“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed — else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Philippines achieved its independence from the Spanish occupation on June 12, 1898, the date of Independence Day we commemorate each year. We also gained liberty from Japan and the United states on September 2, 1945 and July 1946, respectively. Since then, Filipinos have already enjoyed the freedom that our heroes like Lapu-Lapu, Andress Bonifacio and Jose Rizal fought for their lives. We already have the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to enjoy and enrich our native land.
But wait, are we really free right now? Have we preserved the gift of liberty that our heroes gave us? Alas, many Filipinos are still living like slaves today. Our country is still suffering from the following invaders that enslave the citizens of our nation.
Millions of Filipinos are leaving the Philippines and their loved ones in order to work abroad and earn enough money for the brighter future of their children. Poverty is one of the major causes that drive them away from their homes and restrict them from living together with their families. Despite of the liberty and privilege we have to live happily in our native soil, a huge number of our countrymen are still forced to go abroad because of it. Poverty enslaves Filipinos in many ways, and forcing them to go abroad is only one of them.
So how can we avoid poverty?
We become poor because we let ourselves become slaves of poverty, itself. Rather than choosing to live a comfortable life, we should go out of our comfort zone to challenge ourselves, learn new things, develop more skills, enhance our hidden talents, find a better job, or invest in a business. We should also take care of our health and avoid vices, such as gambling, drunkenness and gluttony that can definitely ruin our personal finances.
2. Corruption in the government
The crooked politicians and corrupt public officials steal the money of our nation, which are meant to be used for building roads, bridges, public schools, hospitals, and for funding other projects that can make the lives of Filipinos safer and better.
But where do our hard-earned taxes go?
Our public schools don’t have enough classrooms and our public hospitals don’t have sufficient medical equipment to serve the public. Our roads seems to only be repaired during the nearing of elections. And look at our military ships, tanks and aircrafts, are they enough to defend our country from external threats?
Parents are forced to bring their children in the expensive private schools rather than let them suffer inconvenience in the public schools. Filipinos run to private hospitals because of their high-quality services despite of expensive medical fees. Because of the corruption in the government, we cannot fully exercise our privilege to access and enjoy free public education, public health care, and safety.
So how can we break free from the corrupt public officials?
The way to freedom is freedom, itself. Filipinos should not let their votes be enslaved by money. They have to cast a wise vote during elections. A wise vote is not only an act of choosing the candidate that you think is right for a position, but it is a duty to know your candidate well and support your vote with justified proof that he or she deserves your vote.
3. Abusive monopoly and oligopoly
Are you tired and irritated of slow Internet connections? How about the brownouts that can damage your home appliances? Monopolies can also enslave people. Because of the lack of fair competition in the market, consumers like us don’t have an option but to stick on their services, whether they rock or suck.
The Filipinos are currently experiencing one of the slowest Internet connection in the world, and it’s also expensive. You want to send an email or a private message on Facebook to your friend? The slow Internet connection will not let you open a window to the world to do that. It deprives your freedom to efficiently connect to the world. It doesn’t give you the worth of money that you paid for.
So how can we set ourselves free from those abusive practices of monopoly and oligopoly?
Monopolists and oligopolists should be regulated by the government to protect consumers. But when the government is mixed with corrupt officials, the consequence could be terrible. Abusive monopolists and corrupt politicians, when teamed up, can cause tyranny to a nation. It’s difficult to free ourselves from monopolists and business oligarchs if we don’t have selfless and compassionate leaders. Hence, the most effective way to be free from them is to elect those kind of leaders.
4. Lack of education
There’s a famous saying that “the truth will set us free”. Knowledge is also power. With education, Filipinos can gain knowledge and truth to make better decisions with their lives and with their country. They can make a more righteous vote to avoid electing incompetent and corrupt government officials. They can find a better job. They can invest their time and money wisely to achieve financial freedom.
But with corruption in the government, Filipinos, especially the children, don’t get full access to free high-quality education. That’s why many Filipinos are still slaves today. They lack the knowledge and power to break free from poverty, the crooked politicians, and from the greedy oligarchs.
So how can Filipinos become more educated?
Today’s knowledge and information can be obtained from almost everywhere. If you’re lucky enough to have a good Internet connection, you can learn many things on the Internet for free. Maybe poverty is a hindrance to getting quality education. However, with a powerful desire and determination to learn, poverty would not matter. If the children in the mountains and remote places can travel across rivers just to go to school, then how much more the children who live in the city near public schools.
Of course it would still be better if the government can fulfill their obligations to improve access to quality education in our nation. Hence, your wisest vote can still help your countrymen break free from the slavery of academic ignorance.
5. Too much pride
Filipinos are famous for being proud. A single tweet that can hurt the Filipino pride can already cause a great outrage from the Filipino netizens. Although our pride can have good consequences like getting victories and preserving our dignity, too much pride can actually slow our nation’s progress.
Too much pride can cause Filipinos to become self-conceited, arrogant and oftentimes delusional. It restricts people to become humble, forgiving, and peaceful. It enslaves many Filipinos by making them believe that they are already the best and happiest people in the world, ignoring the reality that they need a lot of work to do for improvement.
The selfish pride of our leaders are also enslaving us. They will never give up their positions despite of their obvious incompetence. They’re fond of blaming others. They lack honor, humility, decency, and accountability.
Can we overcome too much pride?
I believe that we need to have more honor rather than pride. Whether you agree or not, I personally don’t like Filipinos to become famous for pride – this is my own opinion. I like Filipinos to become known for honor, hard work and integrity. This way, we can be more humble, honest with ourselves, and hardworking to achieve more progress. We have to face reality, whether it’s positive or negative. We have to work hard to actually transform the negative to positive. We should not just smile, be happy, and think positive while covering up the real problems in our country without doing something to solve them.
If the criticisms thrown to us by other citizens of the world are true, why don’t we consider it a challenge to improve and work hard to become better Filipinos? And of course our leaders should set themselves as examples. Our leaders should not also become too sensitive or defensive to the criticisms made by the common Filipinos, especially if they are factual. Instead, they should accept and consider them us challenges to become better leaders.
6. False religion
I will not judge specific religions in our country. Who am I to judge anyway? But I’m sure that not 100% of all religions in the Philippines are true. Not all religions bear fruits that can make the lives of Filipinos better. Perhaps there are religions that can turn people into hypocrites, have you encountered anyone? We can see them everywhere. Correct me if I’m wrong, but we can also see them in the Congress and even in the Senate.
Any false religion can make anyone a slave of its false doctrines, principles and beliefs. It can contain one’s life. It can even influence you to vote a politician you don’t like.
Can we avoid becoming a slave of a false religion?
I can’t exactly tell you what is a false religion. But if you want to determine which religion can shape your life better, you have to know its “root” and “fruit”. You have to patiently examine the origin of a religion and the consequences it bring to your life and the lives of its members as a whole. Love is about patience anyway, right?
Remember that we should keep on fighting for our freedom. We have to begin freeing ourselves. When you’re free as a person, that’s the only time you can have the strong power to help free our nation.