As we recently commemorated the 125th anniversary of Philippine Independence, my eyes turned towards a small but mighty island in the West Philippine Sea (WPS)—the Pag-asa Island. This year’s celebration takes on special significance as we honor the spirit of freedom, resilience, and unwavering patriotism that resonates within the hearts of those who call this remote island home.
Nestled in the municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan, some 500 kilometers west of Puerto Princesa, with just over 400 residents, Pag-asa Island stands as a shining symbol of our nation’s sovereignty and the unbreakable Filipino spirit. Despite the challenges posed by its geographical isolation, the island remains a steadfast testament to the indomitable resolve of the Filipino people.
During the historic occasion on June 12, Pag-asa Island became the epicenter of the nation’s celebration, reminding everyone of the sacrifices made by our forefathers who fought tirelessly for our independence. It is a place where the spirit of freedom lives on, and where the waves of the West Philippine Sea whisper tales of struggle and triumph.
As the brave forces of Western Command (WESCOM), Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and PNP Maritime Division gathered on Pag-asa Island on June 12, they reflected on the struggles and triumphs that have shaped our nation. From the heroes who fought for our liberation to the everyday Filipinos who continue to work tirelessly to build a better future, our journey towards independence is marked by the collective efforts and unwavering determination of our people.
While we celebrate the milestones achieved in the past 125 years, we must also acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead. Pag-asa Island, like many other areas in the WPS, faces ongoing disputes and encroachments that threaten our sovereignty. However, it is in the face of adversity that the strength of our Filipino spirit shines brightest.
The commemoration of the Philippine Independence is meant not only to revel in the richness of our history but to reaffirm our commitment in protecting our nation’s territorial integrity. We must stand united in defending our rights and upholding our sovereignty in the face of any challenges that may come our way.
As we celebrate another year of historic milestone, we must also remember the importance of preserving the natural beauty and resources that Pag-asa Island and WPS possesses. Let us be stewards of our environment, embracing sustainable practices that ensure the preservation of our marine ecosystem for generations to come.
In the hearts of the residents of Pag-asa Island, the spirit of independence burns bright today more than ever. Their resilience, perseverance, and unwavering love for their homeland inspires the nation. They remind us that no challenge is insurmountable when faced with unity and determination.
As we celebrate 125 years of independence, let us extend our appreciation and gratitude to the men and women who protect our shores—the Philippine Navy, WESCOM, PNP Maritime and the Philippine Coast Guard. Their unwavering commitment to safeguarding our sovereignty and ensuring the safety of our waters is a testament to their dedication and professionalism.
Together, as a nation, let us use this moment to ignite the flames of patriotism within our hearts. Let us honor the sacrifices of our heroes and recognize the resilience and strength of the Filipino people. May the celebration of our independence on Pag-asa Island serve as a reminder that the spirit of freedom will forever endure within us.
Everytime we raise our flags and join in the chorus of the national anthem, let us carry the pride of being Filipino wherever we may go. Let us continue to work together, hand in hand, towards a brighter future—a future that upholds the values of freedom, unity, and prosperity.
Happy 125th Independence Day, Philippines! Mabuhay ang Pag-asa Island! Mabuhay ang ating kalayaan!