By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – June 12, 2021 is the 123rd year that the Philippines became the first republic in Asia. That is how markedly significant it is in Philippine history.
As a people, Filipinos naturally know how to celebrate this tradition even beyond Philippine shores – through the display of our songs, dances, culinary, fashion, and poetry. It warms my heart how we bear our beautiful and diverse cultures, now with the rise of biracial children who have been painstakingly taught by their parents cultural values and arts.
But I often celebrate with a void because the nagging question of our real independence has a no for an answer.
When people are degraded by excruciating poverty; or when a country’s dependence is on industrial essentials – oil and communications; or when there is no end to the bleeding of our own people to work in foreign lands; and if one is silenced by fear for one’s own life to tell and want the truth, then we are not free.
The hallmark of independence is quality of life of every individual and the freedom to speak the truth at all times, without fear of isolation or death.
And while freedom is a fundamental and inherent right of people, independence is not guaranteed. History has shown that individuals and communities needed to continue defending one’s freedom and independence – because it is continuously being threatened or compromised.
Today, 123 years later since the Philippines became a republic, there is so much to do to make the word independence authentic. There is this haunting – beyond honoring what our ancestors did in defense of land and being whole again. (To be continued.) (Featured photo: Young performers of The School of New York and New Jersey at the Philippine Independence Day Celebration at the Queens Borough Hall in 2019.)#