Thursday, June 11, 2009

Can We Truly Be Independent?

Independence Day, that is what we celebrate on June 12. On June 12, 1898 General Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippines from the Spanish government in his hometown of Kawit, Cavite. Our Independence Day celebration would recall to us the Revolution by the Katipuneros, the Spanish – American War over the Philippines followed by the Philippine – American War.

One of the legacies of Spanish colonization with the sword is the Cross (without the sword) that now hangs in every church all over the country. We may have declared our independence from Spain, but we should be grateful to the Spanish Dominican, Augustinian, Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries who brought the cross and the faith to us. Since then the evangelization that started with them five centuries ago goes on. We are a Christian nation. A Spanish Jesuit missionary had commented: before “mother Spain” evangelized the Filipinos, time has come for the Filipinos to evangelize “mother Spain.”

With the doctrine of the United Nations with us, we can ask; can we be truly independent? We are observing today how nations are co-dependent on one another, in the areas of education, economics, social, religious, and political development, requiring exchange of time, talents and treasures but never of bullets and nuclear bombs.

In our country today we hear new cries for independence: Independence from corruption, from self-serving politicians and leaders, from various kinds of exploitations, harassments, extra-judicial killings, and economic poverty. We may have declared independence from some nations, but the ones that now “enslave and exploit Filipinos” are their “fellow Filipinos.”

The issue now in the life of families, communities, groups and nations is not how to be independent but how to be co-dependent or interdependent on one another. Genuine independence is the fruit of genuine interdependence. We said it in the Plenary Council of the Philippines: “No one is so poor as to have nothing to give, or so rich as to have nothing to receive.”

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
June 12, 2009