Does Thanksgiving celebration have any bearing on the Philippines, some ex-patriots, like us have asked. As the Philippines is a Southeast Asian nation with different customs and beliefs compared to the western nations, the answer is in the positive. How did it come about, is the further question.
It all started in 1898 when Spain transferred control over the Philippines to the USA through the Treaty of Paris. This treaty saw the end of Spain’s 300-year rule over the archipelago and paved the way for Americans to instill their customs and practices in the Filipinos. One of the traditions they have imparted to the locals was the celebration of Thanksgiving. On November 24, 1899, a dinner for Company D of the 30th US Volunteers was held in Pasay. It is regarded as one of the very first Thanksgiving celebrations in the Philippines.
The Philippines continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day as the United States until President Manuel L. Quezon made Proclamation No. 9 in 1935, designating November 28 as the Day of National Thanksgiving. However, when Japanese forces occupied the country in the 1940s, Americans and Filipinos were propelled to celebrate Thanksgiving secretly.
After the Japanese occupation ended in 1945, the tradition continued for years until the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos. In 1973, he moved the Thanksgiving holiday to September 21, coinciding with the Martial Law anniversary. The holiday was celebrated on this date until 1985. The holiday was thwarted after the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution ended Marcos’ administration.
While it is no longer an officially recognized holiday, several Filipino families, particularly those with American familial ties, still choose to keep the tradition alive.
Establishments such as hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers also commemorate this holiday by offering Thanksgiving deals and events to their patrons. Some even offer Black Friday Sales – a popular promotion associated with Thanksgiving. In addition, American companies with branches in the Philippines also declare Thanksgiving as a holiday in their offices, making employees more aware of its existence and significance.
Happy Thanksgiving to all! Pasasalamat Sa Lahat ng Grasya!
-By Anonymous Editorialist