July 4: The day the U.S. "officially" conquered the Philippines in 1902. The day the U.S. "graciously" gave us our independence in 1946.

July 4: The bookends of our colonization by the U.S. A colonization that began right after we fought for our independence from four hundred years of Spanish occupation and rule. A colonization that began with the deaths of hundreds of thousands from war and disease. A colonization lived through by my grandparents, their parents, and their parents before them. A colonization that ended only after we were slaughtered by the Japanese and Manila was heavily bombed by U.S. artillery during WWII.

And here I am, a (still) colonized subject in the capital of our oppressor, on the day they robbed us of our independence and then tried to give it back. But you can never restore the lives that were lost, the historical sites that were destroyed, the tradition and culture that was suppressed during a second colonization.

And here I am, a displaced subject. Born in this country and having lost connection to my past and my culture. Colonized once again, in the belly of the beast, as they shoot their rockets into the sky above their capital, rockets that fell on the capital of my people seventy years ago.

And yet here I am.

Published by Zachary Frial