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122nd Philippine Independence Day

2020-06-10 (Last Update: Wed, 10 Jun 2020) Dj Marshmallow 0 Events

My history students during this same occasion asked me, “Are we really free? Did we really have achieved freedom?”

My answer in the classroom would always depend on the text provided us for instruction and in fact, we have enough readings about this very significant aspect of our very own history both in our libraries and online literatures. I won’t go into details for now about how the act of proclamation of Independence of the Filipino people went in 1898 in Kawit-Cavite, rather I want to shed some reflections that are sometimes less emphasized in the academe due to reliance on readily available printed sources.

My answer to my students’ question would be “yes?” Yes, we did achieve some levels of freedom even during the time of Spanish occupation for at least two reasons. First, at the onset of revolution while the Filipino warriors fought to resist the Spaniards at the surrounding provinces, the stronghold of the enemies left was the city of Manila (actually, only the walled city of Intramuros), here the Filipinos had the most control over the major regions except Intramuros. In a sense, we had that levels of “freedom” as the Spaniards were having difficult time to manage these regions where they also lacked friars / gobernadorcillos, thus they delegated this position to qualified Filipinos. If they would say that the Spaniards controlled the Philippines during this time, not at all, because in reality only that small part of Manila that they had in full occupation.

Secondly, if we look at the macro level, it was the Filipinos who influenced the Spaniards in terms of culture, particularly religious culture. Because of their difficulty to deal with the “indios” who already had their own sets of religious belief, it was the Spanish friars who embraced Filipino religiosity instead of them injecting their Catholicism to the natives.

Their difficulty in translating Spanish catechism into the native language has paved the way for them to adopt the existing religious practice of Filipinos and officiated it be catholic instead of taking them over. For example, the Filipinos’ belief in gods (anitos) and statues, the friars “catholicized” it by embracing such belief and turned it as part of Catholic sacramentals.

Perhaps this is the reason why the Spanish also had the worship of Black Nazarene as an example, that instead of taking this belief away from the native Filipinos they rather embraced it to be part of Catholicism. It is a special kind of influence that we Filipinos had injected to the Spaniards’ belief system that until now we see evidence in their religious practice.

From this idea, we can claim that Filipinos in their time had somehow that sense of freedom and power of influence in many aspects in the lives of the Spanish colonizers until they were completely thrown out of our motherland and eventually proclaimed our Independence.

Happy Independence day!

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