Sunday, June 16, 2013

Malaya: A Definition of Freedom

Freedom: A question of Nationalism and Definition

"Hunyo a-dose, huwad na kalayaan!" (12th of June, fake independence!) They shouted as I looked forward. A sudden burst of noise in the somber celebration of the 115th anniversary of the declaration of Philippine Independence. Being the nosy person that I am, a news writer for some time for my school, I rushed to the back of the crowd to see the protesters being carted away and captured. (The video is on top)

What is freedom? The man being driven away by the police shouted at how we were not free. That this day is nothing more than a sham. That this day is nothing more than a show because how can we ever free if we cannot speak? To voice our problems, so he claims. They continued to shout, the teenagers struggled even as the cameras of different news networks pointed at them and even as the people blocked their faces, their mouths.

"Are we free?" The question lingered on as the speech of Senator Drilon blared through the speakers of the whole plaza of the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine, once a simple home where independence was proclaimed from a humble window; the only act that I would ever admire from the man who killed and took the power of the masses for his own selfish purposes. 

Back to the 28th of May, there was nothing more than a small celebration for the rest of the country, a big party for the people of the City of Imus. Flag Day, so they called it, as it was the very day a century ago that the current Philippine flag was raised after the victory in the battle of Alapan; A marker and statue barely known to many stands proudly in the quiet of the school that now stands on what was once a battlefield. 

Flags waved, the colors the embodying what blares inside my chest: That want for a united Philippines that moves forward collectively and does not forget those that died when the light of independence was still dawning in the horizon. And that I am proud of me and the blood that flows through my veins, the blood of the heroes, the blood that flows through each and every pinoy's body.

I celebrated Flag Day with my flag. I waved it from my home to Imus City where I proudly waved it from my flag: some cheered, others murmured and some still sang the National Anthem as I passed by. From Alapan I biked on to Baldomero Aguinaldo's home: The home of the general-cousin of Emilio Aguinaldo, the falsely recognized first president of the country.

The first thing that greeted me are the flags the filled the outside of the house. And the flag that hung inside. 

Both flags being were from the war, the Old Glory and the Philippine Flag, I stood at gazed at it reverently... feeling the presence of the people that fought for it and died for the sake of this piece of cloth that embodies the body and soul of this humble nation and thought about the reverence people had for this flag: depending it and even displaying it even if went against the law of the American's during the occupation.

And now... well...

After that I went to the old city hall of the city of Imus, an old building from the days when the Americans governed this country, an evidence of this was the old seal of the commonwealth of the Philippines of the ceiling above the hall of the mayor. Everywhere, all around the city square there were flags that waved proudly atop every pole and every fence, they were there. 

Part of the celebrations, as always, was the performances and the concerts. The night lights glowed on the plaza dedicated to General Topacio, who would've been the candidate for presidency if he had not backed down. It was once beautiful, declared as one of the most magnificent ones in the whole archipelago the time it was built. Now it was the battlefield in the recent power struggles, defaced by the personal whims of the people that ruled the land.

I wondered, from my view of everything from the city hall's balcony, if they really understood what they were celebrating? Is this nothing more than a show of who is in power now like what they did later that night, announcing the winners of the recent elections on that very day? I went home, thinking about all this as I waved my flag, the flag that I loved for 11 years since I was a kid.

I was now used to the whispers. The ugly things they said as I passed by. But one comment stuck with me, and just hit me dead on: "Basahan lang yan (That's just a dirty cloth)." Something that a random citizen; a tricycle driver said as I passed by him. I dreaded it. Dead on, I just heard how some people see the flag I so much adored, this thing that people have fought for just to keep flying!

It pains me. Really. I asked to myself and to others: "What, to you, is this flag? Does it mean anything to you?"

Fast forward to the 12th of June. I wore my blue polo and leather shoes as I stepped on the wet ground, watching the parades as it passed in front of the crowds and the TV crews, carrying flags and banners of their own.

But what is freedom? Is it nothing more than a symbol? Are we, now, truly free?

There were still many questions from the crowds: From the internet and the people that protested there on the June 12th in Kawit, from moving the independence to the 4th of July once more to the protests of dismantling the government and the "imperialistic" system of this country.

For me, freedom is defined and can only be defined by the individual itself. 

Just like most things under the sun, we can define anything by our own standards. If we keep on defending the view that the government is at fault for the big number of unemployed people, does that not show a sense that you are dependent on the system? Then, in a sense, you are what makes you a prisoner. If you keep on blaming the system on your current financial standing, if you keep on saying that the government is why you are poor, then you are still dependent.

Because an individual is freed only by action made by oneself. We are what makes us free; but we are also what makes us prisoners, shackled by our own hands and made slave by our own desires. In the end, we are the key to freedom. If we keep on waiting for someone else to free us, then what's the point of seeking freedom?

To end this article, I would like to mention that the great Supremo, Andres Bonifacio, acted towards that. He was radical enough to see that change is in our hands. We can stop making the flag and the days that we celebrate as mere symbols, we have what we need to make them meaningful. We can have change ONLY if we move towards it.

We are change. We are freedom.


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