And much as we deny it, the independence granted to us on the 4th of July 1946 is a gift. And deny this reality arduously we do, to the extent that even this denial is given a political flavour by Randy David writing for the private publicist of our new President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III…
By assimilating Independence Day every year into a long vacation weekend, Ms Arroyo unwittingly reinstates the meaning of independence as a gift from the powerful rather than as the hard-won fruit of an arduous struggle by a people.
I’m not about to make something of the obvious highlighting of the Arroyo element in this year’s 12th of June “Independence” Day commemoration. We already are familiar enough with the true character of the Inquirer.net to expect this to be made into a backdrop against which another one of the flaccid heroics of Noynoy will be highlighted. And true enough, the Inquirer.net Editor does just that…
We believe public opinion is on the side of President-elect Benigno Aquino III when he expressed the opinion that Independence Day shouldn’t be separated from the calendar date on which it actually took place [which is something that Arroyo had implemented during her administraion]. It is, therefore, not unreasonable to expect him to ask the next Congress to repeal the law making it and so many official holidays, once observed on fixed dates, moveable.
Having gotten that aspect out of the way, I come to the real point I want to make which has to do with the more fundamental character of Da Pinoy at work that is revealed in Randy David’s statement of claim to our 1898 “independence”. It is a claim made by virtue of this “independence” being “the hard-won fruit of an arduous struggle by a people”.
Indeed it was “an arduous struggle”.
But was independence really won?
The whole effort of the Philippine Revolution of 1898, as history does reveal, was simply poo-poohed by the global movers and shakers of the time as David himself concedes to…
At the point of our emancipation from Spanish colonialism, however, Spain ceded to the United States the fiction of its remaining sovereignty over the islands and its people. America seamlessly took over and scoffed at our claims to being a sovereign people. While we had become aware of our shared fate as a people, we were far from being sovereign in our own land. We remained subjects, a conquered people all over again.
The Filipino revolutionary war against America was short-lived. It was decisively crushed by American troops with superior arms. Total US hegemony was accomplished subsequently by the tools of public education. Mis-education, as Renato Constantino termed it, swiftly produced a docile population. But pockets of resistance remained, becoming the nurturing ground for new generations of anti-colonial Filipinos.
A few key words:
“scoffed at our claims to being a sovereign people”
“crushed […] with superior arms”
“Mis-education […] produced a docile population”
Why did they do it?
Because they could.
Why were we granted independence by America in the 4th of July 1946?
Because they had it in their power to do so.
It’s not too different from the reason why people in those Cordillera and Mindanao regions are considered “autonomous”. It’s because we, the Filipino Nation have it in our power to allow them to be so, much the same way as we allow the cultures of all indigenous people within the islands, and all other communities who wield arms vastly inferior to those held by our government, to endure within our sovereign territory.
So, for all the “moral” ascendancy expressed in what are really nothing more than pathetic boo-hoo words that assure us of our “right” to be independent in the world order of today, consider first that this world order was won in battle by the United States and its allies in that last Great War at the cost of millions of lives of their own citizens.
If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that there is much the Filipino needs to learn about the real sense of what it means to win. Only when we learn this lesson can we truly honour Manny Pacquiao and other real fighters amongst us.
Happy “Independence” Day.