Anakbayan-Toronto on 116th Philippine Independence Day

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PRESS RELEASE
Reference: Sarah Salise, Secretary General
anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

Why do we defy on PH Indie day?

Anakbayan-Toronto (AB-TO) commemorates the 116th year of the Philippine “Independence” Day; however, we stand firm and believe that the Philippines is still not independent due to the imperialism of the United States and its major influence to the puppet government of President BS Aquino III.

Time and again, there is an ongoing debate on which day should we celebrate Philippine independence day. But first, we beg the question: Are we as a country with a plurinational state truly independent? In the 2014 edition of an annual event for Filipino-Canadian secondary school students, one would find it troubling to have July 4, 1946 as the answer during an inspirational talk by community role models.

The most popularly recognized date is June 12, 1898 as the day when the first republic proclaimed the statement implying independence of the archipelago from Spain’s colonial rule. Then there’s September 3, 1945 as liberation day from the Japanese and if one would stretch it further, April 27, 1521 was the day when Lapu-lapu led and won the battle against Ferdinand Magellan on the beach of Mactan.

Independence— when, where and for who?

On June 12, what actually happened is an act of treason by the liberal government of Emilio Aguinaldo. A few months after, the first two acts were promulgated (1) to release all Spanish prisoners, (2) to allow foreigners the right to equally do business in the Philippines. Unwittingly, he declared the republic to be a mere protectorate of US imperialism.

As the archipelago were sold by Spanish colonizers to the United States for $20 million through the Treaty of Paris, the interests of the Filipino masses were further jeopardized. Even July 4, which coincides with US Independence day, it is impolitic to relegate it as the contemporary Filipino-American Friendship Day when American soldiers massacred around 600,000 Filipinos during the occupation of the archipelago.

We, from a national democratic youth organization, believe that the Philippines yet remains to be a semi-colony, looking at the influence of other countries especially the US. Our country is controlled through the local lackeys and puppets in the government working behind the scenes for all the decisions made to benefit the few rich and elite.

The Americans never left. With the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) being signed by the two countries, this will just worsen the crisis happening in the Philippines. Now that the US military exercises will be more intensified by putting up more bases, there will be a lot of human rights violations that affect women and children. There will be more militarization in the communities that will force our kababayans to be internally displaced or forcefully migrate in order for their families to survive. Children and youth will be left behind without their parents, and will struggle to fight separation and being reunified after a very long time.

“It is difficult to view the Philippines as a truly “free country” if we look at its institutions even the schools- heavily rely on the American system,” says Sarah Salise, AB-TO Secretary General.

One of those decisions is the changing of the current education system to K-12 preparing the youth and students for forced migration, rather than as an equivalent to the North American system. Not only does it not serve the interests of our fellow youth, but it also make their concrete conditions much harder than it is.

Salise adds “If the Philippines is truly independent, we should be able to have our own way of doing things. We should be able to teach our young people about the darkness of our past and the brightness of our future that we should work on.”

Philippine independence day is commonly glossed over with pageants, parades, fireworks, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies. In tune, the culture of society is dominated by the mores of the ruling class. They are trying to bury the valiant battles waged in our history and mostly led by young blood: from Bonifacio and the Katipunan, Sakay, Malvar, Barros, Alejandro, Edjop, Eman, Ditto, the First Quarter Storm. Freedom is a heritage and a gift that needs to be defended and supported.

In the peoples’ movement, we celebrate these events by following the footsteps of great Philippine heroes and martyrs who fought for self-determination. Online and offline, we organize in communities to uplift and inform young people to move forward responsibly, conscious of their power and their crucial role in creating change.

Wherever we are located, we will always be tethered to the 7,107 islands we call home. So on this day we raise our banners, and drum up accountability of our leaders, however garish their speeches sound. We continue the militant struggle to knock to the ground the three ills in our country and instead cherish for our freedom and democratic ideals.

We dare to dream of a better world. Only when there is a national policy geared towards building local industries, and the government reflecting the interests of the masses of the people, can we be truly independent.

Thus, we defy.

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