We Filipinos suffer from what I call collective forgetfulness: we tend to easily forget what had happened before. We easily forget those memories that are rather impersonal to us – those events that we have no personal involvement, only a peripheral knowledge of what had happened. We easily forget those events that have no relevance in our lives. This collective forgetfulness is, I think, an extension of our “walang pakialam” attitude, a manifestation of our inherent apathy with regards to our duties as citizens.
If we keep on complaining about this regime moving holidays haphazardly, without any discernible or logical pattern, we only have ourselves to blame. Our Congress – composed of legislators that we have elected, our representatives – passed a law allowing the president to move the holidays.
What are holidays for? The word holiday is a contraction of the words holy and day, giving it a religious significance. Later on, the word holiday also meant a day for celebration or commemoration of certain events; for example, Rizal Day is a holiday commemorating the martyrdom of Jose Rizal. National holidays are instituted to commemorate significant events in history.
Holidays are declared primarily to give citizens a chance to commemorate significant events. In current usage, however, holidays are for days of rest, an excuse to go to the malls or whatever. The commemoration part has lost its significance, no thanks to holiday economics.
They say that you can only appreciate freedom once you lost it. That’s why I think we commemorate Independence Day – to appreciate the fact that we are free, that this freedom came at a cost, and that we must do our duty as citizens to safeguard this freedom. But like the haphazard moving of holidays, we take freedom for granted, like any other things (water, air, electricity). Only when it is gone (or severely threatened) we take action, and by then, it will be too late. Just look where we are now.
Gloria Arroyo came to power in January 2001 via the so-called People Power II. It should be a glorious event (oooppss, sorry), but we don’t even commemorate it. The supposed reason was that the said event was divisive (several months after EDSA Dos, there was a counter-revolt called EDSA Tres); the actual reason was that Arroyo, her husband Mike, and her minions piggy-backed (ooopppss again) on the people power aspect of the event. In short, she hijacked it for her personal gain, and she wanted no one to even think about it. The hallmark of this regime is to bury the truth, as long as this truth will be a threat to her hold to power.
How can we commemorate our Independence Day when this regime had moved the holiday to a day where there were no commemorative events? All events commemorating Independence Day will be held on June 12, a working day. It is as if Gloria Arroyo is telling us that we should work instead of commemorating our Independence Day. She is right. We are not free anyway. We are not free to elect a President. We are not free to make her accountable via impeachment. So what’s there to commemorate?
We are not free because we forget that we are free. We forgot the events of 2004, the actuations of the House of Reprehensibles in 2005, 2006, and 2007. We forgot that there are Oliver Lozanos and Roel Pulidos and Jocjoc Bolantes and Virgilio Garcillanos and Lintang Bedols. We forgot that we have the power to hold the president accountable. We are like slaves to politicians who are in power, when it should be the other way around. We are mired to this mess because we forgot that we have the power to make things happen.
We need to be free. We can start by remembering.