What is Freedom For?

I watched “Braveheart” starring Mel Gibson when I was, maybe, 16.

The most resounding scene for me from the movie was at the end, when the English were disemboweling William Wallace, an excruciating procedure that he bravely endured. As he was about to die, he gave this rebel yell … “freeeedooom!!!”

I can still hear Mel Gibson in my head, 17 years later.

Braveheart_imp

***

Being a citizen of a democratic country (the CPP and Joma Sison would say “capitalist” and they would also be right), I am prone to asking myself: are we really free? And if we are, what is the value of this freedom?

On more pedestrian concerns, one is free if one can tell another person, hey keep your kid from ruining my day. Without fear of incarceration.

One is free when one can post on Facebook anything one damn well pleases, within the rules of FB of course;  otherwise the minions of Mark Zuckerberg will remove your post.

With the pork barrel scam/PDAF-corruption scandal and the Zamboanga-Mindanao crisis  that are currently rattling my small home located somewhere west of the Pacific, can I really say that I am free?

My grandparents and their ancestors have been colonized by white skinned (and sometimes, yellow skinned) foreigners for centuries. Yep, that’s ooold history. But as we are a nation with short memories, I believe one must resurrect one’s Histories again and again.

Now, Mr. F. Sionil Jose claims, we are being colonized by our own elites. That would include Janet Napoles and her daughter Jeane.

William Wallace led a revolution to free the Scots from England. In fairness, Scotland is now a part of the United Kingdom; and those Highlander guys in kilts profess loyalty to Queen Elizabeth II.

My country had it’s own revolution way back in 1896. Actually, prior to that, “small revolts” had already been carried out by locals — the Tagalogs, the Ilocanos, the Visayans, etc. — but the 1896 Revolution was the one when several of these tribes banded together and  signified our claim that we were one country called Filipinas and to hell with Imperialist Mother Spain.

As every street sweeper in Manila knows, Mother Spain left, only to be replaced by Uncle Sam. Whom we were traded for to the tune of 20 million dollars in 1899 money.

And just when we were beginning to like Uncle Sam just a little, World War II happened; and we (or rather, our grandmothers) were raped (yes, in some instances, literally) by Emperor Hirohito’s samurai wannabes.

Now China is bullying us. But that’s Book II already.

Can anybody blame us for being this messed up?

There is a poem by Teodoro Agoncillo that I love, partly because we recited it in high school during a group declamation contest; and partly because  the poem is really good.

I would like to translate it one of these days, but as I am feeling too lazy right now, here it is in Tagalog, “Republikang Basahan”:

Republika baga itong busabos ka ng dayuhan?
Ang tingin sa tanikala’y busilak na kalayaan?

Kasarinlan baga itong ang bibig mo’y nakasusi,
Ang mata mong nakadilat ay bulag na di mawari?

Ang buhay mo’y walang patid na hibla ng pagtataksil
Sa sarili, lipi’t angkan, sa bayan mong dumaraing!

Kalayaan! Republika! Ang bayani’y dinudusta.
Kalayaan pala itong mamatay ka nang abang-aba!

Kasarinlan pala itong ni hindi mo masarili
Ang dangal ng tahanan mong ibo’t pugad ng pagkasi.

Malaya ka, bakit hindi? Sa bitayan ikaw’y manhik,
At magbigting mahinahon sa sarili na ring lubid!

Kalayaan – ito pala’y mayroon na ring tinutubo
Sa puhunang dila’t laway, at hindi sa luha’t dugo!

Humimbing kang mapayapa, mabuhay kang nangangarap,
Sa ganyan lang mauulol ang sarili sa magdamag.

Lumakad ka, hilain mo ang kadenang may kalansing,
Na sa taynga ng busabos ay musikang naglalambing!

Limutin mo ang nagdaan, ang sarili ay taglayin,
Subalit ang iniisip ay huwag mong bibigkasin!

Magsanay ka sa pagpukpok, sa pagpala at paghukay,
Pagkat ikaw ang gagawa ng kabaong kung mamatay.

Purihin mo ang bayaning may dalisay na adhika,
Ngunit huwag paparisan ang kanilang gawi’t gawa.

Republika na nga itong ang sa inyo’y hindi iyo,
Timawa ka at dayuhan sa lupain at bayan mo!

Kalayaan! Malaya ka, oo na nga, bakit hindi?
Sa patak ng iyong luha’y malaya kang mamighati!

Sa simoy ng mga hangin sa parang at mga bundok,
Palipasin mo ang sukal ng loob mong kumikirot.

Kasarinlan! Republika! Kayo baga’y nauulol,
Sa ang inyong kalayaa’y tabla na rin ng kabaong?

Republika! Kasarinlan! Mandi’y hindi nadarama,
Ang paglaya’y sa matapang at sa kanyon bumubuga!

Bawat hakbang na gawin mo sa Templo ng Kalayaan
Ay hakbang na papalapit sa bunganga ng libingan!

Ang paglaya’y nakukuha sa tulis ng isang sibat,
Ang tabak ay tumatalim sa pingki ng kapwa tabak.

Ang paglaya’y isang tining ng nagsamang dugo’t luha,
Sa saro ng kagitinga’y bayani lang ang tutungga.

Bawat sinag ng paglayang sa karimlan ay habulin,
Isang punyal sa dibdib mo, isang kislap ng patalim!

***

“We who are free must use our freedom so those who are not free may gain their own freedom.”

A very nice quote from Abraham Lincoln. I would have to thank Mr. Alex Lacson’s article for this.

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