What and when is Independence Day?
Independence Day or Araw ng Kasarinlan and also Araw ng Kalayaan in Filipino is an annual public holiday in the Philippines commemorating its independence from Spain in 1898. It is celebrated every 12th of June.
The Philippines under Spanish Colonial Rule
A Spanish expedition around the world led by Portuguese-born Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan sighted Samar Island on March 16, 1521. Magellan claimed the islands he saw for Spain. He established friendly relations with some of the local leaders and converted some of them to Roman Catholicism. In the Philippines, they explored many islands including the island of Mactan. However, Magellan was killed during the Battle of Mactan against the local datu, Lapulapu.
Over the next several decades, other Spanish expeditions were dispatched to the islands.
What led to the Philippines’ Independence from Spain?
Members of the “Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan or better know as the KKK, led by Andres Bonifacio, tore their “cedula” in protest of Spanish conquest marking the beginning of The Philippine Revolution in 1896 at Pugad Lawin in Balintawak, now part of Quezon City. However, after this event, Emilio Aguinaldo and other revolutionary leaders went into exile in Hong Kong.
At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Commander George Dewey lead the U.S. Navy Asiatic Squadron in sailing from Hong Kong to Manila Bay. On the 1st of May 1898, Dewey defeated Spain in the Battle of Manila Bay which effectively put the U.S. in control of the Spanish colonial government. Later that month, U.S. Navy transported Aguinaldo back to the Philippines.
On June 5, 1898, Aguinaldo issued a decree proclaiming June 12, 1898, as the day of independence. The Philippine flag was officially unfurled for the first time at Kawit Cavite.
Although free from Spanish rule the Philippines failed to win international recognition for its independence. The Spanish government would later cede the Philippine archipelago to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris. The treaty specified that Spain would cede the Philippine Islands to the U.S. and that the United States would pay to Spain the sum of twenty million dollars. The Philippines Revolutionary Government did not recognize the treaty and would subsequently fight the American occupation in what would be known as the Philippine-American War.
The United States of America granted independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946, when President Harry S. Truman issued Proclamation 2695 of July 4, 1946 (known as the “Tydings–McDuffie Act”), officially recognizing the independence of the Philippines. On the same day, the Treaty of Manila was signed.
July 4 was chosen as the date by the United States because it corresponds to United States’ Independence Day and was observed in the Philippines as Independence Day until 1962.
On May 12, 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal issued a Presidential Proclamation which declared June 12 a special public holiday in the Philippines to reflect the initial declaration of independence by Aguinaldo.
How is Independence Day Celebrated in the Philippines?
The Philippine flag was adopted in May 1898. Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista mentioned in the Declaration of Independence in 1898 that the three colors – red, white, and blue, serve as a debt of gratitude to honor the American flag. However, Emilio Aguinaldo would change the meaning behind the colors. Red stood for Filipino bravery, blue represented how Filipinos would rather die than surrender to the enemy and the color white symbolized the Filipinos’ love for peace.
During the day, all offices, agencies of government, business establishments, institutions of learning, and private homes are asked to display the Philippine Flag. There is also no work in the private and public sector as well as no school for the day.
Worldwide, Filipinos gather on June 12 or a date close to it to publicly celebrate, sometimes with a parade. With quarantines currently in place, Filipinos are turning to other means online in order to show their solidarity in commemorating the country’s Independence Day like virtual flag-raising ceremonies and webinars.
JJS Realty and Development Inc., a real estate developer that specializes in community development at Lipa City Batangas, is one with the citizens of the Philippines in observing Independence Day. May we forever cherish the freedom our heroes fought for.
We cannot free ourselves unless we move forward united in a single desire.Emilio Aguinaldo