1898. GENERAL Emilio Aguinaldo proclaims Philippine independence from 300 years of Spanish colonialism.
From Hong Kong, rushed Admiral George Dewey to Manila Bay and soon followed the American occupation of the archipelago.
1946. Imperial Japan had been driven out of the Philippines. United States High Commissioner Paul V. MacNutt lowers the Stars and Stripes as Manuel Roxas raises the threestarred tricolor of red, white and blue, having taken his oath as President of the Republic of the Philippines. Contemporaneously, the Parity Rights took effect, and with it, the American exploitation of the country’s natural resources, the human kind not exempted.
1972. To save the Republic, Ferdinand E. Marcos declared martial law and instituted his Bagong Lipunan, the New Society that shall take the Philippines to the firmament of development in Asia. There followed the worst human rights violations the nation ever suffered.
1981. Marcos proclaims a New Republic. US Vice President George H.W. Bush toasts the dictator for his “adherence to democracy.”
1986. The aberration that was the EDSA Revolution shoved housewife Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino into the Philippine presidency. A visit to Mother America, complete with a US Congress grand spectacle, topped the agenda of her government. More and stronger strings, nay chains, were attached to ever American pie a la aid that went the country’s way, most especially after the US fighter jets turned the tide in the worst coup attempt to her government.
1991. The end of the US-RP Military Bases Agreement. Clark and Subic got dismantled. More through the devastation of the Mount Pinatubo eruptions than through government intervention. Came soon after the Visiting Forces Agreement.
2001. Yet another EDSA to oust the plunderer. Only to find the Philippine government more drawn to the axis of USA, the Coalition of the Willing unleashing its might in Saddam’s Iraq but one instance of the Filipino’s ever-ready obsequiousness to the whims of America.
1898. 1946. 1986. 1991. 2001. Years when independence from foreign and homegrown oppression and freedom for the Filipino flashed as in a frying pan; when rhetorics tried – and failed – to gloss over the realities of Philippine political enslavement to the United States and socio-economic subservience to the World Bank-International Monetary Fund.
2019. Pray, tell, what independence do we celebrate?
Certainly not from the dictates of foreign powers. The country virtually turned a Chinese vassal state by Duterte.
Not from fear. Human life at its cheapest with the extra-judicial killings wrought by the drug war; the wanton targeting of progressives, be they lawyers, journalists, peasant and IP leaders.
Not from oppression. Human rights trampled upon by state wrongs.
Not from want. What with a national economy tethered on foreign debt!
Not from hunger. Rice tariffication and TRAIN laws, just two of the most telling pieces of legislation consigning the greater Filipino population to mass poverty and startvation.
Cry Freedom, then.
And in crying, we take to heart Ka Amado V. Hernandez’s Kung Tuyo Na Ang Luha Mo, Aking Bayan:
Lumuha ka, aking Bayan, buong lungkot mong iluha
Ang kawawang kapalaran ng lupain mong kawawa:
Ang bandilang sagisag mo’y lukob ng dayong bandila,
Pati wikang minana mo’y busabos ng ibang wika,
Ganito ring araw noon nang agawan ka ng laya,
Labin-tatlo ng Agosto nang saklutin ang Maynila,
Lumuha ka, habang sila ay palalong nagdiriwang,
Sa libingan ng maliit, ang malaki’y may libangan;
Katulad mo ay si Huli’ng, naaliping bayad-utang,
Katulad mo ay si Sisa’ng, binaliw ng kahirapan;
Walang lakas na magtanggol, walang tapang na lumaban,
Tumataghoy, kung paslangin; tumatangis, kung nakawan!
Iluha mo ang sambuntong kasawiang naglalakop
Na sa iyo’y pampahirap, sa banyaga’y pampabusog:
Ang lahat mong kayamana’y kamal-kamal na naubos,
Ang lahat mong kalayaa’y sabay-sabay na natapos;
Masdan mo ang iyong lupa, dayong hukbo’y nakatanod,
Masdan mo ang iyong dagat, dayong bapor, nasa laot!
Lumuha ka kung sa puso ay nagmaliw na ang layon,
Kung ang araw sa langit mo ay lagi nang dapithapon,
Kung ang alon sa dagat mo ay ayaw nang magdaluyong,
Kung ang bulkan sa dibdib mo ay hindi man umuungol,
Kung wala nang maglalamay sa gabi ng pagbabangon,
Lumuha ka nang lumuha, ang laya mo’y nakaburol.
May araw ding ang luha mo’y masasaid, matutuyo,
May araw ding di na luha sa mata mong namumugto
Ang dadaloy, kundi apoy, at apoy na kulay dugo,
Samantalang ang dugo mo ay aserong kumukulo;
Sisigaw kang buong giting sa liyab ng libong sulo
At ang lumang tanikala’y lalagutin mo ng punglo!
And cry again, stronger: Isulong, paigtingin ang pakikibaka…
(First published in June 2011, updated)