MANILA, JUNE 14, 2012 (MANILA TIMES) IT was Jose Rizal, before Jacinto, Mabini and the others did, who articulated the dream of the many different groups of Filipinos becoming one people in one nation.

And as the reality of bloody revolt to win Philippine independence from Spain loomed large, he warned that any revolution made for personal reasons, that employs immoral means, is doomed to fail. Only a revolution that has God on its side will ever succeed.

And he wrote that to get God on a people’s side they must work and suffer. They must sacrifice for the sake of the others, their fellowmen. He was not just talking. He gave us his own life and deeds for us to emulate.

AND HE GAVE A WARNING What’s the use of independence from the colonizer, he asked, “if the slaves of today would become the tyrants of tomorrow?”

Rizal did not write these warnings from a fictionist’s imagination. His wise outlook grew not only from his readings about the French Revolution and what he saw of the political chaos that was going on in Spain. He was also informed by what he saw in Philippine towns and in the experiences of betrayals that his own family particularly his mother suffered.

They suffered, not directly from the colonizer Spaniards or the friars, but from town mates, neighbors and cousins. He saw how some Filipinos treated fellow Filipinos abominably, how they cheated each other and sided with the Spaniards against fellow Filipinos to gain an advantage.

If we were to be that kind of evil Filipino people after becoming independent, then we would only be one people in name. A real people, together forming a nation, a true political community, would be made up of citizens who respected each person’s rights and valued each other’s dignity.

The assassination of Juan Luna, the first really competent Filipino chief of the armed forces, and the public humiliation and, later, the murder of Andres Bonifacio, the original supremo of the Katipunan, the cruelty of this murder by Emilio Aguinaldo’s men, were only the most notorious evidence that the Filipinos created by the Philippine Revolution were not a people of virtue, patriotism and love for one another. They were not the people that first Jose Rizal, and then Apolinario Mabini and the others, saw the Filipinos must become.

Otherwise we would be an independent nation in name only.

And we would be the people of the Philippines that we are today.

A country run like hell One of the quotations that unthinking nationalists often use in their speeches when attacking foreigners, especially Americans, came from the lips of Manuel Quezon:

“I would rather have a Philippines run like hell by Filipinos than a Philippines run like heaven by the Americans.”

Many Filipinos believe that is the Philippines we have now.

We have had a Philippines that is so much like hell for decades.

That is why the people gave a landslide victory to President Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2010.

They saw him as the embodiment of the honesty and virtuousness of his mother, the sainted President Cory Aquino. They also saw in him the dynamism and political astuteness of his father, the martyr of the Martial Law regime, Benigno Aquino 2nd.

Unfortunately, today 114 years after the proclamation of our independence from Spain, we are in worse shape than we have ever been since the Martial Law years.

On July 4th 1946, we became independent of the United States. When that Republic of the Philippines was inaugurated, our leaders then wanted to show, among other things, that the different peoples of the Philippines had at last become one people in one Filipino nation.

That has been an illusion too. Some of the Muslims in Mindanao, not all but a number of them within the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, are rebelling to have self-determination for themselves, not as an autonomous region within the Philippine Republic, but rebelling against the Philippine Republic.

There are still similar-minded people in the Cordilleras, albeit a small minority.

But the greatest sign that we have not become the one nation of virtuous citizens that Rizal and Mabini worked for is that the majority of our leaders who deal with the Muslims and the minority communities have been behaving toward them like tyrants.

Or, if not tyrants, like con-men. They take advantage of them—especially the Aetas and the Mangyans.

Massive poverty make negates freedom We have another group of marginalized people—the Filipino poor. They make up a third of our population.

Our rich, our powerful, are not virtuous enough to act so that the poor are quickly lifted up from their sorry plight.

The President and his men have achieved some important work to solve the massive poverty problem. But it has to do more. Otherwise, that about one-third of the Filipinos are dirt-poor and another third of them are just a little bit above the poverty line can only mean that our independence is in name only.

In his Independence Day speech in Cavite last year, the President said, (our translation of the original Tagalog speech): “I say to you now: In the name of the whole Philippines I proclaim the beginning of a new chapter in our history, a chapter in which every Filipino can harvest the fruits of his labor and sacrifices’; in which the law is applied to all, rich or poor, equally; in which each may control his own destiny; in which liberty and honor are synonymous. This is the Independent Philippines. We are the Free Filipinos, divorced from and absolutely unfettered by the twin curses of corruption and poverty, greeting the future with heads proudly raised and filled with joy.”

What a beautiful dream he wove. We must love it, nurture it in our hearts.

But we must not forget that it is but a dream.

The President and his men, and all of us Filipinos, must work and make sacrifices—as Rizal said we should—to make the dream come true.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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