By Marivir R. Montebon
This national independence day, let us look at freedom from the national and personal perspectives. In any case, courage is the mother of freedom.
Celebrating independence means giving honor to those who courageously fought for freedom. In the US, whose pomp and festive nationwide celebrations are marred by spectacular fireworks and barbecue, we remember the men and women and the leaders who declared independence from Britain in 1776.
The Declaration of Independence, principally authored by Thomas Jefferson, was a statement explaining the legal separation of the 13 colonies from British rule. It was finished on July 2 but approved by the Continental Congress on July 4.
It took courage, vision, and unity for these original colonies to free themselves from their colonizer. They were relentless. They did not bat an eyelash to earn their freedom. And how blessed and grateful are the generations after them are. America enjoys much of that well-earned freedom.
From where I was born, in old Cebu, I am reminded of how weak we were in defending national freedom. Cebu only experienced freedom from colonial power at the turn of the 21st century for only two months and five days.
December 16, 1898 to February 21, 1899. December 16, 1898 was when the forces of General Arcadio Maxilom took full control of the city from the Spanish colonizers. This was up until February 21, 1899 when the Americans came to shore and very easily ordered the leaders of the local elite to surrender or the city will be bombarded by virtue of the Treaty of Paris.
Katipunan brains Apolinario Mabini said that the Filipinos were defeated not mainly because of inferior arms but because it was poorly led. Like Pres. Aguinaldo, many of the Cebuano leaders were torn between personal interest and greater service to the country.
Today, whether the first Republic in Asia is indeed independent is a contentious subject. Do we rule by ourselves and for ourselves?
Personal freedoms is perhaps as significant and important as national freedom. In the US, never before has it occurred to me how a modern and advanced society can modern slavery so exist in a most sophisticated sense.
Having spent a good seven years of immigration writing, each case that I carefully handle pokes anger and pain and hope. But what great joy and satisfaction there is for one successful case at a time. And here is a shout out to a best friend and work colleague who passionately puts her heart and mind to our work.
Susan Pineda is a real friend who stood by me in my lowest days and an angel to thousands of immigrants. She has helped a lot of immigrants come out of the shadows.
New York educator and writer Rosemarie E. Parreno had said, when we immigrants conquer fear, we are our courageous best.
Parreno recently launched her book Surviving The Life of an Immigrant in New York City.
For Randy, having acquired his T visa was the best gift ever. After surviving eight miserable years of being trafficked, he says freedom is essential to the pursuit of happiness.
And Hannah has even more profound words to share.
“Trafficking is modern slavery. Our life here in America before was very dark, full of fear, anxiety, depression, insecurities, trauma, deprivation, and no freedom. Our movements were very limited. People took advantage of us by using our labor without pay.
Inspite of all the misery and struggle, we did not lose our hope and courage and most especially we always ask God’s mercy and guidance. And we truly believe in miracles and answered prayers. God did not forsake us. He gave us wonderful blessings that we could not imagine for we thought it seemed impossible to happen. And now, we are celebrating the 4th of July with happiness and with so much pride for we feel more free to be who we are. We enjoy life in a whole new way. Fear is not an option anymore. It won’t restrict what we can or cannot accomplish. We can truly shout to the world without hesitation, HAPPY INDEPENDENCE, AMERICA!”