On June 5, 1898, Emilio Aguinaldo issued a decree proclaiming June 12, 1898 as the day of independence. The 21-page Acta de la Proclamacion de la Independencia del Pueblo Filipino was signed by 98 Filipinos appointed by Aguinaldo and one retired American artillery officer. The Philippine flag was officially unfurled for the first time as the Marcha Nacional Filipina was played.
The Philippine Revolution and the Spanish-American War had just concluded and Filipinos thought that they had earned their freedom from Spain. However, the Philippines failed to win international recognition of its independence, particularly from the United States of America and Spain. The Spanish government ceded the Philippine archipelago to the Americans in the 1898 Treaty of Paris and because the Philippine revolutionary government did not recognize the treaty, the Philippine-American war broke out.
The USA finally granted independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946, and that day was observed as Independence Day until 1962, when President Diosdado Macapagal issued Presidential Proclamation No. 28 which declared June 12 as a special public holiday throughout the country.
As we celebrate Independence Day tomorrow, we honor everything that has been done as Filipinos were involved in three wars for freedom between 1896 and 1902 in order to earn what many of us take for granted today. The Philippines may be free from its colonizers, but our fight for freedom continues to this day. Although we are technically free, many Filipinos continue fighting to free this country from the shackles of poverty, ignorance, tyranny and corruption.
Through the sacrifices and efforts of our forebears, the Philippines earned its independence from Spain in 1898 and the Americans in 1946. For many, that was a long time ago and that is why we continue to celebrate Independence Day. Filipinos have a short memory and we need to be reminded of the sacrifices that were made for our freedom and territory so we don’t throw it away. Not to people or groups who would rather curtail these freedoms for their own advantage, and certainly not to another country that wants to expand its borders and influence.
Let us keep those freedoms in mind when we commemorate our country’s freedom and independence.*