Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Another Milestone

Urrk. I feel so old.

In other news, raise a glass to the underdog hero, Andres Bonifacio (November 30, 1863- May 10, 1897), whose national anniversary is being celebrated today:

Revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio was a tragic figure in the nation’s history. Born into poverty, he struggled to educate himself, then launched a movement for independence from colonial rule that the nation’s local elite refused to support. The revolutionary leadership was eventually wrested for him, and he died a betrayed man, executed together with his brother by former comrades.

The 141st birth anniversary today of the Katipunan supremo should remind the nation of how the number of Filipinos as impoverished as Bonifacio has grown since he launched the revolution against Spain. Like many impoverished Filipinos of his era, Bonifacio did not have access to formal education and simply taught himself the language of the colonial rulers.

He also managed to teach himself English while working as a messenger in a British company, and struggled to read books on the French Revolution and the works of national hero Jose Rizal.

Today millions of Filipinos are entitled to free primary and secondary education. But public school education, with its quality steadily deteriorating, is no longer seen as a ticket out of poverty. Several administrations have called for a revolution against poverty, with little success. The ranks of Filipinos as impoverished as Andres Bonifacio are growing, preoccupied not with a nationalistic cause but with the day-to-day struggle for survival. Many have one fervent dream: to leave their own country for jobs abroad, no matter how menial, that will earn them decent pay.

The revolution Bonifacio launched ended in tragedy, with the man who ordered his execution eventually pledging allegiance to the nation’s new colonial rulers. But Bonifacio’s love of country and his struggle to become the best he could be, against great odds, should continue to inspire a nation in dire need of heroes. The story of his life should remind the nation that there are still millions of Filipinos still awaiting liberation — this time from the tyranny of poverty.

Wala lang.

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