Our songs that serenade us with bravery, our words that speak of honesty, and our history that depicts a culture as rich as our lands, and of people who gave life by dying—are gushing out of our memory like sand poured in an open palm. Our forebears fought wars. They lost and they won. Now the victory they entrusted to our hands has been lost again in another war—one so insidious that it made us adore our conquerors.

People talk about how it would have been better for the Philippines to never have acquired independence at all. Many believe that we would have been like Hawaii or Guam if we became a state of America. This belief begs a question to mind: why can’t the Philippines prosper without the help of America?

They say that America’s power, influence, and money will put a stop to all the rebellion—the NPAs and overzealous activists. But there will always be a rebellion. There will always be deaths brought by bloody wars unless the system that the Philippines run under changes. The people will never rest until they find justice.

Have we already forgotten what our forebears went through to preserve the sanctity and dignity of our country? Of the land whose earth we have erected our houses, the land whose fruits have fed our stomachs. The land whose name we carry in our identity. This is the land that people whose very blood runs in our veins have fought for against the foreign capitalists and imperialists. They won a war for us, yet we are gradually losing it. They gave up their lives for ours, only for us to live like puppets tied to a string, dancing to the tune of the puppeteer, under the ruse of “help.” We spent the life our martyrs gave us loving those who killed our heroes in the first place. We should not rise victorious over a battle only to lose it by submitting ourselves willingly to our oppressors.

We are in a country in whose mountains we find people who fought for their culture. People who fought to retain their identity—and are on the brink of extinction.

Let us not forget the blood that seeped into the earth of the land of promise. The blood of the martyrs who fought bravely and valiantly, who sacrificed their lives and loves for our future. Our disloyalty to our mother land and disunity to our kin is a disfavor to the sacrifices our heroes had offered.

We dream of going to another country, of a “better” place, off to greener pastures. Why can’t our pastures not be green enough? We dream of marrying people of foreign descent, with white skin, tall noses, and light hair—to bear beautiful children. Have we forgotten the beauty of our kind? The beauty in brown skin, black hair and eyes. The beauty that goes beyond skin deep.

We strive to follow the latest western trends, imitating and mimicking in an attempt to not only fit in, but to shine. And ridicule those who do not.

The music we listen to no longer bear significance to our solidarity. We are caught up in popular culture, forgetting our own. The books we read are by foreign authors, shunning the ones written in our own language.

Our wallets, our shirts, and our bags bear the flags of other nations. Why do we not wear ours?

We say that we are an independent nation, yet we strive to imitate another.

To say that it is better to have never acquired independence at all is tantamount to saying you’d rather have been born in another land, another country, from different parents, and of a different nationality.

To say that it is better to have never acquired independence is akin to saying you’d rather not be a Filipino at all.

We must never forget our history. We must never forget our culture. And we must never forget our land and the beauty of the promise it brings. The promise of a true democracy, and of solidarity among its citizens. That it will bear heroes in the form of simple people-of farmers, fishermen, mothers, and all those who truly love the blood that runs in their veins. Those who hear the voices that hum on the ground they tread. Their pockets need not be full, their skin need not be white, nor their noses be tall. What is needed is only the pureness of the heart. The heart that beats in a song that echoes the dreams of the people. A heart that will never die even in the midst of a war whose bullets had pierced it. The heart will forever be pulsing, growing stronger with every uprising, in every battle we valiantly fight. The heart is a dream, a dream that will cease to be only when it comes true.

Let us never forget the years we were enslaved, prisoners in our own land. Let its memory revive our souls and ignite the fires within us. Let our remembrance fan the fires of a revolution. Let its heat crawl up our throats to intensify our thirst for justice and peace. Let its flames dance in our stomachs to further our hunger for freedom—the freedom that goes beyond the freedom to think, speak, and act.

But the freedom to be.

So let us never forget.

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