As we commemorate the Philippine Independence Day in 2023, it is crucial to shed light not only on the historical context of how our ancestors fought for our freedom but also on how the youth of today, tackle the modern problems that lie before us. As the youth of today, we find ourselves at the forefront of confronting these challenges and forging ahead with determination and resilience.

Cartoon by Alex Macatuno

In our rapidly evolving world, we are faced with a myriad of issues such as poverty, inequality, corruption, human rights violations, and historical distortion. Living in the Philippines today, we find ourselves in a historical era that will be judged by future generations based on our response to these pressing issues. Hence, we must refuse to be disheartened by these hurdles. Instead, we are to be part of the solution and to create a better and more prosperous future.

Poverty remains a stark reality for many Filipinos. This 2023, 14 million families consider themselves as poor as they are struggling to meet their basic needs. The future generation will judge us on whether we took decisive action to alleviate poverty and uplift the lives of our fellow countrymen. We should join the call for the government to pass effective social welfare programs, create sustainable job opportunities, and bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.

Inequality, both economic and social, poses a significant challenge in our society this includes a large wealth gap, with a small percentage of the population controlling a significant portion of the country's wealth, while many struggle to meet their basic needs. The future generation will assess our efforts to narrow the gap and promote a more equitable society. We must be at the forefront of addressing systemic barriers and providing equal access to quality education, healthcare, and opportunities for all. We must combat discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Our actions today will determine how we are remembered.

Corruption continues to plague our nation, undermining progress and eroding trust in our institutions. The future generation will scrutinize our commitment to combating corruption. We must be ceaseless in advocating for good governance and hold the guilty accountable. Moreover, respect for human rights is a cornerstone of a just and democratic society. The future generation will judge us on how we protected and upheld human rights. We ensure the safety and dignity of every individual, regardless of their background or beliefs. We must hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable and provide justice for the 29,000 victims of extrajudicial killings. Our response to these questions will shape their perception of our commitment to fundamental freedoms.

Lastly, historical distortion presents a grave threat to our collective memory and understanding of the past. The future generation will evaluate how we countered attempts to twist historical facts and narratives. The youth of today must safeguard the truth, preserve our historical heritage, and promote an accurate and inclusive understanding of our history amidst the organized effort of the Marcos administration to manipulate public perception, erode collective memory by downplaying or denying human rights violations, economic mismanagement, and corruption during the Martial Law period to maintain their grip on power.

We are living in a critical period, where our actions and decisions have far-reaching implications. The future generation will look back at this time and assess whether we rose to the challenges or faltered in the face of adversity. It is our collective responsibility to respond to these issues with courage, compassion, and a steadfast commitment to justice and progress. Our response will determine the judgment of history and shape the path our nation takes for generations to come.

The youth of today must not be mere passive observers; we must be catalysts for change. We must embrace our role as agents of progress and catalysts for a better future. Through collective action, innovation, and resilience, we continue to forge ahead, confronting modern problems head-on and creating a society that embodies the values of justice, equality, and sustainable development.

On this Philippine Independence Day, let us celebrate the indomitable spirit of the youth, their unwavering determination, and their commitment to shaping a better future for our beloved nation. Together, let us forge ahead toward a brighter and more prosperous Philippines.