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2013 Independence Day

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Today allow me to start this message with a forecast of our future as a society. I would like to speak indifferently and I would like to ask forgiveness if this speech will in some way or another offend your senses. I would like to delve into the future so that we will appreciate better our past and so we can better prepare ourselves today on all the tasks that come before us. So what will be the future of our people 10 or twenty years from now? I am almost certain that we will start seeing families going broke financially; I could see that our islands will be drained of the resources that makes them distinct from other places on the face of the earth today; we will see children begging for food on the streets; we will see no improvement on way of living; more will die out of hunger; our streets will be strewn with vagrants and drug addicts; and this list goes on.

In that time, we will see barricades from all corners of our country where only those who share the same sentiments will be allowed entry into an area. We will become divided and I tell you, that division is so much the same to the division we once had before the coming of the Spaniards. Yes that’s true, the great mass of people in our country before the conquestadores came were almost total strangers to each other. We do not even share same sentiments way back then and we only know ourselves as neighbors because of our trade relations. Back then, we never realized that the connection between the same people is a connection of duties and the correlative rights that accompany them. This makes us owe partly to Spain the freedom that we enjoy today.

Don’t get me wrong here but without their having conquered us, we could not have sapped the sweetness of being unified as a nation. I am not saying this to offend those who have fallen on the battlefields. It is not, let me repeat, it is not intended to enumerate the wrongs of the previous discord among Filipino people. Up to this very moment, we all endured the pain suffered by our forefathers in those centuries of devastating yet heroic wars, through their bloods, their vigils and their toils. Up to this same moment also, we refuse to learn the lessons brought by their heroic sacrifices and as such, we become unworthy of the 115th years of independence that they are able to provide us.

True enough, we are here today to commemorate that day when Philippines was born as a nation. We pay reverent homage to the people who valiantly fought to bring down the tyrants and the tyranny itself. There was so much that they were able to put in and so now we are called to put in our share too. This year’s theme, Kalayaan 2013: Ambagan tungo sa Malawakang Kaunlaran, is a resounding call for us to invest into the wide developmental arena where we all play our respective roles in turning the visions of our country into a reality. This calls us to join with the march towards economic development and to come together as we jointly forge a bright and promising future for our country.

But the biting question still stands today, are we worthy of the sacrifices our heroes have put in? Some of them died without having seen the dawning of independence. They have fought during the centuries of desolating wars but have not experienced how it feels to be free. If we look closely at it, the freedom that we enjoy today is not merely handed to us in a silver platter but it costs sweat, blood and toils from those who came before us. But what happened? We are abusing the freedom which has cost their lives. And here we are today, we enjoy breaking that very same freedom. If continue devaluing that freedom, we are only sending our heroes the message that they have only died in vain.

We now see how the discord debilitates the very fabric of our society. So how should we address the current decay which has scoured the minds of our young people? How could we help our people from suffering from the incessant strife which I have figured out to happen 10 or 20 years from now? Ladies and gentlemen, it will start from what we will do today as a society. Our future depends on how we shape it and it will be shaped by all our actions at present. What will happen 10 to 20 years from now will be dictated by the actions that we do today. We now see what happened to today’s youth, in fact, even to matured individuals too. We now see how illegal drugs have started to consume the minds of young and old people alike. And the government cannot address this problem alone. We all have to give our share by working and getting to work even harder. And as long as we continue seeing this decay happen, our work will not be over and each one of us will continue carrying the blame.

Finally, let us not make every Independence Day a yearly reiteration of an old rah-rah rhetoric of reminding our fellowmen of the wrongs we all suffered from. We should as well use this day to tell our people, especially our children, that our future is not one of ease and of just resting but it is of continued efforts to fulfill our pledge to the theme, Kalayaan 2013: Ambagan tungo sa Malawakang Kaunlaran. We should not rest until we substantially claim this pledge. On this day, our thoughts go to the people who put in efforts to design the torch of our freedom and we shall not allow that torch to be blown wherever fad, fancy and fashion take it. However stormy the future seems, we shall never allow the flame to be blown out and shall live each day to heroically face the challenges that freedom brings. Thank you very much and good day.