Maungca: The Myth of ‘Independence’

Maungca: The Myth of ‘Independence’



THIS Monday — June 12, 2023 — marks the 125th year of our country’s independence from Spanish colonization. It’s supposed to be a day to celebrate our national identity and heritage.

The word independence as described by dictionary.com is a state of freedom from control and influence from external forces. This then would beg the question: “Are we truly independent?”

As a nation, we have been at the receiving end of one-sided trade deals and crippling loan agreements from international superpowers that have caused our ‘independent’ country to be stunted in growth and development.

Even in our own territorial waters, we are harassed and bullied out into submission. Crushed between the opposing geopolitical interests of America and China in our own backyard. Our resources have been systematically siphoned out of our rich lands to support the industry and luxury of other countries.

If one truly sits squarely with these facts, we ought to ‘mourn’ our feeble and borrowed independence today rather than celebrate it.

On the individual level, true independence is having agency in making one’s own choices—most especially our political choices—without fear of intimidation and suppression from the state or from those having opposing views. Unfortunately, the opposite is true in the Philippines today.

In the cultural aspect, Filipino culture is on the losing end contesting against the overwhelming tide of western influence. In recent years, the Korean wave of K-drama and K-pop have taken Filipinos by storm.

If we look at social media, it has been weaponized to steer the thought process and decision making of Filipinos to the whims of its engineers. The proliferation of fake news, through the pumping of hate-laced and propaganda-heavy content has dealt a deep wound to the social fabric of our society. It’s harder to argue with facts against mere opinions nowadays.

Your level of independence or freedom is proportional to your social status and power. This is systematic, or rather, this is how the ‘system’ works. The richer or more well-connected you are, the more you are free.

To take a page from George Orwell’s Animal Farm: All Filipinos are independent, but some are more independent than others.

Happy “Independence” day, mga kapwa ko Pilipino.

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