Reclaiming independence

Posted by watchmen
June 13, 2024
Posted in Impulses, OPINION


By Herman M. Lagon

This June 12, we celebrate our 126th year of independence. But what precisely are we commemorating? Can we honestly claim to be free when poverty, corruption, injustice, and a host of other problems remain pervasive? Despite its complexity, my answer is a qualified yes. The Philippine Independence Day is nevertheless a momentous occasion, even for people who experience marginalization and oppression.

First, it is a potent reminder of our country’s identity and cohesion. Amidst the sociopolitical upheaval and cognitive dissonance among Filipinos, it is simple to lose sight of our shared past. Observing this day strengthens — or at least reminds us of — our sense of cohesion and shared purpose. It is essential to remember that we are all Pinoys despite our differences. Our forefathers’ combined efforts allowed us to achieve independence, and now it is up to us to stand united against the obstacles we confront.

Encouragement of civic responsibility and participation is another important part of Independence Day. This is a call to action, not just a march and ceremony kind of celebration. It brings to mind our part in determining the future of our country. We value the liberties given to us by our forefathers by participating critically in democratic procedures, holding leaders responsible, and contributing to community development initiatives. This active participation is crucial since we now navigate many societal difficulties, political circuses and governmental blunders.

This day, and hopefully in all the days after, is also an occasion to consider the lessons learned from history and remember the hardships and sacrifices made in the past that have shaped our country. By reflecting on our path, we better comprehend it and ensure we avoid making the same mistakes twice or thrice in some instances. It emphasizes how crucial it is to defend and expand the liberties our forefathers fought to achieve.

This Day of Freedom also reminds us of the moral imperative to address social and economic inequality. It is a chance to commit to combating injustice, corruption, oppression, and poverty. By drawing attention to these problems, we may push for laws that advance social justice and inclusive growth. This pledge guarantees that every Filipino will benefit equally and fairly from independence.

Honoring our 126th “Araw ng Kalayaan” is also vital, since it is a chance to celebrate resiliency and hope. Adversity-overcoming has a long history in our country. In the face of present difficulties, celebrating this day honors the grit and willpower of many Filipinos. It demonstrates our capacity to meet challenges and strive for a brighter future. Regardless of social standing, we should be proud of our sense of fortitude without making it sound gaslighting.

Ethical leadership and governance are also significant topics during this “Araw ng Kasarinlan.” We can use this moment to promote responsibility, openness and the rule of law. A country’s ability to advance depends on its leaders practicing ethical governance, and today is an opportunity to remind them of their moral obligation to act in the people’s, not theirs, best interests.

We may also maximize the day by fostering that genuine love of country without being prejudicial to others. It is an opportunity to celebrate our history, culture and humanity. This sense of pride has the power to unite people and motivate group efforts for the advancement and development of the country. It serves as a reminder of our shared ideals, distinctive identity and dedication to a better way forward.

Promoting harmony and social cohesiveness is essential during sociopolitical unrest and governmental distrust. This day may serve as a rallying cry for unity, peace and tolerance, side-by-side with accountability, justice, and the rule of law. It is an opportunity to heal divisions, settle disputes judiciously, and work toward a more cohesive and cognitively-aligned society. Addressing the many issues we confront today requires embracing this message of collaboration.

Meanwhile, development and economic empowerment are two more critical Freedom Day topics. The occasion might serve as a reminder of the value of financial freedom and availability of options. It is a chance to discuss and push for laws that help small companies in the area, encourage sustainable growth, and raise the standard of living for all Filipinos. True independence requires economic prosperity for all, and this day might motivate efforts in that direction.

Another crucial element is adopting a global viewpoint grounded in the socio-cultural context. On this Independence Day, we can consider our role in the world. It promotes unity with other countries, especially those engaged in relevant battles for liberty, sovereignty and advancement. We stand to gain much from this global perspective, which has the potential to foster international cooperation and mutual assistance.

On last year’s Freedom Day, Senator Risa Hontiveros said, “Our struggle for freedom did not finish with the heroes of the past. We resist tyranny by some of our people, oppression by foreign powers, and poverty today.” Her remarks serve as a reminder that work toward a fair and just society is still ongoing. She continues to urge us to follow a tough but noble course that never abandons those most in need.

It is essential to understand that independence entails more than just the absence of problems like debt, poverty, unemployment, crime, corruption, and foreign aggression. In response to critics who wonder why the nation should celebrate when these social ills are still there, independence concerns the right and opportunity to confront and combat them. The extent of our freedom is gauged by our ability to express opinions, organize protests, and demand better governance. The very ability to advocate these is a cause for celebration in itself.

Today, albeit incomplete, we honor resilience, embrace hope and reaffirm the liberties that we have won so far. Let us unite to learn from history, fight against inequality and demand progressive governance. As we continue to fight for complete independence, let us value our won liberties and work toward a more equitable society. Together, let us claim and strive for a future where every Filipino is free from oppression, repression and suppression.


Doc H fondly describes himself as a “student of and for life” who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with./WDJ


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