Feature: Academe on PH Independence Day: Value freedom amid crisis, aid displaced Filipinos

  • June 18, 2017

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, June 18 — Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan, Mindanao's first university, celebrated the 119th Philippine Independence Day as a commemoration of the country’s triumph for freedom and a recollection of its value amid the crisis of terrorism and the consequential declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.

 

Within the university gymnasium, Xavier Ateneo students, along with the faculty and administrators, waved the country’s flag as the hymns of Francisco Santiago and Ildefonso Santos’s Pilipinas Kong Mahal and George Canseco’s Ako ay Pilipino resonated in musical performances.

 

Wary of Martial Law

Succeeding the raising of the flag and the 21-gun salute led by Reserved Officers in Training Corps, XU president Fr. Roberto C. Yap SJ commenced the program by reading the Statement of Five Ateneo Presidents on the Marawi Situation and the Declaration of Martial Law along with his speech.

 

“The undersigned wholeheartedly support the members of the Armed Forces and the police who give their last full measure of devotion so that our country may be safe,” Yap remarked. While this nod is given by leaders of the Ateneo community, they also reiterated the reasons for civilians to be more vigilant and cautious of martial rule.

 

“We have more than a decade of reasons to be wary of Martial Law,” Yap continued. But despite the notoriety of the era when the country was under a similar rule, the said statement didn’t fail to explain why the terrorism that displaced thousands of civilians in Marawi City from their homes prompted President Duterte towards its declaration.

 

“A Martial Law limited in scope, enforced with discipline and restraint, with respect for the Constitution and the inviolability of human rights, can solve specific problems,” Yap added.

 

Freedom, however, can still be protected as the statement highlighted the current Constitution’s safeguards to curb the abuse of power and the call for those in authority to respect and follow them.

 

“We trust our President when he tells us that martial rule shall only be limited and temporary,” Yap said before concluding with the call for the community to pray for peace and justice in Marawi and Mindanao.

 

Nationalistic commitment

In a juncture, students were encouraged to tie ribbons on the bare and intertwining branches of decorative trees as the music continued to resound throughout the gym.

 

Tying ribbons each representing the colors of the Philippine flag, the act is an artistic symbol of the commitment to nationalism according to Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts (XCCA) director Hobart Savior.

 

“It is also a symbol of patriotism for the attainment of peace,” said Savior, who also directed the event.

 

Terrorism, Savior reckoned, can be combated through artistic means. “I think we have the responsibility to mirror and hammer our understanding and consciousness for our own people and land, of our own context and situation.”

 

Designing the stage’s set whereupon performers in traditional garments (reflecting the diversity of Mindanao’s people) danced to folk songs amid a vast array of plants, Savior noted the green props with their roots protruding over their pots as representation of the “uprooted community” that had been displaced from their land due to the crisis.

 

“The design presents layers of understanding,” he said. As freedom is a right, he also enumerated several privileges that Filipinos should have apart from the independence gained by their noble heroes. “The masses achieve freedom with the provision of food security, justice, and social welfare, among the many rights they are bestowed.”

 

Shared responsibility

For Senior High School Media and Information Literacy (MIL) instructor Jay Rhen Galagnara, the freedom to post on social media may have its costs. To practice freedom is also to be considerate of the responsibility that comes with it.

 

“As an MIL instructor,” he said, “I teach my students to practice [their] freedom of expression and speech by being responsible for what they post online.”

 

Galagnara further discourages his students to spread fake news which may trigger aggression and the perpetuation of false information, but encourages them to use media to sharpen their knowledge on local, national, and global issues.

 

Awareness, for XU - Junior High School prefect of student affairs Joseph Saga, is the key to fully grasp freedom and inspire others to practice theirs.

 

“Part of my duty is to make them aware,” Saga shared. “Activities like this give the opportunity for the faculty and students to be aware; to be culturally integrated is what we need to inculcate.”

 

Last month, a significant number of students, members of the faculty, administrators, as well as the university’s alumni volunteered in the Tabang Marawi (Help Marawi) relief operations which deployed more than 3,000 Halal-certified relief goods packed by volunteers in the campus to refugees in evacuation centers.

 

With the freedom to celebrate the nation’s independence is the opportunity to respond to the call to aid those deprived of this right due to socio-political conflict. As SHS Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) student Jay Edloy put it, “We know how much our freedom means to us and what it can mean for them.” (Angelo Lorenzo/XU)


Other News

Antique Guv: participate  during "Pista Kang Kagubatan"
  • June 29, 2017
SAN JOSE, Antique June 29 (PIA) - - The Governor called on Antiquenos to participate in the tree planting activity set on June 30, 2017 at Camp Leandro Fullon, Barangay San Fernando, the Municipality.   “The activity is pursuant to Provincial Ordinance No.2015-109, wherein the Provincial Government will celebrate “Pista Kang Kagubatan on June 30 with the theme “Kagubatan Tamnan, Protektaha: Kaaraydan Kang Tanan,” said Governor Rhodora Cadiao in her invitation to all government employees and other institutions to join the tree planting activity.   The governor said that activity a...Read more
Albay reports huge increase in quarry income
  • June 29, 2017
LEGAZPI CITY, June 29 (PIA) – The provincial government of Albay reported generating P69.2 million in taxes on sand and gravel in less than a semester of 2017.   The January to May proceeds from quarrying sand and gravel amounted to P69,250,066, which was considerably higher than the P38,633,810 collected in the entire 2016, records at Albay’s Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) showed.      Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara attributed the substantial increase to some basic reforms that he introduced, mainly adjusting the tax rates, and reorganizing ...Read more
Pangasinan school accepts transferees from Marawi
  • June 29, 2017
URDANETA CITY, June 29  (PIA) -  The Urdaneta I Central School in eastern Pangasinan is now the second home of at least 12 students from embattled Marawi City, upon their transfer to this province.   School Principal Dr. Robert Tababa said the pupils, whose age bracket ranges from seven to 12 years old, were warmly welcomed by the school despite the lack  of  school credentials like birth certificates and report cards.   “May Department of Education policy tayo na i-accept ang mga bata maski walang credentials kung may nangyaring kalamidad sa kanila either man-made o natur...Read more
SSS formally opens its newly-relocated branch in Capiz
  • June 29, 2017
ROXAS, CAPIZ, June 29 (PIA) -- The Social Security System (SSS) formally opened its newly-relocated branch office in Roxas City on June 28, 2017, serving about 2,450 employers and more than 33,500 members and pensioners in 578 barangays.   “As the provincial capital of Capiz, I think it is our job to create bigger branches to accommodate the increasing number of SSS members and employers in Western Visayas,” SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc said.   The recently-upgraded branch office is now located at the ground floor of CityMall Roxas along Arnaldo...Read more