Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Fourth Of July!

.:“To Be American Is To Be A Friend To The Philippines”:.

The fourth of July is a very important day to the United States of America as it is their independence day. In the Philippines, we also recognize it as Filipino-American Friendship Day, underscoring the longstanding alliance between the two nations, that has been at times, contentious, but for the most part, harmonious.

Last Friday, in anticipation of this celebration, I was honoured by the U.S. Embassy with an invitation for their pre-Independence Day celebration, which was highlighted by both an awe-inspiring speech from the U.S. ambassador, but obviously, a beautiful display of fireworks over Manila Bay. I was there with a couple of other bloggers, namely Noemi Dado and Franny, and we were surrounded by a number of people who were definitely in a celebratory mood, including the US-Philippines Peace Corps.

Freedom is a concept that we tend to misunderstand a lot, and even on a day that commemorates another nation’s independence, it’s a good idea to reflect upon the concept sometimes, especially in this very interconnected world we find ourselves in today. Freedom has generally been about the emancipation of the self and the human spirit, but often, we leave by the wayside how this freedom could be used to better not just ourselves, but others.

I must say though that U.S. Ambassador Thomas has shown a kind of eloquence in his speech that I truly respect. You can pretty much read the whole speech here, but for me, the highlight of the speech is how well he managed to tie together what it means to be an American while still standing upon Philippine soil. It’s that kind of elegance in his speaking and the clarity in his line of thinking that impressed me thoroughly. Indeed, while it might strike some as patronizing, he merely attributed specificities to a generally acceptable notion: to be a patriot doesn’t mean to be xenophobic or jingoistic. It means to be proud and willing to share your nation to your friends, rather than to impose it or to provoke discord.

So with all that in mind, here’s a toast to the fourth of July!

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