@MsLeaSalonga’s famous june 12 tweet 

Our country is not yet debt-free, poverty-free, crime-free, or corruption-free. So what are we free from exactly and why do we celebrate it?  

it’s a good question – even a trick question, sort of – and would take a clear sense of history and politics and some soul-searching to answer.  simply impossible in 140 characters.

what are we free from?

certainly not from debt, poverty, crime, or corruption — lea’s right.   but also certainly not from “colonizers” – lea’s bashers are wrong.

our last colonizer is still very much around in a neo kind of way – not openly or overtly, rather, underhandedly and covertly, with our leaders acting as witting, some unwitting, dummies, or puppets, sort of.

we like to think we are free to shape a sovereign future for nation, but we are not, really.  think EDCA.   think “free” trade.   think mamasapano.  think english.

all we are really free from is the sight of americans mismo in positions of power.  all we are really free from is a clear sense of the ever-steady grip of the american hand on our economic and political and military  affairs.

but that – being not really free – is not what we celebrate.

i grew up with parents who would religiously bring out the family’s philippine flag and hang it in front of the house every time june 12 came around.  but i also had an aunt nearby who would always quietly snort at the ritual, once whispering to me, we’re not free, there’s nothing to celebrate.  so i’ve always been of two minds about it.

just the same i hang out my philippine flag june 12 to july 4, year after year.  once i forgot, back when gloria moved the holiday to the nearest monday, or was it friday, in aid of “holiday economics.”  i was surprised to feel so awful about forgetting, like i had failed my parents, my lolos and lolas, all the way back to rizal and bonifacio and, sige na nga, aguinaldo na rin, in the struggle to keep the flame of freedom alive.


  1. I think the idea that sovereignty means isolation in a world that is small and deeply intertwined is rather, well, provincial. Accusing friends of operating deceitfully is not exactly a hallmark of the kind of national values that will keep the Philippines free. Nor are unsubstantiated accusations that the Philippine nation’s leaders are “witting, or unwitting, dummies.”

    Now if you wish to be free of any accountability for anything done in the Philippines, that line of argument fits.

  2. “Our country is not yet debt-free, poverty-free, crime-free, or corruption-free. So what are we free from exactly and why do we celebrate it?”—Lea Salonga

    No country in the whole wide world is debt-free, or poverty-free, or crime- free, or corruption-free. Or, maybe just a few, if ever.

    I find no sense in Ms. Salonga’s statement and I thought she’s a smart girl. Hindi ka na pala pwedeng mag celebrate ng birthday mo kung mayroon kang utang. No sense at all.

  3. GabbyD


    my problem with this is it confounds two different things — the history of the declaration of independence, and gripes about the current state of our nation.

    we have 359 days to complain about all of the things that ail us. why not set aside one day to remember this one specific thing, without diluting it?

  4. manuelbuencamino

    June 12, 18something marks the declaration of independence but we became independent only on July 4 1946.

    July 4 1946 is independence day. Since that day no flag has flown above our flag within our national territory, since then we have been pledging allegiance only to the Philippines, since then the world recognizes our status as an independent republic, sovereign in its own right.

    Of course there are forces – other countries, international treaties etc. – that can limit our choices. That’s reality. And that reality applies to ALL countries in the world.

    NO country in the world is truly independent if the criteria is “free to shape a sovereign future for the nation”. Because every country, no matter how powerful, is constrained by other countries who have plans of their own.

  5. Batang Genyo-Ala-eh

    we celebrate political freedom every year, unfortunately, it is polluted with too much western cultural niceties we forget the true essence of freedom.