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Philippines commemorates forebearers on Independence Day

The following is the Independence Day message of Luis T. Cruz, Philippine ambassador to South Korea, on the 113th anniversary of Philippine independence. ― Ed.

We celebrate this year the 113th anniversary of the Declaration of Philippine Independence and the founding of a state that would one day redefine the notion of a revolution.

We recall, with gratitude, the men and women upon whose conviction and fortitude we forged a nation similarly imbued with a steadfast allegiance to freedom and the responsibilities that come with its upholding. We commemorate the collective heroism of our forebears and that momentous occasion in the province of Cavite when the Philippine flag finally flew ― free and unencumbered ― on June 12, 1898.

This proud affinity of our people with principled struggles for reform and self-determination is a theme that pervades in our history. Then as now, the Philippines has resolutely taken the side of democracy, as intimated by our participation in the Korean War in the 1950s; by the 1986 People Power Revolution that peacefully ousted a corrupt and unpopular regime; by our various international commitments through the United Nations; and by our daily resolve to safeguard the Philippines against any infringement on our territorial sovereignty.

But where before our forefathers fought for liberty, today we also fight for the ascendancy of our political, civil and human liberties. We wage war against poverty and the degradation of dignity. We continue to pursue policies that benefit our people, particularly those who are at the periphery of traditional sectors of growth and influence. We ally with the international community to hasten the achievement of our common development goals and to address the evolving challenges of a global society.

We find such loyal alliance in, among other countries, South Korea. Since diplomatic ties were established on March 3, 1949, the friendship between the Philippines and South Korea has broadened and deepened, matured and expanded into diverse areas of cooperation that now cover the political, economic, socio-cultural and development fields. Last year, for instance, South Korea was among our top investors and trading partners. South Korea has also been our top source of foreign tourists for five straight years.

Incidentally, we also commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Yuldong this year, a hard-won battle that took place near the 38th parallel in April 1951. Taking the same road of fortitude and conviction our forebears once used, many Filipino soldiers sacrificed their lives in defense of the U.N. frontlines. For the democracy our region now enjoys, it behooves us to remember their contributions.

Today, approximately 50,000 Filipinos have found a second home in South Korea as students, spouses, missionaries or workers. Contributing to both the economies of the Philippines and South Korea, they ensure that the torch of freedom fueled by the sacrifices of the generations that came before us is kept eternally aflame.

There has always been an epic quality about the founding of a nation, about the search and eventual discovery of a strong identity that binds a people. Without romanticizing history and painting contemporary struggles against the general panoply of war, we can also find ― in any Independence Day celebration ― a convenient allegory for the resurgence of hope and nationalistic fervor.

For the Philippines, we take this opportunity to look back at the courageous men and women upon whose conviction and fortitude we founded our proud nation. We reaffirm their vision of an independent Filipino people undaunted by adversity and united in the goal of a peaceful and prosperous nation. We relive their stories, contextualize their causes, and unravel their ideas as though meeting them for the first time.

And without fear of introduction, we embrace their heroism and stand forever at the ready to uphold their ideals.
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