The fourth of July
"It reverberates today."The most poignant and profound lesson mankind has learned from the turbulent, yet epic and glorious world history is that all dictatorial, tyrannical and repressive regimes end up in shame and infamy. Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and the despotic rulers of many other countries have been all consigned to the dustbin of history. They have been condemned, hated, and disdained – never revered. Their faces and names appear in rouges’ galleries in museums all over the world. Their countries do not celebrate their birth and death anniversaries. This lesson affirms the truth that no regime or ruler can run a nation without the consent of the governed. It cannot stand for long under a complete political vacuum. Abraham Lincoln summed up an ideal government which is run by, for and of the people themselves. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the American Declaration of Independence, clearly laid down the principle that all men are created equal and that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Today July 4th, the American people celebrate the 244th anniversary of their independence from Great Britain. With a nucleus of 13 original colonies, the United States of America, has now 50 states with a population of over 330 million living under a truly democratic government. Many Filipinos still celebrate this event, particularly those who felt the first stirrings of patriotism singing the Star Spangled Banner rather than the Philippine National Anthem. These are the Filipinos who were born during the commonwealth years. The Philippines became a colony of the USA under controversial, accidental, mysterious and providential circumstances. The Spanish-American war broke out when the USS Maine was blown up in the harbor of Cuba on February 15, 1898 under mysterious circumstances. When the Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898, the Spanish colonial government in Intramuros, Manila, arranged a secret surrender to the American military contingents three days after the war ended. Yet, the Americans never engaged the Spaniards in a shooting incident. But this was the basis for the USA to assume jurisdiction over the Philippines. It even paid the bankrupt Spanish monarchy $20 million for enslaving over 10 million citizens of the Republic of the Philippines which was proclaimed earlier on June 12, 1898. When the Treaty of Paris was awaiting ratification by the US senate, it was passed by a majority of one vote. A leader of the opposition lobbied for its approval to advance his personal political interests. President William McKinley should have immediately recognized Philippine independence which his predecessors did in the case of six South American nations, which gained earlier independence from Spain. But the Jingoists, led by Alfred T. Mahan, the foremost exponent of American expansionist policy, Henry Cabot Lodge, Theodore Roosevelt, and moguls of business interests, pressed McKinley to take over the Philippines. The most vehement and frantic voices which viewed with shock and dismay the trend towards acquisition of further territory, was Speaker Thomas B. Reed, who became widely respected and admired for his wit and wisdom as presiding officer of the House of Representatives. One time, a congressman, after lambasting President McKinley, proudly announced at the end of his speech: “That\s why, Mr. Speaker, I would rather be right than be president.” Speaker Reed promptly banged his gavel and said: “The gentleman need not worry, he will never be either.”
Mr. Ernesto G. Banawis was formerly general manager of the Philippine News Agency.