Independence of Filipinos Through Time

It has been 116 years after Filipinos gained freedom from more than 300 years of Spanish colonial rule. The Filipino nation has faced several challenges that tested the ability of the people to govern itself through time. However, have we, Filipinos evolved through time?

Real freedom has been achieved by ancient Filipinos during the time some old communities have exchanged goods with Asian neighbours. Independence was experienced through the leadership of tribe chieftains, who ruled settlements strategically located to sustain the needs of community. Filipinos, then before, they did not have to worry about superior external influence that theatens the ideals the community believes in. However, during that time Filipinos did not see themselves as a unified people. Therefore, there was freedom but there was simply no unity in the national perspective.

Things changed when Europeans came to the Philippines and introduced the suppressive mentality of colonialism. It is during this time the word Filipinas was coined after the Spanish king. The Westerners had the intention of gaining from trade, authority and even in religion.  They introduced concepts that were unfamiliar to Filipinos before. The society was divided between the foreigners, traders and the common Filipino workers. The last two groups became submissive to the dominant foreign rulers. This reached to the point that Filipinos had to defend the existing colonial rule from another invasion of more influential power. This happened when the British controlled the Philippines and Filipinos have to fight for their long-time Spanish rulers to regain their political influence from British imperialism.

Furthermore, during several centuries of European influence, Filipinos became second-class citizens in their own country. These lead for the early leaders to assert their seccession from the colonial rulers. Although Filipinos varied significantly in expressing their opposition to submission, more or less their efforts were effective. Some intellectuals like Jose Rizal used their intellect and words to represent the country's aspiration of freedom. On the other hand, some groups like the revolutionary group lead by Andres Bonifacio initiated an armed struggle against the more sophisticated defense of the colonial rulers. To sum it up, during this era in the Philippine History, Filipinos were united and able to identify themselves as one people, but there was no real freedom. This what the yearly 12th of June celebration is all about - the fight against colonial rule to regain freedom.

However, even declaration of independence from European rulers, the Philippines did not really attain self-governance. The Americans ruled the country and left the legacy of education and services available for all. This is the sudden shift from conditions Filipinos had with their previous leaders. It is safe to say, it was better and even some would argue that was at its best period of Philippine history, given that Filipinos gained some authority under the American administration. There was some form of freedom, but a partial and compromised one.

Unfortunately, American rule was challenged by Japanese aspiration of becoming a world superpower. They presented a pretty attractive philosophy of allowing Asians rule their own countries, under the Japanese flag. It was unpopular in spite that the idea seems to be theoretically beneficial. This is because they used violence and new kind of oppression that no one ever seen before. Force was used and death was instaneous for those who resisted. During this time, Filipinos aimed at independence from violence and war.

With the help of the American rulers, the nation decided for the creation of the Republic of the Philippines under a Filipino president. This was not also free of adversities. The assumption was if Filipinos were free from external influence, they would gain real freedom. However, this was not true, Filipino leaders themselves showed a different type of oppression - a hybrid type of authority, which resulted from history and the leaders' personality. The need to dominate was evident. Ferdinand Marcos ruled under Martial law that resulted to civil unrest to dethroned his presidency. Filipinos fought for freedom in the most peaceful way possible through EDSA Revolution. The uprising intended to gain freedom from dictatorship.

The new age of Philippine Independence has come. Filipinos generally do not trust their leaders after most of them did not live up to their expectations. Most of them, if not all are tainted by corruption and abuse of power. Although, there are no longer wars and no problem with the Filipino identity, at present, Filipinos face the struggle for economic independence. With over ten million working abroad and millions living under extreme poverty, Filipinos strive hard to earn for a living in spite of the challenges in employment, education and diversity of opinions on social issues.

Nevertheless, there is still a reason to celebrate Philippine independence. The realization of every Filipino that taking responsibility of oneself is a sufficient reason to remember the 12th day of June. As a nation, we the Filipino nation has survived so many challenges and hardships. The most important reminder to all of us during our National Day is that we, as a unified people take accountability of our actions to determine a better, shared, free Filipino future.


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