Kalayaan 2008: Losing the Spirit of Freedom
I can only say, with much disgust, that this frequent changing of Regular Holiday dates in favor of a long weekend is nothing but disrespect of the occasion and all that it stands for. This has been done with due diligence in almost all of the regular holidays we have that didn't fall within the "weekend requirement". Although, irritating enough, I passed it up as just in keeping with PGMA's love for the working class. But now, with the "Araw ng Kalayaan" (Philippine Independence Day - 110th Year of Celebration), I can't help but feel utter disappointment, and did I mention, disgust? that such a hallowed day be treated the same. June 12 is Independence Day. It is not Mother's Day or Grandparent's Day. It is the day we finally got the FREEDOM we have been longing for as a people -- free to think, free to govern ourselves, free to grow in our style and ways, free to express ourselves, free from whatever form of slavery, free from conquerors. Unlike all the other holidays marked "red" on our calendar, Independence Day is supposed to mean a lot to us. It is something to celebrate and be thankful for. It is something worthy of leaving work for a day, not going to school and leaving what we normally busy ourselves with. For if we think about it, and ponder on well enough, we would realize that it is this freedom that has empowered us to work, to go to school, to run a business, to write our opinions, to blog, to appear on tv and to do all other mundane things that we so loved and immersed ourselves with -- that which lead us to slowly forget what it means and costs to be truly free. Perhaps it is indeed hard to think about freedom and its significance if you were born free -- as in the song. How do you value something that you didn't have to fight for, much less shed blood and die for? How convenient it is for us, born with the luxury of freedom to simply wave a flag and reenact events of over a hundred years ago without even putting up a small fight to do so? And yes, how convenient it is for us to simply move the Independence Day holiday to any day that would fall on a weekend and in effect make the exact day, June 12th a regular day? Oh yeah, right..there's still the usual ceremony and flag-raising and all that..that's what the "Palace" said but are they discounting the fact that because of holiday date switch they made, those few people willing and excited to participate in the Independence Day celebration would now have to be ABSENT from either school or work?! Who do you expect to be there now? Public officials? who in all these are the least affected because being there still qualifies for "being at work"? Is Malacanang doing this so lesser people would go? Okay, so there's this people's day" of sorts dubbed as "Tungo sa Tunay Na Kalayaan" which is said to be a showcase of government services brought closer to the people on this glorious day of June 12 -- President's orders, so they say. But what the !@#&?! Who do they expect to be there again? Public officials again?? Tsk. So is Malacanang expecting that the average Juan who is working himself to death just so he can put food on his family's table will be "patriotic" or even, in the context of availing government services, be "hopeful" and "optimistic" enough to leave work on that day to avail of these so-called government services? If this government is truly dedicated to "true freedom", they don't need to wait for a reason as big as Independence Day to move "services" closer to the people. This should be constantly and consistently happening in the entire country. Medical, social and economic services should be "abot-kamay" (within reach) of the average Filipino anywhere in the country. You'll set-up tents for these services within the Malacanang area to serve who?? So, you expect impoverished people like my kababayans to travel all the way from Bicol just to avail of medical and dental services? Come on. Why not make government programs work on the local government level? Strengthen this division. Make your services felt where it's needed. June 12, 2008 is Independence Day, 110th year of Philippine Independence. It's about time we realize what it means to be "truly free". And please, next year, leave June 12 alone. Who cares if it falls on a weekday or a weekend? All that matters is what it stands for and that's freedom. No matter what crisis we face, let the spirit of freedom shine through. Because right now, this is all we have worth celebrating.