“Maligayang Araw ng Kasarinlán” Happy Independence Day
June 12 is Philippines Independence Day, the day Filipinos around the world celebrate their country’s independence from Spain and the United States. Government offices, businesses, and schools are closed to allow communities to celebrate Filipino history, freedom, and culture. Parades and celebrations are held, including a national celebration in the capital Manilla. Traditional food such as pancit, adobo, and lumpia is served, and the Philippines flag is hung in most public places.
Named after King Philip II of Spain, the Philippines had been a Spanish colony for over 300 years, but on June 12, 1898, the island nation finally declared independence. Two of the most famous heroes leading the charge for Filipino independence were Andres Bonifacio and José Rizal. Rizal was a medical student and author whose writings and books inspired Filipino nationalism. Bonifacio, considered the “Father of the Philippine Revolution,” led several successful campaigns against Spain to gain independence.
But independence was short-lived. A year later, the nation was under the United States’ rule when the U.S. refused to acknowledge Philippine independence at the end of the Spanish-American War. The Philippines finally gained sovereignty through the Treat of Manila on July 4, 1946, creating the second day of independence in the nation’s history. In 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal officially changed the national holiday back to June 12.
“It is proper that what we should celebrate is not the day when other nations gave recognition to our independence, but the day when we declared our desire to exercise our inherent and inalienable right to freedom and independence,” Macapagal said in a 1962 public address on Independence Day.
The Philippine flag was first flown after the Philippine Revolutionary Army defeated Spanish forces in the Battle at Alapan, but it wasn’t formally introduced to the public until June 12, 1898.
The flag has a rectangular design consisting of a white equilateral triangle, symbolizing liberty, equality, and fraternity; a horizontal blue stripe for peace, truth, and justice; and a horizontal red stripe for patriotism and valor. The three stars represent the Philippines’ three major island regions — Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The sun and its eight rays represent the eight major provinces that participated in the revolution.
Learn more about the Philippines’ fight for freedom at nationalww2museum.org, history.state.gov, and Britannica.com