I am not American and for those who know me, I will never choose to be. I am proud to be Filipino and would rather stay in my country rather than seek pots of gold abroad. But being Filipino will not stop me from admiring a man who was much loved by his contemporaries and to whom millions of African Americans owe the freedom they are enjoying today, Abraham Lincoln.
Today, February 1, is the National Freedom Day in the U.S. It is the celebration of the signing a joint Congressional resolution that outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude. This resolution is now known as the Thirteenth Amendment and it was signed exactly 147 years ago.
The Gettysburg Address
I joined a declamation contest when I was in the first year of high school. The piece we were asked to memorize was Lincoln’s historical Gettysburg Address. I never understood it’s full meaning back then; only when I attended the university as a public administration student did I fully grasped the meaning of his speech.
I did not win that contest but I did win the Miss Mathalino pageant for the first district of Laguna the next year. It was a quiz bee/beauty contest where high school girls from all over district compete in math quiz bee. Those who reach the finals then compete in the beauty pageant section. I didn’t think I’d get to the finals so I was really unprepared for the contest; my mom didn’t even know I was joining. I didn’t have an entourage like the other girls did. All I had was set of sportswear and a cocktail dress. The make up and other accessories were provided by my teachers who coached me for the quiz bee.
I also didn’t have a talent prepared. Not participating in the talent portion means forfeiting the title and that was something I did not even consider then. So my teacher dressed me in a formal attire — where she got it I don’t know — and I recited the Gettysburg Address. While doing my piece, I noticed one of the male judges reciting with me and this made me forget a line or two. He noticed the slip but I doubt the others did. After all, who does Gettysburg Address in a pageant? I carried on like the words were my own and I think it’s one of the reasons why I won that contest.
So you see, I do owe something to the man who signed the Thirteenth Amendment to law. Some may honor him by putting his face in military challenge coins or immortalizing him in statues, but all I have is a blog and the ability to string words into sentences. This is my tribute to him.