MAGANES: Are we free and independent?

July 3, 2011 at 9:34 am Leave a comment

Last week, we have witnessed two important historical events in the country. Last June 12 was the commemoration of the country’s 113th Independence Day and last June 18 was the celebration of the 150th birthday of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.

Both events have been related to the more than three centuries of tyrannical rule of Spain in the country. In 1898, revolutionary armies led by General Emilio F. Aguinaldo declared Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite , two years after Rizal was executed by the Spanish authorities at Bagumbayan (now Luneta or Rizal Park ) due to alleged sedition against the Spanish authorities.

The more than 300 years of Spanish rule elicited uprising from the Filipinos. They were then treated as second class citizens in the country calling Filipinos as “indios” who have no equal access to education and properties except if they belongs to the so-called “illustrados” or those with connections with the Spanish government. It was the illustrados to which Rizal’s family belongs as his parents were caretakers of vast of lands in Calamba, Laguna which were owned and controlled by the Spanish friars.

Rizal, at a tender age, was a witness of the tyranny of the Spanish authorities. His elder brother Paciano, who was supportive of his studies and who acknowledged the intelligence of the younger brother, was a witness of the death of the three martyred priests- Gomez. Burgos and Zamora who were guillotined in public view in Cavite. Later, the three priests were called “Trece Martires” or three martyrs who started the revolt against the Catholic teachings and Spanish rule.

Did Rizal have something to do with the revolution? Historian Ambeth Ocampo who did extensive research about Rizal’s life said , “Rizal, although one of the advocates at that time of independence from Spain would not like a bloody revolution.” He was the one who advised Andres Bonifacio not to wage a revolutionary war because of lack of resources like arms and men against the Spanish army. Bonifacio heeded.” Although his two novels- Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo have been critical of the Spanish government particularly that of the Spanish friars, those books did not at all espouse “bloody revolution.”

Rizal was subjected to many psychological and emotional tortures from the hands of the Spaniards. When he was in Europe , his mother was incarcerated for two and a half years for alleged conspiracy in poisoning her sister in law. When he returned, he was nabbed and exiled in Dapitan ( Mindanao ). After Dapitan, he was exiled at Fort Santiago in Manila ,after he was about to go to Cuba as a volunteer doctor. He was nabbed in Hongkong and the speedy trial for sedition against him followed. He was convicted without hearing his arguments. He was finally executed on the fateful day of December 30, 1896 at the age of 35 years old.

His death led to bloody revolution. More prominent revolutionary figures came out aside from Aguinaldo and Bonifacio- Emilio Jacinto, Melchora Aquino, Apolinario Mabini, Gregorio del Pilar and many more. Revolution was then nationwide until the Spanish authorities acceded to the “independence” of the Philippines , thus the declaration by Aguinaldo on June 12, 1898.

That day the Filipinos were unshackled from the chains of Spanish oppression but little did Aguinaldo and the revolutionaries knew that said “independence” was a mockery. Spanish government had already inked with the United States government “Treaty of Paris” and sold its colonial power to the Americans for US$200,000.

After the Spanish colonialism came the America colonialism. The American colonial provided us more avenues to education, of equal rights, political and economic accessibility and the so-called democratic government processes. The Spaniards, although in our midst for 300 years, did not teach us their language- but denied more Filipinos to education and let them become ignorant for life. If there was a legacy given to us by Spain , it’s only the Catholic religion where churches as of this day are ornately constructed and preserved.

Now tell me Pareng Brando and Toto Mortz, are we really free and independent?While we are boasting of gaining our sovereignty, still it could not be denied that the traces of colonialism are still within us. But the worst we are experiencing now is that fellow Filipinos are the tyrants and oppressors. Like during the Spanish regime, Filipinos now are subservient to the powers-that be. Who ruled us politically? Those people with money. Who ruled us economically? Those people with money? Where is freedom from hunger? Millions of Filipinos are still wallowing below the threshold of poverty. Where is the freedom of suffrage? None. Votes these days are for sale. At most political leaders are grimly intimidated to support a candidate not to their liking. Where are the other rights under the Bill of Rights? We heard about salvaging, proliferation of crimes and even poor access to education.

Are we really free and independent? Was the life of Rizal worth giving for to the Filipinos? Think twice. Let’s liberate ourselves from colonial mentality. Let’s move on as Filipinos and make identities out of ourselves.

Let’s breathe freedom within ourselves.

(for comments email me at

Entry filed under: News.

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