Tell it to SunStar: The true meaning of Philippine independence

By George Evan Cuadrillero
Tell it to SunStar: The true meaning of Philippine independence
SunStar Tell it

The Fourth of July holds a significant place in Philippine history, marking the day the Treaty of Manila was signed, symbolizing Philippine Independence from American rule. Yet, this date was changed to June 12 by the late President Diosdado Macapagal, aligning it with the day Filipinos declared independence from Spanish colonization in 1898. This shift underscores a pivotal moment in our nation’s journey towards autonomy.

The Philippines was an American possession from 1898 to 1946, transitioning from a territory to a commonwealth. For 47 years, we were seen as America’s “Brown Brothers,” mirroring their values and aspirations. Today, the United States remains our “Big Brother,” and we continue to emulate its standards of living. It’s notable that, according to Cambridge University, the Philippines consistently ranks among the top countries with the highest number of English speakers, highlighting our strong cultural ties to America.

However, this deep connection raises a critical question: Have we truly achieved independence? Our identity today seems heavily influenced by our colonial past. We have become a hybrid of various cultures, from Spanish and British to Japanese and American. The pre-colonial days of Lapulapu seem distant, as our current way of life reflects the traits and characteristics of our colonizers. We have adapted to these cultural pressures, yet in doing so, have we lost our unique Filipino identity?

True independence remains elusive. We are still influenced by foreign ideals, faiths, political systems and lifestyles. Independence, in this sense, may be an illusion, a magical notion rather than a realistic state. Despite this, the resilience of the Filipino spirit cannot be understated. We have survived our tragic past and achieved milestones of freedom, albeit incomplete.

As we remember the significance of July 4, we should embrace the change initiated by President Macapagal. Like him, we need to shift our mindset and focus on the goals of our forefathers: unity and survival for a better future. True independence lies not in shedding all foreign influences but in forging a distinct Filipino identity that honors our past and looks forward to a brighter, united future.

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