Nation celebrates ‘Freedom Day’
Sen. Franklin Drilon on Wednesday performed one of the ministerial duties of a Senate President when he led Independence Day flag-raising ceremonies at the historic Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite.
“We need to strengthen our faith in God, in our government and in ourselves. We must be united in order to pursue our dream of a progressive and a peaceful country,” Drilon said in a speech at the shrine, where Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain 115 years ago.
“Our people have shown through recently held elections that they are one with us in the pursuit of the ‘straight path,’” he said, referring to President Aquino’s good government program. “They are tired of the kind of governance that is driven by personal interests and ambitions. They want genuine and meaningful reforms.”
Drilon is likely to be elected Senate President when the 16th Congress convenes on July 22, replacing Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile as leader of the upper house.
Aside from the President and the Vice President, the leaders of the legislative and judicial branches usually lead Independence Day ceremonies at historical sites, like Rizal Park in Manila and the Aguinaldo Shrine.
Senator-elect Gregorio Honasan led the event at Pinaglabanan Shrine in San Juan City, saying the rite was only one step in the fight against poverty and hunger.
He also thanked San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez, incoming Senator JV Ejercito and other city officials during the ceremony for their help in his reelection bid.
Honasan said he would not have been reelected senator had he not been treated as “family” by Gomez and her son Ejercito. In return, he said he would “take care” of Ejercito in the 16th Congress and would treat him as a “younger brother.”
“We will be together through thick and thin,” he said, drawing applause from the audience.
In Angeles City, Andres Bonifacio, who led the 1896 revolution against Spain, became the center of the celebrations.
“The declaration of freedom on June 12, 1898, happened only because Bonifacio led the revolution against Spanish colonialism,” Ferdinand Llanes, commissioner of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, said in rites at the Pamintuan Mansion. Llanes filled in for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
“Bonifacio, together with other founders of the Katipunan, gave life to the idea that the solution to the tyranny of Spain was for the Philippines to sever ties with it. Independence was the path that the country must take,” Llanes told a crowd of some 500 people led by Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan.
The Pamintuan Mansion on Miranda and Santo Entierro Streets was where Aguinaldo led the first anniversary of his declaration of Philippine independence in Kawit, Cavite.
In Bulacan, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said the contribution of each town, city and province to the attainment of the country’s freedom must be studied so they could be given due recognition.
“Every place in the country has its own story about the heroism of Filipinos’ forefathers. Not all events in history had been written in the book of the nation,” said Ochoa, the guest during the rites at Barasoain Church in Malolos City.
In Iloilo City, the early morning rain failed to stop more than 400 cyclists and advocates from joining the nationwide “freedom ride” to raise awareness of human trafficking and end modern day slavery.
The 20-kilometer bike ride started at 7 a.m. from the Jaro Belfry in Jaro and traversed the major districts from Jaro to Mandurriao, Molo and La Paz.
Similar rides were held simultaneously in Metro Manila, Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental, and Zamboanga City which, according to organizers, are human trafficking hot spots.
Singapore Airlines, this year’s host of festivities at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), distributed to its passengers small Philippine flags and rubber wristbands marked “Philippines” and embossed with the carrier’s logo in national colors.
Singer Celeste Magpantay, accompanied by guitarist Bernard Calma, serenaded passengers with Filipino ballads and folk and patriotic songs in bossa nova style. The musical pieces, heard throughout the airport premises, were applauded by passengers.
“We want to delight all passengers who are departing from Naia today and all the airport and airline staff who are working today, a holiday, which is special to all Filipinos,” Singapore Airlines-Manila office marketing communications and services manager Nenita Dy told reporters.
Terminal 1 was bedecked with Philippine flags.—With reports from Norman Bordadora, Kristine Felisse Mangunay and Jerome Aning in Manila; Tonette Orejas, Carmela Reyes-Estrope and Jhoanna Marie Buenaobra, Inquirer Central Luzon; Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Karen Bermejo, Inquirer Visayas