"Sa manlulupig, 'di ka pasisiil!"
June 12, 2021 marks the 123rd anniversary of the declaration of Philippine independence from Spain. It was on June 12, 1898 when our Filipino revolutionaries led by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo courageously moved to declare the Philippines as a free and sovereign nation. Our heroes asserted our independence at a time when the revolution against our Spanish colonizers was still raging.
Hen. Miong has just returned from exile in Hong Kong just a few weeks before and after the revolutionary leadership decided that the struggle should be continued. It was the leaders’ decision for Hen. Miong to again lead because he was the only one who could unite and inspire the various Filipino forces to fight against our colonizers. Indeed, as soon as Gen. Aguinaldo was back, the commanders of the different revolutionary units reported to and took orders from him.
Soon after, with renewed vigor, our patriots were winning battles against the enemy. The very first took place in Alapan in Imus, Cavite where the Filipino forces defeated the Spanish forces in a battle that lasted for about five hours and resulted in the surrender of enemy soldiers. To celebrate this first victory, Gen. Aguinaldo unfurled for the first time the Philippine flag that he commissioned Marcela Agoncillo to do in Hong Kong.
This was the first time that Filipinos saw what would become a most important national symbol. The flag was again publicly displayed during the Declaration of Independence on June 12 when the national anthem, “Marcha Nacional Filipina” was also first played publicly. Thus, on that historic day, the Filipino people were gifted with the resolve for the country to be finally free and sovereign, our national flag, and our national hymn. We have much to thank our revolutionaries for. We owe them big time.
Since 1898, the country has been celebrating Independence Day every June 12 as a national holiday. Moreover, under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8491, May 28 to June 12 of each year are designated as “Flag Days”. This law mandates government offices to publicly display the national flag. It also encourages Filipinos to do the same in front of their homes.
We used to see our flag lined up proudly flying on all major thoroughfares. Families used to exert effort to display our national colors. I remember being awed whenever I would see our flags displayed as if proclaiming to the world our independence. Indeed, it is a sight to behold. However, it has been noticeable that the Flag Days have not been significantly observed in the past years. Is patriotism, our fervor and love of country waning?
I can understand that we are still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, displaying our national symbols at a time like this may be good for the people’s psyche as they herald the country’s sovereignty. But then again, we have been having problems because our territories in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) are being claimed by China, a friend of this administration. Perhaps for some in this government, reinforcing our sovereignty is not that important and it shows in how the Flag Days are not observed.
Many thousands of our revolutionists offered their lives so our country becomes independent, and our people, free. They heroically sacrificed everything and went through tremendous hardship so the generations after them would not suffer the way they did in the hands of foreign colonizers. We cannot continue disregarding our sovereignty as what this administration is doing. We cannot put to waste the revolution that won for us our country, our citizenship, and our national identity.
The WPS issue is a crucial one for the 2022 elections. It is a golden opportunity for us to reverse the direction that the Duterte administration has taken regarding China and its attempts to colonize our WPS territories. This administration has been acting like our country, the Philippines, is a province of China (Duterte actually “joked” about making the Philippines a province of China) that cannot go against the big bosses. This needs to stop.
The country needs real public servants, people who will pursue the welfare and interests of our country and our people. We need to elect to office people who are not scared of any country that disrespects our sovereignty as a nation. We need leaders who are ready to defend our independence through all means as how independence was pursued by those who gave their lives to this cause.
We cannot be independent in name only while allowing China to continue terrorizing us and claiming what’s legally ours. We cannot let China go on toying with our territories. We need to decide to act and choose candidates who will put the country’s interests first and foremost. The Filipino electorate must scrutinize candidates’ stand on the WPS issue and question them on how they will protect the country’s sovereignty.
The 2022 elections is our one chance to correct the neglect and wrongdoing of this administration. If we fail to do this, we will likely have more serious problems in the future. We do not want to be an actual province of China, do we?
As Gen. Aguinaldo and our revolutionists asserted our independence in June, 1898, we must be resolute in reasserting the same independence in May, 2022. Remember the lines, “Lupang hinirang, bayan ka ng magiting, Sa manlulupig, di ka pasisiil!”
on Twitter; Elizabeth Angsioco