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Happy Birthday, Philippines!

The raising of the flag on June 12, 1898 from the window of Emilio Aguinaldo’s house in Kawit, Cavite is remembered as the birth of a nascent Philippine republic.

The declaration of independence, largely a recitation of Spanish sins against Filipinos, was read before the gathered throng, ending a noble but bloody struggle against foreign subjugation. But as it turned out, it also marked the beginning of five decades of occupation by an entirely different master.

The Philippine Republic marks its 113th independence this week.

The concept of independence as defined in 1898 may have changed much from how we view it in today’s global community, where political and economic boundaries are often blurred by interdependent interests, shared values and vicarious alliances.

The Philippine declaration of independence broke the shackles of tyranny and oppression, and proclaimed the Filipino nation’s acquiescence to God-given destiny, the mandate to pursue greatness on its own terms and its own sweat.

It bestowed on the Filipino people the duty to define what and where that greatness lie, be it in some battlefield; or in some office or factory, doing honest work; or in their homes, inspiring the coming generations of Filipinos; or toiling in some foreign land, determined to create opportunity when they could find none.

For us expatriate Filipinos, being part of an independent Philippines is a privilege derived from the sacrifices of all who came before us.  It also carries a solemn responsibility for us to keep its freedom and unique identity alive, that even in a complex, competitive, multi-cultural world, we remain Filipinos.

Proud and free.

Happy birthday, Philippines and Mabuhay! (RJJ)


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