-Philippine Independence Day History-
On the Fourth of July, we celebrate American Independence. July 4th is, however, also a day to celebrate the beginning of the modern Philippines. July 4th has become known as “Filipino American Friendship Day”, the day the Philippines celebrate independence from Japanese occupation and American colonization. Since the Philippine Islands are also one of the partners in the effort to bring terrorists to justice, it is even more important this year to remember our friendship and alliance with the people of the Philippines.
Ferdinand Magellan landed on an island called Homonhon in 1521 and found a land filled with white beaches, unexplored isles, untouched forests, rich lands, and a spectacular climate. Magellan claimed it and named it “Felipinas”, after the King Philip of Spain.
When the Spanish conquistadors arrived, they began converting and colonizing the people of the islands. They found the islands were a cultural melting pot, with well-developed business settlements with Chinese, Arabs, Japanese, and other Islamic seafaring merchants. In 1571, the Spaniards established a colonial government in Manila and ruled the country for over 300 years.
In 1896, Filipinos rose up in rebellion and successfully led Asia’s first nationalistic revolution. After several attempts, they freed themselves from the yoke of the Spanish rule. On June 12, 1896, the people of the Philippines enjoyed their first Independence Day. For many, that date remains the actual Independence Day for the Philippines.
While they were freed from Spanish rule, after the Spanish-American War, the Philippines fell under the colonial rule of the United States. The Americans did, however, introduce democratic processes and public education, and they developed infrastructure throughout the islands as well.
Japanese rule until 1945, when American and Filipino-American forces liberated them. Only July 4, 1946, they were declared an independent nation for the first time since 1571.
Reformist President, Diosdado Macapagal, returned Philippine Freedom Day to the June 12th date. He felt that the Fourth of July activities in the United States overshadowed the Philippine independence celebration, so he declared July 4th Filipino American Friendship Day” in the islands.
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