As of this week, the Philippines will celebrate her 110th year of independence. The Philippines was occupied by Spain for almost four centuries.
The Americans colonized it in 1898 to 1941 and the Japanese invaded and occupied in 1942 – 1944. The Americans returned the Philippines’ Independence on July 4, 1946. From that time Philippines Independence was celebrated every July 4 until President Diosdado Macapagal transferred the celebration from July 4 to June 12. Hence, Philippines Independence day is being commemorated every June 12.
Don Emilio Aguinaldo, raised the Filipino flag in the veranda of his house in Kawit, Cavite in the morning of June 12, 1898. He proclaimed independence. But that independence was shortlive for the Americans occupied Manila and later the Philippines. For the next 46 years, the Philippines was the colony of the United States except for about four (4) years when the Japanese ruled the Philippines.
Our forefathers struggled and died in order for the Philippines and her people to be free from the tyranny of Spain, the exploitation of the Americans and the cruelty of the Japanese soldiers.
But is the Philippines really free today? President Manuel L. Quezon said, "I prefer a country run like hell by Filipinos to a country run like heaven by Americans. Because, however bad a Filipino government might be, we can always change it." In 15 years, (1986–2001), the Filipinos changed their government via extra constitutional means. Are we really free today? Are we run like Hell? Heaven?
It was only last week when the senators led by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile chided some foreign businessmen who wished to interfere with the government affairs of the Philippines. They wrote the President of the Philippines requesting her to stop amending the EPIRA law. The formulation of economic policies are always influenced by the foreigners through the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other international bodies dominated by the first world countries.
Are the Filipinos the master in their own country? Sad to say but foreigners are in the Philippines with Filipino servants. Our government is recognizing the overseas Filipino workers because of their annual remittances amounting to US$ 13 billion. Never mind if they are abused, prostituted and maltreated.
Is there peace? Today, the Philippines is second from Iraq as the most dangerous country for journalist to work. This week, a broadcast journalist, Ces Oreña Drilon with two TV cameramen were kidnapped in Sulu allegedly by the Abbu Sayaf. Two broadcast journalists in Lezo and Kalibo, Aklan were gun down and killed by unidentified assailants. Until today, their cases are with the court.
Where Is Peace?
During the annual Kalibo Sto. Niño Ati-Atihan celebration, three years ago, the PNP provincial director was shoot and killed by his own security officer. Many others suffered gun shot wounds and died. Some 31 victims survived the rampage.
In the 1940’s, there were only about 25 million Filipinos. Today, there are about 90 million of them. Is there enough food? This year, according to the Department of Agriculture, rice production is short by 2.2 million metric tons to supply national food requirement. DA is importing from countries which can supply the rice requirement. How many percent of the Filipino people particularly the school children are malnourished?
The Filipinos would have no reason to experience rice shortage if the government just provided the necessary requirements for effective and productive agriculture program. Rice is hydrophonic crop, but the government has left irrigation to mind its own. NIA personnel are not included in the budget of the government. NIA personnel pay themselves out of their collections of payment from irrigation fees the farmers pay. Therefore, no collection, no salary.
Money intended for fertilizer was spent during the election of 2004. Until today, former undersecretary of Agriculture Jocelyn Bolante refuses to return to the Philippines to explain how did he spend the P730 million fertilizer fund. Supervised credit program for farmers was stopped. Are the top government officials still capable to be honest?
In education, the Philippines lags behind among 27 countries in Asia in Science, English and Mathematics. Given all the proper supports, Filipinos will excel in these subjects. But the teachers are poorly paid, most lack education and trainings to handle the subjects, there is not only shortage of books but some contents of books are wrong. School rooms are not enough and the teaching devices are inadequate. But the educational quality will highly improve if the money intended for it are spent for the purpose it is being appropriated. In region VI for instance, DepEd bought and distributed computers which cost P249,970 per unit which if purchased in Kalibo that kind of computer will cost no more than P25,000 per set.
The Philippines is not hopeless. She has all the potentials of a great nation. The people are industrious with tremendous natural resources available to sustain progress and development. It has fertile lands, mountains, rivers, lakes and the vast sea. It has forest. The soil is rich and with favorable climate.
The Philippines only lacks leaders, leaders whose "courage is the enforcing virtue, the one that makes possible all other virtues common to exceptional leaders: honesty, integrity, confidence, compassion and humility." /MP