The Philippine Revolution of 1896 is a movement of the masses against tyranny. It is a social upheaval that calls for reform in the society, the economy, and governance. For more than three hundred years, the Filipino people suffered rampant oppression: abusive friars and civil authorities, heavy taxation, and lack of opportunities to improve life. And for more than three hundred years, the Filipino people endured these abuses in silence. The Filipinos were made to believe that they were stupid and incapable of self-governance.
The Cry of Pugadlawin on August 23, 1896, led by Andres Bonifacio became the symbol of revolution, a symbol of Filipino determination and tenacity to overthrow the yoke of slavery. It became the rallying point that proved the Filipino’s courage to fight for freedom even if it means certain death. It was a brazen display of patriotism and nationalism.
Between November 1896 to March 1897, Bonifacio made an exhortation entitled “To the Brave Sons of the People” urging them to continue the fight until they can secure their freedom from Spanish oppression. The full text of the speech can be found at http://www.kasaysayan-kkk.info/cavite-politics-in-a-time-of-revolution/andres-bonifacio-mararahas-na-manga-anak-ng-bayan-february-or-march-1897
The first three paragraphs of Bonifacio’s speech is quoted hereunder:
“The bravery you have manifested since the start of this Revolution in fighting against the Spanish enemy is the clearest proof that you are not terrified by the noise of the preparations for the invasion here of the army of Polavieja. That army, in a short span of time, has demonstrated marked cowardice and base conduct by torturing and killing multitudes of our non-combatant people. Their burning of the towns here, their desecration of the purity of our women without regard to their weakness, the murder of the old and of helpless infants – these acts are not those of any man of honor and courage. They cry out for vengeance and justice.
After the enemy assault, you may perhaps be found lifeless on the field of battle, but this is an honorable legacy for our country, for our race and for our family.
Your dying breath will be the breath that gives life to our nation and will serve as a loving memory to your brothers whom you leave behind”.
On December 30, 1896, Jose Rizal was executed at Bagumbayan. His death ironically fanned the flames of the Katipunan. Cecilio Apostol, a Filipino poet, wrote about Rizal’s execution in his poem “Al Heroe Nacional”:
Weep not in the mystery of the tomb,
over the Spaniards’ momentary triumph,
for if a bullet your cranium destroye
your idea, in turn, an empire destroyed
In Rizal’s own words, “I consider myself happy for being able to suffer a little for a cause which I believe to be sacred”…. (Wikipedia.org)
The Philippine struggle for independence would continue during the American Occupation from 1899 – 1902.
While the Americans posed as liberators, in reality, they are the new masters who intended to subjugate the Filipinos – after Spain ceded the Philippines to America under the Treaty of Paris. Hiding behind the mask of benevolent assimilation, the Americans betrayed the Filipinos.
In his book, Gems of Philippine Oratory (pages 44-45), Austin Craig recounted a speech of then General Emilio Aguinaldo, the first President of the Philippine Republic, on the occasion of the celebration of the first anniversary of the Declaration of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1899 at Angeles, Pampanga. Some notable parts of the speech is quoted hereunder:
“On June 12, 1898, Cavite, Bataan, Batangas, Morong, and Laguna declared themselves independent from Spanish dominion. We hoisted for the first time this tricolor flag, ensign of liberty, symbol of our freedom, device of our faith, ever constant, in the attainment of our cherished ideal.
The flag that has been raised by a people worthy of the best privileges and enjoyments of liberty, and which assures our independence, we are obliged to defend at all times, even unto death. Let us pledge courage and abnegation without limit and even sacrifices if these be necessary, now that we are provoked and compelled to fight”.
Our history is replete with noble struggles for freedom and independence, for betterment of political, economic, and social order.
Rizal, Aguinaldo, and Bonifacio – they were but a few noble men, patriots who championed the cause of reform, men with the audacity to challenge the status quo and point out wrongs to effect change. They embodied that indomitable Filipino spirit deeply rooted in the ideals of democracy, courage, and self-sacrifice.
Today, we stand at the vanguard of progress in this great Asian continent. With our hearts full of hope, let us walk the path that our forefathers envisioned to make this nation great once again.
We need a new revolution to reform this nation; we need a revolution in order to change the political, economic, and social order. We need a religious revolution.
For many years, we are being governed by corrupt politicians, whose hearts are calloused by indifference and moral squalor. They may have been good men and women in the beginning, who eventually became corrupt leaders who forgot their sacred duty to lead the nation and serve the people.
The EDSA Revolution is a revolt of the masses. A religious revolution is a revolt of the faithful. This is where church leaders of all faith should step up and spur their faithful members to become instruments of transformation in the community, in the society, and in the government. Church leaders must rally the faithful to vote candidates who are known to be God-fearing, upright men and women with a proven track record of being an honest public servant.
Seven months from now, the Filipino people will go to the polls and elect their new sets of leaders. Before casting our votes, consider this: should we vote for candidates based on their popularity, or, should we vote based on integrity? If we want change, we need to change the way we do things. Regardless of your faith, as long as you believe in God, its time to speak and be heard.
It’s about time that church leaders lead the way towards social change and rouse the spirit of the faithful to say “NO” to corrupt politicians and “YES” to good governance.