Work in progress

A dear friend and fellow writer, Sylvia Mayuga, posted on her FB an article I had written a decade ago. She gave it an honorific byline — Lakambini Mimi. Friends who follow Sylvia on social media said I should run it again, for sheer relevance. So, with a few changes, here it is:

Independence is a work in progress. It is not a relic; it cannot be embalmed nor kept under glass in a museum.

The Trece Mártires de Cavite, Gomburza, Rizal and the Propagandistas, Andres Bonifacio and the Katipuneros, Tandang Sora, Gregoria de Jesus, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Antonio Luna, Artemio Ricarte, Macario Sakay (to name only a few) were men and women who took the first audacious steps, rose gallantly to the occasion and did their very best.

Thanks to all of them (and to those whose names I did not mention for lack of space) we have 12 June, 15 September, the First República de Filipinas and many other gloriously heroic events and undertakings before, in between and beyond those dates.

So please, let us get over this national angst of asking one another if we are truly independent.

Independence is not something frozen in time but a never-ending national undertaking that we should all relentlessly pursue every day of our lives with patriotic rage — the noblest of passions, the purest of all aspirations.

Independence is a lifetime pledge, a vow that must be renewed collectively every year on the12th of June. If only on that one sacred day we should all go back to the original Declaration — as Chief Justice Reynaldo Puno once proposed– to sincerely review ourperformance against the original reasons that compelled our forbears to take up arms and wage an anti-colonial war against Spain.

Every year at this particular point we have to know if we are advancing (or retrogressing?) in this never-ending task of conscientiously constructing the national independence that officially began 119 years ago.

The Malolos Constitution of the First Republic, another historical watershed, should also be revisited yearly. The 101 articles of the Malolos Constitution written by the brains and warriors of the nation envisioned the establishment of institutions that would promote political and economic self-reliance and social justice.

The Filipino nation was born despite the imperfect conditions that reigned during those perilous times. Like any other human endeavor, the Philippine Revolution was fraught with internecine struggles, petty rivalries, regionalism, shameful betrayals, and mercenary expediency.

Be that as it may, absolute independence, the primordial and ultimate goal, was always in sight and served to unify a culturally diverse people in their anti-colonial war against Spain and the subsequent anti-imperialist struggle against the United States of America.

When we mindlessly deny that these ever happened; when we persist on demeaning and devaluing the Philippine Revolution, the Declaration of Independence and the First Republic — simply because foreigners did not know or refused to recognize what our forbears had accomplished — what could we be proud of today? How can we trace our roots and find our national identity?