June 12 is one of the most colorful holidays in the Philippines marking the country’s liberation from its Spanish colonizers in 1898.
Before the pandemic, it was a holiday people commemorated by decorating public buildings with the colors of the flag. The parades in the cities and towns drew people out of their homes giving the streets a festive air of celebration.
Today, as the country celebrates its 123rd Independence Day amid a pandemic, without parades and festive celebration, four students from Generation Z (those born after 1996) share what Independence Day means to them.
Exercise your right to vote to show your love for our country — that is what’s on the mind of Rowe Borlagdatan, a 20-year-old communication student, when he thinks of Independence Day. He will vote for the first time in the 2022 elections.
“In the coming elections, may we vote wisely to keep the country’s independence that our heroes fought for so many years,” he said.
Calling independence a “gift from our heroes” he said we have a responsibility “not to neglect their sacrifices just to give this freedom to the future generation.”
He said going out to vote sounds like a simple thing to do but it is a way “to honor the lives of our heroes who gave us this life now, one with a rich culture and colorful traditions,” he added.
Remember our heroes
For 19-year-old musician and filmmaker Jordan Amor, remembering the people who fought and gave up their lives for the future generations especially on Independence Day is very important.
“The people should never forget the sacrifices of our freedom fighters who gave up their lives, or risked their lives, to give us what we have today,” he said.
“Their dedication should be remembered and celebrated today and in the years to come,” he said.
He said that if there are events that threaten the country’s sovereignty, people should remember what our heroes had sacrificed to give us our independence.
‘Are we free?’
The question of “are we truly free?” — is in the minds of two students on Independence Day.
Has June 12 been reduced to a mere holiday and has it lost its meaning over the years — is the thought that Nitz Tan, 21, shared with us.
Tan, a copywriter for an advertising agency, said she is worried about the Philippines being colonized again.
“After years of being free, I can’t truly say that we are still independent,” she said, articulating her concern that the country is at risk of being “colonized” by China.
On the other hand, graphic designer Sunday Julaton, 20, thinks that Independence Day is a holiday that celebrates something nonexistent.
“Personally, I think it’s a holiday that celebrates something that doesn’t really exist. The Philippine Independence is worth celebrating yes, but I think with our current situation with China and our old ties with the United States, I cannot say for certain if we are really ‘independent,'” he said.
He observed that China has a “massive influence” over us while the United States has left our people with a mentality that makes us “constantly compare ourselves to them in terms of beauty and culture.”
Despite their concerns, these communication students are confident that the Philippines will overcome whatever threats or challenges it may face.
“Dapat itong Independence Day ay isabuhay natin at tandaan natin lagi nang sa ganon ay magkaroon naman tayo ng tapang para ipagtanggol ang ating bansa mula sa mga dayuhan (We should always put Independence Day in our hearts and minds so we will have the courage to fight for our country),” Amor said.
The Philippines, indeed, has a rich history but that was not made without sacrifices. Let us not let these sacrifices go to waste. One way of ensuring our freedom is by remembering the events that happened leading to our independence.