Today is a special day for me not just because it's been a hundred and fifteen years since Aguinaldo proclaimed our independence from Spain in 1898, but also because this is the first Independence Day of my life that I commemorate it in awareness of the hidden truths in our painful past. For those of you who are history lovers such as myself, you already know these things. If not, be prepared by these shocking facts that have been kept in the dark for far too long.
1. Jose Rizal DID NOT write the poem, "Sa Aking Kabata" from which the famous line "Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika, masahol pa sa hayop at malansang isda" is from. Proof? Well, number one, Rizal couldn't even write a novel in Tagalog when he was an adult, so it is impossible for him to have written a five stanza poem in Tagalog at eight years old; and number two, the word 'kalayaan' which is found in the poem's second stanza was a word Rizal learned when he was 21 years old.
2. Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo DID NOT win first and second place in the 1884 Exposition in Madrid. It is true that they won a gold and silver medal respectively, but Luna won one gold out of THREE one is supposed to receive, and Hidalgo won one silver out of FIFTEEN.
3. Before the American occupation officially started, some government officials couldn't even locate the Philippines on the map, and one even asked if we were the Philippians from the Bible.
4. During the time the Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898, there were around 10 million Filipinos in the Philippines. The Americans bought us for $20M, so they basically bought every Filipino for $2 each with our land as a bonus.
5. Magellan WAS NOT killed by Lapu-Lapu. He was wounded by one of Lapu-Lapu's men with a poisoned arrow and a bamboo spear in his face, then finished off with a blow from the native sword, kampilan.
6. The first shot that signalled the start of the Philippine-American War DID NOT happen on the San Juan bridge. It was fired on Sociego Street in Santa Mesa, Manila.
7. Governor-General Ramon Blanco refused to sign the paper that held Rizal's death sentence.
8. Andres Bonifacio fought in around 28 battles and lost them all.
9. In the late 1950's, Emilio Aguinaldo admitted in an interview that he had never read Rizal's novels.
10. During the Battle of Manila in 1945, the Americans were more destructive than the Japanese, killing 100, 000 Filipino civilians and 16, 000 + Japanese soldiers.
Independence Day is a day to remember our history, not a day to forget and wave flags without knowing the pains it took for our heroes to get that flag up in the air. I hope that every year, we try to free ourselves from the mindsets that still keep Filipinos today captive.
Viva la Independencia Filipina!
Rizal Without The Overcoat by Ambeth Ocampo
101 Stories on the Philippine Revolution by Ambeth Ocampo
The Philippines: A Unique Nation by Sonia M. Zaide
Under the Stacks by Saul Hofileña Jr.
Magellan and Lapu-Lapu (essay) by Carmen Guerrero Nakpil