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Independence Histories of United States and the Philippines


By: Joe Mauricio



In the American holiday calendar, no day is more significant than the Fourth of July, in which we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. That declaration proclaimed to the world the U.S.’s separation from Great Britain and its emergence as a new sovereign nation, as we state in our pledge to our flag, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

The Declaration stated, we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, the government is instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the “Governed.”

These few words sum up the Divine source of inalienable rights and our philosophy of government. Nothing quite so revolutionary had been proclaimed anywhere by any people. But those beliefs had to be affirmed by a long bloody war, which was finally won by the Americans. The result has been the shining light on the hill, the United States of America, the freest, most creative, pro-directed, and the richest nation in the history of mankind.

On the other side of the world, the Philippines celebrates its Independence Day on June 12, 1898 (the declaration of independence from the rule of its conquerors, the Spain). The Declaration of Independence was not recognized by the United States, after defeating the Spanish in the Battle of Manila Bay. Yet, in May that year, the tiny country of the Philippines was acquired by the U.S. via the Treaty of Paris.

On June 5, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo issued a decree setting aside June 12, 1898 as the day of the proclamation of the Philippine Independence. Led by Aguinaldo, this event took place at his house in Kawit, Cavite. The 21-page Declaration was signed by 98 Filipinos, appointed by Aguinaldo. The Proclamation was first ratified on August 1, 1898 by the Malolos Congress. The Philippines failed to win international recognition of its independence, including the United States and Spain.

The Spanish government later ceded the Philippines to the United States in 1898 under the Treaty of Paris, this cession involves a payment of $20 million from U.S. to Spain, signed on Dec 10, 1898, thus ending the Spanish American war. The Philippine government refused to recognize the Treaty and the two sides subsequently fought in what was known as the Philippine-American War.

After ruling the Philippines for more than fifty years, the United States of America granted independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946 (after the end of Second World War) through the Treaty of Manila. July 4 was chosen as the date by the United States because it corresponds to the U.S. Independence Day.

And, that day was observed in the Philippines until 1962, when President Diosdado Macapagal issued Presidential Proclamation No. 28, which declared June 12 as a public holiday throughout the country.

On August 4, 1964, Republic Act 4166 renamed July 4 holiday as Philippines “Republic Day,” later changed to Filipino-American Friendship Day, and June 12 was proclaimed as the Philippine Independence Day, enjoining all Filipinos throughout the world to observe it with befitting rites.

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