A sober 12th of June

From Remarks by Dr. Onofre D. Corpuz, Recipient of the Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, January 27, 2004, Abelardo Hall, Diliman, Quezon City, the text of what he believes was the true proclamation of independence of this country, and the true date for our freedom. The August 1, 1898 proclamation replaced that of June 12, which floridly placed our country under the protection of the “benevolent north american nation”. The August 1 proclamation reads, as translated from the Spanish:

The record of the Filipino Revolution is one of brilliant feats of arms
realized through the sterling bravery of fighting men of a virtually
improvised army, almost without arms. No less notable is that, after
the combat, the Filipinos did not resort to excesses or unduly press
the enemy; on the contrary, they returned at once to their normal
and tranquil life.

Such facts indubitably prove that the Filipino people were not created, as
others believe, to drag the chains of servitude, but that they have
a true idea of order and justice, that they shun the life of savages
and love the civil life.

But what is more remarkable in the Filipino Nation is that it continues
to give proof that it knows how to frame laws in tune with the progress
of the age, to respect and obey them thus demonstrating that its customs
are not repugnant to progress; that it is not ambitiuous for power or
honors, or riches aside from the national and just aspiration for a
free and independent life inspired by the most lofty idea of patriotism
and national honor; and that, for this aspiration and idea, it has not
vacillated in the sacrifice of life and fortune.

These facts necessarily engender the firmest and unshakable conviction that
Filipinos must be free and independent, not only because as a nation
it deserves liberty, but also it is prepared to defend, until death,
its future and achievements.

The Filipino Nation is convinced that if individuals need material, moral,
and intellectual perfection in order to contribute to the well-being
of others, so must nations have the fullness of life; they need freedom
and independence in order to make continuing contributions to humankind…

The values of culture, national honor and humanity are imprescriptible and
superior to all man-made laws. The Filipino Nation seeks independence
with culture, liberty with unconditional respect for law as the organ
of justice, and a name purified in the crucible of human sentiment …..

Given in Cavite Province on the first day of August in the year of Our Lord
1898, and the first year of Filipino independence.

INQ7.net’s Sylvia Mayuga has an impassioned plea on independence day:

The situation tightens and time is running out on this country. Media worth its revolutionary origins needs to rid itself of self-indulgence, raise the bar and allow this profession to help take us closer to the original ideals that made our sovereign nation – not by taking sides but by clarifying and mediating the yawning gaps that continue to weaken the Philippines a hundred and seven years later.

As for me, I am due to deliver an independence day address in a Village somewhere in Quezon City, and my message is one best described as the Philosophy of Endurance or Ang Pilosopiya ng Pagtitiis.

To my mind, the person who best knew the conditions of this country, the true nature of our people, and the genuine dangers all our leaders face, was Apolinario Mabini. If you only have time to read one book book about our struggle for freedom, then read his La Revolucion Filipina, which can be read online, free, in English or Tagalog. In particular, today, two extracts bear reading:

From Chapter X, “The End and Fall of the Revolution”:

To sum it up, the Revolution failed because it was badly led; because its leader won his post by reprehensible rather than meritorious acts; because instead of supporting the men most useful to the people, he made them useless out of jealousy. Identifying the aggrandizement of the people with his own, he judged the worth of men not by their ability, character and patriotism but rather by their degree of friendship and kinship with him; and anxious to secure the readiness of his favorites to sacrifice themselves for him, he was tolerant even of their transgressions. Because he thus neglected the people forsook him; and forsaken by the people, he was bound to fall like a waxen idol melting in the heat of adversity. God grant we do not forget such a terrible lesson, learnt at the cost of untold suffering.

From Chapter XI, “Conclusions”:

I shall end with a question. Would the grant of the reforms formerly sought from the Spanish Government satisfy the Filipinos now? I am very much afraid not, because the aspiration for independence, almost unknown before, now beats strongly at the bottom of all hearts. Its denial, and the threats and violent acts of the Government, only serve to affirm this feeling and to keep it alive; we did not fight and suffer for it for nothing. The denial of independence will doubtless content those who accommodate themselves to any situation in order to enjoy its advantages, but they are very few, and they are despised if not hated by the masses, because they claim the masses are not yet fit for independence when it is they who are giving evidence of unfitness by making it plain they have no political ideal other than their personal convenience. Before my deportation to Guam, those who had unconditionally taken the Government’s side in order to win the official title of friends of peace trie d to organize a political party. Since the Government could not promise more than a future autonomy, which did not and does not satisfy the people, it did not suit them to adopt this objective since very few would join them. They therefore asked for annexation as a territory for the time being, and subsequently as a state. The truth is not only that such an objective found and finds no support in any political party in the United States, but also that no American statesman believes in the possibility that the islands may some day become a state of the Union. But this objective was less objectionable to the people, which they considered too ignorant to grow aware of any political game. I had the imprudence to remark that their aspiration was chimerical; that if they wanted something positive, they should work on the Government to give in a little and promise independence in the future; and that I would help them to convince the people that it should also compromise and give up immediate independence. Altho ugh I was counseling accommodation to both sides so as to arrive at a compromise, the only foundation of a true peace, I was pronounced intransigent and as such was deported to Guam, where I was held prisoner incommunicado for more than two years. I am ready to forget this personal injury, although injustices never beget peace but rather distrust and the perturbation of minds. Nonetheless in the belief that it is my duty, I shall be imprudent once more and recommend for the second time the mutual reconciliation of Americans and Filipinos.

There you have both the explanation for the revolution, and the blueprint for the campaign for independence that followed.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

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