This year is no different in terms of the celebratory mood and patriotic pronouncements. But more than ever before, we need to take a look at what we are actually celebrating on independence day. Are we truly free from threats to our democracy? No less than the President himself has characterized the present election system as riddled with fraud, asked the Commission on Elections to junk Smartmatic and find a more reliable, credible automated election service provider. Are we free from the disempowering hold of fake news? Many Filipinos have yet to learn to be circumspect in receiving and spreading news items. It is increasingly becoming difficult to tell the genuine from the fake, and sadly, those with sinister motives are capitalizing on this carelessness—nay, ignorance—to achieve their own ends. Meanwhile, those who dare criticize or offer other ideas find themselves vulnerable to threats of reprisal, or marginalization. Are we free from the toxicity of politics? The just-finished midterm elections have shown us the extremes to which opportunists masquerading as public servants are willing to go to put their self-interest first. We are also seeing institutions being undermined, sometimes demeaned, by the very officials that run them.