Today, in the United States, we celebrate the Declaration of our Independence from Great Britain in 1776. Also, on this day in 1946, the United States formally recognized the independence of The Republic of the Philippines.
Independence Day marked the end of a sometimes rocky relationship with the US as, first a colony or territory from 1898 to 1935; then as a Commonwealth from 1935 until 1946, or the Second Republic. That status was overshadowed from 1941 until 1945 during the Japanese occupational period.
July 4, 1946 marked the end of a ten-year transitional period provided for in the United States’ Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934. The transitional period had been interrupted by the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. This day was first celebrated as Independence Day as it commemorated the signing of the Treaty of Manila which granted the nation independence from the United States which began the Third Republic.
The independence of the Philippines was officially marked by President Manuel Roxas retaking the oath of office. The new oath eliminated the previously required pledge of allegiance to the United States. The revised oath pledged service to the Republic of the Philippines. Afterwards, Independence Day was celebrated on July 4th until 1962.
President Diosdado Macapagal issued the order to move the date of Philippine independence to June 12th. The June date commemorates the proclamation of independence from Spain in 1898. This marked the birth of the First Republic. Macapagal affirmed the opinions of political leaders and historians that the true date of independence should be June 12th because July 4th celebrated the restoration of independence.
The adoption of June 12th as Independence Day was further fueled by the rejection in the US House of Representatives of a war reparations bill for the Philippines in 1962. President Macapagal reflected the indignation of Filipinos as a loss of American and Philippine good will. The rejection of reparations was the trigger event of the political move he had been planning since before his presidency.
Republic Day is also known as Philippine-American Friendship Day. President Ramon Magsaysay established this particular observance in 1955. The holiday was first celebrated in conjunction with Independence Day until 1962, when relations went sour between the two countries.
The celebration of Philippine-American Friendship Day was re-established under the Ferdinand Marcos regime. Due to the fact that the 1935 Constitution and the Third Republic were abandoned by Marcos’ implementation of Martial Law. It became politically inconvenient to remind Filipinos about the Republic and democracy.
It took until 1996 for Republic Day to reappear as a public celebration. President Fidel Ramas restored the holiday by Proclamation. Independence Day remains at June 12th and the restoration of the Republic in 1946 was once again celebrated as Republic Day.
This year, The Republic of the Philippines celebrates 70 years as an independent nation.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders an interesting quote by Imelda Marcos. “The Philippines is a terrible name, coming from Spain. Phillip II was the father of the inquisition, who I believe died of syphilis. It is my great regret that we didn’t change the name of our country.”