Price of Freedom
Once when I was facetiously discussing questions of religion with a friend, I said: “Man is the most presumptuous and pretentious animal in creation for he gives himself such importance that he believe his petty acts can worry the Supreme Being, when the fact is that the relation between the Supreme Being and man is infinitely less than that which exists between man and the snail that crawls in our mountains and forests to the acts of which man never gives a thought.”
“That is true,” my friend replied, “but if man had created the snail, then his duty should be to interest himself in the fate of his creature.” The answer seemed ingenious to me and convincing to those who believe in the existence of a Supreme Being.
The bitter impression produced in me by the attacks which have been launched in private, on the platform, and in the press against the men who figured conspicuously in our history, on account of having merely voiced their opinions on questions and personages in the actual political scene, has led me to recall the anecdote related above.
The unjust and the false opinions which the present generation in general emit when speaking of our past and the men of said times is due, I believe to the fact that they have not had the opportunity to read book other than those written by foreigners who do not sympathize either with our race or our aspirations. Of course, it is also to be admitted that among the ranks of these groups of veterans are some who have no right to the title of “veteran” because their age indicates they could not have possibly seen service in those wars, and that by sporting fantastic uniforms and displaying moro-moro-like salute with their sabers, these fake veterans, far from making a good impression, only made themselves appear ridiculous, thereby justifying in part the jests and sneers of the public.
Personally, I have always opposed these exhibitions of the “relics” of the past because there are solemn occasions when their presence constitutes an inconsistency, and there are others when their participation in the program flows only from a desire for vain ostentation. In either case they really do not accomplish anything other than the exaltation of those who have come to destroy all their work of emancipation.
In spite of these, however, I cannot help but resent the frivolity and superficiality of those youngsters who are getting their education thanks to the sacrifices of their parents and of the State which those decrepit veterans had helped to form. Racial pride and nationalistic feeling should make these youths recognize the fact that this miserable legion of forgotten old and now broken-down decrepits were the very ones who wrote with their blood the most brilliant pages of our history- the only ones which we cite whenever we want to demonstrate to America and before the whole world that we also love freedom and that we have a right to live as free and independent people. If the majority of those veterans, who are of humble origin, do not realize that they are “symbol”, the present generation, which is educated, intelligent and learned should take upon itself the duty of proclaiming this fact with pride.
When I was sitting in the Philippine Senate as an appointive member from the 12th District, on one occasion when I tried to clarify certain points under discussion by invoking the past, I became the object of violent attack, and one Senator, went to the extent of saying: “The Senator from the 12th District carries the title of general, but I really do not know of what army.”
I could have answered that I have the honor of having belonged to the army of our independent Republic which defeated and made prisoner nearly all of the Spanish army against which it fought, and which resisted for over two years the military forces of the most powerful nation on earth which had to send to the Philippines about 100,000 soldiers led by her best commanding officers like Dewey, Anderson, Green, Merritt, Otis, MacArthur, Lawton, Wheaton, Wheeler, Swan, Grant, Miles, Jack Smith, James Smith, Bell and Funston in order to annihilate or force its surrender.
What I then did not do, I shall try to do now. This humble work not being intended for a polemic but rather for purposes of pure information, in writing it I shall discard the aggressive, caustic and sarcastic style which my friends complain of about me so that I may be able to treat the subject with all that complete serenity of mind, tolerance, and impartiality of which I am capable of mustering in order that present youths may be able to live with me those few moments of satisfaction which I felt and those many moments of anxiety and privation which I passed in witnessing so much misery and sacrifice undergone by those who contributed to the realization of the relative freedoms which we now enjoy, and to judge whether those who created the snail not only shall have the right but also the duty to worry about the fate of their creature.
I would consider it the best compensation for my efforts if the present generation would judge with less prejudice the work of their ancestors and refrain in the future of making statements such as that recently made by a cultured man who claims to be a leader and a mentor of youths. That statement is quoted hereunder without comments:
“I can therefore tell you that my election in my district represents a complete victory of the young people of my provice and the repudiation and humiliation of the old elements.”
Finally, I will only cover in the work those person who I have known and with whom I have lived, and who, by their magnetism and dynamic personality, have profoundly impressed me. In writing about them I will employ anecdotes which are, after all, the best method of presenting their main characteristics and personality. In giving out my opinions on facts open to controversy I shall base myself on documents and on my experience in the course of a period of over half a century, during which time I witnessed the events of the most agitated era in our history.
Manila, January 30, 1933
Excerpt from: “Price of Freedom” under the Filipiniana Reprint Series of Renato Constantino.