Nothing is more meaningful than a national day celebrated under honest governance.
Upholding the nationalistic beliefs of his late parents (former Senator Benigno Aquino II and former President Cory Aquino), Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III well represented the worth of the Filipinos before respected ambassadors and dignitaries from all over world. The 117th Independence Day commemoration was held for the first time outside of Manila: not less than the city of love – Iloilo.
Witnessing the University of San Agustin Troubadours lead the national anthem, nothing could be more dignifying, no person could be prouder at this very moment than a regular Filipino, knowing in his heart that his country is being led by a person whose integrity he inherited from the conscientious past leaders flows dominantly through his veins. Not even a Manny Pacquiao fight is able to beat this valued moment.
During the traditional Vin D’Honneur, PNoy eloquently spoke before the world’s representatives. Here is the excerpt:
“[Today we celebrate the 117th Independence Day…] …In doing so, we pay tribute to the solidarity of the past and demonstrate our unity of purpose for the present and the future.
“Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, today we commemorate the triumph of the Filipino people, whose solidarity, courage and integrity have always allowed them to overcome any obstacle. Our country has faced no shortage of trials. For instance, the Philippines is an archipelago composed roughly of 7,100 islands. Our forebears had to contend with a challenge of transportation and communication between and amongst the many islands of our country. … they were unified by the experience of suffering, which they knew to be unjust. They knew…what was right and what was wrong, even during a time in which our colonizers sought to indoctrinate in them, even with the use of religion, the belief that Filipinos were of less worth… . This knowledge galvanized their desire to take hold of their destinies.
“Today, the details and the phases of challenges may be different – natural and man-made calamities, corruption, and poverty. Still, the Filipino people stand firm. They have demonstrated, time and again, that they have inherited the skill, the talent and the wisdom of their ancestors. They have proven themselves ready to stand for what is right, be it in waging a revolution against colonizers, in peacefully regaining democracy after a dictatorship, or in helping me undertake the positive transformations of the society, to which we are all witness[es]… .
“You saw it in the resilience of the Filipino people even when a disaster as massive as the typhoon Haiyan… . My country has indeed achieved so much. Yet we did not do all these on our own. We reached our goals sooner because of the international community, who recognized our earnest efforts… . This in turn bridged in us a debt of gratitude or what we call ‘utang na loob.’ Sold in our determination to do our share to address towards problems, fostering even greater cooperation amongst all nations need not even be on the basis of our universal rights or of altruism… . …we must be concerned with our brother by necessity…, where problems are less and less localized, and more and more common… . …each and every nation must do its part… . Typhoon Haiyan is a standout example. While many countries continuing to render assistance to us up to this very day for which we are deeply grateful, in turn, we Filipinos have participated in similar endeavors – including peacekeeping efforts in the Golan Heights, in Haiti…amongst others… . …we persist in these efforts because we see that helping our brothers is definitely in our own interest.
“Instability, conflict and chaos in other parts of the world will eventually make the [repercussions] felt on our shores. Doing nothing about the problem would force us one day to confront it when it is far more complex and unmanageable and can no longer be ignored. That is why we choose to work with partners like your good selves to address a situation at its point of origin and therefore prevent successive problems.
“On this day 117 years ago, the Filipino people rose up as one community to break free from injustice. That time of colonization is long gone, yet the obstacles we face…have taken on an evolved form. Excellencies, as we are determined to join your nations in the struggle to overcome the obstacles we face, so too do we ask you to join us. In this way, we can truly forge a global community, in which each nation…realizes that their growth and stability hinge on their ability to [group] with others. This is the clearest path towards a world where there is mutual respect, where we are all bound by international law and by a single definition of our entitlements and obligations, where we are all brothers – all of equal footing – working side by side.
“In your presence, we pledge: the Philippines is committed to the task of building that true community of nations. I say this – I say this today as the proud leader of a people, who have once again taken their future into their own hands. They are responsible for a positive change…of our nation – a change that began in 2010, when my countrymen…to fight corruption and end poverty… . They told me, ‘We believe you can lead us to something better. We know you will not solve everything, but please let us start solving the problem.’ … .
“My mother and father lived in service to our country. And my father put it best when he said, as my father would often repeat and I quote, ‘I would never be able to forgive myself if…I could have done something and did not do anything… . ‘
“We surpassed the challenges of 2010… . As united people determined to change the future of the Philippines, we believe in each other and we continue to work with each other. When I look back, I am glad to have taken on that massive responsibility. I am glad to have been given the honor and the privilege to serve such a courageous people. Most of all, I am glad that they were ready to support me and continue to do so, not out of selfish motivations but out of a desire to uplift our country. They said, ‘Just begin the change.’… .
“With the support of our international partners, we Filipinos have brought about true transformation. On that note…, may I ask you to join me…to the continued success of the Filipino people. May we further harness our unity as we tread the straight path towards ensuring the permanence of positive change .”
The next year’s Independence Day shall dawn under new governance. We might not have the comfortable familiarity of PNoy’s leadership anymore by then, yet we can hope for the next president to uphold the same principles, so that – PNoy might not have completed the task within his term – he did not work out the changes in vain.