Today is the fourth of July and just one of the ordinary days we have. But formerly the date was the celebrated Independence Day in the Philippines until the late president Diosdado Macapagal issued a proclamation stating that June 12 must be regarded as the actual day of emancipation. All the same, whether we had won our freedom from the Spaniards or had been granted liberty by the Americans, we are still facing pressing issues in our present society, which threaten the freedom and sovereignty of our nation. This leaves a gaping hole in our hearts knowing that we are still bound by the rusty chains of poverty, corruption, maleducation and homelessness, which, in spite of being rusty, we couldn't seem to break due to dead tiredness and despondency.
The fourth of July as a matter of fact is the Independence Day of the United States of America - the freedom-loving superpower that has been a model and inspiration of all democratic nations in the world - and the Filipino-American Friendship Day. We cannot deny that America had woven a long lasting relationship with the Philippines ever since the first day the Americans stepped on our soil. The most revered promise had been made by General McArthur - the unforgettable line “I shall return.” Until now, Uncle Sam has been our refuge in times of trouble and has been a faithful military and economic ally. Many Filipinos have decided to chase the American dream and to find the so-called greener pasture, and have thus migrated to the States for a living. Today, the Filipino community is the second largest immigrant group in America next to the Cholas. We believe so much in the American idealism.
The American culture and influence in the Filipino society is an indispensable trace deeply etched on our lifestyle and attitude due to our frequent exposure to fashion, products, and media that are considered to be truly stateside. But beyond doubt the most important of them all is the love for education and the English language. I am not ashamed to say that apart from my mother tongue Hiligaynon, I love speaking in English more than my national language Filipino. Maybe the reason I feel I am fairly proficient in speaking Filipino is that I don't use it in everyday communication. True enough, eventhough I had learned it academically, I didn't have the chance to practise it because I am not living in a region where most people really use it. Ironically, that premise also remains true in the case of the English language if I only base my reasoning on where I live. Nevertheless, I feel I am much more determined to learn and master the English language because I think it has, as a universal language, a greater practical use. Speaking Filipino on the other hand is intuitive and the language can be incorporated into the vernacular.
I am pretty sure that the word America has been hardwired into our system whether we like it or not. We are a diverse people. We are concrete products of acculturation. We survived the trials of times and multi century-old enslavement and subordination to other races. We continue to prove we can do it on our own and we can cast our own identity as a people the whole world will admire and look up to. Keep the faith because a new dawn will be upon us. This moment will not just be remembered as the twelfth of June or the fourth of July. This time it's forever.
Today is just a cold and rainy fourth of July.