[OPINION] The irony of Independence Day: When Filipinos embrace and hail their oppressors as their heroes

Outgoing Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and incoming President-elect Bongbong Marcos

THIS year’s celebration of Independence Day felt like there was a dark cloud hovering above the 7,100 beautiful islands of our beloved Philippines.

Where there should be pride and joy and a jubilant spirit in celebrating the day when we won our freedom from foreign intrusion and occupation of our Motherland, gloom and helplessness were the overriding emotions for many Filipinos, exacerbated by the meanness and hatred of other kababayans who live in a parallel universe.

”Alab ng puso, sa dibdib mo’y buhay” goes a line in the Philippine’s national anthem “Lupang Hinirang,” but I do not feel that burning, pulsating enthusiasm that I felt from our kababayans just before the May 9, 2022 election — the fire of hope  for a better brighter Philippines seemed to have lost its flame to become a dying ember.

“Sa manlulupig, di ka pasisiil” is another popular line in “Lupang Hinirang,” which means the Filipino people will never allow ourselves and our nation to be oppressed again by its conquerors.

Our victorious bloodless revolution to fight for freedom from the Marcos dictatorship in 1986 had earned the admiration and respect of people from all over the world. Imperfect as our journey back to a true democracy — government of the people, by the people, for the people — might have been, we have gone a long way, only to transgress to where we were during Martial Law, sinking to a new low when Rodrigo Duterte was elected President, and even to a seemingly bottomless pit when Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of the dictator we deposed 36 years ago, was elected to the Presidency.

Our national hero Jose Rizal once said, “Kailanman hindi ako natatakot sa mag mananakop, mas natatakot ako sa kamangmangan ng aking mga kababayan (I have never been scared of the conquerors, as I am afraid of the ignorance of my fellow Filipinos)”.

Indeed, we Filipinos have become our worst enemy toward our collective quest toward realizing and owning the clean and honest government we all have been yearning and praying for.

We may have been freed from foreign oppressors, but many of us have not realized that the chains of oppression from within us, from among us, has been the most difficult to break free from.

We have allowed our minds to be manipulated and conquered by the conquistadores of our generation, and they were not tyrants from foreign soil. They are Filipinos.

They used the toxic arsenal of lies, disinformation, fake news, revision of history, spread by social media platforms more deadly than COVID-19. And many of us took them all in, without question, without critical thinking.

The conquistadores used our frustrations to fan the flames of hate and division, and many of us allowed our minds to be conquered by the very people who have been abusing them, violating the Constitution to rule as if they are above the law.

What is there to celebrate on Independence Day after we drank their poison wine, that made many of us believe they were the heroes, and those who fought for our freedom are the enemies of the people. And we hailed and exalted the very people that oppressed us, the very people that abused us. We betrayed ourselves.

When will we ever be truly free? Do we even deserve to be free?

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989. She was a news anchor, TV host and radio commentator and public service host for ABS- CBN and DZMM. She is now working on her advocacies independently, serving the Filipino audience using different  media platforms. You may contact her through email at [email protected], or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos. Also on Twitter, Instagram: Gel Santos Relos


Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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