Our generation is blessed with the independence that our forefathers fought for with their lives. What we now enjoy is the fruit of the blood and lives that were offered at the altar of our freedom and democracy. After centuries of slavery under abusive colonial masters, our brave countrymen fought long battles that won us back our lost freedom. Armed with inferior weapons, our heroes fought with courage against the artillery of our foreign oppressors. They could have opted the convenient road to self-preservation and lived longer under the rule of their foreign masters. But our forebears decided to fight a justified war that will win freedom for the future generations to enjoy. Ours future generation that now reaps the benefits of their hard won battles.

As we mark this 125th commemoration of that momentous victory for our freedom and independence, it is but apt to look back at the heroic act our heroes took. Their unselfish concern for our generation led to the attainment of our independence from our oppressors. We were able to establish our own government and fly our flag independently. Our colonizers placed us under an authoritarian regime that considered us no more than slaves under the Spanish crown. After the Spanish rule, we still have to be ruled by American and Japanese invaders before we obtained liberation by a victory in a war whose credit was grabbed by the Americans, obliterating as it did, the win of our Filipino soldiers.

From one perspective, we could take the sacrifice of our forefathers as their decisive move to free us from the burden of oppression and slavery. They risked their lives fighting a battle against well armed foreign invaders, so that we could enjoy a life of freedom and liberty. Our independence was won in the battles a quarter more than a century ago. We have turned undeserving of that supreme sacrifice but we got our share of the freedom and liberty we inherited no matter what.

Our country may have been granted independence during that historical rites more than a century ago but we seem to have lost its essence over the years. After that raising of our country’s flag as a sign of our independence during that historic event on June 12, 1898, it looks like we have bungled the great benefits of that feat. Our political and economic landscape had been bastardized by foreign intervention. We have been held captive by our foreign creditors to the point that we no longer have the right to set the course of our destiny. We owe so much and we have to pay at all costs even if it means trampling upon our constitution and our sovereignty.

The sovereignty and independence that our forefathers won had been trampled upon by Chinese officials who kept intruding our national territory despite our victory in the United Nations arbitral tribunal. The situation got worse when ex-president Rodrigo Roa Duterte downplayed the arbitral award and welcomed China to continue its intrusion into our national territory. The situation had not been rectified under the new administration that is too cautious in dealing with China. And yet, we are being made to believe that we are . . . free?
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