Philippine independence, according to Davaoeños

Jun. 12, 2012
PHILIPPINES IS NOT FOR SALE.  Davao City militants protest against US intervention in time of the 114th Philippine independence celebration, Tuesday.  The woman whose hands are chained and wearing a Philippine flag-like dress symbolizes the country “under control of the Imperialist US.”  ( photo by Medel V. Hernani)

PHILIPPINES IS NOT FOR SALE. Davao City militants protest against US intervention in time of the 114th Philippine independence celebration, Tuesday. The woman whose hands are chained and wearing a Philippine flag-like dress symbolizes the country “under control of the Imperialist US.” ( photo by Medel V. Hernani)

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Today, June 12, is the 114th year since Philippine independence from Spanish colonization was proclaimed in Kawit, Cavite by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898.  Said declaration was neither recognized by the United States and Spain.

In Philippine history, Spain ceded the Philippines to the US via the 1898 Treaty of Paris after a mock battle ending the Spanish-American War.  The treaty was not recognized by the Philippine revolutionary government then, and when Americans sought to execute its terms, the Philippine-American War ensued, killing millions of Filipinos after America deployed its troops.

Fast-forward to history, the US granted independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946 through the Treaty of Manila.

More than a century after Spanish colonization and almost seven decades after American colonization, we ask, is the Philippines truly free and sovereign?

Davao Today collected the thoughts of Davaoeños, Philippine-based and not.


“The Philippines is not free because it’s as if the Filipinos are still under dictatorship.  Independence may be for those who are in power, but not for the poor.”
— Vannesa Laurel-Gream, Australia-based Hospital Assistant

“No.  Let’s see in another 114 years and 100 “responsible” presidents with a thousand “uncorrupt” cabinet members and without the media and showbiz controlling politics and the whole Philippines, then we can start step one on how to be truly free.”
— Hyku Desesto-Tocao, Dubai-based Photographer

“We have never progressed.  Philippines is still third world.  We have never freed ourselves from colonialism.  How do we even identify ourselves from the influences?  How do we separate ourselves from everything?”
— Paul dela Merced, Singapore-based Senior Account Executive

“I don’t think we really are free because up to this day, we still can’t stand on our own and can’t even defend our country without the aid of other countries like the US.”
— July Evedientes-Simara, Cebu-based Virtual Assistant

“We can never be truly free as long as there is injustice and we have a government that’s subservient to foreign dictates and corporate greed.”
— Sheena Duazo, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao spokesperson

“Independence day is worth remembering.  It reminds us of the intense courage that Filipino people showed during the 1896 Philippine revolution.  This day must serve as a challenge to the majority who are still victims of colonization of Imperialist United States, to emulate the same courage that Filipino people did to emancipate themselves from poverty, unemployment, demolition and lack of education.”  
— Cherry Orendain, Anakbayan-Southern Mindanao spokesperson

“No, Philippines was never free.  It is still run by corrupt government officials.  And it will never be free unless we do something about it.” 
— Palm January Rimando, Entrepreneur

“No country in the world is ever free if we’re talking about absolute freedom.  Somehow, one country is controlled by another.  The Philippines is free in the sense that we have our constitution, government, monetary unit, laws, and all that jazz.  But, government decisions are always controlled by foreign influence.  So Philippines is not truly free and sovereign.”
— Mark Anthony Antigo, Registered Nurse

“Yes I think we are.  What the Philippines has become after 114 years is the result of our freedom and sovereignty.  It is because we have the privilege to elect the people who are responsible to run the country.”
–Edward Roy Abella, Credit Bureau Analyst

“I guess yes, but not fully because we are still influenced by other countries and ask help from them.”
— Gwen Sanchez, Call-center agent

“I think Philippines is not free.  We are still hiding in the shadows of different countries.  Our country is very dependent to other countries for investments and all.”
— Jay Christopher Bolo, Fresh Graduate

“Well, coming from a non-political person, my point of view would be deeply rooted in spirituality.  So it would be moot if based on why there is an independence day.  But if I base it on the definition of why there is an independence day, which is freedom from colonialism, then in some aspects, yes.  Because technically, we’re not under the “saya” of a big time world power country and Filipinos are able to enjoy the kind of freedom we didn’t have back when we were colonized.”
— Rocelle Marie Angel, Preschool Level Coordinator

“No, I don’t think so.  During the time that Gen. Aguinaldo waved the Philippine flag as a sign of independence, the fight against Spaniards was not yet over.  They just won the battle at Silang and not the entire Philippines.  That time also, the Americans were just beginning to gain control over the Philippine government.  They even managed to put up a Commonwealth/puppet system.  Until now, it’s still very evident that US holds our government by the neck.  We have debts, we are very dependent.  Even our educational system is designed for foreign services; almost all private companies are foreign-owned while the resources (both human and natural) are ours.  Our slavery to the US is being concealed under the tag of being their ally.”
— Anneliese Lomboy, Freelance Virtual Assistant

“The answer is a big yes and a small no.  It is clear that we are not dominated by colonizers.  We have our own government, we are able to vote, we are speaking our own dialect, we have freedom of speech. We are not in those times that Spain and America are dictating our major way of proceeding as a country.  However, it is also no, because our country could not really decide on matters that truly and fully protect our interest.  We have national debts, we do make compromises with our foreign partners, we could have a head-on fight with China because we are constrained by so many limitations.  Having said that, I must say that freedom is both a gift and responsibility.  We must take care and broaden our freedom everyday.   If you’re being asked, are you free?  Your answer must be yes.  Because that’s the beginning for our country to continuously be freed from poverty.  If we are so pessimistic with our country, then the way we do things and the way we frame our minds are the way slaves think.  We are free!”
— Prof. Lunar Fayloga, Ateneo de Davao University’s Theology Department

“Freedom, yes.  But sovereignty, no.  We are being dictated, there is so much to discuss on the issue that Filipinos love Americans especially PNoy and Aguinaldo.  I don’t know if it’s right to say that we are “uto-uto” whatever America dictates or commands.”
— Amado So, Filipino-Chinese Heritage and Cultural Society spokesperson

“Philippine independence is a work in progress after more than a century.  It is an ongoing struggle to truly liberate the oppressed from the ruling class that calls the shots in almost all aspects of our lives, from politics to our culture.”
— Edgie Francis Uyanguren, University of the Philippines-Diliman researcher

“Freedom is merely privilege extended unless enjoyed by one and all.”
— Marlouzel Mabunga, anthropology student, University of the Philippines-Mindanao

“Many Filipinos continue to live in utterly desperate and dire conditions.  How can this spell freedom?  Freedom is when we can all live decent lives.  Fear, alongside risk, is the everyday company of Filipinos.  How can we be free when we live in constant fear and risk?”
— Prof. Anne Shangrila Fuentes, College of Humanities & Social Science, University of the Philippines-Mindanao

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