June 14, 2021 – Reflecting on the Philippines’ 123rd Independence Day, Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones highlighted the importance of staying united amidst the nation’s challenges to continue defending the freedom the Katipuneros fought for.

“As a nation, we pray that we become united more than ever. The struggle continues — the struggle to free ourselves from the constraints that prevent us from enjoying the benefits of a truly independent nation, not just political independence from foreign rule,” Secretary Briones explained.

“Independence is not granted, independence is not given, independence is always won, it is defended, it is fought for,” she added.

The Education chief led the Department’s Independence Day commemoration through a virtual symposium for teachers and students nationwide hosted by DepEd-NCR and the Schools Division Office of Pasay City, in cooperation with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), on Friday.

“I’m very glad that we are having this symposium because there are still many issues regarding independence, whether political, economic, social, and even independence from health issues, social development issues which continue to be debated,” Briones noted.

“I believe that celebrations and reflections on independence should not be limited to the usual rituals and flag-raising but should include discussions, debates, and reflections on what independence for the Philippines means right now,” she added.

With this year’s theme, Kalayaan 2021: Diwa ng Kalayaan sa Pagkakaisa at sa Paghilom ng Bayan (Spirit of Freedom in Unity and National Healing), Briones also cited the Katipunero’s battle with colonizers and the cholera epidemic and how the strength and unity of revolutionaries prevail against the odds.

“And now, 123 years after we declared our political independence, the freedom from health issues, from COVID-19, the struggle, the call for unity is far from over. Last year we claimed victory because we succeeded and we were allowed by the President to open our classes, to continue with education despite the pandemic. With the support of the LGUs, private partners, civil society organizations, parents, communities, and the learners themselves, education continued,” Briones said.

Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs Tonisito M.C. Umali, who discussed some facts and insights on the country’s 123rd Independence Day, commended teachers and learners for actively participating in historical discussions.

“Dahil po sa inyong lahat ang ating pangarap na ihanda ang isang magandang kinabukasan  para sa ating mga anak, sa pamamagitan ng pagkakaroon po ng mga aktibidad katulad nito na mauunawaan ang kasaysayan ng Pilipinas, ang kahalagahan ng kalayaan ng bansa. Na maunawaan nila ito at maiugnay sa kanilang inaaral sa araw-araw para maging prodaktibo at mahusay na mamayang Pilipino sila sa hinaharap, lahat po iyan ay mangyayari. Mabuhay po kayo”, Usec. Umali said.

To further promote the event, Regional Partnership Focal Persons (RPFPs), Araling Panlipunan (AP), and Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP) Education Program Supervisors (EPSs), and learners conducted a “Watch Party” of the event on their Facebook accounts.