June 12th marks the freedom that Philippines has embraced after the long standing Spanish colonial government. The declaration of the nation as that with choice, will, and ability to move was made in commemoration on this very day. Historically, this was a scenario of independence and pride as was the event in Kawit, Cavite.
This writing won’t tackle in duplicity the history or even the controversy that has been bestowed upon this event. This is to further define what freedom really means to this day onward. Have we as people attained freedom in all levels, with pride to our country? Have we independently stood by what we say and do despite the many circumstances that have come before us? And have we really told ourselves that we are indeed living a life that is solely with bearing on choice and not merely on influence?
At times, it would make me think that the Independence Day is nothing more than a holiday. We get to rest, go around, and be free of work. But this routine simply means we are not seeing any further. We need not flaunt some flag, or declare anything resembling in historicity. I just think that we haven’t much thought about such independence as people in present time and day.
Yes, the country is democratic in different facets and in principled definition. But I personally believe that democracy is never a guarantee for utter freedom. I can see that the Filipino may not necessarily be free, but just by the thought of having struggled in the past and living with “choice” and seeming will is just quite enough to say there is really freedom. On the surface, I would say yes; but in the complexity of the social meshing and political webbing, I can see that we are continuously, still, attaining that long believed freedom.
To point out firstly, acknowledge the ambiguity of the national identity. In retrospection and insight, the Filipino construct and identification is yet to be built and proven. Who is really the Filipino? What is exactly the culture that has long been paraded in several competitions worldwide, be it in literal strive for prizes (instances of pageants, sporting events, or intellectually driven competitions) or simply the evidence of getting by with the market or global economy. We can even ask ourselves of our pride alongside that image of who we really are. We end up mixing and matching all sorts of associations, even to those who have colonially taken advantage of us. We would take pride in the whiteness of our skin derivative of the Spanish decent or the American acculturation as evidenced by our proficiency in the American English language, well, at least in the manner (with the twang and American-adapted accent). The Filipino hasn’t fully grasped the core, the essence. This won’t be in comparison to the Asian counterparts that have grounded themselves on their truest identities, and then have ventured into the most popular culture. But have we really transgressed the past and lived with embrace of the real Filipino, or haven’t we gone far enough, still in that hemisphere of hang-ups and mere associations? They say that the colorful, ornate identify as produced by the past is the Filipino itself, like some metal that has been refined in time and several earthly processes. But then again, we cannot dig deep of the Filipino. We just live in influence, association, and adherence to what we are not.
Secondly, consider our capabilities and potentials to mention the least. Though academicians, professionals, and even artists have all the skill and mind to really prove more than anything, we haven’t still established ourselves on our very grounds. We still flee to the west or the neighboring, thriving, and developed Asian nations to obtain some degrees. Why can’t we build something in the country? This is not merely to belittle the gusto for furthering studies as set in a different culture, thereby learning in different standards. Who doesn’t want to learn beyond what the country has to teach? But consider for instance our disposition being a developing country, being a learning ground for development and progress studies, which may not fully be observed in practice in developed countries, why can’t we build the Philippines as the development learning “hub?” We may become a development laboratory where other countries may learn from us. The idea of being dependent on these developed countries will never be a hindrance to our self-actualization that we can actually be free if we just see what we have in our own place. It’s good to go out there and seek for greener pastures that we may come back to save our very own. But the ideal motivation is not grounded on that. It’s grounded on the fact that the Philippines is no where near the western countries, that it’s corrupt, dirty, “sweaty,” hopeless, stinky, and all the derogatory statements (probably the gates of hell). But I think it won’t start in the system of corruption or damnation. It will always start somewhere far from the bounds of corruption and damnation. We must seek within, find out what is really good in the country, in us as Filipinos, and born this for the other countries to see. The motivation should be to work on what is that we have, and we can start from there.
Lastly, let’s examine our principles, beliefs, the simplest insights, and opinion. From these, we make our choices, and from the choice, we act. Are these really products of our own thinking relative to our own culture and values? We may validate this my affirming that indeed the western thinking has damaged our being Filipinos because we are on the verge of losing ourselves, cracking down on the pressure of trying to be at par with the world. But on second thought, isn’t the loss of values and identity caused by the confusion brought about by the immediate acceptance of the new ideas from the west and the eventual abandonment of the Filipino construct, as opposed to understanding the new without dismissing our own, and thereby symbiotically interspersing the two for a more holistic understanding of life and the globalizing of the world? I reckon this can be true since we just recklessly jump into the ideas of the popular culture and leave our own behind. We ought to form our principles from our foundation of Filipino ideas; we depart from here. We then move somewhere and engage into something new. We then decide if it’s reasonable given our circumstance at the moment. There may be changes, and they are inevitable, but we need not be caught confused and lost. We make our ideas reasonable yet not lag behind at the same time. We just need to understand where are coming from before we reach out to what the west or some nearby countries have to show.
We are free, yes. We can decide what we can buy. We speak out. We live. But as a Filipino, are we utterly free?