Ano nga ba ang Kalayaan?

What does it mean to be free?

While waiting for a delayed zoom class yesterday (which was unsurprisingly cancelled after one hour), the hashtag #Kalayaan2020 kept popping up on my Twitter timeline. Without quite realising it, I had said out loud the question Ano nga ba ang kalayaan?. What is freedom? My hands were already writing down the verses.

It took me several embarrassing recitations in front of my family to feel confident enough to post —Filipino is still not my language of choice in spoken word— but I felt like these thoughts were important to share. The events of today prove the immense power of language, in how it is used to oppress, to exclude, to empower, and to doublespeak. Yet it is also fragile. It is always malleable to the will of the society that speaks it.

So I think, today, as we celebrate the Philippine Day of Independence, it’s important to continue our criticism, to untangle the language game that this government has been shoving down our throats, to make our petitions as clear as possible while we celebrate this grand mañanita. Challenge definitions. Speak up. Be heard. #JunkTerrorBill #NoJusticeNoPeace #MassTestingNowPH #SpokenWord

I posted the full audio recording of the spoken word performance on Instagram and Facebook. Swipe the embedded post above to listen.


Taken in Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar. I blogged about our trip here.

Happy day of independence to the Filipino people. May our freedom ring true.

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