NOTEBOOK: We still don’t get it on Independence Day events

Community Opinion & Analysis Jun 16, 2005 at 8:10 pm

MY COLUMN this issue will be brief because I want to give space and emphasis to the story on this same page about Filipino youth in Vancouver making important steps to learn the history of their people.

When I read this story I felt ashamed that we Filipinos in Toronto continue to celebrate the 1898 declaration of Philippine independence with a total lack of a sense of history.

Take for example the Pistahan sa Toronto at Nathan Philips Square on June 11 and 12. Front and center was the backdrop onstage — a huge painting depicting the Christianization of the Philippines, which was precisely used to impose the oppressive Spanish colonial regime. Conspicuously absent were the countless Filipino heroes and martyrs who sacrificed their lives to resist and topple that regime.

The gala night of PIDC-Kalayaan likewise had Mindanao as its theme, focusing on dances and costumes, again with no historical reference to the heroic resistance of Muslims against Spanish colonialism.

It may be argued that the emphasis in these celebrations was cultural, hence the native dances and music mixed with modern numbers. (And we’re now into more elaborate beauty pageants that include teens and toddlers!) But still, this occasion is named “107th Philippine Independence Day,” a clear reference to the 1898 declaration of Philippine Independence from Spain, an act of great historical significance by the revolutionary government led by Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite.

In an effort to contribute to putting a sense of history to this occasion, we are reprinting “Veneration Without Understanding” by Renato Constantino (See page 8), an enlightening essay on the real historical value of Jose Rizal. The essay, very popular in the 1970s, was part of a body of literature that helped in awakening a generation of students and youth who became part of a movement for social change.

We Filipinos in Toronto must emulate, be inspired by and follow the example of the youth in Vancouver or remain hopelessly irrelevant.