Focus on the Global South

Postscript to Independence

Photo: Galileo de Guzman Castillo

By Galileo de Guzman Castillo

WHAT FREEDOM? We shall find / We shall discover / What is ours we shall recover — Cynthia Alexander, “Malaya”.

Is it freedom when some are more equal than others?
In all dimensions of life and its discontents
Violence of a broken system that smothers
A government at war against its own peoples
That breeds tyrants and subservient disciples
Forevermore, the smoke of their torment ascends

Is it freedom when some are more equal than others?
Healthcare system crumbling under a pandemic
Wave off pleas for mass testing, the wind suthers
Underpaid and overworked frontliners insulted
An honor to die for your country, they said
To the jeers and chorus of fascist anthemic

Is it freedom when some are more equal than others?
Police, armed forces sworn to serve and protect
Execute witch-hunts in the name of peace and order
Became pawns to dispense brutality and death
Collateral damage, they say in the same breath
Unruly masses, activists, all suspect

Is it freedom when some are more equal than others?
Disruptive protests, civil disobedience
All acts of terrorism, the state shudders
At the thought of people rising, dissent silenced
Speaking truth to power, the media muzzled
A nation with no memory, a regredience

Is it freedom when some are more equal than others?
Worn hands that feed us go hungry and deprived
Economic backbone, small-scale food providers
Families struggling to put food on the table
As agriculture dies to the free trade fable
Degenerate capitalist animals jived

Is it freedom when some are more equal than others?
Entrapped in unjust global systems and structures
Caught in the tug-of-war between major powers
So-called independent foreign policy
That did nothing but erode our sovereignty
Embraced imperialist, hegemonic cultures

Is it freedom when some are more equal than others?
Critical pedagogy and education
No one gets left behind, if we had our druthers
Learn from the mantra of Mindanao’s tri-peoples
If we liberate one, why not liberate all
Fight injustice, exploitation, oppression

Is it freedom when some are more equal than others?
We fly over the clouds, dive into the sea,
And dig through the ground, taking heed of Yano’s words
Dreaming, hoping, struggling, resisting, defying
Recovering, rebuilding, renewing
Our mutual unearthing of what it means to be free

— Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 27, 2020

 

Galileo is a Philippines Programme Officer with Focus on the Global South currently in Cambodia amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He wrote this free verse poem as a postscript to the 122nd Philippine Independence Day in June 2020 and as a reflection piece on President Rodrigo Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation Address.

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