Archive for the ‘Current Events – International’ Category
It has been 115 years since Emilio Aguinaldo declared our independence from Spain and the surrounding events that led to it are still a subject of controversy until now: that it was too premature for Aguinaldo to claim independence on behalf of the country, when the Americans followed occupation, the World War I and World War II happened, the Japanese came, too.
Thus the debate that we should be celebrating our independence on July 4 instead of June 12 is valid, though at times we might think: does the date really matter if we do not really act, feel, think as free individuals?
Early this morning, a friend from Sweden asked me via Skype how do I celebrate Independence Day. I told him when I was in school, there were the mandatory flag raising ceremonies, declamation or oratorical contests with independence as theme, the Girl Scout-led or Citizen’s Military Training activities, the field trips to historical sites. But I do not do any of those now.
The chat I had with my friend made me think: Am I really free? Are we really deserving of the freedom our heroes fought for us?
Individually, we claim independence when we finished school and move away from our parents’ guidance.
We tie ourselves to the tyranny of our jobs.
We depend on our salaries to live.
We are up to our necks paying the bills, consolidating debts, owing more to satisfy the lifestyle we set for ourselves.
We stay in a relationship even if it is not worth it because we do not want to be physically alone and intimacy starved.
As a consolation to ourselves, we declare freedom from our daily grind on national holidays like today or the long weekends or max out our leaves from work.
And most likely, our way of celebrating our country’s Independence Day anniversary today is lining up for the Man of Steel opening day.
Regardless, what we have now is a choice we made. The decisions our country’s leaders make definitely affect us. But we must responsibly, individually claim our independence as conscientious, law-abiding, God-respecting Filipinos and citizens of the world.
As our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal aptly puts it:
Our liberty will not be secured at the sword’s point… We must secure it by making ourselves worthy of it. And when the people reaches that height, God will provide a weapon, the idols will be shattered, tyranny will crumble like a house of cards, and liberty will shine out like the first dawn.
Let us all work for our freedom, one task at a time.
Let us all share the blessings of being free, even in the littlest way we can.
Let us all grow ourselves, free of pain, hurt, and our dark pasts.
Let us all look forward to our brightest future. And that brightest future will only happen if we start now.
A decade after. But the world is called to Never Forget.
I distinctly remember the image of the “Falling Man,” the indelible photo of the tragedy taken by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew and became the representative image of the the four, coordinated series of suicide attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. on that morning of September 11, 2001, with nearly 3,000 died.
The attacks were orchestrated by 19 suspects linked to the Islamist militant group, al-Qaeda, who hijacked four passenger jets: The American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were intentionally crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; both towers collapsed within two hours.
The “Falling Man” photo was a heated subject of discussions worldwide — as the photo was regarded from disturbing to being the most powerful image of despair in the 21st century. For among us, members of the student publication, The Varsitarian, we also had our contrasting views. A fellow editor of mine remarked, to paraphrase, the photo was beautiful and encapsulates best the tragedy that was 9/11, for which I distinctly retorted: Ano ang maganda sa larawan ng trahedya? (What is so beautiful about that image of tragedy?)
The journalist in me would also definitely chose the photo to use as a banner image for my story on 9/11. The individual in me — who at that time, was graduating from the university, was expected to help the family, was aiming to do well in my chosen field — the image was disturbing, the whole tragedy was terrifying, and it made me wonder if I would still have a future to prepare for.
It made the world fear the most. The horror that was 9/11 made America fear for its stature as a superpower. The edifice that was the Twin Towers, a symbol of both power and progress, collapsed in what was a holy war of Obama bin Laden (who was killed May 1, 2011) against the U.S. — allegedly for its presence in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. support to Israel, and the sanctions against Iraq.
The hunt for “weapons of mass destruction” (which phrase attributed to George W. Bush), the sending of troops to alleged Islamic countries that were believed to be hideouts for more terrorist ploys, the endless blaming to Islam for such assault to mankind continued for a decade.
The New Yorkers, led by Rudy Giuliani, stood up and slowly recovered; the American government assured the world that they would hunt down those responsible, and to be better prepared for more threats of terrorism.
The world banded together, became more vigilant, passed legislations like Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Attack of 2001, Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, Aviation and Transportation Security Act, among similar measures.
Indeed, 9/11 changed America and the world dramatically. But did it make us fear more for our safety? I say, yes.
I captured some bits from Thomas Friedman’s book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded (which I’m trying to finish now), that America literally built fortresses to protect its bases and embassies worldwide. America became too cautious dealing with the rest of the world, especially to those of Islamic origins.
The tragedy that was 9/11 did not stop there. The horror continues even after the capture and death of bin Laden. The image of Falling Man lives on.
We will continue to fall for our fear, for not knowing who our enemies are, for blaming Islam or non-Christian groups for the pockets of uprisings and attacks going on. Most governments of stronger countries will continue to spend ridiculous amounts of money to protect their interests and fortify their defenses.
The next decade will be a challenge. This article best captures what America — and the world should look forward to: stop obsessing about another attack such as 9/11. If we hold on to our fear, the force of terrorism like 9/11 would indeed have won. And no one wants a future like that.
For more on 9:11, a decade after, check:
Indeed, the world’s attention on the Philippines shifted in two days’ time: from yesterday’s terrible news of hostage drama to today’s “major, major” terrific news – Ma. Venus Raj placing 4th in the Miss Universe 2010 pageant.
But this time, I have to agree with love-him-or-hate-him Philippine entertainment TV host Boy Abunda: Let’s not be hard on Venus because she did her very best in that nervous-filled competition. She provided that ray of sunshine after yesterday’s dark, rainy bloodshed that was the hostage drama.
She now reminds the world that Filipino women are not all about being Imeldific or being domestic helpers or migrant workers – and yes, even if her answer was not the response that would win a candidate that coveted crown (and her being criticized for her flawed English usage), Venus is both beauty and brains and being in the Top 5 in the highly popular and also controversial and political pageant is indeed, a “major, major” achievement.
Let’s expect endless finger pointing about this hostage drama that put our nation (another time) on the map of shame.
MIXED AND CONFUSED – Should we sympathize with the hostage taker (who did this out of desperation after he was charged of various cases [despite?] his 30 years of decorated service)? DEFINITELY, those who are responsible to solve this should be held liable for their miscalculated action – or inaction.
The foreign media also rushed to the hostage scene to cover it, and I first learned about this through BBC.
At the moment, late night news programs are still confirming how many died in this bloodshed. I don’t know how will this affect our relations with Hong Kong (and we just had this member of the House of Representatives who was detained in Hong Kong for cocaine smuggling). Already, the HK government already issued a travel ban against our country.
Who’s to blame? Reports airing now analyze what went wrong – how did the media cover this hostage drama; was the police and SWAT too slow to take action (and they threw tear gas inside the hostages-packed bus!); was the new Aquino administration too hard against the hostage taker?
Who’s to blame? No one but us who ignore – wittingly or not – the corrupt system, the dysfunctional society we chose to live in.
I only believed it was that damaging when my fiance SMS me Sunday afternoon that the holiday house we stayed in Marysville, owned by his friend Carol, was already gone – burnt, in the horrific bushfires that swept that part of the Victorian state.
Flashes of lush green sceneries came back to me. I saw those on our way to Marysville to spend the Australia Day holiday last year. It was a refreshing sight for someone like me whose idea of sceneries are mostly the cold flyovers, the steel-laden train ways, massive buildings that dot the cities I cross over on my way to work or to any of my appointment.
The horror, the Australian officials say, is too much to handle and they are grimly expecting for the death toll to climb to 300 (as of yesterday, it was confirmed that two Fil-Aussies have perished in the fires).
I remember before asking my fiance if they encounter bushfires there (as massive as what they deal with in parts of the US – where I get my idea of bushfires, beamed through global media reports). I had no idea a year after my first visit to Australia, a horror of such magnitude was to happen.
It will take years, many years, to rebuild the towns destroyed, to revive the environment, to recover from the lives’ lost, considering the current extent of damages the bushfires made.
Arson is also suspected for one of the bushfires that happened. Fiance said he wishes the death penalty to be reimplemented in their country, to punish the one or those responsible for the bushfires. I say, it will not be enough considering all that was lost in that tragic event.
My fiance said Carol is all right, and is considering to build a new home in the same site – a site, a home, that hosted fond memories of her childhood, family, and grown-up friendships. To me, it was a place where I was welcomed by her and husband Bill, by my fiance and his friends, and it was a warm home to me in that short stay I spent there.
I am no stranger to disasters. The closest I can deal with was the July 16, 1990 killer quake that hit the greater part of Luzon (I was in Grade 3, at school, after that massive rain, there we saw our teacher was like dancing in front of us, then the trophies in the wooden cabinet fell, and we’re told to go to the school grounds, and all I remember I was really crying. And whenever it rains hard here, the images of that day 18 years ago come alive to me).
The Philippines is a natural disaster-prone country – lying in the typhoon zone and including in the Pacific Ring of Fire. While I haven’t experienced other disasters most of my fellow Filipinos endured in the recent past, I say, we have the resilience to withstand any crisis, to move on from any disaster, to rebuild, little by little.
Such we can share to those who are affected by the bushfire disaster in Australia. Be strong in spirit and all that was lost will be gained back, and hopefully more.
To Carol, if this is of any consolation, I say, your lovely house in Marysville was more than that. It was a home you graciously shared, and you shared it with me. And while it was gone, the memories you have, and the memories I have of my stay there, will forever remain.
Yes, hope shouldn’t be robbed from us no matter what problem we have. And Sam the Koala and the good samaritan, volunteer firefighter David Tree touchingly taught us that. This also made me hopeful I will still see a koala like Sam (my past two visits I haven’t seen a koala yet), and reminds me a simple act of kindness can truly, improve lives.
Let that photo of Sam and David inspire us, and hope for the best to come, not only from the disaster there in Australia, but let us always remain hopeful (and work for the best) to better our daily lives.
For the video of Sam and David, click here.
Photo of Sam and David, from The Herald Sun.
For my photos of Marysville and the rest of my stay in Melbourne, click here.