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by Gino C.


Conventional history tells that the Philippines was liberated from
Spain on 12 June 1898 when General Emilio Famy Aguinaldo
proclaimed the sovereignty of the Philippine Islands from the
colonial rule after having been defeated at the Battle of Manila
Bay during the Spanish-American War.

Not many knew how Aguinaldo took the power from Andres
Bonifacio that led to his death. Few also knew that Aguinaldo
agreed with the Spanish government to be exiled to Hong Kong
A depiction of the flag that was raised dur-
ing the declaration of independence. This
in exchange for PhP1.7 million. Of the PhP600,000 that was ac-
was the basis of the flag as currently used tually paid by the Spanish government, PhP400,000 was alleg-
by the Philippines today. edly bagged by Aguinaldo, while the rest was divided among the
revolutionary leaders.

From then on, the Philippines have had endless sad stories like these. More than past a century,
had Filipinos changed for the better? Had we really gained freedom? What is freedom nowadays?
This is a matter of opinion and will surely have infinite answers.

It is said that ten percent of the Philippines’ 92 million population (2009) are working overseas that
keep the country’s economy afloat. In simpler terms, for a family of ten, one bread winner feeds
the whole family. And what do the Filipinos in the Philippines do?

A recent trip to my home country made me pause and think if the freedom that we seek for had
already been attained. While we take pride of the biggest malls not only in Asia but the rest of the
world as well, should we be proud of it? If we build the best universities or the best hospitals or the
largest airports in the world, would that make more sense?

While the global economy is down, the Filipinos still seek career opportunities abroad even though
the chances are slim. Why so? I surmise that since the beginning we were trained that better op-
portunities abroad will make one’s life economically better. And this is in contrast to our neighbor-
ing countries where people are encouraged to go back after training in foreign countries because
good opportunities are waiting for them in their home countries. But for so many years, why is our
country still poor? Why have we not gained freedom from poverty? Why our neighboring countries
had become rich and we are not?

Many Filipinos still believe that the country will prosper if the leader were changed. But how long
had we held with such a belief? Why not start the change within ourselves? To think that one
leader can change a country of more than 92 million people is close to insanity.

Unknowingly, many things were taught to us that are not helpful to nation-building. While there are
many precious Filipino values that need to be retained, there are many more that need to be
changed. We have to know what these negative ways of thinking are and unlearn them. We have
to learn from the mistakes of the past. We have to explore unorthodox methods, and take the bitter
pill if we want to liberate the country and ourselves from the prison cell called poverty. That is the
essence of freedom.

Mabuhay ang mga Pilipino!