It’s 2014 and as of this writing, guess what: tomorrow is “Independence Day”. Again. According to the latest Philippine History books, the 12th June is the day the Philippines became “independent” — the outcome of the Philippine Revolution which began August 1896. On the 12th June 1898, Aguinaldo led the declaration of Philippine independence from Spanish colonial rule. But this was not recognized either by the United States of America or by Spain. The Spanish government later ceded the Philippine archipelago to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris. The Philippines Revolutionary Government did not recognize the treaty. When the Americans sought to execute the terms of the treaty, a three-year conflict, now called the Philippine-American War, ensued.
The rest of history following that, can be summarised in one sentence:
The Philippines became a colony of the United States then was granted Independence on the 4th July 1946.
The trouble with history is that it is subject to interpretation and revision. Aguinaldo’s declaration in 1898 was unilateral. When you take a unilateral position, you need to have the muscle to back that up. Unfortunately for Aquinaldo, he lacked the military capability to beat the US’s expeditionary forces. So a massacre followed and on top of the steaming carnage in its aftermath, the victors planted the Stars and Stripes.
Indeed it is. That’s because throughout all of human history, that’s pretty much the way international conflicts are settled. We may pretend to be subject to “international laws” today, but the reality is vastly different. Ask Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Ask any former or incumbent US president dead or alive.
If we really believe in the notion of “international law”, there wouldn’t be any need for the Philippines’ on-going too-little-too-late military buildup. It’s a futile exercise of desperately taking a crash course in Kung Fu as Chuck Norris approaches. The only thing keeping the Chinese from nuking Manila is because they like Henry Sy’s malls and Kris Aquino movies.
So one may agree, it may be more fun in the Philippines, and perhaps it is true that talagang sarap maging Pilipino (“being Filipino is really so orgasmic”). But if we really believe those words to be true, are we really willing to defend all that goodness? With force if necessary?
Ironic, isn’t it? The home of a typical Filipino household with some material goods of consequence to lose is a virtual fortress. It’s ringed by a 10-foot cinderblock wall with glass shards cemented on top of it. Its windows are enforced with iron bars (often to the detriment of fire safety), and a vicious mangy dog (and in the more affluent homes, an equally mangy security guard) often roams its gardens. That’s because Filipinos recognise that Philippine laws and the police forces tasked to uphold it are all pretty much useless.
Yet Filipinos have put absolute unwavering faith in “international law” to secure their sovereign claim to the sole right to denude their forests, fish their seas to smithereens, and turn their tony beaches into seedy amusement parks. Interesting national philosophy, to say the least.
So, yeah, the 12th of June. We call that day “Independence Day”. Araw ng kalayaan (“Freedom day”). A day to celebrate ‘Pinoy Pride’.
Discussing the inconvenient truths underlying Philippine “independence” is like discussing a woman’s age. You just don’t. Not in polite company at least.
Happy ‘Independence’ Day!
[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the Wikipedia.org article “Independence Day (Philippines)” in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]
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