- Published on Sunday, 17 June 2012 02:25
- Written by MBONEKO MUNYAGA
- Hits: 1179
THAT ‘unity is strength,’ was demonstrated when a very small community of the Philippines nationals in Dar es Salaam came together recently to share with their hosts the blessings they have received from living in Tanzania.
The community numbers hardly 30 but they managed to raise over 4.0m/- that they used to buy various commodities to gift 47 families of the St Karoli Parish in the Tandale area of the city. The event was also meant to mark their country’s 114th independence anniversary from Spanish rule while living thousands of kilometres from home.
That alone was a big lesson in patriotism from the community. It matters little where you are in the world to still connect with important developments at home and to share that joy with the nationals of your host country. The story of the independence of the Republic of the Philippines as the archipelago of more than 7,100 islands in the Western Pacific is officially known, is as romantic and traumatic as the other tales of self determination throughout the world are.
Spanish explorer, Ferdinand Magellan arrived on the islands in 1521, marking a period of Spain’s first interest in the country. The country was colonized some 22 years later when another Spanish explorer, Ruy Lupez de Villalobos, named the islands of Leyte and Samar, Felipinas after a Spanish Prince. Eventually the name Las Islas Filipinas was used to cover all the islands. The name Philippines is derived from that of King Philip II of Spain (21 May 1527 - 13 September 1598).
King Philip II was also known as Philip the Prudent (Felipe el Prudente) and ruled one of the world’s largest empires in every continent then known to Europeans. The Revolutionary Forces of the Philippines led by General Emilio Aguinado declared independence on June 12, 1898 after a two-year bitter war against the Spanish.
However, the Spanish treacherously passed their powers to the United States of America, action that quickly led to war with the Americans in the Philippine-American War, also known as the Philippine War of Independence (1899-1902). Fighting started on February 4, 1899 and officially ended on July 4, 1902. However, members of the Katipunan society continued to battle the American forces.
Among them was General Macario Sacay, a veteran Katipunan member who assumed the presidency of the proclaimed Tagalog Republic, formed in 1902 after the capture of General Aguinaldo, who was made the President in 1898. Other groups also, including the Moro people and Pulahanes, continued hostilities until their defeat at the Battle of Bud Bagsak on June 15, 1913.
The war and occupation by the United States greatly changed the culture of the Philippines as the people dealt with the aftermath of an estimated 34,000 - 1,000,000 victims and abolition of the Roman Catholic Church as the state religion, making the Philippines a secular state.
The Americans also introduced English as the primary language of government and business. In 1916, the United States promised some self-government, a limited form of which finally came on March 24, 1934. In 1946, following World War II, the United States gave the territory independence through the Treaty of Manila, signed with the declaration of Philippine independence on July 4, 1946.
The treaty provided for the recognition of the independence of the Republic of the Philippines and the cession of American sovereignty over the Philippine Islands. The treaty was signed by President Manuel Roxas representing the Philippines and Ambassador Paul V. McNutt representing the United States. Later, historians advised the country to observe June 12, 1898 as the country’s true day of independence.
It was earlier observed as national Flag Day. The incumbent President is Benigno Aquino III in office since June 30, 2010 as the fifteenth President of the Philippines, succeeding Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He is the son of former firebrand president, Corazon Aquino and Senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr. His mother died on August 1, 2009 after which the people urged him to run for the office. Also fondly known as Noynoy Aquino or Pnoy, is also the current chairman of the ruling Liberal Party.
The Philippines, which has a total land mass of about a third only that of Tanzania, is home to nearly 100 million people with another 12 million scattered allover the world. Filipinos, as the nationals of the Philippines are called, are known for being loyal and very hard working people who never shy from doing whatever kind of job would earn them a living. The country has one of the highest levels of rainfall that makes it evergreen and the greatest biodiversity on earth.
It also has notorious volcanoes and forbidding weather. Typhoons and storms are commonplace in the Philippines. Save for the insurgents in Mindanao in the south of the country, the Philippines is everybody’s dream country to visit. The capital, Manila, is a major business hub in Asia. The Philippines has also worked its way up into a middle income country with total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of dollars 391 billion and Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) of dollars 4,073, based on 2011 estimates, making it the 32nd richest country in the world, according to rankings by both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
It becomes the world’s 31st richest country, according to World Bank ranking. The chairman of the community in Tanzania, Mr Robert Bernabe, says the decision to show charity to 47 families at Tandale was their way giving back to society the many blessings they have received while living in the country where the people are extremely friendly “and have made us feel at home many, many kilometres from home.”
The community distributed maize meal, beans, sugar and cooking oil to 47 families of the Saint Karoli Parish and also gave several plastic mats and at least four pairs of slippers for each family. Also, the community donated book shelves and secondary school books to the Parish Library. The Philippines is about 90 per cent Roman Catholic.
The secretary of the Mr Wilmar Uga said they felt more than being at home in Tanzania and extremely grateful for the prevailing peace that makes the country a shared heritage for humanity. The community cherishes the Kaibigan or Friend spirit, which was what also inspired the Tandale outreach programme.
“Perhaps many people here (in Tanzania) won’t understand it but for us the friendly nature of Tanzanians is more than touching experience for the glory of human nature and shared sense of common destiny, whatever our cultural backgrounds,” said Mr Uga. A member of the community, Ms Precious Faith Deguinion said the Tandale programme was their way of giving back the blessings that they had received and as a Filipino, she added, nothing mattered more than the Kaibigan spirit.