Independence Days

July 4, 2006

Independence Days

Image from Shimon21 (flickr.com/) titled ‘Independence Day’ except that I distorted it to make more like a square shot, to add depth.

It used to be that the Philippines celebrates its Independence Day on the 4th of July, because that was the day the United States granted our independence or, which is the same, when the US finally knew better and yielded political authority over the Filipinos to the Filipinos themselves. I knew that was the right thing to do; I didn’t know any better. That was until President Diosdado Macapagal had Philippine Independence Day changed to the 12th of June, because it was that day in 1898 when we (through the brave mouth of General Emilio Aguinaldo and the brave bolos of the Katipuneros) declared our independence from Spain. The French Revolution was our model. That was the right thing to do. I didn’t know any better either.

Now, here is Wikipedia on the French Revolution:

The French Revolution (17891799) was a pivotal period in the history of French, European and Western civilization. During this time, republicanism replaced the absolute monarchy in France, and the country’s Roman Catholic Church was forced to undergo a radical restructuring. While France would oscillate among republic, empire, and monarchy for 75 years after the First Republic fell to a coup d’état, the Revolution is widely seen as a major turning point in the history of Western democracy – from the age of absolutism and aristocracy, to the age of the citizenry as the dominant political force.

I quote: ‘to the age of the citizenry as the dominant political force.’ I didn’t know until now that that is incorrect. I just peeked into Encarta 2006 (in DVD) and Thomas E Kaiser puts it this way in his chapter on the French Revolution – that the historic change was ‘to a republic of theoretically free and equal citizens’ (my emphasis). Theoretically enjoying liberty, equality, fraternity! This was one of the major turning points of Western civilization? The world turns and, having turned, turns some more.

Not knowing better, the Filipinos made the French Revolution their model. And they rose in arms. That was something, also historical: A declaration of Independence after 350 years? Finally! The Filipinos were hotheads too but not warlike people; they had been conquered by the Spanish friars, by the Roman Catholic Church, by Roman Catholicism. Thank you! The Church did not teach the Filipinos love of country, or patriotism; instead, the Church taught love of fellowman. Thanks again. That was the right thing to do. You can never equate love of country with love of fellowman.

And so the bloody Philippine Revolution of 1896 was the first in the Philippines – the first in Asia even – and it would be the last in these islands. After that, we Filipinos reinvented in February 1986 the French Revolution into People Power. The people as truly the dominant political force. That was a watershed in Western civilization, even if the Westerners will never admit it. After People Power, Poland went People Power. After that, the Berlin Wall fell to People Power, thanks also to Mikhail Gorbachev who fell to the charisma of People Power. The world will never be the same again. What the Filipinos had done was declare independence on war as an instrument of peace. There is no instrument to peace but peace.

July 28, 2006

Noli Me Tangere, Touch Me Not. The Untouchables. If you touch the Filipinos the wrong way, you will suffer an unmentionable indignity. That is how the world up to the 20th century treats the Filipinos. Stung, that is why in Europe in 1889, Jose Rizal annotates and publishes Antonio De Morga’s Sucesos De Las Islas Pilipinas (Historical Events of the Philippine Islands), the Spanish original being published in 1609 (De Morga 1997, annotated by Rizal, translated by Encarnacion Alzona), ‘in order to rectify what has been falsified and slandered’ (vii), referring to the civilized past of the Filipinos.

Another excerpt from my book Indios Bravos!
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