Independence and colonization

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Thursday, June 12, 2014

WE WOULD like to believe (as told to us by our government) that Emilio Aguinaldo, head of the Philippine revolutionary republic, formally proclaimed Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898 between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., from the central second storey window of the Aguinaldo ancestral house.

On July 4, 1946, Paul V. McNutt, on behalf of U.S. President Harry S. Truman, recognized the independence of the Philippines in ceremonies held at the Luneta grandstand. The proclamation fulfilled the American policy of independence provided by the Tydings-Mcduffie Law of 1934.

From that year onwards, July 4 was celebrated as Philippine Independence Day, until President Diosdado Macapagal decided to commemorate June 12, 1898 instead as “Araw ng Kalayaan” (Freedom Day). However, President Ferdinand E. Marcos restored the importance of July 4 by proclaiming it Philippine-American Friendship Day. If there is such thing as that, what is the definition of friendship?


Some historians have documented the colonial intentions of the Americans at the outbreak (scripted) of the Spanish-American War. The Philippines could have been intended as the love offering of Spain to America. Political analysts believe (I share the belief) that the United States granted an independence with strings attached, such as the parity rights provision in the 1935 Constitution and the Military Bases Agreement.

My Philippine History teacher at St. Joseph Academy would always read clippings from a Filipino newspaper, “Historically, we have of course been beholden for most of the century to the U.S. for its role as our chief financier, chief armorer, chief political ally and protector.” I think (and I believe) that the same thing is still happening until now. PNoy and President Obama understand that very well.

I was able to have a copy of the speech of Claro M. Recto (from the Philippine Almanac) a few days before the celebration of independence in 1951. Recto bewailed his countrymen’s colonial mentality and described it as affliction of divided loyalties.

“The flagstaffs that still stand, two by two in front of public buildings, are the symbols of these psychological phenomena, this split personality of our nation. Too many of our people, in their heart of hearts, profess allegiance not only to the Republic of the Philippines, whose sun and stars wave alone in their fourth year of our independence, but unconsciously also to the United States of America whose stars and stripes may have been handed down in fact, but not in spirit, and which by an optical illusion induced by long habit, are imagined to be still flying from the empty flagpole.”

Many sympathized with Recto (but just up to there only) for his anti-American sentiments. He was like St. John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness. I could still remember in my high school days that July 4 is synonymous to anti-American rallies. On the other hand, we still find daily long lines of Filipino jobseekers in front of the US embassy. They all want to fulfill their American dreams.

By all means, we can always achieve that American dream without leaving the Philippines, without leaving our shell. After all, American dream is simply living in prosperity and peace. That could also be our Filipino dream. What a Filipino mind can conceive, what a Filipino heart can believe, any Filipino can achieve it minus the American dream. The man who moved the mountain is the one who started taking away small stones.

Let us be inspired by Martin Luther King, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets as Michelangelo painted, or as Beethoven composed music, or as Shakespeare composed poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say . . . Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

I have nothing against America and our American dream. I have my American dreams too. The Americans are great people. We can say the same thing for ourselves. The only difference is the Americans know they’re great; we don’t. Can the Filipinos be great? Have we been great in the past? Let us not be mystic. Let us revolutionize our independence.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 12, 2014.


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