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June 12

THE memorable exchange between certain Aguinaldo Cabinet members impleading for cooperation with the Americans, if memory serves, versus the main personality of the movie Heneral Luna, is a question that reverberates to this day, “Bayan o sarili? Kalayaan o negosyo?”. (Country or self? Freedom or profit?)

With modesty aside, one can include, “Kasaysayan o diskarte?” (History or ability?). The reading of history is important to know the past and to recognize one’s sense of self. But how to frame the narrative of the past, is just as important. The above questions, aid in providing the guiding posts for individual, as well, national re-examination of conscience. Conscience here meaning who we are as individuals? As a community, who share a familiar story and common experience, and hence able to relate and identify ourselves by a national identity.

For example, the Muslim faith came to the seminal Southern shores of what would eventually be the present Republic earlier than the 1565 Legazpi Expedition. Framing the arrival of Islam e.g. Muslim traders, cannot imply the expansion of the faith contra that confined point when Islam as a faith spread, once animist island/native rulers and people converted. Note the Chieftain Lapu-Lapu was not a Muslim, and his clan guarded against “slave raiders”.

In framing the rich and inclusive history of the country, religiously addressing the Christian-Muslim issue, briefly, if Abraham is the Father of all nations (recognized by both faiths), and there is One Divine Being that guides and charts the course of peoples, could it be mere accident, that Islam and Christianity converged in these shores? I submit not. Divine intervention made it so. As for June 12, the date is the apex of hundreds of “tribal” and dis-united uprisings by divided islands in 3 centuries, until Jose Rizal wrote, all, “realize that they are menaced with the same danger and their common sentiments are hurt, they (the Filipinos) become friends and unite”.

We united as one Republic and not as groups of island principalities. History instructs, lest we outsmart history, and therefore ourselves. (ERIK ESPINA)

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