Thursday, June 12, 2008

Independence Day, just another holiday?

To all my Kababayans, Happy 110th Independence! Let us celebrate our freedom! (well, are we really free?) While browsing over at ABS-CBN, I bumped into this article by Jennifer Chan, check it out. It's worth a read:

It was on June 12, 1898 when Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence in Kawit, Cavite. One could only imagine the depth of emotion pouring out from every Filipino’s heart when the national anthem was sung and the Philippine flag waved.
What mattered was that they were finally free of foreign dominion. However, 110 years later and it’s apparent that some things do change—and not necessarily for the better. It seems that Independence Day has lost its meaning among the people. The youth, in particular, don’t even care about what June 12 stands for anymore. Many of them regard it as just another holiday—the first break since summer came to an end. Sure, there is still emotion pouring out from their hearts but it’s obviously not the kind evoked by a sense of nationalism. Instead, it comes from the pure joy of having no classes for the whole day. But can they really be blamed? Most of the Independence Day celebrations are not catered to the youth. Last year, the day was marked with several ceremonies and Independence Day rites (mostly government activities) but none that were of any real interest to ordinary Filipino citizens, much less the youth. For example, in observance of the 109th celebration of Independence Day, a simultaneous flag-raising and wreath laying ceremony was held nationwide. While the idea sounds novel enough, the activity does not exactly hold any special meaning for the youth.

Switching dates

According to some students, perhaps holidays shouldn’t be moved around so much. When former President Diosdado Macapagal changed the Philippines’ Independence Day from July 4 to June 12, he surely didn’t intend to create long weekends. He did it purely because July 4 is an American holiday. After all, celebrating the Fourth of July hardly translates to independence. Meanwhile, his daughter and now President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is known for changing holiday dates. This year, she made June 9 a non-working holiday since it was the closest date to both the weekend and June 12. While it gave people a long weekend, such a move appears to be slowly robbing the nation off of their nationalism. And so for most students, June 12, 2008 will just be another regular school day. Compared to the Filipinos living in their own country, Pinoys abroad seem to be doing a better job of celebrating Independence Day. Could Aguinaldo have predicted that his heartfelt proclamation of independence will only be met with apathetic stares in the 21st century? And how long will it take before all sense of regard for Independence Day disappears?

(By Jennifer Chan

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