My independence, my heroes, my Mindanao

by Adrian M. Tamayo


We have been celebrating Independence Day, for more than one hundred years we have been waving our national flags, but my researcher’s mind rushes to seek out the hypothesis of the celebration. Do we appreciate the worth of our freedom?


In movies, freedom is readily pointed out, expressed and rallied by the heroes and the villains. My mind is tickled by the 1995 Mel Gibson movie, the “Braveheart” which depicted the 13th-century Scottish warrior. Of course, we cannot discount our own.


We have the likes of Gen. Antonio Luna, Francisco Dagohoy, Sultan Kudarat. We are not bereft of lady heroes who fought alongside the brave patriots. We have Gabriela Silang, Gen. Marcela Marcelo famous for other names like Selang Bagsik. They are those who did not mind losing blood and life to throw the Spaniards out.


My tender years fancied with the life of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar. Comparing the stories of William Wallace and Gen. del Pilar, “Braveheart” stirred the hearts of the natives, rich and commons to free from the shackles of England, while Gen. del Pilar’s sacrifice went down in history as an edifice of the bravery of youth.


To which freedom do we fight really? Today is a potent reminder of a day in history when the symbol of Spanish colonial rule was ended, though sadly with a bit of irony, upon the desire to be recognized by yet another colonizer.


As most historians describe, the presence of Col. LM Johnson in the Declaration of Independence is a historical irony. While playing politics, then Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo wanted to display an American in the ranks of the signatories of the Declaration.


Some historians revealed that the presence of Col. Johnson at the Aguinaldo mansion in 1898 was a result of “benign” acceptance of the protection of the mighty United States of America. Gen. Aguinaldo, as narrated, invited Commodore George Dewey to make an impression that the Philippines was ready to govern themselves, but Theodore Roosevelt forbid Dewey to make commitments to the independence.


Since June 12, 1898, Filipinos never achieved maturity, we never relied on our own. And the event is true until now, some of the Filipinos cry to the Americans for interventions on how this country governs the government.


So what value does the declaration of the independence serve? At the initial, it gives us time to bond with families and friends as government and private establishments are closed today. However, patriots would gather in historical places to commemorate the great sacrifices of the heroes. The most common places where patriots gather are in Rizal parks or Rizal shrines, and shrines of the heroes known in the elementary history books.


The Vin d’honneur is also celebrated this day in deference to the sanctity of the day. The President leads the celebration along with the state diplomatic corps. Other government officials, elected or appointed gather today to celebrate the very value of the celebration; an opportunity to govern our own.


But let me try to speak about another pursuit of freedom, the freedom from poverty and helplessness.

With a Mindanaoan President, we have a rallying point! This is the time when we have to devout passion and hard work for Mindanao. This is the time to rally for increased Mindanao budget, infrastructure for interconnectivity like the high-speed train. Let us all cry out for more economic hubs and eco-zones. We have to demand sustainability and reliability of electricity in Mindanao.


For the next five years, a total of P678 billion will be needed to support Mindanao projects and programs; an estimated P1 trillion pesos is as much needed for the next 10 years. This is the budget that we long deserved. The amount Mindanao needs to catch up with development.


And for all of these to work, peace has to reign in Mindanao. For peace to reign, there is the slogan to be made famous; it is federalism. As the MinDA Secretary, Datu Sec Alonto foretells, federalizing the Philippines will ensure the future of Mindanao. Truly, federalism is the very soul of all Mindanao development initiatives.


The same expressions I hear from the wisdom of Atty. Ares Albay, Arch. Chito Gavino, former Secretary Lito Lorenzana, businessman Edgar Te, Dr. Jose Abueva, former Hagonoy Mayor Willie Cabardo, Concom members CJ Reynato Puno, Atty. Bong Parcasio and Atty. Antonio Arellano. They are the people who have been working for federalism. They are in fact my own set of heroes.