This is one of the greatest sentences I have ever uttered and heard as a student. It evokes a deep sigh of relief, a loud cheer of exultation, and a flaunting sign of victory. “Walang pasok ngayon!” is a statement now synonymous to a whole day romantic date, a barkada outing, and late night parties. For the studious, this is a day off to prepare for a major quiz or a grand presentation.
Never mind why we do not have class today. Never mind the reason behind the formalities, the rituals, and the superficial celebrations. Never mind the meaning behind June 12. Never mind if it is Philippine Independence Day.
What matters is we have no classes today.
Now I have written the above paragraphs, I can hear President Noynoy’s speech about how we should thank our ancestors, our heroes, who shed blood and tears for us to be free. I can hear schools telling students to research and write a reflection about how the Philippine Independence Day contributed to the Filipino’s freedom now. One would even dare imagine and tell a compelling story on how Rizal and Bonifacio are smiling in heaven because their deaths have resulted into the freedom we are enjoying now!
All of these while life goes on for the busy students, for the busy parents willing to go to work to earn more. All of these while people in the LRT will suffer lost phones and belongings from desperate countrymen. All of these while the Maguindanao Massacre still has no closure. All of these while the power resides in a chosen few. All of these while the Philippines is still considered a third-world country. Though, an “independent” one at that.
Yes, we are an “independent” and “free” nation. But are all Filipinos truly independent and free to pursue who they want to be?
What is independence when the poor people are still dependent on the mercy of the upper class?
What is freedom when journalists, whistleblowers, and witnesses will be chopped to death for fighting for truth and justice?
What is independence when one would need to desperately kill and steal from his fellow countrymen to sustain one’s desire for a better life?
What is freedom when money can cheat the law and perpetuate the reign of the rich and the slavery of the poor?
Do not accuse indifference to people who see June 12 just as a no-work day. Because truth be told, June 12 has transformed into a mere formality and celebration for most Filipino, an occasion whose benefits include a no-work day.
Let us dub June 12 as truly the Independence Day when majority of the Filipinos are indeed free to be who they want to be. For now, let us be content on it being “Walang Pasok Ngayon” day.