PROCLAMATION OF PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE
On June 5, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo issued a decree announcing June l2 as the day for the proclamation of Philippine independence. He commissioned Julian Felipe, a Filipino composer, to write the music to be played during the proclamation ceremony.
As the “Marcha Nacional Filipina” composed by Julian Felipe was played, the Philippine national flag was raised for the first time in public. The flag had been made in Hong Kong by Marcela Agoncillo, Lorenza Agoncillo, and Delfina Herbosa at the time of Aguinaldo’s exile there. The flag design is composed of a white triangle containing a golden yellow sun with eight rays and two horizontal bands (a dark blue upper band and a red lower band). Each angle of the triangle had a five-pointed star. The current official explanation of the Philippines flag sees the sun as a symbol of freedom and unity. The white triangle represents equality, while the red band stands for patriotism and valor and the blue band for peace, truth, and justice. The eight rays represent the first provinces that rose up to end Spanish colonialism, namely Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Tarlac. The major islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao are represented by the three stars
Although it was proclaimed on June 12, 1898, the Act of Philippine Independence was proclaimed on June 12, 1898, it was not implemented until August 1, 1898. Aguinaldo became president and the Philippine Republic was formally inaugurated in Malolos, Bulacan, in January 1899.
“Though short-lived, the First Philippine nonetheless catapulted the Filipino nation onto the world’s consciousness carving not only a place among the family of nations but also a distinct niche as the first republic in Asia. While much of the world was oblivious to its birthing, the First Republic proved that Filipinos were capable of self-rule and deserved their longed-for freedom after more than 300 years of colonial bondage- a bondage shaken time and again by sporadic revolts, whose disparateness precluded ultimate victory.” (posted on September 7, 2012, https://nhcp.gov.ph/the-first-philippine-republic/)
The Philippine revolution served as an inspiration to many Asian nations that were then under the yoke of colonial masters. Professor Chen Yan De, of Xiamen University in the People’s Republic of China, extolled the Philippine revolution:
There were tides of national democratic revolution during the period from the end of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century in Asia. In the view of historians, it was an “awakening in Asia.” Filipinos played the part of brave pioneers in the revolution. The 1896 Philippine revolution was the first national democratic revolution in Asia. The Malolos Constitution was the f rst republican constitution in Asia. Unlike constitutional monarchies and peasant rebellions presented in other Asian countries, the 1896 Philippine revolution was a real revolutionary movement . . . Other Asian countries had never before undergone such a great revolution as the 1896 Philippine revolution. (Chen, Yan De, The 1896 Philippine Revolution: Harbinger of Awakening in Asia Xiamen University, Xiamen, The People’s Republic of China http://park.org/Philippines/centennial/abstract.htm).
However, Philippine independence from colonialism was curtailed by the ending of the Spanish-American war, when the Treaty of Paris unjustly replaced Spain with the United States as the new colonizer. The First Philippine war against the Americans lasted between February 4, 1899 and July 2, 1902. Over the next 4 four decades, the political movement for Independence grew resulting in the 1934 Philippine Independence Act and the 1935 elections of the Philippine Commonwealth providing a level of autonomous governance by Filipino leaders but still under major oversight control by the U.S. Government.
When WWII broke out, the Japanese army invaded the Philippines, forcing the U.S to retreat to Australia. The Filipino people waged guerrilla war against the Japanese occupation and rejected the Japanese offer to grant independence in 1943. The return of the US military in October 1944, accompanied by the continuing resistance of Filipino guerrillas, resulted in the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese rule. The Japanese invasion and war of liberation led to enormous physical and economic destruction, and the death of over 1 million Filipinos. Negotiations between President Quezon and President Truman finally succeeded in the establishment of an independent Philippine Republic on July 4th. 1946, although post-independence policies and relationships with the U.S. laid the groundwork of a “neo-colonial” dependence of the Philippines on the U.S in multiple political, economic and military spheres.
It was not until 1962 when President Diosdado Macapagal changed Philippine Independence Day to June 12 in recognition of the 1898 Filipino proclamation of the First Philippine Republic.
On this day June the 12th, millions of Filipinos worldwide join with the Filipino people in the Philippines to celebrate this year which marks the 125th year since the Philippines proclaimed its independence from Spanish colonial rule. In Canada, Filipino associations and communities hold gatherings, festivals, concerts and other creative activities to affirm their solidarity with the values and vision enshrined in the struggles forPhilippine independence to build a nation in which peace, well-being, justice, sustainable futures, and rights of all peoples will be fulfilled.LINGAP-Canada also recalls the Centennial celebration of Philippine Independence in 1099, when our founding association known as LINGAP Institute organized a Conferencein which over70 youth from colleges and universities in the Philippines came to Edmonton to join Alberta Filipino and other Canadian youth in workshops, cultural performances and immersion activities focusing on the vision and mission of building a peaceful, compassionate, just and sustainable Philippines, Canada and world.