Brush up on the interesting details that led to the Philippines’ independence
As we get ready to honor and celebrate 124 years of the Philippines’ independence, we’re taking time to look back and remember our heroes.
Do you still know what the Philippine flag stands for? Who declared our independence? Ahead, brush up on Independence Day facts to commemorate the holiday. (As you review more about our nation’s history, too, make learning at home a breeze with promos and tools from Globe for Education.)
A Brief Timeline of the Philippines’ Independence
In the second half of the 16th century, Spain colonized the Philippines. The ensuing oppression under the Spanish rule was something that compelled Filipino intellectuals to stand up for their rights and fight for freedom. This awakening led to the Katipunan revolutionary movement, with Emilio Aguinaldo as its leader.
The road to independence, however, was long. The Spanish-American War began in April 1898, triggered by Spain’s relentless suppression of a Cuban revolt.
On May 1, 1898, the United States defeated Spain in the Battle of Manila Bay, the first in a series of U.S. triumphs. Aguinaldo, exiled to Hong Kong by the Spaniards, made plans with U.S. officials to return to the Philippines and aid in the battle against Spain.
Upon his return, Aguinaldo immediately declared Philippine independence on June 12, 1898, and formed a provincial administration, of which he also became the leader. However, the U.S. asserted its dominance and set up its own government in the country in 1902. A few decades passed, and the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established under President Manuel Quezon.
After the events of World War 2 and the U.S.’ promise to grant the country full independence, the Philippines was finally on its own in 1946.
8 Must-Know Facts About Philippine Independence Day
The declaration of independence by Aguinaldo is just a small snapshot of the truth. Why did he declare Philippine independence right away? When is the real Independence Day of the Philippines?
Apart from these questions, many other facts are not always covered by online learning platforms and even face-to-face classes. Here are eight of the most relevant yet often overlooked details about Philippine Independence Day.
#1: A mock battle between Spain and United States
Multiple wars between America, Spain and the Philippines continued long after Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence.
In August 1898, the Spanish commander eventually surrendered Manila to the Americans, under the condition that a “mock battle of Manila” be staged, with Filipino insurgents being barred from the city.
The Philippines, however, became a U.S. colony, and Spain received US$20 million in compensation under the Treaty of Paris. While Aguinaldo rebelled, he later pledged allegiance to the U.S. Nevertheless, many of his supporters continued to fight. By 1902, the three-year Philippine insurgency came to an end with the rise of the American civil government.
#2: Philippine independence was proclaimed more than once
June 12 is the first of the multiple dates for Independence Day in the Philippines. With U.S.’ consent, Filipinos formed the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935, and Manuel Quezon was chosen as the first president. Once World War II came to its conclusion, America awarded the Republic of the Philippines complete independence on July 4, 1946.
But why is June 12 known as Independence Day in the Philippines? To put things simply, President Diosdado Macapagal stated that: “The recognition of the independence of a nation should not be accorded by any other country but itself.” Following this belief, he declared this date as the country’s day of freedom in 1962 and supplemented this decree further by passing Republic Act 4166 in 1964.
#3: The color on top of the flag differs during times of war
The Philippines flag is unusual in that its colors are utilized to signify the country’s current situation. The flag is raised with a blue strip on top during peaceful times. Conversely, establishments and institutions will display the flag with red on top during war times.
#4: Who designed the flag?
Aguinaldo himself created the design of the Philippine flag, and he presented it in person to Marcela Agoncillo, who was living in Hong Kong at the time. Agoncillo and her two assistants worked for five days to complete the flag.
#5: The different colors of the flag
The color red signifies Filipino courage, blue stands for the willingness of Filipinos to die rather than surrender to colonizers, and white represents our ancestor’s passion for peace.
Similarly, the white triangle represented the blood covenant of the Katipuneros, who battled for the country’s freedom from the inquisition, which had lasted over 300 years. The triangle symbol also relates to the Katipunan’s recruiting procedure called the "triangle method," which included the act of blood compact.
#6: The islands that the three stars of the flag originally represent
The three stars initially represented Luzon, Panay and Mindanao; not Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, as many have learned in school. Panay was one of the country’s three most important islands and where the revolutionary movement started.
#7: The missing flag
When Aguinaldo fled to Northern Luzon during the Filipino-American war, the original Philippine flag raised at Kawit on June 12 was lost in Tayug, Pangasinan. To this day, there is still no word on its whereabouts.
#8: The Lupang Hinirang was actually the second national anthem
Lupang Hinirang, which we now recognize as our national anthem, was the second anthem of the Philippines. The first, Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan, was written by musician Julio Nakpil in response to Andres Bonifacio’s request.
It was performed during the declaration of Philippine Independence Day. Unfortunately, the Battle of Manila destroyed the original form of the Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan.
Celebrating Our Freedom
For some Filipinos, June 12 might just be a regular holiday, a perfect time for a vacation. But there’s always more to it: a celebration of our freedom and unity. Keep these facts in mind when you celebrate the Independence Day of the Philippines this year.