TO BE FREE IS TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ONE’S SELF
As a teenager, I find myself through an awkward age. When I am neither a woman nor a child, when my voice cascades down from high C to B flat minor and every pimple assumes the proportion of Taal Volcano. I am prone to anxiety, fear frequent changes of mood, sensitive to criticism. I spend sleepless nights worrying about bad breath, homework, and exquisite agonies of unrequited love. It is the age when I feel the first stirrings of a woman’s primordial urge… to be free! To be free to pursue the pleasures of youth, to watch TV and use the telephone for hours without an end, free to settle arguments with my brothers and sisters with a kick in the pants. “Mama, I want to be free to do what I wish!” My mother’s answer is short and devastating: “As long as I provide you with the roof over your head, you are not free my daughter. To be free is to be responsible for one’s self.” Even as I stand before you, our country stands before the rest of the world as the first democratic country in all of Asia- still in its awkward age, a nation not quite yet a nation; trying to be politically independent while economically insecure and every bit as prone to anxiety, fear, frequent change of mood, and sensitive to criticism as I ever am in my own awkward age.
Here, democracy first dawned over the high tide of western colonialism at the end of the last century. Yet in 1989, we Filipinos dared to rise against the tide of history and to declare ourselves free, the first in all of Asia to break the shackles of Western Colonialism. Even in 1946 when we regained our independence from the colonial powers. As the oldest democracy in Asia, we watch other people in our part of the world painfully following our footsteps, fighting and dying for the same dream. Elsewhere in Asia, a Buddhist monk douses himself with gasoline, lights a match and burns with a glow of a lost cause. An Indonesian student waves his placard over the street...
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