Is the Philippines truly Independent?

Is the Philippines truly Independent?

June 12, 2024 | Written by Dimple Paz, Edited by Jovie Galit

The Revolution that led to our “Independence”

From 1956 to 1898, Spain conquered the Philippines. The subsequent oppression, killing, and conquest under the rule of the Spanish for 333 years has pushed the Filipino People to stand up for justice and fight for the independence of their nation. This awakening led to the Philippine Revolution. The war intensified and lasted between the (Katipunan) Philippines and Spain from 1896 to 1898 until the US and President Aguinaldo declared the "false independence of the Philippines" on June 12, 1898.

Unbeknownst to the Filipino people, the "so-called battle between the US and Spain" took place just to pretend that the United States helped us defeat Spain and get the Philippines back from the Filipinos. Then, from 1898 to 1946, the Philippines became a colony of the U.S., and Spain received USD 20 million as compensation under the Treaty of Paris. The Philippine Constitution in 1898 declared the country under the protection of the United States.

Present Day 

This year, the Philippines will celebrate the 126th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence Day in various forms, such as concerts, forums, and protests. Amidst all this, many Filipinos continue to believe that the Philippines has indeed achieved independence in 1898.

But the reality is that Filipinos continue to suffer economically, including through low wages, reliance on imports, and the export of products out of our country - not even for our benefit. The Filipino market continues to be driven by foreign corporations, destroying our local industries and being threatened by a looming Charter Change.  In addition, Filipinos continue to be encouraged to seek employment abroad rather than work in their own country. 

We can't blame Filipinos for living or working in another country because wages in the Philippines remain low, regular jobs are scarce, and the cost of goods, utilities, and living expenses continues to rise. Instead, these realities pose an important question: is our nation truly independent if we have to rely on the exploitation and forced migration of our people to survive?

Are we truly independent? 

Are we truly independent if U.S. military forces continue to occupy and build bases in the Philippines, stealing water and land from Indigenous Peoples for their imperialist agenda?

Are we truly independent if the U.S. military continues to commit violence with impunity against Filipina women, peasants, and Indigenous land defenders?

Are we truly independent if Canada and the US, countries which many Filipinos call home, continue to fund the government’s human rights violations in the Philippines?

Are we truly independent if the imperialist rival countries of the United States and China seek to impose their economic and military agendas on the Philippines as they compete for dominance in various regions of Asia and around the world?

Currently, Filipinos can see the looming "war" in the Philippines due to the continuous intervention of the U.S. and China in the economy and military of the Philippines, bringing severe and aggressive interference and attack on the livelihood of Filipino fishermen. As these attacks in the West Philippine Sea intensifies, the U.S. again acts as a "saviour", promising to help should China attack the Philippines, such as giving  $8.1 Billion for Emergency Aid Package and launching the joint US-PH Balikatan Exercises. 

Such aid is similar to the Defense Military Aid they gave to Israel, which we know is part of the funds that are currently being used to aid the Genocide of the Palestinian people.

We fight to one day, be truly independent - just like the Filipino Revolutionaries who came before us envisioned us to be.

While the Philippines' genuine liberation is still not here, Filipinos across the globe continue the fight for a truly independent Philippines. In this blog, you see photos of demonstrations that just took place in Manila, in honour and protest for Independence day.

May we, fellow Filipinos, unite in unveiling and resisting imperialism, particularly U.S. imperialism, and strive for authentic liberty and democracy in the Philippines. May we also express our support for global communities standing against the U.S. military involvement, from Palestine to the Philippines. We exclaim all this in honour of the brave individuals who have battled for true sovereignty from colonial rule, from the Katipunan revolutionaries to the modern day, and future freedom fighters.

May we and future generations of Filipinos one day live to embody the cries of Gat Andres Bonifacio and the revolutionaries of the Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan. May we one day exclaim "The independence of the Philippines is because of us, Filipinos!”.

May we one day genuinely celebrate an independent and liberated Philippines.

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