Today is the 122nd Independence Day of the Philippines, but we are not free.
We are not free of tyrants who seek to rob us and kill us. We are not free of criminals who rule over us. We are not free of liars and cheats who twist our words and manipulate the laws of the land.
We are not free from hunger. Millions are barely surviving, with only a cup of rice, a pack of noodles or a can of sardines to be shared by an entire family. Millions are forced to beg, to work themselves to death, so they can buy a loaf of bread, milk, medicine. Millions plead for aid, walk too many kilometers to count, sell what they can, to feed crying children and ailing parents.
We are not free from fear. We fear to speak lest we be named terrorists. We fear to leave our homes lest we be stricken with illness. We fear the loss of our jobs, our homes, our families.
We are not free from poverty. Far too many live in crowded shanties. Far too many cannot go to school. Far too many know not where tomorrow’s meal will come from.
We are so starved for hope, for leadership. We are so desperate for a government that seeks to better our lives. We are so desperate for the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution.
We cannot celebrate this day, because we are not free. We must fight for our freedom. We must remind this government that we are the people, and that they must fear us.