Independence-A A +A
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
TODAY in our annual calendar is Independence Day, a national holiday. And so we celebrate this date as the day we became a free and independent country. And, indeed, we have been recognized the world over as a free nation in Southeast Asia, independent ahead of the other countries in the Asian region.
The June 12, 1898 declaration of independence, though, was short-lived with the coming of the Americans, which freed us only on July 4, 1946, just after World War II. Before 1946, we were an American colony, and, if my memory serves me right, Burma, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia were under English rule. Then there was the so-called Dutch New Guinea, Borneo and Indonesia.
These were some of the nations that crowded my young mind when I was only in grade school, and all through the war years. The nations fighting against the colonial powers were only China and Japan. But they were known as brutal Asians that did consider the other Asian nations as “enemies.” And so, when Japan came to the Philippines, Japanese soldiers violated our people.
But the nature of colonial politics changed when we became independent in 1946. Our nation became a model in our part of the globe, under the political tutelage of the US as a benevolent colonial “master.” Then inch by political inch, the nations in the Asian region shed their colonial “yoke” through the sixties and the seventies. And then the region started to unite, first under the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).
Then late in the seventies, the Asian region decided to form a closer and more united group, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) which is being considered now with high respect in the international politics of the globe. The only drawback in the Asean picture is that the members are all similarly small nations, not only in the matter of land areas but also in their respective political, social, and economic circumstances.
But no matter. The Asean to which we belong with co-equal status among the rest of the member nations is considered one of the world’s regional economic and political powers. Even Japan and China, as Asian nations themselves, are looking at Asean’s collective strength as free and sovereign powers, with due respect. It is in this light that we should take our independence in the context of our democratic values as a free people.
Indeed our people, as accepted members of the global community, should thus live and assert themselves as free individuals of the world’s freedom-loving populace.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 12, 2013.