LAND OF BONDAGE, LAND OF THE FREE
By Raul Manglapus
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The tao does not come here tonight to be judged, but to judge, Hear then his accusations and his sentiments.
I indict the Spanish encomendero for inventing taxes impossible to bear. I indict the usurer for saddling me with debts impossible to pay. I indict the irresponsible radical leaders who undermine with insidious eloquence the confidence of my kind in the government.
You accuse me of not supporting my family. Free me from bondage and I shall prove you false. You accuse me of ignorance. But I am ignorant because my master finds it profitable to keep me ignorant. Free me from bondage and I shall prove you false. You accuse me of indolence. But I am indolent, not because I have no will, but because I have no hope. Why should I labor if all the fruits of my labor go to pay an unpayable debt? Free me from bondage and I shall prove you false.
Give me land. Land to own, land unbeholden to any tyrant, land that will be free. Give me land for I am starving. Give me land that my children may not die. Sell it to me. Sell it to me at fair price – as one free man sells to another – and not as a usurer sells to a slave. I am poor, but I will pay for it. I will work, work, until I fall from weariness for my privilege, my inalienable right to be free.
But if you will not grant me this last request, this ultimate demand, then build a wall around your house. Build it high, build it strong. Place a sentry on every parapet. For I, who have been silent there three hundred years, will come in the night when you are feasting – with my cry and my bolo at your door – And may God have mercy on your soul!
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