119th PH Independence Day and its present-day relevance

By: Michelle Joy L. Padayhag, Norman V. Mendoza June 11,2017 - 11:15 PM

Simplicio Ortega, a Cebu City sidewalk vendor, is just among the many Filipinos who have a hard time remembering what the Philippine Independence Day celebration is all about. Ortega looks forward to the month of June each year because he gets “extra income” from selling Philippine flags used to commemorate “a certain public holiday” called Independence Day.

One hundred and nineteen years from the time General Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from more than 300 years of Spanish rule on January 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite, many Filipinos struggle to remember what Monday’s holiday is about except that it is called Independence Day.

For 43-year-old Simplicio Ortega, a sidewalk vendor along M.C. Briones St., Cebu City, the celebration is significant only because it is the time of year when other than the usual rags and bottled water which he offers to passing motorists, he is able to sell them Philippine flags.

Ortega gets the sown flags from a supplier in Barangay Mambaling and sells them at P15 for a 10-inch flag and P20 for a 15-inch flag.

“Most of my customers are students who use it for their school requirement,” Ortega told Cebu Daily News said in Cebuano.

But aside from selling flags, Ortega admits that he does not know the reason behind the country’s celebration of Independence Day, today, June 12.

And neither do many of his friends who remind him each June that it is time to sell flags on city streets again.

“Ingon man sila nga Independence Day na hapit maong namaligya na sad ko og sugod (They remind me that it’s almost Independence Day, and so, that’s why I have started to sell the flags again),” he said, adding that the sold flags had brought in extra income each June for the past four years.

But while Ortega managed to sell around 2,000 flags for the Independence Day celebration last year, he barely sold 50 this year.

Independence Day activities

On Mactan Island — site of the first resistance against Spanish colonizers — the Lapu-Lapu City government will start the day with a Mass at 6 a.m. before a flag ceremony at the Liberty Shrine in Barangay Mactan at 7:00 a.m.

A memorandum from the mayor’s office required all government employees from city officials to village workers to attend the ceremony wearing their “Kadaugan sa Mactan” shirt.

Members of the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Philippine Air Force will join the flag-raising ceremony along with the military’s drum and bugle corps.

Close to 3,000 people are expected to attend the ceremony which will be led by Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza.

Roads leading to Mactan Shrine will be open to motorists with traffic personnel manning the vehicular flow.

The Liberty Shrine has been adorned with Philippine flags and a bouquet of flowers in celebration of Independence Day, which is meaningful to all Oponganons as the island’s chieftain, Datu Lapu-Lapu, triumphed over a foreign invader, Ferdinand Magellan, in 1521.

“Independence is still being enjoyed in the country of course though we have this rebellion and insurgency problem, but the government is on top of it all,” said Radaza.

Militant organizations under the Cebu Citizens Assembly, comprised of Akbayan, Pagtambayayong Foundation, Kaabag sa Sugbo, Partido Manggawa, Sentro and Fellowship Organizing Endeavors will gather at Sto. Rosario Church along P. del Rosario St. from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. today to commemorate the 119th Philippine Independence Day.

Around 300 people are expected to attend the activity which is timed together with a rally at Plaza Miranda in Manila, organizers said.

“The Independence Day commemoration is a demand for freedom from the terrorist acts of the Maute Group and the authoritarian response of (President) Duterte through martial law,” Justin Balane of Akbayan Youth said.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao last May 23 following the invasion of the Islam State–inspired Maute Group in Marawi City and the resulting all-out war waged by the government against the terrorists.

For Balane, rather than martial law, there are workable solutions to keep the cities safe.

“Here in Cebu City, the local government has engaged the Muslim communities to help in quelling any violent outsiders. Citizens are asked to be vigilant and to report any threats,” Balane said.

Jaime Paglinawan of Bayan–Visayas said that they will march from A.C. Cortes Avenue, Mandaue City, all the way to Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City this morning to protest the base’s inclusion in the agreed locations for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca).

“We are continuously controlled by foreign governments. Philippines is not free,” Paglinawan said.

A prayer rally in Fuente Osmeña will also be held at 4 p.m. today where they will raise their opposition against martial law in Mindanao and extrajudicial killings in the country, and call for continued government peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

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TAGS: and, day, Independence, ph, present
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