What is the significance of independence day in the history of the Philippines?
What most people (surprisingly including a lot of Filipinos) don’t know is that in our history, we have had three declarations of independence. It was only in 1964 when Diosdado Macapagal was urged and advised by historians to change it to June 12. Before that, June 12 was just celebrated as Flag Day.
One of these declarations is from the Japanese occupation at around October of 1943 when they declared the Philippines an independent republic and instated a Japanese-sponsored government. It became very unpopular and a lot of people opted to organize and rebel against it. Japan was forced to surrender after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and we were once again in the rule of the American imperialists.
Thereafter, we had our independence from United States and interestingly it was declared on the 4th of July—the same date that they celerbrate their independence. This, of course, came with a catch. A lot of issues with the implementation of Parity Rights and how their companies had the right to take our natural resources from us.
And so what really is the significance of June 12?
Well, I remember one of my history professors with this one who, during one of his lectures, gave quite a compelling reason for it. Aguinaldo knew that we won’t really be free or have sovereignty. He knew the Americans would take over shortly after the Spaniards left and I think he knew about how our nation was sold, like a commodity, for a few thousand pesos.
But then he also knew that he had to wave the Philippine flag. He knew that it would raise the morale of his soldiers and many who have courageously fought for decades—those in the likes of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and many others. He knew that waving the flag would mean the brave soliders would no longer be fighting for freedom—they would be defending it.
A lot of people I know would always argue that we’re not really free. Although, there are some points in their arguments that I would say I could agree with, I don’t think it means we shouldn’t celebrate independence day. June 12 is more than just a celebration of what is in the present or our supposed freedom; it is a commemoration of the courage of our ancestors and a reminder that this courage is engraved in the genes that run through our blood.